North bundled out

BRAGGINGrights from the inaugural Northern Inland Premier League All Stars match went to the Southern Conference after a 3-1 victory over their northern opponents at Doody Park on Saturday.
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TUMBLED OVER: Northern Conference’s Heath Milne outmuscles Southern Conference oppenent Ryan Searle on Saturday. Searle and his teammates would have the last laugh however, winning the match 3-1.

That match and the earlier Rising Stars game raised $3000 for Ronald McDonald House.

Southern Conference found themselves up 1-nil after only five minutes after a mistake at the back by the Northern Conference defence.

The match evened out after that early goal and mid-way through the opening half Northern Conference were pushing hard for an equaliser.

But South scored a goal against the run of play to go up 2-nil.

A Josh Quaife penalty just before the break reduced the deficit to one.

Northern Conference coach Andy Lennon thought his side had the upper hand in the second half, but they were unable to find an equaliser and pushed everyone forward in the dying minutes, allowing Southern Conference to nab a late goal for a 3-1 win.

“It was a little diapointing,” Lennon said.

“We didn’t start well, but once we settled in we didn’t look too bad.”

Lennon had nothing but praise for the new concept and believes it will be bigger and better in 2015. “The main thing about the day was to pit the best against the best and we did that,” he said.

“The boys loved the concept.

“To raise $3000 for Ronald McDonald House was great as well.”

Lennon thought 2014 golden boot winner Jake Davies was close to the best on the park and was also impressed with midfielders Rhys Andrews and Willow Grieves as well as back Brendan Hatte.

The Rising Stars match finished at 1-all after Callan Macgregor scored in the dying seconds for Northern Conference. “It was a good game,” Northern Conference coach Mark Gwynne said.

“It was a very entertaining game.”

Southern Conference scored from a free kick deflection in the first half.

Northern Conference had plenty of chances to equalise throughout the match, but were unable to hit the back of the net until Macgregor finished off a beautiful Naran Singh through ball in the final minutes.

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New look for Tamworth in Country Cup

AN ENGLISHMAN, a miner and teenage spinner are the new faces in Tamworth’s Country Cup team to tackle a Newcastle adversary first up in Sunday’s Country Cup clash at Tamworth’s No 1 Oval.
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Adam Jones plays a back foot drive for his Bective-East side against South Tamworth and wicketkeeper Tom Groth. The pair will be united in the Tamworth side on Sunday for a Country Cup clash with Toronto, with Groth to skipper the side. hoto: Geoff O’Neill 191014GOF03

Tamworth selectors named one of North Tamworth’s two English recruits, Adam Mansfield, in their side to play Toronto on Sunday as well as Boggabri-based miner Brad Jenkinson and young Old Boys spinner WillChesterfield.

Mansfield was in sparkling form with the bat and gloves in Sunday’s War Veterans Cup run chase against Namoi at No 1 Oval.

He struck a fine 45, including some spanking off drives against left-arm Gunnedah seamer Troy Sands.

He and Redback teammate Kris Halloran (75) added 105 for the fourth wicket on a dying wicket to snare North Tamworth a six wicket win and a War Veterans Cup semi-final berth.

With Halloran playing for Gwydir in the Country Plate and Connolly Cup, it enables Mansfield to fill his spot in the Tamworth top order.

“He’s been pretty exciting so far,” said Tamworth selector and fellow top order batsman Adam Jones of the English Redback.

“He hasn’t missed out yet with the bat – he’s scored two or three 40s and a half century in the trial we had.

“He’s earned a spot in the top order and will open the batting with Simon (Norvill).

“That’s a pretty exciting pairing too.

“Adam’s got a pretty tight defensive technique too and I think he and Simon will make a very good opening partnership – I think they’ll be the perfect fit.”

Jenkinson, who plays with Jones at Bective-East, has made an immediate impression on his Bulls teammates with both bat and ball.

He took wickets and scored runs for the Bulls in their two WVC wins on the weekend and will form a four-man pace attack with Angus McNeill, Jack McVey and left-armer Col Smyth.

That leaves Chesterfield as the main spin option, with James Psarakis and Michael Rixon also quite capable of bowling tight off-spin.

“Will’s in good form and been doing all the right things,” Jones added.

“Last year he was one reason why Old Boys won the first grade premiership and has shown that talent all the way through the juniors as a 15 and 16-year-old.

“He is our main spin option but Jimmie and Ricko are also handy.

“This is the best-balanced Tamworth side I’ve seen for a while.”

Tamworth selectors have also come up with a strong Second XI to play Armidale in their Country Shield clash in Armidale on Sunday.

Matt Everett, Will Howard and English teenager Jack Beaumont drop back from the Tamworth First XI squad to bolster a side to be captained by Ben Middlebrook and containing the likes of Aaron Hazlewood and Adam Lole.

Hazlewood and Lole have been long- term members of the First XI and the pair of left-handers ensure there is a strong batting lineup, with Everett in the top order with Middlebrook.

“It was hard on Matt but we couldn’t fit him in with Grothy to keep and Adam his backup,” Jones said.

“With Ben to captain the side, Matty can concentrate on his keeping and batting.

“Will (Howard) just missed out as well and he and Jack (Beaumont) will be very handy in the bowling.

“It’s a very good side too.”

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‘It was definitely satisfying’: Kate Pulbrook looks back on undefeated national hockey title with NSW

ORANGE BORN AND BRED: Eva Reith-Snare (left) and Kate Pulbrook (right) with Edwina and Meredith Bone in Brisbane two weekends ago.AFTER the Hockey Australia Under 13s Girls’ National Championships in Brisbane earlier this month, Hockey NSW western region coaching coordinator Kate Pulbrook has found herself boasting a forgotten sporting success story.
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It’s become common knowledge Orange guns Bailey Ferguson and Eva Reith-Snare were a part of their respective boys’ and girls’ undefeated national title winning NSW teams.

However, few are aware Pulbrook coached the girls’ side to the championship – in her first crack at the job. Despite having a wealth of coaching experience, Pulbrook acknowledged mentoring a young side at the national level presented a welcome challenge, which turned into a wonderful success story.

“It was definitely satisfying,” Pulbrook said.

“The girls did an incredible job. [Winning] was definitely an aim, but with a group of girls from all over the state you never really know.”

Pulbrook’s side’s title was NSW’s second in as many years, and the sky blues’ mentor said the expectation from outside and within the camp posed a problem for her side, one the players dealt with exceptionally.

“There was a bit of expectation,” she said.

“In fact, the girls who played last year had that expectation on themselves for this year, so we had to try and get them to just focus on our game rather than that, which they did well.”

NSW won nine of its 11 games and drew the other two to secure the title, and had the added advantage of being able to learn from, and mingle with, several Australian Hockey League (AHL) teams.

Pulbrook said she had personally made a huge effort to watch the ACT Strikers’ games, to have the chance to watch and catch up with Orange’s Edwina and Meredith Bone.

“Yeah that was great, the NSW AHL came and worked with our under 13s, and I’m sure they learned plenty,” Pulbrook said.

“We had pool sessions, and some of them answered questions for the girls if they asked. It was great.

“And I’m pretty good friends with Eddie and Mere (Bone) so we caught up with them and always made sure to watch their games. More for me, but Eva knows they’re from Orange and wanted to see them in action.”

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Gough Whitlam’s free university education reforms led to legacy of no upfront fees

A generation of Australians will forever remember Gough Whitlam as the man who gave them a free university education. Whitlam’s abolition of university fees cemented him as a Labor folk hero yet his higher education legacy remains contested and contradictory.
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In a pre-election speech in Bankstown in 1972, Whitlam said: “We believe that a student’s merit, rather than a parent’s wealth, should decide who should benefit from the community’s vast financial commitment to tertiary education.”

Surprisingly, the Australian Union of Students lobbied for fees to be retained – reportedly because the students believed making higher education free would redistribute resources to those who did not need them.

Nevertheless, the Whitlam government abolished university fees in 1974. The policy would remain in place for 14 years, including the entire life of the Fraser government.

Whitlam also gave the Commonwealth full control over university funding and introduced a system of student income support that survives today through Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy.

While more working-class students and women attended university, the introduction of free higher education did not lead to a dramatic change in the composition of university enrolments. That’s because most working-class Australians did not complete high school, meaning university was not an option for them. And about 80 per cent of students had not paid fees anyway because they were covered by Commonwealth scholarships and other subsidies.

While free higher education remained popular, by the late 1980s senior members of the Hawke government were determined to unwind it. More students were finishing year 12, leading to a growing queue of prospective students. Funding the entire cost of their education would place a significant burden on the budget. It would also be regressive, higher education minister John Dawkins concluded, because most university students came from well-off backgrounds and would earn more over a lifetime because of their degree.

In 1989, Labor established HECS, meaning students would pay tuition fees but only when earning a decent wage.

The Abbott government is now proposing allowing universities to charge students as much as they want for a degree.

While Australia is moving ever further away from the era of no university fees, Bruce Chapman, the architect of the HECS scheme, says Whitlam’s impact should not be underestimated.

“Whitlam’s higher education agenda and Dawkins’ had one thing in common: to take away any need for people to find money to enrol in university,” Chapman says. “Gough Whitlam left a legacy of a system without upfront fees that has lasted for 40 years.”

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Gough Whitlam left a long list of achievements

Gough Whitlam is perhaps best known for the manner in which he prematurely exited from power rather than how he chose to wield it
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But wield it he did. Whitlam’s short three-year shelf life as prime minister is generally recognised as one of Australia’s most reforming governments.

Conservative government has been the norm in Australian politics since federation and the preference is for reform by increment rather than by rush. Consequently, much of what Gough Whitlam built – such as a free university education – has been torn down by successive governments on both sides of the political spectrum.

But what remains continues to shape Australia’s national life like a guardian angel. Here is some of the Whitlam legacy:

● His government extricated Australia from the Vietnam War and abolished conscription. Australia had been fighting in South Vietnam since 1962. Two years later conscription was introduced but the first wave of baby boomers rebelled and eventually they, and their elders, took to the streets in moratorium nationwide marches that saw mass civil disobedience reflect the prevailing view. Labor’s anti-war policy became one of Whitlam’s most powerful election campaign assets.

● Whitlam took the demonology out of foreign policy, recognising China after the Coalition had refused contact with Beijing for 24 years. Whitlam ripped the rug from beneath Bill McMahon when he led a Labor delegation to China in July 1971 and the Coalition prime minister accused him of being a Communist pawn only to see United States President Richard Nixon announce his proposed visit to China a week later. Whitlam also attempted to redefine the alliance with the US.

● Medibank, the precursor to Medicare, was established.

● Social welfare reforms included the supporting mother’s benefit and welfare payment for homeless people. Before 1973 only widows were entitled to pension payments, so other women who were raising children alone faced invidious choices. But the pension payment gave single mothers choices and options around the raising of their children. It also helped remove old stigmas around single mothers.

● Equal pay for women: One of the first acts of the Whitlam government was to reopen the National Wage and Equal Pay cases at the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The 1972 Equal Pay case meant that Australian women doing work similar to that done by men should be paid an equal wage. Two years later the commission extended the adult minimum wage to include women workers for the first time.

● The Postmaster-General’s Department was replaced by the twin-headed Telecom and Australia Post.

● The Australian Legal Office and Australian Law Reform Commission were set up.

● The death penalty for Commonwealth offences was abolished. Melbourne escapee Ronald Ryan was the last man executed in Australia on February 3, 1967, for shooting a prison guard. Victoria and some state governments (not NSW which abolished capital punishment for murder in 1955) remained proponents of the death penalty. Whitlam’s reforms led to the 2010 federal legislation prohibiting the reinstatement of capital punishment in all Australian states and territories.

● The Family Law Act providing for a national Family Court was enacted, and simplified, non-punitive divorce laws were introduced.

● The Whitlam government also established needs-based funding for schools after appointing Peter Karmel to head a committee examining the position of government and non-government primary and secondary schools throughout Australia. Karmel’s report identified many inequities in the funding system, which for the first time led to the federal government providing funding to state schools.

● A free university education was briefly available to all Australians. In Whitlam’s three years of government, participation in higher education increased by 25 per cent, to 276,559 enrolments. The main beneficiaries were women.

● Amid widespread business and union opposition, in 1973 the Australian economy was opened to the world by a 25 per cent cut in tariffs across the board. An early forerunner of the Productivity Commission was established as was the Trade Practices Act and a predecessor of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

● The Australian Assistance Plan to fund regional councils and employment projects continues in the concepts of “social planning” and “community development”.

● The National Sewerage Program connected suburban homes to sewerage. The government spent $330 million on the program before it was cancelled by the Fraser government but in Sydney the backlog of unsewered properties fell from 158,884 in 1973 to 95,505 in 1978. Similarly, in Melbourne, the backlog was reduced from 160,000 in 1972-73, to 88,000 in 1978-79.

● The Whitlam government reduced the voting age to 18 and provided the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory with representation in the Senate.

● It replaced God Save the Queen with Advance Australia Fair as the national anthem.

● Queen Elizabeth became Queen of Australia when she signed her assent to The Royal Style and Titles Act 1973. The legislation also deleted the traditional reference to the Queen as Head of the Church of England by removing “Defender of the Faith” from her Australian titles.

● An Order of Australia replaced the British Honours system.

● The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 conferred rights to equality before the law and bound the Commonwealth and the states to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

● The Department of Aboriginal Affairs was set up and the first Commonwealth legislation to grant land rights to indigenous people was drafted. The subsequent Malcolm Fraser government passed the legislation.

● Land title deeds were handed to some Gurindji traditional lands owners in the Northern Territory in 1975, a real and symbolic gesture that became a touchstone for the land rights movement.

● The Whitlam government also established the National Gallery of Australia, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Heritage Commission. It introduced FM radio, pushed for the setting up of 2JJ, a radio established to support Australian music and connect with young Australians. It set up multicultural radio services – 2EA Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne – and issued licences to community radio stations for the first time.

● The Australian film industry flowered and the Australian Film and Television School, an idea of a previous Coalition prime minister, John Gorton, was opened.

● The reorganisation and modernisation of Labor’s policy platform saved the ALP from its past.

● Papua New Guinea became independent on September 16, 1975, after being administered from Australia since the First World War.

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Sir John Kerr came off worse in the dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s government

When Sir John Kerr presented the 1977 Melbourne Cup, it was almost exactly two years since he had committed his constitutional faux pas. He was dapper in a a three-piece suit and, it seemed, awfully drunk.
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His obvious inebriation, combined with his thicket of white hair and his aristocratic bearing, made him seem more like a Barry Humphries’ character than the governor-general.

The crowd hissed as he tottered through his speech.

“Any little noises that you may happen to hear are only static,” he proclaimed. “It’s just something wrong with the system.

“Cheers from a small minority! However, life is wonderful for all of us.”

Whitlam later said Kerr was a “drunk” and he made an mistake in appointing him.

The irony is that Kerr, much more so than Whitlam, was a true working-class man. Born in Balmain, the son of a boilermaker, he won a scholarship to Sydney University, where he studied law and won the university medal.

He later became a member of the Labor Party and a a protege of Labor great H.V.Evatt as he forged a brilliant legal career. He was made chief justice of NSW in 1972, and in 1974, after a period of negotiation with Whitlam, he was announced as governor-general-designate.

Whitlam thought he knew was he was getting: a Labor man. But Kerr’s political views had evolved and he had firm views on the exercise of the governor-general’s reserve powers.

Sir John will always be viewed by many as the villain of the extraordinary 1975 story. He was also a former intelligence officer, leading some to believe his role in the dismissal was part of an intelligence conspiracy.

Following the dismissal,Whitlam and his supporters denigrated him, and he was often abused when he appeared in public, even after he left his vice-regal role.

He eventually moved to London to escape the public disapprobation, where, according to historian Phillip Knightley, he “could be seen most days, usually the worse for wear, at one or other gentleman’s club”.

He died in 1991. His family did not request a state funeral, which would have been his due as a former governor-general.

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Gough Whitlam’s foreign affairs legacy was to give Australia a new independence

Diplomatic vision: Gough Whitlam meeting Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong in China in 1973. Photo: National ArchivesHistory judges Gough Whitlam got China and Vietnam right – and East Timor so tragically wrong.
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Yet his enduring legacy, far beyond individual relationships, was to infuse a greater sense of independence into Australia’s approach to the world.

Whitlam ended military conscription and formally withdrew Australia from the Vietnam War.

He switched Australia’s vote at the United Nations to oppose the white minority regime in then Rhodesia, and hastily ushered Papua New Guinea to independence.

He dominated his government’s foreign policy, remaining both prime minister and foreign minister for much of his term.

But it was diplomatic recognition of communist China that most embodied Whitlam’s vision for Australia to decide its own fate.

“It was a risk because it was going against the policy of the United States, which was about to change too, but no one knew,” said Stephen FitzGerald on Tuesday.

FitzGerald was just 34 when Whitlam made him Australia’s first ambassador to China. The controversy of recognition seems hard to fathom now, especially with China as Australia’s largest trade partner.

But at the time, Whitlam made his visit to Beijing in opposition, and conservative politicians frothed at his “instant coffee” diplomacy and the threat to the US alliance – only for Richard Nixon to go to China a few months later.

University of Sydney historian James Curran believes Whitlam ranks as the leader best prepared in foreign affairs to come to office in the post-war era.

“He clearly revelled in his role as international statesman and there can be no doubt he carried it off with considerable aplomb,” Curran said.

But in a book to be released next year, Unholy Fury: Nixon and Whitlam at War, Curran has unearthed new evidence to show the Americans, incensed by Whitlam’s policies, almost abandoned the treaty with Australia and even costed withdrawing US bases.

Veteran diplomat Richard Woolcott said Whitlam was determined for Australia to be independent within the framework of the alliance, but had to manage a Labor left faction declaring he should not meet the White House “maniac” bombing Vietnam.

Whitlam’s extensive overseas trips, including long sojourns across more than a dozen nations, became the subject of ridicule back home.

Woolcott remembers Whitlam reading in the newspaper about newly independent Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau and Grenada joining the UN, and quipping: “Having you seen this, comrade? They are creating these countries faster than I can visit them.”

But as his government was overwhelmed by political and economic problems at home, Whitlam’s mistake was not to recognise the determination of the people of East Timor to join the ranks of independent nations.

Indonesia’s violent takeover of the former Portuguese colony, and the debate over whether Whitlam gave the “green light” to Indonesian dictator Suharto, left a stain on what was otherwise a time Australia’s flag waved anew.

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Whitlam and conscription – an end to the lottery of death

Gough Whitlam speaking at a Vietnam peace rally in in 1965. Photo: John O’GreadyIt was called the lottery of death.
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From 1964 until 1972, 20-year-old Australian men had to register for the national service scheme where, twice a year, a ballot was held to decide who would be called up.

If a man’s birth date was randomly drawn from a barrel, two years of full-time service in the army beckoned, which from 1966 could also mean combat duties in Vietnam, according to the government’s commemoration website.

Over the eight years of the scheme, more than 15,000 national servicemen served in Vietnam. Two hundred lost their lives.

Among the Whitlam ministry’s first acts after it was sworn in was to release the seven men who were in jail for resisting the draft, Sydney University associate professor James Curran said.

The pending prosecutions for 350 other draft resisters were also dropped and conscription was ended in December 1972. Australia then withdrew its remaining military advisers from Vietnam.

“The lottery of death was abolished,” associate professor Curran said. He is writing a book on the US alliance under Mr Whitlam, Unholy Fury, to be published next year.

Monash University associate professor in politics Paul Strangio said there is no doubt Whitlam’s actions were a “powerful symbolic moment”.

“It lifted an enormous millstone off a generation,” he said.

But he and associate professor Curran cautioned that the issue of conscription was a complex one for Gough Whitlam and for Labor.

While public opposition to the Vietnam War and conscription built to a fever pitch in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was little opposition in the early years of Australia’s involvement in the conflict.

“Whitlam was always mindful of trying to navigate public opinion [on it],” associate professor Strangio said.

He said Australia had already begun disengaging from Vietnam under the Coalition. Liberal prime minister William McMahon withdrew Australia’s combat troops at the end of 1971.

Associate professor Curran also pointed out that Mr Whitlam had broken with then Labor leader Arthur Calwell on the issue before the 1966 federal election.

Mr Calwell had wanted to bring home all conscripts from Vietnam and withdraw the remaining regulars in consultation with the United States. Mr Whitlam instead argued that if further Australian participation in Vietnam was needed, the regular army would be used, confusing Labor’s public position.

“Whitlam had to walk that fine line between opposing the war, but also maintaining support for the US alliance,” associate professor Curran said.

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Whitlam v Nixon: the cables that reveal Australia’s relations with US at breaking point

President Nixon meets with Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office at the White House in 1973. Photo: Yorba Linda via Nixon Presidential Library
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President Nixon meets with Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office at the White House in 1973. Photo: Yorba Linda via Nixon Presidential Library

President Nixon meets with Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office at the White House in 1973. Photo: Yorba Linda via Nixon Presidential Library

President Nixon meets with Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office at the White House in 1973. Photo: Yorba Linda via Nixon Presidential Library

EXCLUSIVEGough Whitlam deadGough Whitlam’s memorable quotesFull coverage

Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s foreign policy prowess was remembered by politicians and commentators around the world on Tuesday.

But to the world’s biggest superpower, the rise of Australia in the Asia-Pacific signalled a threat to US hegemony.

Australia’s relations with the US were at breaking point under Gough Whitlam, excerpts from a yet to be released book have revealed.

According to diplomatic cables obtained by an academic at the University of Sydney, President Nixon ordered a top secret US national security study into cutting all intelligence-sharing operations with Australia in the final year of his doomed presidency.

The breaking point was reached after more than 18 months of diplomatic mistrust, said James Curran, the author of Unholy Fury: Whitlam and Nixon’s Alliance Crisis

“The book draws on sensational new evidence to show just how close Australia came to losing the alliance with the US,” the lecturer from the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre said.

Diplomatic cables from the White House reveal that President Nixon labelled the prime minister a “whirling dervish” and a “peacenik, who is certainly putting the Australians on a very, very dangerous path”.

Tape recordings from the White House also show that President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger agreed to “freeze” Whitlam “for a few months” so that he would “get the message”.

The escalation in tension came after Mr Whitlam’s vocal opposition to the Vietnam war, which he had opposed since the US had invaded in 1965.

When Mr Whitlam assumed office in 1972, he wrote a protest letter to President Nixon, urging him to de-escalate the conflict.

He also condemned the Christmas bombings by the US of civilian areas in Vietnam.

The last straw came when Whitlam’s minister for labour and immigration, Clyde Cameron, said the White House was “full of maniacs”.

Mr Whitlam’s attitude was described as an “absolute outrage” and a “cheap little manoeuvre” by President Nixon.

“From the minute the Vietnam war ends,” he quipped, the Australians “will need us one hell of a lot more than we need them.”

“For Whitlam to imperil his country’s relations with the United States,” he said, was “one hell of a thing to do.”

Despite the jovial appearance of President Nixon and Mr Whitlam during a 1973 visit to the White House by the prime minister, the diplomatic tension was simmering deep beneath the surface, said Professor Curran.

“Whitlam was just moving too quickly in the Asia-Pacific region with his style of foreign policy,” said Professor Curran.

“This included very strategic moves towards China.

“They couldn’t stand Australia being more independent … It was a period characterised by alarm and hysteria.”

One month after President Nixon ordered his intelligence agencies to explore options for leaving Australia, the Watergate scandal engulfed his presidency.

He became the only US president to be forced to resign from office.

Two years later, Whitlam became the only Australian prime minister to be dismissed by the Governor-General.

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Staff perks aren’t confined to Google

Google is famous for the perks it offers its employees. Staff at the Googleplex in California get free onsite haircuts, can take a dip in one of the swimming pools (complete with lifeguard), play ping pong, billiards, foosball, or have their dry cleaning done for free.
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But you don’t have to be one of the world’s biggest tech companies to show your employees how much you value them and motivate them to achieve bigger and better things.

At Xero, we believe a happy workplace is a motivated and productive workplace. As a disruptive business which is rewriting the rules of accounting and giving small business owners control over their finances, we need our team to be creative and empowered.

Even small businesses with only a handful of staff can do some of the things we do to foster a positive workplace culture.

We make a point of recognising achievements. Sometimes we do it in a small and informal way, with a pat on the back from a supervisor or by sharing praise from a customer across the company.

Other times it’s more structured. We have a quarterly awards ceremony where I reward employees for exemplary work with a fine dining voucher for two, and once a year those who really overachieve are rewarded with a trip to Hawaii with the senior executive team.

Try the same approach in your business. If someone’s done a good job on a project or solved a difficult problem, gather the team around, outline the good job they’ve done and lead a round of applause. You might think it’s just a round of applause, but people thrive on recognition.

For bigger achievements like winning new business or working overtime to meet a tough deadline, buy them a gift. Luckily as a small business owner, you’ll know your staff well enough to know if they’d prefer a voucher for a manicure or a nice bottle of wine. Then gather the staff around and celebrate their achievement.

At Xero, we also like to create a team culture and celebrate achievements of the whole business. Earlier this year we threw a party in the Melbourne office to celebrate reaching 100,000 customers in Australia, and had dinner and drinks catered by food trucks, and music delivered by employees forming the Xero in-house band, known as ‘Xero Talent’. In fact, we’re lucky to have an over-representation of musical talent at Xero. I store my own PA system and guitar amps in the office, so we’re ready for the occasional spontaneous Friday night jam session.

For a small business, a food truck obviously wouldn’t be an economical way of feeding your staff, but you can still celebrate achievements. Take the staff out for lunch on a Friday when they’ve been working really hard or have lunch delivered to their desks from time to time.

Employees who spend time together work better together, so you can do things like organise an occasional trip to the movies or a football match. Our social club, the Xero Good Times Crew, is run by the staff, who come up with their own ideas for outings, everything from yoga and gym sessions, to lunches and ski weekends.

We also have a pool table and café-standard coffee machine in the break room. And to help staff get the best possible coffee they can we put them all through barista training. That means that instead of everyone wandering off to a café to buy their coffee, there are lots of impromptu social gatherings around the coffee machine.

Here are a few other perks for your staff, which won’t break the bank:

If your workplace can accommodate it, let people bring their dog to work or have a weekly Bring your Dog to Work Day. Pet owners see this as a major workplace perk.

If you can, let valued employees work flexibly so they can pick up their children or meet other commitments. This is a major benefit that employees value highly. Likewise, can employees work from home for one or two days a week? Anyone with a long commute will jump at the opportunity.

Another free way of providing perks is to negotiate deals for your staff with local businesses. Maybe you could arrange discount gym membership or cheaper lunches from a nearby takeaway. At Xero, we arranged to get a masseuse in for our Customer Care team when they were working flat out at the end of the last financial year. The 15 minute neck massages went down a treat.

Give your staff the opportunity to expand their skills and experience. Strictly speaking this isn’t a perk, but the feeling that their career is advancing is a key motivator for employees.

Finally, try giving a younger staff member increased responsibility. Put them in charge of their own project or make them responsible for some customer accounts. Likewise, consider sending promising staff on a course to improve their skills. Not only will you have more motivated staff, you’ll also end up with more skilled and capable staff, who will ultimately add more value for your business.

Ultimately, the key is to think creatively. You want to find a match between what your employees will value and what you can give them (within a reasonable budget). You’ll have happier, more motivated and more creative staff. What other creative ways have you found to offer great workplace perks on a budget?

Chris Ridd is Xero Australia’s managing director

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Princess Anne highlights plight of Australian farmers at RNA conference

Princess Anne, Princess Royal speaks to the audience at the 26th Commonwealth Agricultural Conference at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt Princess Anne, Princess Royal speaks to the audience at the 26th Commonwealth Agricultural Conference at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt
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Princess Anne addresses the audience. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Princess Anne, Princess Royal speaks to the audience at the 26th Commonwealth Agricultural Conference at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Princess Anne, Princess Royal speaks to the audience at the 26th Commonwealth Agricultural Conference at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Princess Anne, Princess Royal is greeted by Lord Samuel Vestey. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Fewer than one per cent of Australians are now involved in farming, yet almost five million Australians went to an agricultural show in the past 12 months, HRH Princess Anne told conference delegates in Brisbane on Tuesday.

“The tradition of the agricultural shows form a particularly rich part of Australia’s social and cultural heritage,” the Princess Royal told agricultural conference delegates.

“I think there are more than 600 agricultural show societies across Australia and they do actually comprise the longest, continuously operating institution in the nation dating back to 1821,” she said.

The Princess Royal is the president of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth, a role she has taken on since her father, the Duke of Edinburgh stood down when he turned 90.

It was a low-key visit to Brisbane compared with the recent official tour by her nephew Prince William and his wife Catherine who are expecting their second child in April. The Princess Royal made no mention of the royal family’s growing brood.

HRH Princess Anne, wearing a cream suit with a grey blouse and attractive silver brooch, wore gloves as she arrived but removed them before she spoke to the conference.

The 2014 agricultural societies are tackling the theme of future sustainability, an issue raised at their 2012 conference in Zambia.

She said agricultural shows remained popular, but the issue remained how to make that popularity sustainable.

“I understand that some five million people – that is one quarter of the Australian population – attend an agricultural show each year,” she said.

“I think there might be one or two other countries here who might think that might be an ambition to have.”

However guest speaker Craig Davis, who has worked in advertising for Coca Cola, Kraft, Shell, Nokia and HSBC, made the point that in the last census less than one per cent of Australians were farmers.

“The vast majority of people living in cities or towns in most parts of the world don’t know a farmer at all,” Mr Davis said.

He said 100 years ago 14 per cent of Australians were “directly involved in agricultural production.”

“According to the latest census data, that figure has now fallen to 0.6 per cent.”

He said there was now a great divide between agriculture and urban life.

“We live in a very ‘urban-centric’ society, which has come to view rural life as largely ‘backwards and boring,’ fit only for simple folk who like to wear denim and wear big hats, plaid shirts and go to bed early.”

He said the average age of an Australian farmer was now 52 years of age.

“The real risk here is that this disconnect grows.”

Mr Davis was the keynote speaker at the opening day of the conference, kicking off the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth conference debates.

Princess Anne praised the conference venue – the redeveloped Royal National Association’s facilities at Bowen Hills, which had been “dangling in front of us” for several years.

“So it is a pleasure to be here and to see it in the flesh.”

“And, a big thank you to Queensland and to Brisbane for their hospitality and for being the host society for this the 26th agricultural conference.”

The Princess Royal said she was surprised it was the first time that Brisbane had been the host city.

“I am actually quite surprised that it is the first time that it has been here given the extraordinary history of Queensland as one of the greatest primary producing areas in the world,” she said.

HRH praised Queenslanders’ resilience against floods and its record as a world leader in beef and livestock production.

“Those of us who live in slightly wetter places on a normal basis I don’t think can really quite understand just what drought truly means,” she said.

“And for that you have huge sympathy.”

She acknowledged the state’s ability to bounce back after the 2011 floods.

“In previous years, there was extraordinary devastation caused by flooding and 2011 was the most recent floods,” she said.

“Those of us seeing it from afar, it looked pretty devastating.

“And when you get here and understand just how bad they were, it is quite extraordinary to have that lovely resilience to be able to recover from.”

The Princess Royal said the conference was an important tool to for Commonwealth nations to gather experience and advice on water, food and livestock management as they manage the impacts of climates to maximise agricultural output.

The conference runs in Brisbane until Friday.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Proctor seals series with dramatic finish

WINNER: Adam Proctor (second from left) successfully defended his Australian Sports Racer series crown on Sunday despitefinishing third. Photo: Supplied.NATIONAL circuit racing champions have been crowned during round eight of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals at Wakefield Park on Sunday.
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Titles in the Australian Manufacturers Championship, Sports Racer and Super Six Touring Car series’ were decided while dramatic rounds in the Kumho V8 Touring Cars and Australian Formula Ford series have shaken up the establishment going into the business end of their respective seasons.

Adam Proctor successfully defended his Australian Sports Racer series crown in one of the more dramatic conclusions to a national championship seen at a Shannons Nationals event. Entering the day leading by two points, Roger I’Anson looked to be in the box seat to take the championship when Proctor spun off the road from second place mid-way through race two on Sunday morning.

With a damaged car, he recovered to the back of the field however I’Anson was in a position to place one hand on the trophy – right up to the point until his car expired with four laps to go.

Proctor could only sail past to the championship lead as I’Anson was left stranded on the start-finish straight watching his title hopes slip away.

The works West outfit made a massive effort to get the Adelaide driver back on track for the final race, changing an engine in under three-hours – though ultimately it would be in vain.

Despite spearing the car off the road early in the race, Proctor did enough to grab third in the race and seal backto- back championships for the Stohr team.

“I am pretty happy with that, it’s what we set out to do and it’s the fourth consecutive title in Sports Racer which is great for our brand Stohr, and I am just really proud of our team.

“Emotions almost got the better of us yesterday but we came back strong today and just did what we had to do. I don’t even know how to explain today after what happened in the race this morning, and I guess it was just meant to be for us because it all sort of fell out in the end.”

Gavin Ross survived the usual Dial Before you Dig Australian Super Six Touring Car Series war to win his first title, working his way cautiously through a pair of wild races today to seal the championship in his bright Green Commodore.

Ross won the final race of the season and the final round of the year to seal his title in style, beating out outgoing and double champion Simon Tabinor and Jason Leoncini in the round results this weekend.

“I was going to take it easy, and I don’t know how I won race two – there was so much going on!” Ross said.

“It all fell into place in the third race. It’s nice to wrap it up this way and get the championship done.”

Beric Lynton secured the final round of the Australian Manufacturers Championship (AMChamp) series in style today, taking his Class B BMW 1M to a second victory for the weekend in the 200km enduro.

Lynton led from the outset after a close early fight with Mitsubishi Lancer rival Garry Holt, pulled away to lead by more than 25 seconds after the final pit stops had been completed.

Triple champion Stuart Kostera charged in the closing stages however was unable to catch the leading BMW, eventually settling for second some 12- seconds behind.

Luke Searle and Barry Graham finished third outright following a late splash for fuel with Matt Cherry and Glyn Crimp a solid fourth in the Audi TT.

Colin Osborne and Nick Lange won Class C on the day that Brock Giblin, badly injured in a fiery crash at Sydney Motorsport Park in July this year, returned to the circuit having recently been discharged from hospital.

Jake Williams won Class D in his Conroy Motorsport Honda Integra after a feisty weekend between the pair of Conroy Hondas and the Pedders Racing Team Toyota.

Lynton’s double victory was enough to boost him to the overall AMChamp drivers’ title, edging out fellow class B BMW driver Grant Sherrin by just seven points.

Lynton also beat home defending champions Garry Holt and Stuart Kostera to win the Class A AMChamp title for the first time. Grant Sherrin (Class B), Jake Camilleri (Class C), Kevin Herben (Class D) Gus Robbins (Class E) and Mike Eady (Class I) also scored national title victories this year.

A dramatic Kumho V8 Touring Cars round has turned the series on its head – Justin Ruggier winning the penultimate round of the series despite clashing with Ryan Simpson early in the final race.

Simpson dived down the inside of Ruggier on the second lap of the final race, sending both cars into the gravel and, once back on track, to the back of the field.

Simpson pitted with damaged and limped home while Ruggier executed a strong comeback performance and ultimately finished the race third and seal his maiden round victory.

Drew Russell was the surprise race three winner, getting the first win for the STR Truck Bodies team headed up by Matt Palmer. Russell also finished second for the round, Matt Chahda.

The series will go down to the wire at Sydney Motorsport Park next week with Ruggier holding a – provisional – 34 point lead ahead of the finale with 143 up for grabs.

James Golding was a surprise winner in round four of the Australian Formula Ford Series, taking advantage of a miscue by the winner of races one and two – Thomas Randle – to steal a round victory.

Randle won race two on Sunday morning after an early battle with Hamish Hardeman before slipping past to take a comfortable victory.

The pair battled again in race three with Hardeman leading the early running before Randle attempted a pass at turn two – the pair coming together at the tight left-hander, dropping them both down the field.

Randle was penalised for his role in the contact while Hardeman limped home to 15th.

Series leader Golding was the main beneficiary, assuming the lead and ultimately the victory after a dramatic battle with a recovering Jordan Lloyd in the closing laps of the weekend – the pair swapping the lead several times before Golding held on to win.

Golding won the outright round with Randle second and the consistent Cameron Hill a strong third.

Cameron Walters won the Formula Ford 1600 weekend ahead of James Garley and Jimmy Bailey.

The Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals finals season concludes in two weekends’ time at Sydney Motorsport Park, a bumper weekend to be highlighted by the fight for the Kumho V8 Touring Cars title.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Picker reels in a winner

WHAT A CATCH: Two-year-old Oliver and his dad James Picker reeledin the winning 60cm rainbow trout on Sunday. Photo: Supplied.
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YOUNG Oliver Picker hooked a 60cm rainbow trout to win the Trout Classic fishing competition at Pejar Dam on Sunday.

The two-and-a half year old, however, did have some help from dad James Picker when they reeled in the first place winner early on Sunday afternoon.

But that doesn’t stop Oliver from proudly displaying his trophy at home.

“He realises he did something special, but he probably doesn’t realise how special it really is, probably not until he gets older,” his father James said.

“But he’s been carrying the trophy around since he got home. He’s proud of himself.”

The father and son were part of up to 60 competitors who took to the Pejar Dam waters, hoping to land the winning trout in the catch and release competition.

Competition organiser Joshua Lambert said numbers were down this year, as were the fish landed by competitors, but all round it was a perfect day on the water.

“Weather wise it was gorgeous,” he said.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day. There were a lot of early starters in the morning.”

The Pickers took home a $500 fishing trip and a free rod and reel for Oliver.

$500 was also donated to the Lackanookie Bay Fishing Club, who had stocked the dam with rainbow trout.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.