THE BIG MATCH North Queensland v Manly Tonight, Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm
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What the Cowboys say They’re looking for a springboard effect. "If we can get the two points, hopefully we can go right into the top eight and stay there," hooker Aaron Payne said.

What the Sea Eagles say Coach Des Hasler is looking for his defence to clam up on Johnathan Thurston and the Cowboys’ other danger men. "Thurston is a constant threat," he said. "So’s Matty Bowen and so’s young [Aaron] Payne. They tend to play around the ruck, so obviously we need to be on our guard against them."

What Prichard says Thrashing the Sharks in Adelaide is not a guarantee the Cowboys are back. It’s a start, but a game like this is likely to tell us much more about how they’re going. The Sea Eagles, meanwhile, after going a long way towards getting their act together following Brett Stewart’s return, now have to go back to playing without him again. They’re going to suffer for that, but probably not as badly as they did earlier in the season, when they had to cope with some big off-field distractions as well. Manly know Stewart is out for up to three months injured, so the equation for them is simple: they have to win enough games in the meantime to remain a chance of making the finals. They should be able to get on with that reasonably well. This is likely to be a close contest, and I think their forwards will accept the challenge, muscle up and lead the way to victory.

For the Sea Eagles to win They can’t hope to score the sort of tries they do when Brett Stewart is in the side, because none of their other players can do the freakish things he does. They scored 14.5 points per game without him in the first four rounds, and 23.5 with him in the next two rounds. So they have to be prepared to grind and commit to a big defensive effort. The Sea Eagles are certainly capable of winning that way, as long as they are patient and pick the right times to free up the ball in attack. Too many turnovers against a Cowboys team that has several match-winners would kill them.

For the Cowboys to win They have to try to ignore the fact Brett Stewart is out – and Manly’s inability to win without him in the first four rounds – and treat the Sea Eagles as the defending premiers. Then they have to be more effective through the forwards than they have been this season, because that is where Manly will come at them. The Cowboys have a trio of back-line aces in Thurston, Bowen and Willie Tonga. If the forwards create space for them, they can cut loose.

The X-factor Cowboys lock Luke O’Donnell wasn’t at his best in the first five rounds, but he returned to form in last weekend’s win over the Sharks. Now he goes home to play against a Manly team that includes a couple of back-rowers with whom he will be competing for places in representative teams. It’s the sort of challenge O’Donnell thrives on, so don’t be surprised if he comes up with a big play.

What the bookies say TAB Sportsbet has the Cowboys as slight favourites, at $1.60, thanks to the home-ground advantage. The Sea Eagles are being kept safe, at $2.30.

The late mail No late withdrawals are anticipated.

The teams Nth Queensland: M Bowen, B Farrar, A Graham, W Tonga, S Hegarty, T Burns, J Thurston (c), S Tronc, A Payne, A Kaufusi, S Southern, S Bolton, L O’Donnell. Bench: B Harris, S Rapira, M Scott, C Webb, J Williams, J Tamou. Manly: M Robertson, D Williams, J Lyon, S Matai, M Bani, C Bailey, M Orford (c), B Kite, M Ballin, J Perry, A Watmough, G Hall, G Stewart. Bench: H L’Estrange, J King, A Cuthbertson, S Rodney.

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THE head of an energy company the Rees Government hopes will be one of the buyers of electricity retail assets when they are sold has made the frank revelation that the sale has not been factored into its business plan because the State Government is so hopeless at delivering.
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The managing director of TRUenergy, Richard McIndoe, said in a recent briefing to analysts in Hong Kong that the sale would not even be factored into the company's business plan because “the NSW Government's ability to muck things up is unparalleled”.

The Finance Minister, Joe Tripodi, flies from London to New York today during his controversial three-week round-the-world trip in an attempt to convince companies of the merits of buying into the proposed $6 billion sale.

TRUenergy was publicly singled out by Mr Tripodi as a potential buyer. The company, owned by China Light and Power, already owns a power station near Wollongong. “The Chinese are very much welcome,” he said last month.

Mr McIndoe told the briefing of investors on February 27: “NSW is potentially the largest retail market. There's been a lot of debate about privatisation in NSW: will the Government sell off their retail businesses and generation businesses?

“It's something you don't hold your breath over. The debate's been ongoing for several years now. The NSW Government's ability to muck things up is unparalleled so it's not something that we put into our business plan as a definite at any time.”

A spokesman for Mr Tripodi, Brad Schmitt, said: “Questions regarding Mr McIndoe's reported comments are best directed to TRUenergy itself.

“The NSW Government does, however, note subsequent published remarks by Mr McIndoe expressing an interest in the … reform program. The Government has been encouraged by the level of interest shown by potential participants.

“The NSW Government and its advisors have met and will in the future meet with TRUenergy and its parent CLP.”

A spokesman for TRUenergy, Carl Kitchen, yesterday also sought to play down his boss's comments, saying that since Mr McIndoe made the statements there had been “a lot more detail and direction from the Government” on the sale.

TRUenergy, which has substantial interests in Victoria, has been mooted as a potential buyer of Country Energy. Energy Australia and Integral Energy are also up for sale.

The Government is also selling the power generation electricity trading rights, after former premier Morris Iemma failed to get a sale of electricity generators through.

Mr Tripodi's trip includes Hong Kong, China, Paris, New York, Canada, London and possibly Spain. He will not reveal who he is to meet on the tour.

Last month, the chief executive of the Civil Contractors Federation, David Elliott, said Mr Tripodi's visits to New York and London were a waste of time. “There's no buyers in New York. You'd be lucky to sell a hot dog there at the moment.”

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Former Geurie horse trainer, Tiger Holland has passed away following a long battle with illness.
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Tiger, 70, had not been in the best of health for some time and will be sorely missed by all in the racing industry.

A former jockey who was based at Geurie, he had plenty of success as a rider in the central and western districts, and one of the best horses he partnered was Western Ballad – a top country cups performer.

Tiger made a formidable training team with Betty Lane and one of their best performers in recent years while at Randwick in Sydney was Athelnoth who won a couple of Stakes races including the Group 2-AJC Royal Sovereign Stakes at Royal Randwick.

Lane was the first woman to be granted a training licence in NSW and was awarded an OAM last year.

“He was a great character and was much loved by racing folk, especially in the bush from where he originated,” Aimer Racing Weekly’s Gowan Williams said.

“Tiger was a real knockabout and friendly at all times. You would never hear an ill word against him. Tiger even doubled as a racecaller when the opportunity arose.”

A former strapper with Tiger Holland, Ian Craig, yesterday recalled a great horseman: “I had a very enjoyable association with Tiger and Betty. Tiger knew his horses backwards and was the most gentle person I have ever seen with them – he will be missed.”

Funeral arrangements are not yet available.

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GLEBE'S historic Harold Park trotting track is poised to become the site of a big mixed-use development involving residential, retail and recreational uses, after the NSW Harness Racing Club said its intented to rezone the land before putting it up for sale.
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With attendances plunging last year, the members of the racing club voted to sell the track, the home of harness racing in Sydney for 107 years.

Now the club is seeking to have the site rezoned so it is more attractive to potential buyers, including Sydney University and developers Multiplex and Stockland.

It believes the site has an investment value of $760 million and is seeking to speed up the rezoning process by asking the Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, to declare the area a state significant site. This would bypass the City of Sydney and Leichhardt councils.

How the site will be used will not be known until after the sale.

However the club said yesterday that preliminary ideas included housing, open space, new sporting areas, aged care accommodation, small-scale retail, and commercial areas. Other ideas included student housing and “educational uses”, and the creation of new inner-city parks connecting Forest Lodge, Glebe and Annandale to Jubilee Park.

The club refused to be drawn on how much of the site would be developed but predicted the entire project would create 5000 construction jobs.

“The sale will enable us to retire debt and invest in much-needed infrastructure upgrades at our new headquarters at Menangle Park, and in regional NSW without relying on government,” the club's chief executive, John Dumesny, said.

He said the club was not attempting to bypass the councils and was committed to involving expert planning, environmental and architectural advisers, governments, neighbours and the local community to get “the best use for the site and to ensure the best financial return”.

“There are great opportunities for new public open space, restoring the historic Glebe tram sheds … and boosting the viability of the inner-west light rail route.”

But the Mayor of Leichhardt, Jamie Parker, said the application for state significance locked the community out of the decision-making process.

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Sophie Upcroft looks for support players when her St Squirts team played Garden Hotel Upside in Dubbo A grade netball on Saturday at the Nita Mcgrath complex.NETBALL: They only had six players but it was enough for Nyngan Smugglers Arms to come away with their sixth win of the Rawson Homes Premiership A grade season against a full-strength St Tanks outfit.
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The Smugglers started with seven players, but lost their only shooter Stacey Hague to a knee injury in the first 10 minutes of the match.

Strong defence by Smugglers kept a four-point margin between the two sides throughout the game, with Smugglers running away with the match in the last five minutes winning 49-40.

Team member Stacey Haugue said it was the team’s defence that won them the game.

“I was the only shooter we had and when I went off with my knee injury our defenders really stepped up and played above themselves,” Hague said.

“Everyone stepped up and played really well.

“It was probably one of our better wins of the season.”

This is the first year the Nyngan side has competed in Dubbo and Hague said the three-hour round trip each week was worth it for the competition.

“We don’t have any netball in Nyngan,” she said.

“We only have a five-a-side indoor comp, but we wanted to play something a little better and more challenging.

“It has been a big step up for us and it has been a harder than what we thought, we are tested every week.

“So far though we have surprised ourselves with the success we have had.”

Hague said that at this stage the team was unsure whether they would compete in the competition next year.

“It all depends on who is around next year that will determine whether we will play again,” she said.

“We have a few young ones but most of them tend to leave Nyngan once they finish high school.”

Smugglers now have three weeks off due to school holidays, but say they will continue to train twice a week to ensure they come out firing in their first match back.

“Our first match back will be against Garden Hotel Upside who narrowly beat us last time we played them,” Hague said.

“We will have to focus on not making any silly mistakes if we want to win.”

So far this season Hague said the Garden Hotel side (the second Garden outfit in the competition) had been the team’s toughest opponent.

“The Garden Hotel team has been in the competition for a while and they are a very consistent side,” Hague said.

“We would have to play exceptionally in every area of our game if we want to beat them.”

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WAVES of Australia-bound asylum seekers crossing from Malaysia to Indonesia have prompted the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to send the national security adviser, Duncan Lewis, to talk with Malaysian officials about counter measures.
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This week Indonesian authorities detained scores of refugees seeking to enter Indonesia via Sumatra.

The growing influx of boat people from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka has triggered the high-level delegation to Kuala Lumpur.

The development came yesterday as Mr Rudd defended Australia's border protection as “hard line” after an Iraqi asylum seeker said he believed it would be easier to come here because of Labor's changes to migration measures.

The short journey across the Malacca Straits from Malaysia to Indonesia is a key transit point for asylum seekers, who are using well-established networks of people smugglers.

Sixty Afghans and Iraqis were picked up this week and moved to the Tanjung Pinang immigration detention centre on Batam, an Indonesian island about 50 kilometres from Malaysia. “Probably they were going to Australia,” a local Justice Ministry official, Ajat Sudrajat Havid, said.

Another 10 asylum seekers were detained in Jambi in Sumatra. Meanwhile, investigators said 33 more Afghans were discovered in North Sumatra yesterday after making the crossing by boat from Malaysia.

Afghan asylum seekers who engage human trafficking syndicates typically travel by land to Pakistan before flying to Malaysia for a night-time boat journey across the Malacca Straits to Indonesia.

They then head to Java, frequently registering with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jakarta, which has recently been so swamped by asylum seeker candidates that it has not even been telling Indonesian authorities of their arrival.

Malaysia is also a staging point for asylum seekers fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka. Malaysia has a big population of Tamils, the ethnic group on the island that has been fighting the Government-backed Sinhalese majority.

Mr Lewis was accompanied by the head of Customs, Michael Carmody, and senior immigration and Australian Federal Police officers. Before leaving Kuala Lumpur yesterday, members of the delegation said the meetings with Malaysian officials were “positive”.

“There has been agreement at a conceptual level for increased co-operation and engagement to combat people smuggling,” one member said.

A similar delegation is expected to go to Sri Lanka next week.

Asylum seekers in Indonesia have told ABC radio they wanted to try to come to Australia because waiting for up to 10 years for resettlement by the UNHCR was unacceptable.

One man said although he had been declared a refugee he would try to make it to Australia because he had heard he would be more likely to be accepted by the Rudd Government than by its predecessor. “Kevin Rudd – he's changed everything about refugee,” another told the ABC.

“If I go to Australia now, different, different … maybe accepted. But when John Howard president Australia, he said come back to Indonesia.”

Yesterday Mr Rudd refused to accept that new waves of asylum seekers were trying to come to Australia since Labor won office in 2007. “The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently in Indonesia described our policies as tough and hard line,” Mr Rudd told the Melbourne radio station 3AW yesterday.

The Department of Defence has released photographs of the boat that exploded near Ashmore Reef nine days ago. No photos of the actual explosion were released. The pictures show medical personnel boarding the boat and survivors being treated and evacuated from it.


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Jordan Bowden makes ground for the Rhinos under-17s in an earlier season game against Dubbo Roos Blues.Central West Rugby Union has called on the Dubbo Rhinos and Dubbo Kangaroos junior clubs to furnish reports of an ugly incident that erupted after an under-17s game at Apex Oval on Saturday night.
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CWRU chief executive officer Peter Veenstra said the reports would be handed on the judiciary committee to discuss what action should be taken against those responsible.

Paul Hausia (Rhinos) and Tim Koerstz (Roos) have expressed concerns at what harm the incident will do for the game.

And while some may see this incident as an isolated one, Veenstra confirmed yesterday that CWRU had had more junior incidents before the judiciary this season, than from senior games.

“These incidents are an abuse of the code of conduct and when parents become involved the problem is even worse,” he said.

“We will be doing everything in our power to get the bottom of it all.”

Dubbo Rhinos coaching staff member Paul Hausia said he was ‘disgusted and embarrassed’ to be part of the Rhinos Rugby Union Club after watching the actions of some under-17s in a game against Dubbo Kangaroos Reds at Apex Oval on Saturday night.

Rhinos and Reds played their Central West competition game at 5.30pm following senior rugby and while referee Vince Gordon had some problems with some players during the game, it all erupted after the final whistle.

Hausia, a senior forwards coach with the Rhinos, was at the ground and immediately took things into his own hands to prevent any further complications.

“I called on the Rhinos to get away from it all and sat them down on the ground away from the grandstand,” Hausia said.

“I told them in no uncertain terms that I was disgusted with their actions and embarrassed to part of the Rhinos.

“It was emphasised to them what was expected from Rhinos players and that stupid things would not be tolerated.

“To the credit of the players they sat and listened to what I had to say and then when I directed them to meet with the Roos and shake hands like men they did that.”

Hausia also confirmed at least one parent was involved in ‘egging’ on the players and that wasn’t a good advertisement for the Rhinos or the game.

“I watched the game and it was a good game of football, one that saw the proud Roos club produce some excellent rugby,” Hausia said.

“The Roos coaching people stick to the basics of the game and that is their culture. I have been with the Roos, I know their culture and I know it works.

“That same rugby culture is what we at the Rhinos are trying to produce and I think we have been successful in the main, but when something like this happens all our hard work goes undone.”

Hausia said he and other Rhinos senior coaches, including first grade captain-coach, Glen Gallagher discussed the under-17s issue at their regular Monday meeting yesterday and would be making recommendations to the club.

Meanwhile, Roos junior president Tim Koerstz said he wasn’t at the match but had fielded calls from parents (at Apex Oval on Saturday night) who were “afraid and disturbed” at what was happening.

“Because I wasn’t there I can’t comment on what happened,” Koerstz said. “But the calls from parents at the ground did concern me greatly.

“From what I have been told Vince Gordon (the referee) is reported to have a great job controlling the game under difficult circumstances.

“Our club will be providing information for Central West who are investigating the incident and everything will be done through the official channels.”

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ALCOHOL advertising will be more tightly scrutinised under a national anti-binge drinking strategy on which state and federal ministers have agreed after the controversy about the tax on alcopops.
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The ministers have found what they term “significant shortcomings” in the existing advertising code governing alcohol and have proposed measures aimed at stronger regulation of the lucrative advertising of alcohol, which also provides crucial revenue for broadcasting of sports including rugby league.

Among measures to be put to federal and state leaders in the Council of Australian Governments are steps to toughen the “quasi-regulatory” system governing alcohol advertising, revamp representation on the industry-dominated body which oversees the advertising code, and introduce “meaningful and effective” sanctions for breaches.

The ministers said in a statement after their meeting in Brisbane yesterday that they had discussed concerns about ready-to-drink alcohol products, or alcopops, and would ask for the council to call on industry to cease producing products combining alcohol with energy drinks and to reduce alcohol content in the alcopops.

They have called also for an end to the use of additives such as sweeteners which mask the taste of alcohol in alcopops, a process “which has led to early introduction to alcohol by young people”.

The proposals include mandatory vetting of all alcohol advertising but the ministers have stopped short of meeting demands for the abolition of alcohol advertising during sports programs in children's viewing hours. It was the refusal of the federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, to accept such a proposal from the Family First senator, Steve Fielding, which led him to block the alcopops tax legislation in the Senate.

The sharper scrutiny on advertising is expected to unsettle the alcohol industry, according to findings published in the latest Medical Journal Of Australia. An analysis of confidential documents of US tobacco companies which had also owned brewing companies, showed that the alcohol industry was afraid of meeting the same fate as tobacco industry, the research by Curtin University of Technology found.

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Australian Road Train Association executive director John Morris.Australian Road Train Association (ARTA executive director John Morris believes proposed new fatigue regulations will not stop the small number of ‘renegade operators’ within the trucking industry.
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Under the proposed changes, drivers will only be allowed to travel a certain number of hours during the night and will be made to take half-hour breaks every five hours.

On top of that, an onerous and detailed diary system is being put forward however, Mr Morris believes the new regulations will not make the roads safer for drivers.

He said that while the ARTA recognised the intention of the proposed regulations, they address the wrong aspect of why the current system could be improved.

“There is nothing wrong with the current system,” Mr Morris said.

“The problem is that there is little enforcement of the current laws.

“No law will achieve its desired result unless there is rigorous enforcement.

“The proposed regulation without the appropriate enforcement makes as much sense as changing your tyre if you run out of fuel – it is simply addressing the wrong issue.”

Mr Morris said with adequate and targeted enforcement, those few still breaking the current laws could be ‘swept up’ using the corporation’s compliance tools bought in with the compliance and enforcement bill in September 2005.

He said those laws had already been used by the NSW RTA, such as the 2005 grain harvest ‘overloading project’, and found to be comprehensively effective in addressing the compliance issues.

“There’s not many renegade operators out there, probably about five per cent of them do the wrong thing,” Mr Morris said.

“These regulations will encourage drivers, most of whom are doing the right thing now, to push harder with their available hours.

“It will also mean that drivers are taking breaks when they may not be fatigued and discourage them from having a break when they do feel tired.”

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