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One third of mortgage owners have less than a month’s buffer against financial instability, the Reserve Bank has warned, in a review highlighting increased risks in the heated Sydney and Melbourne property markets.
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The RBA’s half-yearly financial stability review, released on Thursday, also took aim at the noticeable rise in investor credit, stating a decline could trigger a sharp downturn in the market.

“The concern is that investors are likely to contribute to the amplification of the cycles in borrowing and housing prices, generating additional risks to the future health of the economy,” the RBA said.

“Periods of rapidly rising prices can create the expectation of further price rises, drawing more households into the market, increasing the willingness to pay more for a given property, and leading to an overall increase in household indebtedness.”

According to the RBA, aggregate mortgage buffers are high, at about 17 per cent of outstanding loan balances.

“But these aggregate figures mask significant variation across borrowers, with available data suggesting that around one-third of borrowers have either no accrued buffer or a buffer of less than one month’s repayments,” the RBA found.

“Those with minimal buffers tend to have newer mortgages, or to be lower-income or lower-wealth households”.

The RBA’s assessment follows Treasurer Scott Morrison’s push for regulators to crack down on investor loans after they rose to more than 50 per cent of all loans in January, amplifying market risk and entrenching the housing affordability crisis.

House prices surged 1.4 per cent across in March, pushing annual price growth to 19 per cent in Sydney and 16 per cent in Melbourne.

Of particular concern to the RBA was the rise in interest-only loans, which now represent 23 per cent of owner-occupier lending and 64 per cent of investor lending.

“Interest-only lending has the potential to increase households’ vulnerability in part due to the higher average level of indebtedness over the life of an interest only loan compared with a regular principal-and-interest loan,” the RBA stated.

TD Securities strategist Annette Beacher observed that “interest-only” lending was mentioned 17 times in the report.

“This report is a not-subtle threat against rising ‘risky’ investor mortgages.”

The RBA also took a swipe at the big four banks for poor culture that led to the financial planning and life insurance scandals exposed by Fairfax Media and Four Corners.

“International experience has shown that banks that allow or encourage a culture of excessive risk-taking can pose significant harm to financial stability if poor culture becomes pervasive,” the RBA stated.

It said banking regulator the n Prudential Regulation Authority had found in some cases, “banks allowed a culture to develop within their core banking divisions over recent years that prioritised protecting market share … over sound lending practices”.

On the global economy, the RBA said the outlook had improved over the past six months, though some longstanding vulnerabilities in the US, Europe and China remain.

“Risks related to some international political developments have increased, though markets have generally reacted to events in an orderly manner so far,” the RBA stated.

“While still under discussion, some of the new US administration’s policies, particularly in relation to trade and financial regulation, could adversely affect global economic growth and financial stability.”

The RBA said the influence of “Eurosceptic” parties in elections to be held later this year could undermine the resilience of European banks and sovereign debt markets.

On China, the RBA warned of rising levels of debt “with particularly strong growth in lending from the less regulated and more opaque parts of China’s financial system.”

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SportTuggeranong Vikings Vs Canberra Royals. Royals’ Tom Cusack.Filed: Saturday, 27 July 2013 6:18:40 PM Photo by Rohan Thomson, The Canberra Timesrt130727Union-4883.jpg Photo: Rohan ThomsonRio Olympian Tom Cusack had to take a pay cut to chase his ACT Brumbies dream, but the former n sevens stars says it will all be worth it when he makes his debut.
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Cusack is poised to play his first Super Rugby game after being named on the Brumbies bench for the clash against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday night.

The 24-year-old spent the past four seasons travelling the world to tournaments in Las Vegas, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and the Rio Olympic Games.

But the well-travelled back-rower has never played a competitive match in Melbourne and is bracing for a brutal battle against the Rebels.

Cusack was one of ‘s best performers at the Olympics last year, and was named in the team of the tournament.

However, he turned his back on another year in sevens to pursue his Super Rugby ambitions.

The Brumbies tried to lure Cusack to Super Rugby in 2013 and 2015, but Olympic and Commonwealth Games campaigns convinced him to stay in sevens.

This time he took the deal and a pay cut just to join the Brumbies’ extended chance in the hope of achieving a childhood dream.

“I was happy to go down the sevens path and then when it became an Olympic sport, that dragged it out to four years,” Cusack said.

“Ticking off a Commonwealth Games, an Olympic Games and travelling the world for four years is something I will never regret.

“But I always wanted to play for the Brumbies. It’s always been a gamble, but I’ve put my hand up to throw myself into the deep end.

“You have a fear that you won’t get the chance to do what you want. This is where I want to be and sometimes you have to take a step back to go forwards.

“For me it was never about money. I do need to make money because it is my job. But the financials weren’t the issue, I wanted my foot in the door.”

Cusack has been biding his time in the first two months of the season, but Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is throwing him into the clash against the Rebels.

No. 8 Jordan Smiler injured his hamstring and will miss at least two weeks, opening the door for Jarrad Butler to move into the starting XV and for Cusack to join a forwards-heavy bench.

Larkham made five changes to the team that beat the Queensland Reds last weekend.

Butler replaces Smiler, skipper Sam Carter has been recalled after being rested, Andrew Smith will move to inside centre to replace Kyle Godwin (broken hand) while Cusack and Jordan Jackson-Hope have been added to the bench.

Smith is starting his first game for the Brumbies in three years after a stint in France and injuries last year limited his involvement.

“Smitty is a very consistent competitor and I think has the skill set to play [either inside centre or outside centre],” Larkham said.

Andrew Smith of the Brumbies evades the tackle of Samu Kerevi of the Reds. Photo: Getty

“He’s been here in the past more as a No. 13, but we feel like we’ve got the right game plan to utilise him at No. 12. He looks very comfortable in that position.”

Cusack’s balancing act has been keeping the speed that made him a key player in sevens while also bulking up to match the physical demands of the Super Rugby back row.

“Sevens has given my game so much and in my mind it was the best thing that could happen in my career in the early stages,” Cusack said.

“I got to try something unique and now I get to transition back to 15-a-side and bring those things back with me.

“Until you’re a stalwart of the team, you still have some doubts. All I’m here to do is to make sure I put my hand up, get bigger and train harder.

“This is where I always wanted to end up – playing Super Rugby. Being a Canberra boy, this is what I see as a natural fit and it’s humbling.”

SUPER RUGBY ROUND EIGHT

Saturday: Melbourne Rebels v ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, Melbourne, 7.45pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 1.

Brumbies team: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Andrew Smith, 11. Tom Banks, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Jarrad Butler, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Robbie Abel, 1. Scott Sio. Reserves: 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. Nic Mayhew, 18. Ben Alexander, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Tom Staniforth, 21. Tom Cusack, 22. De Wet Roos, 23. Jordan Jackson-Hope.

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DELIVERING: Maitland City Council General Manager David Evans.Maitland residents are being asked to comment onthe city’s draft operational plan which will beon public exhibition until May 15.
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Councillors supported the detailed plan at a meeting this week and called on ratepayers to have their say.

The delivery program and draft operational plan, which incorporates the city’s annual budget, fees and charges (including rates) and capital works program, sets out what will be deliveredover the next financial year.It also shows how council objectives and actions will help achieve goals specified by residents in the community strategic plan Maitland + 10.

The$148 million draft plan is forecast to reap an additional $4.7 million in rate revenue.While council is budgeting for a surplus of $12,000 it also has to fork out a myriad of levies to various government departments.

General Manager David Evans said over the next year council willfocuson completingmanyprojects. “This is ourlargest budget to date. Projects identified in theplan which willprogressinclude construction of the Riverlink building, the Mount Vincent Road wastetransfer station, reconstruction of Athel D’Ombrain Drive (east), a new community centre at Gillieston Heights and construction onMaitland Regional Sportsground athletics track. Wehave also set a target of increasing grant revenue,” he said.

Mayor Peter Blackmore said this is an extraordinary plan guided by an elected council sitting beyond their standard four year term.”The announcement council will not amalgamate with Dungog was followed by a proclamation that we will go to the polls on September 9.As such this operational plan has been prepared with a tight focus on business as usual and completion of identified initiatives,” he said.

A range of other priorities have been highlighted in the plan such as crime prevention strategies, affordable housing and the launch of a new corporate website.

“Next financial year we will also spend nearly $13 million on the reconstruction rehabilitation and resurfacing of roads,’ the mayor said.

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Health authorities are now warning people to avoid eating seafood caught from or fishing near the potentially contaminated area around the lower reaches of the Brisbane River, from Bulimba Creek to Fisherman Island, and north to Shorncliffe. Photo: Edwina PicklesPeople are being warned not to go fishing oreat seafood caught fromwaterways near theBrisbane Airport after firefighting foam spewed out of a Qantas hangar and escaped into the stormwater system.
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The Queensland government confirmed on Friday about 22,000 litres of the foam was released from a failed deluge system within the hangar on April 10.

While about three-quarters was contained, some of the remaining portion appearedto have seeped into the wider environment and caused the deaths of 20 nearby fish.

Health authorities are now warning people to avoid eating seafood caught from or fishing near the potentially contaminated area around the lower reaches of the Brisbane River, from Bulimba Creek to Fisherman Island, and north to Shorncliffe.

It’s believed the foam contained perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) but chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said there was “no consistent evidence” that exposure posed a threat to humans.

“(But) I understand this was a significant spill (and) avoiding seafood consumption from the impacted area in the short term is a sensible, cautious approach,” Dr Young said.

A joint investigation between the Queensland and Commonwealth governments is now underway and environmental officers have taken water samples from the polluted site.

Environment Minister Steven Miles was expected to address the media later on Friday.

AAP

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Devil of a bun? Nope. Photo: iStock”Your Hot Cross Buns Could Be Giving You Dementia”.
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This was the subject line of an email I was sent this week. Seriously.

“‘s anti-ageing doctor, Dr [Michael] Elstein, says this Easter we should avoid stocking up on hot cross buns, an Easter favourite, as eating gluten could be setting us up to develop obesity and dementia,” the attached press release said.

If you’re not terrified already, read on:

“Research into the claims that gut inflammation caused by foods high in gluten are characteristic of a broad spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases that can manifest into dementia, support Dr Elstein’s warning that this Easter we should ditch the buns.”

First things first:Elstein is not the first to make the gluten/dementia connection (although targeting the attack at the humble old hot cross buns is new).

Neurologist Dr David Perlmutter writes about the apparent link in hisNew York Timesbest-selling book,Grain Brain.

“The biggest issue by far is that carbohydrates are absolutely at the cornerstone of all of our major degenerative conditions,”he said in 2013. “That includes things like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and even cancers. What we know is that even mild elevations in blood sugar are strongly related to developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

Apart from lumping all grains and all forms of gluten into the same bag (highly processed carbs and fermented glutenare absorbed by and affect the body in completely different ways), it is at odds with the latest research which suggests that a Mediterranean diet (which includes wholegrains) can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’sby as much as 53 per cent. Also, such advice fails to see the full picture.

“His book is filled with a whole bunch of nonsense, that’s why it’s a best-seller,” Yale’s Dr David Katz said ofGrain Brainin 2013. “Because that’s how you get on the best-seller list. You promise the moon and stars, you say everything you heard before was wrong, and you blame everything on one thing. You get a scapegoat; it’s classic. Atkins made a fortune with that formula. We’ve got Rob Lustig saying it’s all fructose; we’ve got T. Colin Campbell [author ofThe China Study, a formerly best-selling book] saying it’s all animal food; we now have Perlmutter saying it’s all grain. There’s either a scapegoat or a silver bullet in almost every best-selling diet book.”

I send the scapegoat, I meanhot cross bun press release, to Alzheimer’s . The gluten/brain health linkis still floating around – is there any substance toit, I ask?

They decline to comment, saying “we’re just not aware of any link [between the two]” and point me to their formal advice on brain health. It does discuss how diet might increase or decrease risk of Alzheimer’s, themost common form of dementia, which is not an inevitable part of ageing according to the Florey Institute. “It is an ‘unnatural’disease which begins 30 years before symptoms become so severe that we would say someone has Alzheimer’s disease,” they say in a new study.

But, back toAlzheimer’s ‘s advice, which does mention gluten (in its highly processed form):

“Several studies have found that a high intake of saturated fats, such as those found in meat, deep fried foods and takeaway food and trans fats often found in pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits and buns are associated with an increased risk of dementia. So what you eat could affect your brain,” they explain.

“Follow theNational Dietary Guidelinesby eating a variety of foods including vegetables, fruit, fish, grains, nuts, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), and lean meat. Reduce foods high in saturated fats including full fat dairy products, fried food and desserts.”

Seems reasonable. I also send the press release to Dr Rosemary Stanton.

She agrees with Dr Elstein that consuming gluten, in the form of cakes and biscuits, is unnecessary for human health, but that’s about it.

She notes one line from the release stating that “gluten is a non-digestible substance with no nutritional value”.

“Not sure that this Dr Elstein knows what he’s talking about,” Stanton says.

“This is a commonly held view from Dr Google. Gluten is the composite name for proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. For people with coeliac disease – which is about oneperson in every 100 – gluten can damage the villi that line the small intestine. For most other people, gluten is not a problem and is broken down by enzymes to its component peptides and eventually to amino acids. If gluten was non-digestible, it would emerge in stools and I can find no evidence that this occurs.

“For those who don’t have coeliac disease, there is no problem consuming foods made from wheat, rye or barley.

“Dr Elstein says we can get all the fibre we need from fruits and vegetables. In fact, different foods contain different kinds of dietary fibre. It’s a bit like vitamins. Those in some foods are not found in others and having loads of vitamin C won’t provide, say, vitamin E.”

Dr Stanton adds that no evidence from “quality journals” shows that gluten causes dementia or neurodegenerative diseases.

“Again, this is something favoured by Dr Google blog sites.”

Where does that leave us with the hot cross bun – frankly one of the best parts of Easter as far as I’m concerned?

“Frankly, I think a hot cross bun is not a bad food. Sure – eating a dozen loaded with lots of butter would be a problem, but as a once-a-year treat, no problem – except for the 1 per cent who have coeliac or the small number who have an allergy to wheat,” Stanton says.

“Enjoy your Easter and I hope you enjoy a quality hot cross bun!”

First appeared on SMH

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She first had chest pains while working as a resident in intensive care, and put them down to stress. But when Sashie Howpage had difficulty breathing, her GP sent her for a chest x-ray.
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“The radiographer, recognising I was a doctor, said, ‘Do you want to come and have a look at your x-ray?'” she said. “I saw a huge mass in my chest. I’d seen it before; I knew what I was facing. No one told me that I had cancer – I figured it out in that dark room, alone.”

Dr Howpage was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She started treatment on her 24th birthday, undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy – a process she described as “fighting evil with evil”.

She has been in remission for three years, but severe side effects almost drove her to give up treatment. She felt she had lost control of her life. Blogs written by other sufferers terrified her.

“Doctors have no idea of the fear patients have,” she said.

Dr Howpage said she made the mistake of thinking “it was all my own journey”, not realising her family had also struggled to cope with her cancer diagnosis. “The support from a network of people who are in a similar place would have been wonderful,” she said. “It’s not just the patient who’s grieving.”

Knowing first-hand the challenges faced by cancer patients such as Dr Howpage, as well as their caregivers, Sydney doctors Nikhil Pooviah and Raghav Murali-Ganesh, from the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse cancer hospital, developed an app designed to improve cancer care.

CancerAid is now the most popular cancer app on the Apple store in , the US and the UK, used by 30,000 people in 24 countries.

Licensed to cancer institutions and provided to patients free of charge, CancerAid organises medical records and streamlines information on appointments, treatments and specialists. It gives patients and caregivers accurate information about their illness and treatment plan, as well as access to online journals and a supportive community of patients and carers.

Dr Howpage said the app would have been invaluable when she was battling cancer. “It helps give back some control, knowing you can track what’s happening with your treatment,” she said. “Better informed patients … are willing to keep going with treatment, even when it’s too hard or they don’t see the benefits.”

Having all the patient’s information available on the app would also make it easier for clinicians, she said. Hospital data systems were “not in the modern age yet. This app is leading the way with how we store medical records on the phone.”

Almost 135,000 new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed in this year; an estimated 21.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed worldwide in 2030.

“When a patient gets a diagnosis of cancer it hits them like a freight train,” Dr Murali-Ganesh said. CancerAid aims to “put the power within the hands of the patient. [We’re trying] to change the way care is delivered, to improve the journey for many, many thousands of patients.”

Dr Murali-Ganesh and Dr Pooviah, both aged 30, are now working full time on CancerAid, which was one of six start-ups selected for this year’s elevate61 accelerator program in the US.

Dr Pooviah said the two world-first studies, on cancer nutrition and rehabilitation, were being conducted within the app, which also collects data in a secure, anonymised way to fuel research, further innovation and improvements in clinical care.

“We’re looking at trends to help improve clinical decisions,” he said. “A lot of the components we have designed could apply to other chronic diseases.”

Chief executive of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Eileen Hannagan, said the research opportunities offered by CancerAid were exciting.

“Hospital settings need to start adopting new technologies in this digital age,” she said. “With AI, VR and other digital tools like CancerAid improving patients’ lives, it’s a very exciting time to be in health care.”

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Finals football is on the A-League horizon. Theory goes out of the window, tactical niceties are forgotten and it’s win at all costs as the pressure is on to secure a spot in the play-offs or make the championship-decider.
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Well, no, at least not according to Kevin Muscat, as he supervises his Melbourne Victory team for its final game of the regular season at home to Central Coast Mariners on Friday night.

The Victory boss is preparing his side for the most decisive few weeks of the campaign but he is not fretting over Victory’s fate in any sudden-death scenario.

Muscat said the most important factor for him and his team is to keep on doing what it has done all season – concentrate on the processes and the performances and trust his players’ proven abilities and the tactics that have seen Victory secure second place on the ladder.

Things won’t change just because the team is in a sudden-death situation.

“If we are just worried about results and come away from what we have been trying to do, working on and practicing over a long period of time, we will rely heavily on luck,” he said.

“Over a period of time performance is what counts. That’s what’s going to reward you with results.

“I am not going to steer away from that … I am not going to rely on luck.”

The logic behind his “stay calm and trust yourselves” mantra is straightforward.

“When we do score goals and we do win, we need to understand how and why, and the reason for that is so that we can reproduce it. If we don’t understand that, well, its bloody hard to reproduce,” Muscat said.

“Without doubt it’s important to win. I am not trying to put a performance together not to win, but we do believe that when we perform anywhere near our capabilities the result normally looks after itself.”

Having said that, the coach acknowledged it is important for Victory to approach the finals with some momentum.

Muscat’s side has taken only four points from its last 15, suffering three defeats along the way, including one of its worst home performances in memory when it crashed 3-0 to Wellington Phoenix. It has not scored in its last three games, its worst record in six years.

To some extent such slackness might be explained by the fact that Victory have been guaranteed second spot on the table and the home semi-final that goes with it for several weeks now. Still, the fans are showing some nervousness, even if their coach is not.

“I am not concerned. Our form over 26 weeks has been bloody good, but over three weeks maybe not so good,” he said.

“If we look at last week [a 0-0 draw in Western Sydney, where Victory played the bulk of the second half with 10 men after Daniel Georgievski’s dismissal] and talk about form … for 50 minutes away to Western Sydney who had scored three goals in their last three games, we completely dominated and created a number of chances.

“In the remaining 40 minutes [after Georgievski’s red card] we showed a lot of grit, care and determination not to concede. There were a lot of positives to come out of last week.”

Muscat accepts that the departure of Oliver Bozanic, the oft maligned marquee midfielder, has come at some on-field cost as Victory no longer have quite the same offensive drive from midfield. Rashid Mahazi, Carl Valeri and Leigh Broxham are much more defensively-oriented midfielders than Bozanic, who moved to the J League.

“Ollie had some good performances here. But everyone was judging him based on some status [marquee player] that everyone gets excited about. He was good for us, but we made a calculated decision to go down the route we did knowing we would have less depth,” Muscat explained.

The versatile Leigh Broxham – “he’s tried and trusted” – will most likely fill the left-back spot in Georgievski’s absence through suspension.

“He has passed with flying colours when he has had to do it in the past. We could look at Stef Nigro as well but it’s an unfamiliar position for him, probably wouldn’t do him any favours,” said Muscat.

“I felt Rashid was very good for his first game for a while. Defensively he was very good for us, setting up and not allowing Western Sydney to get any momentum.”

Central Coast could still take the wooden spoon if they lose in Melbourne and Adelaide beat Western Sydney or Newcastle upsets Sydney.

Muscat remains wary of the threat they pose, particularly with their speedy attacking players.

“They scored off a set-piece last week, but in transition they have got some lively players. Fabio Ferreira joining in the attack, Conor [Pain, an ex-Victory winger] we know about, they always have pace with [Trent] Buhagiar, [Kwabena] Appiah on the right.”

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Flemington in the first week of November. There’s no greater certainty than Lloyd Williams having a fancied runner – or several – in this country’s greatest race, the Melbourne Cup.
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Royal Ascot in June has seen the country’s most famous owner taste success on the international stage, with his part-owned Order of St George dominating in the Ascot Gold Cup as recently as last year.

But could the Mount Macedon-based Williams be donning the top hat and tails for a spot in the winners’ enclosure at Epsom after the most famous race in the world – The Derby – in just a few months?

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility after his blueblooded colt Rekindling sprung a 16-1 shock in Ireland last weekend when he made his seasonal reappearance in a Group 3 Derby trial over 2000 metres, the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.

Williams is no stranger to Irish racecourses as he has owned a number of gallopers in partnership with the Coolmore empire, where they have been trained by Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle in County Tipperary.

What makes Rekindling unusual is that he is in the care of Aidan’s 23-year-old son Joseph O’Brien, who gave up his unequal battle with the scales last year and retired as Irish champion jockey at the age of 22 to become a trainer.

He has not lacked for support and when the Coolmore-connected David Wachman surrendered his licence at the end of last season the then two-year-old Rekindling was one of a number of horses who found a new home with the fledgling trainer, and Williams was happy to lend his support. Rekindling was in fact Wachman’s last runner as a trainer when he finished unplaced a Group 1 two-year-old race in France last October.

“Joseph has a number of horses for me and I am very enthusiastic about his future,” Williams says.

“I have raced horses for over 50 years, and experience tells me that he is perfectly placed to reach the top.”

Williams also has various horses in training with Aidan O’Brien, who was on the receiving end of Rekindling’s success for the n and his son, as O’Brien senior saddled the second, third and fourth in the race behind Rekindling.

“I have known Aidan since his time as a jumping rider in the JP McManus days before he was at Ballydoyle,” Williams reminisced. “JP (Ireland’s leading owner of jump racing horses) is one of my very old friends.”

And what of Rekindling? Could the son of High Chaparral, sire of n champion So You Think, go on to glory at Epsom and emulate his sire, who won both the English and Irish Derbies of 2002?

“The race has a history of producing good horses but Rekindling would need to step up in a race like the Dante Stakes (England’s leading Derby trial run at York over 2100 metres in May) if he is to be a genuine chance,” Williams says.

“Aidan’s horses ran second, third and fourth and he likes them, so time will tell.”

*Williams certainly has history on his side, as derby winners Galileo, High Chaparral and Harzand have all won the Ballysax in the past 16 years, with Ascot Gold Cup winners Yeats and Fame And Glory also getting on the honour roll in that period.

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Senator Derryn Hinch at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 1 December 2016 Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesThere are two four-letter words you will never hear escaping from the lips of politicians.
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One is “rich” and the other is “poor”.

Tune into question time on any given day and all manner of euphemisms are used instead – “hard-working families”, “battlers”, “lifters and leaners” and “millionaires”.

Even the Prime Minister – a rich man by anyone’s standard – can’t describe himself as such.

“We’ve worked hard, we’ve paid our taxes, we’ve given back,” Mr Turnbull said shortly after becoming Prime Minister in 2015, in an attempt to deflect Labor’s accusation that a man of his means could not understand the lives of ordinary folk.

The budget is now four weeks away and the framing of who deserves help from the government and who should work harder for that help is well under way.

The big issue – housing affordability – is emerging as the new class divide.

No longer are people working class, middle class or upper class – they can either afford to be home owners or they cannot.

Judith Brett, emeritus professor of politics at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, says the housing debate is “bizarre”.

“If you talk about inequality, housing is now an enormous issue. It’s not just about having a job, it’s also about having parents who can afford to help [with a deposit]. That’s going back to a Jane Austen kind of time when access to capital was a major determinant of life choices. That wasn’t the case for me and my parents’ generations.”

Income is still important but so is a source of capital separate to someone’s salary.

Brett, whose book Menzies’ Forgotten People examined the post World War 2 Liberal Party’s cultivation of the middle class, scratches her head when she considers the modern day Liberal Party’s approach to housing.

Under Sir Robert Menzies it “was the party that did everything it could to promote home ownership,” Brett says.

“The Liberal Party now seems to be very confused. It seems to be protecting home ownership as a form of investment.”

Immediately after World War 2, levels of home ownership hovered at about 50 per cent in the cities; the working classes were life-long renters.

“Menzies worked very hard to turn that around through war service loans and banks having to put aside money for housing loans. That was central to what the Liberal Party stood for,” Brett explains.

As result, home ownership levels began to rise.

Contrast this to today, where budget speculation has been dominated by what measures – if any – the Turnbull government will introduce to make home ownership feel more like a realistic aspiration.

“Housing affordability is very damaging to the credibility of the Liberal Party in terms of its political position. Menzies was very keen not to be seen as a party of the wealthy and the current Liberal Party has a problem with that at the moment,” Brett says.

Owning a home in Sydney or Melbourne is quickly becoming the new class divide.

Debates in Parliament about whether or not an income of $180,000 makes someone rich seem nonsensical to someone trying to buy their first home at a time when median property values were a record $1.123 million in Sydney at the end of 2016 and $795,447 in Melbourne.

A politician’s advice that home buyers should get good jobs or get their parents to help them out seems particularly tone-deaf when the median prices of apartments and units has reached $711,256 in Sydney and $459,181 in Melbourne.

Earlier this week Justice Party senator Derryn Hinch said home ownership was no longer something young people should feel was their right.

“The problem here is that people – I get it’s unpopular to say this – but owning your own home is not an n right. It’s a dream and everybody wants to do it,” Senator Hinch said on Tuesday.

“I think [my parents] were in their 40s before they could afford to buy their first home. It’s not something you’re meant to get – the two-car garage [house] when you’re 22. I think… that this generation and the one before think that’s the way it has to be. Well, I’m afraid it’s not that way.”

Add to this stagnating wage growth and a widening gap between the top 10 per cent of income earners and the bottom 10 per cent and it is not difficult to see why the n National University’s 2016 election survey found ns’ satisfaction with democracy has collapsed to its lowest level since the Whitlam dismissal with more than half the people surveyed saying politicians were out of touch and only governing for a few big interests.

Earlier this week the n Bureau of Statistics revealed the typical n was a 38-year-old woman living with her husband and two children in a three-bedroom house with a mortgage.

But the typical politician, according to Buzzfeed, was a married 51-year-old father of two, who owned two homes and was called Andrew.

“Obviously this budget will be about housing affordability. Housing and class defines your position more than it ever did before,” Nicholas Biddle, deputy director of the n Centre for Applied Social Research Methods at the n National University, says.

Home ownership is now a “signal of middle classness” and something that seems further and further out of reach for people with incomes at the lower end of the scale.

Dr Biddle says it might feel as if people are able to climb up society’s rungs but their ability to do so has decreased in recent years.

“In there’s less mobility than there was in the 1950s and 1960s,” he says, pointing to post-war migration and the opening up of the higher education system as mechanisms that allowed people to rise through the ranks.

What academics call “associative mating” became more common.

“Previously you would have had a relatively low educated mother with a more highly educated father and everyone goes up,” Dr Biddle explains.

Now “people tend to marry people from within their group”.

Neighbourhoods are becoming more homogenous and education has become about “getting your children into the top school and the top university”.

All of this is “bad news for people at the bottom”, Dr Biddle says.

Someone with direct experience of this is Olga Srbovski.

???Srbovski has worked for The Smith Family for nearly 15 years in Canberra, Wollongong and regional NSW.

She sees first-hand the struggle faced by the people at the bottom and believes must confront the emergence of a new class – the working poor.

“There’s so much hidden poverty. People are working but they’re just scraping by,” Srbovski says.

Housing is a bigger and bigger issue each year. The waiting times for public housing are increasingly forcing people to seek affordable private housing.

The services she oversees – such as programs to help families with education costs – are becoming increasingly stretched.

“We’re beginning to see more and more families coming in and saying ‘we’re really struggling’. What we’re finding is that more and more classes are asking their kids to bring in their own tablet. If you have three kids and the class is asking you to come in with a tablet it’s incredibly expensive. It’s all of the added costs.”

Families are facing multiple types of disadvantage in addition to financial stress – housing pressures, family violence, disability, mental and other types of health issues.

Srbovski worries about the children in families struggling to overcome these issues.

“It stresses the kids watching their parents struggle,” she says.

“They don’t go to swimming lessons or play sport. It’s a real issue for our young kids. We’re seeing a lot of anxious kids. They become isolated, disengaged. That affects how they go through later life. If you’re not building relationships when you’re young then how hard is it to do it later in life?”

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IMPACT: Holding midfielder Jane McDonald, right, controls the tempo of the game for United.UnbeatenHeraldWomen’s Premier League leadersMerewether will face a stern test in Port Macquarie on Sunday when they take on Mid North Coast withoutexperienced trio Alison Logue, Jane McDonald and Rhali Dobson.
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Logue, United’s goalkeeper, misses the game through suspension after she was red-carded in Merewether’s come-from-behind 2-1 win over defending champions Warners Bay in round five.

McDonald holds the midfield for United and has the ability to control the tempo of the match. She misses the game as she is overseas with the Emerging Jets girls’ teams playing in the Dallas International Cup.

Strike weapon Dobson is also overseas.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve played without Jane and I think it will be a good test for our team,” Merewether coach Cass Koppen said.

“She is a solid midfielder and controls things for us, so if will be interesting to see if we can maintain our composure and discipline without Jane. I still think we have a quality enough side.”

Koppen remained wary of what she described as a tough road trip to Port Macquarie and acknowledged Mid North Coast had been a bit of a bogey side for United in recent seasons.

“Mid North Coast have always been a very athletic and very coachable side and they’ve always been one of our harder rivals,” she said.

“Then add in the experience of Sophie Jones, Shannon Day and Imogene Tomasone this year and we are definitely expecting a tough game.”

South Wallsend coach Gary Wilson expected former W-League player Stacey Day to have more impact when they travel to The Gardens for a local derby with Wallsend.

Day returned to the field in the Wolves’ 5-0 win over Thornton last weekend. She played the final 20 minutes of the match and the appearance was herfirst since having a second knee reconstruction last year.

Wilson said she would continue to be eased back into playing with the focus on having her firing by the end of the season rather than rushing her back too soon.

The match will be the first in four days for South Wallsend, who back up against Warners Bay on Wednesday night.

Adamstown travel to Thornton to take on The Redbacks in the other round-six match.

Adamstown coach Ben Herron said patience would be key to their success and was wary of the winless Redbacks, who defend well then can catch teams out with their pace in transition on the counter attack.

“I’m not entirely sure what to expect; they’ve had a big loss in round one then it sounds like they pushed Warners Bay fairly well, so they seem inconsistent,” Herron said.

“We travelled up there last year and they showed a fair bit of energy and were leading at half-time.

“Our focus will on being patient in what we do. We can’t go gung-ho and rush into everything, so I will be making sure they are all aware and understand that patience is probably going to win it on the weekend, and that we need to be making wise decisions rather than forcing it.”

Warners Bay have the bye.

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IT has taken fourweeks, but the Newcastle Knights have finally copped it on the chin –just as fullback Brendan Elliot did in their round-three loss to South Sydney.
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Elliot was crunched in a grade-two reckless high tackle on March 18, which earnedSouths centre Hymel Hunt a four-game suspension.

The incident was also costly for the Knights, who incurred a $100,000 breach notice for not removing Elliot from the field for a head-injury assessment. Newcastle lodged a submission, arguing they should not be fined, and the NRL reduced the sanction last week to a $50,000 penalty, with $50,000 suspended for 12 months.

The Knights indicated they would appeal against the fine but the club announced on Thursday it had abandoned any further legal action.

“As a club, we absolutely support the NRL in strengthening the rules and improving the management of head injuries suffered by players,” Knights chief executiveMatt Gidley said.

In a statement, the Knights said they “thoroughly investigated the matter and sought independent evaluation by a leading concussion specialist” and were “extremely disappointed in the process that the NRL has undertaken”.

“We adamantly support our medical staff and the integrity they demonstrate in the management of our players … we will write to the NRL and express our disappointment,” Gidley said.

Meanwhile, Knights forward Daniel Saifiti is confident his teammates can provide more resistance against the Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night than they did last season.

The Roosters overpowered Newcastle 38-0 in round nine last year –their third successive defeat in what would ultimately become a club-record 19-game losing streak.

“All I remember is that they were big,’’ Saifiti said.

“They were probably the first big team that I played last year, and probably the first game that I thought this is what the big league is like.

“Just big forwards andmobile. That’s the main thing I remember.’’

Saifiti said Newcastle have “come such a long way” in the past year and he was confident they could notch their second win of the season.

Knights skipper Trent Hodkinson said it was important for Newcastle to end a run of narrow losses.

“I don’t think we’re too far away,’’ he said. “The confidence is growing each week.”

* A man-of-the-match performance on his Super League debut by former Knight JakeMamowas not enough to prevent Huddersfield crashing to a 29-22 home defeat by Catalans Dragons. The 22-year-old, who arrived in England with a broken ankle, scored a try and produced a series of dashing runs.

FLASHBACK: Knights fullback Brendan Elliot stays down for treatment during the loss to South Sydney on March 18. Picture: Getty Images

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Luke Lazarus has had advantages in his life. And he likely had a sense of overdue entitlement at Soho, the Kings Cross nightclub that his father owned and where he worked as a promoter.
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But, continued defence barrister Phillip Boulten, SC, Mr Lazarus “is a young, decent fellow, never been in trouble before, studying, going about his life the way you expect a young fellow might”.

Mr Lazarus is accused of raping an 18-year-old woman, who was on her hands and knees, in a laneway behind his father’s club in the early hours of May 12, 2013.

In his closing address, Mr Boulten told the court that although Mr Lazarus may have been less inhibited after drinking alcohol throughout the evening, he did not force himself on the woman.

“This charge is an act of violence. It’s a despicable act of violence if it is what it is said to be and you would need to be very, very drunk to be so disinhibited as to go from someone who is not normally violent or sexually oppressive to be so in this instant,” Mr Boulten said.

“He was someone who was popular, he got on well with young women, better than most it seems, and their evidence about him suggest that he is not really the sort of person who would force himself upon someone even when he was sexually excited.”

The court has heard that Mr Lazarus, now 25, approached the woman on the nightclub dance floor and told her he was linked to the club before taking her to the VIP area and introducing her to the DJ.

He then asked her if she wanted to go somewhere more private before they left the club together and had sex in a dark gravel laneway. Soon after, Mr Lazarus asked the woman to write her name in the notes section of his phone, where he also kept a list of his “conquests”.

In her closing address, Crown prosecutor Cate Dodds told the court that Lazarus took advantage of the woman’s intoxicated state.

“She was an 18-year-old virgin, who had known this accused for a matter of minutes and who had engaged in consensual kissing and possibly body rubbing, but did not give consent to the anal intercourse that followed,” Ms Dodds said.

But Mr Boulten told the NSW District Court on Thursday that the woman may have been drinking but not so much that she did not know what she was doing.

“She was though, we say, intoxicated enough to be uncharacteristically acting out on sexual urges. She was an active participant in what might be described as intimate acts,” Mr Boulten said.

“She probably wouldn’t have done if she had not had alcohol and was not in a club at Kings Cross at 4’o clock in the morning but that does not mean that the alcohol was such as to overbear her will.”

Mr Lazarus was found guilty by a jury of raping the woman and was sentenced to a maximum of five years’ jail in 2015 but his conviction was quashed and a retrial ordered last year.

Judge Robyn Tupman?????? has now retired to consider her verdict.

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The n Grand Prix Corporation is confident that it’s mix of sport, business, innovation and industry is exactly the recipe that Formula One’s new owners are keen to promote as they look to maximise their multi-billion dollar investment.
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AGPC chief executive Andrew Westacott said this week that Liberty ceo Chase Carey and commercial operations manager Sean Bratches had been impressed by what Melbourne had to offer both on and off track.

Westacott said the Melbourne race at Albert Park would continue to provide a unique fan experience that brought together motorsport enthusiasts from around n and the world – which is Liberty’s core plan to grow the sport.

“In Sean Bratches’ case, he has been 27 years in ESPN and enviously he has been to 28 Super Bowls, but that was his first ever Formula One event that he’d been to in the world,” Westacott said. “And what he saw was something that absolutely fits with where they want to take Formula One.

“I’m not saying therefore that we get everything right, but what they saw they liked and they saw that we do what they want to do for Formula One, and therefore we can both grow together and there was a really good feeling of continued optimism of expanding our great event.

Westacott said Liberty was focused on making the sport more accessible for fans through face-to-face and digital engagement.

“It’s brought a new focus of ‘can do’ on the fan experience, elevating the Formula One brand and separately to that digital and partnerships,” he said. “So everything that Chase [Carey] and and [Sean] Bratches particularly talk about is partnerships and maximising the benefit for Formula One and maximising the benefit for the promoter.

“We loved having them out here, they had a great time, they saw a great event and we have really got 12 months of optimism and continued new ideas. If Melburnians and the world thought this year’s event was great, wait until we conjure up next year’s event.

And while the n race organisers continue to attract criticism for not providing detailed crowd figures, Westacott says there’s little doubt that interest from fans and corporate backers is increasing as Daniel Ricciardo continues to impress on the world stage.

“I felt that with what the team has done over the years we have had continued growth since about 2010-2011in terms of revenues, and the reason I see Melburnians embracing it is that it has now been here for 22 years and the expansion of the footprint of Formula One, it is not just a car race.

“It’s not just motor sport, it is industry and innovating. It is a way to do business in that unique way because corporate and the corporate world has to entertain and it has to do business and it needs to do business in ways that are creative and fun and interesting and Formula One and our event provides that in terms of networking opportunities, inbound trade missions and just business and technology coming together with sport.”

Westacott conceded Ricciardo’s poor weekend had been a dampener on the event, but said the wider story was that he was still scrapping.

“I didn’t have too many disappointments across the weekend, but unfortunately sport is sport and that is why we love it and you know if Daniel couldn’t get up and win, at least the Red Ferrari was there. We just have to be patient. People say Daniel expended too much time and effort into the PR activity. We are always very mindful of that, only Daniel knows that and his team. I think it was just unfortunate, just not a good racing weekend.

“I think what he continues to show that he is a very mature, level-headed, likeable sportsman and fantastic young n and he can drive.

For his part Ricciardo conceded ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix that he was not particularly happy with his fourth in China, but it was at least better than his woes at Albert Park.

“That was kind of what I felt was my first real race of the year. In Melbourne I didn’t really race. Didn’t get the real experience,” he said on his website DanielRicciardo苏州夜总会招聘.

“Obviously when you are close to the podium you always feel like … I wasn’t stoked with the result but definitely take something from it and it wasn’t a disaster by any means. Hopefully the races continue to be more exciting like they were in China.”

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