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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