Monthly Archives: September 2018

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EDITORIAL: Keeping the gates open

COOL heads, not angry words, are what’s needed to settle the simmering disagreement about four-wheel-drive access to Stockton’s sand dunes and other wild places.
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The dunes serve a dual purpose. They are a very precious environmental asset, and an equally precious recreational one.

They need to be preserved against degradation because of human activity, but fair access needs to be maintained for those who are willing to enjoy the dunes while observing the necessary safeguards to prevent damage.

This has always been a difficult balancing act, but it’s getting harder. That’s partly because of the proliferation of off-road vehicles among the urban population.

Where once 4WDs were relatively uncommon and also fairly spartan means of transport, they are now practically ubiquitous, and often extremely luxurious.

As ownership of off-road vehicles expands, so too does the percentage of owners who actually want to take their vehicles onto the beaches and into the forests to enjoy the landscape.

Naturally, this means extra wear and tear on that landscape, and the more fragile places are at risk of great damage, especially if drivers aren’t careful and considerate.

As is usually true with human behaviour, the great majority of 4WD users are perfectly willing to obey sensible rules to protect the country and preserve it for the enjoyment of future generations.

The inconsiderate minority, however, does damage far beyond its numbers. Not only does this minority cause harm to the places that others want to enjoy, it also harms the legitimate claims of all off-road enthusiasts to be permitted free access to the beaches, dunes and forests.

Translating these known facts into the context of the Stockton dunes, it is apparent that compromise will be necessary.

For a start, the recreational vehicle enthusiasts must accept the archaeological importance of some parts of the dunes and also recognise the problems that can arise when beaten tracks create avenues for wave access during storms.

They need to recognise the responsibility the custodians of the land have to preserve and safeguard it for the whole community.

On the other hand, those custodians need to open a frank and friendly dialogue with the recreational vehicle users to ensure that restrictions are fair and don’t go further than they need to.

Wild places belong to all Australians, but access to them requires some degree of control to ensure their precious qualities survive to be enjoyed in future.

GREG RAY: Pollies ride gravy train

‘‘NOT in living memory has there been a government that so deserved to be thrown from office and an opposition that so little deserves to be elected.’’
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That’s Ted Mack speaking, a former independent parliamentarian and one of the very few MPs over the past few decades that I’d rate as worth feeding.

Ted delivered the Henry Parkes oration on ‘‘The State of Federation’’ at Tenterfield last weekend, and he didn’t pussyfoot around.

He seldom does, when it comes to talking about our poor sick Australian democracy.

Did I say democracy?

Ted doesn’t necessarily agree with that.

‘‘Today the Australian political system hardly qualifies as a democracy,’’ Ted said in one of his speeches. ‘‘It fails the fundamental tests of democracy in that it almost never produces majority government and we have an electoral system at federal level and in most states that does not reflect the will of the people. Most governments in Australia achieve a majority of seats with a minority of votes.’’

Real democracy isn’t on the agenda of our political duopoly, according to Ted.

Because real democracy is about decentralising power and those who actually hold power aren’t keen on giving any of it up.

Liberal and Labor are like two mafia families seeking control of the public purse to benefit themselves, their supporters, the industry donors who fund them and for buying votes at the next election, Ted says.

What about the Nationals?

‘‘Simply the country wing of the Liberal Party representing agribusiness and mining corporations,’’ Ted asserts.

The more disgusted we become at their feeding frenzy and the transparent way many politicians line their own pockets and those of their lobbyists, donors and other cronies, the more they pay themselves.

According to Ted, the basic salary of the Prime Minister is now $507,000, compared to the US President on $417,000 and the UK PM on $240,000.

‘‘Salary packages for MPs have escalated at federal level with the steady creation of new positions and extensions of fringe benefits … state governments have followed suit,’’ he said.

Voting themselves endless pay-rises is one thing. But what about the rest of us?

We are supposed to be more efficient, producing more for less pay. We are supposed to be happy about deregulation, restructuring, down-sizing and off-shoring – surprise, surprise – all the things the big business lobbyists want and the politicians automatically support.

‘‘For at least the past 20 years both major parties have constantly extolled the virtues of a free market and globalisation,’’ Ted said in one of his speeches.

‘‘They harangue the community that we need to restructure, embrace competition and deregulation. Yet they carefully exclude themselves from these ideas. When competition comes to them they scream, like all oligarchies, that independents are a waste of time.’’

‘‘The public service has been stacked with politically aligned yes-people, lobbyists and consultants are spreading like expensive viruses and the whole system is focused on tipping public resources into the pockets of mates and sponsors.

‘‘We have cabinet ministers selling access to themselves at breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Incumbents encourage financial contributions from developers, clubs, hotels, mining companies and many other well-known supporters of democracy and rort elections by entrenching incumbents with vast quantities of public and private moneys.

‘‘Open tendering is a thing of the past and ‘commercial-in-confidence’ facilitates corruption at all levels of government,’’ Ted truthfully complained.

Where does all this leave us?

In Ted’s words, Australia is now ‘‘the second best pseudo-democracy money can buy’’.

A hurtful description, but one that seems more accurate with each passing month.

TED MACK

Victoria Derby: Hugh Bowman likes Polanski, but punters don’t agree

Polanski, ridden by Hugh Bowman, beats San Diego in the Norman Robinson Stakes. Photo: Pat ScalaHugh Bowman is a visitor to Melbourne but in Polanski he has the best hometown chance in the Victoria Derby.
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And the Sydney hoop is so confident that he has queried if the betting is right for Saturday’s classic at Flemington.

Polanski will be looking for a hat-trick of wins after taking out the Super Impose Stakes at Flemington, followed by a strong effort in the Norman Robinson at Caulfield, in which he ran down San Diego. ”He was good over 2000 metres, and he is just big and strong, with a great trainer of stayers in Robbie Laing,” Bowman said.

”I was able to book myself on him straight away [after Caulfield], and it is very exciting to get on a live chance.”

Bowman is no stranger to success in the Victoria Derby, winning on Lion Tamer and Sangster in successive years in 2010 and 2011. He got the ride on Polanski for the Norman Robinson, and has little doubt about his staying potential.

All of which means the $8.50 on offer at Sportingbet might be generous, with Bowman believing there is not much between the Sydney and Melbourne form.

”It is hard to line up the form but I think the Sydney form might be suspect,” Bowman said. ”The way Drago went [on Saturday], but also you had Savvy Nature come out and win. I actually think they’re all pretty even, and I know my bloke is a last-start winner and can stay.”

Punters, though, have taken a different view, with Spring Champion Stakes winner Complacent the $4 favourite in front of Savvy Nature at $4.20, while Criterion is at $8.

”They have only wanted to back two horses since Saturday and, surprisingly, it has been Complacent that most money has been for – and he didn’t even run [on Saturday],” Sportingbet boss Michael Sullivan said.

”Savvy Nature ran third to Complacent in the Spring Champion, and came out and didn’t handle the Valley and still won. So he went from $7.50 to $4.20, and has been solid at that quote.

”Complacent has been $4.50 to $4 since Saturday, and they are really the only two horses we are writing tickets for. The punters … have dismissed the Melbourne form. Polanski is $8.50 but we can’t write his name.”

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

Bart Cummings’ horse Precedence penalised one kilogram

Craig Williams rides Precedence to win The Drake International Cup. Photo: Pat ScalaTwelve-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Bart Cummings’ mission to get an 88th runner in the race is alive, just, after Moonee Valley Cup winner Precedence was penalised one kilogram.
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Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter said the penalty given to Precedence for the group 2 win was in line with what the horse carried in last year’s Cup when a brave ninth to Green Moon, and took into consideration the horse’s age (eight) and the fact that he has won a group 3 and a group 2 staying race in the past year.

“The penalty takes Precedence back to the same weight he carried when running ninth to Green Moon in last year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup,” Carpenter said.

”The penalty is the same given to Vatuvei for winning the 2012 renewal at Moonee Valley and does not guarantee the horse a start in the race. After withdrawals at the third-declaration stage, Precedence has moved from 45th to 26th in the order of entry but is far from guaranteed a place.”

To make the field, Precedence must win either the Mackinnon Stakes or the Lexus Stakes on Saturday at Flemington or sit back and rely on attrition to improve his position in the order of entry.

Cummings’ grandson and training partner James said if Precedence managed to sneak into the field his grandfather would be on track at Flemington to watch.

Chris Waller said he had given up looking for reasons not to run his import Foreteller, saying the horse’s time has arrived.

”It was a cracking run … in the Cox Plate,” he said. ”OK, will he run a genuine two miles is the question. Saintly went from a Cox Plate to winning a Melbourne Cup with a doubt on him staying. I know the horse was trained by a genius [Bart Cummings], but I am just hoping Foreteller could do exactly what Saintly did … We have been finding reasons not to start him, but his time has come.”

While Waller will not be the biggest player in the Cup as wealthy businessman Lloyd Williams could have up to a quarter of the field of 24, the former New Zealand horseman has three hopefuls – Foreteller, Hawkspur and Kelinni.

”That’s how I’m looking at it. They are all in great order and I can’t fault them so the Cup is their mission. But Foreteller will not run on Saturday, he will go straight into the Cup,” he said.

The Melbourne Cup dream is still alive for the connections of 47 horses which were paid up after third declarations, but Saturday’s Derby day meeting could play a significant hand in shaping the final field as there are ballot-free positions on the line.

Key Cup hopefuls which must win include Jet Away and English raider Forgotten Voice.

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

Talented rider Aaron Morris hits new high

AS far as it is known, Aaron Morris does not sing much, dances rarely, does not have a Big Brother and is definitely not a geek. Beauty? That is in the eye of the beholder.
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What Aaron, 21, does best is ride motorcycles and when it comes to parading his talent on television reality shows the Redhead revhead lets his riding talent do the talking.

In fact it is his consummate skills aboard powerful motorcycles that earned him a place in a compact cast for this year’s The Ultimate Rider series, potentially one of the most dangerous television shows going.

In one of those ‘‘I was hard at work when the phone rang’’ moments Morris says he took a phone call from the show’s judges, international rider trainer Bernie Hatton and former Australian champion and international 500cc Grand Prix racer Daryl Beattie, effectively inviting him to join its six-strong rider line-up.

‘‘They called me up and said: ‘Send us your resume and we’ll go from there.’ I got it all together, sent it off and here I am,’’ he said.

The format has the riders – Morris, Cessnock’s Sophie Lovett, Ben Henry, Brayden Elliott, Jake Ralph and Matt Berry – competing against each other across a number of riding disciplines including road circuits, motocross, speedway-style dirt tracks and the crossover motard class that mixes tarmac and dirt with a little bit of supercross thrown in.

The six riders not only have to compete against each other but to complicate matters just a little they also have to live with each other, the scenario creating a pressurised environment.

‘‘It was definitely a learning experience. Not so much the riding but the production side of the show and getting along with that.

‘‘It wasn’t too bad, though,’’ the second-generation racer said.

‘‘The one problem we had was that the bikes were not full-on race bikes, they were road bikes so you had to look after them a bit.’’

Aaron managed to fit his television work around his racing calendar which included a full season in the Australian Supersport Championship in which he finished second, just seven points behind the winner.

Next year? Still in the planning.

‘‘It could be Supersport again or we could go up into the Superbikes. We’re still deciding which way to go.’’

And the outcome of The Ultimate Rider?

‘‘I’m sworn to secrecy.’’

The Ultimate Rider screens on One HD on Saturdays.

MAN AT WORK: Aaron Morris demonstrates the motorcycle riding skills that earned selection for a new television reality show.

RIDER: Aaron Morris.