Watson’s bowling a big loss

THE only good thing about Shane Watson’s unreliable body is that Australia has faced this particular state of emergency before.
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And Michael Clarke’s team was just fine without its gun all-rounder against India last summer, right?

”For a long time now we’ve spoken about how you need an all-rounder in your Test team, [but] I think we showed last summer that if our fast bowlers do the job, and our spinners do the job, we’ve got a couple of part-timers here and there and we can still have success, that’s for sure,” Clarke said on the eve of the season.

No one expected the ageing and divided Indian touring team to fall apart as disastrously as it did, and no one expects this experienced, settled and disciplined South African side, the best Test team in the world, to do the same.

This time, Watson’s injury hurts, and not because his runs at No. 3 can’t be replaced. Rob Quiney’s consistently heavy run-scoring for Victoria over the past two seasons, and his ability to withstand some serious hostility from Dale Steyn for Australia A in recent days, suggest he is more than capable of doing that.

What he can’t do – Jacques Kallis is one of very few players in world cricket who can – is bowl 10 or 15 overs an innings and make a couple of important breakthroughs. For that reason, the repercussions of Watson’s latest injury have the potential to affect more than half the team.

Most of all, Watson’s absence places additional heat on Nathan Lyon. Coach Mickey Arthur said on Monday the off-spinner was almost certain to play at the Gabba ahead of a fourth fast bowler, but Watson’s absence leaves him much more exposed to a strong South African batting list that is sure to target him as a way of heaping more pressure on the quicks, and in the hope of wearing them out.

The Australian team hierarchy has placed immense faith in Lyon, but he’s had a tough start to the domestic season – his six wickets in four games have come at a cost of 68 runs each – and is coming off a Sheffield Shield game in which he was employed for just four overs because of the seam-friendly conditions in Hobart. If the South Africans get hold of him – and Bryce McGain knows that can be a harrowing experience – much more will be asked of Australia’s quicks.

In particular, the workhorses of the attack – Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus – will have to shoulder a bigger load. Both have strong bodies and big hearts, but Hilfenhaus has little competitive bowling under his belt because of the Champions League.

Hilfenhaus, because of his commitments to Chennai, has had one first-class outing since April, but put some much-needed miles in his legs before the series that will decide the world No. 1 ranking by sending down 39 overs in Tasmania’s recent Sheffield Shield game against Tasmania. Mitchell Starc, who would play in a four-man pace attack, is in a similar situation because of a schedule stacked with Twenty20 fixtures.

Clarke can always fall back on Mike Hussey’s modest mediums, his own slow left-armers or David Warner’s part-time leggies, but none of the three would call himself a meaningful, wicket-taking fifth bowler. Clarke has remarked on Watson’s need to replicate his dazzling short-form batting feats in the Test arena, but his bowling could be missed the most.

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Tough customer given his chance

VICTORIAN Rob Quiney, a blue-collar cricketer about to add a baggy green to his work uniform, believes his forging in Sheffield Shield cricket holds him in good stead to thwart a stacked South African attack in the first Test in Brisbane.
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The 30-year-old left-hander was officially unveiled as Australia’s Test No. 3 on Monday when Shane Watson was scratched with a calf injury, although coach Mickey Arthur is confident the all-rounder will be available to bat and bowl in Adelaide.

Given Quiney raced to the airport almost two hours early when he was called up as cover, you can only imagine his reaction when Arthur told him he would be handed his first cap when the Test summer opens on Friday at the Gabba.

It’s the culmination of a cricketing career based on graft, not privilege, ever since he began to idolise another leftie, Allan Border, as an aspiring youngster.

”I’m very, very happy that I get the opportunity to play for the best country in the world,” Quiney said, adding that he was ”30 years young”.

”I’ve worked pretty hard. This is the little window and, fingers crossed, I can contribute somehow to a win. Anything from this game onwards, who knows.”

Quiney has played 53 first-class matches but it is his output over recent years that caught the eyes of selectors. This summer he smashed 119 in a one-dayer at the Gabba against Queensland and 85 against a near full-strength Proteas attack in the tour game in Sydney.

His four-day average of 37.7 isn’t startling but his toughness, willingness for a fight and ability to score quickly has endeared him to Arthur and the rest of the Australian selection panel.

He opens for the Victorians but said he had no issues batting three in the Australian side. Given his versatility, success in Brisbane could put the heat on openers Ed Cowan and Dave Warner should they show any frailty.

”The thought of batting for Australia, fullstop, I’m very happy with. At Victoria, I’ve been shuffled around the order a fair bit. I’m just happy to fill a role,” Quiney said.

”I guess my last two years have been my most consistent. I knew there might have been a little window when I could try to get my foot in. I’d never given up. If anything, it’s [the desire to play for Australia] probably grown stronger. It’s unbelievable news. I’m stoked.”

Arthur was never going to throw a youngster to the wolves against an attack led by Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, meaning Quiney was just the man for the job with Watson unavailable.

The Australian coach made it clear he does not see Quiney as a one-Test wonder.

”Against a nation like South Africa right now – we’d probably do the same with England and we’d probably do the same with India – you want an experienced head to come in,” Arthur said.

”You can’t blood a youngster against a team like South Africa. We want a guy that’s very confident in his ability and knows his game backwards.

”It’s been no secret that we’ve looked to increase our depth pool in the top six. If Rob has success, he’ll obviously keep his place. A bit of competition is always good and it brings the best out of all players.”

Quiney, an apprentice carpenter, is determined to soak up every moment this week. Faced with a room full of reporters and cameras, he wryly observed: ”The build-up to a shield match isn’t like this, is it? …

”I’m trying to enjoy it as much as I can. If you get too hyped up, too worked up, before you know it it’s gone and you’re back on the tools.”

He fared well against Steyn in the tour match at the SCG but the world’s best fast bowler will be a different proposition at the Gabba, where he will no doubt enjoy the signature pace and bounce of the Brisbane pitch.

But Quiney is hoping his sneak peek at Steyn will put him on solid ground in one of the most highly anticipated non-Ashes Tests in years.

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All-rounder’s injury puts Australia in a spin

AN EARLY meeting between the Australians and the Gabba groundsman has given Nathan Lyon the inside alley for the first Test, but coach Mickey Arthur will reserve the right to brandish four quicks following the withdrawal of Shane Watson.
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Watson’s calf injury takes significant punch out of the top-order batting, but also increases the temptation for the Australians to roll into Brisbane with four fast bowlers in an effort to compensate for Watson’s useful seamers.

Despite an indifferent start to the domestic summer, Lyon remains the favourite to play against the South Africans on Friday, with a spin-friendly pitch tipping the balance in his favour providing there are no weather surprises.

Arthur, Cricket Australia performance manager Pat Howard and captain Michael Clarke met with curator Kevin Mitchell jnr on Monday morning and were left with the distinct impression a slow bowler would be an invaluable asset in the latter days of the Test.

”We’re pretty confident we’re going to get a very, very good Gabba wicket, which increases the likelihood of us playing a spinner,” Arthur said.

He gave Lyon the most emphatic backing possible but was careful to leave all of his cards on the table.

”It’s all up for grabs. We might change. The weather might play a role. Things could change and we go with an all-pace attack,” he said.

”As it stands, we’d like to play a spinner. There’s four quicks probably going for three positions. We’ve got a lot of depth in that area and we feel we’ve got the seam bowling covered.”

Matthew Hayden and Darren Lehmann have been among those calling for Lyon to carry the drinks, but Arthur went to great pains to reinforce Lyon’s position as the country’s premier spinner.

Lyon took seven wickets in Brisbane against New Zealand last summer and has a tidy record of 42 wickets at 27.83 in his 13 Test matches. But he was tonked around the Gabba by the Bulls to the tune of 2-128 in his most recent visit, and his six wickets in the Sheffield Shield season have been eked out at the costly price of 68.

Providing Lyon plays, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle are almost certain to form the Australian pace bowling triumvirate, with Mitchell Starc relying on his status as a southpaw to get him past one of those three.

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Time for Gibbs ‘to step up for Judd’

ON HIS first day in the job, governing his new group of players, Mick Malthouse has thrown a challenge to the as-yet-unfulfilled talent of Bryce Gibbs to become a genuine midfielder next season.
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Gibbs is the type of player that Malthouse has observed from outside the club as needing to lift to ease the pressure on what can appear at times to be a one-man band in Chris Judd.

”I would like to think he is going to be playing in the middle, but it is coupled with half back and half forward but he certainly has to come up that next level,” Malthouse said of Gibbs.

”Let’s break it down in a 20-minute quarter, no time-ons, there is 20 minutes there he has got to be able to do eight to 10 minutes in the midfield, and that is quite significant. That takes half a quarter away from others to give them a bit of relief and to be able to play other positions which I am pretty keen to do.”

Malthouse coached Gibbs in Ireland when playing international rules and the new Carlton coach was effusive of his abilities.

”He was simply outstanding in Ireland, so I know his capabilities,” he said.

”It just may well be I think he has got to be thrown the ball and say right ‘now you have got to run with it’. This is your opportunity to want a position in the middle of the ground and I have got to learn to do defensive offensive things and be that neutral player.”

Malthouse said as an outsider he felt that Carlton was overly reliant on Judd, just as he perceived Collingwood had been too reliant on Nathan Buckley before he got to the Magpies.

”From a distance I thought everything was rolled into a Nathan Buckley at Collingwood and to relieve the pressure on him he had to have other people stand up around him. I see the same when I see Chris Judd, ” he said.

”Coming to Carlton I don’t think it as all one player as Collingwood was about Buckley … I think the group is a bit deeper.”

Carlton are yet to establish their leadership group – it will be voted later in the summer – perhaps on the club’s bonding and fitness trip to Arizona – but Malthouse expected Judd to remain captain providing the dual Brownlow medallist still wanted the position.

Malthouse said he was no longer coach, he was manager. But as manager it was certainly about a new chief executive making clear to his middle-managers and workers what is expected of them.

”I coach on a mentor basis, trust my deputies. I am more a manager than a coach. Nothing really has changed,” he said.

He added that being able to re-start up to four weeks earlier than the grand finalists was an edge he was determined the team not lose.

”We play Richmond then Collingwood … we are three weeks in front of Collingwood technically, I want to make sure that stays there by week two.”

He was invigorated by his return to coaching and to arrive at a club with ”high aspirations” to finish in the eight.

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Arthur turns left in search of ways to stop Steyn

“It’s no secret that Dale [Steyn] hasn’t bowled well to left-handers” … Australian coach Mickey Arthur.THE words slipped out of Mickey Arthur’s lips before he had realised. ”It’s no secret that Dale [Steyn] hasn’t bowled well to left-handers,” Australia’s coach said, explaining the selection of Rob Quiney, a third southpaw at the top of the order, in place of the injured Shane Watson for Friday’s first Test.
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Arthur quickly corrected himself, no doubt wanting to avoid putting an extra motivational spring in the step of the world’s top-rated fast bowler four days before their showdown in Brisbane.

”Let me just rephrase that,” he said. ”He’s bowled a lot better to right-handers than to left-handers. He’s a phenomenal bowler but [Quiney] just gives us another left-hander in the top order.”

The result was a significant, albeit brief, insight into the Australian team’s thinking as their batsmen prepare to confront South Africa’s spearhead Steyn and his pace offsiders Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel at the Gabba.

While it was hastily papered over, the exposure of an opposition star’s weakness was a rarity in this time of largely sanitised pre-game commentary and mutual public back-slapping. Australia, beneath the cover of cordiality and with the unique expertise on South Africa that Arthur has, clearly feel they are better placed to handle what Steyn directs at them because of their stocked line-up of lefties. Whether it is a foolproof plan is yet to be seen.

The inclusion of Quiney at No.3 for all-rounder Watson – a personnel swap confirmed on Monday – leaves Michael Clarke’s team with five out of seven left-handers among their genuine batsmen, stretching down to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade. There are three in a row at the top – David Warner, Ed Cowan and now Quiney, who sealed his international call-up by withstanding a ferocious spell of fast bowling from Steyn while batting for Australia A at the SCG on Sunday.

Steyn’s comparative success rate against left and right-handers backs Arthur’s assertion that his fast, sometimes skidding style – repeatedly moving the ball away from the right-hander – is suited to one kind of batsman more than the other. The 29-year-old has bowled 63.18 per cent of deliveries in his Test career to right-handers; of his 287 victims a larger proportion, 71.08 per cent, were right-handed.

There is a complication in this approach to subduing Steyn, however. While the Proteas pace leader may not fancy taking aim at lefties, his much taller colleague in the South Africa attack, Morkel, loves bowling to them.

”Australia go with 3 lefties upfront M. Morkel will be smiling!” tweeted former Australian all-rounder Tom Moody, now a commentator, on Monday. ”Morne Morkel has made it his duty to make life impossible for lefties around the world his attack around the wkt is a sight to see!”

There was no better example than during South Africa’s most recent Test series – a 2-0 win in England – when he towered over then England captain Andrew Strauss, flummoxing the veteran left-hander by coming around the wicket, with his subtle pace and acute bounce delivered from a soaring release point. At the close of the series, Morkel had dismissed Strauss eight times in 11 Tests.

Three months later, all the pre-series attention has been on Steyn and Philander, the world’s No.1 and No.2 bowlers, but against leftie after leftie the 1.96-metre Morkel looms as a wildcard. The 28-year-old did not play in the Proteas’ tour match in Sydney at the weekend, rested instead after featuring heavily in the Champions League Twenty20, but Quiney said he had been content to face a pumped-up Steyn before his Test debut.

”I think he ramped it up a little bit more to Hughesy [Phillip Hughes] than to me but, from the other end, he was bashing the wicket pretty hard,” Quiney said.

”I’ve seen him as he goes up the gears so I’m hoping I can still combat him somehow.”


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Weighty issue but Williams feels champ has the class

LEADING jockey Craig Williams says he will hold Dunaden in higher regard than three-time Melbourne Cup champion mare Makybe Diva if the French raider can carry his hefty weight to back-to-back Melbourne Cups at Flemington today.
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Williams is ”very confident” last year’s winner Dunaden can take him to his first Melbourne Cup victory and defy history in the process by becoming the first overseas-trained stayer to win the race carrying more than 56 kilograms.

If the seven-year-old can defend his crown at Flemington, Williams said the horse would have to be ranked alongside – and in his eyes ”above” – the revered Makybe Diva, who won Australia’s biggest race three straight years from 2003 to 2005.

To win, Dunaden will need to outlast his challengers carrying a top weight of 59 kilograms, one kilogram more than Makybe Diva ever hauled in a Melbourne Cup – her highest being the 58 kilograms she carried to complete her hat-trick in 2005.

”In my eyes, it would put him above Makybe … in my eyes,” Williams said of a potential Dunaden triumph. ”He’s special to me. He [would be] my first Melbourne Cup [winner] and he’s special. You can’t take anything away from Makybe Diva, she was a champion, she won it three times. If this horse can do it two times with that weight, he’s a champion, without a doubt.”

In addition to the triple Melbourne Cup glory, Makybe Diva also won a Cox Plate,a BMW Stakes and an Australian Cup in a career that included 15 wins from 36 races and earned connections more than $14 million – making her the highest stakes-earner in Australasian horse racing history.

Dunaden, with Williams on board, won this year’s Caulfield Cup and his record stands at 10 victories from 34 starts for more than $7 million in prizemoney. That figure would jump closer to Makybe Diva’s lofty benchmark if it claims the winner’s share of the $6m Melbourne Cup pay day.

The man who steered Makybe Diva to those Melbourne Cups, champion jockey Glen Boss, will be aiming for his fourth Melbourne Cup victory when he rides Lexus Stakes winner Kelinni.

As expected, Boss was quick to shoot down any comparison between Dunaden and Makybe Diva. ”Nothing is as special as Makybe,” he said.

Boss said he not only wanted to join legendary jockeys Bobby Lewis and Harry White as four-time Melbourne Cup winners, but surpass them. ”If I can win tomorrow, and then pull out another win before my time is up, then that will give me the record for the most Melbourne Cups won by a jockey. That’s what I want to be remembered for,” Boss said.

Meanwhile, as jockeys were jostling to promote their mounts, punters were snapping up the early odds at the Call Of The Card. The best backed runner was Peter Moody’s mare Lights Of Heaven, who was backed to win $1.2 million with Betstar’s Alan Eskander.

Eskander offered $21 about Lights Of Heaven, which was quickly snapped up by two of Australia’s biggest punters in Sean Bartholomew and Kingsley Bartholomew, who forked out $25,000 and $15,000 respectively to back the five-year-old Zabeel mare.

Surprisingly, few punters wanted to back the two winners of the race, Dunaden and Americain. A $50,000 wager at $8 on Dunaden was the only serious interest in the pair.

The corporate bookmakers are not permitted into the Call Of The Card but they too were reporting plenty of action yesterday. It wasn’t a local they were coming for, however.

A sustained plunge on Luca Cumani’s stayer Mount Athos forced the horse’s price to tumble and he now shares the top line of betting at $7.50 with Dunaden and Americain.

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Galileo’s travels trace Vintage winning path

Full flight … Galileo’s Choice in work at Werribee.HE WAS a bit stiff and slightly weary after a 15-hour flight from California to Melbourne, but Dermot Weld was in no mood to complain at Werribee yesterday when inspecting his Melbourne Cup contender Galileo’s Choice for the first time in seven weeks.
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To the surprise of the waiting media, Weld refrained from his usual comments about firm tracks and the need for rain or watering, and was instead simply relieved his horse looked as good as it did 24 hours out from the world’s most famous staying race following an arduous journey of its own.

While he faced the same 28-hour flight from London to Melbourne that all tourists encounter, Galileo’s Choice had already been in transit for 24 hours prior to setting hoof on a plane, and spent that time locked in a freight container.

The incredible journey began at Weld’s Rosewell House stables in Ireland where Galileo’s Choice was loaded into a freight container which was then sealed by AQIS officials for quarantine security. He then was driven to Dublin where the container was loaded onto a ferry for an 8.30pm sail to Holyhead in Wales. The horse arrived at 6.30am where the container was loaded onto a truck and driven 288 miles to a truck stop near London Heathrow Airport. He waited there parked on the truck for four hours before being driven to Heathrow for a 3.30pm flight to Australia.

Little wonder then that Galileo’s Choice arrived in Australia a little worse for wear, but minor settling issues are now well and truly behind the horse according to Weld.

”He had a problem with transit fever when he first arrived but he was able to be treated and got over it very quickly,” he said. ”He has improved every week he’s been here and I’m delighted with the horse. He is a very talented galloper.”

How talented will be known later this afternoon, but Weld certainly won’t be blaming the Flemington track should Galileo’s Choice be beaten today. ”The track is in superb order and should be suitable for every horse,” he said. ”It’s a little firmer than I’d like but you never know, we might get a spot of rain.”

It’s 10 years since Weld’s second Melbourne Cup win, when Media Puzzle romped to victory in 2002, and 19 years since his first win with Vintage Crop in 1993 and it is the latter that Galileo’s Choice can be compared favourably with.

Both mixed hurdling with flat racing with success, Vintage Crop began his career over the jumps while Galileo’s Choice spent the Irish winter in hurdle races before switching back to the flat. Like Vintage Crop, Galileo’s Choice had won a listed race at 2800m prior to arriving in Melbourne, with Weld preferring the group 3 Ballyroan Stakes at 2400m to the group 1 Irish St Leger, which completed Vintage Crop’s Melbourne Cup preparation.

”To be honest the horse would have probably gone and won the St Leger … but you run the risk of getting more weight (for the Melbourne Cup),” said Weld’s son and stable representative, Mark Weld.

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ABC’s quirky comedy laughing all way to the bank in US

THE national broadcaster is poised to export a fifth television program to the US market, cementing an unprecedented wave of international interest in emerging Australian talent.
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US networks are already circling the quirky ABC comedy A Moody Christmas, which launched only last week.

The deal would follow similar deals for remakes of the critically acclaimed dramas Rake and The Slap and the quirky comedies Strange Calls and Review with Myles Barlow.

A Moody Christmas is a comedy about a family Christmas gathering. Each episode is set one year apart. It is being described in Los Angeles as an inventive twist on the ”extended family” sitcom.

It has even been suggested as a potential successor to the top-rating US comedy Modern Family, which features three branches of an extended family.

Producer Jason Burrows confirmed ”a couple of offers” have been made to buy the show. ”There has been a lot of interest, internationally, for both the show and the format,” he said.

”Everyone is after the next Modern Family, both here and internationally,” Burrows said. ”And I think Moody Christmas has a bit of an edge to it that seems to really appeal to people.”

Of the four recently announced international adaptations of ABC programs, only one so far – Review with Myles Barlow, renamed Review with Forrest MacNeil for the US market – is in production.

Review was created by director/writer Trent O’Donnell and actor/writer Phil Lloyd before the pair formed a production company, Jungleboys, with Burrows and produced A Moody Christmas.

O’Donnell said acknowledgement in the US does not necessarily deliver a big financial windfall, but ”it opens up a whole new world”.

”Doors have opened up to us a lot more in the US,” he said.

The US version of Review will air on Comedy Central and stars comedian Andy Daly, who is also producing and writing the series.

It also has a high-profile TV comedy director attached: Jeff Blitz, whose credits include the US comedies The Office and Parks and Recreation.

”Review was a little show, an idea we’d always loved, and we were thrilled to make it in Australia,” says Lloyd. ”For that to become something being remade elsewhere, we’re really excited about that.”

Daly believes the show’s Australian humour will translate for American audiences. ”I think there are a lot of people who like to be constantly surprised in their comedy and like to see something new go a little darker and more extreme than they had imagined,” he said.

Prior to the wave of interest in ABC programs, US adaptations have had mixed success.

The US version of Kath & Kim bombed in 2008 and a planned adaptation of Packed to the Rafters never made it out of development. In contrast, the SBS comedy Wilfred, remade by the US network FX, has been a hit.

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Treasurers to consider GST on net

STATE treasurers this week will consider calls to cut the GST-free threshold for goods bought from overseas online stores, in an attempt to bolster flagging revenues from the tax.
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At present, products costing less than $1000 that are privately purchased from overseas are not subject to GST. Domestic retailers have complained that this puts them on an uneven playing field.

State governments, which receive the revenue raised by the GST, also miss out on about $600 million a year due to the threshold, and this forgone revenue is projected to rise as online shopping takes off.

In a meeting of state treasurers on Thursday, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are expected to make the case for lowering the threshold to bring Australia into line with other countries.

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird, who wants the GST-free threshold lowered to $30, will raise the issue as a ”key consideration” at the meeting, a spokeswoman for Mr Baird said.

Victoria’s Treasurer Kim Wells has also supported a lower threshold if Canberra can devise a cost-effective way of collecting the extra tax.

Any move to cut the threshold would require backing from all states and the federal government, and the Gillard government has so far played down the likelihood of a change to the threshold.

However, it is likely to come under renewed pressure to consider the issue from a high-level panel looking at how tens of billions in GST is shared between the states each year.

In a final report handed to the government last week, former premiers Nick Greiner and John Brumby and businessman Bruce Carter were expected to recommend that changes to the threshold to be considered.

A 2011 review by the Productivity Commission found the administrative costs of cutting the threshold were too high, but other experts dispute this.

A professor of taxation at the University of NSW, Neil Warren, said the current situation was ”unsustainable” because it was not a level playing field for local retailers.

”At the present moment it’s small beer, but the thing is it’s a problem you need to address, so you might as well address it,” Professor Warren said.

The simplest way to resolve the situation was to require foreign retailers selling into Australia to charge GST, he said.

Mr Greiner has also called for a debate on raising the GST’s rate from 10 per cent or broadening its base, but this was ruled out on Monday by the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

”We believe that the GST, by lifting it or broadening the base, would really hit people, particularly battlers, really hard,” Mr Swan said.

”And that’s not a priority of this government.”

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Minister halted report: claim

Allan Asher wrote the annual report during his last weeks in the role of Commonwealth ombudsman.FORMER Commonwealth ombudsman Allan Asher has accused Labor Special Minister of State Gary Gray of suppressing the annual report he wrote during his last weeks in the job.
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Mr Asher’s report, which was never published, said the government underfunded the watchdog to the point it could not operate effectively.

It also warned the federal bureaucracy might be more corrupt than was commonly believed.

Mr Asher resigned in October last year in response to concerns about his impartiality, after he admitted scripting questions for a Greens senator to ask him at a Senate inquiry.

His report for 2010-11 was not tabled in Parliament, although a report by then acting ombudsman Alison Larkins was eventually tabled three months after the agency’s nominal deadline.

Mr Asher’s version can now be revealed after it was obtained under freedom-of-information law. It accused the government of underfunding the ombudsman’s work on immigration detention, to the point he could not be confident the public service was ”fair and accountable”.

Mr Asher also challenged the view that the bureaucracy was ”free of significant corruption”.

”Unfortunately, many of these assumptions are simply not valid, nor are they backed by substantive evidence. In fact, there is little to suggest that Australian government agencies are any more immune to corruption than their state counterparts, which continue to identify and deal with systemic corruption issues.”

Ms Larkins’ report omitted the criticisms.

The office of Mr Gray, who oversees the ombudsman’s work, said on Monday neither the minister nor his staff requested changes or delays to Mr Asher’s report.

But Mr Asher responded: ”I don’t believe that for a moment; it’s entirely unbelievable.”

A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave said on Monday the responsibility of clearing a public document lay with whoever held office at the time.

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Jockeys’ $45m super claim to rock racing

THE racing industry is set to be hit this week by a multimillion-dollar superannuation claim from jockeys that could stretch back as far as 20 years.
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Fairfax Media understands the Australian Jockeys’ Association wants the legislated 9 per cent superannuation guarantee applied to race riding fees and barrier trial fees for jockeys. The bill would come to more than $3 million per season and backpay could be enforced for a number of years. If it was applied for 20 years, it could be in the tens of millions – enough to seriously hit the coffers of the racing industry.

The AJA will seek a meeting with the Australian Racing Board as a matter of urgency after receiving advice from the Australian Taxation Office.

The ARB, as the principal national body, would negotiate with the AJA as the representative of the racing organisations in each state, including Racing NSW and Racing Victoria.

ARB chief executive Peter McGauran would not comment on the news other than to say: “There has been no formal or informal approach by the Australian Jockeys’ Association to Australian Racing Board.”

The Superannuation Guarantee Act 1992 requires employers to provide a minimum level of super for employees. The standard riding fee is an employment contract, so would fall under this law. However, the 5 per cent of prizemoney paid to a jockey does not come under the guarantee.

The standard riding fee varies from state to state but is set at $175 in Victoria, which would make the compulsory contribution of $15.75 from racing bodies.

The bill would be more than $3 million around the country for season 2010-11, in which there were 190,258 starters, once barrier trial riding fees are included.

As the superannuation has not been paid, racing bodies would also be open to fines and penalties under the tax act.

The AJA has become a strong representative of its members in recent years, including when it orchestrated a snap strike over changes to the whip rules in September of 2009.

The payment of super would make little difference to jockeys riding at the top level, who are well paid, but would be a boon for the hundreds of riders who are not competing in the big time. However, it will deliver a safety net for all jockeys and give them enforced savings for later in life.

The central argument is that there are 44 race meetings on Melbourne Cup day across Australia and the men and women jockeys, who are central to the show, are not getting the same benefits as the punters on the other side of the fence receive in their jobs.

The claim would also apply to harness racing.

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Dynamic duo put Ethiopia on show for world to see

Couple’s success … Rhys McLeod riding Ethiopia, one of two horses bred by West Australian pair Trevor and Terrie Delroy set to compete at the Melbourne Cup.IT MIGHT have become the world’s race, but the Melbourne Cup is a success story for the unheralded West Australian breeders Trevor and Terrie Delroy.
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Their colours will be carried by Ethiopia over the Flemington two miles on Tuesday, while a rival Zabeelionaire was raised on Wyadup Valley Farm.

“I have known Trevor since his school days and he has always loved stayers,” Terrie Delroy said of her husband. “It is his passion, he is always on the computer looking things up. I go to all the yearlings sales with him and have learned a lot about it but he is the driving force.”

The success of Ethiopia and Zabeelionaire in the Australian and South Australian derbies delivered the Delroys their greatest season and the Melbourne Cup is a bonus.

“Trevor has always been a Derby and Oaks man, he is a bit traditional like that, so to win the two derbies was great for him,” Terrie said. “The Melbourne Cup is wonderful but I think he would put it behind the derbies. But having said that, if Ethiopia and Zabeelionaire are the first two across the line, I think it would change pretty quickly.”

Considering that 18 of the Melbourne Cup runners started their lives in Europe, and only Ethiopia and Niwot are Australian bred in the field, it is remarkable achievement by the Delroys to have two runners come from their farm. “This is very exciting and we didn’t expect it,” Terrie said. “Just doing that parade was fun and Trevor has gone to the call of the card. “We bred two Derby winners this year and that is unusual in itself but to have two in the Melbourne Cup is amazing.”

In a commercial world, the Delroys decided to sell the Zabeel colt out of Kisumu, which would become the South Australian Derby winner and Melbourne Cup runner. “We sold Zabeelionaire because a Zabeel out of the mare was proven and we thought we could sell him for a reasonable return,” she said. “We tend to keep the fillies and we have his full sister, Gondokoro, that is in the Oaks on Thursday, so it is a big week for us.

“However, if we put Ethiopia in the ring we would have not that much for him. He was by an unproven sire at that time, Helenus, out of a mare which was undefinite unproven, so we kept him and he won us a Derby.”

Ethiopia was sent to Pat Carey and he was able to plot a course to Randwick by his fourth start, where he won the Australian Derby as a maiden.

Four runs into his second preparation, he is at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day after running a gutsy fourth in the Cox Plate at his last start.

”I’ve got to put this into perspective,” Carey said earlier this week. ”He could be a rare type of horse. We see lots of stayers come and go, but horses with his scope out of his first preparation, coming into this race … you only get ‘x’ amount of chances to showcase this type of horse and it’s usually on big tracks in big races.

”He’s such a big-striding horse, once he gets on to the big, open stretches, only then does it properly allow you to see the true ability and class of the horse.

”He came through a good, hard, tough run in the Cox Plate exceptionally well.

”He’s a very natural stayer who, in my opinion, will be suited by the big stretches at Flemington.

”Two miles is an unknown for any horse, but if ever a horse looked like he was going to get two miles, it’s Ethiopia.”

Ethiopia only true-blue Aussie

Internationals have been a feature of the Melbourne Cup for some years, but never before has the Australian breeding industry had such a small input into Australia’s most famous race. Of the 24 horses that are sent out today, only two were bred in Australia: Niwot and Ethiopia. Of this pair, Ethiopia is the only true blue Aussie as he is by an Australian sire Helenus out of Australian-bred broodmare Shona while Niwot is by champion Irish stallion Galileo out of Kiwi mare Too Darn Hot.

Here is a snapshot of how these two came to be:


He was bred by Stephen and Anne Flynn of Mudgee, who paid $40,000 for his dam Too Darn Hot in New Zealand.

 Niwot was sold for $200,000 at the 2006 Inglis Easter Yearling Sales.

 He had eight siblings of which four were unraced. Best performed was Royal Academy gelding Ashworth, which won four races and earned $82,550.

 A winner of nine races and with earnings of almost $1.2 million, his dam Too Darn Hot was a 2400-metre listed winner of the Tatt’s Cup in Sydney in 1997.

 Too Darn Hot died in March this year at the age of 19.


He was bred by Trevor Delroy’s Wyadup Valley Farm in West Australia and was not offered for sale.

 Ethiopia has two full siblings but neither have made it to the racetrack.

Delroy’s Wyadup Farm also bred Melbourne Cup chance Zabeelionaire, who was sold for $250,000 at the 2009 Sydney Easter Sales.

Ethiopia’s dam Shona failed to earn prizemoney in four starts. Her third dam Valencia is a group 1 winning sister of group 1 winning sire Vice Regal.

A winner of just one race, last season’s ATC Derby at Randwick, he has already earned more than $1.1 million in stakes from just seven starts.

Andrew Eddy

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

Obeid admits to lobbying minister over Quay leases

Family had a secret interest … Eddie Obeid.THE ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid has admitted to a corruption inquiry that he sought favourable terms from former waterways minister Eric Roozendaal for state government leases at Circular Quay, without disclosing his family secretly held three of them.
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In May, a Herald investigation exposed the Obeid family interest in the properties and reported Mr Obeid had lobbied Mr Roozendaal and another former waterways minister, Carl Scully, during their respective terms in charge of Circular Quay.

Crucially, the government abandoned a long-scheduled tender in 2005 that would have threatened the Obeid family’s control over the lucrative leases.

On Monday, under questioning from counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Geoffrey Watson, SC, Mr Obeid admitted his family held a ”substantial interest” in the waterfront restaurants.

Mr Watson asked whether he had ever spoken to Mr Roozendaal, who was then the minister for ports and waterways, concerning the leases.

”It was specifically about all the shops at Circular Quay … and about them getting fair treatment,” Mr Obeid told the inquiry. ”We just happened to be tenants of a big area that should be treated with fairness.”

Mr Obeid railed about what he considered shabby treatment of leaseholders by the government, because it had failed to issue them with an option to renew their leases.

He told the ICAC: ”What you need in business is certainty.”

Asked whether he ever divulged that his family were among those seeking such certainty, Mr Obeid said: ”I would never put ministers or colleagues in that position.

”There is no obligation on me when talking in general to be specific about my family”.

The ICAC is investigating an alleged $10,800 discount on a new car, which was provided by the Obeids for Mr Roozendaal.

A key witness has alleged that Moses Obeid told him it was because Mr Roozendaal had ”done a few favours for dad”.

On Monday, the inquiry heard there were several instances when the family personally discussed government matters with Mr Roozendaal in which they had a commercial interest.

Moses Obeid, who runs Streetscape Projects, a company that manufactures and sells specially-designed light and flag poles, said he had approached Mr Roozendaal when he was the roads minister after he had been denied a tender being run by the roads authority.

”I wanted him to investigate,” Moses Obeid said.

”It was like: ‘Eric, you run this department and they are a mob of mongrels.”’

On Monday, Moses Obeid initially told the inquiry he didn’t know anything about the Circular Quay restaurants.

The ICAC Commissioner, David Ipp, QC, pressed him: ”Do you have an interest in those restaurants?” Mr Obeid conceded that his family does.

In May, the Herald reported that the family’s stake in the cafes was hidden behind a company in the name of Mr Obeid’s brother-in-law, John Abood.

But in bank loan documents that were lodged with the NSW Supreme Court, Moses Obeid had sworn he had an interest in ”Circular Quay restaurants” to the tune of $700,000, bringing his total assets to a value of $11 million.

Do you know more?investigations@smh南京夜网.au

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