Nature comes to life in local exhibition

Maggie Brockie with one of her animal pieces.Maggie Brockie with one of her animal pieces.MAGGIE Brockie’s talent might have come as a surprise to her 22 years ago when she first started work in the studio.

“I raised a family before I started playing around with clay,” the 67-year-old said.

The Stanthorpe-based sculptor will share the gallery space with Tenterfield Aboriginal painter Rod McIntosh for the Inverell Art Gallery Common Ground exhibition, opening Friday evening.

Tasmanian born, the artist said she was searching for warmer weather, but found a familiar four seasons, and inspiration in the Granite Belt.

Her work is life-like and stylised representations of birds and animals, some freestanding, others embedded in a natural setting like a piece of bark or human shoulder.

“Seeing the granite forms, and then just because I do native animals and birds, it was just a natural progression to put them into the rock forms, or the little boulder forms,” she said.

She spent years keeping artist friends company, but even after they invited her to give it a try, she refused, until one day, it was the right time.

“I’ve reared quite a few native animals, so I had that close proximity to animals and birds, and at one point a friend of mine suggested I have a go with some clay and I thought, ‘Yeah, right-o, I’m ready’,” she said.

“And after about three days, he was trying to tell me what to do and I said ‘No, I know what I want to do,” and laughed.

Maggie said her first piece of significance was a joey in a pouch.

“Because I has hand-rearing joeys and looking at them all the time,” she said.

She was advised stick to kangaroos to get a handle on the medium and her skill.

“So you could say I did my apprenticeship on kangaroos and joeys, and then one day I tried to make a possum, and it was easy,” Maggie said with a chuckle.

Her proportions, from frilled lizards, to platypus, pythons to humans, are all accurate and lifelike.

“I think I’m just a three-dimensional person, you know so I know a joey’s about that big,” she said, holding up her hands.

“I talk with my hands a lot, so it makes sense that I would work in a medium like clay in a 3-D way.”

Common Ground opens on Friday, February 19 with an opening at 5.30pm at the Inverell Art gallery. The show runs until April 7 during gallery hours.

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Australian family life clearly under attack

VULNERABLE: Jenna Price says proposed tax and childcare cuts are a threat to the Australian family way of life.If companies and corporations and businesses, big and small, could vote in elections, I would understand the government’s desire to pander to them. If it was only the wealthy who voted, I could understand the government’s desire to appease the rich.

But what I now fail to understand is this: why don’t politicians pander to the ordinary people who vote for them in quite the same way they appease business, big and small; and the rich. Why is their approval so important to the government?

It’s become increasingly apparent that this particular government, first under Abbott and now under Turnbull, is continuing to attack Australian family life. All of us: straight, gay, well, sick, able-bodied or those with disabilities, with or without kids; born here or elsewhere.

This antagonism to all of us was clearly flagged in 2014, when failed treasurer Joe Hockey attempted to push through parliament $8.5 billion in cuts, including a limit of Family Tax Benefit Part B to families when their youngest child turns six. I’m guessing many partners of MPs are stay-at-home parents, so nice for them.

But last week, many of those attempted cuts reappeared and were passed straight through the House of Representatives.Who does that affect? Yep, about one and a half million families will lose their Family Tax Benefit Part A supplements, which is a cut of more than $700 per child every year. And 1.3 million families will lose their Family Tax Benefits, part B supplements, a cut of more than $350 per family every year. That, combined with the abolition of the School Kids Bonus, will mean single parents with two children in high school will lose nearly $5000 a year.

The good news is that, alongside the grasping nature of the ACCI’s prebudget submission, those who represent the rest of us can see what the real problems are.

The Australian Council of Social Services’s CEO Cassandra Goldie says it plainly:“Genuine tax reform is not about raising or lowering tax rates: it should begin by limiting unfair tax breaks and unintended loopholes that mainly benefit people who are on higher incomes and erode the tax base.”

Nick Hopwood, a researcher at the University of Technology Sydney, says it’s very important that we consider the kinds of services which support our most vulnerable. Many of those services, particularly around the area of early intervention for children, have no idea one year to the next whether they will be funded.

In ACOSS’s submission into the family payments structural reform inquiry, Goldie again pleads with those in the Senate to reject the changes to family payments. The submission says the expenditure component of the package, which boosts Part A by $5 a week, doesn’t take effect until July 2018.

It also goes on to point out that there has been no release of an analysis of the impacts of the proposed changes.“It is vital that there is clarity about how different families will be affected, particularly given that vulnerable children and their families will clearly be affected.”

But for me, the most telling yet depressing part of ACOSS’s prebudget submission is about childcare:“The relative generosity at the higher end has increased the overall costs of the (childcare)package, which the government is now seeking to pay for through cuts to family payments.”Yes, reward those families with incomes of more than $340,000 a year. They really need it, don’t they?

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Wisos over 50s pairs set for May

WISEMAN Park Bowling Club have been forced to cancel next Monday’s popular Over 50s Pairs event with entries taken for the next tournament in late May.

New date: Wiseman Park’s over 50s pairs is set down for May 23.

Wiseman Park greens are recovering after being struck down by ground pearls in turf grass, leaving one greennot back in action until the end of March or early April.

Some greens at other clubs have also been affected by ground pearls but Wiseman Park won’t be impacted during pennant season with two greens still operating.

But they need the third green for the Over 50s Pairs meaning next Monday’s event is off withentries being taken for the May 23 event. Cost is $20 per person, $40 a team which includes lunch. $1700 prize money.

Contact Shane Garvey on 0409 481 006 or sign up at the club. Entries will fill fast.

Garvey expects to have two young players from outside the zone in his Grade 1 side this season. Wisos have also recruited Brian Suckley, with Illawarra Zone 16 round one pennants on March 12.

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University of Newcastle vice-chancellor reappointed until 2019

THREE MORE YEARS: Professor Caroline McMillen has been reappointed vice-chancellor of the University of Newcastle until 2019.UNIVERSITYof Newcastlevice-chancellor Caroline McMillen has been reappointed until October2019, andhopesonefifth of enrolmentsby then areinternational students.

Professor McMillen also marked her extension in the office she has held since 2011 by declaring that Newcastle shouldbewithin the world’s top 200 universities by the end of the decade.

Not all of the targeted 20 per cent international students would be full fee-paying, the vice-chancellorsaid, but ashift in the university’s demographic needed to “pick up the pace”.

“I think we will see stabilising growth in Australian students,” Professor McMillen said.

“Our university is a little underdone, in terms of its scale, for international students. We need to grow our international students, and our [Newcastle CBD] NewSpace facility will add to that vibrancy of different cultures.”

The under-constructioncity campus, and the business and law-relatedopportunities it is forecast to bringstudents and staff, wasamong the achievementsProfessor McMillen said she was most proud of inher tenure so far.

The researchconducted at the Hunter Medical Research Institute and the university’s topranking among Australian universities under 50 years old wereothers.

Professor McMillen’s early years in the role were marked by protests over the axing of the Chinese major degree,challenges from students against their academic grading, and a clash over allegedworkplace bullying that put the university at oddswith the Newcastle Trades Hall Council.

“A university should be a place for debate and a place for discussion,” she said.

“That’s what makes great universities.”

Of the goal to crack the world’s top 200 universities in three years, the vice-chancellor said it was healthy for an organisation to stretch itself.

In the QS World University Rankings last year, Newcastle was ranked 256th.

“If we miss [the top 200] we’ll celebrate how far we’ve come, and if we make it we’ll crack open the champagne,” Professor McMillen said.

Alleged poker machine racket uncovered in Hunter

Poker machines have been allegedly rebirthed in the Hunter. Photo: FDCTwenty-three poker machines have been seized after government officials uncovered an alleged pokie rebirthing racket based in the Hunter.

The poker machines had allegedly been reported destroyed after a fire at a licensed venue in the Lower Hunter, outside Newcastle.

But the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing has alleged that a registered club official illegally took possession of the machines and had them refurbished.

He then allegedly sold eight machines to licensed venues in the Hunter and on the Central Coast.

It’s understood that officials at the venues that bought the illegally refurbished machines were not aware they had been rebirthed.

A spokesman from Liquor andGaming NSWsaid the office could not publicly identify the venue or individuals involved, because of pending legal action.

The man accused of orchestrating the racket allegedly had the remaining 15 pokies in his possession when Liquor and Gaming NSW uncovered the operation, but the machines have since been destroyed.

The Liquor and Gaming NSW spokesman said several unrelated illegal poker machine sales had been found online recently, which prompted concern about the use of unlicensed pokies for illegal gambling.

He said the gaming machines had been promoted as being “man cave furniture” and offered for sale in the Hunter and Central Coast areas.

“It is against the law to be in possession of a poker gaming machine in NSW unless properly authorised, with maximum potential penalties of up to $11,000 and or 12 months imprisonment applying,” he said.

“Members of the public are advised not to purchase gaming machines if found advertised.

“Any member of the public in possession of a gaming machine should immediately report it to Liquor and Gaming NSW to avoid potential prosecution.”

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‘Do you know what you are doing?’ Hazzard fails to rule out call to ICAC barrister

Brad Hazzard speaks during Wednesday’s question time at NSW Parliament. Photo: Peter Braig NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Margaret Cunneen. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Brad Hazzard has failed to rule out calling the counsel assisting the corruption watchdog’s investigation into Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen to ask “Do you know what you are doing?” before public hearings were due to commence.

In parliament on Wednesday Mr Hazzard – who was attorney-general at the time – was asked by opposition leader Luke Foley to confirm the call to counsel assisting Michael Fordham, SC in 2014.

Mr Hazzard responded that he had “no recollection of what you’re asserting”.

Premier Mike Baird hit back at Mr Foley, accusing Labor of trying to smear Mr Hazzard and warning him to be “very very careful” about where he got the information.

Mr Baird noted media reports suggesting it could have emanated from confidential material tabled at a parliamentary committee by Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner Megan Latham last week.

The material related to ICAC’s ill-fated pursuit of Ms Cunneen over allegations she tried to pervert the course of justice.

He noted Liberal MP Damien Tudehope has sought advice from the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly about possible breaches of privilege and contempt relating to the proceedings of the committee.

The claim was made as Labor intensifies its focus on Mr Hazzard over his role in the ICAC’s investigation of Ms Cunneen.

On Tuesday, Mr Hazzard told parliament he had no recollection of giving Ms Cunneen’s mobile phone number to a witness who came forward with information favourable to the crown prosecutor.

ICAC investigated allegations Ms Cunneen told her son’s girlfriend to fake chest pains to avoid a breath test following a car accident.

It abandoned the investigation after the High Court ruled it was beyond its jurisdiction. The NSW solicitor general said no charges should be laid.

Ms Cunneen says she was given the witness details by director of public prosecutions Lloyd Babb but she passed them to her solicitor and did not speak to her.

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Ineligible for A-League, Socceroos star Tim Cahill to stay in China

No A-League stint this season: Socceroos veteran Tim Cahill celebrates after scoring a goal. Photo: Melissa Adams A return home for Socceroos star Tim Cahill appears to be off the cards after the veteran striker opted to remain in China after being dumped by Shanghai Shenhua.

Australia’s all-time leading goal scorer had his contract with Shanghai Shenhua terminated by mutual consent on Tuesday, fuelling suggestions he could move to the A-League as a marquee player. However, Cahill’s agent quashed talk of a move to Australia despite his abrupt departure from Shanghai, confirming the player is looking to join a rival Chinese Super League club.

Fairfax Media understands Cahill could join fellow national team player Matthew Spiranovic at Hangzhou Greentown having already begun talks to sign with the club for a one-year deal. Reports from China suggest Cahill was paid a US$4 million severance fee by Shenhua and agent Ante Alilovic says Cahill’s preference is to remain in China where he still has options outside of the European and Australian transfer windows.

“He will stay in China. I’m in Asia now and will be with him in two days to discuss potential deals [and] there are a few interested clubs,” Alilovic told AAP.

The news is a blow to fans eager to watch the striker play regularly in Australia but competition regulations would have made it impossible for him to play in this season’s A-League. As Cahill was contracted to Shanghai Shenhua at the close of the Australian transfer window on February 2, he is not eligible to move to Australia despite being uncontracted as a free agent.

Sources suggest Cahill’s representatives made his availability known to at least two A-League clubs but his asking price made it an unaffordable option.

Despite signing a new contract with Shanghai in November, Cahill was told he was surplus to requirements at the club following a training camp in Spain where sources suggest he failed to impress new coach Gregorio Manzano.

The decision was said to be made following that training camp where the Shanghai coach was unimpressed by the Australian’s performances and looked to take advantage of using the club’s funds to sign another high-profile foreigner. Shanghai are understood to have made Cahill available for loan but after failing to finalise a deal, offered him an opportunity to terminate his deal.

Club officials landed in USA on Monday to open talks with Seattle Sounders to sign Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins who is emerging as the favourite to replace Cahill as their final foreigner. Should he sign, Australian-born Greek international Avraam Papadopoulos will be registered as their new Asian-visa player.

The incredible expenditure by Chinese football clubs ceases to slow down in February with yet another high profile star joining the cashed-up competition. Argentinian international Ezequiel Lavezzi left Paris Saint Germain to join Hebei Fortune where he stands to earn $47 million after tax over the course of his two-year deal.

The 30-year-old forward opted to move to China in favour of signing with English Premier League giants Chelsea who were reportedly in talks to sign him on a free transfer during the European summer transfer window. 

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Hunter’s economy worth $25bn by 2031

GROWTH: Rail improvements between Newcastle and Sydney should be a government infrastructure priority, report finds.STATE and federal governments should invest in major infrastructure projects like high-speed broadband and high-frequency public transport connections in Newcastle to help grow its population in the next 15 years, a new report has found.

The Australian Infrastructure Plan, released on Wednesday, is supposed to inform the federal government’s infrastructure needs for the next 15 years, and included almost 80 recommendations that could boost the economy by an estimated $40 billion.

It states that by 2031 the Hunter’s economy –excluding Newcastle –will be worth $25 billion, making it by farthe largest regional economy on the east coast.

However it also states that population growth in Newcastle –at about 15.4 per cent,will be slower thanother major regional centres like the Gold Coast.

Among the report’srecommendations is a suggestion that Newcastleand other regional cities“should be supported by governments, businesses and local communities to grow their populations and economies”.

It argues thattransport and communicationimprovements couldtake growth pressures off major cities like Sydney.

“These cities could enable more Australians to live in a smaller city and access employment opportunities in one of our major metropolises,” the report states.

It includes a number of“infrastructure priorities” related toNewcastle, including a“near-term” need topreservea corridor for a lower Hunter freight rail realignment that wouldbypass of the Newcastle urban area to avoid“capacity constraints”.

It also lists connectivity between Newcastle, Wollongong and theSydney central business district as a longer term issue that requires“ rail line upgrades” to address.

South China Sea dispute: Chinese missiles in Paracels

Fairfax exclusive, May 2015: China puts weapons on its new artificial islands

Beijing: New satellite images appear to show China has deployed surface-to-air missiles on an island in the flashpoint waters of the South China Sea.

Both a US defence official and a statement by the Taiwanese government confirmed the apparent deployment of eight missile launchers and a radar system on Woody Island in the past week.

The move will further escalate tensions in the disputed waters.

“Interested parties should work together to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region and refrain from taking any unilateral measures that would increase tensions,” Taiwanese defence spokesman Major-General David Lo said on Wednesday, declining to give further details.

A satellite image taken by the private company ImageSat International, dated February 14, showed the presence of the equipment, whereas the same area looked to be empty in an image dated February 3.

The US cable television network Fox News cited a US official as saying the images appeared to show the HQ-9 air defence system, which had a range of about 200 kilometres and could therefore threaten nearby planes.

A US Navy destroyer sailed close to the disputed Paracel Island chain, which includes Woody Island, in a “freedom of navigation” exercise late last month. China branded that action “highly dangerous and irresponsible” and accused the US of being “the biggest cause of militarisation in the South China Sea”.

China, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims in the area and the US has objected to any “militarising” of the islands.

US President Barack Obama concluded a two-day summit with South-east Asian leaders on Tuesday promising US support to the ASEAN nations to counter China’s expanding claims and declaring that freedom of navigation must be upheld and lawful commerce should not be impeded.

“The US will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said. “We will support the right of other countries to do the same.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was due to address the media in Beijing on Wednesday with his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, who is in the capital for annual strategic talks.

Ms Bishop said before the trip that she intended to question China about its activities in the South China Sea.

“What we have maintained publicly and privately to China and other claimants in the South China Sea is that we urge all parties to cease reclamation and construction work,” Ms Bishop said during a preceding trip to Tokyo on Monday. “We note that [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] said in Washington that China did not intend to militarise the constructions in the South China Sea and we hold China to that.”

The Diplomat also reported last week that China’s South China Sea island-building had expanded into the Paracels, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

The report has not been confirmed.

Images that were separately obtained appeared to show dredging and filling at two new sites in the Chinese-held island chain and the construction of a helicopter base.

China has already constructed airstrips and naval berths capable of use for military purposes on the islands.

Confirmation of the deployment of missile launchers came as the US and ASEAN issued a joint statement at the California summit that called for “maritime security” but did not specifically mention the South China Sea, indicating division among regional countries on how to counter China’s assertiveness.

Countries like the Philippines and Vietnam favour a more aggressive approach while other nations like Cambodia and Laos, which have closer ties with Beijing, are reluctant to directly challenge China’s behaviour.

China late last year provoked condemnation when it landed civilian planes on an artificial island where it has built infrastructure that can accommodate military aircraft.

Vietnam has accused China of towing a $1 billion oil rig into disputed waters in a potential rerun of a stand-off that sparked violent anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam in 2014.

The United States has obtained final approval to expand its military presence in the Philippines and has begun making spy flights over the region in Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft based in Singapore. */]]>

Carlyle Thayer, an expert on the South China Sea from Australia’s Defence Force Academy, said the deployment of the HQ-9 missile system raises the stakes for future US maritime patrols.

The system is capable of threatening carrier-based planes coming to the assistance of any US Navy warship confronted by China during freedom of navigation exercises, he said.

Professor Thayer said the deployment of such a sophisticated and lethal air defence system was no doubt in response to US aerial activities and the patrol near Triton island. The deployment was also a demonstration that at short notice China can deploy similar systems to other disputed islands on the pretext of a threat from the United States.

Professor Thayer said that until now concerns of the US and other countries had focused on artificial island development by China.

But China first constructed an airstrip on Woody Island in 1990 than can accommodate fighter jets.

Existing facilities on the island include naval docks, precision approach radar, a fuel depot and military facilities, including troop accommodation.

Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, said the reports of China placing surface-to-air missile batteries on Woody Islands were “sadly not surprising”.

“This will further militarise the tensions in the South China Sea. It reinforces the view that China intends to exert growing control in these international waters, including potentially by declaring an air defence identification zone.

“It is also against the spirit, if not the letter, of Xi Jinping’s assurance last year that China was not putting weapons on the artificial islands it has made.”

Professor Medcalf said the move showed China did not take diplomatic efforts on the disputed territories seriously.

“Technically, Woody Island is a real island, not an artificial one, but China’s possession of it is disputed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

“China seems to be putting missiles on a disputed South China Sea island while going slow on negotiating a code of conduct with ASEAN that would ban precisely this kind of thing. This is a sign that China does not take such diplomacy seriously.”

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Sailing to health at Port Stephens regatta

A BRAIN tumour battle may have knocked the wind from his sails but Sydney yachtsman Roger Hickman vows that hell and high water won’t stop him from competing in the 2016 Sail Port Stephens regatta come April.

The owner-skipper of the famed Farr 43 Wild Rose already has one NSW IRC Championship title under his belt and is intent on earning another at Port Stephens after his recent Sydney-Hobart campaign ended with a shock cancer diagnosis.

“Hicko” was taken from Wild Rose to Royal Hobart Hospital then flown back to Sydney for brain surgery. He remains under chemotherapy and radiotherapy but says the prognosis is good.

“I can’t read or write at the moment but there’s an upside to that – I can’t answer emails or pay bills, so how good’s that!” Hicko says with his trademark wit. “Instead I’m relying on that old-fashion style of communication called talking to people.”

He has told doctors he’d like his treatments finished before Sail Port Stephens, which runs April 11-17.

“They say you need a goal, well, being at Sail Port Stephens is mine. And of course we also want to be competitive,” he says. “I haven’t sailed since the Hobart race but I have a crew of 14 or 15 on Wild Rose so we should be right.

“The boat is still in Hobart and my neurologist reckons it would be good to go down and get it once I’ve finished the therapy. They really push fitness and health now, whereas years ago they wrapped you in cotton wool.”

Hickman was recognised as the CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year Award in 2014 after a stellar 12 months in which Wild Rose finished first in both IRC and ORCi in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart and firstin the Australian and NSW IRC Championships.

As a long-time Sail Port Stephens competitor, he rates the regatta highly: “It’s just a lovely venue with beautiful waters and a real holiday atmosphere for us Sydneysiders,” Hickman says. “Also the race management has always been very, very good – and if that’s good then everything else follows, like the social environment.”

RECOVERY: Owner-skipper of Wild Rose, Roger Hickman is keen to compete at Sail Port Stephens this year. Picture: Saltwater Images

COMFORT: An artist’s impression of the new flagship 52-foot Seawind 1600, designed by naval architects Reichel Pugh.

Yachting Australia President Matt Allen, patron for Sail Port Stephens, is also relishing the prospect of a strong IRC fleet as other owners follow Hickman’s lead. He is entering his TP52 Ichi Ban.

“There’s something quite unique about this regatta,” Allen said. “I was talking to some people the other day and asked them to name their favourite regatta – most of them said ‘Port Stephens’, which is interesting.

“The waters off Port Stephens are among the best in Australia and you get some terrific tactical racing against a good fleet of boats. You can also enjoy a couple of beers and have dinner, which brings the friendship and the camaraderie together.”

Allen also appreciates the regatta’s eclectic racing mix, which draws a diverse group of sailors.

“You obviously have the sharper end of the fleet, along with the cruiser-racers and the people who just want to have a weekend with their mates. It’s really important that all forms of the sport are encouraged to co-exist like this,” he said.


Short Cuts: Scandal averted over prior screening of Tropfest winner

Movie session timesFull movies coverage

At first glance it seemed like yet another drama for Tropfest.

A message from a filmmaker that the winner of the famous short film festival, which has a strict policy that entries “must never have been seen by a public audience”, had already screened at Sundance.

Films have been kicked out of Tropfest for that very thing in the past, notably when John Inglis screened a recut version of his film school graduation work under a false name in 2006.

And, sure enough, the Sundance program revealed that Spencer Susser and Daniel “Cloud” Campos’ animation Shiny, which judge Mel Gibson named as winner of the festival on Sunday night, had screened in the shorts program in January.

But this time around there was a legitimate reason.

Susser and Campos intended to premiere Shiny at Tropfest in December. But when founder John Polson was forced to cancel the festival after discovering a hole in the finances, only to revive it when new sponsor CGU Insurance emerged from a groundswell of support around the country, the plan changed.

“When he was told in December Tropfest was postponed, Spencer informed us he had been accepted into Sundance in January and asked if screening his film there would disqualify him for the February event,” Polson told Short Cuts.

“We made a special exception given the circumstances since it didn’t seem fair to stop him from screening at Sundance given the unique circumstances of having to move our date.” Mad Max dominates critics awards

Just as at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Dressmaker have dominated the first of the country’s critics awards.

The Australian Film Critics Association has awarded Fury Road best film, best director for George Miller and best cinematography for John Seale, with The Dressmaker winning best actress for Kate Winslet, best supporting actress for Judy Davis and best supporting actor for Hugo Weaving.

But instead of Michael Caton as best actor for Last Cab To Darwin, the Melbourne-based critics gave their award to Ryan Corr for Holding the Man.

And while Paper Planes and Last Cab to Darwin won best original and adapted screenplay at the AACTAs, the critics gave their screenplay award to The Dressmaker’s Jocelyn Moorhouse and P.J. Hogan.

In the international categories, Phoenix was named best foreign language film, Birdman best English language film and Amy best documentary.

The Sydney-based Film Critics Circle of Australia announces its award winners next Tuesday, with critic and broadcaster Rod Quinn hosting a conversation with Oscar-winning animator Adam Elliot as part of the entertainment at Paddington RSL. Award win interrupts poetry class

Steve Le Marquand in Broke.

Winning a film award is always a memorable moment.

But filmmaker Heath Davis found out Broke won a prize at the IndieFEST Film Awards in the US in a unique way.

He was teaching a year 10 poetry class when he took a call via Skype from the festival, in front of a live audience, to say he had won.

A casual English teacher when not making films, Davis said his class at Springwood High in the Blue Mountains were keen for him to take the call rather than discuss Ted Hughes.

“They’re pretty cool kids,” Davis said. “And there’s poetry in the movie.”

A drama about a former rugby league star with a gambling problem who gets a chance at redemption Broke stars Steve Le Marquand, Max Cullen and Claire van der Boom.

It is screening at festivals before a travelling roadshow in Queensland then cinemas in Sydney in Melbourne in April and May. Daughter team takes to the stage

Odessa Young in The Daughter.Photo: Mark Rogers.

A tour of screenings followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker proved highly effective in drumming up interest in two Australian films last year – Last Cab To Darwin and That Sugar Film.

Now director Simon Stone, producer Jan Chapman and actors Ewen Leslie and Odessa Young are taking to the stage for The Daughter, a drama about a man (Paul Schneider) set in a troubled timber town that opens on March 17.

In Sydney, after a preview at St.George OpenAir Cinema on Thursday this week,  there are Q&A screenings at Dendy Newtown next Tuesday and, with Sam Neil as well, at Palace Verona on Wednesday  and Cremorne Orpheum on Thursday. .

In Melbourne, there are Q&A screenings at Cinema Nova next Sunday and Palace Cinema Como on Tuesday. Darwin seeks festival director

Now here’s a colourful job that will interest a lot of film identities.

The Darwin International Film Festival is looking for a festival director – part-time – to curate a program of films and workshops.

While not as well-known as its counterparts in other capitals, DIFF has been running in the Northern Territory since 2010.

The Darwin Film Society, which manages the outdoor Deckchair Cinema, is looking for a director for a five-month contract, two days a week, leading up to the festival in September. Game of Thrones designer to talk about the show

The Australian production designer on Game of Thrones, Deborah Riley, will give inside looks at the hit show in Sydney and Melbourne over the next fortnight.

Before heading back to Belfast to shoot season seven, the Emmy Award winner will speak about her work – showing concept art and sketches – at events organised by the Australian Production Design Guild and the Academy of Information Technology at Sydney’s Ultimo on February 26 and Melbourne’s Spencer Street on March 4.

Riley, who has also worked on The Matrix, Moulin Rouge, 21 Grams and the Sydney Olympics opening ceremonies, joined Game of Thrones for season four in 2013. She has since won back-to-back Art Directors Guild awards for her work.

Tickets to the event are free and available from the guild. Deadpool’s powerhouse openingDeadpool.” src=”http://老站出售smh老域名出售备案老域名/content/dam/images/g/m/j/b/c/f/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1455135461561.png” title=”” width=”100%” />

Ryan Reynolds plays a different sort of Marvel superhero in Deadpool.

For an MA-rated comic book movie, Deadpool had a stunning opening in Australian cinemas on the weekend.

The irreverent Ryan Reynolds movie took $14.9 million – cinema average $37,700 – to leave Zoolander 2 ($2.7 million to reach $3.9 million) and Brooklyn ($1 million on its first weekend) looking soft in comparison.

The Deadpool takings were in line with the Marvel movie’s strong performance in the US, where it took $US132.2 million and broke the opening weekend record for its R-rating there.

Of the contenders for best picture at the Oscars, The Revenant has reached $18.3 million, Spotlight $2.8 million, The Big Short $6.6 million and Room $981,000. Antenna goes up for next festival

After screening 55 films from more than 20 countries last year, Antenna Documentary Film Festival is calling for submissions for its next event in October.

Artistic director David Rokach says the six-year-old festival, which features competitions, retrospectives, talks and masterclasses, is focussing on what he calls creative cinematic documentaries.

“We are looking for films that give new perspectives on their subject matters that are thought-provoking, while at the same time creative in their approach,” he said.

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Organic meat and milk put to the test by British study at Newcastle University

Grass-fed is good, but how do organic and conventional compare?Once upon a time milk and meat were an unadulterated affair.

Milk  was delivered by the milkman in a glass bottle without labels with the cream still on top.

That was a long, long time ago.

Now it comes with strings attached; there’s lactose-free, permeate-free, low-fat, high-protein, A2-only protein, pasteurised, homogenised, unpronounceable, unrecognisable, milk-free milk.

Similarly, meat selection was once a choice of cut or creature.

Now, there’s wagyu, free-range, grass-fed, grain-fed, hormone-free, nitrate-free, heart-smart, the list goes on.

If you haven’t become vegan or collapsed from choice overload, there may be a more simple debate to consider.

Is it worth the extra dollars for organic instead of conventional (it is about $3.29 a litre in Woolies for organic versus about $2.15 for conventional, $9.89 for 450g of organic beef mince versus about $5 for conventional)?

A new study, the largest of its kind to date, set out to delineate the nutritional differences (ethical differences, are another matter, one arguably of equal or greater importance and justify being a food wanker).

Breaking down the data from 196 studies on milk and 67 on meat from around the world, the British researchers from Newcastle University found that there were clear nutritional differences between conventional and organic meat and dairy.


It was found that both organic milk and meat contain about 50 per cent more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products.

“Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function,” said study co-author Professor Chris Seal.

“But getting enough in our diet is difficult. Our study suggests that switching to organic would go some way towards improving intakes of these important nutrients.”

Nutritionist and founder of The Health Clinic Pip Reed adds that our bodies can’t produce omega-3 fatty acids so we need them from food.

“Studies show that three in five Australians don’t eat the recommended two to three serves of 150 grams of oily fish per week required for good heart health,” Reed says, “and less than 10 per cent of children meet these recommendations which means that having additional sources of omegas available through organic milk and meats is extremely important.”


The researchers also found organic meat and dairy contain about 40 per cent more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and “slightly higher” concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids.

What on earth is CLA, you ask?

“CLA is a natural polyunsaturated fat found in meat and dairy products, and is one of the most popular weight loss supplements,” Reed says. “It is technically a natural trans fat, however without the risks that come with artificially made trans fats renowned for damaging our health.

“Getting CLA from animal milk products is important, as supplement versions are derived from sunflower and safflower oil, and do not have the same health benefit effect on our bodies.”


Conventional milk, with 74 per cent more iodine and slightly more selenium, was a winner here.

This is significant given that iodine deficiencies in Australia were considered enough of a problem that, in 2009, mandatory fortification of baked bread and iodised salt was introduced.

Now it affects about 12.8 per cent of Australians.

“Iodine and selenium are both important essential minerals that help regulate the thyroid hormones, controlling metabolism, body temperature, improve energy levels, as well as aid in detoxification, providing antioxidants, healthy pregnancy and stabilising healthy weight,” Reed says.

“These two essential minerals, in excess consumption, can cause toxicity, so unless you are deficient in these minerals and/or not eating a well rounded diet then the increase of iodine and selenium in conventional milk may not be of benefit to you.”


The dietitians:

“While we no doubt all agree with not using chemicals if possible and the philosophy of organic farming, we have to question if it can really produce enough food to feed us all?” says Dr Joanna McMillan.

“The cost is still prohibitive for most and at the end of the day are these differences clinically significant? Most people just need to eat more real food before they think about whether they can make the switch to organic.”

“This analysis clearly shows that organic milk has higher concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids than conventional milk. However the analysis also found that grass-fed cattle tend to produce milk with higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids,” says Nutrition Plus dietitian Melanie McGrice. “We are blessed to be living in a country where most of our cattle are grass-fed, and they are not locked away in stalls.

“The analysis found that organic milk is a more nutritious option, and I’d certainly be in favour of people using it… [but] we don’t really drink milk for its omega 3 anyway  – for that we should be turning to fish.

“In summary, drink organic milk if you’d like to and can afford it, but conventional milk is still a nutritious choice if you can’t.”

The study author:

“People choose organic milk and meat for three main reasons: improved animal welfare, the positive impacts of organic farming on the environment, and the perceived health benefits,” said the study author, Professor Carlo Leifert. “But much less is known about impacts on nutritional quality, hence the need for this study.

“Several of these differences stem from organic livestock production and are brought about by differences in production intensity, with outdoor-reared, grass-fed animals producing milk and meat that is consistently higher in desirable fatty acids such as the omega-3s, and lower in fatty acids that can promote heart disease and other chronic diseases.”

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ABC’s Catalyst criticised for linking Wi-Fi with brain tumours

Controversy: Catalyst reporter Maryanne Demasi US cancer epidemiologist and campaigner Devra Davis warns about the health risks associated with Wi-Fi. Photo: Nic Walker

Controversy: Catalyst reporter Maryanne Demasi.

Controversy: Catalyst reporter Maryanne Demasi in a screengrab from the program. Photo: ABC

Catalyst reporter Maryanne Demasi, right, with Devra Davis, a US cancer epidemiologist, in a screengrab from the program. Photo: ABC

Have your say

ABC’s Catalyst program is under attack for a controversial “scare” programWi-Fried? linking Wi-Fi and mobile phone use with brain cancer.

Prominent scientists have attacked the program as incorrect and unscientific. According to the Australian government’s radiation safety agency ARPANSA, there is “no established evidence” that the low levels of radiofrequency radiation from these devices causes health effects.

The program was reported by Dr Maryanne Demasi whose 2013 report questioning the role of cholesterol in heart disease and the use of statins, which lower cholesterol, in treating it also attracted controversy.

That program was withdrawn from ABC websites after an internal review found it breached standards of impartiality, and it was slammed by health experts for misrepresenting evidence and scaring people away from potentially lifesaving medications.

After the program, more than 60,000 Australians cut back on, or stopped taking, statins, a later study revealed.

Rodney Croft, a global authority on the health effects of radiation and professor of public health psychology at the University of Wollongong, said the program had given weight to “a fringe position that is not supported by science”.

“I was particularly disappointed to see Wi-Fried aired yesterday in the guise of science journalism,” he said.

“Given that radiofrequency emissions are one of the most heavily researched agents that science has ever assessed, and given that (contrary to Catalyst’s claims) no substantiated health effects have emerged, we can be very confident that the emissions are indeed safe,” Professor Croft said.

Reaction on social media also expressed dismay that ABC TV’s flagship science show had given credence to a well-trodden public health conspiracy. Tonight on #ABCCatalyst – Will wifi kill you? Do we need a wifi commissioner? And can Pete Evans cure your wifi cancers? We ask Pete Evans.— ABC Catalyst Not (@Catalyst_not) February 16, 2016

Demasi’s reportage relied extensively on Devra Davis, a US cancer epidemiologist and campaigner, who said the lack of increase in brain cancer rates since the adoption of the new technologies merely reflected brain cancer’s “long latency”.

“When the bombs fell at the end of World War II in Japan, we followed every person who survived. Forty years is how long it took for brain cancer to develop after that exposure,” Dr Davis said.

This drew a strong response from Simon Chapman, emeritus professor of public health at the university who has studied health conspiracy theories extensively.

“That is just complete rubbish. It is just crap.”

Professor Chapman referred to a 2004 study of cancers of the central nervous system, including brain cancers, among atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of 187 cases diagnosed after 1958 and 1985, 110 or nearly 60 per cent were before 1985, or in the first 40 years. A further 27 were diagnosed before 1958 – within 13 years of the bombs – but not included in the study.

“We have had mobiles in Australia since 1988 – some 90 per cent of the population use them today and many of these have used them for a lot longer than 13 years, but we are seeing no rise in the incidence against the background rate,” Professor Chapman said.

“Brain cancer incidence has all but flatlined” across the years for which data are available, he wrote in an article forThe Conversation. The age-adjusted incidence rate of brain cancer in Australia per 100,000 people was 6.6 in 1987 and 7.3 a quarter of a century later in 2011. This from Catalyst presenter. By this standard, literally nothing can ever be declared safe pic.twitter老域名出售/VuVr0n0rnB— Ben Pobjie (@benpobjie) February 16, 2016

Physicist Ken Karipidis of ARPANSA, who was quoted on the program, said that, while the evidence was not good enough to say mobile phones cause cancer, some studies showed a possible association between prolonged mobile phone use and certain brain tumours. He said those who wanted to reduce their exposure should limit holding their mobiles against their heads.

“We do recommend that parents limit their childrens’ mobile phone use,” Dr Karipidis added.

“When it comes to children, there’s not enough evidence in this area, so our recommendation is slightly stronger,” he said.

Veteran ABC health reporter Norman Swan, who was highly critical of the 2013 program, said he did not believe Tuesday’s program showed enough scientific rigour.

“It’s a legitimate debate; however, there is no proven biological mechanism for electromagnetic waves to cause cancer,” Dr Swan, who presents Radio National’s Health Report, said.

“The program did not take into account that young people are not holding their mobile phones to their heads – usually they are texting or Facebooking.

“And I’m not convinced by the argument that there is a 40-year lag in the development of cancer – we often see signs after much less time that that.” Crikey @ABCcatalyst You already had to withdraw the statin story Now Wifi = cancer?— Dr Krystal (@dr_krystal) February 14, 2016

Professor Chapman said Dr Davis’ argument that there would be a sudden rise in brain cancers from Wi-Fi and mobile phones 40 years later was wrong.

“That is not what we see with cancer. We see gradual rises moving towards peak incidence, which can be as late as 30-40 years, as with lung cancer and smoking, for example.” Yup, parents are trying to organise an urgent meeting on Wifi with the principal. Woohoo @MaryanneDemasi, you did it. #catalyst— ❤️ 그렝이론 (@glengyron) February 16, 2016

With Matthew Knott

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