ASX closes higher as hopes grow for rate cut

The ASX200 index rose 0.6 per cent to 5230.0 on Thursday. Photo: Ben RushtonLocal shares ignored a fall on Wall Street overnight to close higher for the first time this week, with poor jobs data shoring up the belief that further interest rate cuts from the Reserve Bank are on the cards.
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The Dow Jones was down 1 per cent overnight, thanks mostly to a bleak outlook from Wal-Mart Stores – whose stock suffered its biggest plunge in more than 27 years after predicting a decline in profit during the next fiscal year – coupled with disappointing retail sales figures and dropping wholesale prices.

However, the local market was up from the outset and spiked to the day’s high after the release of September’s jobs report showing the n economy shed 5100 jobs instead of creating nearly 10,000 new ones as had been expected.

The unemployment rate remained at 6.2 per cent.

The market settled in the afternoon but still finished higher, with the benchmark ASX200 index rising 0.6 per cent to 5230.0 and the All Ordinaries up 0.7 per cent to 5265.6.

“I think the market is starting to price in a much better probability of an interest rate cut in November or December, and potentially another one in the first quarter of next year,” said Aurora Funds Management senior portfolio manager Sheridan Hure.

“Westpac’s capital raise on Wednesday was largely anticipated by the market and the fact that their putting their rates up at the same time is probably a net positive for the bank.”

Brent crude oil fell 4 US cents to $US49.20 per barrel overnight but despite that energy stocks were among the market’s best performers.

Woodside Petroleum gained 1 per cent to $31.17 in part after reports it was revising its bid in its $11.6 billion approach for Oil Search. The oil explorer also reported a 45 per cent drop in third-quarter revenue due to weak oil and gas prices and narrowed its full-year production forecast.Oil Search climbed 3.8 per cent to $7.41.

Iron ore lifted slightly overnight, adding 0.3 per cent to $US55.12 per tonne. Among the blue-chip miners, BHP put on 1.8 per cent to $25.12 and Rio Tinto lifted 2.3 per cent to $54.25.

Pureplay iron ore miner Fortescue shot up 6 per cent to $2.29 after maintaining full-year guidance at 165 million tonnes shipped but reporting flat first quarter iron ore shipments and a seventh straight quarter of cost cuts.

The banks were mixed. Westpac, remained in trading halt at $30.27 as investors digested Wednesday’s announcement it would lift variable home loan interest rates by 0.2 percentage points.

ANZ fell 0.3 per cent to $28.56, Commonwealth Bank lifted 1.1 per cent to $75.40, and National closed flat at $31.52.

Asciano shares slumped 7.6 per cent to $7.88 after the n Competition and Consumer Commission raised concerns over Brookfield Infrastructure’s proposed $8.9 billion takeover of the rail and ports group, claiming it could lead to a “substantial lessening of competition” for rail haulage services in Western and Queensland.

Blood and plasma giant CSL shed 0.3 per cent to $88.99 after launching a $1 billion share buyback, its largest ever, just months after completing last year’s $950 million buyback.

The company said at its annual general meeting that it was trading in line with expectations in the first quarter of the 2016 financial year, reaffirming its net profit growth target of 5 per cent and revenue growth of 7 per cent.

The gold price surged to its highest level in more than three months overnight – climbing 1.84 per cent to $US1186.90 per ounce – as disappointing US retail sales made investors even more confident that the US central bank would delay any interest rate hike.

Among gold miners, Newcrest firmed 5.3 per cent to $15.34, Evolution Mining surged 7.4 per cent to $1.60 and Northern Star gained 4 per cent to $3.15.

Champion jockey looking for a ride

With the world’s best jockey without a ride in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup, Joao Moreira has not given up hope of securing rides in the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup and is still maintaining that a win in the $6 million Cup would be a career-defining victory.
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The Hong Kong-based Moreira, who has smashed riding records around the world, has never made any secret that a Melbourne Cup win was one of his career dreams.

“At this stage I have been offered one ride but it was on a horse that was going to carry a weight that I couldn’t get down to. In last year’s race I finished right in the placings and I thought then it wouldn’t be fantastic to win a Cup. I’ve read about it through the year’s and it would be a thrill to take the race out,” Moreira said.

While Moreira and his availability on the first Tuesday in November will bring him into contention for those international stayers without riders, former West n apprentice Damian Lane could become one of the youngest jockeys to win the Caulfield Cup when he rides Rising Romance on Saturday.

Lane, at 21, has come a long way since arriving as a quietly spoken apprentice at the age of 17. The youngster has worked hard to establish himself in the hustle and bustle of Victorian racing.

However, his abilities were not lost on the world stage with the Hong Kong Jockey Club giving him a three-month contract earlier this year.

“Coming to Melbourne was an experience but to go to Hong Kong was another big step,” he said.

Lane, whose father Michael was also a former jockey and trains in the west, recommended his career as an apprentice would be helped by a stint in Melbourne.

Lane lived with trainer Mathew Ellerton, which helped the youngster acclimatise in Melbourne. “They were very good to me and it’s probably helped me along the way. I was a bit shy but with my time in Melbourne and Hong Kong I’ve built on my social skills and communications with trainers, which is so important,” Lane said.

And while Lane only rode five winners during his Hong Kong stint he made an impression.

Moreira was one who thought that Lane had an excellent career in front of him. “He rode very well while he was here and it will only be a matter of time before he reaches the very top level of racing, he’s just got to get on board a really good horse and that will show him to be the rider I think he can become,” he said.

Rising Romance firmed dramatically for Saturday’s Caulfield Cup after drawing perfectly in gate two. The mare, who has just joined the David Hayes team at Euroa after being trained in New Zealand, finished a brave second in last year’s Caulfield Cup.

“The barrier will be perfect for her as it will mean she can fit in perfectly and she’s had no luck with wide draws this spring, but this time around she’s in an ideal spot,” Lane said.

Spring carnival 2015: Shawn Mathrick aiming to scale the heights with Ayers Rock

Colourful characters: Horse trainer Shawn Mathrick with Ayers Rock or Moose as he likes to call his three-year-old colt at his Clyde property. Photo: Penny StephensShawn Mathrick ponders the $16 Caulfield Classic odds on offer for his Derby fancy Ayers Rock, shakes his lived-in head and laughs to think how short it would be if his name was Moody or Waller. Not that he’d be anyone else.
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“I think the bookies feel sorry for me – they know not many people send me horses, and they want me to have more money,” Mathrick says. “And I say, ‘Thank-you very much!'”

As a trainer whose buying power, stable size and profile are similarly at long odds relative to racing’s big players, Mathrick learnt long ago not to look a gift horse in the mouth. The story of his first decent win, more than a decade ago at Moe, is a pointer to a helter-skelter life.

He’s always been good with unruly horses, reckons a no-good kicker with horrible manners can be turned into a lamb with enough care and attention. Floodbird was a shocker but they soon got on like old mates, and after playing with him for a couple of starts they set him for a plunge.

Mathrick and wife Kim took their boys to the Gold Coast and put “ridiculous money” on the plastic to stay at the Sheraton Mirage.

“How are we gunna pay?” Kim asked.

“It’ll be all right,” he told her. “The horse’ll win.”

His brother rang the day before the race with a problem – their jockey had pulled out. Mathrick told him to just find someone – anyone who could sit on and steer. They settled on calling Bruce MacDonald, who was interstate but returning home that night.

“My oldest boy was about to swim in the tank with the little sharks. I hung the phone up, turned around and Bruce MacDonald was standing next to him. I looked at Kim and said, ‘This is a moral, we’ve gotta get more!'”

MacDonald got his riding instructions in person, Floodbird was backed from phone number odds in to sixes and romped home. Mathrick has been chasing the next big payday ever since and lately, thanks to a small but willing crop of horses and those kindly bookies, he’s been enjoying quite a few.

If that doesn’t set him apart in this tightrope-walker’s line of work, his story certainly does. Graham Mathrick was a stuntman on the Paul Hogan Show, rolling cars and getting blown up every week for a living. The youngest of his five kids remembers visiting after his parents separated, finding his father training monkeys, breaking horses, even housing tigers. “All sorts, it was crazy.”

At 14, he started sneaking off to rodeos to ride bulls. Graham cautioned him about the damage a fall could do; the Mathricks were already painfully familiar with trauma.

“We were at a friend’s place one day, waiting out the front for Mum to pick us up, near dark. A kid pulled up and put my sister on the front of his motorbike and took off.”

What was supposed to be harmless hijinks changed lives; the bike hit another head-on, damaging the stem of her brain, leaving her partially blind and semi-paralysed. “But she’s still funny and witty,” Mathrick says. “You can have a good laugh with her.”

He boxed and played footy well enough to captain the south-west Gippsland league and was invited to play under-19s with Hawthorn, who liked the straight-ahead on-baller who went through the opposition, not around them. But the animals were winning. “When you ride a bucking bull it’s like kicking the winning goal in a grand final, it’s such a high.”

At 20 he was n rookie bareback rider, he and Kim were travelling the country and soon competing on the circuit in Canada. They were wild times with a primitive storyline – rodeo comes to town, local lads puff their chests, testosterone flows, fists fly. “People take a set against you, and we were so quiet – not! I had me fair share of dust ups.”

Back home he worked as a bricklayer and did a garbage run to keep fit. One day a faulty grate on the truck hooked his runner, he did the splits and smashed his pelvis. “That buggered me,” Mathrick says of the half-dozen surgeries and three wincing years spent getting over it.

He remembers the rodeo life as tough times when you’d sometimes go hungry, which makes him chuckle. “I make up for it now.” A few years ago a horse escaped his Cranbourne stables and took off up the road, pre-empting a painful reminder of his past.

“I caught him, jumped on bareback and he started to buck. Because of all the scar tissue in my pelvis I bled out, lost about 3½ litres of blood. I thought I was gunna die. Horses, they’ve been wonderful!”

He can’t suppress his yearning to work with them and after 15 years running the Cranbourne rodeo he was drawn into training. His first horse was an unwanted bucker bought from the local market. Swift Exit became Mathrick’s tantalising entree, settling down and winning on Bairnsdale Cup day.

At the sales he looks for athletes, reckoning if they’re good enough it’s then up to the trainer to provide the environment, feed and work to draw their talent out. In Ayers Rock he saw a horse that lifted his head and lengthened stride when he saw a crowd, and turned to Kim and said, “We’re in a bit of trouble here – I’m not goin’ home without him!”

Still a maiden, they drove him to Sydney for a run and backed up after two days at home with a trip to Mildura. Convention says that’s madness; Mathrick defers to the rodeo method, reckons travelling makes a horse. Ayers Rock won in a canter, he told anyone who’d listen he had a Derby winner on his hands, and they haven’t looked back since.

He’s only got half a dozen in work but So Does He and Our Nkwazi have helped pay the bills, the latter a nine-year-old he calls an “iron horse” who proved the bookies wrong at Moonee Valley in June to the delightful tune of $51. He hears trainers say, “Don’t pat your horses, it ruins them” and shakes his head, reckons they’ll try their guts out for you if they’re looked after. “People say horses can’t talk, but they can.”

Sometimes he wonders why the phone doesn’t ring, has to check if it’s switched on, but can understand why owners gravitate to the big names. He knows it’s a hard game, but cherishes what horse people will do for each other.

When Ayers Rock developed boils on his back last week he wasn’t sure what to do. Trainer John Leek was on the phone every day giving advice, horse breaker Pete Dalziel came around with a lead pony to keep him working, and Richard Laming loaned him his treadmill. “You hear so much bad stuff in racing, but there’s so much good stuff goes on as well.”

Ayers Rock will push to the front on Saturday, as he does, and with 49-year-old Darren Gauci in the saddle, he’ll stride out and dare them to catch him. His trainer won’t be cowed by the company, reckons his strike rate is so good they should be intimidated by him.

“They’ve bought a hundred horses, I’ll bet only five are any good. I’ve bought one, and my one’s good.”

Wildlife on golf courses: Animals can be an extra hazard for players

These bull sharks have inhabited Carbrook Golf Course at Loganholme for about 15 years. Photo: Carbrook Golf Course This crocodile was removed from a Port Douglas golf club after getting too cosy to golfers. Photo: Department of Environment and He
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Golfers have it tough.

Not only do they have to share their fairways with other players, they also share them with some pretty unusual wildlife.

In Queensland, a 3.6 metre crocodile had to be removed from the Mirage resort golf course at Port Douglas on Wednesday after getting a little too close for comfort for golfers.

The course is apparently the wandering ground for many crocodiles who tend come and go as they please.

At the Carbrook Golf Course in Loganholme south of Brisbane, roughly half a dozen bull sharks call a 21 hectare,14 metre deep lagoon their home.

“We are not sure how many sharks there are, we have never been able to tag, but we estimate around half a dozen live in there,” Carbrook Golf Course general manager Scott Wagstaff said.

The bull sharks, who likely arrived at the lagoon after heavy floods hit the area in the late 1990s, have become part of the “furniture” Mr Wagstaff said.

Ever since their arrival, the number of balls retrieved from the lake has fallen considerably, he said.

“As a kid I used to go with my mates and we used to go looking for balls out on the golf course but that doesn’t happen anymore,” he said.

“If the ball goes into the shark lake, it is generally never to be seen again, there would be quite a lot of balls in that lake as no one has been in there in 15 years.”

Mr Wagstaff said it was still a bit of a thrill to see a fin swim past while you’re on the green.

“It’s hard to explain the feeling of seeing an eight foot shark cruise past you on the edge of the lake while your golfing, it’s pretty cool to see,” he said.

“They are beautiful animals to see close, I have become a bit of an admirer in my time here, they have got that reputation of being aggressive and dangerous, and that is probably rightly so, but what I have seen of them is that they are very graceful, far from aggressive.”

Here is a video of some of these bull sharks “frolicking” in their lagoon home.

A golf course in Alice Springs has also had it’s a fair share of visitors, including some border-hopping Macquarie turtles who are normally found in the Murray-Darling River System down south.

It is understood these turtles may have been pets that were released into the wild by their former owners, ending up at the Alice Springs Golf Club.

“If the turtles are wandering around in the Alice Springs, there is not too much water, so they are going to try and find water,” Alice Springs Golf Club worker Barbara Bowers said.

The Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory now monitors the area to ensure these turtles are captured and taken back to their native area.

The Alice Springs Golf Course is also the perfect place for a fly-in fly-out holiday.

“We had pelicans a few weeks ago, we had five pelicans fly in and stay for the weekend,” Ms Bowers said.

“One stayed on for several weeks, but he has gone now.”

During the n PGA Championships last year at the RACV Royal Pines Report on the Gold Coast, n golfer Samuel Eaves managed to have his ball stolen by a crow.

Thankfully, there are rules that help deal with these kinds of “interruptions”.

Rule 18-1 states that a ball moved by an outside agency can be replaced without penalty and according to Rule 5-3, “Ball Unfit for Play,” you’re allowed to replace a ball if it is visibly cut, cracked or out of shape.

Take a look at some other wildlife wanderers who have wreaked havoc on the green.

This baby bear took to the stage for a solo performance at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. Cue the Flashdance soundtrack.

This baboon took a run through a golf course in South Africa.

And this fox had the time of his life with a stolen golf ball.

Had a run in with wildlife on the golf course? Like us on Facebook and let us know!

Geek creates real-life hammer of Thor only he can lift

Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron hit cinemas earlier this year, with ‘s own Chris Hemsworth, right, playing Thor. Photo: Jay Maidment The replica hammer. Photo: YouTube
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Nope. Photo: YouTube

Wouldn’t it be cool if our comic book heroes’ magical powers could be made real?

Well, one tech wizard with a lot of time on his hands started a YouTube channel documenting his attempts to do exactly that.

Allen Pan has made a replica Hammer of Thor using fingerprint and touch sensors, a computer board, some batteries, an electromagnet made out of a kitchen microwave transformer, and a switch.

The “Mjölnir”, from Norse mythology and repurposed by Marvel, can only be lifted by a worthy hero. In this case, only the tech wizard can lift the hammer — so long as it’s resting on a metal surface. When switched on, the electromagnet creates a strong magnetic field, clinging to the metal surface below so it feels too heavy to lift.

Pan asked passers-by in Los Angeles to lift the hammer in a YouTube video, with some amusing results. As soon as anyone grabs the hammer, it switches on the electromagnet and locks in place.

Of course, whenPan goes to pick it up, it recognises his thumb and turns the electromagnet off so he can lift it. Great party trick.

One bloke did succeed in gaming the replica hammer, however, simply by sliding it off the metal man-hole cover it was sitting on and onto the adjacent concrete. Ta-da!

Pan also made a cool weapon from the famous Naruto manga series for his little brother. It’s called a Rasengan — a ball of blue energy that hovers above the palm of the hand.

This time he talks us through in detail how he made it, using batteries and switches repurposed from remote control cars, a couple of motors, some LEGO and some LED lights. It’s a fair bit simpler than the hammer.

Grey takes ‘sip’ to tackle adversity of paralysis

Dean Mumm, Henry Speight and Joe Tomane promote the SipWeek challenge. Photo: Stuart Walmsley/ARU mediaRWC Schedule: When is the Rugby World Cup final?Rugby World Cup interactive: your guide to every teamFull coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup
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After the Wallabies produced one of the finest displays of defence in beating Wales in the World Cup last Sunday (AEDT), the mastermind of their defence, assistant coach Nathan Grey, told me the determination that they showed was not exclusive to rugby or even to sport. He said it is something that “manifests itself in many different ways in our lives”, such as what is needed to beat an illness or cope with a disability.

On Thursday (AEDT) and amid a World Cup campaign that will see play their quarter-final against Scotland on Monday morning (AEDT), Grey put his weight right behind what he meant on Sunday by declaring his support for the Spinal Injury Project to raise funds for research to find a cure for paralysis. It is driven by Perry Cross, who in 1994 was left a C2 quadriplegic at age 19 while playing rugby when his neck was broken in a tackle. Cross has been a close mate of Grey’s since their days at The Southport School in Brisbane, when both played in the 1992 1st XV and Cross rowed in the 1st VIII.

So Grey, an SIP ambassador, will take on the SipWeek challenge from November 8-14 in which entrants will consume all of their drinks through a straw. On Facebook, Grey said his participation is “an attempt to help a great mate take one small step towards achieving something he is passionate about – a cure for paralysis.”

But when contacted by Fairfax Media, Grey elaborated on how highly he regards Cross’s determination in adversity compared to what sports stars face in competition. “Blokes like Perry really put things into perspective around life and sport,” he said. “What is seen on the sporting pitch as a defining moment either positive or negative wouldn’t hold a candle to the difficulties that people with paralysis go through everyday. Perry’s mental application to extract every ounce out of life and live his life to the fullest with no regrets, and aiming to leave a legacy of research and a cure is truly honourable.

“For people in the sporting spotlight regularly this insight really puts it into perspective. How we choose to handle difficulty in life really defines us, not when we are running down hill and things are going well.

“We would love to have one Perry Cross in our defensive line. Even in his chair he would clean up a couple of attackers … and have a smile on his head doing it. I am very lucky to call him a mate.”

If you want to support the SipWeek challenge, go to www.sipweek上海龙凤论坛m

Express yourself

The Wallabies are all about the music right now, reports Fairfax’s Georgina Robinson, now in London. The squad trains to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck and belt out the national anthem in the dressing room after a win. On Wednesday, Kurtley Beale revealed each player was tapping into their own “music” to bring out the best in themselves on the pitch. “We talk about playing our own music,” he said. “Everyone brings a different game to the match on the weekend. I think that’s important to be able to express that.”

What’s doing Wallabies

The Wallabies team to play Scotland at Twickenham on Monday morning (2am AEDT) is announced on Friday afternoon (AEDT), after which there is training.

Making news

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer says he “cried for 24 hours” after Japan defeat, – How deep Japan’s win over the Springboks cut in telegraph上海龙凤论坛.uk.

“Comment la France va-t-elle battre la Nouvelle-Zélande?” [How is France going to beat New Zealand?] – The question from rugbyrama.fr that only France can answer.

They said it

“If we lose the breakdown game and the physical contest there, we’re fighting an uphill battle. So what we’re going to focus on is getting there before they do – and being clever about it,” Scottish back-rower Dave Denton telling thecourirer上海龙凤论坛.uk how they plan confront the breakdown against .

What to watch

Sunday: Quarter-finals: South Africa v Wales – London (2am AEDT), New Zealand v France – Cardiff (6am), Ireland v Argentina – Cardiff (11pm AEDT)

Monday: Quarter-final: v Scotland – Twickenham (2am)

Senior Sydney oncologist Professor John Kearsley pleads guilty to indecent assault

Sydney oncologist, Professor John Kearsley, has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a colleague. Photo: Jane DysonAn eminent Sydney radiation oncologist has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a female colleague after spiking her drink with a tranquilliser.
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On Thursday, Professor John Kearsley pleaded guilty in the Downing Centre District Court to charges of using an intoxicating substance to commit an indictable offence, and assault with an act of indecency.

The court heard Professor Kearsley, 63, the Director of Radiation Oncology at St George Hospital, in Sydney’s south, put a type of benzodiazepine into the woman’s glass of wine during dinner at his house in Glebe, in Sydney’s inner west.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, woke to find Professor Kearsley sucking her nipple.

The offences occurred in November, 2013, when the woman was working as a registrar.

Professor Kearsley hasn’t worked at St George Hospital since the allegations were taken to police in February 2014.

Benzodiazepines, also known as minor tranquillisers, are depressant drugs commonly prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety and insomnia.

Professor Kearsley, who is also a Conjoint Professor of Medicine at the University of NSW, has worked in oncology for more than 30 years. In 2012 he was voted Consultant Teacher of the Year by third- and fourth-year medical students.

A spokeswoman for UNSW said the university is “reviewing Dr Kearsley’s conjoint appointment” as his conduct “is entirely inconsistent with our Code of Conduct”.

“UNSW’s senior management was not made aware of the existence of criminal charges until shortly before [Kearsley’s court appearance] and was not aware of the details of the charges until the media reporting today,” the spokeswoman said.

Professor Kearsley is known for his work with prostate cancer and is a pioneer in the practice of “whole person care”, which combines treatment of the physical self with the emotional and spiritual needs of a patient to make a difference to quality of life.

He describes himself as having “a major interest in teaching communication skills, medical student education, and whole person care”.

The chief executive of South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Gerry Marr, said: “It would be inappropriate for South Eastern Sydney Local Health District to comment on this matter while proceedings are still before the court.”

In a statement, the chief executive of the the Royal n and New Zealand College of Radiologists, Natalia Vukolova said the college and it’s Fellows “have supported and will continue to support the victim, who is a member”.

“Of upmost concern to the college is the wellbeing of its members.”

Professor Kearsley will return to court for sentencing on February 26, 2016.

OPINION: Residents deserve better

Groundwater from the contamination zone is not safe for human consumption. Toxic Truth: More stories
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Toxic truth: Archive

ON September 4, the people of Newcastle woke to the headline ‘‘Toxicity Warning Around Air Base’’. This was shocking news to many in my community, including me.

Investigations undertaken by the Department of Defence had uncovered soil and groundwater contamination on RAAF Base Williamtown and surrounding off-site areas.

As more information emerged, we learnt that despite the Department of Defence, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Port Stephens Council all being aware of the contamination for a number of years, the community had, until now, been left in the dark.

The chemicals in question, Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), were components of firefighting foam previously used on the base for firefighting and fire training purposes. They are classified as emerging contaminants – namely, chemicals or materials that are characterised by a perceived, potential or real threat to human health or the environment.

In response to the news of contamination, local fisheries were shut, and the community was advised not to consume eggs, milk, fish and prawns from the area, or drink water from non-town water sources.

The residents of Williamtown and surrounds, including RAAF Base personnel, have many questions with very few answers. Their legitimate concerns about the impact of this contamination on their health, the health of their children and animals, and the ongoing safety of their water supply is understandable.

Beyond these immediate and valid health concerns, local businesses are being pushed to the brink, with some undergoing their second month of being unable to earn an income and their mortgage stress is very real.

As a community we understand that not all of the answers to our questions about health and safety are available today.

But we do expect the relevant government departments and agencies to work together and to be doing everything they can to help alleviate the real anxiety being experienced by residents.

To date, this hasn’t occurred.

I have brought the concerns of the community to the attention of the Defence Minister and the Environment Minister and have continued to update and share with them the ongoing concerns and frustrations of residents as I become aware of new and emerging issues raised at local forums, community meetings I have hosted or direct contact with those affected who have shared their personal stories with me.

Promises have been made by officials that communication will improve, that drinking water will be delivered, that adequate testing will be undertaken and that compensation would be made available to affected businesses and residents but the lived reality is that none of this is occurring fast enough or indeed at all, and there is a general lack of understanding and empathy for the affected community.

It has been nearly six weeks now since the news of the contamination broke and residents are increasingly frustrated by the lack of clarity and uncertainty ahead.

The fact that we now have two ‘‘red zones’’ of contamination being investigated, with distinctly different boundaries, depending on whether you are using Defence or NSW EPA data is indicative of the confused approach being taken.

The residents of Williamtown are understandably frustrated by the requirement for them to negotiate their way across seven or more government departments and agencies crossing all three levels of government.

I have recommended to the Assistant Defence Minister and Defence officials in Canberra that a single point of contact is established, one that is embedded in the community, to provide guidance and assistance to help alleviate much of the distress and confusion.

I join with my community in calling for a thorough and systematic approach to the testing of soil, groundwater, bore water and livestock at all properties within the affected area.

The issue of compensation for primary industries and individuals suffering economic loss and reputational damage due to the contamination requires immediate attention. I understand the NSW EPA has provided to Defence relevant information regarding potential mechanisms for calculating compensation payments. I urge Defence to honour the commitment that has been made to provide compensation to affected residents and businesses as a matter of urgency.

I have consistently asked that Defence takes a lead role in the ongoing management of the contamination. The community must be kept well informed, assured that plans are in place to deliver a safe water supply, be adequately compensated for any loss and be part of the conversations about possible solutions.

This is an edited version of a speech to Parliament by federal member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon on Wednesday

Fullerton Cove resident Lindsay Clout, who is outraged over the report of toxins from the air force base next door leaching onto his property. Picture: Darren Pateman

Tristan Carlyle-Watson encouraged gang rape of girl filmed on Go-Pro camera, court hears

Tristan Carlyle-Watson, alleged to have been part of a group who raped a girl, 16. Photo: FacebookA man encouraged multiple men in the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl as the “deplorable” act was filmed on a Go-Pro camera, a court has heard.
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Four men and a teenage boy were charged on Wednesday, months after the alleged gang-rape of a young girl as she fell out of consciousness at a party in Sydney’s north-west.

Fairfax Media understands police are looking at the possibility the girl’s drink was spiked before she was assaulted.

Police allege up to eight males were in the room as the girl was raped, with a number of them taking turns to assault her.

In May, police targeting graffiti offences seized the camera and found a 16-minute video documenting the sexual assault.

The assault, which had not previously been reported to police, was referred to the Child Abuse Squad.

Andrew Waters, 23,  Kurt Stevenson, 25, and Tristan Carlyle-Watson, 25, appeared in Penrith Local Court on Thursday charged over the assault.

Mr Waters and Mr Stevenson, charged with aggravated sexual assault, did not apply for bail and their cases were adjourned to December 10.

The court heard Mr Carlyle-Watson – who was charged with concealing a serious indictable offence – encouraged the other co-accused to engage in the conduct.

“At no stage did he try and help the victim, who was unconscious,” police prosecutor Varinder Pawar said.

Mr Pawar said the other co-accused were laughing at the victim.

He said the alleged victim sent a text to Mr Carlyle-Watson after the assault and asked what happened.

She asked for her property back and sent messages asking “what happened last night” and “who is this Kurt person”, the court heard.

Mr Carlyle-Watson allegedly told her “nothing happened” and that he did not want any more communication with her.

The only way police found out about the crime was by stopping Mr Carlyle-Watson’s co-accused and uncovering the video, Mr Pawar said.

Mr Pawar said there was a distinct possibility there was further evidence that might have been disposed of or could have been.

However, Mr Carlyle-Watson’s lawyer Scott Fraser submitted that was only speculation.

He said his client was not the principal offender and was only charged with concealing the offence.

Magistrate Mark Douglass said Mr Carlyle-Watson’s previous convictions for stalking and intimidating and using a carriage service to harass did not assist him.

It also supported the prosecution fear that he could interfere with the witnesses and the alleged victim if on bail, the magistrate said.

Mr Carlyle-Watson, who appeared via video link, shook his head as bail was refused.

A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be identified, has been charged with sexual assault offences and is due to appear in the Children’s Court on Thursday.

A 24-year-old, charged with aggravated sexual assault in company and filming a person in a private act, is due to face Mount Druitt Local Court on Thursday.

It is understood some of the men involved are married while another is engaged.

National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 RESPECT

Refugee spending will drive our economy, Germany says

Soccer fans in Dortmund supporting Germany’s open door stance: Europe’s largest economy may benefit from the influx of refugees. Photo: Frank AugsteinGermany expects over a million refugees this yearHow you can help refugees trying to reach safety in Europe and here in
Shanghai night field

The German government is banking on the refugees arriving in its cities by the thousands each day to help turbocharge its economy and offset the effects of weaker demand from China.

Increased state spending on refugees and private consumption will drive growth in Europe’s largest economy this year and next, German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

Record numbers of people, fleeing war in the Middle East or seeking prosperity, have been arriving in Germany in recent weeks The federal government and states are spending €10 billion ($15.7 billion) on accommodating the new arrivals, integrating them and finding them jobs.

“When it comes to refugees, the billions of euros we are planning to invest in education, kindergartens and schools will of course have an effect like a small stimulus package,” Gabriel said on Wednesday. The country’s aid in the refugee crisis was an investment in Germany’s future given its ageing population, he explained.

Having said that, consumer spending will continue to be the main prop for the economy, which was on a solid growth track despite the subdued global outlook, he said. Record-high employment, rising wages and nearly stable prices are boosting household spending, while cheaper petrol is freeing up some cash for consumers for other purchases.

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has slightly lowered its 2015 growth forecast to 1.7 per cent, from the 1.8 per cent it predicted in April, but confirmed its estimate for a 1.8-per cent expansion in 2016.

The economy ministry expects domestic demand to rise by 1.7 per cent this year and 2.1 per cent next year.

It revised up its estimates for government spending to an increase of 2.3 per cent this year and a gain of 2 per cent next year, mainly due to higher spending for refugees.

The influx of refugees is also expected to affect the labour market, with the ministry saying employment would rise to a record-breaking 43.3 million next year, though the new arrivals will likely push up unemployment by 60,000 in 2016.

German authorities are struggling to cope with the roughly 10,000 asylum seekers arriving every day. The German government still officially expects 800,000 asylum applications in 2015, while media say up to 1.5 million people could come.

Reuters