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Banks are failing in their obligations to cancel direct debits

It seems everything is a subscription these days. If I scan through my bank statements, there are recurring payments not just for our mortgage and basic bills but also for everything from Spotify, Netflix and Audible to Aussie Farmers Direct for the basis of our weekly grocery shop and the local swimming pool. Even the balances for my public transport card and toll road account are automatically topped up.
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I’m not alone. Zuora’s Subscription Economy Index from June 2017 suggests US-based subscription businesses are growing five times faster than US retail sales – 15.2 per cent a year versus 3.4 per cent. Granted, Zuora is a software company that provides a subscription platform for businesses, so it’s not an impartial observer, but there’s definitely something in it – and it would be similar in .

Of course, businesses love subscriptions because it’s regular revenue they can rely on. Sure, some customers cancel from time to time but most don’t, so a subscription business model evens out the peaks and troughs of cash flow. Combine it with auto-renew, and you’re on to a winner!

It’s the same reason that most charities don’t send people out on to the street or door to door to collect cash donations – they want people to pledge to regular giving. (It’s better to go direct though, so the charity doesn’t have to pay a cut to the agency).

But is the shift to the so-called subscription economy such a great thing for consumers? If it means more revenue for businesses, that means consumers are spending more without making a clear decision to do so.

If a substantial amount of your monthly spending is pre-committed, it gives you less freedom to manoeuvre if extra expenses come up or you want to boost your savings. It’s disempowering, and this is a particular concern given almost one in three ns report financial stress.

Yes, some services are only available through subscription, and there’s a serious convenience factor to automated payment especially if you’re forgetful and disorganised and might forget to pay your bills. But if you’re trying to budget, reviewing your direct debits is a good place to start.

The problem is cancelling direct debits can be a pain. Most of the time, banks fob you off by telling you to contact the merchant.

If you listen, you’re at the mercy of individual businesses’ goodwill and efficiency. Some businesses such as Netflix make it easy to pause a subscription. Other businesses make it as hard as possible for the customer to leave – the notice periods are unreasonably long and you have to call by phone during office hours and endure a hard sell or, worse, attend in person and fill out a form. Gyms are notorious for this.

But many people don’t know that banks are obliged to process cancellations themselves if the direct debit was set up with a BSB and account number. If the bank tells you they can’t, or that you should contact the merchant, they’re in breach of the banking code.

Unfortunately it seems many bank staff don’t know this either. The Banking Code Compliance Monitoring Committee recently published the results of a mystery shopping exercise involving 15 bank brands (across 12 banking groups). The mystery shoppers either phoned bank contact centres or visited bank branches in and around Melbourne to inquire whether they could cancel a direct debt with a merchant such as a gym, and the results were published in the report Improving banks’ compliance with direct debit cancellation obligations.

Most bank staff gave wrong advice. In 54 per cent of cases, the staff either told the mystery shopper they should contact the merchant first (or it would be easier) or stated that the bank could not cancel a direct debit at all.

This was better than in 2008, where nearly four out of five bank staff gave the wrong advice or 2011 where two out three staff did. But it’s still unacceptably high.

Staff in contact centres gave the correct advice more than half the time, while staff in branches nearly always gave the wrong information.

Seven banks told the committee they collectively received more than 15,500 direct debit cancellation requests a month. The report suggests the real figure is likely to be much higher as five banks were unable to provide data, including one major bank.

Failing to cancel a direct debit when requested can have devastating consequences for someone in financial trouble – they might wind up overdrawing their account or having transactions dishonoured, resulting in additional fees and charges from both the bank and the merchant, and loss of funds needed for other purposes.

Unfortunately direct debits set up using the long number on a credit or debit card are not covered by the banking code. The Banking Code Compliance Monitoring Committee has recommended banks work with card providers to find a way to let consumers cancel these direct debits with the bank rather than the merchant, but so far only one unnamed bank has done so.

The report states there are more than 50 million direct debit transactions a month covered by the code. Committee chief executive Sally Davis told me she does not have a figure for how many direct debit transactions there are through credit and debit cards.

I believe it would be higher still, since the card number is printed on the card but looking up your BSB and account number usually requires a few extra steps – time you might not have when you’re on the phone to a provider or signing up to a service through your smartphone.

The report from the committee makes several recommendations for the banks, from publishing clear guidance on their websites to adding functionality to online banking.

In the meantime, consumers should use direct debit sparingly, and sign up with their BSB and account number rather than their credit card where possible. If the need arises, call the contact centre to cancel it rather than popping into the local branch.

Caitlin Fitzsimmons is the editor of Money. Facebook: @caitlinfitzsimmons. Twitter: @niltiac


25/04/2020 0

Scrutiny after ‘violent’ reaction in noise test

A New Zealand university is investigating the conduct of researchers who let the subject of a “noise sensitisation” experiment drive a vehicle despite experiencing a “severe” response after visiting a wind farm in NSW.
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Massey University said it had already undertaken an “educative review” with two researchers – among the four in total – who teach at the institution.

“Retraction of the research is an option open to the university,” Giselle Byrnes, an assistant vice-chancellor at Massey, said in a letter responding to a complaint about the study.

One issue is the lack of an ethics review of the study before it was conducted, a standard requirement for experiments involving humans.

Scientist have also raised concern about the standard of the non peer-reviewed paper – Cross-sensitisation to infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN) – presented in June in Zurich, Switzerland, to the triennial gathering of the International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise.

Partly funded by the Waubra Foundation, an n anti-wind farm lobby, the work’s presentation at a global accoustics gathering has given it a sheen of credibility. Copies are understood to have begun circulating to residents near a proposed wind farm in Victoria, one government scientist said.

Its authors include Bruce Rapley, a Massey graduate and noise consultant. Dr Rapley stirred controversy in 2015 when he told a Senate inquiry “the adverse health effects of wind turbines will eclipse the asbestos problem”. He also likened the wind industry’s tactics to Adolf Hitler. Wild ride

The paper is based on the travails of a couple who claimed to have developed a range of health complaints from nausea and shortness of breath after moving close to a coal mine and power stations near Lithgow, west of the Blue Mountains.

Part of the experiment involved having the “noise-sensitised” couple drive researchers 160 kilometres to Taralga, a Southern Tablelands town located a few kilometres from a large wind farm.

“At the very end of a long day that had been disappointing scientifically in that very few of [wind turbines] in the visited area were operating”, an “episode” began when “Mrs T” got out of the car to visit local public toilets, the paper said.

After passing down a corridor between buildings, Mrs T “experienced a sudden reaction of nausea” and began “swaying like a ship at sea”,, the paper stated.

(See images from the paper below.)

The group returned to the car. “Mr T”, the other subject, drove a kilometre before the toilet block suddenly became visible again. He “reacted violently and instantly”, before jumping from the vehicle and dry retching in the middle of the road.

“The entire team was shocked at this physical reaction, as the onset was so rapid and so physiologically violent,” the paper said.

Mr T was allowed to resume driving, but after moving “forward a few metres”, he made “an emergency stop”, where he dry-retched “uncontrollably for about five minutes”. Mr T then “recovered sufficiently” to drive them all back home. ‘Totally incredible’

While not explicitly blaming the wind turbines, the researcher who presented the paper – Lisbon-based academic and one of its authors, Mariana Alves-Pereira – showed the Zurich audience a slide of the turbines and their distance from Taralga.

“The implication [of blame] was very strong because these wind farms were in the vicinity,” said Norm Broner, a former president of the n Acoustical Society, who was at the Zurich event. “This was just totally incredible.”

Simon Chapman, a Sydney University professor emeritus of public health who raised the complaint, was confirmed in writing by Massey University the researchers had failed to submit research plans to its ethics committee.

“Your complaint has … raised serious and significant questions about the apparent lack of ethical approval,” Professor Byrnes said in the letter.

Fairfax understands Massey is trying to determine whether the paper was conducted in a private capacity, which could limit its ability to censure the researchers.

“Massey University would be highly embarrassed that this bizarre and potentially dangerous exercise escaped their ethical review and got paraded at a prestigious international meeting,” Professor Chapman said, adding that letting their subject drive also placed them and other road users at risk.

“If he had injured himself, them or the public, damage and costs could have been catastrophic.”

Several of the researchers involved were “doyens of the anti-wind farm lobby”, a movement he details at length in a soon-to-be-published book, Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Communicated Disease.

Dr Bakker, one of the two Massey academics, declined to comment to Fairfax Media. Fairfax also sought comment from the Wahbra Foundation, which helped pay the researchers’ travel costs, and Dr Rapley.

Jeff Parnell, chairman of the NSW division of the AAS, said the Zurich paper was among “the most scientifically flawed papers I have ever read”.

“What is most concerning is the level of anxiety that occurs in a community following such scaremongering,” he said. “Unfortunately, the AAS struggles to take action against these individuals, particularly if they do not belong to a reputable acoustic consultancy or academic institution”

Dr Broner, who is on the ICBEN board, said the organisation may withdraw the paper if Massey University rules against it: “I think the board will be interested in that.”

He said organisers were in a dilemma about such papers. To ban their presentation “might be the best decision but what will happen as a result, of course, is that these people go and say, ‘the community doesn’t want to hear the truth'”.

“My personal decision is [to] let them talk, and hopefully there are people in the audience who recognise what they’ve been told is bullshit”, with no substantial data to back the work up.


25/04/2020 0

Women’s Ashes: Ellyse Perry scores unbeaten double ton as China take command

Cracking knock: Ellyse Perry salutes the crowd after reaching triple figures. Photo: AAP???Ellyse Perry’s masterful and unbeaten double century rewrote the history books and took to the brink of retaining the Ashes against a forlorn England at North Sydney Oval.
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The superstar batted and batted and batted on Saturday, notching her maiden international century in the first session, progressing without error to the dinner break and then advancing to 213 not out from 374 balls before captain Rachael Haynes declared her side’s innings closed at 9-448.

A demoralised England showed some late fight in front of 3932 fans and will resume on Sunday at 0-40 after negotiating a tricky 17 overs under lights, during which Alyssa Healy spilled a tough chance behind the stumps from Tammy Beaumont off Amanda-Jade Wellington’s teasing leg spin.

But this day will forever be remembered as the Perry show. She had several partners along the way and enjoyed century stands with good mate Healy (45) and debutant Tahlia McGrath (47) before No.11 Megan Schutt played her role at the end and coaxed her through the magical 200 barrier.

“It was fun, I think that’s probably the best way to describe it,” Perry said.

“I had an amazing time out there today batting with all the girls and just taking in what was such a special day – the crowd attendance, it being the pink day, day three, just a really great event for women’s cricket.”

The standing ovation she received after dispatching Sophie Ecclestone to the boundary with a trademark straight drive was her second of the evening.

In the previous over, while on 194, Perry clobbered a ball over mid-wicket and initially celebrated thinking she had cleared the rope.

Making good decisions: Perry plays a shot during her innings. Photo: AAP

It had fallen agonisingly short and the celebrations were put on ice, but only momentarily. Perry worked a single, Schutt survived the last two balls of the over and moments later the crowd was back on their feet when Ecclestone was hit to the boundary.

“It came out of the middle OK, but the crowd just completely fooled me,” Perry said.

“I lost sight of it as it went over. There’s a little bit of a drop off where the boundary is so I didn’t really see where it landed. The guys on the hill kind of cheered like it was six, so I just went with it.

“It wasn’t until all my theatrics finished that the umpires mentioned they were checking to see whether it went for six.

“I kind of felt like, well, it’s already happened once so I’m not particularly fazed what happens after it. Whether I got a fake two hundred or a real one didn’t really matter at that stage.”

Perry is just the seventh double centurion in women’s Test cricket and her knock was the third highest of all time.

It was the highest Test score in and beat Karen Rolton’s previous mark of 209 not out as the best innings by an n.

Perry is also the only sportsperson to have scored a Test century and scored a goal at a soccer World Cup.

‘s 9-448 was the eighth highest score in Tests and the third most by an n side.

When England finally came back to the crease for the second time this match, they were 168 runs in arrears and facing a final day of survival to retain any hope of winning the Ashes.

Should win the Test, they’ll take an unassailable lead in the series and the urn will remain in their keeping.

Perry’s fine knock was as important as it was exquisite.

slumped to 3-61 on day two and resumed on Saturday at 5-177, still needing 103 runs to reach parity with England.

When play resumed Perry was on 70 and immediately played with purpose, looking to up the sluggish run rate that had been a theme of the match to that point.

When she tucked one away to fine leg for four and reached her century, she enjoyed an emotional embrace with Healy.

“We’ve played cricket together since we were about nine years old,” Perry said. “I very much consider Midge [Healy] a sister. It was very special to be out there with her and to share that with her.

“More than anything I thought she batted exceptionally well last night and again this morning and really set the tone for us. We got some momentum back early on which was great.”

???This was a watershed moment for Perry, a maiden international century more than a decade in the making, and it came on Test cricket’s biggest stage.

Prior to her latest knock she had passed 50 on 28 occasions for , an unbeaten 95 her previous best.

Twenty four of those have been in one-day international cricket, and she’s the only cricketer in the world to have scored five-consecutive ODI half centuries on three different occasions. Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson have done so twice.

After reaching the ton, Perry reset, and not once looked like leaving her post.

The pitch has been playing a little slow and the outfield at North Sydney Oval certainly hasn’t been as quick as it once was. Her innings was one of application, patience and dedication, and came after she opened the bowling in England’s first innings and took three wickets.

She remains the team’s most important resource and, somewhat frighteningly for opposition teams, appears to only be improving with age.

“She batted very well, very patient innings, stuck to her game plan and gave us pretty much no chances,” England captain Heather Knight said.

“It was one of the best innings I’ve seen in an Ashes Test match and she’s put the game in their favour.

“I can’t fault the way the girls tried today. They tried everything on what was obviously a very flat pitch and the ball went very soft and made it very difficult for us.”


25/04/2020 0

Comedians-turned-authors crack jokes with the kids

Shaun Micallef’s retelling of Grimm’s fairytales resembles a Stephen Sondheim musical crossed with Lemony Snicket???.
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???In the woods of an anonymous principality presided over by a pompous king, Little Red Riding Hood is a shortsighted “Tiny Poncho Girl” who eventually couples with Tom Thumb; the six dwarfs are ex-circus freaks – one having gone solo – and Hansel and Gretel survive Cannibal’s Candy Slaughterhouse to receive lifelong peerages.

It is wicked and wry and anarchic in equal measures, and the ABC satirist is as surprised as anyone Tales from a Tall Forest turned outto be prime reading material for older children and teens.

“I thought if you’d been a child then you’ll understand the story. I thought it might work as a story being read to a child because – like I used to do – I would leave out the boring bits that I didn’t think the kids would understand or add something of my own.”

Micallef is an accidental member of a loose collective of well-known comedians who have joined a Christmas rush to children’s book publication.

Dave Hughes, Tim Minchin and Andy Lee have new children’s picture books joining Alan Brough, Peter Helliar???, Frank Woodley, Anh Do, Tania Lacy, Gretel Killeen and Wendy Harmer.

Lee found unexpected commercial success with Do Not Open This Book, created as a birthday present for his toddler nephew, and at last count 74,062 copies had been sold in . For its sequel, a broad repeat of the first storyline, Lake Press says it has printed 120,000 copies for domestic and overseas release.

Scatological humour underlies Excuse Me!, Dave Hughes’ collaboration with journalist-wife Holly Ife about a lamb that gets into trouble when it fails to “let go”.

Hughes gets star billing and helped with the writing but the book was driven by Ife, who has a teaching degree, and was inspired by the revelation of Hughes’ radio co-host, Kate Langbroek, that she and her husband “keep themselves together”.

“We’ve got three little ones ourselves and it was a way to connect with children and talk about manners in a fun way,” Hughes said.

A comedian’s history of adult humour and sexual innuendo seems no obstacle to sales credibility.

One of the most successful comedy-club-to-bookstand switches is David Walliams, whose global book sales exceed 20 million copies. All this from a comedian whose breakout series, Little Britain, carried moderate language and comic sex references.

More anodyne, Anh Do’s first eight books in the WeirDo series has sold more than 700,000 copies in since December 2002, according to figures compiled by Nielsen BookScan, but it is Harmer who dominates the category with more children’s book titles to her name than any rival comedian-writer.

Quality does vary across the sector, however. “It doesn’t always follow that someone who is talented at stand-up or other forms of comedy is also able to write well for kids,” judge of the children’s category for this year’s Prime Minister’s Literary Award Sue Whiting said.” And this can be problematic.

“High-profile comedians may be able to attract mainstream publicity and good sales, but when publishing decisions are made because of who has written the book, rather than what has been written, then there is a danger that quality can be compromised. The result is that some books written by comedians are fantastic, and others not so.”

Next May Walker Books is publishing a junior fiction series by The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen and wife Jessica Roberts.

“What is fabulous about comedians is they know how to tell a story, they know how to pace it out, they know how to wring out a moment,” said publisher Linsay Knight.

Like with Harmer’s books,which Knight published,the ideas in the Hansens’ Bab Sharkey and the Animal Mummies: The Weird Beard, arrived with parenthood. Knight thinks there is something to the idea that the comedians are writing books as they read to their own children.

It was true for The Project’s Peter Helliar who has sold 34,685 copies of Frankie Fish and the Sonic Suitcase.

Helliar’s publisher at Hardie Grant Egmont is Marisa Pintado who also attributes the n children’s book market’s appetite for humour to the success of the Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates series. She predicts big things for Helliar who has another book out next year and seems to be reaching kids other can’t.

“Comedians are an obvious go-to,” Pintado says. “But there is no point approaching comedians who can’t write. We are not interested in fabricating success.”

Micallef’s children are older teens, aged 15 and 19, and his tall tales carry a parent’s yearning. “You know this as a parent that moment when your child is no longer a child or no longer be a child completely and there is that beautiful naivete that seems to give way to self-awareness.

“That moment when Snow White realises she is beautiful – I wanted to try and capture that sweet sadness that exists as a parent and I would never try that on a television show because it just doesn’t sit.

“In this case writing about fairytales gave me cover to explore something that was more deeply felt.”

n comedian-author bestsellers:

Figures compiled by Nielsen BookScan by title since December 2002:

Weirdo, Anh Do, 151,097

Even Weirder!, Anh Do, 98,981

Extra Weird!, Anh Do, 85,983

Do Not Open This Book, Andy Lee, 74,062 (picture book version)

Pearlie in the Park, Wendy Harmer, 54,173

Frankie Fish and the Sonic Suitcase, Peter Helliar 34,685

Charlie and the War against the Grannies, Alan Brough, 15,312

The Night My Bum Dropped, Gretel Killeen, 10,214

When I Grow Up, Tim Minchin, 5754*

Tracey Lacy is Completely Coo-Coo Bananas, Tania Lacy, 4189

Kizmet and the Case of the Tassie Tiger, Frank Woodley, 3052

Excuse Me!, Dave Hughes, 1105*

* Just released


25/04/2020 0

England hopeful Ball will bounce back fast

Adelaide: England remain “hopeful” paceman Jake Ball will recover quicker than expected in a bid to be considered for next week’s first Test in Brisbane.
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Ball, 26, fell during his delivery stride while bowling at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, and played no further part in the tourists’ match against the Cricket XI. The England and Wales Cricket Board have confirmed that Ball sustained a right ankle ligament strain.

The tourists have just one more tour match – a four-day game against the CA XI in Townsville starting on Wednesday – before the battle for the Ashes commences at the Gabba on November 23.

England have drafted in quick George Garton as cover for Ball in Townsville. Garton, 20, has played just nine first-class matches but was already heading to this week as part of the England Lions squad that is shadowing the England squad for some of the Ashes series.

Ball’s ailment is the latest in a string of fast bowling concerns for England. Quick Steven Finn has already gone back to England after hurting his knee in Perth, replaced by bowling all-rounder Tom Curran, while seamer Toby Roland-Jones wasn’t named in the touring party after suffering a back injury. Then there is all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was stood down by the ECB pending the result of an investigation into an alleged assault in Bristol.

While their stocks are thinning though, the England quicks on tour that remain fit have performed well. The CA XI were bowled out for 75 in their second innings in Adelaide, with Chris Woakes taking 4-17, complemented by Craig Overton (3-15) and James Anderson (3-12). Stuart Broad was rested for the match but should return in Townsville, as should spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali who had been recovering from a side strain.

Overton said Ball’s injury would take about seven to 10 days to mend. While that would mean Ball should be fit for the start of the Brisbane Test, it remains to be seen whether England would pick Ball on such a limited build-up given he has bowled just 15.4 over on tour so far.

“He’s feeling good. I’m not too sure about the details yet,” Overton said.

“We’re hopeful that it’ll be a bit quicker but we’re not entirely sure.”

Overton and Woakes have both put up their hands to play in Townsville, wanting as much match practice as possible before the first Test. Veteran Anderson looks likely to be rested for the final warm-up game.


25/04/2020 0

The farce and the spurious

A couple of years ago, I wrote a column about Patrick Dodson … and inadvertently started the chain of events that has unfairly and absurdly led to Dodson, now a Senator, being hounded by questions about whether he, the most prominent Aboriginal man in the nation, might be a dual citizen.
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My column, published in March, 2016, was about the Pat Dodson I knew when, in the 1960s, we attended the same big boarding school, Monivae College in Hamilton, western Victoria.

Dodson was elected by the boys as captain of the school. He was known as “Paddy”.

His brother, who also attended the school and became a prefect and house captain before attaining his own national profile, was named Mick.

It was a Catholic school. Most of the students had some form of Irish heritage, and those days, many of us spoke of our families as “Irish n”, despite their having been in for generations.

Possibly to explain to ourselves how two Indigenous boys named Paddy and Mick, raised in the Northern Territory, could become leaders of our Catholic school, the story that became accepted was that their father must have had Irish heritage. Precisely where the story came from is buried by time.

All we knew was that both parents had died some years before, and that the boys were orphans.

And so, when Paddy Dodson was chosen by the Labor Party as a Senate candidate for Western last year, I devoted my column to my early memories of him. We had, from time to time, kept in touch, and I had undertaken an extensive interview with him, back at the old school, in 2012.

The column, headlined “Aboriginal elder Pat Dodson: portrait of the senator as a young man”, offered a line or two about his heritage. Embedded within it was a term that has since been repeated by other journalists, political figures, and Wikipedia.

“Born in Broome to an Irish-n father, Snowy Dodson, and an Indigenous mother, Patricia, his family had fled across state borders to Katherine, in the Northern Territory, when Pat was a two-year-old baby,” I wrote. Their love had been deemed a crime in WA – Snowy had been jailed for 18 months, years before, for “cohabiting with a native woman”, the Dodson children’s mother.

All of it was accurate – except the term Irish-n, which could not be established.

Even a biography of Senator Dodson written by his chief of staff Kevin Keeffe had left open the question of “Snowy” Dodson’s origins.

“Supposedly from Launceston, Tasmania, Snowy has left no track of his birth, family or schooling,” Mr Keeffe wrote in the 2003 book Paddy’s Road: Life Stories of Patrick Dodson, adding that the family had “no clues and no family connection has come forward”.

Nevertheless, in the current hysteria about politicians who might be dual citizens, the term “Irish-n” has been re-used to embroil Senator Dodson in the controversy.

He has now produced documents from the most painful period of his childhood showing clear evidence that his father, John Dodson, was, in fact, born in Launceston.

Senator Dodson, pretty clearly, was not a dual citizen, Irish or otherwise.

It remains unknown whether John “Snowy” Dodson had Irish heritage further back in his family line.

The only documented Irish heritage in Senator Dodson’s complicated family story is through his Indigenous mother, he said in a statement. And that goes back to his great-grandfather, Joe Fagan, who arrived in in 1857.


25/04/2020 0

Socceroos escape ‘The Tomb’ with a draw

As it happened: Honduras v
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San Pedro Sula: The Socceroos have escaped “The Tomb” unscathed, but remain no closer to Russia after being held to a goalless draw against Honduras at the Estadio Olimpico.

were brave, at times inspirational, but ultimately unlucky as they make the long trip from central America back to Sydney with neither the win or vital away goal their performance deserved. If there was any victory, it was simply one for morale as the Socceroos outplayed “Los Catrachos” at one of the most intimidating venues in international football.

They were controversially denied a penalty in the first half when the linesman ruled offside after a spot-kick was awarded. A horrendous playing field thwarted a gilt-edge chance. That goalkeeper Donis Escober”s performance was a candidate for the man of the match was most telling. For coach Ange Postecoglou, he goes back to Sydney with public opinion swinging closer towards his favour after his selection and tactics worked to effect.

had to endure hot temperatures, sapping humidity, a paddock for a pitch and a hostile reception few ns have ever experienced. When 40,000 fans began stamping their feet frenetically at kick-off, the concrete stands started vibrating. The floor was shaking but the nerves of remained intact despite being tested. Mat Ryan fluffed a clearance but went unpunished. The defensive shape wasn’t its strongest in the opening minutes but the ever-calm defender Trent Sainsbury kept the Socceroos’ secure in the opening stanzas with a potentially goal-saving tackle on Carlos Lanza.

From then, the Socceroos regathered themselves as a five-man defence became resolute while their midfielders created chances of their own. Massimo Luongo would have broken the deadlock in the 11th minute if it wasn’t for a superb save from Escober. They continued to sustain pressure on the hosts while battling every external disadvantage imaginable and midway through the half, the Socceroos silenced the hosts for the first time. Bailey Wright was brought down by Escober in an aerial challenge and the referee a pointed to the spot.

The hush turned to outrage before relief swept the stadium when the linesman intervened, controversially ruling offside.

But, it didn’t halt the Socceroos’ and a swift counter-attack through the middle put Tomi Juric through on goal. One-on-one with Escober, ‘s centre-forward was certain to break the deadlock however a horrendous pitch played into the hands of the hosts – a slight bobble cushioned his shot agonisingly wide of goal.

If the climate and conditions didn’t pose enough obstacles for , they were forced to battle the bruising Honduran players. A relentless individually pressing game was designed to land the final blow to undo the Socceroos’ composure before reaping the rewards with their swift and direct attack. The ever-dangerous Romell Quioto intelligently seized on the space between Wright and Risdon while the threat of Anthony ‘Choco’ Lozano was only dimmed by a vigilant, intelligent display from Sainsbury.

In an advanced role, Luongo a noticeably mature and industrious performance from the midfielder was one of his best in recent times. He tested Escobar from the edge of the area in the 52 minute before setting up a close range header for Juric that was tipped over the bar.

For all their adversaries, it was the Socceroos who were tightening the screws on the contest. They brought an ominous hush over the the venue when they broke behind the defence on the hour-mark. A goal was certain as Risdon had two players standing in front of an open goal but his cross at the back past was played behind Aziz Behich and Jackson Irvine.

were doing what so few have in the past in escaping the tight jaws of the infamous, oppressive ground – one that is proudly boasted by locals as the final resting place of several coaching jobs. As a Socceroos’ win became increasingly realistic, the fans stepped-up their role. Horns became a weapon, targeted at key moments for the visitors. Jeers fell on the n defenders while the inspiring chant of “si se puede” [yes you can] roared around the stadium. When Honduras’ answer to Tim Cahill – Carlo Costly – took off his bib to make his entrance off the bench, the hope behind that chant began to transpire into belief. It sparked an immediate response form Postecoglou who replied with the introduction of Tomi Rogic.

But it was Costly who made the first impact, stinging the palms of goalkeeper Ryan with a powerful shot from just inside the box before charging down the clearance shortly after only for the ricochet to bounce to safety.

The sapping conditions took their toll on who went into survival mode in the last minutes before being struck with the hollow feeling of a goalless draw.


25/04/2020 0

Ryan Harris says England batting is ‘vulnerable’

The n camp feels it gathered valuable intelligence on England during the pink-ball tour match in Adelaide, with Cricket XI coach Ryan Harris saying that the tourists’ batting is “vulnerable” without vice-captain Ben Stokes and describing Alastair Cook’s batting as “rusty”.
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England completed a 192-run victory over the CA XI early on day four at Adelaide Oval, with the tourists routing the CA XI for just 75 in their second innings. But despite his team being on the end of a heavy defeat, Harris said could take plenty from the match ahead of the first Test in Brisbane which begins on Thursday week.

coach Darren Lehmann was at the ground on Friday as England lost 6-31 after tea in their second innings. Jonny Bairstow showed pluck with 61 not out, but the tourists were still bowled for 207. No English player has yet made a century on tour, and neither of the team’s two most senior batsmen – captain Joe Root and his predecessor Cook – have had ideal preparations for the series.

Cook has just 47 runs from three innings in the warm-up games, and looked unconvincing in his 32 on Friday.

Asked about Cook’s form, Harris considered sugar-coating his assessment. “How I could be nice?,” Harris pondered, before continuing.

“I think he looked a bit rusty, I guess.

“I’m sure he’ll look forward to another hit next week. But we all know what he can do. You don’t score over 10,000 runs and not be any good.”

Root – the No.2 ranked Test batsman in the world – has fared slightly better, making 58 in the first innings in Adelaide, but still has only 68 runs from three knocks on tour.

Harris hinted that would focus on Root. “He’s world-class, and the captain. We’ve been known to target the captain when we play against them,” Harris said.

Asked whether England’s batting was vulnerable, Harris said “I think it is, absolutely,” noting the continued absence of star all-rounder Stokes, who was stood down pending the findings of a police investigation in an alleged assault in Bristol in September.

But Harris said ‘s bowlers would need to ensure England’s batting weaknesses were exploited. “Again it depends on how the boys bowl to them. If the boys bowl loose and wide, they won’t have any troubles,” he said.

“We’ve got some good intel and some good knowledge on what we want to do, which I’ll pass onto our bowlers.

“The coach was here, he saw them bat yesterday so he saw a bit as well. That’s why we play these games, we’re allowed to get intel on them so I’ll take as much back as I can. I’m seeing the guys next week.”

CA XI all-rounder Matt Short had set the tone for Harris’ comments on Friday night. “I think the Aussies in the Test matches will get up on them,” Short said.

“I think we’ve found out a couple of their batsmen, we’ve had a few of the senior coaches here watching as well.”

The CA XI face England in another four-day match in Townsville, which begins on Wednesday.

However CA XI captain Tim Paine’s involvement in that match remains in question, with the wicketkeeper flying to Melbourne after being added to Tasmania’s Sheffield Shield squad for the match against Victoria which starts on Monday.

If not selected in the Tasmania XI, Paine will fly to Townsville, but if he does play for his state, the CA XI will need a new skipper and keeper. iFrameResize({checkOrigin:false},’#ashes-squad-selector-2017′);var frame = document.getElementById(“ashes-squad-selector-2017”);


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A question in need of the wisdom of Solomon

Some years ago, when a major flood story was making news, the late Brian White is said to have delivered some concise advice to his broadcast team at 3AW. As the program makers searched for angles, White reputedly demanded: “I don’t want to hear from some theorist at the weather bureau. If we’re covering floods, I want f—ing Noah!”
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Regarding Hannah Mouncey, the transgender footballer denied nomination for the AFLW draft, I’m pleased to say Noah has been consulted. Well, the old flood-buster’s counterpart on the matter of gender-transitioning sports performers has.

It happened in 2004, when the transgender female golfer Mianne Bagger joined the professional women’s circuit. Naturally, there was controversy. The Danish-born Bagger, who’d migrated to at the age of 12, provided just the second case of this kind.

The first was Renee Richards, formerly Richard Raskind, who famously fought to play professional women’s tennis in the 1970s. As the Mianne Bagger story unfolded, I contacted Richards in New York. She was an engaging and open-minded interviewee.

Richards had been the trailblazer. Blocked, initially, by various layers of tennis administration, she eventually took her case for the right to play on the women’s tour all the way to the New York Supreme Court. There, in 1977, Judge Alfred Ascione found in her favour. Subsequently, Richards reached a US Open women’s doubles final and – aged 44 – climbed to No.20 on the world rankings.

The transcript of the interview I did with her (available online here) reveals recognition on Richards’ part of the difficulty of this issue. Her view, it became clear, was anything but black-and-white. One complexity she addressed, easily overlooked in this discussion, was the matter of age.

“I was playing against 20-year-old women who were the best in the world, so whatever advantage I might have had in size and a good serve it was more than out-weighed by the age difference,” she acknowledged. “I always remember the comment my mixed doubles partner, Ilie Nastase, made when some of the players objected to me. He said: ‘What are they afraid of, she’s old enough to be their mother.’ “

So, what of a talented male athlete choosing to transition in his early 20s and entering women’s sport a couple of years later?

“Now you’ve got a whole different kettle of fish because now you don’t have the age factor to level the playing field,” Richards said. “Let’s say you have a Tiger Woods, or Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe, whoever, then three years later at 24, after their surgery, they come back and want to play again. Now you’ve got to re-write the rule book.”

The inference was this: rules that will have reasonable and fair application in all cases simply can’t be cast in stone. “If you write it as a mass thing,” said Richards, “you’re going to hurt the large group of women players when the 24-year-old transsexual emerges on the scene. If you do it on an individual basis you’re going to make mistakes there too because your judgement is going to enter into it.”

So, what of the judgement in her landmark case?

“When my case went before the New York Supreme Court, Judge Ascione made a very historic, landmark decision and he emphasised the fact that it was an individual decision. He had affidavits from Billie-Jean King and other people saying that I was indeed physically and psychically a woman, that I was not a threat to the other players, that I was 41 years old and so on, and he made his decision on that basis. He probably left the groundwork there, left the door open, for making an individual decision on a 24-year-old someday.”

All of which confirms my sympathy for the AFL in the Mouncey case. Those suggesting football should have been better prepared for this qualify as what American sport has long referred to as “Monday morning quarterbacks”. It’s just not that simple.

Perhaps there’s another case, though, that the football administration could be planning for: that of the strongly built, highly talented woman who just might appeal as a draft prospect in the men’s competition.

Sounds ridiculous? Well, John Cahill is attributed with describing a teenage Erin Phillips as one of the most talented junior footballers he’s seen.

What if, at that time, Phillips had been able to develop her career through the pathways available to boys? These days, she’s listed as 173 centimetres tall and weighing 75 kilograms. That’s five centimetres taller and four kilos heavier than Caleb Daniel. A touch heavier than Eddie Betts and a couple of centimetres taller than Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. The same weight as, but slightly shorter than, the bloke who played more games than any other AFL player, Brent “Boomer” Harvey.

You say a woman would never be good enough to make it in the men’s league? Bear in mind that there are more than 700 players on AFL lists. Coincidentally, in promoting his new book this year, John McEnroe said Serena Williams would rank “like 700th in the world” on the men’s side. And while perhaps this was a figure plucked out of the air to make a point, it could put a highly talented and professionally conditioned female footballer in the AFL ballpark.

So, what happens if that female player emerges? Given the disparity of earning power between the male and female competitions, ruling her ineligible to play with the men could be a restraint of trade. On the other hand, allowing her to play could have connotations within the male-violence-on-women context.

Forget Noah, this is one for the wisdom of Solomon. He might pull out his famous sword and say you’ve got to carve up the money more evenly.


25/04/2020 0

Chinan prosecco boom threatened by naming dispute under EU FTA

The Dal Zotto family can’t keep up with demand for prosecco at the moment.
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“It’s that popular at the moment there is not enough available in the market,” says Michael Dal Zotto.

He’s seen 50 per cent growth in the category with $40 million dollars’ worth of prosecco sold from last year and the sector on track for $60 million this year.

But growing demand for n prosecco could be stymied if Italian growers get their way in a bid to limit the use of the word prosecco as part of ‘s upcoming Free Trade Agreement negotiation with the European Union.

‘s first commercial proseccoMichael’s father, Otto Dal Zotto planted the first prosecco variety commercially in 18 years ago.

“At that time there were a handful of Italian proseccos in and they were not widely consumed,” says Michael. “When we released it, we spent most of our time explaining to people what it was and where it came from.”

There’s no need to explain prosecco anymore with prosecco production accounting for 50 per cent of the Dal Zotto business last year with 40,000 cases distributed across .

The Dal Zottosplanto increase production by 30 per cent in 2018, and 15 per cent each year after that.

“As a small business its hard to balance the ability to grow with the demand for your product sometimes you are always chasing your tail,” says Michael.

Michael and his brother Christian Dal Zotto have just bought the King Valley-based business off their parents, ensuring the business of prosecco is kept in the family.

Christian says prosecco has a broad appeal as a light, fresh easy drinking sparkling wine.

“You don’t drink it like champagne you don’t critique it, you literally enjoy the moment,” says Christian. “It’s a bit lower in alcohol and lighter in calories as well which is a bit of a bonus. It’s affordable luxury.”

Dal Zotto employs 30 staff and turns over $4 million a year but the brothers say the success of their business and the region is in the balance.

“When we planted ‘s first commercial vineyard of prosecco we bought a variety of prosecco,” says Michael. “In 2009 prosecco’s name was changed to ‘glera’ and a geographic indicator was created called prosecco. It was a little bit cheeky.”

n prosecco growers challenged the finding and won but the use of the name prosecco is still an issue.

“Now with the Free Trade Agreement coming up Italians have put it on the agenda,” says Michael. “We have been lobbying both sides of politics just so the politicians are aware of what is going on. We are not anti free trade but we want people to be aware of what’s happening.”

n prosecco makers argue prosecco is a globally recognised grape variety and that this would be akin to losing the right to use the term chardonnay or sauvignon blanc.

The Prosecco RoadThe Dal Zotto’s are part of a prosecco growers group called the Prosecco Road which markets prosecco but has now stepped in to a lobbying role as well.

Prosecco Road members including Michael Dal Zotto headed to Canberra last month to meet with parliamentarians and the group will continue to lobby ahead of the negotiations with the European Union.

Tony Battaglene, chief executive of the Winemakers’ Federation of , said the industry was looking to work cooperatively with n government trade negotiators to develop a strategic approach to the negotiations that would allow n prosecco to trade throughout the world.

“We need the government and opposition representatives to understand that there are real jobs and investment at stake. In the past, free trade agreements have delivered significant benefits to the n wine industry, and we are strong supporters of these agreements. However, the right to use prosecco is key to the n wine sector’s future success.”

A significant issuePizzini Wines is also a Prosecco Road member and chief executive Carlo Pizzini says prosecco is the most important product in Pizzini’s portfolio.

“Like the Dal Zottos we are a family business, Mum and Dad started the business, they were tobacco farmers and we started growing grapes for local wineries and then commenced making our own lines in the early ’90s,” Pizzini says.

“Our volume is largely dominated by the Italian varieties for us the topic of prosecco and naming Italian varieties is an issue for us and King Valley in general and the reputation we have for them,” says Pizzini. “We have developed a solid niche market for ourselves. It would be a significant issue for us if they were to change anything.”

Pizzini Wines employs 35 staff and turns over more than $6 million a year.

“Our growth in prosecco alone has been 40 per cent year on year for the last four years,” says Pizzini. “It’s really kicked off the last few years. The forecast for growth has been significant. We are seeing growth in visitation into the area as well a lot of that is driven by prosecco. It does benefit the wineries and anyone who has a food and wine offering.”

Pizzini says any changes to the classification of prosecco will hit the n industry.

“It doesn’t stop you from selling the wine but it limits the marketability of the wine,” says Pizzini. “People in know wines by variety while as in Europe it is also sold by region. So it’s more challenging to market the products here.”


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