Steve O’Keefe on verge of Test recall with spin twins on the cards for Sydney cricket Test


Australia captain Steve Smith says Australia will consider playing two spinners in the third Test – with Steve O’Keefe poised to make his return to the baggy green in Sydney.

O’Keefe did not travel to Adelaide with his Sydney Sixers teammates for the New Year’s Eve Big Bash League clash with the Strikers. It’s understood he will fly over in the afternoon if he is not picked in the Test squad, which would be a major surprise.

The left-arm finger spinner’s last Test was in Pallekele against Sri Lanka, where he was injured midway through the game. He has played all his three Tests partnering offie Nathan Lyon.

Selectors will name their squad for the third Test after the completion of the final day in Melbourne.

Smith, who refused to endorse Lyon on Thursday night, did not rule out the prospect of Australia playing spin twins at the SCG.

“I guess it would depend on the wicket. I know in Shield cricket this year the wickets have been spinning quite a lot, so we’ll look at that and it is a possibility,” Smith said on the ABC Grandstand on Friday morning before the start of play.

“I’ve had a quick chat to Boof and Trevor Hohns last night, I think we’re going to wait until this Test match is over and see where things are at moving forward.

“Obviously the bowlers have still bowled quite a lot this game and they’ve had a pretty big summer, so there’s a few things to talk about.”

Former Test vice-captain Brad Haddin said Australia would “definitely look at two spinners”.

“The talk is the wicket’s been pretty dry this year in state games and the two games I’ve witnessed with the BBL the wicket’s been really dry,” Haddin said.

“I think two spinners is definitely an option.”

Haddin said Lyon would appreciate bowling on his home track.

“Nathan’s our most experienced player in the Test team. He’s played 60 Tests now and you can’t hide behind the fact that there’s always pressure playing for Australia, not just from the outside but the pressure you put on yourself to perform and Nathan’s no different to anyone else,” Haddin said.

“He’ll enjoy getting back to this SCG wicket especially if it’s as dry as it’s been the last few Shield games.”

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South Brisbane rape accused denied bail


Barrister Cliff Crawford represented one of the accused rapists in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday. Photo: Tony Moore The alleged victim had been out with friends at Boundary Street, West End. Photo: Michelle Smith

One of the men accused of the alleged violent rape of a 20-year-old woman, which left her blacked out and bleeding at South Brisbane in April 2011, will remain behind bars until at least the end of January after bail was refused on Friday morning.

Police outlined DNA evidence found at the scene an on the young woman’s underclothes which they said showed police had a “strong case” against the 24-year-old man from Auchenflower who had applied for bail in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Matt Kahler told the bail hearing the evidence against the defendant was strong.

“(The victim) suffered horrible injuries,” he said.

Sergeant Kahler said DNA from the victim’s underpants and a cigarette in the area near the crime scene matched the DNA of the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Sergeant Kahler told the court the victim “blacked out” and was found “bleeding down her legs”.

“She was a virgin at the time of the offence,” he said.

Sergeant Kahler said the accused 24-year-old bar worker spent time in New South Wales and was an “unacceptable risk” of not returning to court if bail was granted.

The 24-year-old’s barrister, Cliff Crawford, applied to have the court refuse the publication of the graphic details of the allegations.

That was refused by Magistrate Robert Walker.

Mr Crawford said his client only visited friends in New South Wales and lived with his mother in Brisbane.

He said the man’s family had offered to pay a financial surety to allow their son to be granted bail and that he had travelled during an apprenticeship.

Mr Crawford acknowledged “they were serious offences”.

Mr Walker said police submissions were evidence of “a strong case” and decided against granting bail, largely on the basis of the serious of the injuries during the “violent rape” and the evidence submitted by police.

“It is at the most serious end of the spectrum of the offence of rape and the case against the defendant is strong,” he said.

Mr Walker noted the accused man had no criminal history and had never fled bail.

However, after taking time to consider applications from both the police and Mr Crawford on behalf of the 24-year-old accused, Mr Walker ruled against bail.

He noted the “degree of violence against the victim” and the possibility the 24-year-old may flee.

“It is not acceptable for the community to accept that risk,” he said.

“So for these reasons I refuse bail.”

The 24-year-old was remanded in custody to re-appear on January 30, to face three charges of rape, two charges of sexual assault while in company and deprivation of liberty.

Police will allege the 24-year-old was one of two men who raped a 20-year-old woman in Manning Street South Brisbane on April 15, 2011.

About an hour afterwards a second Brisbane man, a 32-year-old from Ashgrove, appeared briefly in the Roma Street Magistrates Court on after being extradited from New South Wales on Thursday.

He is also charged with three counts of rape, two counts of sexual assault while in company and deprivation of liberty connected to the 2011 South Brisbane rape.

The tall 32-year-old Ashgrove man, with short dark hair wearing a dark green jumper, nodded briefly from the dock and mouthed words towards three people in the court; two woman and a man.

One woman blew kisses back to him. They made no comment as they left court.

The 32-year-old was remanded until January 10, 2017 when he will apply for bail in the larger Brisbane Magistrates Court.

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Letters to the editor


Alan Birchmore, of Newnham, says as the Federal Member for Bass, Andrew Nikolic was diligent, extremely hardworking and successful. Nikolic praiseSADLY, it is not unusual to read envious letters when an ex-politician is appointed to the public service, but the recent letter concerning Andrew Nikolic was particularly irksome. Joining the Army as a foot soldier, through hard work, courage and ability, Mr Nikolic worked his way up to the rank of Brigadier and was an international fellow of the United States War College.

He commanded Australian troops in Southern Iraq, while concurrently serving as chief of staff of the British Forces in Basra. He was chief of staff Australian National Headquarters Middle East operations and Afghanistan. Closer to home, he was Commanding Officer of the Parachute School, leading the internationally respected Red Berets.

Mr Nikolic was a senior adviser to the Minister for Defence and during his service in the field, wore Australia’s uniform bravely. He was awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal and was a recipient of the Order of Australia. Academically he secured two Bachelors and a Masters degree.

As a Liberal Bass MP, Mr Nikolic was diligent, extremely hardworking and successful in so many of his representations to Government on our behalf. Australia is not so overloaded with talent today that we can afford to lose the services of such a valuable person when leaving politics and choosing to continue his public service.

Alan Birchmore AO, Newnham.Free Trade AgreementTHE China-Australia Free Trade Agreement has been in place for one year.Demand in China for Australian products has boomed in that time.The value of Australian exports to China has at least doubled due to lower or zero tariffs.

Not only is this beneficial to our agricultural products, including mangoes, oranges, grapes, cherries, wine, cheese and milk products, abalone and honey, but also manufactured products such as therapeutic medicines, milk powders and a range of other products.

A boom in visitors from China is providing increased activity in our hospitality industries, especially here in Tasmania with hotels, B and Bs, restaurants, hire cars and all aspects of our provisions for tourists reaping benefit.We must welcome all these developments and their widespread positive impact on our economy.

Dick James, Launceston.The extreme rightPRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull is likened in many respects for the core beliefs of Robert Menzies, but is a prisoner of the extreme right of his party who are holding him to ransom.

Menzies faced a similar position when leader of The United Australia Party which forced his resignation as Prime Minister, Arthur Fadden from The Country Party was elevated to Prime Minister but could not continue the support of independents Coles and Wilson.

Labor leader John Curtin gained their support and was elected Prime Minister who led Australia through its darkest hour and distinguished himself as a great leader during World War II.

Menzies regrouped and made his famous “The Forgotten People” speech and formed the Liberal Party and won the 1949 federal election. Australia has seen the split in conservative ranks before on this occasion. The forgotten people are turning to One Nation.

Labor has been in the wilderness since the 1955 split and the Whitlam experiment was not continued by Hawke and Keating, which gave stable government. Rudd was an egotist and could not delegate and ostracised himself to the public service and Gillard carried the workload.

Turnbull should do a Menzies and take on the extreme right on, and win back the forgotten people from One Nation. A Churchill quote to extreme right: “You do your worst and I will do my best, choose for yourself and common sense will prevail”.

Brian P. Khan, Bridport.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲培训.

Sep 20

The case of Oshin Kiszko: think before you judge

Oshin Kiszko suffered from Medulloblastoma (brain tumor), pictured with his Mother Angela Kiszko. Photo: Elle Borgward Oshin was described as a ‘fun-loving’, ‘supercharged’ child. Photo: Supplied

Oshin’s parents Angela Kizko and Colin Strachan pay their respects. Photo: Elle Borgward

Oshin’s mum Angela Kiszko fought for what she believed in. Photo: Elle Borgward

Hearts with personalised messages were hung around the Kiszko home on Thursday at Oshin’s memorial service. Photo: Elle Borgward

Six-year-old Oshin Kiszko’s parents made a harrowing choice to refuse consent for cancer treatments, the long-term physical and mental burdens of which they believed outweighed the chances of saving his life.

It led to a state-first Family Court case as Oshin’s doctors attempted to enforce those treatments.

They won, in the case of chemotherapy, but lost it in the case of radiotherapy, a treatment in which the consequences for a six-year-old’s brain development would have been more profound and also would have a diminished likelihood of succeeding given the time that – by then – had elapsed.

Whichever side they were on, all those who cared for Oshin – medical professional, family or friend – had heavy hearts on Thursday. Princess Margaret Hospital staff offered to attend the funeral. The lawyer who represented Oshin’s parents in court turned up to pay his respects.

An issue like this strikes at the heart of any parent, and as such ignited a fierce public debate. As such, it is important to understand the complex factors that led to this outcome.

The first factor was the breakdown in the relationships between the doctors at Princess Margaret Hospital and his mother Angela Kiszko. From the beginning they could not relate well. She thought them pushy and dismissive. It is reasonable to assume they thought her obstinate and lacking in understanding, though we have not been able to interview them, only rely on court affidavits and evidence.

Doctors mostly – and mostly rightly – enjoy something like hero-worship, at least in our culture, by the public and their patients. They are godlike and rarely questioned. It follows that they may not react well when their judgement is questioned by a parent they think is unreasonable, especially if they believe in their own hearts that the delay further explanation or negotiation will take, will put a child’s life at further risk.

When they are questioned, cases generally go to the Children’s Court, where doctors more often than not win, and cases go unreported.

It would be very challenging for a medical professional to remain patient and gentle as such a situation unfolds. And we cannot know what questions the doctors asked themselves before embarking upon the court action. It is certain they did not undertake it lightly.

​It should also be noted that PMH has, since this case, put into place a program aimed at improving parent-doctor communication.

Another factor was the strong beliefs of Oshin’s parents, Angela Kiszko and Colin Strachan, in quality of life over length of life and where it came from – primarily Angela’s history of farewelling close members of her family to protracted and painful battles with cancer. Her mother and her stepmother both had difficult deaths from cancer. This experience, whether comparable or not, understandably shaped Angela’s attitudes towards cancer treatments as much as anything else.

The third factor was Oshin’s personality and his parents’ attunement to it. Oshin was an exceptionally lively child and also held, since he was a toddler, a deep fear of doctors and medicine.

His parents repeated numerous times that they did not object to other parents’ choices to pursue treatment for their own children, and that they only believed treatment was not right for Oshin. They believed the process of such a treatment and its inevitable burdens, physical and intellectual, that would continue in the long-term, would traumatise him more than was humane to inflict on such a boy.

They wanted to protect him.

Whether they were right or wrong is not for me to say. I can only observe that their belief was genuine and passionately held; as was their love.

The final factor was the legal and moral grey area this case represented.

The very phrase, ‘a child’s best interests’, which each party to court proceedings had at heart, is shot through with grey.

It must call into question how one measures ‘best interests’ and we must recognise that its definition can only ever be subjective.

There was never significant medical disagreement in this case; even Professor Stewart Kellie of the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation in Sydney, a witness called upon by Oshin’s parents’ lawyer to support the argument not to enforce radiotherapy, acknowledged that it was primarily an issue of values, not one of a medical grey area.

Ultimately, it came down to the different practices and values of individual doctors; some, like Oshin’s, thought while there was life there was hope and any treatment burden was justifiable with there was a chance to save a life.

Others, including Professor Kellie, would not push parents to consent to radiotherapy on the brain of one so young.

Individuals, whether doctors or parents, all have their own values, and one is no more right or wrong than another, especially as no two cases are the same; something the Supreme Court judge acknowledged in making his own terribly difficult final judgement.

No one in this case should be harshly judged for following the advice of their gut. It is worth remembering that most of the time the shoe is on the other foot, with doctors often having to force parents to accept that throwing further treatment at a suffering child is pointless and cruel, and that the time has come to say goodbye.

Angela Kiszko and Colin Strachan decided to say goodbye before this point arrived.

But it is now time to let go of all the​ disagreement and the​ anger that has surrounded this case.

Oshin is at peace. Those who still have anger and fight should use it to fight these horrendous brain cancers that with brutal swiftness first transform, then claim forever, our loved ones.

Perhaps advances in research will lighten the burden of treatments in some cases almost as horrific as the alternative.

If you really care, make a donation to Cure Brain Cancer.  Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Sep 20

‘I need you guys to look after my family’: Sudanese refugee Faysal Ishak Ahmed’s final message

Sudanese refugee Faysal Ishak Ahmed, in a white t-shirt, on Manus Island. Photo: Supplied A vigil for Mr Ahmed outside Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s office on Thursday. Photo: Supplied

 Faysal Ishak Ahmed carried a deep secret and a burning fear during his years in detention on Manus Island, long before he became the fourth asylum seeker to die after seeking protection in Australia and being sent to Papua New Guinea.

His secret was that he left behind a wife and baby boy when he fled Sudan in 2013, having refused to be recruited by the same militias that had tortured him, killed several members of his family and raped his sister.

His fear was that he would never be able to extract his wife and child from their precarious existence in a Sudanese refugee camp and realise his dream of a life with family and without fear.

He felt it acutely back in February 2014, when locals and security guards turned on the detainees inside the Manus detention centre, as he hid under his bed only metres from where Reza Barati was murdered.

All the while, he later told his friends, he was thinking about his wife and little boy, Mazim.

The fear became all-consuming in recent months, as his body wilted, his confidence in the detention centre’s health providers evaporated and he wandered about the centre at all hours, hoping the exhaustion would bring sleep.

When his death was imminent last week, friend Aziz Adam says Mr Ahmed delivered his last message: “If anything happens to me, I need you guys to look after my family.”

“We will do our best,” says Mr Adam, 24, though the Sudanese community on Manus feels incapable of assisting while its members remain in a centre declared unconstitutional by PNG’s highest court last April, still unsure whether they will be included in the resettlement deal with the United States.

What they can do is give their account of what happened to Mr Ahmed, in the hope that it might lead to changes and avert further tragedies.

This is why they entered the tent Mr Ahmed shared with 25 others in Oscar compound and took his most precious possessions from the bag by his bed when word of his death began to spread on Christmas Eve.

Among them was a cache of requests for treatment by International Health and Medical Services, the global company contracted to provide primary and mental health services to detainees on Manus Island and Nauru.

There were also copies of the formal complaints he lodged against IHMS and Australian Border Force, official responses to his requests and complaints, and personal items including a picture of his wife and boy.

At first Mr Ahmed, who spoke little English, had written his requests for help in Arabic, but when time dragged on with little response, Mr Adam says he agreed to translate them into English and read them back to Mr Ahmed before his put his name to them.

“It made me feel a human being,” Mr Adam told Fairfax Media. “He deserved that kind of compassion and support.”

Fearing a cover-up, or that the litany of complaints would not emerge until a coroner’s inquest a year or two from now, the friends took it upon themselves to put the material on the public record.

“We needed to show this is not the way to treat people here,” said one of those who took the documents and provided copies to Fairfax Media. “I want everyone to know no one (in authority) cared about him.”

Among them is the letter signed by the 60 Sudanese detainees “kindly and humbly” pleading with IHMS to help him after he returned from the clinic and informed friends he had been told there was nothing wrong with him.

Two days later, he passed out, fell, hit his head and had a seizure, prompting his transfer to Brisbane, where authorities say he died.

The health provider has since released a statement, expressing concern at “the inaccuracies and misinformation” surrounding the reporting of Mr Ahmed’s death and pride in the work of its “highly qualified and professional clinicians”.

“Claims that the patient was denied access to medical care are not correct. He was seen by clinicians and other allied health professionals at the clinic on numerous occasions in the three months preceding his death for multiple issues and his presenting medical issues were assessed, investigated and managed,” the statement says.

“The facts and circumstances surrounding his death will be referred to the Queensland Coroner. However, currently available information indicates that Mr Ahmed died from severe head injuries sustained in a fall at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre on 23 December.”

Fairfax Media has interviewed several of the detainees who contest the IHMS assertions. They insist Mr Ahmed was the victim of what Dr Barri Phatarfod, president of Doctors for Refugees, has dubbed “a culture of cynicism among at least some of the IHMS health professionals”.

Dr Phatarfod has provided Fairfax Media with one referral from IHMS for an asylum seeker who had cracked the right lens in his glasses and complained that he could not see out of his left eye. A test had not been done to assess the left eye, the referral asserted, “as they exaggerate their acuity to get attention”.

Astonishingly, the referral was dated September 7 2014, the day after the life support machine for Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei, was switched off in the Brisbane hospital.

Mr Khazaei died 13 days after presenting at the Manus Island detention centre’s medical clinic with an infected foot. A coroner’s inquest into his death will reconvene in February.

“Faysal was sick and had heart problems for more than six months but IHMS, the company that is responsible for our health, did not care about him and did not provide any treatment for him,” says an open letter signed by more than 200 detainees.

What is beyond question is that Mr Ahmed’s mental and physical health deteriorated dramatically during his more than three years in detention.

Rohingyan refugee, Imran Mohammad, 22, met Mr Ahmed when they were in the same compound in 2013 and says he was “full of life” and very engaging, with no health issues at all.

They did not cross paths again until recently, when they were again in the same compound, and Mr Mohammad says Mr Ahmed was withdrawn, had lost a lot of weight and was clearly very ill. “He was a different man,” he says.

Having survived more than 10 years as an internally displaced person in Sudan and witnessed all manner of horrors, Mr Ahmed began to fall apart on Manus after his claim for protection was accepted in October 2015, some eight months after his “initial positive assessment”.

The chest pains, stomach aches, dizziness and breathing difficulties became more pronounced in the last six months, after Mr Ahmed learnt that his mother had died in the Sudanese refugee camp.

In his application for protection, Mr Ahmed told how his village was attacked by the militia in 2003. “Around 35 people were killed during the attack including my brother, Abubakar, my grandmother and my uncle. My uncle was slaughtered by the militia when he refused to give up his camels.”

The family escaped to a refugee camp where Mr Ahmed lived with surviving family members until he fled in July 2013. “It was not safe in the camp,” he explained in his application for protection.

“On many occasions the Janjaweed militia entered the camp and killed people… They raped my uncle’s daughter. My sister was also raped. In one occasion in 2003, I was handcuffed and tied to a tree for two or three days. I was beaten badly. I have a scar on my left forearm where the handcuff was and scars on my forehead where I was whipped.

“The militia wanted me to join them as a fighter but I refused.”

Mr Adam says all the Sudanese refugees have similar stories. “All of us in the Sudanese community living on Manus Island detention centre, we have been experiencing the same trauma and torture, the same nightmares. We prefer not to talk about it because it’s painful.”

Now they are devastated. “This is Christmas and we were hoping for a gift from the Australian government, like our freedom. All we got was a dead body,” he says.

When Mr Khazaei died in 2014, then immigration minister Scott Morrison said his department’s chief medical officer would be conducting an “in-depth clinical review” of the Iranian’s medical treatment while on Manus Island.

This time the only official comment has been a brief statement on the Border Force website, saying the department is not aware of any suspicious circumstances and the death will be reported to the Queensland Coroner.

Those still detained say this is not good enough and, in their open letter, have called for a royal commission to investigate Mr Ahmed’s death.

One of those still detained is the Iranian Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani, who recalls that a similar open letter was written at the time of Mr Khazaei’s death, and that it concluded by asking who the next victim would be.

Mr Ahmed was among those who put his name to the letter.

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Sep 20

Cory Bernardi accuses Tony Abbott of ‘self-interest’ and ‘talking up division’

Cory Bernardi wants Trump-style political change. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen “The conservative instinct is to fix things, not to junk them”: Former prime minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has taken aim at ally Tony Abbott over his censure of “rebellious” colleagues looking to “do a Trump” in Australia, accusing his former leader of “talking up division” and backing “the horse named self-interest”.

Mr Abbott took to The Australian newspaper to pen a warning to Liberal colleagues looking to form a breakaway conservative party, predicting it would be a success, but one which would ultimately deliver government to Labor.

The former prime minister did not name Senator Bernardi in his missive, but the backbencher has increasingly been agitating for change, more recently refusing to hose down talk he is looking to form his own movement separate to the Liberal Party next year.

But Senator Bernardi dispensed with any opaqueness, naming Mr Abbott openly in a tweet responding to his opinion piece.

“While most on break, [the] only person talking up division in [the] Lib Party this past week is Tony Abbott,” he tweeted on Friday morning.

“Always back the horse named self-interest.” While most on break only person talking up division in Lib Party this past week is @TonyAbbottMHR. Always back the horse named self-interest— Cory Bernardi (@corybernardi) December 30, 2016

Senator Bernardi has also said he will have more to say in the New Year, having promised a “massive” 2017.

He has said Donald Trump’s victory in the United States served as a form of political epiphany for him, inspiring him to be a “catalyst for change” in Australia.

The rise of One Nation and continued falling support for the Turnbull government has also emboldened the Coalition’s more conservative members to speak out more and more, with George Christensen also warning his loyalty has limits.

Senator Eric Abetz said the answer was to reform the party, rather than divide it, while issuing his own warning to leader Malcolm Turnbull and the NSW branch of the party.

“A split within the Liberal Party would potentially dilute the conservative voice which would slow the momentum for reform in the NSW division,” he said on Friday.

“Many conservatives have been manipulatively disenfranchised by certain operatives in NSW which has led to understandable and widespread dissatisfaction.

“The answer is to remain and reform the party rather than dilute the forces for democracy and reform. Australians are entitled to a strong centre right political force and any split would weaken it. This is neither in the national interest nor the interests of the Liberal Party. The leadership of the party needs to be more proactive in reaching out to the majority of our membership to forestall such a potential split.”

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan was more gentle.

“The breadth of the Coalition, the fact we represent communities from right around Australia with very different life experiences, with different views – that is our strength,” Senator Ryan said.

“Unlike the Labor Party, we’re not factional Daleks. We have different views and we air every case.”

Parliament will resume in February.

with Tom McIlroy

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Sep 20

Sydney weather: Another muggy night on the way

At Circular Quay, people reach for gelato, doing what they can to deal with the excessive heat. Photo: Cassandra Hannagan Barry Moore 69 from Leichhardt escapes the heat with a morning swim at the Dawn Fraser Baths in Balmain. Photo: Kate Geraghty

People enjoying the hot weather over the holiday period at Coogee. Photo: Ben Rushton

Prepare for another night of tossing and turning, temperatures for Sydney are forecast within the 30s as late as 9pm on Friday night according to Weatherzone.

“Similar to last night, we’re not really looking like we’re going to cool off much overnight,” said Rebecca Kamitakahara, meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology.

Thursday night’s minimum temperature at Penrith was 24.7 degrees, which was its warmest night since February. The city didn’t enjoy much more relief, with the temperature only dropping to 23.9 degrees.

“So at Penrith overnight [Friday] we’re only expecting it to drop down to 25 degrees, and in the city we’re only expecting it to drop down to 24 degrees,” Ms Kamitakahara said. “So another muggy night on the way unfortunately.”

Sydneysiders are suffering through another hot day, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting temperatures to climb to 35 degrees in the city and 38 degrees in the west on Friday.

Showers and possibly some thunderstorms are expected to move across the Sydney basin in the afternoon and evening.

The greatest risk for showers is from about 4pm through to midnight, according to Weatherzone meteorologist Graeme Brittain.

“Humidity is going to be quite high with these showers as well,” he said.

“It will be quite uncomfortable conditions for sleeping as we move into this evening and overnight.”

A southerly wind change early on Saturday morning will mean that temperatures in the city won’t be quite as hot as Friday, with a forecast top of 28 degrees.

Western Sydney won’t be feeling this change though, with temperatures expected in the mid 30s again during the day on Saturday.

New Year’s Eve will be a fairly cloudy day with a chance of showers or thunderstorms in the afternoon, and possibly during the evening.

Mr Brittain said that while it will be cloudy, it is not expected to be low cloud cover, “So people should still be able to see the full fireworks display.”

Winds are expected to remain light through to midnight, so should not be a hindering factor to maximum firework enjoyment.

According to Weatherzone, the first day of 2017 is expected to bring showers and possibly a thunderstorm, as well as some hope for heat affected Sydneysiders as temperatures continue to drop.

The western suburbs are looking at a forecast top of 32 degrees while the city is expected to reach the high 20s.

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, the publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald.

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Sep 20

Queensland Rail to deliver report into Christmas Day cancellations

Jackie Trad has confirmed a report into QR’s Christmas Day failures will be handed in on Friday. Photo: Chris Hyde Acting Premier Jackie Trad says she has faith that Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe will sort out Queensland Rail issues. Photo: Jorge Branco

The Queensland government will receive a report into the Christmas Day rail fail on Friday, although it will not be made public until besieged Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has “digested” its contents.

Acting Premier Jackie Trad confirmed Mr Hinchliffe would receive the report on Friday into “what actually went wrong” when 235 services were cancelled on Christmas Day.

“He has made a commitment to release relevant information publicly, when he gets the report and he’s had time to review that report and digest it,” she said.

“I do know that the public is deeply, deeply interested in this, as is the government, we will make sure that the interest that is in the public benefit is released in relation to what happened on Christmas Day.

“There may be some issues relating to confidentiality, I’m not sure, I think he needs an opportunity to receive the report, to review it, and then make that decision [into how much will be released publicly].”

Mr Hinchliffe and Queensland Rail acting chief executive Jim Benstead have been reluctant to “guarantee” train services would run smoothly on New Year’s Eve.

But Ms Trad was willing to give a guarantee of a different sort when asked if Mr Hinchliffe would still have his job in 2017.

“I can guarantee that Stirling Hinchliffe will do the job that the Premier has asked him to do,” the Deputy Premier said.

Ms Trad apologised to passengers on behalf of the government for the inconveniences experienced as a result of the Christmas Day debacle.

“I do know that Minister Hinchliffe has been working very hard over the past number of days to make sure that New Year’s Eve celebrations are not disrupted in the same way,” she said.

“I know he’s had a number of briefings, he’s required Queensland Rail to provide him with specific information.”

Ms Trad said the rosters were full for New Year’s Eve services and Mr Hinchliffe had kept her updated.

“I can guarantee that the minister is working very hard, but there might be a fault in one of the lines, there might be a tragedy on one of the lines, because of all of these things, because of human nature, you cannot absolutely guarantee that every single train will run as planned,” she said.

In October 2015, a whistleblower contacted Ms Trad’s office warning of a looming driver shortage, when she was the transport minister.

Ms Trad said the information provided by the caller was not consistent with information being provided by Queensland Rail at the time.

“In fact, less than a month after, that call which was from an anonymous individual, Queensland Rail embarked upon the recruitment of 100 train drivers and 100 guards,” she said.

“Some four weeks after that there was a change in ministry.

“In terms of the information, the handover to Stirling Hinchliffe, I did outline as I have detailed in the past, the issues that Queensland Rail had advised me may be of concern in terms of the 2016 train issues.

“It was general issues, I did advise, in part of the incoming briefs, Stirling would have been advised that a recruitment process had been underway.”

Ms Trad said she believed chief operating officer Kevin Wright made the right decision in resigning.

“The minister has said that in relation to the Christmas Day rostering debacle, it was an issue in relation to the management of the rostering system,” she said.

“So management needed to take responsibility for that rostering problem and I think that given everything that happened on Christmas Day, the late notification, the spike in cancellations, it was incumbent on the minister to make some hard calls and I think he made the right call.”

Ms Trad said once the Philip Strachan review was received at the end of January, the government would look at the recommendations and make any necessary changes.

Acting Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said Queenslanders deserved to know what was in the report on the Christmas Day fiasco.

“I can tell this minister that the people of south-east Queensland would like also to digest this report and see the contents of his failings on Christmas Day,” she said.

“This is a minister that continues to play the blame game… This is now the third QR executive we’ve seen go on this incompetent minister’s watch.”

Ms Frecklington said it was not good enough that Ms Trad and Mr Hinchliffe had “refused to guarantee to the commuters of south-east Queensland that they’re going to be able to turn up to their party on time on New Year’s Eve”.

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Aug 20

Sydney New Year’s Eve: Damien James O’Neil, 40, charged over online threats

NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn says people should ”remain vigilant” on New Year’s Eve.A 40-year-old man has been charged by counter-terrorism police with making online threats relating to Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Damien James O’Neil was arrested as he got off a flight from London on Thursday.

Police will allege Mr O’Neil, from Chippendale in inner Sydney, uploaded a document to the online blog hosting site Live Journal in which he threatened to kill or maim random members of the public on New Year’s Eve.

Police attached to the Terrorism Investigation Squad were investigating posts allegedly made by Mr O’Neil after a tip-off from a member of the public.

Police raided his home in Regent Street, Chippendale and an inner-west storage facility where items including documents and hard drives were seized.

He has been charged with “Documents containing threats contrary to Section 31 Crimes Act 1900 concerning online blogs”.

Mr O’Neil chose not to appear on screen in Parramatta Bail Court on Friday and his Legal Aid solicitor did not apply for bail.

Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said the matter was “an isolated incident”.

“As a consequence, we are confident that there are no current or specific threats to New Year’s Eve and, while we ask people to remain vigilant, people should enjoy the celebrations.”

Acting Deputy Commissioner Frank Mennilli said the man, who was known to police for “minor matters”, had not been charged with a terrorist offence.

“The person was acting in isolation, he has no links to any cultural groups or groups that that have been identified,” he said.

“He did post on social media a number of threats of some possible activity that he could be undertaking. It clearly showed how vigilant the NSW police and its partners are, because he was arrested immediately and he has been placed before the court.

“The matter is still under investigation and there may be some further charges, but I can certainly assure everyone there is no current threat from that individual or any other person.”

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Aug 20

Davis Hayes as excited as the rest of the racing world over the debut of Black Caviar’s daughter

David Hayes with Black Caviar’s daughter Oscietra on Friday. Photo: Eddie JimDavid Hayes has stood before microphones at press conferences for decades but the trainer admits that Friday morning’s media conference to discuss the debut performance of champion race mare Black Caviar’s daughter, Oscietra, was different to any other he had been involved in.

Hayes said that he and his much decorated father, Colin, had prepared champions as well as brothers and sisters of champions, but since Oscietra had walked into his Euroa training operation the media momentum had gathered significantly.

Just 48 hours before Oscietra makes her racecourse debut at Flemington over 1000 metres on Sunday a final question-and-answer session was under way at Hayes’ Flemington stable.

“I must admit that I was a great fan of Black Caviar, I followed her everywhere and was always taken with her performances, but I must admit I didn’t expect the media rush that we’ve had in the last four weeks when it appeared this filly would be making her debut.

“We’ve had some beautifully bred horses come through our stables in the last half century but none have drawn this sort of media attention.

“I’ve got a beautiful filly at home that’s a daughter of one of the best mares I’ve ever trained, Miss Finland, and no one’s asked a question.”

However, the trainer explained to the group that Oscietra was just one of a 100-strong two-year-old intake that had come through his Euroa and Flemington stables this season.

“There is no favouritism, no matter what you’re by or out of, you are on equal terms to the next two-year-old.  And when you show you can go faster and faster, that’s when I get more worried and more worried, but it’s a nice problem to have,” he said.

Black Caviar went through her remarkable career as an unbeaten sprinter who was successful in nearly every state of Australia and also in England.

Luke Nolen, who formed such a remarkable bond with Black Caviar, will be aboard Oscietra on Sunday, but according to Hayes, there will be no need for any instructions.

“He’ll know what to do, he’s trialled her twice, the form in those trials seems to be fairly strong so that’s very much a significant yardstick,” he said.

TAB fixed odds are not offering lavish odds with $1.50 on offer for Oscietra to remain unbeaten on Sunday night.

And, what is the public to expect when the barrier stalls open early on Sunday afternoon? Hayes  said: “She will be a high-class stakes winner and, put it this way, everyone around the stable is very excited about what will happen on Sunday at Flemington.”

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Aug 20

Russell Bell bullish Canterbury will suit Northern Territory cult hero Sirbible

Classic chance: Sirbible. Photo: Vince CaligiuriOne of the Northern Territory’s top cattle farming families and the family of one of the Top End’s former leading policemen may be linked by marriage, but it is their association with cult speedster Sirbible that will be front and centre at Canterbury on Saturday.

Sirbible’s trainer Russell Bell calls Colac in Victoria home for now and has been campaigning his free-wheeling sprinter in Sydney of late, but he remains very much a product of the Northern Territory.

The family of Ian Kesby, who helped investigate the disappearance of British backpacker Peter Falconio, and the cattle farming Stanes clan have a son and daughter who married and Sirbible is an extension of that union.

After beating all bar The Monstar home in the Razor Sharp a fortnight ago, Bell is bullish about Sirbible’s chances in the $150,000 Canterbury Classic on New Year’s Eve.

“To me I’ve watched a lot of races at Canterbury and it makes perfect sense that it is the right track for him,” Bell said. “He likes tight tracks as everybody has seen and, if he can run at Canterbury like he runs at Moonee Valley – which I’m tipping he’s going to – it’s going to suit him down to the ground.

“Robbie Brewer said it was a five-length better gallop this week prior to his first one [before the Razor Sharp]. The horse is in super condition and he seems to be really thriving in Sydney.”

Bell has called upon South Australia veteran hoop Wayne Kerford to reunite with Sirbible to help alleviate the shortage of lightweight riders in Sydney.

“As soon as he got off the phone he was running to the airport,” Bell said. “Wayne’s a good friend of mine and I’ve said it once before he’s probably in the twilight of his career and they look for the younger guys now, but he’s got a wealth of experience and he’s won on the horse.

“Kerrin [McEvoy] rode him super last start for a bloke that’s just got on him. You don’t win Melbourne Cups and ride like he does if you’re not a champion, but ‘Bulldog’ was the top pick for a lightweight.”

Sirbible was a $10 chance with Ladbrokes on Friday for the Canterbury Classic in a market headed by His Majesty ($4.80).

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Aug 20

Test best: our cricket team of 2016

 Voges in, Smith out of ICC Test team of the year

When it comes to picking Test cricket’s 2016 team of the year, we now know what it’s like to be a national selector. It’s not an easy caper, and there is always someone who is going to be unhappy. In this case, there are several players who could rightfully feel miffed. Josh Hazlewood, Kane Williamson, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali all had strong claims – but ultimately were overlooked. Here is who we have settled on. Azhar Ali (Pakistan)

11 matches, 1198 runs at 63.05, three centuries.

Like many of his countrymen over the years, the Pakistan opener had struggled away from Asia but he has gone some way to correcting that imbalance this year. After a shaky start to the series in England, Azhar made 139 at Edgbaston – his first Test ton away from Asia – and followed up with an unbeaten double ton in Melbourne. Azhar created history by becoming the first player to score a double and triple century in day-night Tests with his 302 not out against the West Indies in Dubai. In a year in which openers have struggled, he could not be overlooked. Alastair Cook (England)

17 matches, 1270 runs at 42.33, two centuries.

His future as England captain is on shaky ground but the left-hander continues to churn out the runs. This was the fifth year, and second on the trot, in which he scored more than 1000 runs. His highlight came at Old Trafford, where he played a key role in victory over Pakistan with a double of 105 and 76 not out. Cook’s year finished on a sour note with a 4-0 hammering in the series in India, during which he came under fire for his conservative captaincy. He’s considered unlikely to be England’s skipper for next summer’s Ashes, and he won’t be leading this team either. Joe Root (England)

17 matches, 1477 runs at 49.23, three centuries.

The England strokemaker with the boyish grin finished the year narrowly ahead of teammate Johnny Bairstow as Test cricket’s leading runscorer. His determination to do well was highlighted ahead of the final Test against India in Chennai when he took to a road inside the stadium for practice, as the net facilities and even a tennis court inside the ground had been storm damaged. In line to be England’s next captain, Root began the year in fine touch in South Africa, had a flat spot at home against Sri Lanka but rebounded against Pakistan, crunching 254 in Manchester. There was only the one half-century in four innings in Bangladesh but he was one of the few consistent performers on a rugged tour of India, starting with 124 in Rajkot. Virat Kohli (India, captain)

12 matches, 1215 runs at 75.93, four centuries.

The super-fit Indian skipper has dropped weight thanks to a protein-rich diet and gruelling training program, while demanding his players also be in mint physical condition. His Test campaign began in July with a double century against the West Indies but a lean spell followed. A double ton against the Black Caps reignited his season, and he would go on to torment England, with 167 in Visakhapatnam and, in Mumbai, his third double century. His aggressive captaincy has also been praised. Steve Smith (Australia)

11 matches, 1079 runs at 71.93, four centuries.

It’s been a tumultuous year for the Australian skipper, who began by dominating the Black Caps in New Zealand (138 in Christchurch) but was unable to land a fatal blow on Sri Lanka in Australia’s opening two Tests there – both heavy defeats. He responded with a century in the final Test in Colombo but, again, his side crumbled. His 0 and 34 in the first Test against South Africa in Perth was symbolic of Australia’s woes but his character was on show when he contributed an unbeaten 48 as his team was torpedoed for 85 by the Proteas in Hobart. Handed a revamped team, he helped engineer victory in Adelaide and his century against Pakistan in Brisbane bankrolled victory. A century in Melbourne would see him notch 1000 Test runs for a third-straight year. Is improving tactically and in how he leads his side. Ben Stokes (England)

12 matches, 904 runs at 45.2, two centuries. 33 wickets at 25.81.

One of the first players picked after a breakout year. Has morphed into the game’s best allrounder, starting the year with a career-high 258 in Cape Town. A calf injury on the final day of the second Test against Pakistan derailed his home campaign but he returned for the Bangladesh tour, scoring 85 in Chittagong. He added 128 in the opening Test against India in Rajkot. His medium-pacers have provided opportune wickets, and he had a five-wicket haul in Mohali. Quinton de Kock (South Africa)

Eight matches, 695 runs at 63.18, two centuries, 33 catches.

The South African is arguably the most contentious selection in the XI. Jonny Bairstow can consider himself unlucky not to get the nod but we’ve gone for de Kock based on his superior glove work. His inclusion will undoubtedly lead to a savaging of Fairfax selectors in the media, more so when it’s revealed the time zone of Bairstow’s games was not compatible with the panel’s lifestyles. What we saw of de Kock in Australia was very impressive – with both bat and gloves. His innings in Perth and Hobart were major factors in South Africa winning the series. Ravi Ashwin (India)

12 matches, 72 wickets at 23.9, eight five-wicket hauls, three 10-wicket hauls. 

Few players have had better all-round years than this Indian spin merchant. Ashwin was instrumental in India finishing 2016 as the clear No.1 Test nation. He won matches with the ball, bamboozling England with his bounce and variations, and scored invaluable runs in the lower order. Ashwin joined the great Kapil Dev as the only Indian players to score 500 runs and take 50 wickets in a year. It’s a feat only five other players have achieved. Mitchell Starc (Australia)

Eight matches, 50 wickets at 22.58, three five-wicket hauls, one 10-wicket haul.

There was a time when Starc was better known for his deeds with the white ball but he is now one of the most feared quicks in world cricket in any format. The left-arm speed demon stood tall in a year when the Australian team unravelled. It does not bear thinking how much worse Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka would have been if not for Starc, who claimed 24 wickets at 15 in a lost cause. Fans have not seen the best of Starc this season after a nasty gash hampered his preparations but the paceman has still made crucial breakthroughs. He takes the new ball in our XI. Stuart Broad (England)

14 matches, 48 wickets at 26.56, one five-wicket haul.

Having committed to playing two spinners and using all-rounder Ben Stokes as the third seamer, selectors deliberated long and hard over who would partner Starc. Broad got the nod, only marginally though, for his ability to both attack and defend. A lot of thought was given to South Africa’s pace sensation Kagiso Rabada but the fact he does not take the new ball for his country counted against him, while Josh Hazlewood finished with a wet sail to come very close to the team.   Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)

Nine matches, 46 wickets at 23.34, four five-wicket hauls, one 10-wicket haul.

With Starc and Stuart Broad the new-ball specialists, Rabada – as he is for the Proteas – is the ideal man at first change, combining genuine speed with swing. After a modest start to his career in late 2015, he announced himself to the world in his fifth Test when he claimed 5-78 against England in Johannesburg in January. He followed this with 13 wickets for the match at Centurion. He played a pivotal role in Australia’s downfall this summer, claiming 5-92 off 31 overs in Perth as injured spearhead Dale Steyn could only look on. Former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith says Rabada is “an icon already in South African cricket”. Rangana Herath (12th man)

Nine matches, 57 wickets at 18.92, five five-wicket hauls, two 10-wicket hauls.

The 38-year-old Sri Lankan enjoyed another superb year, and almost single-handedly destroyed Australia on the mid-year tour of the sub-continent. He may be a left-arm finger spinner but it was his skidding, straight deliveries which tormented the tourists, claiming 28 wickets at a stunning average of 12.75. He also cashed in against Zimbabwe, claiming 19 wickets in two Tests. He would be the perfect partner for the off-spinning Ashwin.

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Jul 22

Small businesses wade through floods in soggy Elwood

Dr Elizabeth Foo outside Laird’s pharmacy, says it’s hard to estimate the cost of the damage. Photo: Penny Stephens Andrew Sarratore from Jerry’s milk bar in Elwood: “Please slow down… or no coffee tomorrow.” Photo: Penny Stephens

Walking into Jerry’s Milk Bar on Friday morning, one could be mistaken that Thursday’s flash floods were a distant memory. The floors of the iconic Elwood cafe are dry, the coffee machine is brewing, and customers are streaming in and out of the front door.

Perhaps that’s because owner Andrew Sarratore has learned his lesson. Being the third time since he bought the century-old business in 2010 that it fell victim to flash flooding, he now knows what to do to avoid costly damage.

On his first day in business, Mr Sarratore recalls, heavy rain swamped the place, sending what he estimates as $20,000 worth of supplies — eggs, fruit and fresh vegetables — sailing through the store. It took him six days to clean up the mess.

Four years later, when wild storms lashed the suburb, water gushed up from the drains and streamed down the road from the nearby canal, flooding the cafe yet again, says Mr Sarratore.

But this year, as he heard the rain pummel down and the canal break its banks, Mr Sarratore knew what to do.

He put crates on the road to divert traffic away from the water that had built up on the side of the road, as it struggled to make its way down the drains. To the crates he added a sign that read, “Please slow down… or no coffee tomorrow.” And he put sandbags at each of the property’s three entrances to prevent the water from making its way under the doors.

He then took a shovel and cleared the drains outside, in an effort to enable the water to pass through more easily, and when the rain eventually stopped, he took a mop and swept out any water that had made its way inside.

“Customers who live nearby offered assistance,” says Mr Sarratore. “By this morning, the place was dry and we opened as usual.”

Nearby, on Tennyson Street, an employee at the local Laird’s Pharmacy is squeezing water out of towels that had earlier lined the front door of the shop.

Inside, between serving her customers, owner Dr. Elizabeth Foo says it’s hard to estimate the cost of the damage to her newly inaugurated store.

Stock that had been shelved low to the ground was ruined. She returned to work today to discover the fridge had exceeded the optimal temperature for storing medicines — which she suspects may have occurred due to a temporary power outage — and now she must go through that stock to see if it is still viable. Meanwhile, the carpets will need to be cleaned to avoid any fungal infections.

Not only had water made its way through the two entrances to the store, despite her efforts to lay rolled-up towels at the doors, it had seeped through the roof, too.

“I put buckets on the bench to collect the water,” she says.

The flood comes just one month after the store was officially inaugurated by the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, says Dr. Foo with pride, showing off photos of the occasion.

A few doors down, the washing machines are spinning at Tennyson Street Laundry. Just yesterday evening, manager Tobias Kilsby had been sweeping out water that flowed over the drain, through the back door, past the washing machines, and out the laundromat’s front entrance.

Fortunately, there was no damage to the machinery. “They’re industrial grade and their machines sit high up off the ground,” explains Mr Kilsby.

The small businesses on Ormond Road, Elwood’s main shopping strip, appear to have gotten through the flash flood scot-free.

“The water rose up high where the cars are parked outside, but it didn’t make it past the footpath,” explains Joanna Pidcock, who works at The Grumpy Swimmer bookstore.

“That was lucky for us, because water could do a lot of damage to our stock,” she says with a smile, looking at all the books and gift items stored on shelves down to the floor.

Some neighbouring stores hadn’t taken any chances. While their shopfronts bear signs saying, “Taking a break for Christmas. See you in 2017,” sandbags and towels line the front doors.

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