Bennett cagey on rumours of a move

August 10th, 2019

Nothing settled: Wayne Bennett was his usual elusive self when he fronted the media. Photo: Darren PatemanKnights coach Wayne Bennett has knocked back an opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to Newcastle for the last two years of his four-year contract.
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Bennett’s future remains the subject of speculation in the lead-up to Newcastle’s preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, despite assurances from Knights chief executive Matt Gidley that he will remain at the club until the end of 2015. ”Look, I’ve got no control over that, so I don’t worry about it,” Bennett told the media after overseeing training on Wednesday, when asked about that speculation.

But when asked if he was staying in Newcastle for the next two years, honouring the commitment he gave Knights owner Nathan Tinkler in April 2011, Bennett said: ”Look, I can’t give you an iron-clad guarantee about anything in this game, so right now, I’m the coach here, and when that changes, I’ll let you know.”

Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday that Bennett was still being linked to a possible move to Townsville to take up a role with the North Queensland Cowboys, or a return to Brisbane to rejoin the Broncos, but Gidley said the seven-time premiership-winning coach was staying put. ”I’ve spoken to him about that – he’s not going anywhere,” Gidley said. ”We’ve put a lot of work in to get some of these players here. We bought players who want to play under Wayne and play for Wayne and improve on his watch.

”He’s not going to let these guys down. Wayne is extremely loyal. I don’t laugh at [the speculation] or buy into it. Whenever there’s instability at the Broncos, Wayne’s name will be mentioned as a possible solution. He built the place there and had wonderful success there. I understand that. But I think he’s excited about what we’re trying to do here.”

Bennett told the media after training on Wednesday that the Knights would not be within one win of a grand final without Tinkler’s intervention and involvement. ”I made a statement after the game [against the Storm last Saturday] – I was interviewed in Melbourne the other night – that without Nathan doing what he’d done, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

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Manly have faith: club anxious to secure favourite son Toovey for long haul

August 10th, 2019

In for the long haul: Manly are keen to extend Geoff Toovey’s time at Brookvale Oval. Photo: Quentin JonesManly are poised to start contract extension discussions with coach Geoff Toovey in a huge show of faith leading into their grand final qualifier against South Sydney.
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Toovey is signed until the end of next season but Sea Eagles powerbrokers are keen to secure him long-term. The club is set to form a retention committee to expedite the matter, with chief executive David Perry, chairman Scott Penn and board members Bob Reilly and Phil Sidney likely to be tasked with keeping Toovey on the northern beaches. The matter will be discussed at a board meeting on Thursday.

It is understood that some at the club are pushing for an extension of an additional two years to his current contract, while others are after just one. Of the four coaches still in the play-off race, Toovey is the most unheralded. But his ability to again get the Sea Eagles, written off by many as being too old at the start of the year, into the finals is one of the coaching achievements of the year.

While Trent Robinson, Michael Maguire and Wayne Bennett all have claims for the Dally M coach of the year honours, Toovey could scoop them all if his side makes an unlikely grand final appearance.

When the former premiership-winning halfback took over at short notice after Des Hasler defected to Canterbury, many believed Manly’s empire would crumble. But they have again made it to the penultimate game against the odds, defeating Cronulla after an arduous hit-out the previous week against Sydney Roosters.

Toovey is one of the club’s favourite sons, a one-club man who guided the Sea Eagles to premiership success during his playing days. The news is a huge boost ahead of their clash with South Sydney at ANZ Stadium. Toovey was ropeable after their last encounter, complaining about several contentious refereeing decisions which went against his side.

”We were in a really good position to win it last time,” said halfback Daly Cherry-Evans. ”There were a few things that went against us, whether it be the bounce of the ball or a few unfortunate decisions.

”I know we’ll be putting ourselves in the right positions the next time we play them so we can get the result we’re after.”

Halves partner Kieran Foran is confident Manly still has enough in the tank to overcome the Rabbitohs. ”You want to be there come grand final day. Everyone has got that burning desire to get there so of course you’re going to find that bit extra,” Foran said.

”As much as you’re tired and been playing tough games, we’ve got to find that bit extra to put in a good performance against Souths.

”They are a huge side, they really test you physically and I think they’ve got some really good threats across the park.

”We’re going to have to go up another level if we want to put in a good effort against them.”

Twitter – @proshenks

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Knights to the rescue in fairytale final

August 10th, 2019

Winning us over: Jeremey Smith and the Knights have proven the good news story of this year’s finals. Photo: Darren PatemanYou and me, babe. We watch the rugby league finals roll on by, like a passing circus, all the jugglers and the clowns … all the frowns, all the hoopla and carry-on.
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Not being particular followers of any of the teams, we have no skin in the game, but still watch with interest to see what kind of sporting theatre it will deliver. The key question before us, thus, is who should we be hoping wins the whole damn thing, to deliver the greatest dramatic climax, the most bang for our buck? Which result will make for the greatest sporting narrative?

After all, accepted wisdom, at least north of the Tweed, is that the NRL wants a Roosters-Rabbitohs grand final, but as you and I care nothing for what the NRL wants, and even less for what those who live north of the Tweed think, we’re going to have to work it out for ourselves. So here is your ready-reckoner, as jotted down by myself, with a mark out of 10 for the satisfaction a grand final win by these teams would deliver.

Manly. Tough one. They used to be the team everyone loved to hate, but having gone through their own tough times in recent years there is something admirable about their grittiness, if not always their stroppiness. P.G. Wodehouse once wrote, ”it is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine”, and much the same could be said of Manly coach Geoff Toovey. The players take their cues from him.

Yes, a Manly victory would be great for those on the insular peninsula, but as they won a couple of years ago under Des Hasler, the main narrative pay-off would be proof that Manly can do it without Dessie – which is fine, but hardly makes you choke up and say ”ain’t sport wonderful?” Yes, they have a couple of likeable characters, like that huge prop George Rose – who looks like he got lost from his natural place in time in the 1970s – and Daly Cherry-Evans, plus the fellow on the wing they call ”Wolfman”, but after that it seems a bit thin.

4/10

Sydney Roosters. It all seems to be about Sonny Bill Williams doesn’t it? Just about every story done on them focuses on what a superstar he is, how his presence has transformed the side, how he is the greatest athlete ever, etc. All of which is fairly true, but just as I personally find it a bit hard to get too emotionally involved in which billionaire has bought the best boat and best crew to win the America’s Cup – at least when Australia is not represented – it is hard to get too excited about who has managed to purchase Sonny Bill’s services this year. A better story would be the redemption of Roosters hooker Jake Friend, who is supremely talented, but lost his way under Willie Mason’s wing a few years back, and has now made his way back to his glory days. All up, a Roosters win would be … hardly the stuff fairytales are made of.

5/10

South Sydney. Great story. If they win, they will be the team that fought its way back from the apocalypse in the mid-90s to be the pride of the league. Pushed into the abyss for being too traditional, too old, too poor, too hopeless, Souths simply refused to die, and – in part helped by a Hollywood star – now find themselves the most powerful force in the land in the 21st century. Superb. It would be an even better story if there hadn’t been an expectation all season that this is exactly what was going to happen, and even better again if there hadn’t also been a fair measure of brutality during their rise this year. It makes it harder to warm to the players personally – but it’s still a great yarn nevertheless.

7/10

Newcastle. This is the one. This is the team. This is the coach. This is the club, boasting the most devoted rugby league tribe in the land. As far and away the least likely side to get to the grand final, let alone win it, they already have the whole underdog tag wrapped up. They lost four matches on the trot early in the season, and were going nowhere fast, but then something clicked. The side is full of admirable characters like Danny Buderus, somehow still going at the age of 35. There is the revamped Mason, again, somehow managing to make a major impact despite his advanced years. And then there is Wayne Bennett … already known as a supercoach, if Bennett can take this side from 12th at the end of last season to a premiership, it would confirm his credentials and be a staggering achievement for him, the team and the town. The only downside is it might also make a hero of Nathan Tinkler – Clive Palmer without the charm – but we could learn to live with it.

8/10

In short … go the Knights!

Twitter – @Peter_Fitz

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Jake White quits as ACT Brumbies coach

August 10th, 2019

Jake White . Photo: Melissa Adams Former Brumbies coach Jake White with captain Ben Mowen.
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White leaves with players’ blessing: Mowen

ACT Brumbies coach Jake White has sensationally quit his Super Rugby job just two months after leading the club to the grand final.

The Brumbies have granted White a release from the last two years of his contract because ‘‘his heart’s not in it’’.

Assistant coaches Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher are the front-runners to replace White with the Brumbies starting the search for a new coach.

White also feels his pathway back to international rugby as an Australian based coach was shut when the Australian Rugby Union overlooked him for the Wallabies job.

The Brumbies are about to start a process to find a new coach and hope to have an appointment finalised within the next two weeks when the players return for pre-season training.

White approached Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan last Friday to ask for a release for personal reasons.

Fagan and Brumbies captain Ben Mowen spoke with White about his decision, but his mind was made up about staying in South Africa.

Brumbies players were shocked on Wednesday night when they learnt of the news on social media.

They were of the belief White was committed to helping them win a Super Rugby title and the coach had spoken to them last week about the pre-season training program.

White is in South Africa and will be at Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday morning to watch the Wallabies play the Springboks.

Fairfax Media understands White has been linked to a job at the Cape Town Stormers for next season, either as a coach or a coaching director, or a job at the Durban Sharks.

John Smit, White’s former Springboks captain, is the boss at the Sharks.

It is understood missing out on the Wallabies coaching job affected White’s desire to stay in Australian rugby.

The ARU overlooked White’s World Cup-winning credentials to instead appoint Ewen McKenzie as the new Wallabies coach because of his vision to play ‘‘the Australian way’’, a reference to attacking rugby.

It’s understood White met with Mowen in Cape Town on Wednesday night to inform him of his decision.

Larkham and Fisher have been working this week to finalise the 2014 playing roster and tie up loose ends that White left unfinished. Both assistant coaches have contracts to stay with the Brumbies.

But it’s unclear whether their deals were affected by White’s presence.

White has also signed the bulk of his playing roster until at least the end of 2015, but it’s unknown if they have get-out clauses in their deals.

Players re-signed with the Brumbies because they bought into his program and believed he could turn the club into a Super Rugby powerhouse.

White’s tenure in Canberra has been riddled with speculation about his future as the Brumbies coach despite signing a four-year deal.

White almost walked out on the Brumbies just two games into his contract when he was linked to the vacant England.

Just hours before the Brumbies clash against the Free State Cheetahs in March last year, he ruled himself out of the running and committed to his Canberra deal.

But since arriving in the capital, White has always stated his desire to return to international coaching.

White led South Africa to a World Cup triumph in 2007.

He was also linked to the Ireland coaching job earlier this year and then the ARU asked White to apply for the Wallabies job.

White met with ARU powerbrokers in Melbourne before the Wallabies’ second Test against the British and Irish Lions in June.

Former South African World Cup-winning coach White was recruited to the Brumbies to lift the team out of its darkest era.

But he is now leaving after completing just two years of his four-year contract.

White overhauled Brumbies headquarters in Griffith and led them to within one win of a drought-breaking finals berth in his first year in charge.

In his second season with the Brumbies, they made the finals for the first time since 2004 and stormed into the grand final only to lose to the Chiefs in Hamilton in August.

The Brumbies will move into a new $15 million facility at the University of Canberra next year.

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New trends in outdoor furniture

July 10th, 2019

Canasta loungeColour clash
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At recent design fairs both here and overseas, such as the recent Spoga gafa held two weeks ago in Cologne, bold hues rule. Safe colours are definitely out as explosions of colour in contrasting blocks or in geometric patterns dominate outdoor furniture designs.

Adam Robinson, a sought-after Sydney landscape designer and a canny outdoor stylist says colour is the most significant trend in outdoor decoration this summer.

“It seems that as the weather warms up, we have more confidence to embrace colour,” he says. “Bulky brown synthetic wicker settings with a combination of taupe cushions have well and truly slipped from being a top trend and there is certainly a move towards colour.

“We are not afraid of combining colour and pattern either,” says Robinson. “And just like in fashion we are seeing colour blocking outdoors. This is evident in soft furnishings, in particular. Due to improvements in textile technology we can leave our cushions outdoors all year round, without major moulding or fading.”

There are edgy tints and tones, too: “Lovely soft pastels and nature’s gentle earthy tones are coming into play,” says Robinson. “Think mint green, soft pink, peach, lavender, powder blue, as well as army green and burnt orange.”Multitalented pieces

As an international landscape designer, television personality and a designer of both indoor and outdoor furniture, Jamie Durie, knows a good sunbed when he sees one.

He says we’ll be seeing a lot more modular furniture: “Outdoor modular lounges are a great versatile design idea that allows you to create different configurations to suit your lifestyle and the size and shape of your outdoor room. The new Fremantle modular in my Patio range at Big W is really clever. Each piece is available separately and features an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table.”

Having furniture that performs more than one function is making sense indoors so why not outside? Just like Durie’s Patio ottoman, there are benches and sofas that provide storage as well as comfortable seating.

Other popular pieces of multifunctional furniture include fire pit tables or chairs and benches that incorporate places to grow plants within the seating design.

Robinson suggests you get inventive about furniture use. “Think about how you might find a double use for some product. For example, a low stool might double up as a side table when not required for extra seating. A decorative timber screen might hide a solution for storage.”Shape shifters

There’s a trend towards more refined silhouettes. A sleeker, lighter look is particularly enhanced in the soft curves of wire furniture or in the detailed cut-outs of powder-coated aluminium pieces.

Wooden outdoor furniture is showing up in slimmer shapes, too, echoing mid-century style, no less, especially in dining settings.

“This season we are seeing less bulky furniture pieces coming through,” says Robinson. “We are moving away from chunky dining chairs and seeing seamless light chairs, which are often stackable. They have a lovely sculptural quality and don’t clutter up an outdoor space.”

Motion furniture is also trending well. Swing seats and hammocks have always been popular, but now there are new versions, which boast very stylish, luxurious designs, such as pod chairs and swivel seats. In fact, creating one’s own outdoor spot in a cocoon-like hideaway, swaying in the breeze, is becoming the ultimate chill-out zone.Favourite things

There’s no reason why your outdoor space shouldn’t boast furniture that’s just for you.

Robinson currently prefers retro: “I have always loved the butterfly chair. It’s been around commercially since 1947 and is still in production. It has beautiful clean lines and is the perfect outdoor chair.”

Durie says that if he could buy just one statement piece for his garden, it would be a sunbed. “It just gives you that instant sense of luxury and resort style living. It’s perfect for relaxing outside on the weekends, or piling onto with friends and family when you’re entertaining.”

Looking to the future, Robinson says there will be a bit of a revival on old styles and materials that come into play. “I’m quite in love with cane furniture at the moment. Its old charm has a relaxed Palm Springs vibe to it,” he says. “They are very comfortable with deep cushions and the best part you can customise the fabrics to suit your space. Being cane they really need to be undercover to ensure durability. A verandah is ideal.”

[email protected]南京夜网.au

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OPINION: Bennett a master at inspiring leadership

July 10th, 2019

I HAVE a couple of confessions to make.
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First, I am a big Knights fan – Knights tragic, my wife would say.

So, like many ‘‘Huntercastrians’’, I am filled with hope about our team’s chances this weekend.

I also have a man crush on coach Wayne Bennett.

While he is the most successful rugby league coach of all time, he impresses me more by what he does to change people than by his coaching of winning footy teams.

Inspiring leadership in others is my passion and I can’t help but be fascinated by what I see Bennett is achieving with our guys.

Apart from the technical aspects of the game that Bennett brings to a side, the number one thing that he does is to help people believe in themselves.

In modern professional sport there is hardly any difference in strength, speed, strategy and skill between the athletes and the teams. The way that he makes a difference is to lift the performance of his players and teams by focusing on their thinking, particularly their self-belief and their belief in each other.

Bennett is famous for treating his players like people first and footballers second, building character and purpose foremost, then skill and fitness next.

Take for instance the effect he has had on Willie Mason.

Here comes another confession – I was one that thought the Knights were wrong for giving Big Willie a chance at redeeming himself in the NRL. Too much baggage, I thought.

What I did do was underestimate Bennett’s influence and his ability to change people. In an interview aired just before the telecast of the Knights win over the Storm last Saturday, Mason paid tribute to Bennett and the way he gets the best out of people, especially him.

He referred to the trust that Bennett placed in him and that it is a key factor to both his recent on field and off-field performances.

In my work in leadership development, I am always looking to take the lessons from the playing field to the boardroom.

Wayne Bennett shows us that we can help the individuals in our teams, and the team as a whole, achieve far greater than they normally would by building their confidence and self-belief.

Investing in the relationships we have with them by seeking to understand them better and building their self-belief means that they will rise to levels of performance they thought weren’t possible.

A leader who places trust in a team member, and perhaps takes a risk by doing so, sends a message to the individual, and often they respond positively.

Wayne Bennett is showing the rest of us what strong leadership can do to a team. We can replicate many of his actions and simple philosophies with our teams.

You don’t have to be famous to be an inspirational leader.

Simply care about your people, invest in the relationships you have with them and help them believe in themselves.

Greg Mowbray is the founder and CEO of Licence to Lead leadership development program. Contact him at [email protected]南京夜网.au or @gregmowbray on Twitter, or Licence to Lead on Facebook.

OPINION: Group push needed to tackle climate crisis

July 10th, 2019

WHEN I started working on climate change in the early ’90s I could count the number of climate change policy advocates in Australia on one hand. Since then, concern about the impact of burning coal, oil and gas on the global climate has grown.
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So has the number of climate groups, think tanks and government agencies trying to tackle the problem.

In Australia alone there are environmental groups as well as our key national scientific body, CSIRO. There is also The Climate Institute, Climate Change Authority, ClimateWorks, the Climate Change Institute, Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, and, until last week, the Climate Commission.

Given that we are fast running out of names that can be attributed to a ‘‘climate’’ body, it is not unreasonable to ask what is the purpose of all these bodies and why can’t we just rely on CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) for information, as the new government argues.

But when you look clearly at what the challenge entails, you see that the simple answer is no.

All of these groups and bodies have different roles to play. CSIRO and BoM have world-class scientists who ensure that we have the best scientific knowledge available to guide policies to reduce emissions and adapt to the climate change that is now inevitable.

This is why the rebirth of the Climate Commission as the Climate Council is good news. The commission, set up by the previous government to raise public awareness on climate science and economics, suffered the chop in one of the first acts of the new government. Then, on Tuesday, it was reborn, with public financial support, in the form of the Climate Council.

In its previous incarnation the organisation played an important role in synthesising knowledge and engaging directly with the community in building public understanding of climate science and its implications for Australia.

That is a role we still need someone to play, as most other groups are focused narrowly in a sector (for instance environment groups), or on policy that the public never really wants to know the full details around.

Also the Climate Commission, CSIRO and BoM mostly avoided offering policy prescriptions to address scientific concerns.

That role is left to groups like us, The Climate Institute. We look at the science and try to communicate the potential consequences, whether it’s on key sectors like emergency services, or major infrastructure like roads and energy networks, or how your own superannuation fund investment ties into Australia’s ability to make the transition to a cleaner economy.

We also look at how other countries are tackling climate change and inform our government of best policy approaches.

You would be forgiven for being turned off by climate change stories in the media over the past few years. News cycles dominated by ‘‘the carbon tax lie’’ and widely exaggerated claims of economic Armageddon as the world’s biggest carbon tax (which it is not, by the way) drives industries to the polluting shores of China, the world’s biggest investor in clean energy.

This politicising of the climate change issue is exactly why we try to reframe the debate in more tangible ways for everyday Australians. For instance, we have long felt that climate scientists are faceless to the broader community. To try and change this we asked their views on what keeps them up at night.

For our part The Climate Institute will be expanding its independent, non-partisan and solutions-focused efforts in the time ahead.

The new government is yet to provide its own independent assessment of whether it can achieve the emission targets it has committed to.

Holding the government to account ultimately can only be done if the full gamut of organisations is there, actively playing to their respective strengths, working towards a safer and cleaner Australia.

Chopping one here and another there may seem like saving taxpayer dollars. But it is actually just a short-term knee-jerk reaction that leaves us exposed to much greater costs in the future – costs that are not just financial, but physical and potentially impossible to recover from.

Independent commentators and evidence-based analysis remains critical to ensure we don’t just try and wish climate change away.

Erwin Jackson is deputy chief executive officer of The Climate Institute, Sydney.

Defence report critical of lapses after inside attack killed three Diggers

July 10th, 2019

An inquiry into the deaths of three soldiers at the hands of an Afghan National Army soldier is highly critical of short-falls in force protection, defence says.
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The report on the insider attack, released on Wednesday, makes 22 findings of which around half relate to force protection.

On August 29, 2012, Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate were killed in the attack.

A person wearing an Afghan National Army uniform opened fire with an automatic weapon inside a patrol base 20 kilometres north of Tarin Kowt in Oruzgan province.

Two other diggers were wounded.

The assailant was identified as Sergeant Hek Matullah, an Afghan National Army soldier.

He remains on the run.

Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin says the inquiry officer found only the minimum level of authorised protection was available to provide security for the soldiers.

Air Marshal Binskin said the inquiry officer found that having a single roving picket on duty at the base on the day was not adequate.

“He also found the decision to adopt a relaxed level of security – Australians were not in a state of readiness – was not in accordance with orders in place at the time,” he said.

Some soldiers on the base were dressed in gym gear and not wearing their body armour.

“This limited their ability to react and was not in line with the usual existing standard operating procedures,” Air Marshal Binskin said.

Two soldiers had since been disciplined over the pickets and inappropriate dress, he added.

“Although shortfalls in force protection were identified, the inquiry officer was not able to prove or disprove whether these arrangements directly or indirectly gave Hek Matullah the opportunity to attack Australian soldiers,” Air Marshal Binskin said.

Intelligence had not highlighted a likely risk of insider attacks prior to the shooting, although Air Marshal Binskin said such threats were “complex and evolving”.

“In terms of intelligence prior to this attack the inquiry officer found there was no intelligence available to Australia or (the) coalition to suggest there was a specific insider threat,” he said.

Nor was there information that raised concerns about Hek Matullah.

“In fact, his existence was unremarkable from a personnel or intelligence perspective,” Air Marshal Binskin said.

The inquiry officer found there was some truth in claims the Afghan National Army were aware of Hek Matullah’s Taliban links, but that on this occasion he had acted independently.

“This is supported by the fact the Taliban has not claimed responsibility for the attack, as they normally do,” Air Marshal Binskin said.

Air Marshal Binskin said the lesson for commanders on the ground is to provide the best level of protection possible for their forces.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” he said.

He said the company commander had been deeply affected by the deaths.

“Any commander who has deaths, whether it’s in combat or in training, or on exercise, it hits you hard. You do take it personally,” he said.

The patrol commander on duty at the time was one of three people named as having “a case to answer”, based on the report, Air Marshal Binskin said.

It was he who had instructed a “minimum” level of force protection be in place at the time of the attack.

Air Marshal Binskin said that was not appropriate, but conceded greater security would not have necessarily prevented the deaths.

“No matter how much you put in place you can never, 100 per cent, stop someone trying to commit a crime like this,” he said.

“You can mitigate the risk as best you can but I don’t believe you could ever stop someone who is intent on doing this.”

Air Marshal Binskin said although the base had sufficient resources to provide force protection, the decisions made weren’t appropriate.

But it wasn’t possible to make a link between protection arrangements and the reasons behind the insider attack.

“There were no weaknesses or deficiencies in our intelligence preparation and no information to Australian or coalition forces to suggest Hek Matullah was a threat to Australians,” he said.

Defence has agreed to all six recommendations made by the inquiry officer.

Four recommendations relate to the possible administrative action against three ADF members, which the chief of the defence force has referred to the chief of army for consideration.

The fifth recommendation concerns instant response capability that has been implemented and the sixth is that a commission of inquiry is not warranted.

He said since the attack the Afghan National Army had continued to improve its recruitment screening process.

“This was a highly complex situation, our intelligence and resourcing were appropriate, however there were shortfalls in the force protection measures and in the decisions made on the ground,” Air Marshal Binskin said.

Bringing Hek Matullah to justice remained a key focus.

“Let me assure you, we will not let this go.”

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I’m pregnant but he doesn’t want kids

July 10th, 2019

Q. James and I (mid 30s) have been together for six years. We are both ambitious, high-achieving professionals who love our work. James has always said he didn’t want kids, so I’ve been taking the pill. But last month, I had severe gastro and must have thrown up my pills, because now I am pregnant.
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As soon as I saw the positive test, I was filled with joy, excitement and love. I couldn’t possibly consider having a termination. How do I tell James? I don’t want him to think I’ve deliberately trapped him, and I’d be devastated if he left me. Please help. 

A. No matter how much we attempt to control the way our lives unfold, we’re all subject to the whims of chance and contingency.

It’s only in the past 80 years that effective contraceptives have been readily available. The authorities opposed attempts to open birth control clinics in the United States before 1920, and it wasn’t until after World War I that Marie Stopes was able to open her clinic in Britain.

The ability to decide you will have sex, but not have children is, therefore, a new privilege. For thousands of years, every sexually active couple, regardless of wealth or social status, knew pregnancy was a possibility, no matter how careful they might be. In her diaries, even Queen Victoria bemoaned the fact that every time she and Prince Albert had sex she conceived. Families of more than 10 children were common and, in many cases, the only way to stop having babies was for the couple to stop having sex.

Today, contraceptives are up to 99 per cent effective, but couples need to be aware pregnancy can still occur, as you’ve discovered. The bottom line is that it would be unreasonable for anyone who is having penetrative sex to get angry if the woman conceives. Any man who’s completely certain he doesn’t want to be a dad has the choice to have a vasectomy.

Talk to James straight away. Tell him what’s happened and how you feel about it, without apologising or making excuses – you haven’t done anything wrong, and you’re both equally responsible for this pregnancy.

It’s impossible to predict James’ reaction, so be prepared for a range of responses. Sometimes, men who say they don’t want children find they feel very differently when a baby is on the way. Or he might be very negative to begin with, but grow to accept, or even embrace, the situation as the pregnancy progresses, or when he meets his child. Many men who were reluctant to become fathers have told me that, in the end, it was the best thing that ever happened to them. Not all ”accidents” are bad.

When a person experiences fear it can be expressed as anger – I know men who have lived to regret their words or actions at times like these. Some irrevocably damaged the relationship; some struggle to have a connection with their child. A lifetime of pain can result from a moment’s bad behaviour.

If James freaks out and you’re both in turmoil, consider seeing a relationship counsellor. A professional will be able to guide you as you negotiate this situation, and hopefully assist you in avoiding too much damage.

In the end, James might remain adamant that he doesn’t want this child, in spite of your feelings, in which case the relationship could end. This might seem like the worst-case scenario, but time will tell.

While it might not be ideal, becoming a single mother is a reality for many women, even when their pregnancy was planned. Some relationships fail. Sometimes the father is absent due to death, chronic illness, imprisonment, military service, or shift work. If you can contemplate and accept the reality of this possibility, you’ll feel more confident and less fearful and defensive when you talk to James.

Maureen Matthews is a sex educator, speaker, and founder of online female sensuality business Bliss4Women.  

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

TOPICS: Willie or won’t he

July 10th, 2019

TOPICS was sure, for ages, that Willie Mason was sport’s version of a movie bad guy. Perhaps Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, or that bully in Karate Kid.
Nanjing Night Net

Then he signed with the Knights and became, with straight man Wayne Bennett, one half of a comedy duo.

But is the script about to take a turn towards … romance?

Willie’s mum Sonya Mason let slip yesterday on the David and Tanya KOFM radio show that her boy could be getting married next month, or in November.

Asked if wedding bells were on the cards for her boy, Mrs Mason said, ‘‘I’m waiting for that day, which is apparently sometime next month. They told me last year it’s in November this year.’’

Last Topics knew, he was engaged to long-time partner Clare Hallinan.

A spokeswoman from the Knights said Mason didn’t want to comment, though a tweet from the big forward seemed to confirm the timing of the nuptials.

‘‘Oh no! Muuuuummm lol she told me that she had an interview!! She’s hilarious,’’ tweeted Mason.

What we can say for certain is that Mason stayed behind long after Knights training yesterday, on his own, to sign autographs and pose for photos. He’s fast becoming the fans’ favourite Knight.

Demand the worst

THE following classified has found its way to Topics’ desk.

We suspect it’s in response to a job ad put out by the owners of the Vincent’s At The Coliseum cafe in Mayfield, which stipulated that ‘‘bludgers’’ and people who ‘‘feel depressed’’ need not apply.

‘‘BARISTA WANTED

■ Looking for somebody who thinks they’re better than the customers.

■ Must claim to make the best coffee in the world, no matter how undrinkable it may be.

■ Must pretend not to notice customers who are waiting to be served, even though they’re standing right in front of you.

■ Must be able to roll eyes every time someone orders a decaf, skim or soy variety.

■ Most importantly, we’re looking for a barista who never says ‘‘hi’’ or dares smile at a customer, no matter how friendly they are. Remember our motto: the customers are beneath you, little lord barista.

NB: Unruly facial hair and general unwashed look a bonus. Hipster glasses a given.

To apply, call NXFM on 49456839.’’

Those blessed rates

WHAT goes on at those Port Stephens Council meetings?

Sometimes, hearing reports from up there, Topics is unsure whether these are 21st-Century elected officials or we’ve passed out in front of the TV and Benny Hinn’s come on.

Case in point: the debate over whether councillors should keep ‘‘in Jesus’ name’’ in their opening prayer, which they voted to introduce a year ago.

And this little gem from deputy mayor Sally Dover.

‘‘After just 12 months, council is being encouraged to change our prayer,’’ she told the chamber on Tuesday night.

‘‘We have wonderful things happening in Port Stephens and I believe it’s because of this blessing.’’

The ‘‘wonderful things’’ that have resulted from the prayer, according to Cr Dover, include a reduction in the council’s levels of debt. Should’ve introduced it years ago. Port Stephens locals are entitled to ask: do we still need to pay rates?

Willie Mason still signing autographs after training yesterday when all the others have left. Picture: Darren Pateman