Get ready for $1.30 a litre petrol all next year

A global oil price surge is set to drive up the cost of petrol through the Christmas holiday season and experts are warning the pain at the bowser is likely to intensify in the New Year.
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The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel has slashed production levels over the past year, at the same time as American and Russian producers pulled back, raising prices strongly in recent months.

The Brent Crude benchmark climbed to a two-year high on Sunday reaching $US62.07 ($81.10).

And those price hikes are already flowing through at the pump. CommSec economists say last week’s jump of more than 8 per cent was the largest week-on-week spike in 13 years.

The National Bank forecasts expect another jump in petrol prices, with no respite in the coming months.

“Higher [oil] prices, combined with our expectations for a lower n dollar, are likely to lead to higher fuel prices for n motorists,” NAB analysts said.

“The September quarter saw petrol average around $1.23 per litre [nationally], but we see petrol in the December quarter around 3.9 per cent higher at $1.28 per litre.

“Our forecasts point to petrol being above $1.30 per litre for most of 2018.”

Oil has been on an upwards trajectory since both America and the OPEC agreed to cut production levels to “rebalance the market” in December 2016.

Earlier this year, 24 oil-producing countries began to cut output levels by 1.8 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, over an initial six month period, but quickly agreed to extend the deal to March 2018 in order to reduce oversupply and lower existing crude oil inventories.

OPEC nations soon ran above compliance levels for the agreement, hitting 120 per cent of its reduction target in September. They further reduced output from September to October by an additional 180,000 barrels a day, marking an overall production rate of 32.59 million barrels per day.

Now, this agreement may again be extended, beyond 2018, as OPEC nations meet once more ahead of the release of OPEC’s World Oil Outlook on Tuesday.

The joint ministerial committee monitoring the current agreement’s compliance, the JMMC, said a number of avenues are being explored to strengthen the oil market.

“The JMMC will continue to monitor other factors in the oil market and their influence on the ongoing market rebalancing process,” it said.

“All options are left open to ensure that every effort is made to rebalance the market for the benefit of all.”

Analysts are confident this indicates extending the output reduction agreements.

“The market is becoming increasingly confident that production cuts will be extended,” said Ric Spooner, an analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney told Bloomberg.

“Despite fluctuating week-to-week figures on U.S. crude inventories, we’re at a situation now where stockpiles are trending lower.”

This return to strength marks a growth of 32 per cent from oil’s low for the year in June, when prices fell to $US46.89.

Macquarie analysts believe $US60 per barrel is likely to be the new price floor and could be a stabilisation price for oil, which has tracked a volatile path since the 1990s.

This will have a flow-on effect at the bowser, which has broadly tracked ahead of the oil price, as the tapis crude price – a measure more closely aligned to n petrol prices – has increased its premium against the brent crude price.

Kuwait, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, which collectively account for more than half of total OPEC output, as well as Russia, have already indicated supporting an extension of the reduction agreement, which would prevent another potential oil glut in 2018.

UBS analysts have also forecast strong growth ahead for the sector, although it believes the price may soon hit a ceiling.

“We forecast a continued recovery in oil prices over the next few years, assisted in the near term by OPEC’s decision to reduce output,” UBS analysts said in a note to clients.

“Three consecutive years of underinvestment in conventional oil supplies will lead to larger oil deficits from 2018, justifying higher oil prices.

“While the oil may be peaking for now, it should remain reasonably well supported with ongoing supply discipline and good global demand from a strong global economy.”

Canberra Vikings set to wear heritage strip in NRC final

The Canberra Vikings are set to wear their ACT Kookaburras heritage strip in the National Rugby Championship decider as they look to unite the rugby community.
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The Vikings will host the firing Queensland Country in the National Rugby Championship final at Viking Park on Saturday night.

Queensland Country hammered the Fijian Drua 57-21 in the semi-final, a day after the Vikings read Western n rugby its last rites and booked a ticket to their second grand final in three years.

Vikings coach Tim Sampson has thrown his weight behind wearing ACT colours in a bid to win the support of fans across the region.

The Vikings were keen to wear the Kookaburras strip in their 40-35 semi-final win against Perth, before competition officials quashed the plan because it was too similar to the Spirit’s kit.

They would have no such issues in the final, having already worn ACT colours in the season opener against Queensland Country in September.

The Kookaburras were the ACT’s representative team and a wore blue, yellow and white strip, but those colours were left behind when the NRC was established three years ago.

The Vikings opted to wear the same colours as the Tuggeranong Vikings – red, white and black – due to the club’s stake in the NRC outfit.

The move irked the ACT rugby community, a large portion of which felt the NRC club didn’t represent all of the ACT, rather just a part of south Canberra.

But Sampson believes Canberra’s run to the minor premiership combined with a home final in ACT colours could change everything.

“It’s not something we identify and speak too much about it within the squad,” Sampson said.

“But with players coming from many different clubs, I think the success we’ve had so far has created a lot of interest throughout the clubs, so hopefully we get a fair bit of support there on Saturday.

“That’s why we went that way last week, to wear the Kookaburras strip. It would be pretty nice to see.

“That was discussed last week, we obviously missed out because of the clash with Perth. We have a meeting [on Monday], I’m sure that will be a point of discussion.”

Queensland Country dominated from start to finish against a spirited Fijian outfit, running in nine tries to secure a grand final spot.

“It sounded like they were pretty dominant at the set piece, a few of their individuals are a bit of a handful,” Sampson said.

“They have a pretty balanced team through the forwards and outside backs. The throw it around a bit with size and speed so they’ll be a handful.

“We [pulled up] pretty clean. They were a little bit bruised and battered, it was a pretty physical game. We came out of it pretty well.”

Meanwhile, plans for the new Indo Pacific Rugby Championship have been revealed with the competition set to launch in 2019 in the March to June window.

NATIONAL RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Saturday: Canberra Vikings v Queensland Country at Viking Park, 7.30pm.

Sydney FC looking to sign Portuguese winger in January

They may just be five games into their season, but Sydney FC are already turning their attention towards bolstering their forward line in the mid-season transfer window with the potential signing of former A-League star Fabio Ferreira.
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Fairfax Media understands the Portuguese winger is close to joining the Sky Blues in January after playing his last game Malaysian club PKNS last weekend.

The 28-year-old former Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United player is understood to be the club’s primary target for the next transfer window as they look to further bolster their already impressive roster ahead of a busy second half of the season, including an Asian Champions League campaign.

Sydney have held initial talks to bring Ferreira to Moore Park for the second half of the season where he will alleviate some of the pressure on Sydney’s veteran forwards in the back end of the season.

After losing Bernie Ibini and Filip Holosko at the end of the season, the Sky Blues lost pace and power in their forward line and believe the speed and movement of Ferreira would compliment their current wide players, David Carney, Milos Ninkovic and Adrian Mierzejewski.

Should Ferreira move to Moore Park in January, it raises questions as to how coach Graham Arnold will manage his squad during the Asian Champions League as the former Chelsea youth player would not be registered as a local player. While Ferreira spent five years in the A-League and may be eligible to apply for n citizenship, he does not yet have an n passport. The continental competition’s regulations permit four foreign players per club, one of which reserved specifically for an Asian player.

Signing a fast-paced winger is a priority for the Sky Blues before the busy end of season schedule after their depth in wide areas has already been tested due to an injury to Mierzejewski. The Polish international missed the Sky Blues’ 1-0 win over Melbourne City on Friday night that propelled Sydney to the top of the table with Arnold suggesting it was largely as a precaution.

“I think if we maybe played in Sydney he would have been fine but with the travel and knowing this field as well as I do it’s fast, it’s slippery, it’s hard and the most important thing for us that we get him right. He’s come from the Middle East where the training and the intensity of the game isn’t what it is here,” Arnold said after the game. “The most important thing is we get him right, he’s ready and he’s available for the whole season, not just a couple of weeks.”

Pool closed for several days as investigation into girl’s drowning continues

CLOSED: Orange mayor Cr Reg Kidd said the aquatic centre would be closed for several days as police continue their investigations into the tragedy. Photo: ANDREW MURRAY 1105ampool3ORANGE mayor Reg Kidd has said staff at Orange Aquatic Centre are being offered support and are “working with police” as they investigate Saturday’s tragic drowning of a young girl.
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The pool will remain closed for several days as police investigatethe circumstances of the four-year-old’s death.

About 3.35pm on Saturday emergency services were called to the aquatic centre on Hill Streetafter a girl was found motionless in a pool.

Attempts to revive the child were made by family and lifeguards on scene before she was taken to Orange hospital where she was pronounced deceased.

Orange mayor Reg Kidd said the communities’ thoughts and prayers were with the family following the tragedy.

“Nothing we can say today can ease the pain the family is going through, other than to say that they are not alone,” he said.

“Everyone who has swum at the Orange pool can imagine the sadness and grief the family and our staff are feeling today. Today is a time for offering that support.”

Police from Canobolas Local Area Command have commenced an investigation into the incident and are speaking to witnesses and reviewing CCTV footage.

“Staff are working with police as they prepare a report for the formal investigation,” Cr Kidd said.

“Staff too are being offered personal support, and so the pool will remain closed in the coming days.

“Police take a leading role in an investigation such as this, and while their inquiries continue, it’s appropriate that police handle all queries surrounding this tragic death.

“The council encourages anyone who was a witness to contact police directly. This is very sensitive matter and due process needs to run its course.”

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page:www.nsw.crimestoppers成都夜网.au.

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

‘I thought Kathy could be dead’: Trainer recalls day he feared worst

Some men run wildly down the Randwick straight celebrating, others run frozen with fear at what they’re about to confront.
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Trainer Nick Olive hadn’t stopped smiling for two weeks. He had just won his first group 1 with a horse no one seems to rate and she was making her move as the n Oaks field rounded the home turn and prepared to thunder down the famous stretch of grass.

A horse to the inside of his filly, Single Gaze, tried to edge out. It clipped her heels and her jockey, Kathy O’Hara, crashed to the turf. It was one of those moments when the world keeps moving and the race keeps going but everything just seems to stop.

“You care for your horse straight away, but for Kathy I thought …. there’s no way she’s going to come out of this,” Olive says. “I thought there was every possibility she could be dead.

“I remember running up the course proper and all the emotions – by the time you get up there – I had tears coming down my cheeks.”

It was the longest 400 metres of Olive’s life. His horse, remarkably, bounced back up to her feet and sidled up to the outside fence, where she waited for someone to collect her.

But O’Hara lay prone on the ground, a distraught Olive shoving his way past paramedics just hoping to find a pulse.

“When I got up there, Kathy had a million people around her and she was like, ‘Where’s Nick? Where’s Nick? Is the horse all right?’ That just blew me away,” Olive says.

“She’s literally lying there half unconscious, broken up and everyone’s working on her – and that’s all she cared about. It was pretty emotional.”

Says O’Hara: “I don’t remember saying that, but if I did, obviously I meant it. It wasn’t my first fall and it won’t be my last. And my injuries weren’t that bad.”

Most would beg to differ. O’Hara suffered concussion, chest and collarbone injuries. She required surgery and she was out of the saddle for months. Yet she knows she was lucky.

The horrifying tumble prompted Racing NSW’s then chief steward Ray Murrihy to describe her as the toughest rider in the Sydney jockeys’ room – and he wasn’t referring just to the female quarters. Never judge a book by its cover.

Horrifying: Kathy O’Hara is stretchered away after she came off Single Gaze during the n Oaks. Photo: AAP

Then there’s her horse, the one she hugged like her own daughter after it boldly hit the front in the Caulfield Cup inside the 200 metres a fortnight ago before clinging on for second.

The modern Melbourne Cup is a personal playground for squillionaires and sheikhs. Then there’s a horse that is cheered wildly in pubs and clubs in Canberra and rural Gundagai, a throwback to yesteryear.

She didn’t cost a lot, $70,000 to be exact. The Not A Single Doubt filly was the only horse Olive bought from the Gold Coast’s Magic Millions sale in 2014 and was bred to sprint, not stick.

Single Gaze was so far last in her first race start her part-owner, Martin Hay, who runs the Gundagai Tigers rugby league club with the horse’s other major shareholder David Tout, wondered what they had got into.

Yet the filly rocketed home and won at $81, with O’Hara in the saddle. Olive reckons some other riders might have given up, so hopeless was their mid-race plight.

“Four hundred metres after her first start, I looked at Dave and we said, ‘What’s he got us into here?’ Never in your wildest dreams do you think a couple of years later she’s going to be running in the Melbourne Cup,” Hay says.

Hay has barely left his mare’s side in Melbourne for the past few weeks. He’s put his earthmoving business in Gundagai on hold for a few weeks and is instead moving manure out of his horse’s box in the countdown to the Cup.

Olive has left his family for much of the past couple of months, his right-hand man and former jockey Billy Owen rarely straying from Single Gaze’s side since August in the hope of making it to the first Tuesday in November.

“The kids are bloody excited,” Olive quips of his two daughters, Jesse and Chloe. “They rang me after the Caulfield Cup and said, ‘Dad, does this mean we’re going to the Melbourne Cup?’ I said, ‘Yep’.

“They were running around the backyard screaming out and telling all their friends. They’re pretty excited. You start at the bottom earning crap money working seven days a week and to get here … it’s been a good journey for everyone.

“I never thought about giving [training] up. But I’ve thought, ‘This is so hard’. Sometimes it gets you down, but you learn to balance that a bit more as you get older. I’ve thought that a lot of times, but not one day have I thought I want to give this away.”

Days like Tuesday is the reason he hasn’t. It will be the first time Canberra has had a horse in the Melbourne Cup since Ain’t Seen Nothin’ ran in the 2003 race, Makybe Diva’s first of three straight triumphs.

Michelle Payne is the other famous female most etched in modern Melbourne Cup history, revealing after Prince Of Penzance’s shock win two years ago some of the horse’s owners didn’t want her to keep the ride in the Cup.

O’Hara was bumped from Single Gaze in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic for Damien Oliver at the start of last year. Olive and Hay are the first to admit they erred.

“They wanted to go with him and they tried a few other jockeys and luckily she didn’t really run for them,” O’Hara says. “[But] there’s never been any questions this preparation or last preparation. [Hay’s] always said, ‘She’s yours’. It fuels you with confidence and I want to do the right thing by them.”

She has and will now have her first Melbourne Cup ride.

To understand how unlikely this story is would be to consider only one horse in more than 20 years has run in the Golden Slipper scamper as a two-year-old and then taken their spot in a Melbourne Cup over the gruelling two-mile test. Single Gaze will be the second.

Olive’s red and blue colours are being used in cocktails in Canberra bars. Gundagai RSL hasn’t heard a roar like the one in the final stages of the Caulfield Cup. They love the Cup there, and they love their horse more.

Hay and Tout’s Group 9 rivals are also on the bandwagon, traditional arch rivals of Gundagai united by a chestnut mare they can’t know enough about.

“It just gets under my skin that these two blokes Billy and Nick don’t get the credit they deserve,” Hay says. “They’ve done a wonderful job with this horse. The horse has built its own reputation now and hopefully that will filter through to these two blokes. They deserve the credit they’re slowly getting.

“You can draw your own conclusions on how the public treats her. Everyone loves her, but she’s always 30-1. The racing enthusiasts don’t respect her yet, but that’s slowly starting to change. And after Tuesday hopefully that will change more.”

Adds O’Hara: “She’s always been an underdog. She’s always been underrated her whole career and she still is. She just keeps … proving everyone wrong. There’s no pressure on her and she continues to defy logic.”

O’Hara might have been talking about herself for a moment.

Some will argue O’Hara has been swimming against the tide for years. Just like Payne, no one will expect her to do much in the race that stops the nation. But we all know how that unfolded.

And as for the horse she will be riding?

“We know she’ll do us proud,” Hay says. “And I’ll be honest, after the fall I’m happy to see her go around and come back. If she wins it’s a bonus. But I’m just happy to see her competing again at this level.

“Winning’s not everything to us. We’re just proud of her. She’s 430 kilos and 230 kilos of that is heart I think.”

Black Diamond AFL: Maitland, Singleton, Wyong, Gosford and Lake Macquarie set for promotion in 2018

UP: Maitland pair Dave Ross and Wade Beard hold aloft this year’s first-division trophy. Picture: Michael HartshornThe Black Diamond AFL will almost double in size next year if a proposal to promote five first-division teams gets passed during the off-season.
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Maitland, Singleton, Wyong, Gosford and Lake Macquarie could all be on the up in 2018 following discussions at Sunday’s annual general meeting.

Around 35 people were in attendance at Belmont 16s withfirst grade expansion, player points systemandAFL NSW-ACT affiliation on the agenda.

The current six-team competition features premiers Terrigal-Avoca, grand finalists Cardiff, perennial powerhouse Newcastle City, Nelson Bay, Warners Bay and Killarney Vale.

Black Diamond AFL president Wal Bembic said officials have been working towards thisgrowth throughoutrecent campaigns with a tailored draw designed to help the cause.

“Certainly the idea of all the changes over the last few years has been to expand the Black Diamond Cup competition,” Bembic said.

“We’ve got six teams and previously we’ve had teams come up for a year or two, but next year we hope to have five sides come up and while it is a big step up we would have a seeded competition.

“Those five new teams will play each other twiceand they’ll play the existing six teams once. Theexisting six teams will play each other twice and they’ll play the new five teams once.

“So it’s a bit of a soft landing, but clubs get the opportunity to play the best and also play the most games against the sides at their own level.”

Maitland and Singleton played in this year’s first-division grand final, Wyong were minor premiers while Gosford and Lake Macquarie both missed the semis.

The potential introduction of a playerpoints system, including a recruitment cap, may also ease that transition.

“The idea being to enable new clubs who come to the Black Diamond to recruit as many players as they canand the top teams every year would be limited in their recruitment,” Bembic said.

Player sign-on restrictions imposed on Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca for2017 have now been lifted.

Bembic said next year’slower grades would depend on nominations but a three-tier structure has been put forward.

Also proposed – ashort-term masters tournament and the emergence of Wallsend and Port Stephens in the women’s competition.

All clubs have until next Friday (November 17) to respond to the outlined changesbefore the Black Diamond AFL board meets again on November 29.

Bembic said the Black Diamond’s affiliation with NSW-ACT AFL next season is uncertain.

Meanwhile, Warners Bay product Paul Hunter has been retained on the rookie list of beaten AFL grand finalists the Adelaide Crows.

China’s health watchdog accused of ‘too close’ relationship with industry

‘s drug and medical device watchdog, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, needs a complete overhaul to distance it from the health industry and allow consumers to sue it for negligence, say academics and consumer advocates after the regulator quietly announced moves to classify all pelvic mesh devices high risk after years of controversy.
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“The current regulatory framework is a complete bypass of the interests of consumers. They don’t have a stake at the table,” said University of Canberra academic Wendy Bonython, after the TGA said the new classification would mean “higher evidentiary requirements” before new devices are approved for use in , and for existing approved devices.

The move comes more than a decade after many pelvic mesh devices were cleared for use by the TGA with little or no independent evidence of safety and efficacy.

The announcement on the TGA’s website on October 26 also follows evidence at a Senate inquiry about the devastating and permanent consequences of mesh surgery for thousands of n women, and a class action by women against mesh manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

Dr Bonython and University of Canberra associate professor Bruce Arnold told the Senate inquiry the TGA’s “industry-funded model of regulation” raises questions about the regulator’s independence in the wake of a string of device scandals, including pelvic mesh, joint prostheses, breast and contraceptive implants, cardiac stents and pacemakers.

The failures indicate “systemic weaknesses in the prevention of and response to foreseeable harms”, with the “enormous” cost borne by individuals and the broader community, they said.

“Trying to run a regulator on a shoestring, particularly a medical device regulator, is a bit of a false economy because if we’re not investing in the regulator, chances are we’re going to be subsidising its failures through things like the National Disability Insurance Scheme or Medicare, or lack of productivity,” Dr Bonython said.

“There needs to be a clear break between the regulator and the parties they’re trying to regulate.”

The two academics called on the Senate inquiry to investigate legislated indemnity provisions that protect the TGA from being sued for negligent performance of its regulatory functions.

“The TGA can’t be sued for negligence. It doesn’t matter how negligent the regulator, it can get away with it, which is problematic because it removes any incentive towards carefulness,” Dr Bonython said.

There was a “lack of political will” to make hard decisions to protect consumers, she said.

“We’ve been writing about this since 2010. In that time we’ve seen a number of device scandals, inquiries, class actions, but we haven’t actually seen much in the way of meaningful action on the floor of parliament. This is looking like a recurring pattern. Why are we getting so many dodgy implants?”

The medical profession’s “fair degree of lobbying power” and pharmaceutical companies as “big ticket players in the economy” were issues when it came to consumer protections, she said.

In evidence to the Senate inquiry, Dr Bonython said the TGA’s approval of some devices, including pelvic mesh devices, on the basis of post-market monitoring was “problematic”.

“At the very least it needs to be flagged as an experimental device until such time as there is a sufficient body of evidence indicating that it’s safe to use,” Dr Bonython said.

Gynaecologist Professor Christopher Maher, who first raised concerns about a pelvic mesh device in a paper in 2003, told a Senate inquiry hearing that the TGA was “the first level of oversight” for new devices and drugs, but pelvic mesh devices were approved without independent evidence of safety and efficacy.

Professor Maher told the inquiry he had “sort of a frosty relationship” with the TGA after raising serious questions about pelvic mesh devices during internal reviews by the regulator over a number of years.

“With hindsight, I think, everyone in the TGA would say they wished that they didn’t allow these products through when there wasn’t much evidence supporting those products,” Professor Maher said.

The Federal Government-funded Consumers Health Forum of , representing state consumer health groups, told the Senate inquiry the approval and marketing of pelvic mesh devices for more than a decade represented a “catastrophic system-wide failure”, that included the TGA and its processes.

The TGA’s adverse events reporting system to detect serious drug and device problems was described by women as “something of a black hole, with lots of information going into it but nothing visible coming out”, the forum said.

Forum member and Victorian Health Issues Centre chief executive Danny Vadasz said the nexus between companies, the medical profession and the TGA was “insidious and undermines the integrity of our regulatory system”.

“What quality of guardianship can you expect when the poacher is paying the wages of the gamekeeper?” Mr Vadasz said.

“The government must act to give the TGA financial independence from big pharma, to raise the evidentiary bar on safety and quality and to be held accountable for its singular purpose, to protect the safety of the public.

“Until we have such legislative reform public health will remain hostage to the sales and marketing targets of medical device manufacturers.”

Forum member and Western n Health Consumers Council executive director Pip Brennan said the “appalling outcomes some women had experienced from TGA-approved pelvic mesh implants highlights a fundamental flaw in how our regulatory system is working”.

“The recent quiet announcement of the up-classification of mesh devices still does not reassure as there is no guarantee consumers will be provided with relevant consent documentation and there is still no commitment to create a register to track the devices being implanted,” Ms Brennan said.

“There must be a separation between income for our regulatory body, and the approval of devices. No one has a higher stake in a medical device than the patient who is having something permanently implanted, and yet consumers are not at the decision-making table of the TGA. This needs to change.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office referred questions to the TGA, which “totally rejected” claims it had a too-close relationship with industry because of its funding model.

“Industry has no say whatsoever in how TGA spends the revenue it receives from other industry charges. This system has been in place for more than 20 years and there has been no evidence of any sort of ‘regulatory capture’,” a spokesperson said.

“Other medicines and device regulators internationally also are fully or significantly funded by industry fees and charges and operate in the same way. This takes the burden off the taxpayer for such time-consuming scrutiny.

“It is accepted as best regulatory practice for regulators to have a good understanding of and working relationship with the regulated entities. So, while the TGA meets frequently with industry and other stakeholders, including consumer and healthcare groups, it maintains a professional but arm’s length relationship and does not include them in any final decision-making once consultations are completed.”

The TGA said it accepted evidence from an expert committee in 2008 that recommended it continue to monitor meshes, but the reported rate of complications was low. By 2013 an internal TGA report acknowledged its adverse event reporting system only received 10-20 per cent of all adverse events because it relied on manufacturers to report complications.

The TGA has not prosecuted one mesh manufacturer for failing to report complications, despite it being a criminal offence carrying a jail term and substantial fine.

In 2014 the regulator cancelled the first of more than 40 pelvic mesh devices and increased monitoring and reporting requirements for remaining devices.

In its statement the TGA said “it must be emphasised that the TGA does not regulate clinical practice and decisions by doctors to use these devices”.

Optus partners with new Perth Stadium as we take a tour inside

The State Government has confirmed Optus as the naming rights sponsor for the new Perth Stadium.
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On the back of Fremantle and West Coast finally announcing their 2018 membership packages for home games at WA’s new home of football, Optus signed a 10-year deal to provide telecommunications and internet services across the stadium, as revealed by WAtoday last Friday.

While Optus will be the stadium’s naming rights sponsor for the next 10 years, Bankwest was on Sunday named the stadium’s official banking partner.

The 10-year Optus deal is expected to put $50 million back into state government coffers as WA households continue to bear the burden of a Budget repair on the back of the Barnett government blowing it out.

The deal with Optus – which will include 4G service at the ground and a unique app for fans there – comes as the telecommunications giant looks to expand and improve its network coverage across WA.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said he wasn’t concerned about losing the marketing benefits of keeping Perth in the stadium’s name.

He said the ‘Perth Stadium’ name would be used by broadcasters of international cricket fixtures at the venue.

“The only regular international games that will be held at the stadium will be cricket, and international cricket matches,” he said.

“For the purposes of those games, it will be called Perth Stadium because Cricket have their own obligations that prevent stadium names, competitor names, being used.”

Broadcasters of other showcase events at the stadium such as the Bledisloe Cup rugby union and State of Origin rugby league would still promote Perth and WA, as would official merchandise available at these events.

Stadium CEO Mike McKenna said he was delighted to have secured Optus for the next 10 years.

“As a technologically-focused venue, Optus is the perfect partner,” he said.

Membership packages for the two AFL clubs and the naming rights sponsorship come on the back of Gage Roads being announced as the venue’s official beer provider and Mrs Macs its pie and sausage roll maker.

WAtoday was given a last-minute tour of the 60,000-seat venue late last month to see what AFL footy would look like for fans next season.

We were told there wouldn’t be a bad seat in the house… and the stadium has come good on its promise.

Under the new 10-year deal agreed to by the AFL, state government and WAFC, the latter will receive $10.3 million annually from stadium income to support grassroots football.

Construction at Perth Stadium is 97 per cent complete, with work currently happening on the stadium turf.

Seating allocated to Fremantle Dockers members for the 2018 season got ticked off on Monday, with members trying their luck swapping seats with others online.

Inside the stadium

There’s no doubt the new Optus Stadium is world-class in every aspect, but the biggest different fans will first notice when they take their seats next season is the stadium’s seating bowl, which brings them closer to the action and gives exceptional bird-eye views of how play is unfolding on the field.

From the very highest tiers, like level five, it feels like you’re sitting right on top of the ground, rather than away from it like at Subiaco Oval, with the atmosphere enhanced by the lower levels below being almost non-existent to the naked eye when seated this high.

Anyone who’s watched footy at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne will be familiar with this feeling, given the generous views from almost every seat at that venue, particularly high up.

In Perth, there are stairs, escalators and lifts to take footy fans of all ages to the higher tiers, where fans up there won’t miss the two massive, 340sqm TV screens at either end of the ground, some of the biggest in (let’s hope more replays of highlights are shown than what we saw at Subi).

Walking through the wide concourse behind the sectioned seating is like a postcard of our city, with fans treated to generous views of the CBD skyline and Swan River, after parts of the exterior panels were purposely left off the shell of the stadium.

Nearby is the premium Skyview Lounge, which shares a long balcony with a public area for members and fans who may require a breather from the action (or a phone call to a rival supporter).

While higher-priced member seats for Eagles (click here) and Dockers fans (click here) provide the best overall view and are positioned in the middle of the ground on the wing, there is exceptional value for those considering cheaper seats, particularly in the higher tiers in rows closer to the front.

For example, Fremantle fans interested in $599 memberships can choose from a variety of sections close to the wing and forward pockets on level five that seem to be the best value for money, the only downside the steep stairs for rows towards the back.

But it’s behind the scenes that the stadium scores the most points, with a concourse three times the width of Subiaco Oval giving fans plenty of room to wander and roam while gourging on the plethora of TVs and food and drink outlets close by.

There are also plenty of toilets just short relief away from each section, standing areas undercover with great views of the ground (like the MCG) and external resting areas if you need a breather from the thrills and spills.

Fremantle and West Coast memberships

Dockers memberships will be the cheapest in the AFL and $140 less than rivals West Coast.

Season memberships at Fremantle start from $249 for adults – $100 cheaper than 2017 memberships at Subiaco Oval, while at West Coast the cheapest are $390.

West Coast has also begun transitioning its 40,000 members to the new stadium, contacting members recently about the process.

Both WA clubs have had telephone lines open since Monday for membership queries, but WAtoday understands there has been long waits for Fremantle members at least getting through.

The stadium bowl will bring the atmosphere at Perth Stadium games to another level. Pic credit: Hassel Cox HKS.

Around 50,000 seats will be allocated to Fremantle and West Coast members, with 6,000 reserved for general admission, 1000 for tourism packages and 1400 for stadium memberships, which will cost around $6000 and allow a ticket holder to attend any event at the stadium throughout the year.

Fans will have 13 seating options including general admission and premium products such as the Victory Lounge and club lounges and terraces.

The ground itself has an east-west orientation like Subiaco Oval and the MCG, with the field-of-play dimensions aligned with the latter.

The atmosphere at respective home games will light up the eyes of fans, literally, with state-of-the-art LED in club colours illuminated through the roof. It should make the home-ground advantage both WA clubs enjoy even greater than what they experienced at Subi.

On the northern side of the stadium, either side of The Locker Room, fans can watch their team warm up and run onto the ground, with West Coast’s dedicated changing room on the north-east side and Fremantle’s on the north-west.

Coaches aren’t forgotten either, with access to a 60-person briefing room as well as the 30-person coaches’ box, medical rooms and recovery facilities that include hot and cold spas on level three,.

FAN-FIRST FEATURES: ??? 4G coverage across the stadium ??? 2 x 340sqm super screens at either end ??? 1000 other TV screens strategically placed throughout the stadium ??? 85% of seats are covered by the lightweight fabric roof ??? 70 food and beverage outlets, 50 of which have views of the ground ??? 50cm-wide seats that all include cup holders ??? 12 lifts, elevators, 3 adult change rooms, parents/baby room, bigger cubicles ??? 360-degree access at all GA levels ??? 60 universal toilets ??? 748 male bathrooms, 781 female bathrooms ??? 600 bike racks ??? 450 wheelchair positions and 327 seats for fans with other mobility requirements ??? 10,000 additional seats can be used if needed

A restaurant overlooking the Swan River will also be open pre and post???game and on non-event days.

The restaurant overlooking the city and Swan River at Perth Stadium. Pic credit: Hassel.

Facilities outside the stadium have been designed also with the fan forefront of mind, with a covered community arbour representing Noongar stories linking the six-platform Stadium Station to the Swan River.

The grounds west of the stadium house a boardwalk and amphitheatre, parkland, children’s playgrounds, BBQ and picnic areas while an oval on the north is available for public use on non-event days.

A network of walking and cycle tracks will come in handy on game day and beyond, while the transport strategy promises safe and efficient movement of 83 per cent of a capacity crowd within 30 minutes of a game finishing.

An overview of the parks and facilities surrounding Perth Stadium. Pic credit: Hassel.

Access to CBD car parks and areas not serviced by rail will be handled by special buses, while punters can wet the whistle on their way to the game (or during if things are going that bad) at a massive microbrewery just outside the main entrance.

Perth Stadium will officially open with a free Community Open Day on Sunday January 21. Fremantle play Collingwood in round 2 of the AFLW on Saturday February 10. These events will be followed by a series of additional world-class entertainment and sporting events before the 2018 AFL season begins.

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison fears proposed police restructure will leave Central Hunter worse off

CONCERNED: Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison says a proposed police restructure would leave her community ‘short-changed’. Picture: Simone De PeakMAITLAND will “suffer” and is on track to being “short-changed” if a proposed police restructure does not boost the number of frontline officers, Jenny Aitchison has told Police Minister Troy Grant.
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The Maitland Labor MP has ratcheted up her criticism of the state-wide police restructure, which, if approved, would see the biggest changes to Hunter local area commandsin more than two decades, with a flatter management structure and the creation of new “policing districts”.

The biggest changes to the Central Hunter Local Area Command – which is headquartered at Maitland station – would see the command’s superintendent shift to Raymond Terrace.

The communities of Cessnock and Kurri Kurri would also be shaved off the jurisdiction to become the responsibility of Hunter Valley police.

In strong criticism of the proposal, Ms Aitchison said Maitland was being “short-changed” underthe restructure,and questioned why the state government was yet to spell out the number of new police it would bring.

“I cannot stand by silent while our community is being short-changed and even more of our precious police resources are given back to the NSW treasury, while we here in Maitland suffer with increasing rates of domestic violence, car theft and other crimes with a police force that is struggling to keep on top of the task, regardless of their amazing efforts thus far,” she said in a letter to the Police Minister, seen by Fairfax Media.

“There is only so much capacity for people to work in this environment.”

‘Their greatest concern is that they would like to see additional police’ … Northern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell. Picture: Marina Neil

Ms Aitchison claimed that the command was understaffed by at least 20 officers and police were under “constant strain and pressure”.

“A major opportunity to provide more ‘boots on the ground’ does not actually result in any additional police,” the Labor MP said.

“In fact, across the two areas [Port Stephens and Maitland] there will actually be one less police officer.”

Ms Aitchison also feared the loss of local leadership with the removal of a Maitland-based superintendent, despite police assurances each station would retain a chief inspector.

“I have great reservations about whether or not the issues will be addressed, or swept under the carpet as they will be ‘out of sight out of mind’,” she said.

In a recentinterview with theHerald, Northern Region commander Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell acknowledged that Hunter MPs and mayors were opposed to aspects of the looming restructure.

“Their greatest concern is that they would like to see additional police and that’s a matter, really, for the government and the commissioner’soffice,” he said.

Live at the Foreshore 2017 rocks out in new location despite rainy weatherPhotos

Even more photos from Live at the Foreshore 2017 Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight
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Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Mitch Lowe Photo // SaveTonight

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

Photo: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookThis That festival and Live at the Foreshore made their west end debut, after relocating from the foreshoredue to construction of the Supercars race track.

Up to 12,000 revellers piled into the park on Saturday for This That, with the lineup featuring Tash Sultana, The Preatures and Alison Wonderland.

But it was electronic heavyweights The Presets that stole the show after sundown, attracting the largest crowd of the evening.

There was also a marked turnaround in spectator behaviour, after police putfestival organisers on notice following last year’s event.

Newcastle City police Chief Inspector Gerard Lawson praised the actions of the crowds, despite more than two dozen arrests, mainly for drug possession.

He said a handful were likely to face charges.

“It was a well-run event that went smoothly and that’s because of all the preparation we do in the lead-up with the various stakeholders,” he said.