Late night swimming at Rio Olympics

The President of the Australian Olympic Committee John Coates says it’s time to accept late night swimming finals in Rio and get on with the job.


Coates was speaking to news media in Monaco on Saturday before the 127th Session of the International Olympic Committee.

“The Americans are happy to swim anytime so should we,” he said, “It is time to move on”.

The AOC had questioned the swimming finals starting at 10pm in Rio, but the IOC says the schedule will not be changed.

Swimming Australia also raised the issue with its international federation, FINA, but it is understood the Americans and the Canadians did not support the move.

To maximise recovery time for the athletes following the evening events in Rio the morning sessions will be moved into the early afternoon.

The IOC says the schedule strikes a balance which provides for the athletes and ensures that swimming is broadcast to a global audience.

The AOC says it will work with Swimming Australia to maximise a high performance environment for its swimmers and all of the team.

“We will have the appropriate mechanisms in place at Games’ time for the swimmers” Coates said.

“We need to be prepared to deal with the schedule. All athletes will compete under the same conditions, we need to work with Swimming Australia to enable our athletes to adapt”.

Earlier, before the AOC announcement, the swim team’s head coach Jacco Verhaeren described the late night sessions as “a lack of respect”.

Speaking to AFP at the FINA short-course championships in Doha, the Dutchman said the biggest problem would be with sleeping.

“I think the biggest concern is the life in the village because athletes will return to the village after swim down and maybe drug testing at 2am,” he said.

“They still need to have dinner because their whole time shifts. How to deal with that in an Olympic village where other sports (people) wake up in the morning and you are trying to go to bed, there is a disturbing factor for other sports as well.”

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Aussie coach slams late night Olympics

Australian swimming’s head coach Jacco Verhaeren has described the apparent decision to stage the finals of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro from 10pm, local time, as showing “a lack of respect”.


While there has been no formal announcement confirming this, neither has the International Olympic Committee (IOC) moved to dismiss reports of late-night starts.

Instead IOC spokesman Mark Adams said: “There was no formal decision on the schedule, but the schedule is one that has broad acceptance.

“The games are a global event that will be seen around the world and the schedule has to work around the world to give the best showcase for each sport,” he said, adding “the athletes are at the very centre of that.”

“The athletes are happy in the case of swimming. FINA are happy.”

Such an assertion, though, is directly contradicted by Verhaeren who has guided one of the world’s biggest swimming nations since January.

Dutchman Verhaeren has coached at the last five Games and guided freestyler Pieter van den Hoogenband to three titles at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.

He also oversaw Dutch success in London in 2012 including Ranomi Kromowidjojo’s triple gold.

The Dutchman, therefore, has proven pedigree and he told AFP: “It’s simple. It’s a lack of respect.”

The 45-year-old also pointed to the repercussions: “We don’t know how it works in terms of performance, in terms of health and preparation.

“Clearly the choice is not made for performance reasons. There is only one reason and that is television and money and only American television and money and that to me is not really fair.

“I think the biggest concern is the life in the village because athletes return to the village after swim down and maybe drug testing at 2am.

“They still need to have dinner because their whole time shifts. How to deal with that in an Olympic village where other sports wake up in the morning and you are trying to go to bed, there is a disturbing factor for other sports as well.”

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World’s largest white truffle sells for $74,000

Consider it a bargain: The world’s largest white truffle has sold at auction for $A73,609 ($US61,250) – far less than the cool $US1 million its owner reportedly had hoped for.


The White Alba’s Truffle weighed 1.89kg (4.16 pounds) when unearthed last week in the Umbrian region of Italy, making it by far the largest ever found.

Sotheby’s said it was purchased on Saturday by a gourmand from Taiwan, who had placed his winning bid by telephone.

Bidding started at $US50,000 for the record-breaking fungus.

It was owned by the Balestra Family of Sabatino Truffles, whose CEO told the New Haven Register newspaper this week that he hoped it would fetch seven figures.

“I told everybody I wanted a million dollars,” said Federico Balestra telling the newspaper that a Sabatino employee in Italy “was hunting truffles for us and found the truffle for us.”

Balestra added that the massive fungus – slightly smaller than an American football – was large enough “to feed a party for 300-400 truffle dinners.”

Long after the dinner plates are cleared away, the Balestra truffle was expected to enjoy immortality as an entry in next year’s edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.

News reports said this new record holder was about twice the size of the previous champion.

Nevertheless, the dethroned white truffle fetched far more when it was sold in 2010 – some $US417,200, according to Sotheby’s,

The auction house said the Balestra family plans to donate proceeds from the auction to a number of charitable organisations, including Citymeals-on-Wheels, a local group to feed the hungry, and the Children’s Glaucoma Foundation.

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Messam and Cruden to start for Chiefs

All Blacks Liam Messam and Aaron Cruden are among four faces introduced to the Chiefs’ starting line-up for Friday’s Super Rugby match against the Brumbies in New Plymouth.


The key pair missed last Saturday’s opening round 23-18 win over the Blues.

Messam replaces Johan Bardoul on the blindside flank and will captain the team while Cruden’s return means a demotion to the reserves bench for 19-year-old five-eighth Damian McKenzie, who shone against the Blues.

A third current All Black, lock Brodie Retallick, has been named on the bench for what should be his first appearance since being named world rugby player of the year.

Two former All Blacks will also make their first start of the year.

Jamie Mackintosh replaces loosehead prop Pauliasi Manu while Super Rugby centurion Hosea Gear makes his first Chiefs appearance.

Gear starts on the left wing, with James Lowe shifting to fullback in place of the injured Tom Marshall (knee).

On the reserve bench, a Chiefs debut is possible for hooker Quentin MacDonald while 2014 NPC player of the year Seta Tamanivalu could make his Super Rugby debut.

Tamanivalu’s power at centre was a key reason for Taranaki’s maiden NPC title.

Coach Dave Rennie says he is spoiled for options.

“There is a huge amount of competition for places and we are excited to have our returning All Blacks back in the mix,” he said.

Chiefs: James Lowe, Bryce Heem, Charlie Ngatai, Sonny Bill Williams, Hosea Gear, Aaron Cruden, Brad Weber, Maama Vaipulu, Sam Cane, Liam Messam (capt), Michael Fitzgerald, Matt Symons, Siate Tokolahi, Hika Elliot, Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Pauliasi Manu, Ben Tameifuna, Brodie Retallick, Tevita Koloamatangi, Augustine Pulu, Damian McKenzie, Seta Tamanivalu

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Seventy-thousand Australians assaulted six or more times in a year

More than 70,000 Australians were victims of six or more physical assaults in a single year, yesterday’s release of 2013-14 crime victimisation data reveals.


Female victims of physical assault were fewer than males, but were more likely to be victims of more than one assault, the Australian Bureau of Statistics report indicates.

Women were also more likely to know their attacker personally.

Male and female survey participants, none younger than 15 years old, gave different perspectives about the assaults in which they were victims during the 12 months before the ABS collected the data by interview in 2013-14.

“Strangers were the most common offender type [for males],” the ABS said about the survey.

“Females were more likely than males to have been physically assaulted by someone they know.

“Intimate partners and family members were the most common offender type [of female victims].”

The survey was used to draw estimates for victims of physical assault across Australia.

Homicide – it’s often the ones closest

The Australian Institute of Criminology’s latest homicide figures have a similar story to tell: the people killed knew their killers.

Their report shows that 479 people were murdered in Australia between July 2010 and June 2012, and 187 of those were domestic homicides.

Intimate partners were the most common relationship for domestic homicide to occur, the AIC said.

The proportions of men and women represented in the different categories of domestic homicide were similar, with the exception of intimate partners.

Women were over-represented in the numbers of intimate partners murdered, AIC research analyst Georgina Fuller told SBS.

“That proportion hasn’t changed significantly in the last 23 years that we’ve been conducting [the homicide report],” Ms Fuller said.

Physical assaults decline overall

The ABS Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2013-14 report says total numbers of physical assaults declined between the 2012-13 and following year’s reporting periods.

An estimated 418,200 people were victims of physical assault during the 12 months before they were surveyed in 2013-14, which represents a drop of 80,000 victims since 2012-13.

The ABS described that drop as “statistically significant”.

The drop in victim numbers between the last two survey periods was not necessarily part of an ongoing trend, Ms Fuller from the AIC said.

“It’s definitely too early to tell if it’s an ongoing trend,” Ms Fuller said.

Physical assault data was a complex area, she said.

The ABS said unemployed people were more likely than employed, and unmarried more likely than married people to report being the victims of physical assault.

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Sportsbet attracts criticism for taking bets on Bruce Jenner’s rumoured sex change

Trans* advocates have labelled online bookmaker Sportsbet as transphobic, after it invited punters to place bets on what Bruce Jenner’s name would be if he was to undergo a sex change.


Celebrity gossip website TMZ recently published rumours from unnamed “family sources” of former US Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner that he is considering transitioning.

Since then, Jenner has reportedly recorded an interview with a US television journalist.

Sportsbet has jumped on those details to call for bets on “what name he/she will choose”, assuming Jenner changes his sex and name.

“Fair play to Bruce, it takes a lot of balls to em … cut off your balls,” the company’s public relations manager Will Byrne said on the company’s website.

Sportsbet’s actions would offend some individuals, Katherine Cummings at the Gender Centre in Sydney said.

“Some people are very sensitive about having transgender mentioned in such a [negative way],” Ms Cummings said. 

Ms Cummings was not surprised at the company.

“It’s a predictable sort of subject for them to undertake,” Ms Cummings said.

“But that doesn’t justify it.”

Ms Cummings said some would not be offended, and the issue might be made worse with publicity.

SBS asked Sportsbet about their policies for creating betting markets about people’s personal affairs.

A spokesperson said “we do not bet on things to do with death, religion or race”.

The company has received “both positive and negative feedback”, a spokesperson said.

“We don’t intend to take it down at this stage,” the spokesperson said.

A quick search on Twitter for “Sportsbet” shows the tweets in response are mostly negative.

Sportsbet continuing its casual sexism by gamifying a trans experience. #EverydaySexism pic.twitter广西桑拿,/VjQAgD2vB0

— Helen Barcham (@HelenBarcham) February 17, 2015

Wow, Sportsbet. Taking bets on a hugely personal, sensitive transition in someone’s life. Stay classy. pic.twitter广西桑拿,/Tw1B0s4HQw

— Marc Fennell (@marcfennell) February 17, 2015

@marcfennell @Riotcub This is what this brand does for attention. Don’t give them oxygen.

— Leigh Price (@filtercore) February 17, 2015

Jenner’s rumoured sex change has attracted attention on Twitter before, with The Age deleting a tweet earlier this month.

Apologies to those offended by our Bruce Jenner tweet. Feedback noted. No offence was intended. We have deleted the tweet.

— The Age (@theage) February 4, 2015

Mumbrella reported the details of the swift social media reaction to the “transphobic tweet”.

“Jenner has never publicly stated he is transitioning to a female sexual identity,” Robert Burton-Bradley wrote.

Australian Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson also addressed the plight of transgender people during an address to the National Press Club on Wednesday.

“Transgender Australians face enormous battles,” Mr Wilson said.

“Despite efforts, there are still steps needed to ensure that government respects who transgender people are, not tell them who they are.”

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How tweets reveal our dark side

A tool has been created to analyse the hidden personality traits of frequent Twitter users.


The first psychoanalysis of the micro-blogging site aims to discover what the subconscious mind is really thinking when posts are made.

The tool, created by television psychotherapist Dr Sandra Scott and wine brand Apothic, analyses a user’s most recent 3500 tweets before determining how much of a dark side they might have.

According to a study using the tool, the majority of the nation’s Twitter users (72 per cent) have a dark side – with “passionate” being the most common personality trait, followed by “materialistic” and “egoist”.

“Most of us have some aspect of ourselves which we are not fully aware of, a sort of ‘hidden persona’,” said Dr Scott, who has advised on the likes of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and Big Brother in the UK.

“It is interesting to see how we can unconsciously reveal this part of ourselves through the use of social media.

“It’s worth noting that just because we are not fully aware of this aspect of ourselves does not necessarily mean that it is something to shy away from.

“Our ‘hidden personas’ can sometimes make us appreciate ourselves more and reveal qualities that we like.”

She said even outspoken celebrities had something to hide.

“When you consider celebrities, prolific tweeters such as Jeremy Clarkson and Katie Hopkins, they, like all of us, are human beings,” she said.

“I think it is fair enough to say that all of us have a hidden side, we have an aspect of ourselves we are not conscious of.

“Celebrities, maybe more than most, have to be quite conscious about the image they are presenting on Twitter.

“Nonetheless, just like the rest of us, they will be revealing with every word something else they just don’t want to come out.”

Twitter users can analyse their tweets by using the algorithm tool at 南宁夜网

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Dairy price fall hurts Bega Cheese

Bega Cheese boss Barry Irvin says global dairy prices are finally recovering after a bruising 50 per slide that soured the company half year profit.


Profit dropped 68 per cent to $6.05 million in the six months to December 31 in the wake of lower prices and the cost of investments in Bega’s supply chain.

The cheese producer has cut its full year earnings guidance to between $25 million and $28 million, after previously forecasting a profit in line with the previous year’s earnings of $29.7 million.

Mr Irvin said 2014’s severe slump in dairy prices had gone on longer than the company expected, but there were signs of a turnaround.

“We had continued to expect some level of recovery in commodity prices, that has been very slow coming, but the reality is that we have now begun to see that recovery in February,” he said.

That improvement and the benefits of a lower Australian dollar were unlikely to provide much of a boost to the company’s full year result, Mr Irvin said.

“While we may see some benefit this year it’s really in 2016 that we can look forward to improved global commodity prices and an improved currency position,” he said.

The global dairy market was already facing oversupply issues before Russian trade sanctions helped to send them off a cliff, he added.

Mr Irvin praised Australia’s recent free trade agreement with China, which he said would benefit local dairy companies in the long term and make it easier to compete with New Zealand rivals.

“What the global industry and global food players are now identifying is that Australia is in a highly competitive position to service Asia,” he said.

“There is no longer the hesitation around whether it better to invest in Australia or New Zealand.”

New Zealand has had a free trade agreement with China since 2008.

Bega shares dropped 18 cents, or 3.4 per cent, to $5.05.


* Net profit down 68 pct to $6.05m

* Revenue up eight pct to $553m

* Interim dividend of four cents, unchanged

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Toll shareholders set for windfall

Shareholders in Toll Holdings are set for a windfall after Japan Post made a $6.


5 billion takeover for the Australian transport and logistics firm.

Japan Post has offered $9.04 for each Toll share, a massive 49 per cent premium to Toll’s closing price on Tuesday of $6.08.

If the deal succeeds, the combined company will be one of the top five players in global logistics.

Toll’s board of directors has unanimously recommended shareholders accept the offer, which chairman Ray Horsburgh says represents full value for Toll shares.

Shares in Toll soared $2.87, or 47 per cent, to $8.95.

Former boss Paul Little, who drove Toll’s rapid expansion in the Asia-Pacific region, will reap nearly $340 million should he accept the offer and sell his five per cent stake.

“It is a great transaction for our shareholders, for our customers and for all of our staff and employees,” Mr Horsburgh said on Wednesday.

Kimber Capital head of research Greg Fraser said it was a good offer, especially considering Toll’s “fairly ordinary” financial performance.

“I don’t think anyone will say no to it. It’s a huge premium,” he said.

The announcement coincided with Toll reporting a 22 per cent slide in first half profit to $134.3 million because of challenging economic conditions, especially the slowdown in the resources sector.

In addition to the Japan Post offer, should it succeed, Toll shareholders will be entitled to a fully franked interim dividend of 13 cents per share in March.

Japan Post wants to use Toll as a platform for expansion in Asia, Europe and North America, to offset a decline in demand for postal services in Japan.

Mr Horsburgh said Australia’s recent free trade agreement with Japan would create tremendous new opportunities for the combined business.

Japan Post’s skills in parcel delivery would also make Toll more competitive against Australia Post.

Toll would retain its name and continue to be run out of Melbourne as a division spearheading Japan Post’s global operations.

Mr Horsburgh said Japan Post had made an incomplete and non-binding proposal to Toll in January.

After Japan Post examined Toll’s books, a formal binding offer was made on Tuesday.

Japan Post president Toru Takahashi described the deal as a transformational transaction, with Toll’s businesses complementing those of Japan Post.

Toll had a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region, relationships with multi-national companies, and a well-balanced product portfolio.

“In combining our companies and utilising our collective strength, we will create a truly global company,” Mr Takahashi told reporters through an interpreter.

“And we have plans for a significant additional future investment and further growth.”

Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the Japan Post offer represented a massive endorsement of Australian skills, services and expertise.

“This deal, involving one of Australia’s major services companies, will see a substantial injection of capital, opportunities and jobs, in Toll in Australia,” Mr Robb said.

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Suns’ Gorringe set for utility role

Gold Coast Suns ruckman Daniel Gorringe was supposed to be a Port Adelaide player this year.


Instead, he could be about to emulate one.

Four months after his proposed trade to the Power fell through, Gorringe looks set to be played through the midfield for the Suns in a utility role similar to that of Port’s roving tall Justin Westhoff.

With Zac Smith, Tom Nicholls and Charlie Dixon well ahead of him in Gold Coast’s ruck pecking order, the 199cm Gorringe was played on the wing during a match simulation session on Wednesday.

Suns coach Rodney Eade said the 22-year-old can expect to play “multiple positions” this season, just like Westhoff does to damaging effect for Port Adelaide.

“Having a utility who’s got some talent like that is very rare in the competition,” Eade said.

“Westhoff can do it, but there’s not many who can play multiple positions at that height.

“If we can train him up, it just gives us a big advantage.

“We’re going to try him (in midfield) at stages.

“He can play tall forward – not the tallest forward, not as in the Dixon/Lynch mould, but certainly our third tall.

“He can give us coverage in the ruck, he’s a very good athlete so he can play on the wing … (and) maybe as a third tall defender.”

Gorringe sought a move back to Adelaide, his hometown, during last year’s trade period but Port were unable to complete a deal as they focused on securing Paddy Ryder from Essendon.

After declaring he was “lied to” and “let down” by the Power, Gorringe has resolved to prove himself under new coach Eade.

Gold Coast’s NAB Challenge campaign begins on March 1 against Geelong at Townsville’s Tony Ireland Stadium.

The Suns have a lengthy injury list with the likes of Gary Ablett (shoulder), Steven May (knee) and Sam Day (calf) not to feature until their second pre-season clash against GWS a week later.

“We’ll probably have about 34 to pick from for NAB one,” Eade said.

“We’ll be inexperienced and undersized there but that’s the way it is and that’s what we’ll cope with.

“We might be able to find a player or two out of it.”

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What’s ‘wrong’ with this picture?

The state of Queensland has just accomplished something that had not previously been done in Australian history.


It’s 2015, so what could that thing possibly be? Invented flying cars? Found a cure for all disease? Blended the Big Pineapple into a Huge Juice?

Sadly no, it is none of these.

Instead, history was made on Sunday when newly elected Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the 14 members of her cabinet.

Why was it historical? It’s 2015. Was one of the members a Labrador that had been trained to talk and think critically about policy issues?

No, it was historical for the simple fact that for the first time in Australian history, a majority of the ministers named (eight out of the 14) are (gasp), women.

Along with this, Palaszczuk is the first female state opposition leader who has led her party to victory. Add this to the fact that her deputy is Jackie Trad (making them the first elected female leadership team in Australia), with Attorney-General Yvette D’ath, and you can see why this has made news. Women in power? What next? 

Lifelong Queensland residents (of which I am one) don’t often get to feel like they are on the frontline of progress (as perfectly displayed with the déjà vu dread of seeing Pauline Hanson came so close to being elected).

But on Monday, while witnessing news coverage of a group of ministers standing on the steps of Government House, an unusual thing happened.

It was looking at this group of politicians and seeing more women than men. I was seeing Leeanne Enoch, Queensland’s first Indigenous female minister. I was thinking about the fact that Queensland’s list of ALP MPs also includes the Indigenous member for Cook Billy Gordon, and the member for Cairns, Rob Pyne; a wheelchair user. I was suddenly overcome with a warm, pleasant, and yet unfamiliar feeling. It was something that can only be described as … pride. I assume.

Of course, there is no way of knowing how the ministers will do, especially the ones new to parliament. Only time will tell, as it did with the politically inexperienced ministers in the previous government (Campbell Newman included).

However, no matter what happens, it is appalling that a cabinet containing a couple more women than men is making history in 2015. It is dreadful that the next best state after Queensland is Victoria’s, where women have nine out of 22 cabinet positions.

And it is shameful that equality gets worse from there across the country, with the worst being the federal government, where only two out of 19 cabinet members are women.  And where federally, women account for less than one-third of parliamentarians.

It gets worse more broadly when you consider the amount of women before now who have become Premiers outside of elections by being handed a poison chalice of leadership after their male predecessor leaves an unwinnable mess behind.

When you consider that women are possibly held to different standards, garner more gendered criticism, and are pre-selected in more unwinnable seats, it is simply not good enough.

We should not be in the situation where we feel prideful and amazed that in a country like Australia, where the female population represents a majority, that it is reflected in one aspect of political representation like the Queensland cabinet. It should not be an event that has created history in 2015, like the invention of flying cars or a talking dog would. 

The political system should provide opportunity for men and women equally, and it just doesn’t.

If your only argument against this involves the word ‘merit’, it is shaky at best. It is no coincidence that most of the people who have set what exactly defines merit, and those who have then gone on to benefit from the myth of a merit-based system, have been straight white men.

It is no coincidence that the idea of this system was implemented and sustained by straight white men. And therefore it is no coincidence that the people with the power have so far kept the power.

Men have always been given the chance to succeed or fail. Now in the Queensland Government, of all places, women are being given that chance as well.

Rebecca Shaw is a Brisbane-based writer and host of the fortnightly comedy podcast Bring a Plate.

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Shield loss all-time low: Tassie coach

Four months ago Alex Doolan was batting at No.


3 for Australia.

Since then the right-hander has managed a first-class top score of just 42 for Tasmania, and has more often than not struggled to reach double figures across 12 innings.

It’s a slump indicative of the Tigers’ recent woes which included a forgettable innings and 50 run loss to Queensland in their Sheffield Shield match.

Coach Dan Marsh, a former Tigers captain, described the thrashing as an embarrassment.

“Yesterday was as bad as it gets,” he told reporters on Wednesday after the Bellerive Oval clash finished two days prematurely when the hosts were all out for 121 in their second innings.

“The way we fell away was just so disappointing and so un-Tasmanian.”

But he’s not rushing toward changing the Tigers’ line-up and has confirmed that Doolan will remain skipper for the next round against South Australia in Adelaide, starting on Tuesday.

“He’s got to spend some time in the middle, that’s what he hasn’t done. He’s walked in and he’s got out nearly every innings,” Marsh said of Doolan.

Ahead of the clash with Queensland, selectors made a couple of changes to the Tasmanian XI, ejecting an under-performing Jon Wells and introducing young allrounder Beau Webster.

In a frustrating twist, as Tasmania’s batsmen collapsed on Tuesday, Wells was notching up a century playing Futures League against Victoria in Melbourne.

But that performance won’t necessarily see him slotted back into the Tasmanian squad.

“When teams chop and change it means you’re not going very well so we’re pretty keen to keep the same group together. We think they’re the best batting group we’ve got,” Marsh said.

But by his own admission, Tasmania is already in a bad place with low confidence among players.

The usually reliable Ed Cowan recorded ducks in both innings on Monday and Tuesday.

Fellow opener Jordan Silk managed 39 in the first innings, but added just 12 on Tuesday.

Marsh said his batsmen needed to build mental strength.

“We’re going for a big, long walk up the mountain tomorrow for quite a few hours and we’re going to make sure that if there are any issues in our group, we’re going to get them talked about,” he said.

Selectors will meet on Thursday night to finalise the squad to travel to Adelaide.

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Hockey faces gloomy backdrop for budget

Joe Hockey will be putting his second May budget together against the backdrop of a still sluggish economy.


The latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute leading index continues to signal an economy growing at 2.75 per cent over much of 2015 rather than a trend pace of 3.25 per cent.

It suggests the jobless rate could be still rising at a time when the federal treasurer is trying to get the budget back in order.

“The economy needs more stimulus and the Reserve Bank, with ample scope to cut, should be acting accordingly,” Westpac chief economist Bill Evans says.

Mr Hockey will get the chance to reboot the budget debate when he releases his intergenerational report at the end of the month.

He says it will be complemented by a “very deep engagement program” with the community.

But shadow treasurer Chris Bowen is concerned that’s code for a taxpayer funded advertising campaign.

Having a national conversation is fine, but getting taxpayers to fund it is not, he said.

“It would be highly inappropriate and insulting for the Australian people to do so,” Mr Bowen told reporters in Sydney.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the GST won’t be discussed in any budget debate nor will any changes likely occur after this year’s promised tax review.

A new report commissioned by accountants CPA Australia found that lifting the GST rate to 15 per cent from 10 per cent and expanding that to health, education and fresh food would raise $42.9 billion in the first year.

CPA Australia chief executive officer Alex Malley says the additional revenue could abolish inefficient state taxes, provide personal income tax cuts and compensation for low income households, while giving a much-needed boost to growth.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Kate Carnell agreed that it would make the tax system much simpler and fairer.

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott won’t have a bar of it.

The government wants to get spending down rather than taking the “lazy option” of whacking up taxes.

“It would come out of the pockets of Australian families, who are in many cases already doing it tough,” Mr Abbott told Fairfax radio.

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