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Film review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

(M) ****

Director: Matt Reeves.

Cast: Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer.

ONE of the biggest cinematicsurprises in recent years was Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – another unwanted reboot/reimagining/prequel that turned out to be one of the best films of 2011.

So here’s the sequel to that movie no one wantedand – surprise, surprise – it’s also really good.

While not as tautly scripted as its predecessor, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (known as DOTPOTA from here on in) is another great balance of emotional punch, great characters (all apes), and action thrills.

Eight years after chief chimp Caesar (Serkis) led his fellow chemically enhanced apes to freedom across the Golden Gate Bridge, the world is a very different place. A virus has wiped out much of humanity, with the survivors eking out an existence in small communities, such as one in San Francisco.

At the other end of the Golden Gate Bridge, Caesar’s colony is thriving, unaware any humans remain alive.

However a run-in between Caesar’s forces and a small group of human survivors led byMalcolm (Clarke) sets in motion a chain of events that will lead the two species to either mutually beneficialpeace or bloodywar.

DOTPOTA pulls a few of the same tricks as its predecessor (which we will call ROTPOTA), but it’s a very different film.Its misty forest and dark broken city settings give a suitably ape-ocalyptic (sorry) vibe to proceedings that’s a starkcontrast to the warm homely tonesand bright clinical labs ofthe first film.

This is also very much the apes’ film. Whereas Caesar (a combination of Serkis’ motion-captured performance and some CG wizardry) and hissimian sidekicksstole the show last time, this time theyown the show.

Theinterplay and relationships between Caesar, the tortured human-hatingbonoboKoba (Kebbell), the wise Bornean orangutan Maurice (Konoval), and Caesar’s son Blue Eyes (Thurston) are far more fascinating than thoseof the humans. While Clarke gets a lot to do as a sort-of go-between for the humans and the apes, Oldman does little but givevaguely rousing speeches and mourn for the past and Russell is a plot device disguised as a doctor.

This doesn’t matter though becausethe apes are the reason to watch. They are wonderfully realised charactersbuiltfrom nuanced performances (particularly from Serkis and Kebbell) and some near flawless special effects.

The moral questions raised, the themes of trust and power, and the emotional moments are no less effectivefor being provided by a cast of CG primates.

As with ROTPOTA, DOTPOTA (yep, it’s ridiculous but stick with me here)takes usto a destination we’re expecting – a planet of, well, apes – but does so in an unexpected manner. It’s this that helped make the first one so enjoyable and intriguing and the feat isimpressive once again here.

Whilethe humans are the weakest link, the apes more than make up for it, creating asequel that’s well worth watching.

Best rule of thumb: Keep it simple

Simple maths? With all the complex factors influencing stock markets, it’s best to follow your intuition and some simple rules. Photo: Motley FoolTake a look at a baseball player or cricketer getting ready to take a catch in the deep. They’re doing something extraordinary.

A ball was hit maybe 50 or 80 metres away, coming off the bat at 140 kilometres per hour. In only a few seconds the outfielder ran to the exact location the ball landed, down to the centimetre, catching it without a moment to spare.

This is extraordinary because of what he or she needed to figure out in those few seconds: The ball’s initial velocity, spin, and angle. The exact speed and direction of the wind, since it would alter the ball’s trajectory. Exactly when the ball would switch from vertical ascent, lose speed, stall for a moment, and begin its decent.

The calculation necessary to know where a ball will land is a monster – just look at our graphic.

This is nearly impossible to calculate in your head. Yet players do it all summer. According to Inside Edge, 84.7 per cent of baseballs that hang in the air for five seconds end in an out. Stephen Hawking could not calculate this equation in five seconds, but cricketers do it thousands of times. How?

A rule of thumb

Players don’t actually do this calculation in their heads, of course. In his book Risk Savvy, Gerd Gigerenzer writes that, whether they know it or not, players use a rule of thumb to know where a ball will land:

Align a flying ball in the centre of your gaze.


Adjust the speed and direction of your run so the angle of the ball stays at the same spot in your gaze.

That’s it. As long as the ball’s angle remains constant in your gaze, you’re running to where it’s going to land. All the complicated math is captured in that rule of thumb.

Sportspeople intuitively understand something more investors should: complicated problems can be tamed with simple rules of thumb. And the more complicated a problem is, the lower the odds you’ll calculate it with precision, making rules of thumb indispensable.

Keep it simple

Thirty years ago, Pensions & Investment Age magazine made a list of US money managers with the best 10-year returns. Few had ever heard of the winner, Edgerton Welch of Citizens Bank and Trust, so a Forbes reporter paid him a visit. Welch said he had never heard of Benjamin Graham and had no idea what modern portfolio theory was. Asked his secret, Welch pulled out a copy of a Value Line newsletter and told the reporter he bought all the stocks ranked “1” (the cheapest). The rest of his day was leisurely. His only secret was taming a complicated problem — which stocks should I own? — into an effective rule of thumb: the cheap ones.

Investors should use more of this kind of thinking. Markets are endlessly complicated, investors are endlessly emotional, and there are no points awarded for difficulty. Overthinking things like valuation and modern portfolio theory can be the equivalent of a cricketer pulling out a calculator after each ball is hit, desperately trying to track its landing point with precision. Any time you can tame a complicated system into a simple rule of thumb, you will be better off.

A list of Don’ts

Don’t try to calculate when you should buy stocks. It’s too complicated a problem with too many unknown variables. Instead, dollar-cost average, buying the same amount of stocks every month or every quarter, rain or shine. Over time you will beat almost everyone who doesn’t follow this approach.

Don’t try to calculate what the market might return over the next year or two. You’ll never figure it out. Instead, assume it’ll return 6 to 7 per cent a year after inflation over a multi-decade period (with a lot of volatility in between), because that’s what it has done in the past.

If you do try to predict shorter-term returns, use the rule of thumb that the worse the market has done over the last 10 years, the better it will do over the next 10 years, and vice versa. Over time this rule of thumb will humble nearly every Wall Street strategist.

Don’t try to predict when we’ll have another recession. No one can. Instead, use a rule of thumb that we’ll have three or four recessions at random times every 20 years.

Prefer companies that reward shareholders with consistent dividends and share buybacks. Trying to calculate whether a chief executive is effectively reinvesting profits in his or her own company is hard, and evidence is persuasive that most are bad at it. Cash handed to you directly is more likely to accrue in your favour over time.

Don’t try to calculate exactly how much money you’ll need to retire. You have no idea what the future holds. Instead, save at least 10 per cent of what you make, and as much as you can while still living comfortably.

Foolish takeaway

You might think successful investors are brilliant minds who can calculate complicated things with precision. They rarely are. The best are more like cricketers or baseball players, able to solve complicated problems by using simple rules of thumb. “Simplicity is a prerequisite of reliability,” said famed computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra. Try doing less.

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The union royal commission is too little, too late

Full coverage

Any watcher of the union royal commission should be questioning why police and regulators appear to be missing in action in the building industry.

On Wednesday, Boral chief executive Mike Kane alleged that union boss John Setka may have been committing blackmail by threatening to ‘black ban’ his company if it continued supplying the union’s arch enemy, building firm Grocon.

Whether the blackmail allegation is fair or not, the alleged offence should have been investigated when it arose last year.

Over the last few years, policing agencies have gathered significant information about organised crime in the building industry and the involvement of some union officials and building company managers in illegal activity, including bribery.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also begrudgingly mounted an inquiry into the Boral black bans, after stalling for months.

But proactive investigations into potentially illegal conduct have been minimal or non existent.

The announcement of the royal commission earlier this year led some crime fighting agencies to believe they could handball the building industry’s problems to the royal commissioner. But that is no fix.

The commission appears to have chosen not to employ police powers (like phone taps) and is on an incredibly short time frame (it must report by the end of the year).

It may expose bad behaviour, but eradicating it is a different proposition.

Complicating things is the fact that information sharing laws, and resistance from some senior Victorian police (in contrast to NSW police), has stopped some key information even reaching the royal commission.

As the union has rightly pointed out, the royal commission has also heard allegations of builders ripping off workers through the non-payment of superannuation and exposing workers to safety hazards.

Again, this suggests regulators responsible for ensuring workers are paid properly and kept safe are not doing the job they should.

This is why the union argues it has to be militant, although this hardly excuses the CFMEU from allegedly demanding the employment of Setka’s mates, threatening companies that don’t comply with its demands, and cosying up to gangsters.

The commission has this week sought to expose a union with pervasive influence over the building industry.

Whether that influence is good or bad depends on an assessment of the evidence and witnesses, their accusations of union law breaking, and the union’s defence that it is forced to act tough to protect the interests of its members and safety.

What is troubling for the CFMEU is the growing number of witnesses who have alleged that its officials intimidate or stand-over people to achieve an outcome.

Still, final judgement about this alleged abuse of power can not be made until all commission key witnesses are cross-examined.

It has been a mistake for the commission not to allow this to happen immediately because it denies Setka and his officials natural justice and plays into the hands of the CFMEU’s defenders.

But even they should have no hesitation rushing to judgement to condemn the organised crime figures lurking in the building industry.

Crime figures like Mick Gatto, in Victoria, and George Alex, in NSW, have made a fortune by leveraging off their willing contacts in building firms and the CFMEU to work as ‘union fixers’ and help builders obtain work, eliminate competition or collect disputed debts.

This sort of racketeering should be outlawed in Australia as it is in the United States, where Racketeer Influnced and Corrupt Oganizations (RICO) laws have helped combat mafioso, along with their corrupt associates in building firms and the union.

Of course, the problem in Australia isn’t confined to the strength of existing laws.

It is the failure to enforce them which makes the building industry one of the last bastions of racketeering in the nation, helps keep the dodgy unionists and corrupt builders in business, and, leaves ordinary workers out of pocket.

Mick Gatto, who drives around in a Rolls Royce, knows this all too well.

Follow Nick McKenzie on Twitter @Ageinvestigates

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APN News & Media tipped to lead radio revenues by end of year

Credit Suisse says APN News & Media will soon lead radio revenues, while rival Southern Cross Austereo could face challenges.  The companies look similar: they reach one-quarter of Australia’s radio audience each, and both have a market value of more than $750 million. But their shares prices tell a different story. Since January, APN News & Media shares have soared more than 75 per cent, whereas Southern Cross Austereo – owner of top-40 stations 2Day FM and Fox, and rock station Triple M – is down by more than a third. Australia’s capital-city radio stations attracted a record $697 million in revenue in the year to June, Deloitte figures say. Melbourne and Sydney attracted a combined $425.9 million of that figure, with about equal revenue. Radio ratings released this week showed APN’s stations – WSFM and Kiis FM in Sydney, known as Gold 104.3 and Mix in Melbourne – held the No.1 position in the metro market with 26 per cent national audience share. Southern Cross was next with an improved 25 per cent. Their rival Nova Entertainment, owned by Lachlan Murdoch, dipped to 22 per cent. Fairfax Media, owner of 3AW in Melbourne and 2UE in Sydney, stayed steady at 17 per cent. Macquarie Radio Network, owner of 2GB in Sydney, also stood still at 8 per cent. Credit Suisse analyst Samantha Carleton has told clients: “APN’s KIIS FM and WSFM have gained considerable audience share over the past twelve months, particularly in Sydney. We expect this leading audience-share position to translate into a leading revenue-share position over the next six months.” “We see the potential for a $50 million national revenue and a $20 million EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation] shift in the 2015 financial year.” On Southern Cross Austereo, she said: “2DayFm and Triple M have lost audience share over the past 12 months in Sydney and while both stations appear to be recouping some lost ground over the past two surveys, it does not appear to be enough to reclaim the dominant market position. We expect some revenue headwinds as a result.” But CIMB analyst Daniel Blair said Southern Cross Austereo was the winner of survey four, pointing to its strong performance in Melbourne where Triple M is the dominant FM station. He also said the company had recovered 40 per cent of the ratings loss suffered when star hosts Kyle and Jackie O defected to the Australian Radio Network at the end of last year. “From Southern Cross Austereo’s perspective, while there is still work to be done across the programming schedule … overall the ratings gains versus the first three surveys of the year are very important,” he said. “This indicates to us that a line in the sand may have been achieved, limiting the revenue-share loss that was implied by surveys one and two. While we will need to see a continuation of these trends in future surveys, this improvement puts a floor under the share price, in our opinion.”

GPS technology gets you from A to B by the most scenic route

A road less travelled: Taking the scenic route. Photo: David Fulmer / Flickr The Boston GPS route is compared to it’s scenic alternative. Photo: Yahoo Labs

UrbanGems: Crowdsourcing quiet, beauty and happiness Photo: UrbanGems杭州后花园

Researchers in Barcelona are changing the way we think about GPS.

For the past two decades, GPS users have been moving from A to B via the most direct way possible.

Now, Daniele Quercia, a researcher at Yahoo Labs, has engineered a piece of technology to direct users via the most “beautiful” way.

“The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant,” the Yahoo team 

While motorists may still be more interested in the fastest route, the technology could have significant implications for pedestrians, particularly tourists.

Quercia and her team have worked out an algorithm to measure the beauty of specific locations.

“Compared to the shortest routes, the recommended ones add just a few extra walking minutes and are indeed perceived to be more beautiful, quiet, and happier,” the researchers found.

The user is faced with 10 sets of photos and asked to choose the most beautiful of the two. 

The results are then crowdsourced, in an attempt to eliminate some subjectivity.

The recommended scenic route comprises the 10 most “beautiful” photos along the path from A to B.

At the heart of the idea is that a user can enter a start and final location and the algorithm will be able to map the most beautiful route between the two.

Currently, the only two routes available are through Boston and London, but expansion plans are under way, particularly through the mass photo-sharing website Flickr.

The team chose 5 million pictures of specific areas and tried to work out what data could be associated with beauty.

As it turns out, the more beautiful the place, the more photos are taken of it.

There are also far more positive comments under the photo, so qualitative sentiment tools were used to track more beautiful routes.

The algorithm does have a couple of pitfalls however.

It currently has no way of differentiating between locations that are more beautiful during the day or at night.

Tara Moss assaulted in Sydney CBD

Tara Moss says a drug-affected man hit her near Hyde Park in Sydney. Photo: Peter Brew-BevanAuthor and model Tara Moss is suffering from shock after she was randomly attacked by a man in the middle of Sydney’s CBD on Wednesday.

The 40-year-old said she was left with bruises after she was assaulted by a crazed man on Market Street near Hyde Park.

Moss wrote about her horrifying experience on social media and warned people to watch out for her attacker.

“Was just hit by a man in the street. He’s on Market St in dark clothing headed toward Hyde Park. Slim/white. Beware. Suspect drug affected,” she said on Twitter.

“Have spoken to police who will patrol the area – he fits the desc of a known perp. In the meantime be careful in Hyde Park, CBD area, folks.”

Moss has said she was “intentionally punched”.

“I’m okay. It was a random attack. Worried about others so speaking to police now,” she told one of her followers on Twitter.

“I’m bruising up but fine. But there are a lot of families in the park right now, so quite concerned.

The Australian-Canadian crime writer spoke to police near Town Hall following the attack but is yet to make a formal statement.

Many of Moss’ 38,000 Twitter followers wrote her messages of support and posted about their outrage.

The scary attack comes not long after Moss broke her silence about being the victim of a sexual assault.

She recently shared her story with Good Weekend, explaining that her latest novel delved into her experience as a survivor of sexual assault and rape.

The Fictional Woman was not intended as a confessional autobiography, but she said she realised that if she was going to address the fictions in other women’s lives, she had to expose her own.

”I had to write this book because there are things that need to be improved, that matter and influence real people’s lives,” she said.

”But I also had to make it part memoir, because one of the fictions about me is that I’m ‘Teflon Tara’ and nothing has really chinked my armour. What I’ve done with the book is finally throw my armour off, and I feel I’m fit enough underneath the armour that I don’t need it.”

She also told journalist Susan Wyndham that her experience had made her brave and compassionate.

The mother-of-one also said she wanted to fight the misconception that if women were careful they should be all right.

”The problem is that when someone isn’t okay, the tendency is to believe they’ve brought it on themselves, and this is extremely problematic when it comes to sexual violence.”

Moss, who lives in the Blue Mountains, recently finished her tenth book, broke the news about the alleged murder of an asylym seeker on Manus Island and is a UNICEF ambassador.

Everitt back to face old club Sydney

Making his mark: Andrejs Everitt will take on his former club this weekend when Carlton take on Sydney. Photo: Pat ScalaAndrejs Everitt’s switch from Sydney to Carlton is one of those rare trades that is proving a winner for all parties.

As Everitt prepares to play the Swans for the first time since leaving last year, for the first time in his eight-year career he does not have to look in the rear-view mirror at competition for his spot in the senior team.

The Swans, too, have prospered, with Everitt’s departure paving the way for them to sign former Blue Jeremy Laidler, who has missed just one game in his debut season with the ladder leader.

After spending much of his time in Sydney as a spare parts man for John Longmire, Everitt has thrived playing a more prominent role at Carlton as a midfielder/tagger.

His scalps include St Kilda’s Leigh Montagna, Richmond playmaker Brett Deledio and reigning Adelaide club champion Rory Sloane.

“I’m enjoying that a lot more, having a bit more of an important role,” Everitt said.

“[I’m] not saying it wasn’t an important role at Sydney, but I’m always starting on the ground, in the 18, and having a role on the opposition’s best players.

“That’s what I’ve been doing the last eight weeks. It gives you confidence if you can knock over some of the big players in the game that you can make it at this level.

So well is Everitt playing for the Blues, it seems injury is the only obstacle to him playing every game this season – a feat he has never achieved.

Job security, however, has come at a price for Everitt who, with the Blues well out of finals contention, is in the unfamiliar position of being able to book holidays in September this year.

Not since his debut season in 2007 with the Western Bulldogs has Everitt been part of a club that failed to play finals.

“I was talking to one of the young boys [at Carlton] about it,” Everitt said.

“I was saying my first year at the Bulldogs we came 13th, then every year I’ve been involved in four prelims, a semi and a grand final as well.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate with the teams I’ve been in. It’ll definitely be different come September when there’s no games coming around and we’re on our holidays.”

But it was not until last year that Everitt, who has been on the fringe of senior teams for much of his career, had his first taste of September action when he played three finals for a Swans team ravaged by injury.

But despite playing 20 games, Everitt could see the writing on the wall.

He was one of several Swans coming out of contract forced to wait until the end of the season for a new deal as the club made their surreptitious bid for Lance Franklin.

But Everitt does not believe he was forced out by Franklin. He was offered a contract by the Swans, but one heavily incentive-based, so he and his fiancee decided to move home.

“It was based upon me playing games. Even though I was confident in doing so, I came to the conclusion it was best for us to come back down to Melbourne with both our families and go from there,” said Everitt, who signed a two-year deal, with the option of a third, with the Blues.

“I don’t think I was squeezed out at all.”

Everitt is eager to face his old team but says he does not have a point to prove to coach John Longmire.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it, that’s for sure, but I’m out there to have a good time, play football,” he said.

“There’s a lot of players who move on, same with coaches. It’s just football in the end. It’s a business; that’s what happens.

“I’ll be out there to try my best and it’ll be an added bonus if I play well.

“They obviously thought I wasn’t too bad if they gave me 20 games last year. I won’t go out there angry; I’ll be out there to make my team better.”

Raiders’ Jeremy Hawkins denied NRL debut

Canberra Raiders rookie Jeremy Hawkins is the latest exciting prospect to have his NRL dream put on ice by the competition’s second-tier salary cap.

Less than 24 hours after Hawkins was named to make his first-grade debut against the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday, the NRL denied the Raiders’ application for an exemption on the grounds other players were available in his position.

Former Raiders captain Alan Tongue has called on the NRL to increase the number of players in each club’s top squad from 25 so promising youngsters are not denied the opportunity of being blooded into first grade.

The Raiders reached the limit of the $440,000 second-tier salary cap when hooker Kurt Baptise made his club debut in the 19-18 loss to the Wests Tigers on June 28.

Centre Jack Wighton suffered a broken thumb in the same game, prompting coach Ricky Stuart to call up Hawkins after the 21-year-old crossed for four tries for the Raiders’ NSW Cup affiliate Mounties last weekend.

It is the second year in a row the Raiders have been prevented from handing an NRL debut to a promising youngster. Last season it was halfback Mitch Cornish, who was named to play in the round-26 match with the Cronulla Sharks before he was forced to watch from the sidelines when an exemption to the second-tier salary cap was not granted.

A former NRL coach, who didn’t want to be named, said of the Hawkins’ decision, ”all we’re doing is stunting their progress”.

Raiders chief executive Don Furner was diplomatic with his response, admitting he would have been surprised if the NRL had agreed to their submission.

”It’s disappointing for Jeremy, but we’re confident he’ll get his chance to make his NRL debut with the Raiders in the future,” Furner said. “With injuries to Jack Wighton and a season-ending injury to Edrick Lee earlier this year we were hopeful of an exemption, but we respect the NRL’s decision.”

Each NRL club operates under a $5.5 million salary cap for its top-25 squad, while another $440,000 is set aside for the second-tier salary cap. That was increased from $375,000 last season when the Panthers could not play Matt Moylan once players in the top-25 squad returned from injury.

The Raiders have this season used four players from their extended NRL squad: Baptiste, Matt Allwood, Shannon Boyd and Kyle O’Donnell.

They have also promoted outside back Brenko Lee from the club’s under-20s team.

In making its decision, the NRL said there were players such as Reece Robinson who were available for selection and played the same position as Hawkins.

Tongue said the increased pace of the game and the amount of injuries teams were sustaining should lead to having a bigger pool of players available.

”I definitely think there’s some room to move in that top 25,” Tongue said. “It’s a tough one because how far do you push it and how much leeway do you give to clubs.

”Having two guys injured in your outside backs [Wighton and Edrick Lee] is probably not enough to ask for compensation, there’s a lot of clubs that have done it far worse. It’s all about balancing the roster.”

Ricky Muir and Palmer United Party strike deal to save Australian Renewable Energy Agency

Senator Ricky Muir. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen David Leyonhjelm gets a warm welcome from Doug Cameron. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Coalition dealt another $1.5b budget blowThe Pulse Live: Judith Ireland blogs live from Parliament

The Abbott government has suffered yet another blow to its beleaguered budget after being forced to retain tax cut compensation due to start next year, as well as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Both were slated to go under the government’s carbon tax repeal package.

Amid growing internal concerns about its management of the new Senate, which is dominated by the crossbench, the government was first defeated on a procedural motion to force the carbon tax repeal to an early vote on Wednesday, and then learnt it would be blocked on the proposed abolition of ARENA.

Otherwise pro-repeal Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm then combined with the Greens, Labor and other crossbench senators to keep $1.5 billion worth of tax relief due to begin from July 1, 2015.

However, the government argued it had already factored in the retention of Labor’s second round of tax cuts, in light of the stated positions of Senator Leyonhjelm and the Palmer United Party. The developments capped off a day in the Senate marked by confusion and a sense the government has little feel for the various positions of the new players on key issues.

In a move nobody saw coming, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator Ricky Muir refused to back the carbon tax guillotine motion even though he is aligned to the Palmer United Party, which backs the carbon tax repeal. The outcome left the government stunned, because it had counted the Victorian in its own column.

Senator Muir, the notional fourth senator in the PUP bloc, had proposed his own amendment to the carbon tax repeal package to save ARENA, prompting a flurry of negotiations.

In a last-minute deal with Clive Palmer, the amendment that would have further delayed the carbon tax repeal was withdrawn in exchange for PUP’s support for keeping ARENA alive, albeit with reduced funding in the short term.

The agency, which undertakes research into new energy forms and methodologies, will now limp on until 2017-18, when its funding is likely to increase under the deal. After first thinking it would achieve its goal to scrap the carbon tax on Wednesday, the government now expects there will be a vote to repeal it by Thursday lunchtime.

The news was a big setback for the government, which this week alone has been rebuffed over some $10 billion in savings it had already booked in its budget projections from scrapping the mining and carbon taxes and a range of spending programs connected to them. Funding will now be needed to finance a lift in the tax-free threshold from $18,200 to $19,400, with more needed to keep ARENA going.

There are also addition costs associated with retaining the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Renewable Energy Target – all of which it had hoped to dump in exchange for its Direct Action policy.

Mr Palmer attempted to explain the outcome by suggesting it had been his preference all along

”We have decided to support the government’s plans to reschedule the agency’s funding,” he said.

”The Palmer United Party will not vote for the government’s other upcoming legislation that seeks to abolish ARENA altogether. I had extensive discussion with former United States vice-president Al Gore about ARENA and was convinced by his arguments in support of this important agency.”

The carbon tax repeal will cut ARENA’s budget by $435 million and will enact a previously announced deferral of $370 million in funding by the former Labor government.

It will leave ARENA with only about $100 million over the next four years for new projects, but blows a $1.3 billion hole in the government’s savings attempts, with that money committed to ARENA beyond the forward estimates.

However, the government believes it can negotiate over coming months to have that $1.3 billion figure significantly reduced.

”I have been a supporter of renewable energy for a long time and I am very pleased with this outcome,” Senator Muir said on Wednesday. ”This is a win-win situation for the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, the Palmer United Party and the community.”

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Like a red with your Red Wedding? Game of Thrones wines are coming, maybe

Don’t mind if I do: Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones.There is no crisis in Game of Thrones that cannot be made better with a cup of wine but after another gripping and grim episode do we need a drink to go with our favourite character or house?

A Sydney marketing firm of fans thinks so.

The firm, Common Ventures, has created a series of wine labels and marketing for a dozen red and white varieties of wine under the ruling label of ”Wines of Westeros,” dedicated to the houses from the George RR Martin books and television series.

But anyone hoping to throw down a Dothraki red and watch some reruns with the claret flowing on the screen will have to wait. The company is still in talks with some small, independent Australian wineries to make the wines. And then there is the small matter of approval from the show’s maker HBO.

Co-founder of Common Ventures, Damian Damjanovski, says the company hopes to follow the lead of beer company Ommegang Brewery and get permission to market the wines from HBO.

Ommergang Brewery’s most recent beer Fire and Blood, a red beer, was released in the US in March to coincide with the beginning of the fourth season. Common Ventures hopes to have its own HBO-endorsed wine ready for the fifth season next year.

Mr Damjanovski said the firm had begun talks with HBO over the project but will not proceed without approval – lest it get given the King Joffrey crossbow treatment.

”We understand HBO are quite open to approaches like this,” Mr Damjanovski said.

Labels include a dry Targaryen shiraz, a Stark white sauvignon blanc and a more calculating Lannister merlot. Each label is accompanied by a brief explanation about its name and wine association.

For the Stark wine, named after the stoic family, there’s a nod to the infamous Red Wedding: ”Winter is coming. Throw on your furs, summon your direwolf and reject all wedding invitations.”

Also in the sauvignon blanc is the Greyjoy, named after the tough seafaring family and their weak-kneed son, Theon: ”Pick fifty of the best killers, your fastest ship and sail up the Narrow Sea. Whether you’re Ironborn or a tortured plaything, it’s time to take what is yours.”

For the house of Lannister the tagline is: ”When your cellar is filled, you will know the debt is paid. Be wary of incest and betrayal – a sip of this wine may be your last.”

Mr Damjanovski said the project began as something fun to fill in the time between advertising deadlines and other work for staff who were fans of the show.

He said the response so far, without a drop of wine produced, has surprised him.

The wine varieties are not set in iron, with several houses sharing the same wine variety at the moment on Wines of Westeros website, and Mr Damjanovski said there was already some social media debate about whether a Stark wine should be a sauvignon blanc or a cabernet.

”One of the debates we have struggled with is whether to make them more generic or to get them to match carefully with the characteristics of each house,” Mr Damjanovski said.

He said the label designs were a modern take on the house names rather than mock medieval or from the TV series.

Expressions of interest for ordering can be made online only via a “send raven” email button. The average price of a bottle is expected to be $20-$30.