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Classic battle looms

FISH OF THE WEEK: Ryan Boyal wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this bull mahi mahi caught fishing on Fear Not with crew Craig Fuller and skipper Grant Warren.A fleet of 70 boats and 300 anglers will vie forover $60,000 in cash and prizesat this year’s East Coast Classic, hosted by Newcastle Game Fishing Club this weekend.
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The weather forecast is looking hot and sunny and fishing has picked up.

“There are lots of blues and mahi mahi about out wide, juvenile blacks in closer,and encouraging signs of spearfish, wahu and the odd good-size yellowfin tuna about,” NGFC secretary Scott Morris said.

“That’s sure towhet the appetite of anglers chasing the $5000 cash prizes on offer in each of the the major divisions.”

Penn have put up over $10,000 worth ofof rods, reels and accessories to be won and given away.There will be heaps of $500 cash giveways and lucky door prizes, including a $2500 voucher from Magic Boat Details and much much more, Scott said.

“Great Northern Brewing Co, Strata Worldwide (Australia), Raymarine and JSE Marine Electrical, Triple M Sheetmetal, Marmong Poing and Koolewong Marinas have also lent generous support to the second running of our tournament.”

Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club is showing their support by offering two free nights berthing for competing vessels and the use of facilities over the tournament.“They’ve been excellent,” Scott said.

Anglers will be briefed tonight at the yacht club. Boats hit the water at 7am Saturday and fish through to 5pm.

“Keep an eye on the harbour between 5pm and 7pm Saturday afternoon and you should see some impressive vessels ranging from 18 foot to 80making their way back to berth at the yacht club,” Scott said.

Fishing starts same time Sunday morning and wraps up at 4pm with a presentation to follow at the yacht club.

“We’re looking forward to hosting the event and catering for all the boats coming from up and down the east coast of Australia,” Scott said.

“I was out on the water withMitch Birt, John Balcombe and Daniel Meekaboard the Penn boat, the Play Penn, on Sunday, and got a black and a blue and there was a lot biting.

“Hopefully there’ll be more of that.”

Sydney gloryIt was pretty hard going for the two weekends.

Well over 100 marlin were tagged over the two weekends of Interclub which wrapped up last weekend.

Competition came down to the last day with Southern Zone boats leading on the third day only to be overhauled by the Sydney boats on the last day, who ended up winning by only one fish.

“It was that close,” NSW Game Fishing Association secretary Nigel Rush, said.

Sydney Game Fish Club, made up of Galeforce, Hoodlum and Casey, wonChampion Team tag and release.

Champion team capture went to the Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Club combination ofGloriana, Redemption and Offshore.

MP Bob Baldwin’s boat The Omen waschampion boat tag and release and Bob waschampion angler tag and release with eight marlin.

Champion boat capture went to Gloriana, with Paul Hogg skipper, champion angler capture wasLuke Ashman on Gloriana.

“He weighed a 103kg blue on 10kg line and then weighed another 111.5kg blue on 15kg line last Saturday,” Nigel said.

Champion female capture was Kelly Sweetenam with a tiger shark 189.5kg on 15kg line fishing on local boat Public Enemy.

Chloe Laurence, from Ulludulla Game Fishing Club, took out champion female tag and release with five marlin.

The heaviest marlin, a blue weighing 134.5kg, was caught by Tristan Davies from Port Hacking on24kg line.

For full results got to NSWGFA website.

“Condition on weekend two were perfect but the water wasn’t that good,” Nigel said.

“Reports were it was green and it was hard to find bait and when you did there was no fish.

“The blues turned up on the shelf on the second weekend, and there was fair few caught midweek, but the stripes which are traditionally very active this time of year seem to be bypassing us on the current.

“Game fishos love coming to Port Stephens for the marlin, they call it the port of gold, but each year is different as far as the fishing goes.

“Nonetheless, it was one of the most enjoyable tournaments and everyone had fun which is what we’re trying to promote.”

Benefit dayCharlestown Bowling Club is holding abenefit day for little Archie Percival, a two-year-old boy who has a very rare condition called Anterior Horn Cell DiseaseandAcute Flaccid Myelitis.

He has very little movement in his arms and legs, and is in the ICUunit in the John Hunter Hospital on a ventilator unable to eat or breathe by himself.

CBC is holding a massive raffle to help his family with the ongoing costs they are enduring.

The major event will be held on Sunday March 20 with some fantastic prizes to be won.

“He is starting to respond a little bit, but we hope as many people as possible turn up to help him and his family,” a spokesperson said.

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McLachlan on board to equal record

MAKING WAVES: Redhead’s Stewart McLachlan will chase a record-equalling fourth national board title next month. Picture: Ryan OslandREDHEAD’SStewartMcLachlan hopes this weekend’s NSW Surf Life Saving Championships reveals thathe is on track to win a record-equalling fourth national board title next month.
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Umina will host the three-day state titles from Friday, where McLachlan has previously finished first and second in the past two campaigns.

Due to increased work commitmentsStewartadmittedhe is underdonecompared to past years, but said the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships at Maroochydore from April 16remained his toppriority.

“Certainly it’s a good gauge,as longas you’re in the top three to six in the state, then you’re sitting where you need to be for the Australian title,” McLachlan said. “There’s six weeks between state and Aussies, so a lot can change in fitness levels. I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get top six, but I think I’ve still got a lot more to go.”

At Aussies McLachlan will chase Mick Porra’s record four consecutive national board titles set in the 1980s. However,in those days the race featured water starts and finishes and no beach running.

The 28-year-old has previously signaled that the upcoming Australian titles could be his last as the dedication required was becoming increasingly difficult.

“It’s more about specific training and more quality than quantity,” he said. “In the past it was more just train until you can’t go anymore.”

Redhead are expected to be the Hunter’s dominant club at the NSW titles over the weekend.Besides McLachlan, Daniel Collins willchallenge for theunder-19 swim and ironman titles. Former Swansea-Belmont member Hayden Copping (under-17 board) and open competitors Peter Scott, Mark Stowe, Isak Costello and Ethan Whiteman will also be in contention for the podium.

Swansea’s campaign will be spearheaded by 39-year-old reigning Australian 2km beach run champion,Angela Leadbeatter, who is chasing her sixth straight NSW crown. Hannah Trypas will also challenge in the open board and ironwoman.

Redheadfinished 10thlast year, nine ahead of Swansea.

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Malware hijacks big four Australian banks’ apps, steals two-factor SMS codes

Bogus login screens are targeting Android-wielding customers of Australia’s largest banksMillions of customers of Australia’s largest banks are the target of a sophisticated Android attack which steals banking details and thwarts two-factor authentication security.
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Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Bank customers are all at risk from the malware which hides on infected devices waiting until users open legitimate banking apps. The malware then superimposes a fake login screen over the top in order to capture usernames and passwords.

The malware is designed to mimic 20 mobile banking apps from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, as well as login screens for PayPal, eBay, Skype, WhatsApp and several Google services.

Apart from Australia’s Big Four banks it targets a range of other financial institutions including Bendigo Bank, St. George Bank, Bankwest, ME Bank, ASB Bank, Bank of New Zealand, Kiwibank, Wells Fargo, Halkbank, Yapı Kredi Bank, VakıfBank, Garanti Bank, Akbank, Finansbank, Türkiye İş Bankası and Ziraat Bankası.

Along with stealing login details, the malware can also intercept two-factor authentication codes sent to the phone via SMS — forwarding the code to hackers while hiding it from the owner of the phone. With access to this information, thieves can bypass a bank’s security measures to log into the victims’ online banking account from anywhere in the world and transfer funds.

The malware attack has evolved over time, becoming more sophisticated as hackers update the software to defeat security countermeasures, says ESET senior research fellow Nick FitzGerald.

“This is a significant attack on the banking sector in Australia and New Zealand, and shouldn’t be taken lightly,” FitzGerald says.

“While 20 banking apps have been targeted so far, there’s a high possibility the e-criminals involved will further develop this malware to attack more banking apps in the future.”

Detected by ESET security systems as Android/Spy.Agent.SI, the malware sneaks onto Android devices by imitating the Adobe Flash Player application which many websites require in order to play streaming video. Once installed the app requests device administrator rights, checks for installed banking applications and then reports back to base in order to download the relevant fake login screens.

The infected Flash Player application does not come from Android’s official Google Play app store, instead phone users are tricked into installing via infected websites or bogus messages. To become infected Android owners must override the default security option and accept apps from unknown sources. The download comes from a range of bogus domains including flashplayeerupdate南京夜网, adobeflashplaayer南京夜网 and adobeplayerdownload南京夜网.

A Google spokesperson warned against allowing your phone to install any applications downloaded from the web.

“It’s important to only install applications from sources you trust, such as Google Play”, the spokesperson said.

“Over 1 billion devices are protected with Google Play which conducts 200 million security scans of devices per day.”

Infected Android devices include ‘Flash Player’ in the list of device administrators found under the Settings > Security > Device Administrators menu. Attempts to remove Flash Player from this list generates a bogus alert warning that data may be lost, but it is safe to press OK. With its device administrator rights disabled it is possible to uninstall the malware via Settings > Apps/Application manager > Flash Player > Uninstall.

In some cases the malware superimposes a fake warning over the Device Administration list to prevent deactivation. The solution is to restart the Android device in Safe Mode, which restarts the device with all installed apps disabled, preventing the malware from blocking access to the Device Administration list. Safe Mode is accessed in different ways on different devices, so consult your manual or a support website.

The latest Android malware attack comes as Google steps up its efforts to block websites containing bogus advertisements and pop-ups which often link to malware. These bogus messages often insist that visitors must install extra media player software, or update existing software such as Adobe Flash, in order to watch online video.

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News Corp extends CEO Robert Thomson’s tenure with $2.3m pay rise

Robert Thomson’s term as News Corp CEO has been extended, and his pay package sweetened.News Corporation chief executive Robert Thomson is getting a pay rise and will see his tenure at the helm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire extended until the end of the 2019 financial year.
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In an announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange, News Corp said the contract of Mr Thomson, who became chief executive in January 2013 following roles at Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, will now run to June 30, 2019.

While Mr Thomson’s base salary of $US2 million ($2.7 million) will remain the same, next financial year his potential annual cash bonus will be bumped up to “not less than $US4 million”, up from $US3 million in 2015. His long-term equity based incentive will lift to at least $US5 million, up from $US4.3 million in fiscal 2015.

Overall, Mr Thomson has the potential to earn $US11 million ($14.7 million) next financial year or more, up from $US9.3 million in the 2015 fiscal year.

More than 80 per cent of Mr Thomson’s compensation will be performance-linked.

News Corp also extended the contract of chief financial officer Bedi Singh, who from the 2017 financial year onwards will have a potential total pay package of $US5.5 million, up from $US4.3 million. More than three quarters of Mr Singh’s compensation will be performance-linked.

Mr Singh, whose contract extension also goes through to June 30, 2019, will see his base salary rise to $US1.3 million, with potential cash bonuses of $US2 million and long-term equity incentives of $US2.2 million from next financial year.

“The effect of these changes is an increase in the at-risk performance-based portion of annual total target compensation,” News Corp’s statement said.

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Doctor charged with sexual assault

CHARGED: Dr Jeremy Coleman faces seven counts relating to six alleged female victims. Picture: Simone De Peak.
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UPDATE, 5pm:

WELL-KNOWN immunologist Dr Jeremy Coleman stands accused of preying on female patients while treating them at his city clinic.

Within hours ofDr Coleman being charged on Thursday withsex assault charges relating to six women between 2003 and 2012, investigators were taking calls with fresh information.

The63-year-old currently faces seven chargesinvolving women aged between24 and 55.

The charges include two counts of sexual assault, four counts of indecent assault, and one count of inciting an act of indecency.

The allegations include penetration and groping.

Dr Coleman attended Newcastle police station on Thursday morning where he met with Strike Force Yatala investigators before being charged.

The allergy specialist was overseas when detectives arrived at his Watt Street clinic on March 2 armed with a search warrant.

Strike Force Yatala investigators spent several hours at the clinic, seizing a range of items includingpatient reports, a computer and DVDs.

The computer and DVDs have been sent away to be analysed by technical experts.

It followed a significant investigation into Dr Coleman, which began in November 2014 after detectives were approached by female patients complaining about the doctor’sbehaviour during consultations.

It is understood the alleged victims donot know each other.

The Health Care Complaints Commission is also believed to be aware of the allegations.

Police will allege that Dr Coleman had preyed on the women at his clinic on Watt Street where he specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between 2003 and 2012 and during consultations.

Dr Coleman arrived at the police station with a legal representative and briefly spoke to investigators before he was charged and processed.

He has been granted conditional bail to appear before Newcastle Local Court on April 7.

Acting Detective Inspector Scott Wheeler said Strike Force Yatala was continuing.

“Weare encouraging anyone who feels they may be able to assist with the ongoing investigation to contact Newcastle detectives,’’ acting Detective Inspector Wheeler said.

The Newcastle Herald understands that within hours of a statement being released regarding the charges,detectives began receiving further phone calls with fresh information.

It is also understood Strike Force Yatala detectives wouldneed to fully investigate all of the information before anydecision could be made on what could be done with it.

Information should be forwarded toNewcastle detectives on 4929 0999 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

EARLIER:

A NEWCASTLE doctor has been charged with sexually assaulting six female patients over a 10-year period.

Police allege the patients were sexually and indecently assaulted by the male specialist during consultationsbetween 2003 and 2012.

Police also allege one of the women had an act of indecency performed on her.

The women, who are aged between 24 and 55, reported the matters to police andStrike Force Yatala was formed to investigate the allegations.

Detectives searched the Watt Street clinic on March 2 and seized a computer and a number of documents.

As a result of further inquiries, police say they arrested a man, 63, at 10am on Thursday.

He was charged with two counts of sexual assault, four counts of indecent assaultand act of indecency.

He was granted bail to appear in Newcastle Local Court on April 7.

Meanwhile, inquiries are continuing and police are encouraging anyone who feels they may be able to assist with the ongoing investigation to contact Newcastle detectives.

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Generation gap looms

SOround twois here and experts are already pronouncing who is and isn’t in the running forend-of-year honours. A tad premature, but some signs were very positive for a few teams.
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Others faced the reality of first time at bat –a work in progress.

I thought the Bulldogs were the most impressive of last week’s winners, with the Cowboys,Broncos and the Bunnies assuming obvious favouritism out of the gates.

The Dogs demonstrated unequivocallyto those who still wonder whether the big men candominate in an increasingly endurance-based game. Agood, mobile big man will beat a good,mobile smaller bloke most days of the week. Monstering the Bozo-built Manly outfit leftrival packs sitting up to take notice.

As to our own work in progress, you’d have to say that no one disgraced themselves againstthe Titans. Ithought the young Knights, apart from too many badly timed foot-shootingepisodes, were threatening to get back in the game at different stages. Some good signs.

The debutants had a real good crack and will benefit from the experience. Tri-captain and elder statesmanJeremy Smith, Robbie Rochow andTyler Randell all played strongly.

I’m guessing the collective concern for Knights fans may be whether the Coast are much of a team anyway. Excluding former NovocastriansGreg Bird,Zeb Taia and Tyrone Roberts, they didn’t have a great deal going for them either. But, really,you can’t take too much from the first game. So we’ll move on.

Nowfor the Bunnies. Our young Knights will take some comfort from a few injuries to the2014 premiers and the potential bonus that Greg Inglis may not be risked in a game puntersmight expect them to dominate.

But with their halfback and maestro out with a broken jaw and his five-eighthpartner new to thesquad, there is a chance, with the right disruptive game plan, that their combination andkicking game might be vulnerable. My tip: apotential upset if our Knights win the enthusiasm, major on the basics andeach bring something a little special to the table on Saturday.

* THOSEwho follow junior rugby league might recall an announcement late last year bythe NSWRLciting the season’s participation figures, which implied the game’s governingbody is asleep at the wheel.

Stalwarts of the junior game will be unsurprisedthe numbers were down –way down –continuing a trend of the past decade at least.

As the kids prepare to kickoff a new season, it begs the question, what’s to be done? Ifanything? At the 10s and 11s level the studyshows significant loss of more than20 per cent. In theunder-13s and -14s, participation falls off a cliff and never recovers. Thankfully, courtesy of agreat new freeway, Newcastle teams can far more easily access the Hunter Valley, meaning the now-combined Hunter competition has been able to buck the trend –for now.

Clearly, the magnitude of churn is unsustainable. Of concern for the senior game is,eventually, I imagine, that the absent generations of players will impact its quality potential andvery survival.

And we are seeing evidence of that already.

Take the Newcastle Rugby League district competition. After contracting to an ungainly eightteams last year, there is strong mail others are struggling financially. Something tells me thiscompetition needs a proper re-think.

At the suburban level, second-division teams are struggling to put teams together also. Workcommitments and other distractions see district and suburbs engage in tug-of-wars overthedwindling pool of remaining players. This is made all the more difficult becausethe Real NRL insistupon an outdated three-open-age-teams criteria for inclusion. Something must give.

And it has. Last year’s second-division A-grade winners, Belmont Rabbits, are finished. Likewise,B-grade premiersLambtonaregone,and finally the C-grade premiers, Clarence River, won’tfield a team this year.Gone. With others rumoured to be unable to get enough playerstogether, there is real concern local communities will lose something they may never get back.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: If grassroots rugby league continues to whither, what will become of Generation Next?

For those interested in the situation, my point is this:at the non-NRL level, the game isapproaching atipping point, beyond which recovery will be difficult. At this point in time itmight have just enough scale, influence and community connection to retrieve the situation.

But only with the right plan, leadership and will to change for the better.

At the national level, the junior game must force a whole-of-game summit. Let’s geteverything on the table. Let’s hear from the volunteer brigade who effectively sustain thegame. Let’s look at the research. How can we get womenmore involved (and not just onthe canteen)? How can we improve safety,improve coaching, nutrition, health,andsupportgovernance and fund raising?

Let’s hear from the National Rugby League; the Australian Rugby League Commission; thestate leagues and the Country Rugby League. Can they help find asolution?

After the NRL cashed in recently witha $1 billion TV deal, I find ithard to swallow that the junior game has nothing but the sweat of the volunteerbrow to sustain it.

Again, the call from the junior system must be sustained and loud, for though their eyes maybe closed, they can’t so easily close their ears.

In closing, I thought it illustrative last week after commenting on the Mitchell Pearce case thatmost online responses centred on why I would support him, or whether the ultimate penaltywas fair or otherwise. Not one comment questioned the wisdom (or naiveté) of myassertions relating to the encouraged illegality or immorality of spy-caming private citizensfor reward. Not one.

What does that say about the modern “us”? Am I to accept that no one cares that theseintrusions are now OK? Views may be different if you had to walk a mile in a victim’s shoes.

If you have an opinion on this please comment. I’m really interested.

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Business of putting Lake Mac on the map

CHANGE: “It’s a value proposition,” says Lake Macquarie Business Ltd’s inaugural president Ben Connell of its services. Picture: Marina Neil. BENJAMIN Connell, president of the newly minted Lake Macquarie Business Limited,jokes that hedoesn’t want you to know that he’s aCentral Coast resident.
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The important thing, he says, isthat he’s got a business on the main street of Belmont –he’s a founding partner at Emerge Business Advisory and Chartered Accountants.

All of which means he knows well the challenges of running a business and the challenges of his clients’ businesses.

More importantly, in his new role, as he told a packed room at last Wednesday’s launch of Lake Macquarie Business Ltd, or LMB, he wants to put Lake Mac on the map.

“People think [Lake Macquarie] is all about services and tourism but in Toronto and Cardiff we have large industrial areas, and to be able to promote those to the greater area is important,” he said at the launch.

LMB’s journey started in 2013, when various local chambers of commerce from the Lake Macquarie area met and, says Mr Connell, “agreed what they were doing wasn’t working”.

Council funding to the chambers was reaching an end and despite all their efforts, less than 2.5 per cent of the 13,000businesses in Lake Macquarie were members of their local chamber.

“To develop a plan, we needed to go back to basics, genuinely look and understand our strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats and then start the process of building a new organisation that truly supported Lake Macquarie businesses,” he says.

Mr Connell says the group went back to the drawing board to develop a new business chamber that will be “innovative, relevant and different”.

Business chambers from Charlestown, Belmont and Swansea are the founding members of the new entity, which will also support other local chambers.

Mr Connell says LMB’s “sutainable”business model offersthree tiers of membership programs ranging from free services to larger offerings for bigger businesses.

The new entity is still finalising its advocacy efforts but it will focus on urban renewal, building business capabilities, tourism and identity.

Creating jobs is also seen as crucial: “Youth unemployment in some Lake Macquarie suburbs is as high as 25 per cent and businesses are telling us that the kids aren’t ready to be employed. We need to be doing something about this to get our kids ready,” says Mr Connell.

LMB’s strategic partners are Dantia, Lake Macquarie’s economic development company, the NSW and Hunter Business Chambers and the Lake Macquarie Business Growth Centre, and it also has local partners.

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Federal election 2016: Tony Windsor confirms bid to unseat Barnaby Joyce in New England

Tony Windsor is aiming for a comeback less than three years after he retired. Photo: Wolter Peeters Tony Windsor announces he will contest the seat of New England. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Joyce faces pincer movement threat

Tony Windsor will go head to head against Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce for the seat of New England.

Ending months of speculation about a political comeback, Mr Windsor announced on Thursday that he will attempt to win back his old seat in Parliament.

The independent, who backed Julia Gillard to govern over Tony Abbott in the 2010 hung Parliament, was the New England MP for 12 years up until his unexpected retirement in 2013.

A defeat for Mr Joyce would represent a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Nationals.

There had been speculation that Mr Windsor would make a tilt for the Senate as his way back into federal politics.

Mr Windsor said he was standing to break down a “handbrake” hovering over Australia’s future.

“We’ve had this handbrake, and I’m not suggesting the current PM is a handbrake here either and it is not the Senate,” he said. “It is this small group of right-wingers of which Barnaby Joyce is one, Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz… that have a handbrake on progress in relation to issues of the future.

“The reason I’m standing is that I think I have to stand up for the sorts of things that I believe in, to give the people of the region that I come from the greatest opportunity for the future.”

Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday that the Greens state upper-house MP Jeremy Buckingham was also considering joining the race for New England, however he announced on Thursday that he would not be contesting.

“I wish [Mr Windsor] well in the election and I hope that Barnaby Joyce loses his seat because Barnaby has been absolutely hopeless in defending agriculture from coal mining and CSG,” he said in a statement.

Both Mr Buckingham and Mr Windsor have been vocal opponents of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine, which is in the final stages of approval and would be located on the rich Liverpool Plains.

During his time as Agriculture Minister, Mr Joyce broke ranks with his cabinet colleagues, saying the “world had gone mad” when the open-cut mine received approval but his elevation to the second-highest office in the Turnbull government will make it much more difficult for him to distance himself from the controversial project.

In response, Mr Joyce has already sharpened his lines about Mr Windsor being a hypocrite on the coal mine issue. The independent sold his farm to Whitehaven Coal.

“We will mount a full-scale grassroots campaign and I’m fully aware that it will be a David and Goliath event,” Mr Windsor predicted.

“And I’m looking forward to that.”

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Hunt for elusive night bird on screen at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra

Rob Nugent followed the trail of the mystery bird. Photo: Supplied His journey took him to remote parts of Australia, to the Indian Ocean and Europe. Photo: Supplied
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A scene from the documentary showing a night parrot. Photo: Supplied

The filmmaker went to road-kill locations to search. Photo: Supplied

A specimen of the rare night parrot mounted for study. Photo: Supplied

The hunt for the night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) has been the Ahab against the white whale story of the bird-watching world for the past century, and the personal goal of Canberra filmmaker Robert Nugent for the better part of the last five years.

The elusive nocturnal bird discovered in some of Australia’s remoter locales was described by John Gould in 1861, but had disappeared by the end of the 19th century and assumed extinct.

Before video evidence of a live sighting was confirmed in 2013, local documentary filmmaker and academic Robert Nugent had started  a filmmaking quest to trace the history of the bird’s documented locations that would take him from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, and throughout Europe.

His film Night Parrot Stories it screens on Saturday, March 19, as part of the upcoming Art Not Apart Festival.

“It’s often called the Thylacine of the air,” Robert Nugent says of the Night Parrot, “and over the years it has been a great excuse for people to go on epic, but unsuccessful, journeys of discovery.”

The 1970 Miles Franklin Award recipient Dal Stivens’ book A Horse of the Air is named for the Indigenous term for the bird, and its central character Harry Craddock is driven mad along his search for it.

The night parrot’s mythical nature has inspired much great literature, including John Kinsella’s 1989 collected verse, Night parrots, and a similarly-titled collection of verse from Dorothy Porter in 1984.

Artist Mandy Martin’s 2015 exhibition at Sydney’s Delmar Gallery enjoyed the Night Parrot title too, but Nugent says the biggest artistic reference he heard on his cross-country journey was, of course, the Monty Python parrot sketch.

“Yes, I did bump into those jokes quite a bit along the way,” Nugent says.

Casting himself in the role of explorer, and with funding from Screen ACT and Screen Australia, Nugent set off on two great journeys.

The first took him along the Tropic of Capricorn, from Queensland to the West Australian coast, visiting the MacDonnell Ranges, the Gun Barrel Highway, along the path of rumoured sightings, including the site of a couple of unfortunate road-kill specimens.

This leg of his journey ended with a surprising piece of fortune at Willuna near the Carnarvon Ranges.

“[I was] driving down the main street of Willuna, looking lost. These two Aboriginal women came up to me and asked, ‘Are you looking for the night parrot?’,” Nugent recalls.

“There must be a look people get in their eyes.”

Nugent also travelled to the dusty museums and science collections of France, Germany, Hungary and England, where many of the earlier specimens ended up.

Nugent refers to himself as a “refugee from Sydney” who moved to Canberra following his university days, and while he has since hacked away in the halls of the ANU at a PhD looking at the Anthropocene, his resume also includes the 2007 film End of the Rainbow and 2011’s Memoirs of a Plague.

For End of the Rainbow, Nugent followed the dismantling of a gold mine’s infrastructure in Indonesian Borneo and its installation into a new community in West Africa.

The entertainment industry’s bible Variety called Nugent’s film an “entertaining and sometimes touching look at displacement and difficulties in adapting to change”, and Nugent continues to pursue those themes in his later films.

Night Parrot Stories looks at the mashing together of cultures, old and new, Western and Indigenous, their ways of collecting information, and also of occasionally losing that information.

“There’s a lot of whimsy in it, but also sadness and loss,” he says.

“It speaks to many of the anxieties we have about extinction, and this time we live in.”

He presents a range of ethnographic approaches, and along the way enlists many of Canberra’s wealth of ornithological talent. Local identities ornithologist Julian Reid, and former head of CSIRO Ecosystems Sciences Steve Moreton appear in the film.

Nugent spent much of his filming time as sole director and crew, but his film enjoys the sound recordings of Will Sheridan, Sam Petty’s sound design, and Hilary Balmond’s editing.

Does Nugent himself actually capture the night parrot on film? I won’t give that away, but Nugent is philosophical about his Odyssean journey.

“A bit like these urban-legend sightings of the Thylacine,” Nugent says, “it is one of those flashes in your life that convince that you’ve seen something out of the ordinary.”

Night Parrot Stories will screen on Saturday March 19, 4.00pm at Arc Cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive. 

Cris Kennedy is manager of education and community engagement at the National Film and Sound Archive.

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Emily fires Matildas to win Rio qualifiers

STAR striker Kyah Simon believes a first Australian Olympic Games medal in football for either gender is now a realistic target after the Matildas won the Asian qualifying tournament.
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GOAL: Emily van Egmond celebrates her long-range strike against China. Picture: Getty Images

Australia held on to top spot after former Newcastle Jets captain Emily van Egmond equalised with a stunning 25-metre drive with five minutes remaining against China in Osaka on Wednesday.

The 1-1 draw ensured Australia completed the tournament undefeated with four wins from five matches, shoring up a ticket to Rio along with China.

Van Egmond, who played all but 14 minutes of the Matildas’six games in 10 days, put her laces through a first-time shot in the 85th minute.

The ball swerved into the top right corner past goalkeeper Zhao Lina to give the FFC Frankfurt midfielder her third goal of the tournament.

With confidence at an all-time high, the Matildas are now focused on a podium finish in Rio.

The Matildas celebrate Emily van Egmond’s equaliser against China. Picture: Getty Images

“After the past 10 days, we have a belief that we are genuine medal contenders,” Simon said.

“And we have further scope to grow and improve.We are definitely going there to compete for a medal, not to make up the numbers.”

The Matildas’ best showing at an Olympic Games was to reach the lasteight at Athens 2004. Their male counterparts peaked with a fourth-placed finish at Barcelona in 1992.

Australia made it to the quarter-finals at last year’s World Cup in a spirited performance that captured widespread media attention.

But Simon, whose four goals topped the tournament, saidthe team hadimproved markedly in recent months.

“We have improved in leaps and bounds since the World Cup,” she said.

“A lot of that goes down to being on the same page defensivelyand having an aggressive mindset in defence.

“We have a lot of quality attackers in our team, so when you have the defensive stuff worked out, you are in good shape.

“We put a lot of focus on our physical condition ahead of the tournament, and that meant we could play at a high intensity throughout all five matches.

“We have shown that we can beat some of the best teams in the world, and it is just so exciting for the Olympics.”

The Matildas received a message of support from Sydney 2000 gold medallist Cathy Freeman after booking passage to Rio on Monday.

Despite that inspiration, Australia were relatively flat against China but still found a way to earn a share of the spoils thanks to a trademark comeback.

“It was probably our worst performance of the tournament, so it was disappointing from that standpoint,” Simon said.

“But to cap it off by finishing top is a huge achievement and we are very proud of what we achieved.”

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