Teens spend ‘$30 a week on alcohol’

HALF NSW’s teenagers believe their friends spend up to $30 a week on alcohol, a new survey has found. And 16 per cent of teenagers say the weekly grog spend is even higher.

The thirst for alcopops also shows no sign of drying up, despite the Federal Government’s tax hike. Commissioned by NSW Health, the research will add to the controversy over alcopops and whether governments are fuelling moral outrage against youth drinking for political purposes.

Professor Sandra Jones from the University of Wollongong studied 1263 respondents aged between 12-17 years as part of research into the impact of ready-to-drink spirit beverages on young people. Teenage drinking patterns replicated other national surveys of the same target group, she said, with just under 90 per cent reporting they had consumed alcohol.

More than 40 per cent said they had consumed a drink in the past four weeks.

She said the survey results suggest alcohol consumption is seen by adolescents as normal behaviour, even condoned by parents. More than 60 per cent of young people believe alcohol use is common among their friends.

Up to 70 per cent of teenagers surveyed believe their parents support them trying alcohol, although fewer than one in 10 approve of them getting drunk.

“Ready-to-drink beverages remain popular and extremely affordable for young people despite the tax increase this year,” Professor Jones said.

“The research found drinking rates in this country among young people are very high … girls drink them because they feel they can control the rate of consumption and they like the taste. Boys drink them because they are cheap and easy to drink quickly for getting drunk.”

Health Minister John Della Bosca said the NSW Government has to tackle teenage drinking but he rejected suggestions the Government is creating a moral panic for political purposes. He said alcohol abuse is a genuine issue because it places pressure on busy emergency departments and can lead to chronic disease.

Mr Della Bosca said the Government has launched an interactive website to raise awareness among young people and their parents about the risks of binge drinking.

“This situation is serious enough for us to start looking at a major cultural shift in our attitudes towards alcohol and the way advertisers and the alcohol industry promotes alcohol products,” he said.

[email protected]南京夜网.au PARENTS BEWARE A survey of 12 to 17-year-olds reveals:

* Almost 90 per cent have consumed alcohol at least once;

* More than 40 per cent had consumed a drink in the past four weeks;

* 64 per cent believe alcohol use is common among their friends;

* Males prefer cola-based drinks; females, milk- or cream-based drinks.

Ogilvy’s elegance sadly blown away by the breeze

THE best players make sport look easy. Think of Mark Waugh gliding that shot off his pads or Roger Federer’s grace on the court. And think Geoff Ogilvy, Australia’s top-ranked golfer.

He has a fluent motion that allows him to hit the ball long without apparent effort – enough to make an amateur puke.

More than that, the world No.11 has become the consummate professional in recent years. There is nothing that he does that especially well by the high standards of the players around him. There is nothing he does poorly.

And the Victorian has the X-factor – he knows how to win.

The pre-tournament favourite started yesterday needing to do something special and it soon seemed possible.

He began the third round on the 10th tee and birdied, then hit a beautiful trap shot at the 13th to set up another birdie and holed a four-metre putt at the par-three 15th for another.

At the par-five 16th, he attacked the flag, cut left beside a deep swail. His pitch landed, almost held up on the edge of the green but disappeared into the collection area, leaving him a tricky chip. Ogilvy whipped out his lob wedge and hit the flag with his shot, making a safe par.

At the long par-three 17th, his tee shot disappeared into one of the hollows beside the green.

He chipped it close and made the one-metre par putt.

Then at the 18th he conjured a shot of exquisite beauty, a short iron approach that pierced the wind, landed a metre from the cup and stopped. Another birdie, and just 32 shots for his first nine holes, and Ogilvy was back in the tournament at five-under-par.

That he is out of contention tonight at three-under is due to a particular ailment. Ogilvy has failed to capitalise on Royal Sydney’s par-fives.

And with the wind whipping up, last week’s PGA champion drifted further down the leaderboard .

Let the good times roll

Australia will look back on this year as a pretty successful one for the Wallabies. We can look to the future with optimism and, although things can quickly change, we are heading in the right direction on the international stage. We managed to win three out of five Tests on the spring tour – plus the win against the Barbarians – which gave us a tally of nine from 14 for the year. The good news is that we’re a team on the way up and those stats could very well improve.

There is a lot of upside to the Australian team at the moment. Robbie Deans, Michael Foley and Jim Williams have done a great job. When I came into the job, the first thing that struck me was the lack of depth in the team. In the modern game, that’s a killer, particularly when players are involved in rugby for up to 10 months of the year. You have to operate on a squad system, something that has taken Australians a while to get their head around. It enables players to perform fresh, while the coaches can put some pressure on players who are competing for spots. We’ll continue to see the Wallabies team being tweaked from week to week in the years to come. Many people dub it the "rotation system" but it’s all about putting the best team on the field. There is little difference between some players and freshness, state of mind and form all come into the reckoning.

We’ve seen the likes of Drew Mitchell, Benn Robinson, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Hugh McMeniman and Stephen Moore all become genuine Test players after taking some time to settle in. The first-year success of Peter Hynes and Dean Mumm has been encouraging. Not everyone can be like John Eales, Jason Little and Tim Horan, who were genuine Test players from the moment they stepped into the international arena. In the modern game, for some it can take a year or two.

Our front-row stocks are stronger than ever, with the likes of Ben Alexander, Robinson, Sekope Kepu and even Al Baxter, who at the age of 31 still appears to have a good year or two left in him. One underrated player for us over a number of years has been Matt Dunning. He had a good year while adapting from loose to tight head. We should hope his recovery from his Achilles injury is swift.

In the lock position, it’s fair to say that Nathan Sharpe, at the age of 31, appears not to be one of Deans’s favourites. However, I think he’s had an outstanding year. When you’ve got guys like Mark Chisholm, McMeniman, James Horwill and Mumm if needed, it’s a good sign. All bar Sharpe and Baxter, they are not older than 27 and all have a number of big years left in the game. With David Pocock ready to take over from George Smith and Phil Waugh, and the emergence of Richard Brown sitting behind Wycliff Palu at No.8, our back-row stocks also look strong.

Our forward improvement has been out of sight. When we talk about forward stocks, we’ve still got the likes of Greg Holmes and Stephen Hoiles trying to force their way into the Wallabies squad. What has been required in the past few years has been a greater focus on technique and skill, which is happening.

There is also promise in the backs. With Sam Cordingley gone, Luke Burgess has come in. He is a talented young man who has struggled for consistency. He can produce a 10/10 performance one week and then throw in a 2/10 the next. He’s definitely more suited to the short-arm penalties of the Super 14, where his running game comes into play. But, at times, his kicking and passing have come under scrutiny at Test level. Like fellow 25-year-old McMeniman, he has had an outstanding first year in the big time after suffering a spate of injuries. If Burgess can string a couple of seasons together, he can be the Australian halfback for a long time. Deans will be scouring the Super 14 for Burgess’s back-up.

At five-eighth, Matt Giteau is still Australia’s best and most dominant back. His goalkicking this year has been magnificent under pressure. Still, I’m not convinced he’s as comfortable at No.10 as he can be but time will solve that. Deans also has Berrick Barnes, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale as back-up options. For 20 years, the Australian five-eighth scene was dominated by Stephen Larkham and Michael Lynagh. When one of those was hurt, it was always a struggle. We remember the agonising decisions Rod Macqueen had to make taking the punt on Larkham because of the lack of depth. It turned out to be a masterstroke. While depth is always an issue, that’s a position we’ve got covered now.

In the midfield, Stirling Mortlock and Ryan Cross are 31 but you would expect them to play for another couple of years. Cooper and Barnes are also comfortable at No.12, with Ashley-Cooper having an outstanding game against the Barbarians in that position. He’s an outstanding midfield option for the future. We always thought his best position was 13 or 14 but he showed in the Barbarians game that he’s more than comfortable at 12 and he’s playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. Another player on the way up.

Mortlock has grown tremendously as a captain. He fits the job at the moment. I remember talking to Eales about the captaincy and he said it’s something you have to work as hard at off the field as on it. Walking down the tunnel, Mortlock was always the guy you wanted to play with but he had some work to do away from the paddock. That’s something he’s worked at and he’s done a pretty good job this year.

With a good Super 14 season, Australian supporters can look positively to the future. We’ve got some good times ahead.

Solar protection

LOWER-INCOME households, pensioners, business and industry will receive more than $11 billion a year to compensate for increased costs caused by the emissions trading scheme.

Families and singles on high incomes, however, will be worse off under the scheme, which was locked in yesterday to begin on July 1, 2010 – only months before the next election is due.

Billed as the biggest economic upheaval since the 1980s deregulation of the economy, the scheme was tweaked to accommodate the demands of industry in lean economic times.

This angered the Greens and environmental groups, which say it will not cut emissions enough to save such icons as the Great Barrier Reef.

The Government aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 by between 5 and 15 per cent. The final target, most likely to be 10 per cent, will be set in early 2010, by which time the intentions of other nations will be better known.

An anticipated reserve target of 25 per cent, to be put on the table in the unlikely event all the world’s big emitters agree to act together, was missing yesterday. However, Mr Rudd said he would seek a mandate at the next election to increase Australia’s 2050 reduction target from 60 per cent to 80 per cent as a show of goodwill.

The Prime Minister said yesterday’s targets were "appropriate and responsible" in this economic climate. "We are not going to make promises that cannot be delivered," he said. [These measures] "deliver the necessary reform to tackle the long-term challenge of climate change while supporting our economy and securing jobs in this global recession."

Mr Rudd was heckled by three environmental supporters as he unveiled the scheme at the National Press Club.

About 1000 of the nation’s biggest industries, responsible for 75 per cent of Australia’s non-farm emissions, will pay about $25 for each tonne of carbon they emit. The cost will be passed on to consumers, adding about $350 a year to the average household energy bill but as much as $1300 for some households.

In the first year, the sale of carbon permits will raise $11.5 billion, all of which will be returned as compensation and adjustment assistance.

Of this, about $4 billion will go to low- and middle-income households, pensioners, carers and veterans through increased pensions and family payments.

The compensation will cover all low-income households, of which about 90 per cent will be better off. Almost all middle income households will receive some assistance, while 60 per cent will be fully compensated.

A couple with two children, one aged under five and the other between six and 12, would be generously compensated up to income levels of $120,000. After that, they go backwards.

Petrol will increase by about 7c a litre but the excise will be cut by the same amount, meaning no net increase. This will cost $2.4 billion.

Compensation for heavy polluting industries with competitors in countries with no scheme was made more generous to include petrol refiners and the liquefied natural gas industry.

Of the $11.5 billion raised, $2.9 billion will be refunded as free permits. The heaviest polluters, such as cement and aluminium producers, will receive free permits for 90 per cent of their emissions, while lesser polluters, such as LNG and petrol refining, will receive permits for 60 per cent of emissions.

In addition, the dirtiest coal-fired power stations will receive $3.9 billion over five years to help keep prices down.

Another $2.15 billion over five years will help coalmining communities as well as small businesses and community organ-isations cope.

The Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, commissioned an independent economic analysis of the proposal. He said the Opposition would respond in February when the study was finished and when Parlia ment resumed.

With the Greens hostile, Labor will target the Coalition for the necessary Senate support.

A senior Government source said if the Opposition blocked the legislation in the Senate, Labor would fight a second successive election painting the Coalition as climate change sceptics.

Mr Rudd said: "It’s time for the real Malcolm Turnbull to stand up. Is it the Malcolm Turnbull who was supposed to be gung-ho about this 12 months ago, or is it the Malcolm Turnbull of today seeking short-term political advantage?" he said.

Poorer households will benefit

SOME low- and middle-income households will make money from the Federal Government’s $9.9 billion compensation package to offset rises in the cost of living that occur because of the emissions trading scheme.

The Government estimates 89 per cent of low-income earners will receive more assistance than they will need to help them cope with higher prices.

Nearly all middle-income households will receive some assistance and 60 per cent will recoup all of the price rises through government payments.

Modelling on the effects of the scheme assumes that the overall cost of living will rise about 1 per cent.

Energy costs will make up the largest part of the price rises with electricity expected to increase by $4 a week and gas and other forms of fuel by $2 a week.

Low- and middle-income families will receive a combination of one or more increases in Family Tax Benefit payments, the low-income tax offset and the dependency tax offset.

Single parents could receive up to $744 a year extra in assistance, which would leave them $390 a year better off after the price rises begin.

Families with only one parent working and two children still at home will have all their increased costs covered by higher payments, as long as they earn $100,000 or less.

After that the assistance dwindles and cuts out completely at $180,000.

The threshold for a couple with one child where one parent works full time and the other part time is slightly lower at $95,000.

Pensioners, carers and people with disabilities will have their usual rise in payments brought forward from September to July 1 in 2010 to coincide with the beginning of the scheme. This is equivalent to $382 for single people and $320 for couples.

The Government has promised further increases to payments that could begin next year. Those details are likely to be announced in the May budget.

As the Government has already announced, petrol and diesel price rises will be neutralised for the first three years of the scheme. This will be done by lowering the excise to compensate for the rise in prices due to emissions trading.

The executive director of Australian Catholic Social Services, Frank Quinlan, said the assistance measures were welcome but they needed to be matched by education campaigns to help low-income households learn about the continuing effects of climate change.

"We also need to ensure that these households have an opportunity to reduce their energy consumption to protect them from the effects of rising utilities costs for decades to come," he said.

"The careful implementation of such a mitigation strategy also has the potential to provide low-income earners with jobs," Mr Quinlan said.

The executive director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Tony Nicholson, called for the retro-fitting of low-income households to help people use less energy.

"Energy efficiency programs also make permanent improvements to the homes of low-income people. This allows them not only to cut their energy use but also to mitigate the effects of climate change already occurring," Mr Nicholson said.

Job seekers could also be trained to take part in energy efficiency programs and other new jobs created by the trad-ing scheme.

The burning concerns about Captain Reasonable

BEHIND closed doors Kevin Rudd has sometimes described his political persona as "Captain Reasonable".

And it was the captain who took the podium at the National Press Club yesterday, calm, controlled, and, most of all, moderate.

He described climate change as an elephant of an issue, but then proposed not doing anything especially big about it.

He called it "a threat to our people, our nation and our planet", but then announced only the gentlest of responses.

He said the country stood at "the crossroads of history", but then suggested that we choose the course of least resistance.

For heaven’s sake, he seemed to be saying, can’t we all just be reasonable.

Rudd’s carbon emissions plan is crafted as a piece of political positioning, and he said as much himself:

"We will be attacked from the far right for taking any action at all," he said early in his speech.

"We will be attacked from parts of the far left for not going far enough. The Government believes we have got the balance right."

So the environmentalist who tried to shout him down as a sell-out instantly confirmed part of his proposition, and the Minerals Council, calling the plan "the most aggressive in the world" vindicated the rest.

This is Rudd’s political GPS, the sort of logic that guides him to the position he craves, the place he has frequently described as "the reforming centre".

This is the thinking that led him to decide that the only unconditional cut to emissions is to be 5 per cent by 2020.

It’s the centre because it’s midway between the pressure groups. It’s reforming because it can be presented as some sort of progress towards good policy.

Yet it’s such a retreat from Rudd’s campaign rhetoric on climate change as the "great moral challenge of our generation" that the Liberal Party’s pollster, Mark Textor, quipped yesterday "it’s like Sydney house prices – coming down every day."

As battle cries go, it’s hardly "death or glory". Try it: "Follow Captain Reasonable to the reforming centre." Rudd’s plan also rings an alarm about his attitude to the public purse. The Government will over-compensate 2.9 million low-income earners and pay them the equivalent of 120 per cent of the cost of the scheme. Is this really about equity, or is this just an excuse to hand voters money in pursuit of political popularity?

If the Government is really concerned about equity, why won’t single people receive compensation? Rudd wants to be liked by key demographics. And he wants to buy their affection. If this feature emerges as a continuing part of his political persona, it could be a big worry about Captain Reasonable.

The carbon plan is cautious and calculated. Rudd has set the target so low it’s a small target for Malcolm Turnbull to attack.

If the Opposition opposes a cut of 5 per cent as too drastic, can Turnbull seriously retain any pretence to be environmentally concerned? But if the Opposition supports the plan, it will be sidelining itself on one of the biggest political issues. Either way, Rudd is left occupying the reforming centre.

Rudd has set a dilemma for Turnbull, and the Opposition knows it. That’s why it fell uncharacteristically silent yesterday, commissioning economic research to give it a couple of months to respond.

Rudd’s penultimate sentence described his plan as "reasonable and responsible". By following the course of least resistance in crafting the carbon target, and with the selective generosity of the compensation payments, we must wonder whether Captain Reasonable is merely the alter ego of general popularity.

Liabilities for state public servants’ super rise 65%

UNFUNDED superannuation liabilities for NSW public servants have blown out by more than 65 per cent to $32.1 billion in the global financial meltdown, pushing the total amount of state debt to more than $45 billion.

The disclosure was included in the mid-year budget review, made public yesterday, which showed a slightly lower than expected deficit for 2008-9, thanks to a big injection of funds from the Federal Government. As a result, the 2008-9 deficit is forecast to be $712 million; $917 million had been projected in the mini-budget five weeks ago.

NSW has received $840 million in Federal Government payments, $500 million of it being used to repay RailCorp debt and fund maintenance and capital spending in public housing.

Normally, payments are spread over the five-year funding agreement with the Federal Government "but this time, they’ve given us a bit more up front," the NSW Treasurer, Mr Eric Roozendaal, said yesterday. "So we’ve paid down a bit of rail debt and [will] bring forward some funding in housing."

The global financial turmoil has increased the unfunded superannuation liability to cover the state’s public servants when they retire by $12.7 billion since the budget for 2008-9 was drawn up, and is higher than the $7 billion additional unfunded liability flagged at the time of the mini-Budget.

The world financial turmoil has led to large losses in superannuation funds, and this had been exacerbated by the fall in interest rates, Treasury said.

The sharply higher superannuation liability has lifted the forecast net financial liabilities of NSW to a record $45.2 billion next June.

Even though overall economic activity remains sluggish, NSW will benefit from the aggressive cuts to interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Australia, with further cuts expected, while the State Government continues to spend heavily on infrastructure.

State governments have suffered an unprecedented rise in the differential between interest rates they pay when compared with the Federal Government in recent days, rising to more than 1.2 percentage points, which is than four times the historical difference.

This gap is a result of the Federal Government giving loan guarantees to private banks, but not to state governments. "We are monitoring the situation," Mr Roozendaal said. "It is not a pressing issue for NSW, because we are not in the market … to refinance any of our debt … At the moment the markets are very cautious; there’s still not a lot of credit out there."

The shadow treasurer, Mr Greg Pearce, said yesterday: "Without the Prime Minister handing out the former Federal Coalition Government’s surplus, Nathan Rees and Eric Roozendaal would be looking at a deficit of around $1.5 billion."

Lower burden for the nation’s worst polluters

AUSTRALIA’S biggest carbon-polluting businesses will be delivered assistance worth more than $4.8 billion a year to help them cope with the economic impact of paying a price for their greenhouse gas emissions.

The white paper on emissions trading reveals that the Federal Government has bowed to industry lobbying by allocating free permits to big polluters significantly more generous than it originally proposed in July.

It also reveals the Government will provide sizeable assistance packages to electricity generators burning coal to fire power stations and miners releasing methane into the atmosphere as a by-product of their excavation of coal seams.

The white paper finalises the design of the Government’s emissions trading scheme which will require about 1000 of the country’s most energy-intensive firms to buy permits to cover their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from July 2010.

By imposing a price on carbon – expected to be $25 a tonne when the scheme starts – emissions trading is designed to create incentives for businesses to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas they release into the atmosphere. But the industry assistance announced yesterday will mean about a third of the permits issued in the scheme’s first year will be free of charge. This will rise to 45 per cent of permits by 2020.

The free permits are designed to help firms facing big cost increases, like electricity generators, and those facing international competition from countries where there is no similar carbon price.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said the assistance would support jobs, investment and growth while still creating incentives for industry to lower emissions.

"We have listened closely to the concerns of the business community and made a number of significant improvements to the scheme as a result of their feedback," he said.

Mr Rudd said the increased assistance to industries facing international competition would reduce the risk of "carbon leakage" – where emissions-intensive activities shift to countries without a carbon price, cutting jobs in Australia while doing nothing to reduce global emissions.

The Government’s green paper in July proposed to give 20 per cent of all permits issued under the scheme to these so-called emissions-intensive, trade-exposed businesses – such as aluminium producers, iron and steel makers, petrol refiners and LNG producers – free of charge.

The Government has decided to lift the share of free permits for these businesses to 25 per cent. The white paper says this will be worth $2.9 billion in 2010-11 and will rise in the future to accommodate growth of these sectors.

Mr Rudd said the changes would extend assistance to companies like LNG producers and petroleum refiners who would have been left out under the Green Paper.

The Government also put a figure on its assistance to coal-fired electricity generators, saying it would hand out free permits worth $700 million in the first year and $3.9 billion over the first five years.

Under a separate Climate Change Action Fund, small firms will be eligible for grants to improve the energy efficiency of their businesses and there will also be grants to businesses to research technologies that lower emissions.

Don’t forget the coalminer’s daughter – Rudd digs deep for sector

BUSINESSES, community organisations and coalmining communities not eligible for direct compensation under the emissions trading scheme have not been forgotten, with a $2.5 billion special fund set aside to help them adapt.

The Climate Change Action Fund will be available to pay for energy-saving measures that would reduce operating costs.

As well, there will be help for the coal sector that could otherwise be at risk as a consequence of the scheme, threatening jobs and communities in predominantly Labor seats.

The biggest component of the fund, $1.4 billion, will be available to low-polluting small and medium-sized businesses, as well as community organisations, none of which are participants in the emissions trading scheme but which will be affected by the higher costs it produces.

They can apply for grants to install more energy-efficient lighting, air-conditioners and any other appliances. Money will also be available to help implement more efficient production methods.

The second-biggest component of the fund will be the $750 million to help coalmining regions. Particularly "gassy" mines – those which emit greenhouse gases as a consequence of mining – will have to buy permits but will not be eligible for the standard industry compensation.

Dirty, existing coalmines will be eligible for $500 million in assistance to keep them viable while they explore ways to cut pollution. Another $250 million will be used to help find solutions.

The third element will be $200 million in structural adjustment for workers in other sectors who may find their jobs at risk.

"The Government stands ready to provide assistance where a clear, identifiable and significant impact arises, or is highly likely to arise, as a direct result of the scheme," the white paper says.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said the provision was necessary to deal with any "unanticipated challenges".

The final component of the Climate Change Action Fund will be $130 million for an "information" program to alert small business and community organisations to the existence of the fund and how to manage under the emissions scheme.

Allenby threatens Open boycott

FORMER champion Robert Allenby last night launched a bitter attack on the running of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney, hitting out at the promoting of alcohol and the treatment of John Daly, and threatening to withdraw from next year’s tournament in protest after having played the event for 20 successive years.

The dual Open champion savaged Golf Australia’s "Stadium Hole" promotion at the 17th green, where a bar was set up, saying: "That’s not promoting golf, that’s promoting alcoholism."

He continued: "This is my 20th year in a row at the Open. No one knows that because no one writes anything. No one wants to write anything good. It’s my 20th year in a row and you wonder why golf in Australia’s slipping? Well, it’s the way it has been made to be. If that’s what they’ve got to do to promote tournaments, I don’t think I need to be here."

Allenby, who engaged in a vigorous discussion with Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt in front of the clubhouse after completing his final round, was also incensed by the John Daly sideshow at the open, saying it was "disgusting".

After finishing in a tie for third behind South Africa’s Tim Clark in the $1.5 million tournament, Allenby was scathing about the treatment of the American and the lack of action by course marshals against photographers. The Melburnian played alongside Daly on the opening two days, which included the incident on Thursday when the two-time major winner smashed a spectator’s digital camera into a tree. The spectator, Brad Clegg, has since criticised Daly in a newspaper interview.

"A lot of things were wrong this week, not so much with me," Allenby told Fairfax. "I don’t want to get myself into trouble but I could really let loose. I think it’s disgusting how the media have treated John Daly. It’s totally disgusting.

"All the guy wants to do is play golf. He understands and we understand that people want photographs. It says on the ticket – ‘No cameras allowed’. If this guy [Clegg] is going to kick on and on and on about it, that’s just horse shit. He knows that he shouldn’t have it there, so why’s he have it in his face? That’s a joke.

"I could have taken 50 cameras myself. That’s how close they were. The marshals did nothing. The first day on [hole] 16, the marshal’s taking a photo from the middle of the fairway, five yards behind Daly. There were more cameras this week than I’ve ever seen in my life at a tournament." In another incident, Allenby was lucky to avoid injury when a golf cart he was riding in flipped into a bunker after rain forced players from Royal Sydney on Friday, but he said that was not the source of his angst.

Pitt, who recently took up the chief executive role at GA’s Melbourne headquarters, said Allenby’s complaints would be noted. "We understand how important guys like Robert are to this tournament," he said.

"We want to make them feel this is an event that they won’t miss. Robert’s done 20 in a row. We certainly want Robert back. We’ll listen to anything he’s got to say, or any top player’s got to say."

Clark, a 32-year-old from Durban, beat Mathew Goggin in a play-off on the 18th hole, winning the tournament almost by default after the Tasmanian missed a straight-forward putt from a metre to take a bogey and hand over the Stonehaven Trophy. He is the third South African to win Australia’s biggest tournament, behind the legendary Gary Player, who won seven, and Bobby Locke.

Earlier, a "gutted" David Smail had squandered a four-shot lead by taking double bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes when the title was his for the taking. The New Zealander finished equal-third, with Allenby and West Australian Stephen Dartnall, a shot out of the play-off.

Dokic confident of winning wildcard

A FIT-AGAIN Jelena Dokic will this morning try to make her Christmas and New Year a little less stressful by securing early entry into the main draw of the Australian Open.

Dokic is one of 16 women competing for a solitary place in the Open, to be earned by winning the wildcard play-off tournament beginning today at Melbourne Park.

The tournament, which also has a men’s draw, gives local players a chance to qualify for next month’s grand slam tournament without having to get through the official qualifying tournament, which is open to all nationalities.

Dokic’s ranking of 179 is a far cry from her peak of No.4 in 2002, although the 25-year-old said she was much fitter than she had been during recent Open qualifying attempts.

"I’ve played a lot more this year and got my ranking up enough to get into qualifying for all of the [Australian] events, so it’s been a lot better … it’s probably the best year I’ve had in the last three years," Dokic said.

"There’s still work to do. With the lack of matches and play, and starting from zero, I’m not where I want to be, but considering how much I’ve played – I put all the hard work in, especially at the end of the season – I think I’ve done a good job."

Dokic, who has been in Melbourne for a week, is easily the oldest in her group, in which she will play 18-year-old Marija Mirkovic and 16-year-olds Monika Wejnert and Sophie Letcher. Other entrants in the women’s draw include Jessica Moore, who reached the second round of this year’s Australian and US Opens, Sophie Ferguson and Jade Hopper.

The oldest and youngest entrants in the men’s competition, 33-year-old Joe Sirianni and 16-year-old Bernard Tomic, will face each other in the round-robin stage. This week’s tournament will be Tomic’s first since he walked off in a match this month after his father, John, embroiled himself in an argument with the umpire.

John Tomic apologised to Tennis Australia on Saturday for instigating the walk-off, and Bernard echoed those sentiments yesterday.

"It’s a mistake that we made. We apologised but I’ve got to look forward now, that’s the main thing," he said. "Funny things happen but now it’s an important part of my career where I’ve got to look forward and put these things aside."

Tomic, this year’s Australian Open junior champion, also insisted he would not seek a new coach to replace his father. "My dad brought me to where I am now, to make history in juniors, so I’m really happy with what I have now … and I’ll stick with it until I feel like I need another coach," he said.

Veteran Peter Luczak, attempting to regain form after an injury-plagued year, has been drawn in the same group as 18-year-old Brydan Klein, who two years ago beat him in the first round of the play-off tournament when it was a knockout format.

Robert Smeets, Sam Groth and US-based Carsten Ball are among the other men vying for the single Open wildcard.

Late Sergio bullet seals victory for Roar

A stunning last-gasp finish from Sergio Van Dijk has given the Queensland Roar the perfect Christmas gift, with the home side completing a 2-1 win over Newcastle in a thrilling A-League clash in Brisbane.

The match looked destined for a draw before Danny Tiatto fired in a cross to the powerful Dutchman in the 90th minute, who acrobatically leapt to flick a left-footed strike past diving Jets keeper Ante Covic.

It is the first time the Roar have beaten the Jets at Suncorp Stadium, with the defending A-League champions having won in their past five trips to Brisbane.

The result sees the Roar claim third place on the ladder, while the Jets – who ended the Roar’s run in last year’s finals – can all but kiss their finals hopes goodbye, languishing 10 points from fourth place with six rounds to play.

It looked as if the Jets would continue to haunt the Roar at home when star striker Joel Griffiths struck after 26 minutes, claiming an incredible eight goals in as many starts against the Queenslanders.

But a first-half stoppage time header from replacement Mitch Nichols and Van Dijk’s sudden-death heroics turned the tables for the Queenslanders. It could have been settled earlier, when Tiatto and Michael Zullo both hit the woodwork within seconds of each other in the 87th minute.

The Jets are likely to be fuming about the 70th minute send-off of the desperately unlucky Jobe Wheelhouse, who was shown a second yellow card for a seemingly harmless tackle on Tahj Minniecon.

Suncorp Stadium’s new half million dollar surface was looking every inch its hefty price tag, not that it helped the Roar’s messy midfield early in the piece, who gave away a glut of cheap ball in the first half.

Wheelhouse did his best to level the footings, being shown a yellow card in the 11th minute for clumsily lifting his boots across the chest of Van Dijk.

The poor communication in the Roar midfield was starting to become viral, with a mix-up between defender Luke De Vere and keeper Liam Reddy almost proving costly in the 21st minute, when a turnover fell into the lap of Tarek Elrich.

With the goal begging, the striker hesistated to pull the trigger, giving the home side a brief respite. It didn’t last for long.

There was a strange sense of inevitability about Griffiths’ 26th minute finish. Like the storms that have been belting Queensland almost daily, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when.

When Wheelhouse tucked a long ball in behind Tiatto to set Griffiths racing, the alarm bells were screaming. When Griffiths chipped a lavish, angled finish to wrong-foot Reddy in the Roar goal for his sixth of the season, the damage had been done.

Frustrated and frazzled, Tiatto blew his top in the December heat, being shown a yellow card for a sliding tackle on James Holland in the 29th minute. His booking means he will miss the post-Christmas home game against Wellington on December 28.

Farina was more composed, pulling Andrew Packer in the 36th minute to switch his side to a 3-4-3 formation, sending blonde striker Nichols into the fray.

The 19-year-old had an immediate impact, rolling one just wide of Covic minutes after he took the field. But the crowd of 11,048 fans would have to wait until first-half stoppage time for the encore.

With time ticking down in the half, Matt McKay drifted in a dipping cross to find Nichols all alone at the far post. He dove at full stretch to poke the ball home between a furious Covic and Ben Kantarovski.

The effort from Nichols masked a patchy first half from the Roar, while both sides opened up the play noticeably when the match resumed.

The threat of Griffiths never subsides. In the 55th minute, he looked home again, sprinting down the right to have a good look at the net. It was only the frantic hustling of Roar skipper Craig Moore that stood between Griffiths and a 2-1 scoreline.

Griffiths nearly struck again off the resulting corner. This time it was Massimo Murdocca meeting the attacking header with one of his own to stave off the raid.

Fortunes swung dramatically in the 70th minute when Wheelhouse was shown his second yellow in highly controversial circumstances.

Wheelhouse slid in for the tackle on Minniecon, appearing to glance the ball and miss the player altogether. Minniecon continued on, falling of his own accord trying to round another defender but referee Ben Williams had already reached for his pocket.

Furious Jets players rallied against the decision, with skipper Jade North being shown a yellow of his own for his protestations.

If the Roar thought the home curse was over, they would have cause for a rethink after events in the 87th minute. First Tiatto’s searing strike hit the woodwork after having Covic beaten, then Zullo’s shot on the rebound looked home – only to suffer the same misfortune.

The night was a milestone for Roar youngster Tommy Oar, who made his A-League debut midway through the second half after turning 17 last Wednesday.

Brave riders test the finest line between glory and agony

QUESTION their navigation but never their courage. Question their commitment and hurl abuse when you feel hard-earned money has been lost due to the wrong option being taken. The jockeys are there to be shot down. They are also there to fall down, for it is a game of millimetres.

Thoroughbreds weighing 500 kilograms-plus, racing at speeds of 60kmh, with people weighing 50kg doing the steering are ingredients for mayhem. We saw it last week. Jockeys beating up on each other in pursuit of winners to reward the faithful. The faithful being owners, trainers and punters.

You talk about the fine line and how it is walked. In this case it is ridden and it’s scary. But a jockey will tell when you lose your nerve, it is time to give the game away. Jockeys are probably best off not having any nerves.

For what happened last Wednesday at Rosehill is a reminder that jockeys are a rare breed. One-time champion apprentice Kathy O’Hara was the first to go. Sandwiched between horses, which racing’s police – the stewards – deemed to have moved in and out. The result? O’Hara’s mount struck the heels of a horse which squeezed shut a clear run.

Jockeys tell you that clipping heels is the easiest way to plough into the turf from atop a horse. Emerging apprentice Tom Berry’s navigation into clear running – his shot at victory – near the 300m was deemed by stewards to be 60 per cent blameworthy for O’Hara’s fall. Senior jockey Nash Rawiller’s inward movement made up the rest.

Back in May, Rawiller came a cropper at Canterbury. It, too, was a nasty fall but like with O’Hara, luckily nothing was broken. On that occasion Rawiller was looking for a winning run that wasn’t there.

It is that fine line. The one Hugh Bowman was deemed to have crossed some 40 minutes after O’Hara hit the deck. Bowman bumped the mount of rival Rod Quinn which in turn ended up hitting Jeff Lloyd’s horse. Lloyd’s galloper knuckled over and the jockey flew over the top. Blake Shinn was following and couldn’t avoid the carnage. Nor could Peter Robl, who was following Shinn. Three horses down and as many riders. A tangled mess.

To think it all happened in the time it takes to snap your fingers. Bowman maintained his manoeuvre outwards was executed with the utmost care. Bowman argued it was a move made thousands of times before and one that will continue to be made. For it is all about winning and losing. Had Bowman remained holed up behind horses his mount would not have won.

Robl ended up with a fractured vertebrae, Shinn a fractured wrist, while Lloyd had a black eye, sore hand and severe concussion. The trio are out of action for between two and eight weeks. For Robl it may be longer. He is wearing a neck brace.

And the jockeys view it all so differently from those policing the game. A battered Lloyd told stewards on Friday evening the riders found themselves in "a bit of a freaky situation". Robl harbours no ill will towards anyone, for he stated from a Westmead Hospital bed it was all part of the career choice.

It mattered not for Bowman. Stewards slapped him with a seven-week ban. He intends to appeal the severity. For Rawiller it got worse. At Rosehill on Saturday, he repeated Bowman’s move out from behind horses and caused trouble behind. Horses had to check but none hit the deck. It is the fine line again.

Rawiller told stewards when pleading guilty to careless riding: "I’ve got to completely change my riding style."

A fine line indeed.

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