Fashion

Islamic State defector says he never went to Syria to fight

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An Islamic State defector who sparked a storm about whether those who join the terrorist group should be allowed to return to Australia has denounced the slaughter of innocent civilians and told of his wish to rejoin his Melbourne family.

Adam Brookman, a father of five, said he was forced to join the group when he travelled to Syria to provide aid early last year.

Speaking exclusively to Fairfax Media from Turkey, Mr Brookman said he fled to the country from Syria after seeing the aftermath of Islamic State atrocities, including people being crucified.

“I don’t agree with what they do at all,” he said.

“I don’t agree with their kidnapping, with their dealings with other Muslim groups, and especially after they started executing journalists and other innocent civilians.”

Mr Brookman married into a devout Islamic family based in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

He had worked as a nurse in Victoria, and provided humanitarian aid before travelling to Syria, including an Indonesian orphanage.

“I never went there to fight, I went there as a nurse. I support the struggle of the Syrian people.

“What I saw was Syria being ignored by the international community, I thought I could help.”

Mr Brookman said he was working in a Syrian clinic when it was bombed. He was injured, and taken to a hospital that was under the control of Islamic State.

“After I recovered they wouldn’t let me leave.”

He said he never committed an act of violence, and that witnessing the aftermath of public executions motivated him to flee.

He witnessed the aftermath of a crucifixion of a man suspected of spying for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, but said he did not “necessarily” oppose the punishment.

He said the concern was whether the man was guilty.

“I myself agree with capital punishment, which they also have in the United States.

“I don’t agree with innocent people being executed.”

Mr Brookman’s views about issues such as capital punishment are unlikely to be surprising to security sources, who said his story should be viewed sceptically.

The sources say Mr Brookman must have known there was a strong chance he would end up aiding terrorist groups, even if it was only by providing medical attention to wounded fighters.

Several other Melbourne men who travelled to Syria in 2012 and 2013 also claimed to have been doing aid work, but were lauded on online jihadist forums after their deaths.

Those men were believed to have fought for the Free Syrian Army or Jabhat al-Nusra, but Islamic State had taken hold of significant areas of Syria and Iraq by the time Mr Brookman travelled to Syria via Turkey.

Some of the other men claiming to travel for aid work had attended Preston mosque, as had Mr Brookman.

Mr Brookman accepts that he will be investigated, but does not think he should be charged with terrorism offences.

Returning jihadists could face up to 25 years prison if found to have fought with a prescribed terror group, or found to have been in areas of Syria and Iraq banned under new anti-terror laws.

“Of course there will be an investigation, that is fine … [but] I don’t think I’ve done anything illegal.”

He said he was terrified that he would be executed if he was caught fleeing Syria, and terribly misses his children.

Mr Brookman’s wife, who did not wish to be identified, said her children needed their father.

“The youngest was only two months old when he left, and we just want him home.

“All he has ever done is aid work, we don’t understand why the AFP won’t talk to us.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Tuesday that anyone who returns to Australia after fighting for Islamic State the men would be “arrested, prosecuted and jailed”, because they could easily “become a terrorist in Australia”.

Three men, including Mr Brookman, are believed to be negotiating a return to Australia after being involved with Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra.

Robert Stary, Mr Brookman’s lawyer, said he could assist in de-radicalising others if he was allowed back into Australia.

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Model

Matildas continue impressive Women’s World Cup preparation

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The Matildas continued to fine tune ahead of the Women’s World Cup in Canada as they defeated Vietnam behind closed doors in Parklea, NSW on Tuesday.

All four goals came from different sources, Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord finding the back of the net inside the opening half an hour before Kyah Simon, in her 50th international appearance and Michelle Heyman struck within a minute of each other early in the second half.

The two teams will meet again on Thursday night at Jubilee Oval in Kogarah in the Matildas’ official farewell match before the squad departs for Canada on Saturday.

After a period of dominance, the Matildas broke the deadlock in the 17th minute when Catley unleashed a cracking drive into the top corner. Foord then slotted home clinically to double the lead after a fine build up.

The Matildas number nine would have thought she had a second on the stroke of half time only for the Vietnam keeper to pull off a superb save from close range.

But in the space of 60 seconds soon after the resumption for the second half, Simon found space in the penalty area to score and then Heyman pounced on a mistake by the Vietnam keeper to put the ball into an empty net.

“Today was another step in the process, it was good to get another hit out under our belts not only to get more match time but an indication of the things we still need to work on,” head coach Alen Stajcic said.

“While there was some good football in patches, the next three weeks is vital for making sure we’re ready for our first match of the World Cup against the USA on June 8.”

With the Matildas playing their final match on home soil before heading to the Women’s World Cup, Stajcic urged people to turn out in big numbers to Jubilee Oval for the team’s farewell match on Thursday night.

“After such a long preparation, this is the final chance for the public to come out, watch the girls in action and get behind them before they leave for Canada on Saturday to represent Australia on the world stage,” said Stajcic.

“The players have worked extremely hard up to this point and there is a real belief among the group that we can do well, so it would be great to see a big crowd for the farewell game.”

The farewell match will be played at Jubilee Oval in Kogarah on Thursday night (kick-off 6.30pm AEST).

Tickets are available here.

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Destinations

Roma’s contribution to cricket rewarded

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CHARTERS Towers cricket veteran Roma Bailey has been named the deserving winner of the inaugural Suncorp Bank Bulls Masters Community Cricket Volunteer of the Year Award.

Considered a hero by many in the local community, Roma celebrated his win alongside Australian cricket legends Jimmy Maher, Andrew Symonds and Queensland Bulls player Chris Lynn at a special community barbeque in honour of his contribution to community cricket.

The search for Queensland’s Community Cricket Champion, a joint initiative by Suncorp Bank and the Bulls Masters, was designed to acknowledge the significant role volunteers play in ensuring cricket continues to thrive throughout the state.

Roma Bailey said cricket was a way of life and he was honoured to accept the prize on behalf of the Charters Towers Junior Cricket Club.

“Cricket has been a part of my life since a young boy. One of my favourite childhood memories is digging up a cricket pitch in our family back yard,” Mr Bailey said.

“I first got involved with Charters Towers Junior Cricket Club when my boys were growing up and have been involved ever since. I think cricket can teach children a lot of valuable lessons, and I enjoy seeing the teams I now coach grow and improve throughout the season.

“This prize is a great boost to our junior cricket program and will allow us to purchase new cricket mits for the junior teams.”

An upstanding member of the community, Roma is also a councillor on the Charters Towers Regional Council and heavily involved the local Men’s Shed.

Suncorp Bank Regional Manager for North Queensland, Brad Steele, said Roma Bailey

encompassed all of the qualities that the initiative stood for.

“Many of our country’s cricket legends started their career playing for local cricket clubs across Queensland. It is through the efforts of volunteers like Roma Bailey that the sport remains an intrinsic part of Australian culture,” Mr Steele said.

“Roma’s involvement in keeping community cricket alive in Charters Towers spans more than 30 years, with Roma spending countless hours maintaining the club’s four turf wickets, helping the Goldfield Ashes committee, and coaching junior teams on top of his executive roles with

North Queensland Cricket junior and senior regional bodies, Queensland Country Cricket, and Queensland Cricket.’’

Queensland Bulls Masters player Luke Feldman recently paid tribute to Roma for his role in inspiring him to play and to achieve in the game.

“We hope the award, including a $10,000 donation to the Charters Towers Junior Cricket Club and $2000 prize money, will help Roma continue his efforts in inspiring the next generation of cricketers,” Mr Steele said.

Roma Bailey and Jimmy Maher.

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Cruising

Gwydir council IPART rejects rate increase

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GWYDIR Shire Council is reeling after the rejection of its bid for a 32 per cent rate rise, a key plank in its strategy to withstand the threat of a fresh round of local government amalgamations.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) announced yesterday it had approved a temporary increase for just one year of the council’s application to permanently increase its general income by 32.25 per cent over the next two years.

IPART chairman Peter Boxall said one increase of 15 per cent had been allowed, instead of the two consecutive 15 per cent increases the council had requested. This amount includes the 2.4 per cent rate peg.

Mayor John Coulton was a disappointed man yesterday, saying the council had already held a meeting with local stakeholders and would begin a fresh round of community consultations next week in a bid to secure the full rate variation.

He said it was now more important than ever to convince the community of the need for the rates increase, as the NSW government’s Fit for the Future deadline loomed and the pressure increased on the council to prove it had the financial base to stand alone.

Mr Boxall said IPART had only approved half the requested amount because the council had not been able to “demonstrate the affordability of the cumulative increase and the community’s willingness to pay”.

Cr Coulton agreed that despite considerable consultation with the community, the rate rise proposal had not been popular, with the Warialda community even submitting a petition to IPART opposing the move.

He said it was unfortunate the council had had to apply for such a large rise, but there’d been no increase above the allowable rate pegging amount for some years, a decision that had now come back to bite it.

The community had to understand though, Cr Coulton said, that the rise was not only vital to maintaining basic operations and services, it was now absolutely crucial for maintaining independence.

“We’re going back to the people now … and with talk of mergers it becomes a much more serious business than it has been,” he said.

“We have a job to prove our sustainability … it’s not just about losing services now.”

Because IPART had approved the Gwydir’s increase on a temporary basis, rates would reduce again in 2016/17, Mr Boxall said.

He said it was now open for the council to re-apply for a special variation in for 2016/17 following more consultation with the community.

Gwydir Shire was one of22 councils that made an application for a special rates variation, with the other 21 approved in full.

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Sauna

Jarrod Bleijie’s Director-General, John Sosso, hits back at

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The Director-General who signed off on Jarrod Bleijie’s boot camp tender process has accused the Auditor-General of denying him natural justice.

The state’s Auditor-General, Andrew Greaves, found Mr Bleijie’s decision to over-rule his department’s recommendations for boot camp operators, instead awarding the multi-million contract to an operator of his own choice, cost the state additional funds and left the process open to accusations of favouritism.

Mr Bleijie has stood by his decision, saying he was not a “tick and flick” minister and his chosen operator was the better company for the job.

Now the Director-General for the Attorney-General’s department at the time, John Sosso, has written to Mr Greaves responding to claims the Department did not provide full assistance with the review.

“…I am disappointed that you included in your report a letter to the Member of Parliament which incorrectly represents my directions to staff,” he wrote in his email to Mr Greaves, which was tabled in Parliament.

“For the record, my instructions to staff in relation to the boot camps review was a standard one. It was to provide full co-operation to the QAO. Having regard to the volume of documentation provided, I was concerned that extra care was taken so no key documentation was inadvertently omitted. This necessarily led to some delays.

“As you know, a key principle of natural justice is a person being negatively reported is given an opportunity to respond.

“In this instance, this has not occurred.

“Even though the time for me to respond prior to you having your report tabled has elapsed, I think it is important that I place on record my concerns lest the reputation of both my Department and myself is unfairly tarnished.

“Further, I also wish to dispel any suggestion that DJAG has in this instance done anything other than provide full assistance and cooperation with your office.”

A spokesman for Mr Greaves said he had no further comment.

“The Auditor-General, Mr Andrew Greaves, does not have anything more to add to what was covered in the report and the letters in the appendices,” she said.

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Adventure

Feelings on removing Berkeley Prawn quite raw

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The big prawn in Berkeley is to be removed, much to the disappointment of its many fans. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHANWollongong City Council has been accused of being heartless and even shellfish, as it tries to remove the Berkeley Prawn.

But the council says the colourful statue – a looming two-metre-high crustacean made of tiles designed by local children in 1992 – has become dangerous in its old age and needs to be euthanised for the community’s safety.

The prawn may not be well known outside the southern Wollongong suburb, but nearly 1000 concerned Berkeley residents have taken to Facebook to express alarm over efforts to bin the shrimp.

‘‘I was one of those kids that put that awesome prawn together!!!!! Save the prawn!!!!!’’ Melissa Myers wrote on the social media page.

‘‘Kids of Berkeley designed tiles for this, it goes to show council has no heart for sentimental value among the Berkeley community,’’ Amy Pitt said.

Some people were surprised at the fervent outpouring of support for the statue – for instance, Wayne Castles ‘‘didn’t even know there was a prawn’’ – but hardcore prawn fans labelled it an ‘‘icon’’ and ‘‘the heart of Berkeley’’.

In all the excitement, John Holmes even got his seafood mixed up, saying, ‘‘We need this crab. Hands off our crab.’’

The council’s acting community and cultural development manager, Armando Reviglio, promised residents they were not getting a raw deal with the prawn’s removal, but said sharp tiles and needles inside its rainbow shell meant its days were numbered.

‘‘People are cutting themselves on the mosaics … We’ve tried to repair it a number of times but now it’s beyond repair,’’ he said.

‘‘And on a more unsavoury note, people are storing needles and things like that in it, so from a public safety point of view, it needs to be replaced.’’

He said it was not possible for the much-loved marine-dweller to be moved to Berkeley Harbour – as suggested by some residents – as its concrete foundations would crumble as soon as it was lifted.

Mr Reviglio said the council had spoken to residents about the prawn’s inevitable demise – including businesses owners, children at the skate park and shoppers and passers-by – and had already come up with a new art and seating project to replace it.

There would be more consultation in coming weeks to discuss what type of art works would adorn the new seats, he said, adding that the community might wish to incorporate some elements of prawniness into the new design.

‘‘There’s also a proposal for a ‘remembering the prawn’ project, so people can contribute stories and images of the prawn and that will be happening in the first week of June,’’ he said.

‘‘We knew it was going to be hard for some people to say goodbye, but with the safety in mind we have to remove it.’’

Mr Reviglio said Berkeley’s new seating and art installation would be finished by mid-June.

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Fashion

Warning sounded on endangered species in NSW

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Dean SewellDespite almost 60 per cent of NSW’s mammal species and a third of the birds on the endangered list, the Berejiklian government is persisting with conservation schemes that amount to a “bad joke”, critics say.

A report, titled Paradise Lost has found biodiversity offset schemes between 2005 and 2016have failed to deliver outcomes promised by developers of mines and other major projects.

Of eight case studies where the destruction of habitat was permitted in exchange for protection elsewhere, the results of two studies were found to be “adequate”, and five others “poor”, according to the Nature Conservation Council, which compiled the report. 贵阳桑拿For the Boggabri/Maules Creek area, which has two huge open-cut coal mines, the outcome was found to be “disastrous”.

In the latter case, miners will clear about 4000 hectares – more than half of the Leard State Forest, which is home to 36 threatened species including the diamond firetail and the masked owl – the report said. More than a quarter of this area is made up of critically endangered box-gum woodland.

Not only are the offsets of uncertain permanence, they are outside the Brigalow Belt South bioregion and are not of equivalent vegetation condition, the report said. And while the proponents have done surveys in the offset areas, they have not made that information available.

“It’s a crude mechanism for letting developers kill threatened species while claiming they are good environmental stewards,” council chief executive Kate Smolski said. “It’s a bad joke.”

The failings include the absence of “no-go zones” for areas with high conservation values, the dilution of “like-for-like” protections, and allowing miners to generate “credits” for rehabilitation. 贵阳桑拿网The Environment Minister also has discretionary power to “discount” obligations.

The survey noted the government had engaged Martine Maron, a University of Queensland offsets specialist, to review its program but her “scathing” assessment could only be obtained under freedom of information laws. (See summary of her review here.)

“The reliance on protecting habitat that is already there in exchange for habitat loss is worrying and, of course, the net outcome in that case is just less habitat,” Professor Maron told Fairfax Media. “It risks normalising ongoing biodiversity decline.”

In a 2015 paper, Professor Maron found offset baselines being used across Australia assumed an annual loss of vegetation of 4.2 per cent, or more than five times the recent loss rate.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the government was still consulting on its draft Biodiversity Assessment Method, adding that the scheme would set a standard of no net loss of biodiversity.

“It has been peer-reviewed and it draws on the latest science,” Ms Upton said. “It requires proposals to be designed to first avoid and minimise impacts on biodiversity.”

But Mehreen Faruqi Greens environment spokeswoman Mehreen Faruqi said offsets had become “one of the biggest scams in NSW”.

“Even if we accept the flawed concept that serious ecological damage can be offset, the NSW government has massively lowered the bar for mining companies and big developers,” Dr Faruqi said. “It’s now an attitude of: ‘No offset? No worries, just pay it into a fund’.”

Labor’s environment spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said the “watered down” policy was “disregarding environmental standards and destroying biodiversity”.

For its part, Maules Creek mine developer Whitehaven rejected the report’s assessment.

“We stand by our offsets package and, more importantly, so do the independent state and federal government authorities that approved it,” a spokesman for the miner said.

Stephen Galilee, chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council, said offsets had “increasingly strengthened in recent years, particularly with the introduction of the Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2016”.

“Increasingly complicated offsets 贵阳桑拿论坛schemes have significantly narrowed the impacts that can be offset and increased the costs of offsetting,” he said. ‘Horse-trading’

David Paull, a former Office of Environment and Heritage project manager, said the setting of offsets was “a horse-trading affair” in which the proponent emerges “with as few concessions as possible”.

For instance, in the plan to expand Peabody Energy’s Wilpinjong mine, which was examined by Mr Paull, the developer wants several “get out of jail” cards for destroying 354 hectares of native woodland.

More than half of the land is home to the endangered regent honeyeater bird.

The cards include paying $660,000 to Taronga Zoo for a targeted release of captive honeyeaters into the wild, and the use of “credits” earned for mine rehabilitation with no indication the work was additional, he said.

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Xenophon and Littleproud row together on Basin Plan water ex

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 Queensland Nationals MP David Littleproud calling out to Independent SA Senator Nick Xenophon for pragmatic backing to aid the future of local farming communities.

QUEENSLAND Nationals MP David Littleproud has lured independent South Australian independent Senator Nick Xenophon to tour his sparse Maranoa electorate to meet local farmers and look them directly in the eye to see their trembling and fear driven by the uncertainty of devastating cuts to productive water supply, caused by the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

In return, Mr Littleproud has committed to visiting the southern section of the nation’s giant food producing river system, at the Mouth of the Murray, to experience impacts on farm production and rural communities in Senator Xenophon’s political patch.

Senator Xenophon indicated to 贵阳伴游模特Fairfax Agricultural Media he’d accepted Mr Littleproud’s unique invitation to tour heavily impacted farm communities at St George and Dirranbandi, with only the dates and details needing to be finalised.

With an itinerary to come, the political water exchange is expected to be timed ahead of Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce tabling proposed amendments to the Basin Plan, stemming from a critical review of the northern system which mostly captures the Maranoa electorate.

It’s expected the Murray Darling Basin Authority will hand its proposed Basin Plan amendments to Mr Joyce in about May, to then be tabled in federal parliament, based on the ongoing review of the northern basin’s water recovery targets.

The Authority is currently proposing the northern Basin’s water recovery target be reduced from 390GLs to 320GLs based on governments implementing improved water management measures.

Mr Littleproud said Senator Xenophon held “a big basket of votes” in the Senate – with three NXT members – and yielded “pivotal” political influence over the survival of St George and Dirranbandi amid the Basin Plan’s ambition to take 2750 gigalitres of water away from farm production, for environmental outcomes.

He said he wanted Senator Xenophon to appreciate 35GLs that’s proposed to be “ripped out” of the Lower Balonne, and water losses in the Border Rivers catchment area, would “destroy” those farming communities.

But the loss of that 35GLs in Queensland would only deliver 3GLs with “next to nix” benefits for people in Adelaide, he said.

“If it’s about Adelaide trying to get more water to the Mouth of the Murray, will taking out 35gigs and destroying two communities up in Queensland, to maybe give at best 3GLs, which will do next to Nix, is it really worth it?” he said.

“This is one of the most important issues to the people of my electorate and I’m prepared to do whatever it is, to go to South Australia and to also make myself available to get Nick to visit Maranoa.

“I’ll move heaven and earth to make that happen and we’re at a pivotal movement to ensure we get this right, with the northern Basin review.

“For what we’re asking both communities to give up, 贵阳水疗洗浴we really need to look at it in a pragmatic sense in terms of how it’s going to be achieved.”

Mr Littleproud said Senator Xenophon toured local farming communities in Maranoa several years ago with Mr Joyce – but hadn’t returned since to see the first-hand impacts of water buybacks, caused by the Basin Plan.

He said it was important to compare and contrast the situation now to what it was then and return to see the differences, for people living and working in those communities.

“These are hardened men and I’ve seen the fear and the tears in their eyes,” he said.

“I’ve seen them shaking and trembling in fear about the uncertainty of what’s going to happen to them and the businesses they’ve created over years.

“That’s quite jolting and that’s what I want Nick to come and see and to get an appreciation of.

“Nick’s in a position, with the situation in the Senate, to actually drive change.

“If we both go into it with an open and pragmatic mind we can challenge the norm and say, ‘is it worth it for those communities and the people of Adelaide?

“This is about us both going with open and pragmatic minds and asking; what are we both actually trying to achieve?”

Senator Xenophon said he’d also taken the initiative of inviting Mr Littleproud to visit the Lower Lakes and local irrigation areas devastated by millennium drought that have still not recovered.

South Australian independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

“I think it’s a good thing that we’re both willing to challenge our perspectives,” he said.

“We both need to understand this is one river system from top to bottom and we need to look after it.

“This shouldn’t be about state against state; it’s about good outcomes for communities and the environment.

“We won’t have viable agricultural communities unless we also have a healthy river system and that’s why I support the Plan.”

Senator Xenophon said he’d meet and sit down with Mr Littleproud’s constituents and expected the first-term Nationals MP would talk to his constituents in South Australia and work through the issues, in the same manner.

“At the very least we’ll have a better understanding but that doesn’t mean we won’t be passionate advocates for our respective states,” he said.

“I did suggest to David that we could row down the entire river system together but that may take a bit too long.

“Just two men in a tinny would be a nice experience and a great way to see the river first hand.

“It’s going to be a bit of a road trip but one that should not to be confused with the Thelma and Louise road trip.”

Senator Xenophon said on his visit to the southern system, Mr Littleproud was likely to experience changes already experienced by farming communities due to the Basin Plan’s water cuts and hear constituent views about changes that still need to occur.

He said the water exchange would also give Mr Littleproud an idea of the challenges facing the lower end of the river system, “and no doubt I’ll hear from his end all about their challenges as well”.

“I’m doing this in good faith and I’m sure he is as well,” he said.

“This is an issue that needs more light and less heat on it.

“There’s been a lot of invective and it has been a very passionate debate.

“The easy thing to do is to sledge others whereas the right thing to do is to go through all of the facts and the evidence.

“I’m sure we’ll both learn from the trip without in any way compromising our passions for our river communities.”

Mr Littleproud said based on the science and raw numbers he’d seen, removing 35GLs of productive water flows out of St George and Dirranbandi would destroy those towns.

He said while it was accepted that section of the river system was over-allocated “and we’ve taken the pain”, the question remained as to whether more water should be removed to achieve a minimal result in South Australia.

“And that’s the question we need to ask Nick Xenophon,” he said.

“If they can demonstrate with science that the 3gigs will keep the Lower Lakes going,贵阳商务模特 then I’ve got an open mind but I think the people of Australia are looking for more pragmatic politics.

“We should actually put aside partisan interests and make a call that’s right for the people of Australia.

“I hope Nick will look inside his heart and see the pain of these people but this isn’t just about the farmers; it’s also about the businesses in the towns.

“We’ve got to pull away from the emotion and be pragmatic and ask, does South Australia really need to destroy these communities?”

Mr Littleproud said social and economic factors and impacts must be taken into account during the northern Basin review to achieve a triple bottom line balanced outcome alongside its environmental goals.

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Destinations

Hooper to play 100th Super Rugby match against former club

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Peter RaeMichael Hooper never even dreamed of playing professional rugby as a child, but on Saturday the Waratahs captain will become the youngest player in Super Rugby history to play 100 matches when he lines up against his former club at Allianz Stadium.

Hooper got his start with the Brumbies in 2010 贵阳桑拿会所and has not looked back, racking up a combined 99 games for the ACT franchise and the Waratahs to go with his 65 Wallabies caps.

At 25 years and 140 days, Hooper will go past Kurtley Beale (25 years, 208 days) and Quade Cooper (26 years, 42 days) as the youngest Super Rugby centurion.

Regarded as one of the best No.7s in world rugby, Hooper is the last man to blow his own trumpet, as evidenced when he said this week was all about teammate Sekope Kepu, who will celebrate 100 caps for NSW.

The Waratahs could do with some extra motivation as they look to atone for consecutive defeats in South Africa, which has left them precariously placed with one win from three starts this year.

“I never envisaged myself playing Super Rugby but I always enjoyed the game, I’ve always enjoyed rugby,” Hooper said. “I’m really happy to be a part of it. [It’s a] nice milestone but I’m more excited for the game.

“[I] always like playing the Brumbies, it’s always a tough match-up. If years gone by is anything to go by, it’s been really tough games;贵阳伴游网 low-scoring, physical affairs, so I’m sure it’s going to be more of the same this weekend and a good challenge for us back home off the back of a tough trip.”

Hooper says his career wasn’t smooth sailing from the start, even if he did score a try on debut against the Chiefs in the days of Super 14. “I felt well out of my depth and I did for quite a while,” Hooper said. “It seems like an absolute age ago and [there were] a lot of scars and cuts less but still loving it all the same.”

The workrate of the Waratahs captain is second to none and after some choice words from former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer last year that Hooper was the worst No.7 of the Australian Super Rugby teams, the Manly local responded in emphatic fashion with a sensational year that resulted in a second John Eales Medal.

“If you could jump into that magic gene pool and clone that bloke, you’d have 15 Michael Hoopers out there, no dramas,” said Waratahs assistant coach Nathan Grey. “He’s a really good athlete, he’s very durable and he’s a guy that consistently performs at a high level.”

While the Brumbies have bragging rights after their home and away wins over NSW last year, it is the Waratahs who have history on their side with an impressive 13 victories from 16 starts in Sydney against the Brumbies.

Hooper is adamant the Waratahs will take plenty away from their winless South African tour and be pumped to take on a Brumbies outfit that may have back-rower Scott Fardy and prop Scott Sio back in the starting XV.

Hooper described Bernard Foley as an “enigma” following his well-documented recovery from a bad concussion sustained in the Highlanders trial match. 贵阳夜网The Waratahs five-eighth sported an orange injury bib at training on Tuesday. Foley did not participate in any contact work but slotted in at No.10 and looked comfortable in attack. A final decision on his availability is likely to be made on Thursday.

“He’s in a really good space mentally and coming back from Africa early I think has done him the world of good,” Hooper said. “It’s touch and go with head injuries, everyone knows that. I know him more than anyone is dying to play.”

In other injury news, Will Skelton (hamstring) was put through some individual fitness work aside from the main training session while Andrew Kellaway (shoulder) and Taqele Naiyaravoro (head knock) did not complete any contact work.

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Cruising

Top riders go head-to-head at Kooralbyn

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In the ladies breakaway roping, Emerald rider Leanne Caban has led the standings for the past six months. Picture Stephen Mowbray

THREE of the top ropers in Australia will be in Kooralbyn for an Australian Professional Rodeo Association rodeo on Saturday.

The rodeo is for championship points and many of the current standings leaders in the eight championship events in the APRA will compete.

Townsville rider Campbell Hodson and Emerald star Shane Kenny are in a close battle for the lead in rope and tie standings. Currently Hodson is $50 in front of Kenny in prize money.

One of the greatest threats to Hodson and Kenny at Kooralbyn will be Warwick roper Mitch Eastwell who won a round of the rope and tie at last year’s national finals rodeo in his home town. Mitch’s brothers Wade and Brock will also compete in roping.

In the ladies breakaway roping, Emerald rider Leanne Caban has led the standings for the past six months and goes into Kooralbyn with a substantial lead. Victorian rider Latteliah DeSpirt and Ebenezer roper Tamara Knox will be two of Caban’s toughest opponents.

RIVALS: Shane Kenny, Emerald, is in a close battle with Townsville’s Campbell Hodson for the lead in rope and tie standings. Picture: dephotos贵阳桑拿论坛

John McNamee from Millmerran and Warwick cowboy Michael Maher are the leaders in saddle bronc and will both compete at Kooralbyn after heading south for three rodeos last weekend on the Victorian long weekend.

In the bareback, current APRA champion David Worsfold from Wandoan will be the favourite at Kooralbyn. His toughest opponent will be Dinny Moran from Tara.

The Kooralbyn rodeo starts at 4pm Saturday and will be held at grounds on Etruscan Road, Kooralbyn. Tickets will be available at the gate.

After this weekend, Queensland competitors will look ahead to Easter when there is a Roma Bull Ride and Destiny Downs Timed Event Fiesta Rodeo at Emerald on Good Friday, the Emerald Easter Sunflower Rodeo is on the Saturday and then a rodeo at Roma with action in all eight championship events on Easter Sunday.

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