Bolton sure he’s backed a title hope with Heart

JUST over four weeks ago, Clint Bolton reached the zenith of domestic football when his goalkeeping heroics helped Sydney FC claim the A-League championship. But while others still bask in the afterglow of that memorable March night, Bolton has already shifted his sights to a new challenge.While he admits he ”soaked it all up” in the fortnight after the grand final, the 34-year-old thought better than to savour the moment too long. Rather, Bolton has already started his pre-season with new expansion club Melbourne Heart.Bolton ruffled more than a few feathers with his exit from Sydney – most notably when he controversially posed in the new Heart kit while still contracted to the Sky Blues – but there are no hard feelings from his end. His energies are channelled on starting from the bottom with a fledgling franchise, just like he did when he signed with Sydney FC for the A-League’s opening season five years ago.”The obvious comparisons you can make is that there’s going to be teething problems and there’s going to be issues that need to be fixed,” Bolton said. ”In Sydney, we had a lot of problems at the start – even just small things, like training, kits and equipment. We’re going through the same things here but the good thing here is that they’re getting on top of it straight away, and they’re listening to the players.”It’s all worth it, though. I can start to sense the buzz, and I look around and I feel this is the start of something special. When you look at the coaching staff and the playing squad, you can see why they’re expecting big things from day one, just like they did in Sydney. And with what we’ve got already, there’s no reason we can’t compete for trophies in the first year.”Last week the Heart literally took their first steps as a team. Of the small group of players involved in the start of pre-season training, only Bolton, his former Sydney Olympic teammate Wayne Srhoj and ex-Newcastle Jets striker Jason Hoffman have played in the A-League. The rest of John van’t Schip’s squad, including departed Sydney duo Simon Colosimo and John Aloisi, will link up in the coming months.Bolton had the option of starting his pre-season training at a later date, but just a year after hitting rock bottom following John Kosmina’s push to elevate Ivan Necevski, his enthusiasm for the game is that of a wide-eyed debutant and he couldn’t spend winter twiddling his thumbs.”The coach wanted those of us who were around to get us together and I was more than happy to keep training. I was in good nick in the finals and mentally I’m feeling very fresh,” he said. ”A break would take me away from football, which is not where I want to be.”Still, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. If holding out Necevski was tough, then digging in and producing his best when it was public knowledge Sydney FC were pursuing Liam Reddy took Bolton to the edge.”The reports were as far back as September and October in the paper about the Reddy signing, so I knew back then my future was clouded,” he said. ”But I couldn’t control who they were talking to. I could only control how I played and putting all my efforts into playing well. It was an easy sell [for Heart] after not being offered a contract by Sydney. I pretty much signed up the next day and knew this was the next step for me.”But with the final chapter closed on the harbour city, Bolton wants it known that he relished working under Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka. ”The hard work, discipline and team unity were what ‘Vitja’ instilled us and we learnt a lot from him,” Bolton said. ”But I’m just as confident John [van’t Schip] already has plans to bring those same qualities here.”
Nanjing Night Net

Rijkaard’s a winner: Neill

EXCLUSIVELUCAS NEILL has described his Galatasaray boss Frank Rijkaard as a ”really great man manager” but won’t buy into whether Football Federation Australia should appoint the legendary Dutchman as the next Socceroos coach.”He’s a born winner as a player and a manager,” Neill said. ”He’s coached and managed the very best and I feel quite lucky to be here and working under him. [But] if I say that that he’s going to be great for [the Socceroos], then I’m having a go at Galatasaray. If I say that I want to keep him here [in Turkey], that’s not good for Australia. There’s a million fans that will lynch me.”FFA is on the lookout for a replacement for Pim Verbeek at the conclusion of the World Cup and has approached Rijkaard, another Dutchman, about the post. Rijkaard’s offsider, Johan Neeskens, helped Guus Hiddink prepare the Australians for the 2006 World Cup and has also been sounded out.Neill, who joined Socceroos teammate Harry Kewell at Galatasaray, has enjoyed working under the former AC Milan midfielder in Turkey.”He is amazing,” Neill said. ”He is so well decorated in medals and appearances, when you look at his CV you realise how lucky you are.”You look at his CV and think, ‘Is he intimidating, is he really strict?’ He’s an unbelievable manager and you’re [afraid] to say a word to him and want to do everything he says – but he’s such a warm and open person and you can talk to him about everything, football and non football.”He’s so relaxed to be around that he gets that natural respect because of the reputation he’s earned as a player and as a manager already.”When he talks you just listen because you know what he’s going to say makes sense.”The comments are sure to further pique the interest of the FFA, which is determined to get the best available man to take over from Verbeek. Rijkaard is one of the game’s shrewdest tacticians, coaching the Netherlands to the semi-finals of Euro 2000 and overseeing Barcelona during their 2006 Champions League final win over Arsenal.”You can talk to him about anything,” Neill said. ”If you have any problems you can knock on his door and see him. He’s a very, very good guy and he gets success by getting respect from all the team. He is a really, really great man manager.”Galatasaray chairman Adnan Polat told the Istanbul Daily News Rijkaard was going nowhere.”Rijkaard signed a two-year contract with Galatasaray and we will be together next year,” he said.Neill said Kewell, who is recovering from a groin injury, had returned to training. ”He’s running around the pitch as we’re training,” Neill said. ”We’re really looking forward to getting him back in action so we can play in the same team at club level together.”Asked when Kewell was expected to make his long-awaited return, Neill replied: ”I don’t know, mate – you’d have to ask him. He keeps those cards close to his chest.”
Nanjing Night Net

Neill talking turkey on our Cup prospects

Before we delve into the Turkish delight that is living just outside of Istanbul, the fact he once aspired to become a veterinarian or even the small matter of how Australia will fare in South Africa, there is a more pressing proposition we have to put to Lucas Neill.Are there times, perhaps late at night, when the Socceroos skipper ponders what might have been? Does he dare to dream about how it could have unfolded had Italian defender Fabio Grosso not fallen to the turf like a man shot following your challenge? If the referee had punished rather than rewarded the most famous dive this side of Matthew Mitcham? Do you still fantasise about how far the Socceroos could have gone in the last World Cup had you not been dudded by the Azzurri?”Definitely,” Neill told The Sun-Herald. ”We were 10 seconds away from taking the world champions to extra time, with an amount of damage [to them]. People will say, ‘it was a penalty’ or ‘it wasn’t a penalty’ and if they hadn’t given it or if we’d gone to extra time we could have won or lost.”But if we had won, the momentum alone and the confidence we gained, I’m 100 per cent confident we would have beaten Ukraine. And then we would have been in the World Cup semi-finals. Italy went on to win the whole thing and got better as the tournament went on.”The disappointing thing for us is the goal that knocked us out happened so late in the game that we didn’t even get to kick off, to react to that goal. We didn’t even get 20 seconds, 30 seconds, one minute, to try to get the ball up the other end and create one more chance to try to equalise.”Our tournament was going so well, we’d gained so much momentum and everyone was buzzing. We felt we had two or three games left in us. And then all of a sudden … gone. Like that.”You know the moment. There’s practically no time on the clock. Grosso dribbles left and leaves Mark Bresciano in his wake. The penultimate obstacle between the defender and the net is Neill. It’s one-on-one.No one had got past Neill all tournament. Grosso tries the same move, which worked on Bresciano. Neill anticipates, slides his body where he thinks the ball will go … a microsecond later, a whistle sounds. One nation’s joy, another’s despair.”It’s one of those things. It could have been me, it could have been anyone,” Neill said. ”I don’t see myself as the guy who knocked Australia out of the World Cup. I do wish that we had a chance to correct the incident, correct the decision. Getting one or two minutes to do something about it. It drives me on to want to see if we can better ourselves, take on the rest of the world again in the biggest tournament in the world. It hurt. It hurt massively. It’s going to sound clichéd, like I don’t care, but that’s football. It happens. [It’s] the way you react to that, and I’ve certainly reacted in a positive way, to now be the captain of the country and ensure that we get an opportunity to be involved in [a big moment] like that again.”We’re happy to be involved where it can go either way again. Get a chance to do it. That’s what is frustrating. Everyone has taken that feeling and has waited four years for it to come around again so we can get back into World Cup action.”In 56 days, Neill will get his wish. The Socceroos will begin their campaign on June 13 against Germany in Durban. For Neill, it’s a very different preparation to last time.He’s a world away from England’s north, having signed to play alongside Harry Kewell at Turkish side Galatasaray.”We’ve got the swimming pool in the backyard and it’s probably only about a week away from being warm enough to spend all of our afternoons in the backyard pool,” Neill said. ”That’s something I haven’t been able to say for 15 years.”Language aside, there are other differences. The pace of the football remains the same, but it’s a different story off the pitch. ”The people here are very hard working but they want to do it at their own pace and their own time,” Neill said. ”If you want something done at 10 o’clock they seem to arrive at 11. I find that quite frustrating but it’s just the way it goes over here. Istanbul is famous for traffic and the ability to create a traffic jam from nothing. It’s probably the only negative about the place.”Minor gripes aside – ”there’s no golf here” – Neill can’t speak highly enough about the club or the country. The food, the nightlife, the people are all ”amazing”. There’s a particularly tight bond between the foreign players, who regularly socialise after training. Brazilian superstar Elano Blumer hosted the last get-together and this time it’s Neill’s turn.”We like to go out and eat or go to people’s houses as families and have barbecues and try different styles of food,” Neill said. ”I’m on the barbecue this weekend for an Australian barbecue. Last week it was a Brazilian barbecue.”But with the World Cup just around the corner, there are bigger fish to fry. The Socceroos, Neill concedes, can no longer enter the tournament as the ”surprise package” after their achievements in Germany. Bundled with Serbia, Germany and Ghana, group D may not quite be the Group of Death but the Socceroos will again have to play above themselves to progress.”In the world of football we’re considered the fourth best team in that group, but ask any Australian in the team if they feel like they’re the fourth best team in that group and they’ll give you a different answer,” Neill said.”The reality is the other three teams are capable of beating us. We need to make sure that we’re ready for everything they throw at us and we can come away with a few upsets, especially in the first game.”We’re victims of our own success a little bit because if we don’t get out of the group it will be considered a disappointing campaign.”But from the perspective that we qualified for a second World Cup in quite comfortable style, we made it look easier than it was.”We were criticised a bit about our style and how we went about it but we got there and that was the objective. We all want to get out of the group because that would signify another achievement and give us bigger hurdles to jump. It’s about building on the momentum you gain if you get out of the group, getting a bit of luck, being in the right position and maybe going on and maybe surprising ourselves and the nation.”According to FIFA, the Socceroos are ranked No.19. The World Cup provides an opportunity to rise in the pecking order, but waiting to crack the top 10 is like waiting for Turkish traffic to subside.”As far as attitude, spirit, determination and desire goes, we’re definitely in the top 10 in the world,” Neill said. ”As far as having depth and quality in our squad, we’re just not quite there yet. Not every one of our players is playing top-level football consistently in big European teams or leagues.”We’re getting there, we’re on our way. We’re knocking on the door. For whatever reason, we’re not quite there yet and it’s just a matter of time. While we’re not there we’ll maximise everything we have and use that Aussie spirit to try to overturn technique and skill, to overpower a few teams enough to upset supposed better teams than us.”That’s something Australia should never forget that we’ve got. That’s what makes us different. We can bring out technical players and they can be amazing. We can bring out skilful players, players who can win games on their own.”But the thing that makes Australia unique is spirit. It’s not just about working hard, it’s the teamwork. No one cares about who gets the glory in this team. Nobody cares who gets the headlines. It’s all about the Socceroos getting the headlines, about the Socceroos winning games for Australia. You can’t coach that.”We’re very lucky to get that because a lot of teams have to work hard to get a blend of our team spirit but that comes naturally to us.”It doesn’t matter who you come up against. Individuals don’t matter. It’s Australia versus the world. That’s all that counts. That’s something we should never take for granted.”Nor does Neill take his lot in life for granted. He has played 15 years of professional football in Europe, including stints at Blackburn Rovers, West Ham and Everton, and gone on to captain his country. Money and fame have followed.Not bad for a kid who grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney. But, in Neill’s words, ”it could have been completely different”.”Growing up, I wanted to be a vet because I loved animals. I was never going to get there with my test results. [If not a footballer], I thought I’d be a landscape gardener because I’d be outside all of the time in the garden. I could start work early and knock off early and go surfing. Probably something like that. Something outdoors, I couldn’t be stuck behind a desk all day.”In his own words: Lucas Neill on …BEING LUCAS NEILL ”I’m taking it all in my stride. I know I’m living the dream and I’ll never take that for granted. I’ve earned this ride, I’ve worked very hard and sacrificed a lot. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved and there’s still loads I want to do with my life, in and out of football. Football has opened up so many great doors for me, I’ve met so many good people, I’ve seen the world, whether it’s been training grounds, airports or stadiums, I’ve managed to take in so many cultures. I’m just very proud of where I am. I know I’ve got a talent and I’ve never been one to rub it in anyone’s face.”ON GIVING BACK ONE DAY ”I’m going to take a little bit of everything and pass on what I’ve experienced. Whether I pass that on to kids when I eventually coach them or other players if I step into a higher coaching or manager’s role – I’ve not decided on my future but it would be a shame to waste all the years I’ve been able to work with [great managers] and not put that back into practice. Why would I want to come home and not pass on everything I’ve learned to the hopefuls of the future? If I can come back and set these guys on the right path by teaching them the foundations of football and the education of working hard, setting goals and trying to achieve those goals through sacrifice and hard work, I’ll be putting Australia in a better place.”ARRIVING AT GALATASARAY ”I’ve never experienced anything like that and I’m glad I have. It’s humbling but, at the same time, great for your ego. I hadn’t even signed the contract yet. To have that many cameras, photographers and interest over a player wanting to sign for that club, it makes you feel special and shows how serious they are about their football. Rumour has it there are 27 million Galatasaray fans in Istanbul. If they’re not Galatasaray fans they’re Fenerbahce or Besiktas [supporters]. They either love you or hate you and I’m not saying you are ever in any danger, but they love their football that much that you’re forever shaking hands or asking to pose for photos. They are so passionate fans of football, it’s crazy.”THE A-LEAGUE ”I’m a big supporter of it, we need it. It’s worrying that there’s a few clubs trying to keep their head above water. It’s frustrating because you know how good football is and how good the league can be; how important the league is for the future of football in Australia and the future of the national team. That’s why I want to get involved, because I know I can be part of a club that can take players from a very young age all the way through to the top level.”  PLAYING THE 2014 WORLD CUP ”Who knows? I’ll play for as long as my legs and body will take me. I’ll only play as long as I can keep up and maintain the level. Let’s see how far it gets us. I’m feeling good and I’m certainly confident that I will reach that level at this World Cup.”
Nanjing Night Net

$110,000 without bowling a ball: Cockley wins ‘cricket lotto’

INJURED NSW fast bowler Burt Cockley will have banked $110,000 from Cricket Australia – despite not having bowled a ball in anger for almost a year – by the time he returns for the start of the 2010-11 season, but don’t dare suggest he’s won the lottery.Cockley, who was picked to replace paceman Peter Siddle during last November’s one-day series in India, earns $5000 every time the Australian one-day team plays due to an injury clause in Australian player contracts.The powerfully built 24-year-old was expected to make his debut in the final game of the seven-match series in Mumbai, but the match was abandoned due to rain before the selectors named the team.His summer was written off because of stress fractures to his back, but he’s benefiting from a deal which ensures players injured while on national duty don’t suffer financial hardship.While Cockley realises some readers might think he’s won cricket’s answer to Lotto, he described it as ”hollow” cash because he’d prefer to be out working towards his ultimate prize – a baggy green cap.”I don’t play cricket for money,” said Cockley, who debuted for NSW two years ago.”Some people ask, ‘How good is the cash’ but all I see is the baggy green [cap] … it’s what I want most out of the game.”The injury payments have helped a lot. It’s the result of a system that I think shows care for the player. Cricket Australia hasn’t put me on the sideline and said, ‘Look after yourself and see you when you get back’ – they’ve helped me a lot.”Cockley hasn’t yet taken any of the Australian one-day gear out of his kit bag because he’d feel ”funny” wearing even the training gear to the gym until he actually plays. The Novocastrian has taken 30 wickets at an average of 30.43 from 10 first-class outings for the Blues after making his debut against Tasmania at Bellerive Oval in 2008.The stress fractures follow the bulging disc injury which forced him out of the Australia A team which played Pakistan’s A side last year, and it denied him a second stint in the Indian Premier League.”It’s been a very tough eight months,” he said. ”I was picked for the IPL and returned with a bulging disc. I worked on my action and while it came good, it was still a bit mixed. I came back that little bit too early and while I bowled well it probably wasn’t as good as what I am capable of.”But I was still picked for Australia A and then Australia, so I was proud to think that I’m capable of matching it with the best bowlers in the country when I do my thing.”Cockley is spending the off-season rebuilding his body through boxing, weights, yoga, running and three net sessions a week under the direction of state bowling coach Matt Nicholson.Tests conducted by CNSW show his fitness has improved to such an extent he’s now one of the fittest in the state squad.”Watching the new guys like Trent Copeland and Josh Hazlewood was great because I know they’ve worked hard for their opportunity,” he said. ”But it frustrates me to think I haven’t been able to show what I can do through injury. That’s made me even hungrier.”
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White knight turns tide for Swans

North Melbourne 8.12 (60) Sydney 14.16 (100)THE retooled Sydney Swans’ tight opening-round loss to St Kilda and enterprising victories over the struggling Adelaide and Richmond sides had created increased, and in some cases massively overblown, expectations of a team still attempting the difficult task of rebuilding from the middle of the ladder.So while yesterday’s 40-point victory over North Melbourne was comprehensive, the tough but sometimes dour struggle at Etihad Stadium provided an early-season reality check. Despite their 3-1 record, the Swans are yet to prove they could challenge the pacesetters should they earn a finals berth.Coach Paul Roos partly attributed the Swans’ start to the season to the longer preparation made possible by missing last year’s finals. ”But we’re still a team learning a bit about each other,” he said. ”At this stage, we are going along nicely … but we all know how footy can change.”The greatest indication of Sydney’s steady improvement was that, on a day when a young, honest North team clung to the Swans for a good part of the afternoon, they were able to find the muscle and a few moments of inspiration to work their way over the line.Roos said his team had been lucky to trail by just one point at half-time, but was happy with their effort after the major break. ”First half, credit to [North Melbourne], they really came out and were on top of their game and fierce and competitive, and we probably just battled away,” he said.”Second half, probably our experience and just the younger guys probably had an edge fitness wise … we were able to keep on going a bit longer than they were.”The Swans’ signature moment came midway through the third quarter when big forward Jesse White rose high over North’s Lachlan Hansen to take a spectacular mark. The resulting goal was one of four in a row kicked by the Swans during a match-winning five-goals-to-two third term.Until then, the game had been claustrophobically tight. It was not until 10 minutes into the final quarter that Daniel Bradshaw killed the contest with a strong mark and goal, one of four for the day.As the bargain basement replacement for Barry Hall, the experienced former Brisbane Lion is more than fulfilling his role as a constant and reliable target. Bradshaw’s hard work in tight traffic – not something for which the occasionally petulant Hall was always renowned – was just as important as his late goals.The Swans have promised and, at times, delivered a more attacking style than last season. Yesterday’s defensive arm wrestle, in which they initially found themselves mired, was not of their own making.North Melbourne, in the early stages of rebuilding under a rookie coach, were clearly eager to put fierce man-on-man pressure on the Swans’ ball carriers. As a result, in enervating 28-degree heat at an open-roofed Etihad Stadium, neither team found much space or rhythm going forward and, when the Swans did find their tall forwards, they were usually far from goal or on tight angles.Thus the few moments of individual inspiration become even more important. As Sydney and North went goal for goal in the first half, Adam Goodes twice burst free to kick majors. Otherwise, most of what the Swans put on the scoreboard was the result of hard graft, the odd free kick or whatever space they could find.There were, however, some more good signs from the legion of the Swans’ off-season recruits. Youngster Lewis Jetta’s composure grows with each game and midfielder Daniel Hannebery accumulated 27 possessions and used the ball well.Kieren Jack had the job of curbing North’s premier midfielder, Brent Harvey, whose speed and creativity made him a constant threat in the first half. But Jack wore him down and had the better of the battle.North’s gifted but erratic forward Aaron Edwards also proved a handful for Swans defender Craig Bolton. He kicked two goals early on but as the Swans’ midfield got on top, North’s attack was inevitably starved for supply.The result was a valuable victory, albeit one that showed the Swans were still a fair way short of the standard set by the competition’s elite.
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Builders rip off home owners

UNLICENSED builders and tradespeople who misappropriate another professional’s licence are being caught at the rate of more than one a week.In the past five years, 46 people have faced prosecution and 300 have received penalty notices for breaching licensing rules in the Home Building Act, figures from Fair Trading show.Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge said too many homeowners were signing up builders without running background checks on them, despite the state government upgrading its public register to make licence searches easier.Any building work carried out where labour and materials was worth more than $1000 required the appropriate licence, Ms Judge said, as well as all plumbing, electrical, airconditioning and refrigeration work.NSW Master Builders Association executive director Brian Seidler said unlicensed builders would rip people off as long as consumers failed to undertake checks.”People spend more time investigating what car they are going to buy than the builder they are going to use,” he said.Peter and Enriqueta Jones fell victim to a builder whose licence had lapsed when they tried to have gates installed at their Rooty Hill home.Mr Jones said he paid Michael Greco, of All Steel Gates, a $1600 deposit towards the $4869 job based on a promise the job would be finished in three weeks.By May, when the job had not been started, Mr Jones and Mr Greco agreed the deposit would be refunded. When nothing happened, Mr Jones contacted Fair Trading, which told him Mr Greco’s licence had expired a year earlier.The department launched legal action against Mr Greco, who was fined $21,000, 95 per cent of the maximum penalty.Mr Jones also pursued his deposit through the Consumer, Tenancy and Trader Tribunal, which ordered the $1600 to be refunded. But Mr Jones has yet to see his money.”He [Mr Greco] was ordered to pay a $21,000 fine, but there was no requirement to pay the money back to us. To me that seems a deficiency in the legislation.”
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Prisoner, 82, dies after 54 years in jail

THE longest-serving prisoner in Australia died in his cell yesterday at the age of 82.Edward “Tony” Rawlins was sentenced to life in 1956 for the mutilation murder of 12-year-old Townsville girl Fiona Verdova.Rawlins, a former stockman, met the girl on the beach at the Kissing Point Military Reserve in December 1955. He bought her lunch then strangled her with a belt after she rejected a sexual advance.A medical expert said at the time Rawlins was “unconcerned with his deeds”.Rawlins, who was 28 at the time of his arrest, spent 54 years in prison. He told a prison rights campaign group in 1993 that he never stopped thinking about what he had done.An alcoholic, Rawlins never missed an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting during all his time in prison, saying he believed “one drink would be fatal”.Although he was released on leave of absences several times for events such as Anzac Day marches, his many applications for parole were always rejected.He was found unconscious in Wolston Correctional Centre, Brisbane, at 6.15am, and pronounced dead 55 minutes later.
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Minister waxes lyrical about verse

LABOR is red, Liberals are blue, getting politicians excited about poetry isn’t easy to do.But NSW Arts Minister Virginia Judge is going to try.She’s even willing to put her own poetry up for scrutiny – and potential ridicule – to flush out potential Banjo Patersons or Henry Lawsons lurking in the Bear Pit.Ms Judge, the only MP to have recited one of her own poems in a maiden speech, is planning to establish a ”culture club” at Parliament House to bring politicians of all persuasions together over the shared love of poetry, books, dance and painting.”Arts are so important to our cultural life and if politicians engage with the arts, it could have the effect of refreshing political life. Culture club will be a good way to do that and hopefully all sides get involved,” Ms Judge said.The MP, whose brother Hal Judge is a published poet, wrote a poem called Waverley Cemetery for the culture club ”poetry soiree”.Poet and spoken word performer Adam Gibson praised Ms Judge’s writing efforts despite calling it ”hokey” in parts.”It’s not actually a terrible poem and I have definitely read a lot worse. It’s got a certain localised charm and an encouraging level of depth that is often absent in poems by people who might perhaps best be called poetry dabblers. I don’t know how much other stuff Virginia has written but it’s clear to me that she’s not a complete novice and there is a real sense of place and atmosphere in the piece.”Having said that, the refrain of ‘people in glass houses’ doesn’t work for me and takes away some of the power that other parts of the poem generate.”In summary, nice job, Virginia, keep up the good work and at the end of the [parliamentary] term, you may just get a gold star.”As part of the culture club roster of events, the Sydney Dance Company will give a free performance of a work by its artistic director Rafael Bonachela on Thursday, the first time the company has performed at Parliament House.On May 3, the Pleinair painting show begins in the House, featuring paintings produced in the open air in the tradition of the great Australian landscape painters such as Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts.The winner of Pleinair, to be announced on May 11, is bought for $20,000 on behalf of the government and hung in the House.Ms Judge has also lined up the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to play inside Parliament for the first time later this year.
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Petrol profits are still safe – for now

OIL companies say they are not threatened that big manufacturers plan to introduce electric cars over the next decade.Shell Australia said that with about 1 billion cars expected on the world’s roads by 2050 – twice the current number – and with the development of cleaner fuel by companies, its share of the car market was safe.A Shell spokesman, Paul Zennaro, said increased choice meant a win for the consumer. ”In the future there will be conventional fuels, biofuels will play a huge role and electricity as well. Our customers will decide the types of fuel they want to buy,” he said.But he added: ”Significant investment is required to move to any new form of energy. It takes decades of effort and collaboration between consumers, companies and government to make things happen.”BP Australia said it would watch the development of the electric car with interest but, because of the current restrictions on battery life, any real competition would be some way off.”It takes 15 years to turn over the current fleet of motor vehicles and the advantage for internal combustion engines is that the infrastructure is already here,” spokesman Jamie Jardine said.
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Ker-ching! Political parties hit the jackpot

DONATIONS from clubs, hotels and casinos have jumped in the past decade to form about 5 per cent of all contributions to major political parties.The total amount has grown by more than 50 per cent at the same time as community pressure has increased on governments to tackle problem gambling.Independent senator Nick Xenophon said the rise in donations raised questions about the level of influence the gaming industry has over governments.”If you give someone $1000, you support them. If you give them $100,000, you own them,” Senator Xenophon said.He described the amounts given by clubs and hotels as ”chump change considering the millions of dollars they make”.The Australian Hotels Association and Clubs NSW are the two biggest donors, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars away each year to both the Labor and Liberal parties, a search of Australian Electoral Commission returns by The Sun-Herald shows.In the last financial year, clubs, hotels and casinos gave $529,096 to the state and national Labor parties, accounting for about 5 per cent of all the donations they received. The industry also contributed about 5 per cent – $289,308 – of the Liberal Party’s donations.Ten years ago, the total amount of money donated to all political parties was $511,940.In 2004 – an election year – donations passed $1 million for the first time. In that year, $1.183 million went to political parties with the lion’s share – $880,374 – going to the Labor parties.The figures do not include money donated by lobbying firms engaged by the industry.Senator Xenophon said the industry was betting against increasing community pressure for action on problem gambling.”This is a cheap form of insurance to keep their licences and businesses going as usual,” he said.He called on the federal government to release the Productivity Commission’s report on gambling which it received in February.
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