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Book review: Australia Under Surveillance, by Frank Moorhouse

Sleepless: David Irvine said threats to our security were so serious that they kept him awake at night.AUSTRALIA UNDER SURVEILLANCE ByFrank Moorhouse Vintage, $32.99
Nanjing Night Net

I wish I still had that very old Disney comic that showed ducks in raincoats on a beach, hiding one behind the other under a jetty, all peering around the pylons through binoculars. Even before I understood the perennial question, “who will guard the guardians themselves?” I found the idea of spies, counter-spies, and counter-counter spies absurd.

David Irvine does too, he admits, in an interview edited in Frank Moorhouse’s new book. But as he prepared to retire as Director-General of ASIO, Irvine candidly told audiences around Australia how threats to our security were so serious that they kept him awake at night. Then he reassured them with examples of how ASIO was protecting them. I was reminded of a former employee of the US National Security Agency who joked to an audience in Washington that the job of the NSA was to scare people so they would go on paying for it. Australians pay vastly increasing amounts for ASIO.

Shortly before Irvine retired, ASIO and the AFP deployed more than 800 officers in night-time raids on houses in Sydney and Melbourne, which resulted in several arrests but just one prosecution. Was this a fishing expedition that failed, a training exercise, a tactic to scare would-be terrorists, or an anticipatory demonstration of ASIO’s and the AFP’s need for even more powers, which were soon to come before parliament? It may have been all four. We cannot know, because the raid was one of many activities about which we have few details, and ASIO is exempt from Freedom of Information applications.

Two other possibilities: either we are paranoid, or we have learnt from 1949 of enough egregious stuff ups not to trust ASIO. Moorhouse supplies a list of these, and Meredith Burgmann’s 2014 collection, Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO Files, contains more. An agency screened from public scrutiny, no matter how well intentioned, will inevitably develop contempt for those outside its select community, even while it owes its existence to the public, and is tasked to protect them.

Irvine, Moorhouse points out, sits on the Council of the National Archives, and his former deputy at ASIO is the Archives’ Director-General. The Archives, Moorhouse observes in one of the most disturbing sections of his book, are the only historical record the public has of the workings of ASIO and our five other intelligence agencies. Yet ASIO can refuse requests for release of files on grounds of “national security” even after the normal 25-year withholding period is over. ASIO can destroy information, and can decide which of its records to make available to the Archives. In practice, Moorhouse says, that means none.

So what, after Communism, does ASIO now protect us from? Terrorism, of course, and extremism or fanaticism, we are told. These labels are loose enough to provide the national security agencies with the ill-defined enemy necessary for their perpetual operation. They appeal to moral panic. Terrorism is already “the new normal”, according to Dick Cheney. It is an intractable threat that, Moorhouse observes, seems to excuse democratic governments behaving as badly as some terrorists. Yet in the 50 years to 2005, less than 1000 Australians died from wars and terrorism (Moorhouse cites Paul Sheehan), while 134,548 deaths on Australian roads were not considered a threat to national security. Moorhouse lists nine “terrorist” incidents in Australia since 1970. By my count, of the four deaths that occurred, only one did not involve the security agencies themselves.

ASIO has for long had a negative reputation among Australians old enough to remember the Cold War, to have seen their file, and to know if they lost a job, a promotion, or a government grant because of its contents, accurate or not. Younger Australians, however, may approach Moorhouse with reasonable, contemporary questions: if I have nothing to hide, why should I fear ASIO surveillance? If others plan acts of violence, shouldn’t ASIO intercept them by whatever means? If national security is endangered, isn’t it appropriate to reverse the onus of proof onto the suspect? Doesn’t ASIO need to operate in secrecy?

I hoped for answers from Moorhouse’s book, following his prizewinning Griffith Review essay, The Writer in a Time of Terror (2006-7). I found a discussion of what he calls the Dark Conundrum, the sly behaviour of a democratic government that contradicts its own espoused values, justifying behaviour of dubious legality in the name of political necessity and national security. This since Vietnam has become increasingly obvious to most alert Australians. He doesn’t mention the much more troubling Special Intelligence Operations, about which Australian citizens are not allowed to ask questions, and which journalists can be jailed for unwittingly revealing. He doesn’t refer to the Deep State, a linked intelligence community in the Anglophone countries that, according to Canadian author Peter Dale Scott, operates as an unchallengeable, permanent authority in parallel with impermanent governments. He doesn’t cite Glenn Greenwald or Jennifer Robinson, whose views on private ownership of information would illuminate his Conundrum. He admires the leakers Manning and Snowden, but calls Assange a hacker. In fact, WikiLeaks does not hack, but publishes information leaked to it, just as the news media do (and some of them hack).

Moorhouse burrows into his Conundrum, wandering down the dark passageways of his personal predilections: censorship, the politics of sexual preference, the French Revolution, nihilism, the human condition and more. His research assistant advised him to order his material chronologically, but that thread is abandoned. Every so often he comes up from the mine with a nugget of a question, asking, for example, if a secret agency is needed for the safety of a democracy; and whether a modern state can any longer keep its own secrets, let alone those of its citizens. But these reflections are left dangling, and Moorhouse admits his proposals for reform are unlikely to be adopted. Appending an extract from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he notes that Australia is a signatory, but doesn’t point out that its provisions have not been incorporated into Australian law. Neither have those of the Convention on Civil and Political Rights nor of the Rights of the Child. Australia is alone in the OECD in having no charter or bill of rights, a situation our political leaders show no inclination to change.

As “national security” is increasingly used to justify the erosion of such privacy and liberty as Australians have, many of us, like Moorhouse, are concerned about state surveillance of individual academics, writers, filmmakers, journalists, and particularly Muslims. But as Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs has recently argued, the situation of Australia’s democratic institutions is worse: national security is being used to marginalise and overpower the judiciary, to concentrate power in the executive, to allow the armed forces to be deployed as and where the prime minister wishes, and to imprison people without charge or trial. The deep state is the new normal.

Alison Broinowski was a Senate candidate in NSW in 2013 for the WikiLeaks Party.

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

Book reviews: Strange Country; 100 Moments in Australian Painting

STRANGE COUNTRY: WHY AUSTRALIAN PAINTING MATTERS By Patrick McCaugheyThe Miegunyah Press/Melbourne University Publishing, $49.99.
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100 MOMENTS IN AUSTRALIAN PAINTINGBy Barry Pearce NewSouth Publishing, $49.99.

Two profusely illustrated books have recently appeared, both in one way or another offering an account of the past couple of centuries of Australian art and both, coincidently, limited to a consideration of painting only.

Patrick McCaughey is an art critic, art academic and long serving director of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and of the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Yale Centre for British Art in the United States. His Strange Country: Why Australian painting matters presents a most readable account of Australian painting; one which dips into art historical research, but also has a journalistic flair in the expression of strongly held convictions.

McCaughey was born in 1943, and when he was 17 he saw the inaugural Helena Rubinstein Travelling Scholarship Prize exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1960. From then on, he was hooked on Australian painting. His book commences with a quick overview of the modern Aboriginal art movement and then moves into a broad survey of early colonial painting, in which Nicholas Chevalier and ST Gill do not rate a mention. From here the account moves straight into the Heidelberg School, where we encounter interesting insights, such as the suggestion that the swagman in McCubbin’s Down on his luck (1889) is modelled on the pose of Durer’s Melencolia I (1514), but shown in reverse. Such quirky, but interesting observations are scattered throughout the book.

Although on occasion it is difficult to agree with some of McCaughey’s opinions, it is impossible not to admire the literary flourishes with which he discusses some of his selected paintings. When writing on Hugh Ramsay’s The sisters (1904), he observes “The compression of the composition, the closeness of the sitters to artist, breeds an airless claustrophobia. The alternating alertness and ennui of the sisters, bored by having to dress up in evening gowns in the middle of the day and pose in the over-heated studio, adds to the ambivalence of the painting. Far from being an essay in the feminine, the dying painter/brother is under scrutiny of his sisters, even as they fall under his gaze. A suffocating pall hangs over the work.”

His broad brush approach to Australian art history certainly takes few prisoners. In one sweeping overview sentence he notes “Hall and Lambert are now curiosities; perennial attempts to revive ‘late Streeton’ have petered out, and Heysen is hardly taken seriously outside Adelaide.” McCaughey champions Sidney Nolan and Fred Williams as the two giants of Australian painting and concludes with a rather cursory glance at contemporary art practice and with the tactful statement “all of these painters … they stand as representative for many who must go unmentioned …” Much is unmentioned in this book, but that which is mentioned is discussed with passion and understanding.

Although I was occasionally frustrated by the laconic nature of some of the discussion, as a whole, this account of Australian painting sparkles with intelligent insights and with some very memorable expressions in which wit and perception are united in flowing prose.

Barry Pearce in 2012 retired from his position as Head of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales after 33 years in the job. This book is his personal final tour of the collection, pausing to discuss some of his favourite paintings. Apart from personal preference, the 100 selected paintings present something of a chronological account of the development of Australian art as held at the Sydney gallery, a collection which Pearce help to form and develop.

Except for a single bark painting, Indigenous art is excluded from this selection, in part, because he saw his brief as the curator for “Anglo-European Australian” art, but also in part because he felt that Indigenous and non-Indigenous art don’t really mix and when they are put together they do not really make sense. He writes “The intention [to combine Aboriginal and non-Indigenous art] was worthy, but in the end I believe nothing much was gained, other than a temporary frisson of aesthetic confusion in an attempt to identify similarity”. This is not an argument which I personally find particularly convincing simply because so many Australian artists, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, draw on each other’s traditions and it is this, that to some extent gives Australian painting some of its distinctive character.

The strength of this book is that it is written by a person who has the eye of a curator, a person who is perceptive, passionate and at times possesses a forensic knowledge of the provenance of a particular painting under discussion. We are given wonderful accounts about the hunt for long-lost paintings involving ingenious detective work leading to profound joy on their rediscovery. There are also many passages of detailed observation of paintings and speculation on their evolution, sources and influences. Take for example the discussion of Ralph Balson’s Portrait of Grace Crowley (1939), where we learn not only the artist’s probable source, Millet, but also where he saw a reproduction of this source, an issue of the Studio magazine in the Sydney Art School library, and the reason of why he turned to this source, Julian Ashton’s teaching.

Pearce writes with passion on the paintings which he admires, for example Hugh Ramsay’s wonderful painting, The Sisters (1904), which the young artist painted virtually from his deathbed. Pearce writes “The Sisters shows not so much virtuosity or glamour in its dazzling render of gold and cream fabric, as a dance with the brush about transient beauty and an underlying sense of mortality.” It is such wonderfully evocative and insightful passages that make this book so rewarding to read.

Australian painting, which only a few decades ago in some of our art schools was pronounced dead and obsolete in the context of contemporary Australian art practice, in Patrick McCaughey and Barry Pearce has found two wonderful advocates who guarantee its high profile and ongoing viability.

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

Book review: The Peaceful People, by Paul Malone

Stewards of Sarawak: The Penan have survived British and Malaysian invasion of their forests. Photo: Phyllis Webster Only 20 per cent of the Penan people’s forests remain.
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THE PEACEFUL PEOPLE: The Penan and Their Fight for the Forest. By Paul Malone. Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, Malaysia. $27.

A theme in world history is Europe’s great colonial expansion and the resulting dispossession of indigenous peoples. Regular Canberra Times columnist Paul Malone documents the ironic variation wrought upon Sarawak’s indigenous Penan. They can “fondly recall” the relatively light touch of British Sarawak on their lands and lifestyle. With the Malaysian takeover of 1963, only 20 per cent now remains of the primary Sarawak forests they used to roam.

Malone had visited a remote Penan group in 1974. Back in Sarawak in 2006, he was talked out of repeating the experience. His inner reporter was galvanised to revisit the Penan the following year. He filed a Canberra Times story about Penan elder Kelesau Naan’s campaign to stop the logging. Naan’s suspicious death months later prompted further visits and ultimately this book.

The title clearly sums up the author’s view of  the Penan. “The world can surely learn something” from their peaceful society and its non-violent protests.

Malone notes the pitfalls of romanticising indigenous groups. But the colonial, ethnographic and missionary records locate the Penan as “starkly different” from other Sarawak tribes. They took no human heads nor animal sacrifices, lived by rotational hunting and sago gathering not rice cultivation, and kept to smallish jungle bands whoavoided rivers andharsh sunlight. They also memorised their significant campsites and gravesites down the generations, but their kind of land stewardship didn’t cut much ice at the land titles office.

Other tribes thought them fair game. Malone recaps several massacres of the Penan dating from as recently as the turn of the 20th century. Things got tough again when logging took off in the 1970s. Short of violence, the Penan used “every available means” of protest and blockade to halt the logging or at least get compensation. Charismatic Swiss activistBruno Manser communicated their cause to the outside world, but the deforestation went on.

Again, Malone trawls the records, re-interviewing Penan who knew Manser. The Penan being generally resistant to outside influence, he disputes that Manser manipulated them. He verifies Manser’s own reports of events.

The Penan have continued to be further displaced by a supply-side development strategy to dam Sarawak for “inexpensive hydropower” to attract industry. In Malone’s current assessment, a few Penan are still nomadic while a few hold good jobs. Most fall in between, their limited access to the cash economy constituting a shaky exchange for formerly self-sufficient lives. Groups that opted for “collaborative” negotiation seem to be better compensated than groups that resisted logging outright. But Malone visits one village that’s going its own way yet going well.

If Australia has a Sarawak, it’s Tasmania, another island economy in thrall to logging and hydropower. Critics looked askance at the cosy relationship between the Tasmanian government and former forest titan Gunns Limited. In Sarawak, critics have focused on the forest and financial interests associated with Abdul Taib Mahmud, long-term Chief Minister and now Governor of Sarawak. Malone re-presents some of this material. It is examined in depth in the Swiss Lukas Straumann’s Money Logging, recently co-launched in Sarawak with The Peaceful People.

Despite the ruthless upheaval of the Penan by capital and development, Malone ends on a buoyant note. To improve the lot of the settled Penan villagers of today, he recommends practical measures in curriculum, schooling, employment and tourism.

Paul Malone will talk about The Peaceful People at the Asia Bookroom on December 1. Lawry Place, Macquarie, 6pm. RSVP by November 30, 625 15191. Gold coin donation to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

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

It’s time for the states to be the heroes

The big news this week was the sale of Medibank and everybody seemed to win on day one.  Charlie thinks it was a brilliant move but Louise argues that if there is a winner, there must be a loser.
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As the government was keen to point out during the week, Medibank is an insurance company and should be completely free to look after its own affairs. And its first step to that resulted in it putting $5 billion in the bank raised from a very excited market.

It seems like the Treasurer and the Finance Minister were right in claiming that the market would be a much better owner and perhaps this success will make them very interested in a speech given recently by Terry Moran AC – the Secretary of the of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for much of the period of the Rudd and Gillard governments.

Terry’s learned address traced the history of our federation since 1901 and finally concluded that the Federal Government should stop providing services.

An example would be that the responsibility for education should be given fully to the states and an agreed share of income tax revenues paid to them for that purpose.  The roll-on effect at Federal Government level should be a dramatic restructure of the public service.

“Don’t you mean cut,” says Louise.

That and more. The fundamental role would change as well – from service provision to technical and strategic advice. Charlie’s eyebrows went up as he mumbled, “Sounds like we don’t need them for very much.”

Some months ago I argued that our three tiers of government were seriously underperforming. The question seems to be which one to leave out but there’s no perfect solution.  Terry Moran is one of our most thoughtful public servants and he has started to move towards an answer by recognising the key problem – Federal Government just isn’t working as a service provider.

It was a great state leader who showed the way about fearlessly fixing a budget. Jeff Kennett did the job by selling assets that the state couldn’t run well and sharpened the performance of the public sector with more-flexible contract arrangements and importantly, by reducing its number!

So what about our federal public service that was formed on January 1, 1901. Well as at June 2014, we have 159,126 public servants.  “Gee, that’s a lot,” says Louise.  “What do they do?”

The largest is the Department of Human Services with 33, 658, followed by the Australian Taxation Office with 24,274 and the Department of Defence, with 22,330.  That’s not counting the 30,000-40,000 soldiers and sailors on top of that. Louise says, “But we’re not even at war”.

Public service numbers grew every year from 2001 to 2012 under the Liberals and Labour,  with the biggest annual increases occurring under the Coalition and the highest annual increase achieved by John Howard with an almost 10 per cent increase in 2006. But now, thank goodness, the numbers are starting to fall.

Louise thinks its like coat hangers; you close the wardrobe door and they multiply.  Charlie says they come from the drycleaner but he can’t understand where the public servants came from.

And sacking a few doesn’t work because the wages keep increasing. In  2013 the number reduced by 0.8 per cent but wages went up by 4.1! It’s the coat-hanger theory; they’re taking over the world.

Terry Moran is right.  The Federal Government should get out of providing domestic services and let the states be the heroes. And if they don’t do the job, they get thrown out.

And that’s the way it was originally set up before WWII. But the states ceded their income tax powers to the Feds as a wartime measure but the Feds never gave it back and went on to try to run everything.

Time to turn this right around.

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

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika brought to tears by Phillip Hughes’ death

London: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was brought to tears by news of Phillip Hughes’ death but hopes his passing does not turn into a debate about the dangers of playing sport.
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The Wallabies will pay tribute to Hughes by wearing black armbands for their Test against England at Twickenham on Sunday morning Australian time.

Hughes, 25, died on Thursday, two days after he was hit on the neck by a bouncer and collapsed on the field at the SCG.

The Wallabies and England have also lobbied officials for an appropriate way to remember Hughes at the ground and there will be a minute’s applause before the game after Hughes spent three seasons playing county cricket in England.

Hughes wore a Wallabies jersey earlier this year as part of a cross-sport promotion and Cheika was hit hard by the news, despite never meeting Hughes.

“We just want to show that we care in any small way we can,” Cheika said.

“I don’t know why there’s that connection. I’d never met Phil, but when I heard about it I cried. There’s something that touches you about it and how unfortunate it is.

“All we want to do is show we care and we’re praying for the family, that’s all we can do and any type of respect we can show, we’ll do it.”

Hughes was in a photoshoot with Matt Toomua, Israel Folau and Nic White in Brisbane in June.

The Australian rugby and cricket teams then shared dinner, which was organised by Darren Lehman and then coach Ewen McKenzie.

Hughes’ death has rocked international sport, in particular English cricket.

Fans laid flowers at the Grace Gates at Lord’s, where Hughes spent a season playing for Middlesex.

His former English county teammates paid tribute to him, describing him as a “cheeky chap”.

“It’s simple, we just want to show respect for the family and maybe people will remember the man for another moment,” Cheika said.

“Because it’s something so unlucky and unfortunate and out of the blue … it brings home how you’ve got to enjoy things as much as possible.

“No one expects that to happen on a cricket field. It’s about empathising with the family so they can feel the support in times of mourning.

“Remembering [Hughes] for those moments. [The dangers of sport] will probably be talked about, but I don’t think any sportspeople are thinking about that. The last thing people want is to politicise it, just care for the family.

“I’ve seen the messages from English cricketers and that’s testament to [Hughes] as a player and person that he was widely respected. We just want to show that we were proud of him as well.”

Flags were flown at half mast at Lord’s in a tribute to Hughes. Hughes’ most recent stint in England was with Worcestershire in 2012 and he left a huge impression.

“Phil was a top man and will be very sadly missed,” Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell said.

“Cricket-wise he was fantastic for us … he carried us through to the quarter finals really with the runs he got in that competition. He had a fantastic T20.

“The biggest memories will be of Phil as a guy and in the dressing room. He was a top lad and had time for everybody, a lot of dressing room banter and a cheeky chappie.

“Bulls and cricket was what he talked about – probably bulls in front of cricket at times. He was a country boy and proud of where he was from and I think that is what drew him to Worcestershire so much, and how he lived his time here, a small city.

“He wasn’t one for the big lights of London and Sydney, he liked his smaller towns and closer knit community.”

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

Lights turned on for Brisbane’s Christmas celebrations

Christmas comes to Brisbane with the lighting of the solar-powered tree with 16,000 lights. Thousands turned out for the celebration. Photo: Robert ShakespeareAfter a stormy Thursday night brought dozens of trees down, one special tree came alight last night to brighten the mood and usher in the festive season.
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The 20-metre tall Christmas tree, garnished with 40km of decorations and 16,000 twinkling lights, was lit by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk at King George Square, where it will remain for the Christmas period.

The tree lighting kicked off the new Wonder of Christmas program of free entertainment, which the Mayor said is the largest of its kind in Australia.

“This year’s extensive program includes more than 200 free events and activities across the City and South Bank,” Cr Quirk said in a statement.

This includes South Bank’s first-ever Christmas markets, a three-day event at Stanley Street Plaza.

“These will be Christmas markets with a Brisbane twist: the cobbled streets will be transformed into a treasure trove of Christmas-themed stalls draped with garland, real Christmas trees, twinkling lights and festive live music and carollers,” said Cr Quirk.

One distinctively Australian addition to the festivities is a Christmas Cinema Series at Streets Beach at South Bank, where visitors will be able to watch films from the shore or whilst cooling off in the water.

The film series will include The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf, Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express.

At close proximity to the Christmas tree, the City Hall will be illuminated over the season for regular 15-minute light shows.

Also in the CBD, the consistently popular Myer Christmas Parade will make a return, showcasing more than 200 performers including members of the Queensland Ballet.

From December 17-21 there will be a Christmas Fireworks Spectacular, best viewed from the Clem Jones Promenade or Victoria Bridge.

Four days before Christmas there will be a one-off screening of the Queensland Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker at South Bank.

Cnr Quirk said the Christmas program would strengthen end-of-year trade, saying last year’s brought over 328,000 visitors to the CBD.

“Visitors spent a total of 6.5 hours in the CBD on average, and we’re anticipating this year’s attendance to be even bigger and better,” he said.

Brisbane City Council is offering $5 parking for weeknight and weekend visitors to the city centre.

The full Wonder of Christmas program is available online.

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

Survey of volunteering shows Gen Y expects to volunteer in work hours

Jack and Alice Maxwell are volunteers at the Sacred Heart Mission in St Kilda. Photo: Photo: Angela WylieThe United Nations created International Volunteer Day in 1985 to recognise people who donated their time at “considerable personal sacrifice” but for Generation Y, the notion has evolved into personal gain.
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Gen Ys have redefined unpaid work by expecting to volunteer during work hours and award themselves a halo by adding it to their resume. And they want a tax incentive. These are the findings of a survey by SEEK, the nation’s largest website for volunteering opportunities.

Volunteer Day on December 5 is a time to reflect on what selfless means because 46 per cent of Gen Ys believe their employer should provide paid days off to volunteer. And 61 per cent think the government should provide a tax incentive.

To paraphrase 1990s super-model Linda Evangelista, they don’t get out of bed unless there’s a dollar in it for them. The UN must have been referring to volunteer surf lifesavers and firefighters for risking their lives, not those wanting to enhance theirs.

Of course, not all Gen Ys are takers rather than givers. For a generation that is typecast as entitled or lazy, two people rolling up their sleeves are Jack Maxwell, 24, and sister Alice Maxwell, 21.

Growing up with strong social-justice values, they help feed the disadvantaged at the Sacred Heart Mission in St Kilda and see close up what hardship is 300 when people pack into the dining hall for lunch.

Mr Maxwell is doing a post-graduate law degree at the University of Melbourne and has volunteered for five years. He believes small gestures go a long way and can help change the world. “I’m just there chopping up veggies so someone can have a feed,” he said.

Ms Maxwell is also at Melbourne University doing a Bachelor of Arts (honours) and said while poverty and homelessness seemed like an impenetrable issue, working in a kitchen made a tangible difference.

“You do a four-hour shift with a clearly defined role and there is visible impact on these people who need a simple meal,” she said.

Australia is not a nation of selfish slackers because data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on “voluntary work” shows 6.1 million people volunteer for an average 1.1 hours a week. While the motive is altruistic, the SEEK survey found 66 per cent of people believe volunteering is “something attractive” to add to their resume.

Not everyone is out to impress an employer or get a promotion or pay rise. Driven by the desire to “pay it forward”, Caroline Chagas is a 30-year-old marketing consultant who volunteers as a Lifeline telephone counsellor over the needy Christmas period but doesn’t list it on her resume.

“I don’t do it for the kudos or to get ahead,” she said. “It is my personal conviction that I have a responsibility to the world I live in.”

Victoria needs 4146 volunteers judging by the number of positions listed on Volunteering Australia’s GoVolunteer website, which is run by SEEK. The causes span sport, drug and alcohol support, indigenous Australians, arts and culture.

Volunteering evokes passionate responses about “giving back” and doing it from the heart but it can be useful beyond bragging on a resume. One flippant line people use is: “It’s always good on the CV – when you’re in court.”

And when campaigning for world peace and trying to win Miss Universe.

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

Socialites swing into casual mode for polo at Albert Park and Portsea

Spectator sport: Polo ditches the formal atmosphere and ramps up the schmoozing. Photo: Mark Dadswell Spectator sport: Polo ditches the formal atmosphere and ramps up the schmoozing. Photo: Mark Dadswell
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Spectator sport: Polo ditches the formal atmosphere and ramps up the schmoozing. Photo: Mark Dadswell

Spectator sport: Polo ditches the formal atmosphere and ramps up the schmoozing. Photo: Mark Dadswell

Polo club: Nick Myer and Obsession display their skills at Albert Park. Photo: Joe Armao

If there were an investigation into how the spring racing carnival differs from the polo, exhibit A would be the midriff.

Crop tops exposing the extent of a bad fake tan on the tummy were banned by the Victoria Racing Club in members’ areas and the birdcage, but there are no flesh police at the polo. It’s when Melbourne goes all Sydney and confuses “smart casual” with a daytime disco.

Ditching the formal atmosphere and rules, there is no limping in uncomfortable stilettos but parading in stylish-yet-sensible wedges or flats when watching the people rather than the horses.

Polo in the City stampedes into Albert Park on Saturday with 3500 spectators cranking up the end-of-year schmoozing. For the wristband brigade in the Pol Roger marquee, it’s sipping bubbly from $100 Waterford crystal flutes. Land Rover’s “Polo Club” marquee has a gazebo with topiary for its garden-style picnic.

On January 10, all roads lead to Portsea when the Point Nepean National Park is overtaken by 5000 lifestylers. A privileged 400 will be guests of the “Jeep Grille” and watch MasterChef’s Matt Preston flip 400 burgers and sizzle 350 sausages. A further 400 will be in the Peroni marquee that’s styled on the Italian Riviera, with the “face” of the brand, Natalia Borges, flying in from New York. Guest lists are judiciously curated because it can cost up to $450 to wine and dine one person.

Mention “chukka” and people scratch their heads, but it means a period of play. Watching polo players command a horse and swing a mallet has been made more spectator-friendly at Albert Park by shrinking the polo field and only having two games.

Janek Gazecki, a former lawyer who founded the Albert Park event in 2005 with player Ruki Baillieu, said that when polo began 2500 years ago in Persia, it was for mounted cavalry, not the spectator.

“The big joke is nobody watches the polo,” he said. “They watch our polo.”

Cavalry is needed to set up the Portsea event, an extravaganza founded 14 years ago by Dan Vaughan, David Calvert-Jones and Josh Mantello. Jeep and Peroni have created a mini-birdcage with double-storey marquees.

However, Mr Vaughan recalled the early days: “You would pull your car up and have your picnic. Like you see at Werribee.”

It is a logistical feat building a tent city 90 kilometres from Melbourne in seven days and dismantling it in three.

“There is no power, no water, no gas.”

French-born Caroline Vosse, an image consultant at Fren’CHIC Touch, is excited about going to the polo for the first time on Saturday and watching a sport that is foreign to her.

“I’m pretty curious because we don’t have polo in France,” she said.

Polo continues to fight its elitist image given jet-setting players need four polo ponies per game and that costs more than playing football or soccer.

In some ways, the smaller-scale spectacle is more democratic than the Melbourne Cup carnival because the general public can walk up to the marquees and have a peak, whereas at Flemington, they are excluded by a maze of turnstiles.

And every woman can have a Pretty Woman moment by imagining they are Julia Roberts when stomping the divots.

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

Policeman facing domestic violence assault charge arrested

The arrest of a policeman who is expected to be charged for a brutal attack on a woman has undermined Chief Commissioner Ken Lay’s public campaign against domestic violence.
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The senior constable from Belgrave allegedly punched the woman, believed to be his partner, after wedding celebrations in Victoria’s high country turned ugly.  The policeman was only suspended on Friday, a day after Victoria Police was contacted by Fairfax Media.

The couple had returned to a Mansfield motel in the early hours of Sunday morning following a wedding at the base of Mount Buller.

Security footage captured the couple with up to eight other intoxicated wedding guests, “crowded around” in the Alzburg Resort carpark at 2am, a resort employee said.

The CCTV footage, which has been handed to police, allegedly shows the off-duty officer punching the woman to the face and several members of the group seizing the man and restraining him until local police arrived.

The woman was taken to hospital for observation while the policeman was arrested and held overnight at the Mansfield police station.

He was released pending charges on summons, but on Thursday Victoria Police had confirmed he was not yet suspended from the police force.  However, on Friday a police spokeswoman said he had been suspended with pay.

In a statement to Fairfax Media, the spokeswoman said it would be “inappropriate” to comment as a Professional Standards Command investigation was under way.

“Any offences alleged to have been committed by police members are taken extremely seriously and investigated thoroughly,” the spokeswoman said.

The senior constable is one of four Victorian police officers who are facing recent assault charges.

In August, a sergeant was suspended without pay after he was charged on summons with serious assault offences for allegedly bashing a woman known to him in Rutherglen in the state’s north-east.

Last week, a  senior constable was suspended with pay pending his court appearance for an assault in Rosebud and a senior constable was “directed to take leave” in September for an assault at a licensed venue in Lakes Entrance.

Fairfax Media requested statistics from the police force on how many of its officers have been charged for domestic violence-related assaults in the past year, but was told a Freedom of Information request would be needed to access those figures.

The incidents – particularly the alleged Mansfield and Rutherglen assaults – contradicts recent attempts by the police force to clamp-down on domestic violence of which the most recent occurred just days before White Ribbon Day.

In his speech on Tuesday that marked the national day of action against domestic violence, Chief Commissioner Lay promised to provide the leadership “so desperately” needed on violence against women.

“All of us would do well to believe women’s stories…for too many years, violence against women has been one of Australia’s dark, dark secrets,” he said.

“We will work hard to make our organisations and communities safer for women and children.”

Chief Commissioner Lay has been a vocal opponent of violence against women since he took the top job in 2011, calling domestic violence one of the most significant law and order problems in the state.

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

Melbourne families embrace city living

Dentist Lina Okada and financial planner Anthony Lee moved into their Collins Street apartment four years ago. Photo: Patrick Scala Ivan Constable and his partner, Lisa Bakes, with their daughter, Hope Constable, in their CBD apartment. Photo: Luis Ascui
Nanjing Night Net

Ivan Constable and his partner, Lisa Bakes, with their daughter, Hope Constable, in their CBD apartment. Photo: Luis Ascui

Ivan Constable and his partner, Lisa Bakes, with their daughter, Hope Constable, in their CBD apartment. Photo: Luis Ascui

Ivan Constable and his partner, Lisa Bakes, with their daughter, Hope Constable, in their CBD apartment. Photo: Luis Ascui

The suburban life with big backyards and trees is not for everybody.

Ivan Constable, 52, and partner Lisa Bakes are among a growing number of families feeling the pull of the CBD.

They moved into their two-bedroom apartment in Presgrave Place 18 years ago to be closer to work, and have no plans to leave the home where they have raised their 13-year-old daughter, Hope.

“People are realising that as a family, you can grow up in the city just as well as you can in the suburbs and there’s no reason why you can’t,” said Mr Constable, who co-owns a hair salon in nearby Russell Place.

“In some ways it’s even easier.”

Families have long preferred to raise their children in the suburbs as there is a shortage of quality schools and amenities in the heart of the city. But Mr Constable believes families don’t have to look far for everything they need.

Over the years, his daughter has attended childcare centres in A’Beckett Street and East Melbourne, Carlton North Primary School and University High School.

“We can go to ACMI and the museum … it’s a regular occurrence,” he added. “We don’t have to make big trips of it.”

While proximity to work and amenities continue to be a major attraction for professional couples, empty-nesters and students living in the CBD, statistics reveal the number of families with children moving into the city is growing.

Census data shows families with children made up 21.4 per cent of households in the CBD in the 2011 compared with 17.4 per cent in the 2006.

Lina Okada and her husband, Anthony Lee, moved into their four-bedroom apartment at 192 Little Collins Street four years ago and have seen more amenities – such as supermarkets – pop up in the area.

She said she had also discovered existing ones since becoming a mother.

“I think a lot of people don’t realise there are actually a lot of facilities in the CBD,” said the 29-year-old dentist, who leaves her 14-month-old daughter in QV Children’s Centre one day a week.

Ms Okada and her family, like many living in the CBD, shopped at the Queen Victoria Market and has the Royal Botanic Gardens as their backyard.

With another baby due in March, the couple are now looking to upsize in the suburbs and pass on their home with hopes of more than $1.75 million.

Dingles Partners managing director Anton Wongtrakun said there had been a trend of families moving into the city over the past decade rather than moving out, and there had been a greater diversity of accommodation designed with families in mind.

“There have been a number of large apartments developed in the city as opposed to some of the smaller ones, and that allows for people to have a bit more space,” he said.

Yet BIS Shrapnel senior manager Angie Zigomanis said many of the new developments in the CBD continue to target investors.

“If you look at any of the high-rise towers, they’re concentrated towards one and two-bedroom homes,” he said.

“It might accommodate a young family who have a small child or a baby, but once that child starts to crawl around and eventually walk, the majority of that new product that is being offered isn’t family friendly.”

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Unusual illness has Ken mystified

Ken Thurbon is sick of waiting for answers to what he says is a mystery medical condition. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSONA BENALLA man says he just wants answers after suffering a mystery illness for years.
Nanjing Night Net

Ken Thurbon, 81, got out of bed one morning in September 2011 and collapsed.

More than three years and countless doctor and hospital visits later, he still doesn’t know what’s causing the problem.

Mr Thurbon said he regularly had problems with his legs, which included walking troubles, pins and needles and issues balancing, and had passed out several times. He has also had stomach problems.

His fear is he could end up in wheelchair.

“It’s a medical mystery as far as I’m concerned,” Mr Thurbon said.

“I’m a bit annoyed.

“They don’t tell me much.”

Mr Thurbon has been diagnosed with a copper deficiency but his body is not responding to treatments and the cause remains unknown.

There is little research and information on the problem, and even less knowledge among the local medical fraternity, he said.

Mr Thurbon has been encouraged to eat certain foods to boost his copper levels, including oysters, but his condition is not improving.

“They just don’t seem interested,” he said.

“I’ve been surfing the net and reading books to find out something about it, but there’s absolutely no local information.”

Mr Thurbon said the illness had had a drastic impact on his life and kept him from his love of exploring the outdoors.

“It’s virtually shut my life down and it’s driving me around the bloody twist,” he said.

“I just want my life back. I’ve exhausted the internet.”

He hopes by talking about it, more information and a solution will come to light.

“I’ve tried everything from pills to oysters,” he said.

“I get upset, I get depressed, I shut the place up, take the phone off the hook and hibernate.”

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Rivers ready for cod opening

G’DAY fishos.
Nanjing Night Net

Righto, now it’s only two sleeps until cod opening, we’ve had a little freshen up from some rain and everything’s looking perfect, so where are you going to wet a line?

I don’t think it will really matter.

The Ovens, King, Buffalo and Kiewa rivers all look great and that drop of rain won’t hurt.

The Upper Murray, Lower Murray, Murray in between, Edward’s, Bong, Bidgee, etc might be carrying a bit of water but should fish great, as should Lake Mulwala.

I’d say the Mitta’s the only one running a little too hard at the moment but I suppose if you’ve got a line in the water you’ve got a chance.

Blowering and Burrinjuck are both shaping up really well too so instead of writing up predictions as we have been the past couple of weeks, new report should be all about results.

Good ones we hope.

One thing I’d like to bring up about cod opening though would be that rather than having the season open mid-week most of the time, Monday this year, why can’t we have a weekend opening?

At the moment it’s great for those that are retired or those in a position to take a day off when they like to be able to fish that much anticipated first day but for the bulk of fishos the season’s going to be open for five days before they get their chance.

I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard for both NSW and Vic Fisheries boys and girls to get together and organise a change to the Saturday closest to the December 1 as an opening date.

The first open weekend is always huge for cod fishos but I’m sure it would become even bigger if it was always the actual opening weekend, food for thought maybe?

The streams are definitely on the improve.

While not going gangbusters there’s enough small trout being caught to indicate things are getting better.

There’s an odd decent fish about too.

I saw a brown of about 1½kilograms in the Snowy above Mitta last Sunday, never caught him mind you.

It’s one of the bigger fish I’ve seen up there for a long, long time.

I fished for only a couple of hours but managed two little blokes and spotted another half a dozen or so.

There was the odd fish rising and I’ve heard similar reports from the Kiewa and Buffalo.

They’re not back to normal just yet but they’re certainly picking up.

It seems there’s a few yellas about anywhere you want to talk about too.

Eildon, Burrinjuck and all the rivers in between have been fishing well for goldens by reports we’re getting at Compleat Angler.

The river around Albury is no exception.

We’ve had numerous reports of yellas on both bait and lure so it’d be worth a shot going out even if you’ve only got that hour or two.

We’re still getting reasonable reports on reddies in Lake Hume too.

When I say “reasonable” I mean some great reports and some not so great.

One bloke nailed more than 50 in a session with 30 of those being more than 500grams, while we still get reports of bugger all and lots of reports of four, 10, 15, etc.

It’s the same old story, right spot, right time.

While there’s quite a few nice fish being trolled, the bigger numbers seem to be coming in on bait, yabbies in particular and try and keep in that 10-metre mark.

Anyhow, have a good one, catch ya next week.

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

Police arrest man over headbutt

A MAN has been hospitalised after being headbutted in a fight at the Birallee Tavern.
Nanjing Night Net

Police arrested a 22-year-old Wodonga man last night.

Leading Sen-Constable Chris Grimmett said while police were yet to determine exactly what had occurred, officers had been told the man had headbutted another man.

“Any injuries sustained are believed to have been caused by bodily force,” he said.

“There was a disturbance at the hotel and a man has been assaulted by another man.

“That person is in custody pending interview.”

Sen-Constable Grimmett said multiple people had been involved in the incident, with early indications some had been at the Wodonga Gold Cup during the day.

The incident occurred about 7pm last night and police will review security footage to determine exactly what occurred.

“It’s not a common occurrence,” he said.

“Any act of violence, especially where a person has to go to hospital, is of concern to us.

“Acts of violence involving alcohol at and around licenced premises are always concerning.”

Sen-Constable Grimmett urged witnesses to contact police.

‘This one’s for dad,’ emotional Brian Cox saysCox choked back tears after Minnie Downs handed him his first Wodonga Cup success without his father and long-time mentor, Ollie, by his side.

Public holiday a gold winner for Wodonga CupRacegoershave made the most of a new public holiday, with crowd numbers doubling at yesterday’s Wodonga Gold Cup.

Police arrest man over headbuttA man has been hospitalised after being headbutted in a fight at the Birallee Tavern. The man was believed to have come from the races.

Cav rues Wodonga bad luck as Pedro retiresWodonga Gold Cup day is fast proving to be a nightmare for Albury trainer Brett Cavanough.

“I’m a bit like the Albury Football Club. You lose two but you just go and find another two to replace them.”

Wilscott holds off challengeWilscottfinally delivered on his promise in landing the feature sprint on Wodonga Gold Cup Day for premier trainer Brian Cox.

“Hopefully the drought is well and truly over.”

Aalbers in exclusive companyVeteran horsewoman Liz Aalbers has been made a life member of the Wodonga Turf Club.

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