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.

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.

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.

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’?"

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.