‘I know how to win’: Mark Renshaw to make most of Mark Cavendish’s absence and go for broke

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LILLE: Mark Renshaw never ceases to be amazed by the vagaries of cycling, especially when he looks at his position in the Tour de France where he is now his team’s lead sprinter.

Now the NSW rider’s opportunity has come, with British teammate and star sprinter Mark Cavendish sidelined by his injuries, including a dislocated collar bone, sustained in a crash at the finish of stage one at Harrogate, Britain.

Renshaw smiles when asked how his career has changed – from being Cavendish’s lead-out rider, to trying his hand at being another team’s main sprinter, to returning to Cavendish’s side in his old role, and now facing the chance to win again.

Since his elevation, Renshaw has placed third in Monday’s third stage from Cambridge to London and seventh in Tuesday’s 163km fourth stage from Le Touquet-Paris Plage to Lille – both won by German Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

The win by Kittel on Tuesday, in which he beat Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and French champion Arnaud Demare into second and third places respectively, took his career tally of Tour stage wins to seven from two Tours.

“It’s really crazy, a cyclist’s career. Things can turn on their head pretty quick,” said Renshaw (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

“I’ve seen both sides of the coin – the good and the bad of last year [as protected sprinter on the Belkin team], two years ago having a big crash in the Tour of Turkey.

“Now ‘Cav’ is on the other side of the coin and is looking to come back. But that gives me an opportunity. I’ll take it with both hands and see what I come up with.”

Renshaw, whose opportunity to race for himself in bunch sprints should last beyond the Tour and into the second half of the year as Cavendish rehabilitates, said he had been in regular contact with the Briton since he left the Tour.

“We have spoken a lot since he stopped,” Renshaw said. “[The Tour was] the season goal for him, so obviously he is finding it quite hard watching the [race on] TV, but we have all been there.”

Renshaw also realises that beating Kittel, who now has three stage wins, will be a “big ask”, especially as he is not gifted with the German’s speed.

However, the Australian believes a stage win is still possible should the stars align – and there is no shortage of opportunity, with Thursday’s sixth stage followed by stages 7, 15, 19 and 21 into Paris suited for the sprinters on paper.

“The tactics are simple. We need to catch him offguard and we need some luck,” Renshaw said, adding that believes more time in the role as his team’s sprinter can only help.

“I didn’t have the preparation to beat Kittel in the sprint [on stage there], but I have the experience for the positioning,” Renshaw said.

“I know how to win, but this year has been dedicated to Cavendish – and more about me leading him out with a progressive long sprint rather than a short and sharp effort.

“I think I can beat Kittel but luck needs to swing my way and he needs to be unlucky.

“So a lot of things need to happen for me to win a stage, but I’ll keep trying. I know where I am in relation to these guys, but it’s a big ask to win a stage.”

Renshaw is candid about saying that for him or anyone to beat Kittel, they will need the German to make an error – or his teammates in their lead-out for him in the sprint.

“We need Giant-Shimano to make a couple of mistakes to have him out of position,” Renshaw said.

THEATRE: Trench angels saluted

TOUGH TIMES: Kate Skinner as Sister Florence Whiting in Through These Lines.WHEN writer and producer Cheryl Ward toured NSW last year looking for venues to stage her World War I play Through These Lines, her immediate Newcastle choice was Fort Scratchley.
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She walked into a casemate, a vaulted concrete chamber beneath the late 19th century fort’s gun emplacements that was intended for use in sheltering troops and stores.

It was a perfect setting for the play’s story, which shows an Australian nurse moving from one battlefront to another to care for wounded soldiers between 1914 and 1918.

The nurse, Sister Florence Whiting, is stationed at various times in concrete bunkers and on hospital ships, interacting with her nursing colleagues and the military men she meets and treats. Florence and a soldier who was wounded at Gallipoli fall in love while he is hospitalised.

Through These Lines is being staged at Fort Scratchley from July 24 to August 5 as part of the Civic Theatre’s subscription series.

While the Civic’s subscription works are generally staged in its 1500-seat theatre or the adjacent and smaller Playhouse, Cheryl Ward submitted her Through These Lines script to the management and received the go-ahead to use Fort Scratchley.

Many of the NSW seasons will be in RSL clubs, but other historic buildings with a military connection will also house the play.

The Trial Bay Jail at South-West Rocks, near Kempsey, where German nationals were interned during World War I, is a venue. The Lithgow Small Arms Factory, like the jail now a museum, is another. Brought into operation in 1912, the Lithgow facility manufactured rifles and bayonets for Australian forces during World War I.

Cheryl Ward was inspired to write Through These Lines after former concrete munitions tunnels at Sydney Harbour’s Middle Head were opened to the public in 2008.

Ward grew up near the locked tunnels and, with other teenagers, managed to climb into them on occasions.

When they became available for public arts works, she looked for a theatre subject, with photos of nurses in a concrete-walled room in France during World War I leading her to research their lives and work and to develop the first version of Through These Lines.

The play had a sold-out three-week season in one of the munitions rooms in 2010, with audience members often in tears as they heard the nurses talking about their experiences in words taken verbatim from letters World War I nurses had written.

Ward has reworked the script since that initial staging and, in her words, ‘‘it has become a much more personal journey for Sister Florence Whiting’’.

‘‘It is a more human story,’’ she said.

‘‘The nurses behind the battlefronts were almost anonymous people. They treated thousands of patients, but half the time they didn’t know their names.’’

The cast is led by Kate Skinner as Florence Whiting, with the other actors playing three or more roles.

Cheryl Ward is one of the actors, with her characters including the matron in charge of the story’s nursing team. The other players are Rebecca Barbera, Gareth Rickards, Gary Clementson, and Christian Charisiou. Mary-Anne Gifford directs.

The Fort Scratchley casemate will hold 60 audience members.

Ward said the 80-minute work, which is played without an interval, makes extensive use of stretchers and has props including tents, wooden huts and ship features as the story moves between a troop ship taking soldiers and nurses to Europe, Cairo, a hospital ship, Lemnos and the Western Front.

The audience will be greeted at the casemate door by the actors at the starting time and brought into the venue. Latecomers won’t be admitted.

Through These Lines, a co-production by Turnaround Productions and No Rest for the Wicked, has a preview at 7.30pm on Thursday, July 24. There will be performances from Friday, July 25, to Tuesday, August 5, with shows each Friday at 7.30pm, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and 7.30pm, Monday at 7.30pm, Tuesday at 3pm and 7.30pm, and Thursday at 7.30pm. Tickets: $38, concession $32, subscriber $28, with a preview price of $25. Bookings: Civic Ticketek, 49291977.

The Lorica gladiator suit takes the pain out of armed combat

“Creating an entirely new sport:” The Lorica suit. Photo: Unified Weapons MasterMany would say the allure of Game of Thrones lies in the blood and gore, the swords and staffs and the battles in armour.
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These days weapons-based combat in television, film and gaming leaves fans mouth-watering and blood thirsty for the next hyper-violent battle scene.

So it was only a matter of time before someone developed the technology to physically step inside the armour, brandish a weapon and feel those blows.

Australian start-up, Unified Weapons Master, has created the Lorica; a gladiator-style combat suit built to withstand and record the full force of martial arts weapons.

“Our vision is to reignite interest in weapons-based martial arts that have been practised and developed over thousands of years,” said Unified Weapons Master CEO, David Pysden.

He said the Lorica suit is the first opportunity to see some of the most ancient weapons-based martial arts showcased in the modern era.

“These arts are slowly dying because they can’t be practised for real because of the dangers. We wanted to create a forum for martial artists to be able to showcase their skills,” he said.

The carbon-fibre suit has in-built sensors which track and store data on the impact of martial arts weapons to an unprotected body.

In recent battle testing the most forceful strike recorded was a blow to the head from a tomahawk with almost 600kg of force.

The data is recorded in the 40 sensors placed near the head and torso which measure the force and location of strikes to the armour in real time.

Whilst Pysden said their core application for the suit is in weapons-based martial arts, there are always long term goals, such as in military and law enforcement training.

“It is going to be possible for us to look to training armour, and we’ve already received an overwhelming response online, from people into gaming, average people, and professionals. People just love the idea of putting on a suit of armour and fighting with weapons.

“In the longer term we could see this even going into gyms,” he said.

Research and development of the Lorica suit have been funded by private investors. At what cost, Pysden would not say, though he said the price tag to date was not insignificant.

With a plan to launch the first competition battle events using the suits by next year, Pysden said the most exciting part will be seeing different weapons from different cultural histories in competition.

“There are 96 weapons-based martial arts and we are putting together a forum where they can all compete.

“What we’re excited about seeing is who comes out on top; for example a Japanese Samurai sword champion, versus a Chinese Shaolin staff master,” he said.

State of Origin 2014: The lead-up to Game 3PHOTOS

State of Origin 2014: The lead-up to Game 3 | PHOTOS State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images
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State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

TweetFacebookIt’s the game of the rugby league season. Can NSW make State of Origin 2014 a clean sweep?

Check out the pre-game photos fromSuncorp Stadiumhere.

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Footy fans get set to the final match of the 2014 State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Cheika promises full force Waratahs

Michael Cheika has quashed speculation the Waratahs will field an under-strength team for their clash with Queensland on Saturday, saying to do so would promote a “bad mindset” within the minor premiers.
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The final-round derby clash at Suncorp Stadium will have no scoreboard impact on the Waratahs’ spot in the finals series after the side clinched top spot with a bonus point-win over the Highlanders last week.

But Cheika rejected suggestions the match was an opportunity to rest players or protect them from risk of injury, confirming that key starters Israel Folau, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas and Alofa Alofa were all on track to play in Brisbane and would not be wrapped in cotton wool.

“You could [injure a player] at any time, in training or regular games,” he said. “This is a contact sport, you don’t go into it worrying about things like that.

“It’s a bad mindset if you do, something is almost bound to happen. Just go in there, play with the guys you have and see what cards you’re dealt.”

Cheika said he had been rotating players through training to manage their loads and was doing the same this week.

“What we’ve done with those international guys who were with the Wallabies in June is, as the season has played out, we’ve rotated one a week out from a day here or there,” he said.

“We’ve done it with Adam Ashley-Cooper, we’ve done it with Michael Hooper and we did it with Bernard too this week.

“But as for not using players, I don’t want to have that style of worring about things that may or may not happen.”

The Reds, meanwhile, have spent the week fighting off accusations from Queensland legend Stan Pilecki that their 30-20 loss to the Force last week showed they felt no pride in the Reds jersey.

Test second-rower Rob Simmons defended the playing group on Wednesday, saying he was angered by Pilecki’s comments that he was “embarrassed and disgusted” with the side’s effort.

“It’s disappointing, you can say it all out there but to question our effort we get very frustrated at that. The effort’s not the question, you can question anything else but it’s a bit disappointing really [to question their effort],” Simmons said.

“As players we’re not sugar-coating anything, we know it’s not the ideal season, we’re not happy with it, and there’s been a few changes this season and you can expect a few more next season and we’re looking to improve. We’re pretty disappointed with it and looking to finish on a high.”

About the only place the Reds have an edge over NSW is at set piece. The Queenslanders have conceded six more tries (48) than they have scored (42) this season and are occupying lowly 12th place on the ladder, but on lineout and scrum success they are in the top five in the competition while the Waratahs are trending near the bottom.

Simmons said the Reds had an opportunity there to cause NSW a headache leading into their finals campaign.

“It’s a tough one, they’re a pretty good team all around but we have pretty good set piece at the moment, especially our lineout in attack and defence, so we’ll try to get to set piece nice and fast, speed things up and basically just try to beat them in every little battle in the forward play so our backs can start running riot,” he said.

The second and back rows are the only places Cheika could tinker with selection, with regular No.6 Jacques Potgieter a solid second-row lineout option and Test rookie Will Skelton an option there too.

Either way, neither the Waratahs nor Reds are taking Saturday’s clash for granted.

A NSW loss would expose a soft underbelly and Queensland will have Pilecki’s barbs ringing in their ears.

“There’s a few people saying in the media it might be a dead rubber, but I can guarantee you Saturday night won’t be a dead rubber,” Simmons said.

“This is state of origin for rugby union.”

Harcourt rebuked overdrug ‘retirement’ claims

Peter Harcourt (far right) has been rebuked by the AFL Photo: Pat ScalaThe AFL has moved to clarify comments made by its medical director at a Zurich conference, insisting players are not “retired” by the league for illicit drugs problems but rather made their own decisions.
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Peter Harcourt had revealed during an anti-doping conference last November, but only publicly reported last week, that the AFL had temporarily withdrawn three players with illicit drug problems from competition, and “retired” another three who were unable to control their problems since the policy was introduced a decade ago.

AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said the illicit drug policy was “a voluntary policy that relies upon the co-operation of players and clubs”.

“Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the policy and so we cannot provide detail about individual cases – Dr Harcourt’s briefing in Zurich about the AFL’s illicit drug policy drew upon information already provided to clubs and players,” Keane said on Wednesday.

“We have consistently stated that the IDP is based on a medical model and its key focus is to identify players abusing illicit drugs and to support them and change their behaviour through early intervention and treatment services.

“To clarify, the AFL does not force anyone to retire from the game – the wording of the presentation was misleading.

“Players make their own decisions about their playing careers and sometimes those decisions are based on advice regarding their health and welfare, including consultation with our medical directors and the player’s own health experts, or a decision made on the basis they can no longer make the commitment required to be a professional footballer in our competition.

“In the cases cited, the players retired for health reasons; this is a medical model – a player’s health is the overriding consideration.”

Former Hawthorn midfielder Travis Tuck, the only AFL player to have had three strikes and been suspended, may have fallen outside of the group of three.

Keane reiterated that players “identified” under the policy were subjected to target testing as part of their treatment program.

“The changes to the IDP have already been widely publicised. They include the capability to act upon players judged to be recalcitrant,” he said.

“Players identified by the AFL medical directors of acting or displaying an attitude contrary to the objectives and spirit of the IDP will be directed to undergo a more intense education and counselling program and will be named to their club CEO if there is no change in behaviour.”

Players originally had just had doctor-patient privilege. Players can now only self-report once throughout their career to avoid a strike.

The changes came about after Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert warned in November 2012 of “volcanic behaviour” of some players during the off-season.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s Open Mike this week, Pert said the industry at that stage “had been brushing off the rumours and not following it up”.

“There was very poor understanding and education, I think, throughout the clubs,” he said.

“Now we have the clubs involved in the process, we actually have the loopholes closed so we have sent a very strong message to players, not only AFL players, but players that are playing the game throughout Australia, that we won’t accept it.”

Harcourt told the Zurich conference that three players had had psychotic reactions to illicit substances, five had taken illicit substances to deal with certain psychiatric symptoms, and the AFL had opted to “temporarily withdraw” another three players “because of substance abuse issues that needed to be treated”.

He said another five had shown “attitudinal and personality type issues, but the bulk are just silly, risk-taking behaviour”.

Sudden death rugby will bring out the best in Brumbies: Ben Mowen

They haven’t won a last-round match in eight years but the ACT Brumbies are adamant their sudden death clash against the Western Force will inspire their best performance of the year as they aim for a finals berth.
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Scrumhalf Nic White has challenged the Brumbies to increase their physicality and tempo to match the desperate Force, who are trying to secure a play-off spot for the first time in the club’s history.

The winner of the Australian derby match will be guaranteed a place in the finals.  The loser’s fate will hinge on results of other matches.

The Brumbies haven’t won a game in the last round of the regular season since 2007, three of those costing the club a play-off spot.

But Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen said the team had learned from the past and was suited to knock-out scenarios.

And for extra motivation, the Brumbies can secure a home final and set up a week-two match against the top-of-the-table NSW Waratahs if they beat the Force.

“Last year we spent close to a month living out of a suitcase … the carrot is that if you get Friday night right, the path to the final is there,” Mowen said.

“We’ve been a side who understands the pressure of knock out football. We got it wrong in 2012, we learnt the lesson and went on a run last year. There’s so much experience now, sudden death footy will bring the best out of us.”

The Brumbies will be bolstered by the return of five key players for the clash against the Force.

Matt Toomua, Sam Carter and Josh Mann-Rea are all back in the starting XV while Pat McCabe and Joseph Tomane will be on the bench.

Carter has trained just twice since injuring his ankle in the Wallabies opening Test against France last month.

The towering lock played more than 70 minutes with an ankle syndesmosis injury, but powered on to earn man of the match honours.

“It’s been about five weeks since I played, but I’m not too worried,” Carter said.

“I feel pretty good, I’ve had a break and I feel good to go. The biggest thing I can add is getting the old combinations back. My goal is to get back into the Wallabies, but I’m focusing on the Force and Super Rugby first.”

Wallabies No. 9 White said the Brumbies had fixed the deficiencies in their game after they were convincingly beaten by the Waratahs two weeks ago.

White, who will be playing his 50th Super Rugby game, will likely line-up against his former Brumbies understudy, Ian Prior.

“It’s simple this week, win and you go through and lose and you don’t,” White said.

“We needed to fix a few things in our game … the Force will be very desperate. They’ve got the hunger there to make the finals for the first time, we’ve got to match that and go up again.”

LIVE: Art vs Science. parlez vous dance?

Art vs Science play at The Cambridge on August 1. Tickets at Bigtix. Picture: Erik BerganAFTER six years together and a string of infectious hits including Parlez Vous Francais?, Magic Fountain, Flippers, Create Destroy and their latest, Creature of the Night, Sydney trio Art vs Science have cemented themselves in the Australian electronic music scene.
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But the boys – Jim Finn, Dan McNamee and Dan Williams – were playing rock music together when a pivotal gig changed their path, McNamee (aka Dan Mac) told LIVE.

‘‘I saw Midnight Juggernauts in 2006 at Homebake Sydney and that was like, ‘Wow, holy shit!’ That was an influence because I was playing in a rock band with Dan, Jim and Jim’s brother at the time. I thought, ‘I want to do this’.

‘‘I’d been thinking about doing dance music live since forever and they were actually doing it,’’ Dan Mac said, before adding a few more gigs from big names in dance music cemented the genre shift.

‘‘The Presets were doing it. Then I saw Daft Punk and while they don’t do it live…there was this mixture between really classic electronic music and pop as well. It felt really good and I thought, ‘This is so hectic, it’s awesome’, so that’s the vibe I went for with Art vs Science.’’

And that he did. Together the trio followed in the footsteps of Melbourne three-piece Midnight Juggernauts in playing electronic and dance music live as a band. But there’s also no doubting Art vs Science have forged their own path: part of the huge appeal of songs like Parlez Vous Francais? and Magic Fountain is that they are so different from everything else out there, so distinctly Art vs Science.

In the six years since forming, the trio have released a handful of EPs and their debut album, 2011’s The Experiment which reached No.2 on the ARIA charts.

Despite it being years since the record’s release, the trio released the Create Destroy EP in April, rather than unleashing their second album.

Dan Mac, who takes vocals, guitars and keyboard duties in the band, said the decision was a collaborative one. While at first it was driven by their ‘‘management/distribution company’’, in the end it worked creatively for the band too.

‘‘In hindsight I agree because there were some songs which I thought were finished but I wasn’t completely happy with,’’ Dan Mac said.

‘‘Just in the last couple of weeks I opened up a Pro Tools session and I actually listened to it with fresh ears and went, ‘Aha! I know what needs to be done now’, and I did some nips and tucks and now it sounds really awesome.’’

Having space from the songs was just what the band needed. It’s a creative process they’ve used successfully on previous recordings: ‘‘It’s my preferred way to do things, actually. Either like that or go from start to finish in half an hour and do it that way. If you start working on something minutely, you need to give it a few weeks’ off.’’

Dan Mac said the trio had a ‘‘bunch of songs’’ already recorded which are likely to make their way on to the next album, which will be released in the next 12 months.

‘‘If we were making a cabinet it’s all been put together and sanded, it’s just waiting for varnish,’’ he said cryptically.

But for now, Art vs Science are keeping fans happy with their latest single Creature Of The Night which Dan Mac said Finn wrote at the end of 2012.

‘‘The lyrics were just a little sort of a ditty – he kind of writes kids’ songs in his spare time and he’s really good at that – and he wrote this one when he’d come home [from a night out] when the sun had come up,’’ he said before adding with a laugh, ‘‘but then those lyrics which started off kind of simple became mutated into this strange like of allegory of a song about the night. It’s a partying song but oh, jeez, it’s got a menacing tone.’’

The boys gauged Creature Of The Night by giving it a run live at Sydney’s On The Harbour New Year’s Eve. The response was resoundingly positive and so it was released: ‘‘The very first hour of this year we played that song and it went off so we thought, ‘We better make this a single’.’’

Litmus testing new songs live is something they’ve always done and will do on the upcoming Creature of the Night tour, though Dan Mac is careful to remind fans the favourites will always be part of an Art vs Science set.

‘‘All the ‘hits’ – for want of a better word – we’ll play, but we are going to play a lot of new stuff too. ‘‘We want to be excited about it. It’s not playing new stuff for the sake of playing new stuff, but the songs actually stand up against the old stuff. [Seeing the crowd response to new songs live] was a huge thing when we first started because no one had heard anything and that was our only gauge of whether or not a song was good.

‘‘It’s harder to do that now because people are naturally going to respond better to something they’ve heard before.’’

It’s all about striking a balance between the band keeping themselves happy, keeping fans happy and pushing their sound forward.

‘‘It is kind of tricky. The thing is, for a while we had the attitude towards the end of our last run [of shows] of ‘Let’s just play the old ones’ because people did naturally like them. That did work for a while because we weren’t really writing much,’’ he said.

‘‘But there needs to be that element of freshness because it starts to feel like you’re in a covers band playing songs: they’re our songs but it’s been a while since we actually wrote them.’’

The last thing either the band or punters want is for a gig to feel like Groundhog Day.

‘‘Personally I want to see a band which is kicking arse with their latest creative stuff.’’

Art vs Science play at The Cambridge on August 1. Tickets at Bigtix.

For your chance to win a double pass to the show, see page 19 of today’s Herald.

Picture: Erik Bergan

ICAC witness John Caputo pulls out of CDP campaign launch after Liberal Party finds out

Power couple: the Reverend Fred Nile at his wedding with Silvana Nero last year. Photo: James Alcock Quit as MC: John Caputo, after appearing before the ICAC in April. Photo: Rob Homer
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After failing in her bid to enter federal Parliament last year, Christian Democratic Party candidate Silvana Nero has been busy preparing for an assault on the seat of Wakehurst, held by NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard, in next year’s state election. The CDP’s northern beaches campaign will be launched by Ms Nero – the wife of upper house MP the Reverend Fred Nile – at a modest $35-a-head fund-raiser at Dee Why RSL on Friday night. But the campaign has suffered a casualty even before it has been launched: the master of ceremonies for the evening, Liberal fund-raiser John Caputo, has been forced to pull out after the Liberal party state director Tony Nutt found out. A former mayor of Warringah, Mr Caputo is a committee member of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s federal electoral conference and vice-president of Premier Mike Baird’s state electoral conference. Mr Caputo made headlines earlier this year after giving evidence at the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigation into alleged Liberal party slush funds used to hide political donations from banned donors, including property developers. In April, Mr Caputo told the ICAC he had handed over thousands of dollars’ worth of cheques from a March 2011 Liberal party fund-raiser to former energy minister Chris Hartcher, who is accused of being the mastermind behind the slush funds. Mr Caputo, who strenuously denies any wrongdoing, agreed that this was not normal fund-raising practice. On Wednesday, Mr Nile said Mr Caputo had agreed to MC the CDP campaign launch because he was “a family friend of the Neros”. “Silvana has been a friend of his for 15 years,” Mr Nile said. Mr Caputo confirmed that Ms Nero “is a friend and she asked me to do it. I’m happy to do it”. But when contacted, the NSW Liberal Party appeared to have no idea about the arrangement. Within minutes of being asked for its view, a spokeswoman for Mr Nutt called back to deliver the bad news. “Mr Caputo is not attending the event,” she said, leaving Ms Nero and the CDP searching for a new MC –  and Mr Caputo at a loose end on Friday night.

Wahroonga rollover victim Priya Muthu was carrying son when truck fell on her

The scene of the truck crash in Wahroonga. Photo: Channel Nine Police take notes after the crash. Photo: Getty Images/Cole Bennetts
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Emergency services rushed to the scene after the home’s owner made the call. Photo: Getty Images/Cole Bennetts

Police scan the scene. Photo: Getty Images/Cole Bennetts

Fatal accident: Priya Muthu with her husband (far right) holding their son. Photo: Supplied

Do you know more? Email [email protected]上海后花园m.au

Young mother Priya Muthu was supervising construction work on her north shore property on Wednesday evening when tragedy struck.

With her four year-old son Prahlad in her hands, she was pinned beneath a tipper truck that toppled over as it careered out of control and rolled backwards down a sloping, dirt driveway.

Ms Muthu, 30, died at the scene. Her son was taken to hospital with minor facial injuries.

The truck was carrying soil and rocks and was working on a subdivision on the Wahroonga land owned by Ms Muthu and her husband, Babu Manivasagam Narayanan Soundara.

Its 67-year-old driver was not in the vehicle at the time of the incident and witnesses said he appeared devastated as he spoke with police at the scene.

It’s believed Ms Muthu had attended the investment property on Spurgin Street with her son to oversee construction work on a second home to be built at the back of the property.

Tenants who lived in a small weatherboard home at the front of the property said Ms Muthu was a kind, helpful women and a good landlord.

“She’s very good, she’s very kind, very helpful when we needed some help,” Guiseppe Gargiulli said. “She’s a very good landlord.”

Mr Gargiulli, who lives at the home with his wife Valeria Miassedova and daughter Anastasia, said he was cooking dinner on Wednesday when he heard “bang noises” at around 5pm.

“I heard big noises, I came outside and I heard the child say ‘mum, mum’,” he said.

Mrs Miassedova and her daughter ran outside to see the woman pinned beneath the truck and they called an ambulance.

Emergency services arrived to find the truck tilted on its side at the side of the house at the end of a short, steep driveway.

Mess and soil from construction work in the front yard has done little to hide the damage caused. Twisted metal poles, snapped wooden planks and tipped fences lie in a jumble along the driveway.

A real estate agent who sold the land to Ms Muthu and her husband four years ago and has remained friends with the family since said she was a ‘‘caring mother’’ who was always smiling.

‘‘She was a caring mother and she always smiled and she is such a nice person,’’ he said.

Ms Muthu had worked in IT for charity organisation Wesley Mission for the past five years.

Wesley Mission chief executive, the Reverend Dr Keith Garner, said she was warm, gracious and dedicated.

“Priya was a well-respected and loved member of our Information Services team, who, like us all, are devastated by the news of her death,” he said. “Her warm and gracious manner was cherished by all her worked with her.”

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison maintains secrecy over asylum seekers

Asylum seekers’ plea: Let Australians adopt out children’Piracy on the high seas’: Fraser
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Colombo: Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has defended the secrecy surrounding the fate of 153 south Asian asylum seekers being held at sea by Australian authorities as an integral part of the federal government’s operations strategy.

”What I’m saying is that any other ventures that are the subject of matters before the Australian courts are matters that we will address in those courts and we have always maintained a very strong process for how we manage communications regarding our operations,” Mr Morrison said.

”That communication protocol has been put in place by Lieutenant-General Campbell, who heads the joint agency taskforce in Australia that has command over these matters. As the minister of the government, I’m going to adhere to those protocols because they have been very important to the success of those operations.”

Speaking after the launch of two patrol boats given to the Sri Lankan navy by Australia, Mr Morrison said any talk about where the 153 asylum seekers would end up was speculation.

”Those matters are currently before courts in Australia so I don’t intend to [engage in] any further discussion of that other than [what] has been provided in the court,” Mr Morrison said.

Asked whether he asked Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaska to consider accepting the asylum seekers, Mr Morrison rejected the question as speculation.

”I have given you my answer to that question … once again you’re speculating,” Mr Morrison said.

With about half the asylum seekers being held at sea by Australian authorities believed to have come from Tamil refugee camps in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, there has been suggestions that India might accept the boat.

However, in an interview with Fairfax Media last week, B. Anand, principal secretary for rehabilitation and welfare of non-resident Tamils in the state of Tamil Nadu, said India was not able to accept any more Tamils who left India by illegal means.

“The war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, so it is difficult to accept that these people can still claim refugee status,” Mr Anand said. “And if they were registered here as refugees, once they leave the country illegally, we cannot take them back here.”

Mr Morrison said that whatever happened to the 153 asylum seekers, Australia took very seriously its responsibilities to people’s safety.

”And to the various obligations that we have under the various conventions of which we are a signatory to and the Australian government rejects any suggestions that we have acted contrary to any of those obligations that we have,” he said.

Mr Morrison said he was not concerned that the 41 asylum seekers who were returned by Australia to Sri Lanka on Monday would be mistreated by Sri Lankan authorities.

”No, I’m not [concerned] and we’re relying on the same assurances on those matters as the previous government relied upon,” he said.

Mr Morrison also rejected allegations that Australian officials had mistreated any of the 41 refugees.

”I find those allegations offensive and I reject them absolutely.”

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Melbourne Rebels chief Rob Clarke hopes to secure private ownership deal

Melbourne Rebels chief executive Rob Clarke is hopeful Super Rugby’s cellar dwellers could have new owners before the start of next season.
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The Rebels have been under the auspices of the Australian Rugby Union since the Harold Mitchell-led private consortium – which was involved in a nasty battle against a rival bidder to win the foundation licence – handed control of the financially struggling club to the Victorian Rugby Union last year.

Clarke said the club had attracted interest from several parties, despite its troubled financial history and poor on-field results, with the bottom-placed Rebels needing to beat the Bulls in Pretoria in the final game of the season this weekend to have a chance of avoiding the wooden spoon for the second time in four years in the competition.

‘‘If you look at those factors [financial history and poor results] it could lead you to believe that nobody would be interested in the Rebels but what I think is very interesting about the conversations currently under way [is that] there are individuals and groups of individuals who see real progress in this organisation,’’ Clarke said.

‘‘We’ve been having discussions with a number of groups over the last 12 months.

“Just because the ARU stepped in when Harold Mitchell stepped out last year didn’t take it [private ownership] totally off the agenda from our point of view because in this market, with a young team looking to build a long-term, sustainable and successful future, then it makes sense to have an underpinning of financial support that private equity can bring to an organisation like ours.

‘‘There’s been two groups in particular in recent months that have had ongoing and detailed discussion with us and the ARU and I would suggest in the coming period there’s likely to be some announcements.’’

When asked when an announcement could be made, Clarke, who would not reveal the interested parties, said: ‘‘I think before next season all will become clear.”

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver, who has faced an environment of shrinking revenue with a harsh cost-cutting mindset, has said he is open to the prospect of private investment in Australian franchises.

There are several consortiums currently jostling to buy the NSW Waratahs.

Westfield’s shopping mall spin-off company Scentre raises $2.9 billion in bond issue

Scentre Group, the spin-off from the Westfield empire, has made its first corporate foray with an issue of €2 billion ($2.9 billion) in bonds to help finance future development projects.
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The senior bond issue is across four tranches ranging from four to 12 years. Bankers suggest it may become one of the largest ever in Europe by a non-bank Australian corporate.

According to the advisors to the issue, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas, assisted by HSBC and Barclays and the broader syndicate of another 13 banks, Scentre management financed part of its $5 billion bridge facility through the new bond issue.

Under the terms of the issue, three of the tranches will be in euros and the 12-year tranche will be in pounds sterling.

Scentre’s directors, led by new chief executive Peter Allen, held an investor roadshow in Europe last week, where it was said the reception was positive. Scentre has interests in 47 shopping malls in Australia and New Zealand.

One banker said European investors liked the fact Scentre had kept the same management of the malls, despite there now being no one from the Lowy family in the day-to-day running of the business.

The books opened for the issue on Tuesday night with settlement on July 16. The credit ratings assigned were A1/A from Moody’s Investors Services and Standard & Poor’s. Scentre also has Moody’s assigned long-term senior unsecured rating of A1 to its other €10 billion MTN program.

An analyst said the raising was the first test of how the international bond markets view the future strategy of the new entity.

Included in the split in Westfield to form Scentre was a $22-billion bridging loan, of which $5 billion was for Scentre. Some of the funds raised from the bond issue will be used to help repay that loan.

Other cash is expected to be raised over time with the sale of interests in the shopping centres, which include Westfield Sydney and Fountain Gate in Melbourne.

Kate Stewart, managing director and head of debt capital markets at BNP Paribas in Sydney, noted all four tranches were priced at the tight end of revised guidance: 67, 72 and 92 basis points over mid-swap for the euro notes and 113 basis points over Gilts for the sterling.

“Positive buy-side response clearly came through in the deal book. The book really is a ‘who’s who’ of real-money investors – it is extremely high quality and featured a number of large tickets, including bids of up to 500 million in each of the tranches,” Ms Stewart said.