Griffiths sees red as Jets salvage point

Joel Griffiths and Adam Taggart celebrate the late equaliser. Photo: Jonathan Carroll Disappointing end: Joel Griffiths. Photo: Jonathan Carroll
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There was a great mood of anticipation swelling around Hunter Stadium for the return of Joel Griffiths. After five years away, The Chosen One was back, but it would be another striker who wrote the right headlines.

Western Sydney were on the brink of victory when, in injury time, Jets winger Andrew Hoole squared a hopeful ball in the path of Adam Taggart, who clipped the ball home to make it 2-2.

That sparked a mad minute in injury time, where the Jets chased a desperate winner. Taggart was through in goal and on track to get a hat-trick when Ante Covic clattered him way outside the box.

What nobody in the stadium realised was that amidst the confusion, referee Ben Williams had blown for full-time. Infuriated, Griffiths gave Williams a foul-mouthed serve. He was given the red card, not Covic.

That was the final act of a night that swung in every direction.

Taggart gave the Jets the lead with a sparkling early goal, one that was cancelled out by Aaron Mooy’s free-kick on half-time. A pinball scramble ended with the Wanderers taking the lead before the final-minute shenanigans took over.

Once the events have been digested, the light of day will bring little comfort for both teams. It’s only the second point from six games for Newcastle yet the Wanderers will feel as though they should have returned to Sydney with all three.

The Jets were already reeling from a blow in the warm-up when marquee striker Emile Heskey had to withdraw after suffering back spasms. He was replaced by journeyman midfielder Nick Ward in attacking midfield, giving Taggart a lone role up top.

By contrast, there was no change for the Wanderers, which was odd in itself for the habit Tony Popovic has developed of rotating his team every week, regardless of the result. That meant the experiment of playing Matt Spiranovic in defensive midfield would continue for another week. What Ange Postecoglou makes of this ploy is another matter.

Newcastle sustained pressure on Western Sydney from the opening minute and would make their best attacks from out wide, trying to curl balls behind the defensive duo of Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Michael Beauchamp. A couple of times it very nearly worked.

Taggart’s opener didn’t require assistance, however. The ex-Perth junior let fly with a tracer bullet that swerved wickedly, away from Covic but still inside the left post. Given he hadn’t scored since November, it was some way to break the drought.

But the Wanderers’ reply was first rate. It came after a succession of free kicks just outside the Jets’ defensive box, increasingly irritating the home fans. In the last of them before half-time, Mooy took a deep breath and curled a text book that dipped over the wall and past a stunned Mark Birighitti.

Williams was castigated by the home fans as he blew for half-time, contrasting with the mood of the visiting fans, singing and dancing their way through the main break. They believed the game was now theirs for the taking.

Needing something to get back into the game, Newcastle coach Clayton Zane played his trump card and Griffiths was brought on to make his long-awaited learn with half an hour to play.

Griffiths’ first 30 seconds went something like this: clashing with Topor-Stanley to win a header, simultaneously crunched by two defenders, sparking a break for Taggart and giving the linesman a mouthful. It was a sign of things to come.

But the more critical immediate action would occur at the other end. A goalmouth scramble that Birighitti failed to deal sparked danger, and just as Josh Brillante got his boot to the ball, he whacked his clearance into Beauchamp’s upper arm. No handball was given for the deflection, which trickled over the line.

However, that was only the start of the real drama.

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Freedoms key to a robust debate

We hear a lot of grand rhetoric about free speech and freedom of the press in Australia, but in reality, we can be pretty rubbish at defending these basic liberties.
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Quick to outrage, we confuse dissenting opinions with disloyalty to the nation, and abuse with freedom of speech.

Only a year ago, Tony Abbott was the media’s great defender, thundering about Julia Gillard’s ultimately doomed flirtation with media regulation.

”It is not, repeat not, the role of government to manage the day-to-day practices of journalism, to dictate who can and who can’t control Australian media outlets or to ‘score’ media coverage against unavoidably subjective standards of fairness,” he said.

”The job of government is to foster free speech, not stifle it.”

We in the media cheered, but on Wednesday, Abbott, a former journalist himself, sought to impose his own scorecard on the ABC. He sympathised when Sydney shock jock Ray Hadley complained that there was a double standard between the complaints levelled at Hadley’s on-air comments, and what the ABC broadcast.

Hadley, who described himself as ”a bit to the right”, grizzled that he kept getting ”belted over the head” by the government’s media regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority – incidentally, for broadcasting claims that were factually incorrect.

Meanwhile, Hadley griped, ABC journalists were ”left to their own devices”.

”I can understand the frustration that you feel,” Abbott commiserated. ”I think that there is quite an issue of double standards … I think it dismays Australians when the national broadcaster appears to take everyone’s side but our own … You shouldn’t leap to be critical of your own country.”

As the Prime Minister knows full well, it’s not the ABC’s role to be a cheerleader for Australia’s national interest. It’s the organisation’s job to broadcast news in the public interest.

The next day, the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, announced that the government would launch an ”efficiency study” of the ABC and SBS.

Turnbull assured there was ”no assault on the ABC” and the government’s terms of reference emphasise that the study is ”not a study of the quality of the national broadcaster’s programs, products and services”.

But the announcement of a cost-cutting review after an extraordinary attack by the Prime Minister on the ABC sent shudders through supporters of independent journalism. This was compounded by the news on the same day that The Global Mail financier Graeme Wood was withdrawing support for the publication.

Running battles against media reporting often take a pernicious path. Last week, over a series of days, I was accused in online forums of being a traitor to my country after reporting that Defence was investigating members who joined an online anti-Muslim group, the Australian Defence League.

Discussion quickly turned to how I would better understand the issues if I were raped, my daughter raped and my husband beheaded by Muslims.

It’s a dreary reflection of the nature of political debate these days that when a woman journalist writes or broadcasts something that someone, somewhere doesn’t like (surely the definition of journalism), some keyboard warrior throws the spectre of rape at her.

It’s a base method of trying to control women, but it’s a diversion: the goal is simply to shut down debate.

In no way am I suggesting the Prime Minister’s comments on the ABC are similar to the ravings of an online extremist group, but in a democracy like Australia, freedom of speech should involve having the maturity to debate ideas on merit, and defend the right of our media to air them, rather than resorting to appeals to patriotism or cheap abuse.

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Listen when a legend speaks

A statue of Neil Harvey now stands in Yarra Park. Unveiled on Friday, it is the fourth in the MCC’s Avenue of Legends. Lis Johnson’s bronze depiction of the dazzling, deft-footed left-hander joins those of Shane Warne, Norm Smith and John Coleman. It’s a fitting tribute to a great cricketer.
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Just how great was at risk of being lost in the mists of time, and distracted from by other issues. For Harvey’s greatness had, in later times, been blurred by his natural inclination to give non-workshopped answers when asked about contemporary cricket. He came to be characterised as a human headline.

He didn’t always like what he saw during Australia’s world-beating years of the last two decades and when his opinion was sought he gave it: gun-barrel straight. But the perception of Harvey, by a generation of Australian cricketers, as an embittered yesterday’s man is a less than comprehensive judgment.

I recall him speaking to me about this during the Melbourne Ashes Test of 1998. He expressed frustration that he felt like the only person in the nation prepared to put his name to what he saw as obvious. He believed, among other things, that the Australians of the time had very little opposition and were a somewhat ungracious bunch.

And he was right in that he wasn’t alone in that latter view. As he was also right in that few others were brave enough to express it; certainly with his level of straight forwardness. Sometimes it requires a CV of Harvey’s stature for kicking against the wind to carry legitimacy. A couple of years later, then Australian cricket boss, Mal Speed, acknowledged the high volume of complaints being received about player conduct through that period. But, inevitably, such expression remained a minority view. We love nothing more than winners and those Australian teams won heavily, and often. Our cricket was surfing on a high tide of public euphoria.

Notwithstanding his credentials, Harvey became a target. The modern players didn’t like him. He felt lonely and, I suspect, vulnerable in his honesty. But still he wouldn’t refrain from answering questions straight up.

Happily, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, Paul Marsh, attended Friday’s unveiling. Players both present and recent past must be big enough to seek to understand Harvey, and to appreciate him. He played the game in a different time and has lived through much change.

And this much must be clear to even his keenest detractor: he was one of the greatest cricketers this country has produced.

It would do well for those who haven’t forgiven him to study his record. If they did, they would surely see that this wasn’t some envious old has-been with little claim to relevance.

They would quickly find, for example, a piece written by Ashley Mallett on ESPN Cricinfo in 2012. Perhaps Australia’s finest off-spin bowler, Mallett played a lot of cricket with Greg Chappell, widely regarded as second-to-Bradman among Australian batsmen.

In selecting the best five players he had seen, Mallett nominated Gary Sobers, Sachin Tendulkar, Viv Richards and Barry Richards. And with them he chose Harvey. Not only that, he implied he regarded the dapper left-hander as the best of them.

He wrote: “I have never seen the equal of Harvey’s batting and I’ve seen most of the great batsmen of the past 50-odd years … his average is less than those of some who played for Australia recently, but Harvey batted against some of the greatest bowlers to bestride the Test stage: South Africa’s Neil Adcock, Peter Heine and Hugh Tayfield; England’s Alec Bedser, Frank Tyson, Brian Statham, Tony Lock and Jim Laker; and the West Indians Sobers, Wes Hall, Alf Valentine and Sonny Ramadhin.”

With 21 hundreds from 79 Tests, Harvey scored centuries at a frequency just below Chappell’s (24 from 87), but above Ricky Ponting’s (41 from 167). Harvey usually came in at the fall of the first wicket, which Chappell rarely did. He also, at times, had to contend with uncovered pitches; never an issue for the generation which followed.

It’s fatuous, as well as odious, to attempt comparisons. The point is that, at worst, Harvey runs Chappell and Ponting close among Australian post-war batsmen. And like those two, Harvey was a superb fieldsman. Bill Lawry, who spoke in his honour at the statue unveiling, says Harvey is the best fielder he’s seen.

Lawry’s maiden Test century – 130 at Lord’s in 1961 – was achieved in Harvey’s only Test as captain. “The Phantom” also experienced his leadership playing for Victoria in the mid-1950s. He speaks in glowing terms of Harvey the leader, placing him with the best under whom he played.

The man who remains the youngest Australian to score a Test century, and the baby of Bradman’s Invincibles, is now 85. That there can be grandeur in old age was evident in Harvey’s still-assertive, but humble, bearing on Friday.

The Harvey statue can now be enjoyed for evermore, but the man himself is to be appreciated in the here and now.

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New-look Rebels turn up the heat on Waratahs

High and low: Melbourne Rebels players bring down Waratah Kurtley Beale in Albury on Saturday. Photo: Border MailDefence has been the catchcry of the Melbourne Rebels all pre-season under new coach Tony McGahan.
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After three seasons where they were shown up – badly at times – against some of the harder teams, the goal was to shore up the leaky defensive line but to do it aggressively by lifting the number of turnovers they snare at the breakdowns.

Saturday’s trial against NSW Waratahs in 40-degree heat in Albury was the team’s first chance to see if McGahan’s tough regime had had an effect.

After two minutes the old cracks seemed to be worryingly present when Waratahs half-back Brendan McKibbin ran through to score without being touched.

He converted the try as the Rebels were left looking for answers to a lapse of concentration, which given only two minutes from the opening whistle could not be blamed on the scorching conditions.

”That was disappointing” skipper Scott Higginbotham said. ”We obviously talked about defence and how much we put into defence during the pre-season so that was a tough one.

”But it’s a trial, the first trial, it was a bit of a lapse in concentration and you could see that we felt our way through the game and the defence really came on in the second half.”

But they regrouped and while they did concede some soft tries, they also shored up their defence – keeping the Waratahs tryless for 30 minutes mid-game while showing that they were not going to back down from being adventurous in attack. The Rebels scored five tries to Tom English, Jason Woodward, Ben Meehan, Bryce Hegarty and Mitch Inman to edge NSW 33-28.

It was enough for McGahan to see promise for the season.

”We’re really happy to get the result but really delighted for the players who put a lot of hard work in,” McGahan said.

In good news for the Rebels, skipper Scott Higginbotham played solidly in his first game back from a shoulder injury that ruined last season, setting up a try to Meehan with a clever kick.

”That was hopefully the hottest game I will play this year,” Higginbotham said. ”I went all right. It’s been seven months since I played and I just wanted to feel my way back into it and I felt like I did that but plenty more to go and I’ve got a long way to go.

”I think the team went well. We started a bit slowly but that’s to be expected in the first trial.”

■Benji Marshall has made an encouraging start to his Super Rugby career, getting through 40 minutes for the Blues in his first game of rugby union in more than a decade.

The former West Tigers and Kiwis rugby league star played the opening two quarters at five-eighth in the Blues’ 38-35 pre-season loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday in Masterton. There was no sign of nerves from Marshall, who distributed the ball well, made the odd run at the line and took on the responsibility of re-starts and kicking for touch.

Marshall tried his trademark sidestep once – and met the considerable force of Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea.

But mostly, he was content sticking to basics and getting a feel for his new position.

”I didn’t set the game on fire but, in terms of trying to get control and feel for playing 10, everything I wanted to get I got out of it,” said a happy Marshall.

Blues coach John Kirwan was pleased with Marshall’s first hitout.

”I think (first-five) is his position,” said Kirwan.

”He certainly put his hand up today so we’ll put him out there again next week and we’ll just keep working on him. It was a good start.”

With aap

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Woodbine saves blushes for Gai Waterhouse and Nash Rawiller

Late surge: Woodbine gave punters a scare on Saturday. Photo: Jenny EvansNash Rawiller was hauled before stewards to explain his navigation on long odds-on shot Woodbine after the Randwick Guineas-bound colt left his supporters with near heart failure at Rosehill on Saturday.
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Rawiller angled the blueblood, sent out a $1.20 hope on the tote in the four-horse field, to the centre of the track before wearing down Tim Clark on Pirandello as the leader clung grimly to the fence.

Woodbine’s winning margin was a head, but it didn’t deter chief steward Ray Murrihy from grilling Rawiller about the ride. And Rawiller said he was at odds with trainer Gai Waterhouse over the better ground at Rosehill.

”I told her one, two or three [horses off the fence] was the best part of the track, but she said seven off,” Rawiller told stewards. ”She’s the boss, but I won’t be doing that again. I didn’t agree with her … in fact, I had an argument with her before the race.”

Even Waterhouse was wondering whether Woodbine had arrived in the nick of time to make it back-to-back wins this campaign. ”I know the owner of the second horse, and John [Messara] and the group own Woodbine and I thought, ‘Uh oh, there’s going to be six unhappy owners and one happy’,” she said. ”When they showed the replay I thought, ‘No, I’ve got six happy owners and one unhappy’.”

Woodbine’s stallion prospects will largely hinge on the rest of his three-year-old season as the Hussonet colt, out of multiple group 1 winner Miss Finland, heads towards the group 1 Randwick Guineas.

Rawiller was forced to hunt Woodbine up in the early stages in the small four-horse field after Cosmic Cameo was scratched after tossing Hugh Bowman leaving the mounting yard.

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Affectionate vandal shows how tough it is for galleries to protect exhibits

Darned cheek: the 19th century Narcissus with the vandalism exposed on his buttock. The 19th century Narcissus with the vandalism exposed on his buttock.
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It probably seemed like an innocent peck on the cheek. But the Art Gallery of NSW took a dim view of the visitor who kissed a 19th-century statue of Narcissus with red lipstick, leaving a large stain on its buttock.

”Vandalised” was the word used to describe the kiss, which occurred in January 2012, one week after another visitor pulled the nose off a statue of a clown by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone.

In another attack in June 2013, an 11th-century sandstone sculpture of a female torso was spat on.

These acts of vandalism are among 89 reported incidents of damage to artworks at the Art Gallery of NSW over the past three years.

Documents obtained by Fairfax Media following a freedom of information request show that works in the gallery’s collection have been vandalised by visitors, damaged by staff and harmed during functions held at NSW’s leading public art institution.

At a function in May 2013, a painting by indigenous artist Emily Kam Ngwarray was splashed with food, according to the incident report:

”A tomato canape wielding visitor lost control of her topping, which flew across the barriers in front of the work … Several dried droplets of red material were located on the work at the lower edge right of centre.”

The report stated there was no apparent damage to the painting but noted that it was possible that not all the spilt food had been removed.

An incident report relating to Cy Twombly’s Three Studies from the Temeraire, for which the gallery paid $4.5 million in 2004, stated it had been damaged on display and noted the presence of ”surface dirt”.

Damage to paintings by Brett Whiteley and Picasso, in both cases by children, were also reported.

Whiteley’s The Balcony 2 was ”touched by [a] boy who left a palm print in the dusty surface of the painting,” according to a February 2013 report. In November 2013, it was reported that the frame surrounding Picasso’s Nude in a Rocking Chair was ”probably scratched accidentally by a child, not by an adult”.

The gallery’s director of collections, Suhanya Raffel, said most of the 1.3 million who visited the gallery each year respected and enjoyed the collection. ”The majority of visitor incidents are fairly minor, accidental and not malicious – often the result of curiosity, which we do not consider as vandalism,” she said.

Sydney College of the Arts dean Colin Rhodes said the best way to protect artworks would be to have a guard in every room of the gallery.

”A human presence who is looking after the space, that’s easily the best way of doing things,” he said. ”The trouble with cameras is they might catch everything, but it’s after the event.”

However, excessive security risked alienating visitors. ”Art is made for people to enjoy. The further away it is from an audience, the less easy it is for them to enjoy and understand,” Professor Rhodes said.

In Victoria, the NGV last year admitted a 2000-year-old statue from its collection was damaged when it was dropped from a forklift. It has also admitted that one of its new acquisitions, a glass bauble-encrusted stuffed deer, had overheated in its front window.

The Roman marble figure from the first century BC, Archaistic Kore, believed to be valued at $1 million to $2 million, was dropped and smashed while it was being moved.

Artworks at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra have also been vandalised and damaged by staff, with 23 incidents reported in 2012 and 2013.

Among the artworks damaged were paintings by Fred Williams, Roy Lichtenstein and Arthur Boyd. Several sculptures in the gallery’s collection were vandalised with graffiti, including one that had ”Josh Latif Rules” scratched into it.

An NGA spokesman said risk assessments were carried out on how to display art, but the gallery had no plans to beef up security.

Gallery staff and catering contractors at the Art Gallery of NSW have also caused serious damage to artworks.

In May 2011, a gallery painter driving a forklift ”knocked” a table that then hit the installation Turns in Arabba by Hany Armanious, who represented Australia at the 2011 Venice Biennale.

”Many objects fell over resulting in damage to 14 components as well as damage to the wooden cabinet,” the report noted.

Several artworks have been damaged when falling off the walls of the Art Gallery of NSW after the failure of velcro hanging mechanisms.

Human error was identified in several reports, such as an April 2012 incident relating to Nam June Paik’s Kaldor Candle. The report criticised gallery staff.

”Without proper instructions or approval for treating the artwork, installation staff removed wax residue from the horizontal TV screens using metal scrapers, a commercial spray, adhesive remover and cloths,” the report said. ”The curator had not directed them to do so, nor did they seek advice from conservation prior to cleaning.”

Similarly, the lid of a 19th-century ivory vase was dropped ”during a hasty deinstallation”, according to a 2012 report. Another artwork was damaged after it was installed upside down and displayed in the wrong position for ”a few weeks”.

But Ms Raffel said damage caused to artworks by staff was rare.

”In the period of the three years we had 89 incidents, of which only five were related to staff,” she said. ”Our gallery staff have moved thousands of artworks in that three-year period.”

Ms Raffel said it was rarely possible to calculate the cost of damage to artworks as repairs were conducted in house. Moving artworks and erecting barriers to keep visitors at a distance were among the actions taken to protect the collection.

The Art Gallery of NSW is a venue-for-hire for corporate events and hosts functions at which food and alcohol are served. But champagne, canapes and canvases do not always mix.

At a function in May 2013, a bag of ice fell off a trolley, splashing water onto Peter Powditch’s Seascape II painting. The incident report noted an extensive number of stains on the work and suggested that the ”placement of a painting outside the lift on ground level may not be a safe position for a large-scale work”.

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

Voters’ support for republic hits 20-year low

Support for a republic has dwindled, even in younger Australians.Backing for an Australian republic has collapsed to a 20-year low, with just 39.4 per cent of Australians saying they support a republic.
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Support was lowest among older Australians and Generation Y voters, with people aged 35 to 65 most supportive of Australia abandoning the monarchy.

An exclusive ReachTEL poll of more than 2100 Australians, conducted on Thursday night for Fairfax, shows 41.6 per cent oppose the country becoming a republic, and 19 per cent had no opinion on the issue.

Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy national convener David Flint said the findings were a ”time bomb” for the republican movement, with support among 18 to 35 year olds at 35.6 per cent. More people in this age bracket oppose a republic than support it. Only people aged over 65 had a lower rate of support (30.7 per cent) for Australia becoming a republic.

”That is a time bomb, I believe, for republicans, because you don’t have that investment for the future,” Professor Flint said.

Not only were young people disinterested in a republic, he believed, they were favourable to the monarchy partly because of the star power of the ”young royals”, Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

But Geoff Gallop, chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, said: ”Polls will come and go, but we’ve been encouraged by the support we’ve been getting, and our campaign will continue.” Mr Gallop said higher support for a republic among Generation X and baby boomer voters could be explained by them having participated in the 1999 referendum, and remembering the 1975 constitutional crisis.

The poll was conducted less than a week after Prime Minister Tony Abbott named General Peter Cosgrove as the next governor-general, the Queen’s representative in Australia. Mr Abbott said he could ”not think of a better person” to fill the governor-general role than General Cosgrove. ”Throughout his life, he has demonstrated a commitment to our country and a commitment to service,” Mr Abbott said. ”He has given service of the very highest order to our country. I am confident that in this new role he will continue to deliver to a grateful nation leadership beyond politics.”

General Cosgrove was roundly endorsed by male voters in the ReachTEL poll, with 61.9 per cent of men saying the decorated veteran was a better choice than Quentin Bryce. Ms Bryce, who five years ago became the first female governor-general, is due to retire next month.

Women were more supportive of Ms Bryce, with 47.4 per cent saying she was a better governor-general, compared with 52.6 per cent of women supporting General Cosgrove.

In November, Ms Bryce used the final Boyer lecture of the year to publicly support the push for Australia to become a republic. Ms Bryce said she hoped the nation would evolve into a country where same sex marriage was legal, ”and where perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation’s first head of state”.

At the time, Mr Abbott, a staunch monarchist, said: ”It’s more than appropriate for the Governor-General, approaching the end of her term, to express a personal view.”

According to the ReachTEL poll, women were less likely to support Australia becoming a republic (with 36 per cent support) than men (with 43 per cent support).

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

Don’t embellish the facts on asylum seekers, ABC warns staff

As the ABC comes under government scrutiny, staff have been warned not to ”embellish” or add ”any flourish” to asylum seekers’ claims they have been mistreated by border protection forces.
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Head of ABC news content Gaven Morris sent the directive to the organisation’s top brass on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the government announced it would conduct an ”efficiency study” into the ABC’s operations.

In an email obtained by Fairfax Media, Mr Morris instructed senior staff to advise their teams about reporting on ”incidents at sea”. He said staff should ensure that the reports ”stick to the basics”.

”As you know we currently have a set of claims by asylum seekers our editorial teams are continuing to work hard to get an accurate account of and to verify,” he wrote.

”During this process all our output should reflect the basic facts before us … we don’t need to interpret them beyond what we know, nor should be [sic] editorialising or seeking to add adjectives or any flourish.

”We’re not seeking to describe or embellish the allegations with descriptions like torture or mistreatment or violence and we’re not reporting whether we have proved or disproved anything the media has previously reported – the allegations and responses stand for themselves.”

When asked to comment on the email, Mr Morris said: ”The note was to senior editors on my team reinforcing the ABC’s enduring editorial approach. Amid the continuing varying reports of what may or may not have happened at sea and the responses to it, it was intended as a reminder that ABC News should continue to do as we always do and report the facts before us.”

The government’s efficiency study, announced on Thursday by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, will focus on the day-to-day operational and financial running of the ABC and SBS. The terms of reference stress ”it is not a study of the quality of the national broadcaster’s programs, products and services, or the responsibilities set out in their charters, but of the efficiency of the delivery of those services to the Australian public”.

But the review’s announcement came after a week of sustained pressure on the national broadcaster, including an extraordinary attack by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who suggested the ABC was being unpatriotic in its reports of asylum seekers’ allegations against officials.

On Wednesday, Mr Abbott argued that journalists should give the navy the ”benefit of the doubt” when it came to claims of wrongdoing, and said: ”A lot of people feel at the moment that the ABC instinctively takes everyone’s side but Australia’s.”

The ABC has come under sustained pressure from News Corp publications over its reporting on allegations by asylum seekers they were mistreated by Australian navy officers.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has described as ”a pretty poor effort” the ABC’s reports that asylum seekers suffered burns because of treatment by the navy, calling the claims ”unfounded, unsubstantiated, outrageous allegations against our navy and our Customs and border protection service”.

A ReachTEL poll conducted for Fairfax Media on Thursday showed the majority of Australians believed the ABC was politically neutral in its reporting.

That figure rose to 63.5 per cent among women, compared with 55.5 per cent among men.

Overall, 32.2 per cent believed the ABC was biased towards the Labor Party, while just 8.2 per cent said it was biased towards the Coalition.

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Quality drivers keep Bathurst 12 Hour on the move

Speed machine: Rick Kelly will drive a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 in the Bathurst 12 Hour.With Australian motor sport dominated since the mid 1990s by the trumpeting, elephantine presence of V8 Supercars, other forms of racing have had to battle hard to be seen and heard. V8 Supercars tended to grab the lion’s share of sponsors, attract more mainstream media coverage and fan support, and collar strong television deals.
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While not yet threatening the top-dog status of V8 Supercars, the revived annual Bathurst 12 Hour has been inexorably growing in popularity here and internationally. It cheekily uses ”The Ultimate Aussie Endurance Race” as its catch cry.

Next Sunday’s Bathurst 12 Hour has pulled a bumper entry of 44 cars, many from abroad. But it is the quality of the driver entry and the long list of explosively quick, technically fascinating, production-based GT3 cars that impress most.

Among the drivers are a DTM champ, a world touring car champ, three with formula one experience, five Bathurst 1000 winners, three V8 Supercars champions and three FIA GT world champions.

If the weather co-operates, count on a GT3 car or Radical SR8 smashing the lap record of two minutes, 4.6 seconds (set by a formula three car) at the recently resurfaced 6.2-kilometre circuit. The lap record for V8 supercars is Jamie Whincup’s 2:08.46 in 2007. Some leading GT drivers believe the 12 Hour pole next Saturday could be a 2:03. Last year’s winning team Erebus, returns with two Mercedes-Benz SLS AMGs and a stellar line-up led by the world’s most successful GT endurance racer, Bernd Schneider, who last year enjoyed wins in Dubai, Bathurst, the Nurburgring [twice], Spa and Abu Dhabi. The DTM legend will share the No.1 SLS with Maro Engel and Nico Bastian. The regular Mercedes successes in GT endurance races last year suggests the SLS V8 remains the benchmark.

New Erebus Motorsport V8 recruit Will Davison will take the wheel of the No.63 SLS – last year’s pole winner – for his sportscar debut. Youngster Jack Le Brocq and seasoned Greg Crick are co-driving that SLS.

Favoured too are six Audi R8 LMS rockets with a driving line-up that includes gun Brits Oliver Gavin and Rob Huff, Germans Christopher Mies and Markus Winkelhock and local V8 goers Jason Bright, Warren Luff and Dean Fiore. Mies was part of the winning Audi squads in 2011 and 2012, Gavin is a four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner and Huff a past world touring car champion.

A growing number of V8 Supercars drivers have chased starts in the Bathurst 12 Hour because the cars are so enjoyable to drive, and a good result could springboard them into major GT races overseas.

Ex-formula one driver Mika Salo will to share a Ferrari F458 Italia GT3 2013 with Craig Lowndes and John Bowe.

Benefiting from his V8 Supercars links with Nissan is Rick Kelly, sharing a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 with a mixed bag of foreigners from the Nissan family: Katsumasa Cyio, Alex Buncombe and Wolfgang Reip.

Actor Eric Bana, a previous Bathurst 12 Hour competitor, returns to share a Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 with mates Peter Hill and Simon Middleton. Ferrari and Lamborghini are not the only Italian marques on the grid. Three tiny Abarth 500s (based on the Fiat 500) have more than one mountain to climb. Their initial hurdle is to qualify, which means lap times within 130 per cent of the pole car. They’re aiming at a lap of 2:40 to make the cut.

The final three hours of the Bathurst 12 Hour will be shown by SBS on Sunday.

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

Unequivocal convinces Noel Mayfield-Smith to aim high in autumn

On the rise: Unequivocal, left, is set for bigger races. Photo: Jenny EvansNoel Mayfield-Smith is eyeing off the rich two-year-old autumn races with his only juvenile, Unequivocal, after she upstaged favourite Delectation at Rosehill on Saturday.
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The Hawkesbury-trained filly was purchased for $38,000 and proved that she belonged in metropolitan-class racing with her defeat of Chris Waller’s Delectation.

Mayfield-Smith declared the filly would aim high in the autumn.

”Where do two-year-olds go that win? Where’s everyone aiming for? But which route and whether you get there or not is two different things,” he said when asked where the Not A Single Doubt filly would head. ”I’ve got ideas but they’re all in my head at the moment. It’s my one and only two-year-old, so it would want to go good.

”She’s a strong horse and has always been able to hit the line. I think 1400m will be even better for her but she can run a really strong 1200m off a strong speed.”

Unequivocal took her revenge on her last-start conqueror Peggy Jean, which finished third, after Irish rider Padraig Beggy drove between horses at the 300 metres before running down Delectation inside the last 100m. ”You can’t take anything away from this horse,” Mayfield-Smith said. ”She raced well at her first start, showed ability and she can hit the line. Last start when she had to go forward, she wobbled a bit before she got to the top of the rise then she got going, whereas today she just hit it and got moving. He [Beggy] is a bloody good rider.”

Beggy, who secured his first city winner since moving to Australia last April, didn’t panic after Delectation cruised up to him and looked a winner with a furlong to go.

”I travelled well and once Hughie [Bowman] got half a length up on me I still had a feeling in the last 100 metres that I’d get there and I won with a little bit in hand,” Beggy said. ”I had to get out of a little pocket and when Hughie only got half a length in front, I knew I’d make it up.”

While Bowman said Delectation’s first-up run was good, Tommy Berry indicated that Peggy Jean would be suited to a rise in distance. ”She hung in the other day and probably hung in a little worse today,” Berry said. ”She’s still learning her trade, but she’s got plenty of ability.”

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