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.

Complaints soar as people struggle to pay power bills

THE number of families who have had their electricity cut off or who face disconnection because they cannot pay their bills has surged, leading to a new high in complaints about electricity and water utilities.
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There were 8913 cases, up 3 per cent, in 2007-08, says the annual report by Clare Petre, the NSW Energy and Water Ombudsman, released today. Complaints have more than doubled over the past eight years.

The modest overall increase masked a 32 per cent rise in complaints linked to affordability, to a record 1484.

In recent months there had been a notable increase in families facing difficulties paying their electricity bills. "Some customers have substantial arrears on their account which they are having trouble reducing because they are struggling to cover their usage costs," Ms Petre said.

Some families are facing bills running to "a couple of thousand dollars" a quarter, she said. She advised families to contact their electricity provider to discuss ways to cut consumption, and in some cases to seek financial assistance if they are in arrears.

In all, 983 families were disconnected, and another 866 faced disconnection because of non-payment of bills.

The largest area of complaint remains issues relating to billing, such as bills that are too high, disputed amounts, delays in receiving a bill, or a bill not being received. Complaints in this area made up 37 per cent of all those lodged with the Ombudsman.

The highest level of complaints came from areas surrounding Sydney such as the Blue Mountains, Gosford and Wyong, followed by inner Sydney and the Hunter. Origin Energy was the company with the highest rate of complaints, 281 per 10,000 customers, followed by Jackgreen, with 151. TRUenergy and Canberra’s ActewAGL both had 43 complaints per 10,000 customers.

A family bond beyond blood

KATHRYN ORFORD’S mother was adopted and then, when she was 43 in 1998, she found out that she too was adopted.
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It was not a great surprise. She had long suspected something but could not quite put her finger on it, yet she had loved her upbringing and her adoptive parents so much she too thought it quite natural to adopt when the time came to make a decision about parenthood.

In 2003, the Forestville peak-performance coach flew to Ethiopia to meet Samrawit, a five-year-old girl who adoption agencies believed had been orphaned.

"I woke up on the morning of my 48th birthday with Samrawit lying next to me. It was the best birthday of my life," Ms Orford said yesterday.

"My adoptive mother had trouble conceiving so I was her long-awaited child and was so very, very much cherished.

"In my early 40s I’d gone to sperm banks and considered the whole IVF thing and when I questioned whether I wanted to be a biological mum or just a mum, I thought, a mum would do fine.

"And adopting a child from overseas who faced death, disease or abject poverty was a way of keeping what had been a way of life in my family for three generations."

A single mother, Ms Orford has decided to tell her story publicly as part of National Adoption Awareness Week and her unusual family history is a kind of tree of life of adoption in Australia.

For much of last century, so many children were surrendered around Australia that, Ms Orford said, some studies estimated 70 per cent of the population have personal experience of adoption.

But then the well dried up when the pill and ready availability of supporting parent pensions arrived and since the 1970s Australians have tended to adopt overseas.

Ms Orford’s biological mother, a South African Boer, attached a note to documents lodged with the Department of Community Services that she did not wish to meet her daughter.

"She said her husband had ill health and I can only assume it’s because he does not know of my existence," Ms Orford said.

Ms Orford was born in 1955 at Royal North Shore Hospital, according to her adoptive mother’s closest friend, after her birth mother had a shipboard romance with a Melbourne man. Both were engaged to others.

"I only found all this out when I was thinking about IVF and was asked how difficult my birth had been for my mother," she said. "At the time, my mother was in a nursing home suffering dementia and slowly dying, so I asked my Aunty Molly … eventually she told me I was a adopted. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must have been for my mum arriving in Australia, just 22, no family, no friends and pregnant in the ’50s.

"I wait in hope that one day she’ll be ready to meet me."

In the years since adopting Samrawit, Ethiopian authorities have informed Ms Orford that her daughter’s parents were in fact alive and had surrendered the youngest of their nine children because they could not afford to keep her.

"We are going to Ethiopia in early 2010. Samrawit will meet her mum and dad and brothers and sisters and not go through life wondering who she is or where she came from."

Cousins sympathy vote falls short

WHEN Ben Cousins was arrested in a Perth street, his bare torso revealing the defiant "Such Is Life" inked across his stomach, it seemed that line was all the drug-addicted footballer shared with its author Ned Kelly.
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However, after a day in which the AFL Commission refused to tamper with its rules to allow Cousins’s return, and Richmond indicated they were therefore "highly unlikely" to recruit him in today’s pre-season draft, it seemed he could depart the game for good with the folk hero status of the notorious bushranger.

Spurned and vilified by the AFL, several clubs, the media and many fans after his first attempt to return from drug rehabilitation last year ended with his humiliatingly public arrest, Cousins has suddenly drawn sympathy from those who believe he has been sucked in and spat out by an uncaring system.

Even after Richmond’s football manager, Craig Cameron, seemed to put an end to Cousins’s chances of being drafted yesterday – and, most likely, to his AFL career – the fans, enticed by the prospect of the 30-year-old bolstering their young and promising midfield, pushed for the Tigers to reconsider the decision.

The chorus was led by former Sydney Swans Brownlow Medallist and media pundit Gerard Healy who, having dealt personally with Cousins in recent times, passionately advocates his return to the game.

Healy, who broke the story of Richmond’s bid to recruit Cousins on Fairfax radio, said last night that the Tigers’ decision was not yet final and a change of heart today could lead them to pick him with the sixth and final pick in the draft. However, Cameron said he had told Cousins’s manager, Ricky Nixon, the club was now unlikely to recruit him.

"It’s our prerogative to take a deep breath and consider our position – in fact it is incumbent on us as a football club to do that for our supporters," Cameron said. "But it is highly unlikely that we will select him tomorrow."

Cameron said the strong support for Cousins’s recruitment by supporters would not affect the club’s long-term strategy to recruit a young player – possibly NSW junior Kade Klemke.

"I think the decision we have to make has to be a long-term decision and it shouldn’t be based on a swing on public mood in the last week," he said.

It had been that public groundswell of support for Cousins that led most to believe the AFL, which is notoriously sensitive to public opinion, would rubber-stamp Richmond’s plan to recruit the player the league had readmitted to the game under onerous drug-testing conditions last month.

Under Richmond’s proposal, defender Graham Polak, whose playing future has been in doubt since he suffered head injuries after being hit by a tram, would have been placed on their rookie list as Essendon had been allowed to do with cancer patient Adam Ramanauskas. Richmond would then have been granted an extra pick in today’s draft with which they intended to take Cousins.

However, with most of the 14 clubs which made submissions about Richmond’s application opposed – mostly on the grounds that, unlike the uncontracted Ramanauskas, the Tigers were able to keep Polak by simply putting him on their long-term injury list – the commission yesterday turned down the proposal.

Aware that they could be seen to be thwarting Cousins’s attempt to return to the game, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou was eager to make it clear the decision was based solely on Polak’s situation.

"We’ve made our position [on Cousins] clear, we hope he plays football because it would be good as part of his rehabilitation," Demetriou said.

As he emphasised, Richmond are still entitled to recruit Cousins today. However, it seems they are unwilling to do so without the tacit AFL support that would have come with a positive decision on their Polak application – which would have in turn assured shared responsibility had the gamble backfired.

Now, unless the Tigers make a spectacular backflip, Cousins will have to decide whether to play at a lower level in the hope of being drafted at the end of next season. Or, like that other folk hero Kelly, to depart with a fatalistic shrug.

Tigers coy on Cousins pick

RICHMOND is still a strong chance to draft Ben Cousins today despite the AFL’s decision to deny the club’s request to transfer the recuperating Graham Polak on to the rookie list.
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While the club’s official line was that it was "highly unlikely" to pick Cousins in today’s pre-season draft, sources last night suggested that Cousins was a better-than-even-money chance to be selected.

Key officials were discussing the issue last night, including coach Terry Wallace, general manager of football operations Craig Cameron and chief executive Steve Wright.

The club’s board, which had already given approval to recruiting Cousins, had largely left the decision to the football department and executive last night.

The club was mindful not only of its list management needs and youth agenda, but also the Tiger army’s groundswell in favour of Cousins, fanned by club ambassador Kevin Sheedy and talkback radio, with supporters having deluged the club with messages imploring it to pick the Brownlow medallist and recovering drug addict.

In an Age poll, 78 per cent of the 5000-plus respondents said they thought the Tigers should pick Cousins.

A matter of hours after the AFL Commission declined Richmond’s application for Polak, who is recovering from head injuries sustained in a collision with a tram, the Tigers said it was highly unlikely that Cousins would be picked with their one selection in today’s pre-season draft.

Even then, however, Cameron left the door ajar for Cousins, in that he did not categorically rule out the former West Coast champion and suggested that the club needed to pause — "take a deep breath" — and absorb a decision that caught the club by surprise. Had the Polak application been successful, the Tigers would have had no hesitation in using their extra selection to pick Cousins. Now that it has been rejected, Cousins’ chances of reviving his career rested last night on Richmond’s willingness to abandon the club’s insistence on linking Cousins’ arrival to the Polak transfer.

In the AFL community, at club level, it was seen that the AFL had called Richmond’s bluff.

If he is not picked, Cousins will have no avenue to play AFL football in 2008, and his career would likely be over, ending a post-season saga that has had three Melbourne clubs — Collingwood, St Kilda and finally Richmond — contemplating recruiting the recovering drug addict, with the Magpies, Saints and Brisbane Lions dropping out, in that order.

"It’s unlikely the Richmond Football Club will select Ben with six. Our position with pick six has been fairly well documented," said Cameron, who said the club was disappointed by the decision.

"This (the AFL’s decision) is a decision that was unexpected by us. It’s our prerogative to take a deep breath and consider our position. But it is highly unlikely we will select Ben."

The Tigers had been optimistic that their application would be successful, and the club had made it clear that it wanted an extra pick in the pre-season draft, believing that it would lose access to a young player without the additional pick it sought to create via shifting Polak.

In rejecting the Richmond application for Polak, the AFL drew a distinction between Polak and Essendon’s Adam Ramanauskas, who was permitted to be placed on the rookie list in 2006, when he was recovering from cancer treatment.

One of the obvious differences between the Polak and Ramanauskas cases was that whereas the Essendon’s bid was backed by rival clubs, the Richmond application was not supported by the bulk of the clubs, 14 of which made submissions, the majority opposed to the Richmond proposal. The AFL cited club opposition among the factors that led it to reject Richmond’s bid.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the prospects of Richmond picking Cousins had no bearing on the decision to reject the Tigers’ application, the AFL boss saying that the league had given Cousins "the green light" by approving his application to enter the draft.

"He (Ramanauskas) was delisted, that was done before the national draft," said Demetriou. "He was not a contracted player at the time and the decision to put him then on the rookie list gave him an opportunity to remain in the AFL system."

Demetriou confirmed "the majority of clubs" were against the application — many because it represented a corruption of the rules — but added: "That was just one factor in the commission’s decision-making … when it was all said and done, we’ve got rules in place that deal exactly for this situation. The mechanism is there for Polak to be placed on the long-term injury list and a rookie elevated from the rookie list for as long as Polak is out of football."

RailCorp bosses let corruption flourish

THE RailCorp second-in-command, Gary Seabury, has been told to resign or face the sack from his $379,000 position following the most damning corruption inquiry conducted into NSW railways.
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The RailCorp board, led by the former chairman, Ross Bunyon, and the former chief executive, Vince Graham, failed to manage properly the $17 billion state-owned corporation, letting "endemic and enduring corruption" flourish, according to a withering report by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Both Mr Bunyon and Mr Graham quit during the inquiry.

In a long-awaited report into RailCorp, released yesterday, ICAC recommends sweeping changes including a spill of the board, reviewing the chief executive’s position, an internal restructure and even new responsibilities for the Transport Minister, David Campbell.

More than $21 million was lost to graft and fraud during the period covered by the inquiry. The commission has recommended more than 660 charges against 33 staff and contractors, and it made 97 separate corruption findings against 31 people.

"Ultimate responsibility for preventing corruption in this critical public organisation is shared by RailCorp’s CEO, the RailCorp board and the Minister for Transport. It is incumbent upon them to break with past practices and improve oversight and action regarding corruption prevention," the report says.

It recommends reviewing the responsibilities of the proposed RailCorp Advisory Board, the chief executive and the minister "to determine whether they need to be restructured to better ensure financially responsible management that would limit the opportunity for corruption".

This is the seventh ICAC inquiry into the railways since 1992, and all have focused on procurement and improper relationships with contractors.

The report found that corruption was widespread despite the repeated findings of past investigations. "It is clear that the importance of preventing corruption in RailCorp was not a priority for the senior executive team," the report says.

"The commission’s investigation exposed endemic and enduring corruption in RailCorp … at many levels."

Like Mr Graham and Mr Bunyon, Mr Seabury, the group general manager of RailCorp’s asset management group, was not accused of involvement in any of the scams the commission uncovered.

But the report has found that "managerial competence" was so poor that all senior positions in his division undergo a review, with the jobs filled externally by candidates "with a demonstrated record in management and probity".

It also recommended that Mr Seabury’s position be similarly reviewed, and an independent expert be appointed for up to five years to oversee an overhaul of his division.

"It’s been agreed by the CEO and myself that that particular officer will be stood aside while there is further consideration to the implications of this report," Mr Campbell said yesterday.

But the Herald understands Mr Seabury’s name was put on a hit list within the Department of Premier and Cabinet more than a week before the report was delivered to Government, along with that of Fran Simons, a former head of human resources at the organisation.

Ms Simons was given notice last Friday. Her removal was not linked to the investigation but to the Government’s pledge to trim the senior public service.

At least two other general managers at RailCorp have also been dismissed as part of the cuts, and the Herald has been reliably informed there are several others to come.

Mr Seabury was told yesterday by the new chief executive, Rob Mason, that he should either resign or face dismissal.

The commission also found the Government must share responsibility for the devastating findings, after a string of poor decisions about how the railways were organised.

The Government gave only nine months’ notice of the 2004 merger of the former State Rail Authority and the Rail Infrastructure Corporation.

"The merger was consequently poorly planned and implemented," the report says.

"Opportunities for corruption were created through management and general staff having unclear roles."

Mr Campbell said he would ask the Auditor-General to advise on the implementation of the report’s recommendations.

Crowe says Rabbits need to fend for themselves

SOUTH SYDNEY part-owner Russell Crowe believes the time has arrived for the "business to stand on its own", revealing to members he will no longer pour cash into his beloved Bunnies.
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At the request of club CEO Shane Richardson and chairman Nick Pappas, Crowe sent a six-minute, emailed video message to each Souths member, speaking about the club and progress, but during the message he admits he "won’t continue to put in the type of cash I’ve had to, forever".

"I’m always going to be a Souths’ boy, that won’t change," he says. "Next week someone will have to find a couple of hundred grand for gym equipment, 50 or 60 [thousand] more for interior fit-out costs at Redfern [Oval], individual named lockers, ice baths built in, inspirational things, huge photographs, boards with every player from every premiership we’ve ever won, team photos from every year we have on record, inspirational things the players will benefit from, and an atmosphere which brings them inside 100 years of history.

"Now don’t worry about the bill, between generous sponsors and myself, we’ll get it done this time. I will tell you this, though, I won’t continue to put the type of cash I’ve had to into Souths so far, forever. The business has to begin to stand on its own. Be quite sure that is not an emotional issue for me, it is what it is."

Richardson said yesterday the message was not about Crowe slowing or stopping his funding, it was about progress, and that meant building membership and making the club self-sufficient. "Membership is the most important thing to clubs," Richardson said. "We’re the largest ticketed member club of all the Sydney clubs. Last year we had 6700, this year we’re already over the 6000 mark and we want to get to 8000 [next season] and eventually 15,000. All Russell is doing is coming out on the video and explaining the importance of membership and being involved with the club. It was not a media release or put on the website, it’s put directly to the members.

"We’re projecting to break square next year and membership is a crucial part of that. And I don’t think the members see this as doom and gloom, Russell is not putting cash in, I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from the members.

"He’s being honest about his backing for the club, honest about how he sees the club progressing. He’s only done this with our prompting. I don’t think there is any problem stating the bleeding obvious, you’re not going to keep pouring money down the tube if people aren’t going to get behind the club …

"I make no apologies. I think Russell is right in what he says … I don’t want Russell to put more money in, I want us to stand on our own two feet because the day that we do, we are a genuine premiership threat."

Surgeon struck off after sex with patient

THERE was no chance the celebrity plastic surgeon would be convicted for sexual assault after having oral sex with a patient, the Director of Public Prosecutions found two years ago, when it dropped charges against him.
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But yesterday Martyn Mendelsohn was struck off the register of doctors for professional misconduct, although his 22-year-old patient who wanted a nose "like a Barbie doll" decided not to give evidence against him.

Mendelsohn – an ear, nose and throat specialist who had appeared on the TV program RPA – was accused of unethical conduct over the sexual incident and of lacking care, knowledge, skill or judgment when performing nose surgery on the woman immediately afterwards.

The Medical Tribunal found Mendelsohn, 50, also lacked candour when talking about the sexual encounter and lacked insight into his involvement in the event.

The act had happened in May 2005, when he had offered to perform a rhinoplasty on the patient after hours in his rooms under a local anaesthetic to make it cheaper.

The patient – who according to the doctor’s assistant was "a bit of a nutter" who looked up to him – arrived late and all staff had left. The prospective model had had her nose broken for a third time after recent surgery. Mendelsohn said she hugged him, claiming to be scared, then offered to "look after" him if he looked after her needs for further plastic surgery. She kissed him, placed his hand on her breast and performed oral sex.

Mendelsohn told the tribunal: "I lost my composure. Instead of thinking about right and wrong, I just froze. I could feel myself unable to move at all … It all seemed fairly quick … I felt trapped and manipulated by the events."

The woman had told police Mendelsohn had injected her with a substance, believed to be an anaesthetic, which made her lose control over her body. Then she felt Dr Mendelsohn kiss her and touch her breast before the sexual incident occurred. She alleged he said: "Don’t worry, you won’t have to pay for this or any other surgeries."

Mendelsohn, a former lecturer at the University of Sydney, was the head of the Australasian Academy of Facial Plastic Surgeons and served on a Government committee. The tribunal found stress of a busy practice, his other involvements and the recent cancer diagnosis of his wife had contributed to significant stress.

It ordered he be struck off from December 29 and not be allowed to re-apply for at least two years.

Greenpeace, WWF damn paper on climate change

THE Federal Government’s white paper on climate change received only muted praise from industry but outright hostility from the environment movement.
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Environment and community groups reacted angrily. Sixty of them joined to condemn the Government’s target range.

The range of between 5 and 15 per cent was "a total failure of climate policy and shows that the Rudd Government has caved in to pressure from the big polluters", the groups, including Greenpeace and WWF, said.

"If adopted globally this target would guarantee the loss of the Great Barrier Reef and the Kakadu wetlands and steer the Earth on a path towards catastrophic climate change."

The executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, said the Government had "given up on our much-loved and important natural icons".

Mr Henry was also concerned about the billions of dollars in industry assistance guaranteed by the Government that he said came with "virtually no strings attached".

"This could herald a new era of pollution protectionism," Mr Henry said.

The Australian Council for Social Service said it was unhappy with the targets but welcomed the help for low- and middle-income families.

The chief executive officer of the council, Clare Martin, said the Government should investigate retrofitting homes of people on low incomes.

"The retrofit would significantly increase household energy efficiency and could include upgrades of basic equipment such as hot water systems and refrigerators to best practice performance standards in low-income households," Ms Martin said.

Response from business was mixed. Many companies said the Government had not offered enough assistance.

The executive director of the Australian Industry Group, Heather Ridout, said the white paper was "a positive compromise but a stretch nonetheless".

"The challenges for business will be exacerbated by the fact that they will have to be met at a time when businesses are being called on to manage their way through an unparalleled global economic crisis and unprecedented domestic economic uncertainty."

The executive director of the Australian Coal Association, Ralph Hillman, said coal companies should be given the same protection as aluminium and cement companies.

"It is in Australia’s best interests to ensure the coal industry is not disadvantaged compared to its competitors in countries that aren’t planning to impose the same carbon limits," Mr Hillman said.

The Business Council of Australia said it appeared many of its concerns about the so-called emissions-intensive companies – which risk losing business to overseas competitors – had been addressed.

PM baulks at crossroads of history

"OUR generation stands at the crossroads of history," the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, declared yesterday at his climate change launch, asking emotively: "Do we wait, knowing our grandchildren may never see the grandeur of the Great Barrier Reef’?"
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Well, maybe, is the answer woven through the carbon pollution reduction plan, released to the muted applause of industry and the condemnation of the environment movement.

Rudd and his Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, are strenuously arguing they have the balance right in their plan that sets a 2020 target to cut Australia’s greenhouse emissions well below the figure called for at the United Nations climate negotiations and by many climate scientists.

The Government’s cuts of between 5 and 15 per cent below 2000 emissions levels are an admission it has given up on an ambitious global climate change agreement coming out of the UN talks next year. Figures in the Garnaut review clearly show that Australia, along with other developed countries, would have to take on cuts of at least 25 per cent to get an agreement in Copenhagen that might have a chance of saving the Great Barrier Reef.

The UN’s scientific body believes the 2020 target for developed countries should be cuts in the range of 25 and 40 per cent below 1990 emissions to keep the global temperature rising above two degrees and avoid dangerous climate change. This, along with slowing the emissions from developing countries, is required to keep global greenhouse gas concentrations at about 450 parts per million and achieve an ambitious climate agreement.

Rudd argued Australia still wanted an "ambitious" climate agreement that would deliver this result, but significantly, he puts it "in the future" – not, it seems, during the UN climate negotiations.

Rudd has sent a firm message that he will not accept a 2020 target of 25 per cent or more for Australia in the UN negotiations. He and Wong are prepared to justify their lower 2020 target, arguing a 15 per cent target is equivalent to the 30 per cent target being offered by the Europeans – if it is calculated per head of population.

But prosecuting this argument at the UN will be very difficult. Australia is already the largest emitter of greenhouse gases per head of all the developed countries. Asking for a special deal to compensate Australia for its poor greenhouse record will be a tough ask.

And, as the emissions expert Dr Hugh Sadler points out, the per head figures released by Rudd are based on only an estimated 45 per cent increase in Australia’s population between 1990 and 2020. On this reasoning, Sadler said, China would be penalised in the negotiations for slowing its population growth.

Rudd and Wong’s political message was that only the "extreme left" would attack the plan for not doing enough. But the "extreme left" includes former United States vice-president Al Gore, the head of the UN’s Nobel-winning scientific panel, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, and the former World Bank chief Nicholas Stern.

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.