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Weekend in Sport March 21-22photos

Weekend in Sport March 21-22 | photos BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill.Jacob Eyers (Napoleons-Sebastopol)Picture Lachlan Bence.
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BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill.Jacob Eyers (Napoleons-Sebastopol)Picture Lachlan Bence.

BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill.Liam Rigby (Napoleons-Sebastopol)Picture Lachlan Bence.

BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill.Carmen Mapatuna (Napoleons-Sebastopol)Picture Lachlan Bence.

BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill.Liam Rigby (Napoleons-Sebastopol)Picture Lachlan Bence.

BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill.Liam Rigby (Napoleons-Sebastopol)Picture Lachlan Bence.

BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill.Liam Rigby (Napoleons-Sebastopol)Picture Lachlan Bence.

BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill.Carmen Mapatuna (Napoleons-Sebastopol)Picture Lachlan Bence.

BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill.Jacob Eyers (Napoleons-Sebastopol)Picture Lachlan Bence.

BCA club firsts grand final.Napoleons-Sebastopol v Brown Hill. Shane Harwood (Brown Hill)Picture Lachlan Bence.

Sebastopol Vikings v Melbourne City.Michael Henry (Sebastopol Vikings)Picture Lachlan Bence.

Sebastopol Vikings v Melbourne City.Scoot Bery (Sebastopol Vikings)Picture Lachlan Bence.

Sebastopol Vikings v Melbourne City.Ryan Rykers (Sebastopol Vikings)Picture Lachlan Bence.

Sebastopol Vikings v Melbourne City.Kyran Taylor (Sebastopol Vikings)Picture Lachlan Bence.

Sebastopol Vikings v Melbourne City.Franck Labakohler (Sebastopol Vikings)Picture Lachlan Bence.

Sebastopol Vikings v Melbourne City.Kyran Taylor (Sebastopol Vikings)Picture Lachlan Bence.

Sebastopol Vikings v Melbourne City.Scott Bery (Sebastopol Vikings)Picture Lachlan Bence.

Cricket district division one grand final between Ballan and Lucas. Mick Nolan (Ballan), Jake Pring (Lucas) Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Cricket district division one grand final between Ballan and Lucas. Mick Nolan (Ballan), Jake Pring (Lucas) Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Cricket district division one grand final between Ballan and Lucas. Mick Nolan (Ballan), Jake Pring (Lucas) Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Cricket district division one grand final between Ballan and Lucas. Jake Pring (Lucas), Zac Graham (Ballan) Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Cricket district division one grand final between Ballan and Lucas.Mark Gittins (Lucas), Zac Graham (Ballan) Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Cricket district division one grand final between Ballan and Lucas.Mick Nolan (Ballan), Mark Gittins (Lucas) Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Cricket district division one grand final between Ballan and Lucas Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Cricket district division one grand final between Ballan and Lucas.Mick Nolan (Ballan), Paul Jones (Lucas) Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Cricket district division one grand final between Ballan and Lucas. Ryan Aquilina (Ballan), Paul Jones (Lucas) Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

BCA club firsts grand final between Brown Hill and Naps-Sebas at Eastern Oval. Peter Kane (BH), Jake Eyers (NS)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

BCA club firsts grand final between Brown Hill and Naps-Sebas at Eastern Oval. Peter Kane (BH), Jake Eyers (NS)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

BCA club firsts grand final between Brown Hill and Naps-Sebas at Eastern Oval. Justin Ringin (NS)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

BCA club firsts grand final between Brown Hill and Naps-Sebas at Eastern Oval. Peter Kane and Alex Coad (BH)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

BCA club firsts grand final between Brown Hill and Naps-Sebas at Eastern Oval. Alex Coad (BH), Justin Ringin (NS)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

BCA club firsts grand final between Brown Hill and Naps-Sebas at Eastern Oval. Tyler Dittloff and Carmen Mapatuna (NS) appeal against Peter Kane (BH)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

BCA club firsts grand final between Brown Hill and Naps-Sebas at Eastern Oval. Justin Ringin (NS)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

BCA club firsts grand final between Brown Hill and Naps-Sebas at Eastern Oval. Alex Coad lets (BH) a ball go through to the keeper Jake Eyers (NS)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Sovereigns v Geelong Cougars Victorian Netball League championship match at Wendouree Sports and Events. Kelly Conroy (Sov), Melissa Bragg (GC)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Sovereigns v Geelong Cougars Victorian Netball League championship match at Wendouree Sports and Events. Cynna Kydd (Sov), Maddison Smedts (GC)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Sovereigns v Geelong Cougars Victorian Netball League championship match at Wendouree Sports and Events. Kelly Conroy (Sov), Melissa Bragg (GC)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Sovereigns v Geelong Cougars Victorian Netball League championship match at Wendouree Sports and Events. Lauren Atkinson (Sov)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

Sovereigns v Geelong Cougars Victorian Netball League championship match at Wendouree Sports and Events. Kelly Conroy (Sov)Pic: JEREMY BANNISTER

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Far South Coast lifesavers tackle branch championships: photos

Far South Coast lifesavers tackle branch championships: photos Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.
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Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

Seniors’ Far South Coast branch championships were held at Broulee on March 21.

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Constance agrees South Durras junction ‘unsafe’

BEGA MP Andrew Constance says Roads and Maritime Services is investigating an upgrade of the Durras Road/Princes Highway intersection at the South Durras turnoff.
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It comes after the Durras Community Association this week called on the NSW government to upgrade the junction and build a left-turn slip lane.

The association argued the intersection was “an accident waiting to happen” and said it had campaigned for the “dangerous junction” to be upgraded for many years, but no solid commitments have been made by government.

Mr Constance said the intersection was one of many on the Princes Highway south of Nowra built in previous decades below desirable modern standards.

He said that according to Ministerial advice, there had been no reported crashes at the intersection in the most recent five years of crash data.

Data is sourced from NSW Police and relates to crashes where people are injured or one or more vehicles requires towing.

“Whilst RMS may argue that the accident rate may be low, it doesn’t mean that the intersection is necessarily safe,” Mr Constance said.

“I agree with residents about their concerns that it is an unsafe intersection.

“In response to community representations Roads and Maritime Services is currently investigating the cost of upgrading this intersection to provide a southbound left turn lane as suggested.”

Bega MP Andrew Constance.

Mr Constance said the likely cost, still under investigation, was expected to be up to $2 million.

“RMS have indicated that there are intersections where crashes are more prevalent and they too are currently being addressed,” he said.

Mr Constance said he would again approach the Minister about the concerns of the Association to see what can be done more quickly.

“In recent years I have secured the Long Beach intersection and Jigamy Farm intersection where there were similar problems,” Mr Constance said.

“I was hoping to meet with Association representatives at the end of last year, but due to surgery I had at the time I was unable to do so.

“I am happy to meet with them to give them the latest information I have on the matter.”

Related story:Residents driven to make turnoff election issue

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Jason Rowan sweats on knee scans

Jason Rowan suffered a knee injury in a practice match on Saturday.
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WARRNAMBOOL captain Jason Rowan will know the full extent of his knee injury on Monday but he is optimistic he won’t need major surgery.

Rowan, second on the all-time list of Hampden football league goalkickers, suffered the injury during his club’s firstpractice match of the pre-season against Geelong league club Lara at Warrnambool’s Walter Oval on Saturday.

Rowan, who had looked sharp at full-forward, made a strong lead into the forward pocket midway through the first quarterand went to change direction after the oncoming kick eluded him when he slipped to the ground and instantly clutchedhis left-knee.

Clearly in pain, Rowan attempted to put weight on his leg but he could not walk from the field, eventually being chaired from the ground by two club personnel.

Rowan said scans on Monday would reveal the nature of the injury but preliminary X-rays from Warrnambool chiropractor Tim Freehad cleared him of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) damage.

“We have ruled out a few things,” Rowan said.

“The ACL and PCL are no worries, it’s no major knee injury.

“It’s a bit of piece of mind.”

Rowan said the injury might relate to a lateral ligament or themeniscus.

“We have come out of it well, a reco is definitely ruled out.”

The 28-year-old said he had enjoyed a big pre-season he was excited about the season ahead.

“It’s probably one of the best pre-seasons I’ve had, this year and last year,everything was going so well.”

He said he won’t know until after the scans on Monday how long he will be out of action.

Rowan’s injury overshadowed an impressive hit out by the Blues, which are looking to bounce back from last season’s Hampden league grand final loss.

The Blues dominated play against Lara with new recruit, assistant coach Tim McIntyre racking up possessions in the midfield, across half-forward and deep in attack.

The former Adelaide Crows-listed player was superb, with pinpoint delivery to leading forwards.

Former Merrivale forwardJames Fary played as a key defender in his first outing with the club and looks a certain starter for the Blues’ opening round match against reigning premier Koroit on April 18.

The Blues thumped an undermanned Lara, which rarely took the ball into their forward 50-metre area in the first half.

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Melbourne City win puts destiny in its own hands – almost

Their destiny is not quite back in their own control – Brisbane still has three games in hand – but Melbourne City’s 1-0 away win against championship-chasing Sydney FC gives John Van’t Schip’s side a much bigger say in how their A-League season will end.
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On Friday night the Melbourne version of the Sky Blues pulled off an audacious smash-and-grab raid against the Sydney version of the Sky Blues, courtesy of unheralded front man James Brown’s calm finish in the final 10 minutes of a game in which the stakes were huge for both sides.

Had Sydney won they could have leapfrogged Wellington, even if only temporarily, and gone top of the table, setting themselves up for a grandstand finish to the season and holding out the prospect of a grand final in the Harbour City.

That’s still not impossible, of course, but as the games run down and other teams get better results it becomes more difficult.

For City, a defeat on Friday night would have been a body blow to finals ambitions that have been hanging by a thread for weeks as the Melbourne club spurned glorious opportunities to cement their spot in the top six.

They are now five points clear of Brisbane, who have three games in hand, including Sunday afternoon’s contest against Wellington. In theory, Brisbane could win all three and scoot four points clear of City, a gap which might prove insurmountable.

But that’s a big if, especially as next Saturday night at AAMI Park City host Brisbane. It’s a game that almost deserves the title of nine-pointer, rather than the traditional six-pointer, so important for both clubs are its ramifications.

A City win would not only stretch their advantage over the Queenslanders but deprive the Roar of one of those crucial games in hand.

Most coaches will tell you that it’s good to have matches up your sleeve, but it’s a double-edged sword: you have to win them to derive any benefit, and at this stage of the campaign, with their Asian Champions League campaign adding to their fixture pile-up, fatigue and world weariness could start to become an issue for the Roar.

After entertaining Wellington, the Queenslanders are due to face Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp on Wednesday before they travel to Melbourne for Saturday night’s special.  Five days later they are set to host Central Coast on April 2 before travelling to Seoul for a Champions League match against Suwon Bluewings on April 8. After that they are scheduled to return home via Adelaide, whom they face at Coopers Stadium on April 11.

So in an 18-day period Brisbane has to front up six times, including a lengthy return trip to South Korea.

It’s a big ask and it should stack the balls in City’s court – unless, of course, Van’t Schip’s side plays up to its reputation as a team that makes things much harder for itself than it needs to by drawing games it should win and losing matches it should get something out of.

City itself has to go on the road three times in its last five games – to Western Sydney, Adelaide and Perth – but they are over a five-week period. Aside from the home match against Brisbane which will do so much to determine their fate, City also host Wellington.

The fact that they were able to take the heat out of Sydney for 90 minutes and shut down the league’s second-highest scoring team (Sydney had notched 40 goals in 21 games before Friday night’s goalless effort) should give City plenty of confidence ahead of their travels.

Van’t Schip set up his side to be difficult to break down, with Erik Paartalu and Jonatan Germano forming a shield in front of a back four marshalled with courage and conviction by skipper Patrick Kisnorbo.

Kisnorbo doesn’t always get a lot of love from football purists, but he is always brave, tough and committed to the cause, and in City’s situation that is what is needed. If the rest of the side had played with his sort of fight for the rest of the season, Van’t Schip’s team might not be in its current situation. He had a terrific game on Friday night and will need to be in similar form for the rest of the campaign if the Manchester City owned club is to make the play-offs.

City have had a terrible run with injuries – Friday night’s goalscoring hero Brown is a case in point, having missed much of the season.

But the upside is that Van’t Schip has been able to take a long hard look at all of his squad and on Friday night gave two youngsters who had not been seen before, Stefan Zinni and Nicholas Symoey, a taste of first-team experience. Who knows if they yet might have a role to play in the final days of the season.

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Mining magnate Gina Rinehart sells Mosman home

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart has cashed in on Sydney’s property boom to sell the former Mosman home of her daughter Hope Welker for more than $5 million.
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Australia’s richest woman was scheduled to sell the battle-axe property at auction next Thursday but made the sale late on Friday night.

Agents Megan Thomas and Dino Gatti, of Ray White Lower North Shore, declined to comment on the sale price due to strict non-disclosure terms. However, with a guide of more than $5 million it is expected to have sold for more than that, given the pre-auction exchange.

The Bradleys Head Road property is in the name of Ms Rinehart’s family investment company, 150 Investments, of which co-directors are her youngest daughter Ginia Rinehart and Hancock director Tadeusz Watroba.

It last traded in 2007 for $5.4 million. Settlement records will reveal if Ms Rinehart has managed to recoup that amount.

It was home to Ms Welker and her estranged husband Ryan until 2011, when they moved to New York and the family dispute erupted over control of the family dynasty’s mining interests.

Ms Welker was removed from the property’s ownership board in early 2012.

The Corben Architects-designed property  has a north-facing aspect and city views from the upper level. It has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, separate living areas set behind a double lock-up garage and a wet-edged swimming pool.

It was built by the previous owners, the Hamer family, who had bought it with the DA-plans approved for the site in 2003 for $1.95 million from Paulette Mirzikinian.

Records show Ms Rinehart isn’t the first miner to own the property. In 1998 founder of rare earth miner Lynas Corporation, Nick Curtis, and his wife Angela bought the property for $1 million, and sold it and the adjoining 765 square metre-block eight months later for $2.8 million.

Before the property was listed earlier this month, it went to auction in late 2013 with hopes of more than $5 million but failed to illicit a bid of more than $4.3 million.

Until recently Ms Rinehart’s iron ore company Hancock Prospecting was the largest shareholder in Fairfax Media, but she sold her 14.99 per cent stake last month.

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Cities locked in dog-eat-dog battle

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In today’s borderless world, people, business, ideas and capital can move anywhere. This has great implications for the way we build and grow our cities, acclaimed urbanist Larry Beasley says.

Beasley flew into Melbourne this week for the annual Green Cities sustainable building conference, arguing that we’re entering an era of “dog-eat-dog competition” among modern cities, and that the “feel” of a city is a determining factor in its success or failure in the 21st century.

Our cities are in fierce competition for tourist dollars, talented workers, businesses and investors. Our cities also face many challenges – population growth, congestion, sustainability and liveability to name just a few. These challenges can be addressed only if people are passionate about their cities. “If people love their city, they will be loyal and do what they can to make that city thrive,” Beasley says.

On the other hand, if their city doesn’t inspire and delight them, if it doesn’t provide them with great lifestyles, it’s easier than ever before to find a city that does.

Beasley argues that all cities must embrace smart growth – because that’s the best way to build cities that have high levels of amenity, and are exciting, dynamic and comfortable places to live in. Smart growth means increasing density in places that support it – such as along transport corridors, in our town centres and suburban shops – while also protecting our precious natural environment and the lifestyle that we so love.

Changing the shape of our cities doesn’t mean losing our suburbs. In fact, Beasley points out that “most people live in suburbs not because they have to, but because they want to”. People want the benefits of privacy, independence, spaciousness and safety that suburbs provide. Smart growth can provide the best of both worlds. We have the opportunity in Canberra to create new places and spaces as well as retaining some of the features many like best about our city.

In Canberra, we’ve got the basics right – and we have the most liveable city in the OECD as a result.  But we need to build on those basics to enhance our city’s character and charm and to help more people fall in love with – and invest in – our city.

Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia

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NSW state election 2015: Mike Baird announces $300 million for Campbelltown Hospital expansion

Premier Mike Baird on the campaign trail. Photo: Darren Pateman Premier Mike Baird visits Campbelltown Hospital and gets a photo with patient Alex Taylor from Bradbury. Photo: James Brickwood
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Baird with supporters in Campbelltown. Photo: James Brickwood

The NSW Coalition has pledged $300 million for the second stage of its expansion of Campbelltown Hospital as the election campaign enters its final week.

Premier Mike Baird and Health Minister Jillian Skinner toured the completed first phase upgrade of the hospital in the western Sydney battleground on Saturday and promised further expansion to cope with the growing population.

Funding for the redevelopment is contingent on the partial privatisation of the state’s electricity network, a contentious plan the Baird government hopes will raise $13 billion for priority infrastructure projects.

Mr Baird would not commit to a specific time frame for works to start, saying “the planning will determine the final phasing”, but the government was committed to it starting in the next term “and then [to be] completed over the following few years”.

Emergency department waiting times at the hospital are among the worst in the state but during the election campaign both major parties have committed additional resources.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley has promised a $100 million paediatric surgical centre at the hospital if Labor is elected on March 28.

Labor says it can fund the commitment without selling the state’s electricity network.

“It is only our government that has the capacity to fund this expansion,” Mr Baird said. “It is only our government that will do it.”

Mr Baird, who will unveil his full suite of policies at the Liberal Party’s campaign launch on Sunday, said it would be a “close election, it’s going to be a tough election”.

“We have to fight every day. You can see for yourselves the negative campaigns that are running against us,” he said, in a reference to Labor’s anti-power privatisation advertisements. “Every single seat is a battle and we’ll be taking it up.”

The Liberal member for Campbelltown, Brian Doyle, joined Mr Baird and Mrs Skinner at the announcement.

The former chief inspector at Campbelltown Police and first-term MP holds the seat by a 6.8 per cent margin following a boundary change in 2013 which increased his advantage from 3.4 per cent.

Boundary changes have increased the lead of his colleague Jai Rowell, the Liberal member for the seat of Wollondilly, including parts of Campbelltown, from a 14.7 per cent margin to 21.6 per cent.

Mr Rowell, who was notably absent from the announcement, was “out door-knocking, as he should be”, Mr Baird said.

“We are in the midst of an election campaign, there are many votes that we obviously want to win but more importantly we want to tell our local communities everything possible about what we are doing.”

Mrs Skinner said stage two of the hospital expansion would involve new “operating theatres, a new emergency department, expanded clinics, and generally taking this hospital to the point where it will cope with growing demand”.

Mr Baird conceded the policy depended on the sale of the electricity network.

“We are seeking a mandate for that and if we have the opportunity and privilege to continue in government beyond next week we will do everything we possibly can to not only do what we’ve announced but possibly more,” Mr Baird said.

Shadow health minister Walt Secord said the plan was an attempt to “blackmail” local residents into voting for the sale of the electricity network. Find out about your state seat using our election interactive:

<a href="/interactive/2015/nsw-election/electorates/electorates.html?el=Wollondilly" _rte_href="/interactive/2015/nsw-election/electorates/electorates.html?el=Wollondilly">Key facts on NSW electorates</a>

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Foley announces $300 million housing plan

Labor has promised to match the Baird government’s commitment to release 20,000 new housing lots to alleviate Sydney’s housing affordability crisis if it wins the state election next week.
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Opposition leader Luke Foley also committed to putting $100 million towards the development of an Aboriginal cultural centre at Barangaroo. The overall cost of the centre is not yet known and its development would rely on partnerships with private investors, philanthropy, sponsors and the federal government.

Mr Foley said a future Labor government would invest $300 million on measures to address Sydney’s housing affordability crisis.

Of that, $100 million would be spent on accelerating the development of new infrastructure projects to support new housing developments. Another $100 million would fund interest free loans for new community housing.

“I don’t want to see future generations locked out of owning their own home,” Mr Foley said.

“A Labor government will take a new approach to housing affordability by increasing land available for new homes, helping first home buyers, identifying urban renewal opportunities and supporting community housing initiatives and specialist homelessness services.”

Earlier this month, Premier Mike Baird promised to “supercharge” housing supply in NSW if his government is re-elected.

Mr Baird said he would double the target for new home sites released on government-owned land to 20,000 in the next four years for the construction of apartments, terraces and stand alone homes in suburbs across the greater Sydney metropolitan area, the Lower Hunter and the Southern Highlands.

The government nominated Rouse Hill, Campbelltown, Schofields, Thornton, Kellyville and Bella Vista along the north-west rail line as well as Newcastle, Homebush and North Eveleigh, as the areas of focus.

But it would not say how many lots would be released in which suburbs nor what the mix would be between development in established suburbs and those at the metropolitan fringe.

When making a similar announcement in Zetland on Saturday, Mr Foley provided little detail on where the 20,000 new housing lots would be located.

“We’ll work with the Greater Sydney Commission that under a Labor government will be right at the heart of government above all the silo departments to plan Sydney properly,” Mr Foley said.

“Obviously many of them will be in the north-west and south-west growth centres. But we’ll also have the Greater Sydney Commission and the premier’s council on affordable housing looking at the entire future of where we plan new housing in this city.”

Asked why Labor hadn’t provided enough housing when it was previously in government, Mr Foley said construction had been proceeding at a rapid pace until the global financial crisis hit.

Mr Foley said revelations in Fairfax Media that Mr Baird had considered quitting politics a couple of months before he became Premier suggested he would try to “sell everything that is not nailed down”. While Mr Baird would not directly say what doubts he was having, he was considering his future at a time when former Premier Barry O’Farrell would not commit publicly to privatising the electricity network. His father Bruce said his son “wanted to do poles and wires [privatisation]. That was his dream.”

In response to those comments, Mr Foley said: “Batten down the hatches. If Mike Baird is re-elected there will be a fire sale of government assets”.

Mr Foley also welcomed the involvement of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to review an attempt by the Premier’s office to influence an investment bank’s report on the government’s electricity privatisation proposal.

On Wednesday, Mr Baird admitted his office called UBS – one of two banks hired by the government to handle the proposed privatisation – after one of its analysts issued advice that the transaction would be “bad for the budget”.

The analyst then reissued its advice, removing the phrase “bad for the budget” and adding a more favourable view on the benefits of a privatisation.

“It is  not good enough seven days from the election for Mr Baird to put on his choir boy act and say, trust me. There’s a scandal here…. People need to know what happened,” Mr Foley said.

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The enduring power of netball’s Big V

Home: Madi Robinson (left, versus Abbey McCulloch) is back with the Vixens Photo: Grant Treeby Home: Madi Robinson (left, versus Abbey McCulloch) is back with the Vixens Photo: Grant Treeby
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Home: Madi Robinson (left, versus Abbey McCulloch) is back with the Vixens Photo: Grant Treeby

Home: Madi Robinson (left, versus Abbey McCulloch) is back with the Vixens Photo: Grant Treeby

From the backline, as Jack Dyer might have said: Sharni Layton, Julie Corletto, Amy Steel, Renae Hallinan, Caitlyn Nevins, Caitlin Thwaites, Erin Hoare. All but two have played for Australia and all are ex-Vixens, Victorian natives who have sought non-Melbourne netball pastures, and are thus playing at ANZ Championship level elsewhere.

Add in multi-club Bendigo-raised former Kestrel Bec Bulley, and the Fever’s Shae Brown, both of whom missed out on the inaugural Vixens squad back in 2008, plus current Swifts bench player Micaela Wilson, and there are almost more products of the successful local development system playing away than remain at home.

Times have changed, certainly, since the humbler decade of the Australian domestic league, where Vixens coach Simone McKinnis ended her celebrated playing career in 1998.

“It was a big deal then if somebody was going to another state to play, but it is common now, and it’s about players going to where they’re going to find the best opportunity,” says McKinnis, noting the fierce competition for places in just five Australian teams, compared with the eight former Commonwealth Bank Trophy franchises. “That means you may have to go interstate, and obviously there’s the support now for players to move; whether it be [help with] work or that sort of thing, there is the financial support to do that.”

The issue, of course, is that so many talented hopefuls into 12 Vixens spots is an impossible equation, meaning that not only are the reigning premiers unbeaten three rounds into their title defence, they – like the NSW Swifts – are also a particularly rich provider of personnel for rival clubs. In contrast to the Swifts, however, they are also committed to allocating 10 of their 12 spots to Victorian pathway graduates, leaving one for an import (at present England’s Geva Mentor), and no more than one interstater (last year Cath Cox, this time Carla Dziwoki).

A Vixen who left and returned is superstar wing attack Madi Robinson, lured to Perth for a place in the Fever’s starting seven by her former Melbourne Kestrels coach Jane Searle in 2009, coaxed back to her original club two years later, and now one of the best players in the world.

“It was the second year of the ANZ Championship; we hadn’t really seen a lot of player movement before then, so it was a bit of ‘oh, my goodness, what am I doing, is this the right option?’ ” Geelong-raised Robinson recalls of her shift west. “But hopefully it’s a decision like that from myself that has allowed other players to look further if they believe they can play at that level and they want to really pursue their goals and dreams. There’s opportunities out there, you’ve just got to try to find them.”

On her travels, Robinson also discovered just how superior the facilities and resources are in Melbourne than in so many other places, recalling how the Fever players did not even have access to a weights room, and had to share a gym with the Western Force. At the Vixens’ base, the VIS, there is every support imaginable, human and otherwise. Most netballers may be only part-timers, but this is a professional operation in every sense.

Robinson believes the fact that 10 of the Vixens’ 12 “are all born and bred Victorians” who have come up through the system – through junior representative teams to State League and the ANL – not only contributes to the strong club culture, but also helps inspire those who will follow. “The young girls and supporters that come along can say ‘wow, they played at the same association that I do’.”

For Commonwealth Games gold medallist Caitlin Thwaites, that was Bendigo. The goal shooter was a Victorian 21-and-under teammate of Robinson, Julie Corletto, Renae Hallinan et al in 2007 and a Vixens premiership player in 2009, who spent three seasons in Wellington with the Pulse before returning to Australia – and the Swifts – in 2014 to press for Glasgow selection. Successfully.

Thwaites considers herself loyal, and always imagined she would be a one-club player, but believes that species of netballer is becoming more endangered by progress. “That’s just more about netball becoming more professional, and the fact that we don’t have an AFL draft or anything like that where you’re ranked and get called into whatever club wants you – we’re actually lucky in that we’ve still got a choice in where we want to go,” says Thwaites, one of five former Vixens among the Swifts’ 12.

“I think the netball landscape has changed in the last little while, and people are trying to find somewhere where a coach really believes in you and you’re going to be getting the best out of your netball. Sometimes sitting behind someone at a certain club and waiting for them to retire might not be the smartest thing to do, so you have to go somewhere else.”

And so they have, so many of them, with former Vixens bench duo Steel and Nevins (nee Strachan) the latest to leave in search of playing minutes, and rewarded with substantial court-time at the Thunderbirds and Firebirds respectively in the first three rounds. “Unfortunately there’s only 12 spots, and they’re really competitive, and it shows how much depth we’ve had when you see the calibre of the players playing interstate,” Robinson says.

“But it doesn’t matter where they’re playing, as long as they’re playing. It’s great to see them out there, and I think it’s fantastic for the Victorian juniors coming through that there’s a lot of opportunity to play elite netball, even though we might not be able to fit them all in at the Vixens.”

Not coincidentally, semi-professionalism means there is also far more money than in the old CBT years. Robinson recalled that the $1500 per season she was paid in her time at the Kestrels did not even cover the cost of commuting from Geelong six days a week. To which McKinnis, an all-time great who also spent years on that same stretch of Princes Highway, responds drily: “She got $1500 more than me, then.”

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

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