Monthly Archives: August 2019

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2016: Judges split three of the $80,000 prizes

Winning words: Lisa Gorton’s The Life of Houses shared PM’s Literary Award. Photo: Simon O’DwyerTwo years ago there was quite a kerfuffle when Tony Abbott intervened at the last moment to ensure the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction was shared between the novelist the judges had selected, Steven Carroll, and the PM’s captain’s pick, Richard Flanagan.

This year three of the $80,000 awards have been shared between writers, but there is no evidence – so far – of any prime ministerial privilege being exercised.

Joint winners of the fiction prize were Lisa Gorton (The Life of Houses) and Charlotte Wood (The Natural Way of Things). Geoffrey Blainey (The Story of Australia’s People), and Sam Lipski and Suzanne Rutland (Let My People Go) shared the Australian history prize. And the non-fiction award was split between Sheila Fitzpatrick (On Stalin’s Team) and Karen Lamb (Thea Astley).

Sarah Holland-Batt won the poetry prize for The Hazards, Sally Morgan the children’s prize for Sister Heart, and Meg McKinlay the young-adult award for A Single Stone.

Gorton has described her first novel as “inward”, beginning as a prose poem – she has published two collections of poetry – and focusing on a mother and daughter and set in a rambling old house full of tensions and old furniture. The judges called it “a book of exquisite precision”. Wood’s passionate, dystopic novel – “a powerfully evocative allegory and a shockingly realist narrative”, according to the judges – is a searing critique of misogyny and patriarchal society that won this year’s Stella Prize.

Louise Adler, chair of the fiction and poetry judges, said there had been no friction between the judges in splitting the prize between two novelists. “Judges always consider the consequences of splitting the prize but it is such a generous prize – it will buy a good amount of writing time for them. The two books are very different but equally strong.”

Professor Blainey shared the history prize only a few days after the second volume of The Story of Australia’s People, The Rise and Rise of a New Australia, was published. The first, for which he received the prize, focused on Indigenous Australia until the early days of white settlement. Lipski and Rutland’s book reveals the long involvement of Australians in the international campaign to get Jews out of Soviet Russia.

The two non-fiction winners could hardly have been more different. Lamb’s is a life of the Queensland writer and four times Miles Franklin winner, Thea Astley, while the internationally renowned historian Fitzpatrick’s book examines the lives and fates of Stalin’s close comrades.

Sarah Holland-Batt won the poetry award for her second collection ahead of two veterans in Les Murray and Robert Adamson and two others of Australia’s new generation of young poets, Michael Farrell and Simon West. The judges praised her “rich texture of the language she uses to express ideas”.

Fake shanty town experiences, segways and drones: The nine worst tourism ideas

Fortunately, it was a hoax. The good people at Tourism Northern Territory didn’t really come up with a slogan that reads “CU in the NT” – though it seems plenty of others believed they did, which is kind of a worry.

Whoever is selling the T-shirts with that catchy motto doesn’t have anything to do with the territory’s official tourism board, clearing Tourism NT from entering the hall of fame for “Worst Ideas in Tourism”.

Had the Territorians made it onto that list, however, they would have joined an ignominious cast of dodgy decision makers, the people who have come up with the ideas that are quickly ruining the tourism experience for the rest of us, as well as, in some cases, ruining the destinations themselves. For every Airbnb (good thing) there’s always a “fake shanty town experience” (bad thing).

Here are some of the worst ideas those in the travel industry have come up with. Segway tours

These things are probably much like jet-skis, in that they’re really fun when you’re on one, and a nightmare when you’re not. There’s nothing worse than sitting in some charming little piazza watching the world go by, or strolling down a quiet alleyway minding your own business, when 20 helmet-wearing tourists appear on Segways, zig-zagging around, yelling at each other, and generally spoiling the idea that you might have discovered somewhere unique.

Safety first: On a Segway tour in San Francisco. Photo: AlamySelfie sticks

I’ve previously written in defence of the selfie stick, but seriously, this thing is getting out of hand. When you’re constantly being jabbed in the face at major tourism locations by people extending their selfie sticks without bothering to look at who else might be around them – so intense is their concentration on capturing their own awesomeness – then something has to change. Fake slum experience

What could be better than staying in a fake African shanty town and pretending to be really poor for a night while still enjoying running water, electricity, heating and Wi-Fi internet? Well, just about anything I would have thought, but that hasn’t stopped the Emoya Hotel in Bloemfontein, South Africa from offering an “African Village Chalet experience”, where tourists can stay in fake tin shacks, use their “long-drop effect toilets”, and fantasise about living in a shanty town without worrying about any of the horrifying realities of living in a shanty town. Voluntourism

Done well, the combination of tourism and volunteering for a good cause is a great thing. However, it’s not often done well. There are plenty of predators out there who will take advantage of rich Western tourists’ desire to do good for the world, a situation that results in homes being built and torn down and built again, in children being placed in orphanages purely to take advantage of the gifts, and in animals being captured in order to be cared for. Not ideal. ‘Standing’ plane seats

As if the experience of air travel wasn’t painful enough, last year China’s Spring Airlines proposed a system of “standing seats”, in which passengers would perch on something resembling a bike seat in order to cram more people into the plane. Fortunately the concept is yet to, ah, take off. It’s even worse than Ryanair’s mooted move to charge passengers €1 ($1.50) to use the onboard toilet. Drones

Just like selfie sticks, and even Segway tours, drones were great when there were only a few people using them. Now, however, as the trend takes hold, and you get to a point where you’re sitting in a nice quiet campsite and there are several groups of people loudly trying to figure out how to fly their drones properly, and you can’t go to the beach without hearing that telltale buzzing, things have reached a tipping point.

A remote controlled drone helicopter that can record video and photos hovers above sun bathers at Middle Park beach. Photo: Jason SouthShooting farm animals

I have to admit, I’ve never met anyone who’s actually done this, so it could all be an elaborate urban myth. However, if the stories are true, there are places in Cambodia and even Vietnam where you can pay to hire an AK47, or an Uzi, or even an RPG launcher, and fire them at farm animals. I’m not sure what’s more messed up: people who provide this as a service, or people who pay to use it. It’s probably even. Slum tours

Imagine sitting at your local cafe and then watching as a group of tourists alights from a bus nearby and then stands around staring at you while their guide explains, in another language, what you’re doing there. They then take a few photos of you, before moving on to the next “attraction”. That’s essentially what slum tourism, or favela tourism, or shanty tourism, is. It’s a highly voyeuristic way for rich tourists to see how poor locals live. There’s no attempt at effecting long-term change. No actual interaction with the local community. It’s bizarre. Smartphones

In some ways, obviously, smartphones are the best thing to happen to tourism. In other ways, however, they’re also the worst. There is, after all, no spontaneity left in travel thanks to the smartphone. It’s so easy to research every single place you stay, eat and visit on your travels, so easy to get directions there, so easy to curate the ultimate travel experience, that we’ve lost the thrill of personal discovery. I mean, I’m not about to give my smartphone up – but still.

What do you think are the worst ideas in tourism?

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See also: 10 places to be a big kid again

See also: The most overrated and underrated cities named

Antony Partos takes prestigious double win at 2016 Screen Music Awards

Two more wins: Antony Partos. Photo: Daniel Munoz Award-winning soundtrack … Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in Ramin Bahrani’s film 99 Homes. Photo: Supplied

Award winner: Jennifer Peedom’s documentary Sherpa.

With his scores for an American film about the housing crisis and an Australian documentary about a disaster on Mount Everest, composer Antony Partos has claimed a double at Screen Music Awards.

With Matteo Zingales​, Partos won feature film score of the year for 99 Homes and also won best soundtrack album for Sherpa.

He has now won 11 Screen Music Awards in a career that has included composing for such TV programs as Rake, Mabo, Redfern Now, The Slap, Love Child and Deep Water and such films as Animal Kingdom, The Homesong Stories, The Rover and Tanna.

But Partos was pipped in the two other categories he was nominated for at the awards, run by the publishing and songwriting peak body Australasian Performing Right Association and the Australian Guild of Screen Composers, in Sydney.

Roger Mason won best music for a television series or serial for The Principal and Caitlin Yeo won best music for a documentary for Getting Frank Gehry.

The awards were also a triumph for Neil Sutherland, whose work includes Mythbusters, Dancing With The Stars, Border Security and RBT. He was named most performed screen composer overseas for the ninth consecutive year – his 11th Screen Music award.

Most performed screen composer in Australia was Jay Stewart, whose music has featured in the likes of Project Runway, The Block, My Kitchen Rules, Dinner Date and Excess Baggage.

Alan John won best music for a mini-series or telemovie for the ABC mini-series The Beautiful Lie.

Best television theme went to Peter Cavallo​ for the Lebanese series Nos Youm, while Sally and Darren Seltmann​ won best original song composed for the screen for Dancing in the Darkness for the ABC comedy The Letdown.

Best music for children’s television went to Michael Darren, Luke Jurevicius and Christopher Larkin for The New Adventures of Figaro Pho: Odd Socks, with Adam Moses winning best music for a short film for Banana Boy and Jeremy Yang collecting best music for an advertisement for 2016 AICP Opening.


Giant commitment to Canberra in inaugural Super Netball

Kimberlee Green will play two games for the Giants in Canberra in the new Super Netball League. Photo: Matt KingNetball ACT general manager Adam Horner says Giants Netball playing two Super Netball games in Canberra is a “big commitment” and not just a “token show up”.

And he says they’ll work with Netball NSW to decide what community engagement they can have around the Giants’ two games at the AIS next year.

One possibility being investigated is a potential inter-code fans day involving the Giants’ AFL, AFL Women’s and netball teams.

In Super Netball’s inaugural season, the Giants will play the Adelaide Thunderbirds in round five and Melbourne Vixens in round 12 at the AIS Arena next year, with the full fixture announced on Monday.

Given each team in the new eight-team league only has seven home games each, that means more than a quarter of the Giants’ home fixtures will take place in the nation’s capital.

Horner indicated it highlighted the level of commitment they’d made towards the ACT.

“It’s a big commitment that Giants Netball has made to Canberra. It’s one that’s untested so it has to work for everybody,” he said on Tuesday.

“We really feel privileged that they’ve take the risk in committing to Canberra so I guess it’s our turn to show them that’s a risk worth taking.

“It’s not a token show-up situation, it’s a true commitment to the Canberra community.

“It’s seen by the number of games in comparison to the rest of the season is really quite high, we’re really pleased with the commitment they’ve shown to Canberra.”

The ACT government has helped financially to bring the games to Canberra and the arrangement will be reassessed at the end of the first season, with the view to making it a long-term commitment.

The Giants were keen to replicate their three teams playing in Canberra, with their AFL Women’s side also likely to play a home game at Manuka Oval next year.

Horner said they were still working through the detail and it was too early to say what community engagement the Giants would do ahead of their two Super Netball games in the ACT.

He said they were also looking at how they could create a clear path for Canberra netballers to make it into the Super Netball system.

Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander told Fairfax Media last month she wanted the Giants to become the team Canberra kids grow up dreaming of playing for with the view to that leading to them eventually playing for the Diamonds.

Horner said it was also a work in progress of the best way to develop that path.

“It’s been a bit difficult to engage in those conversations and I think our next stage is to have a conversation with the Giants in terms of what their community engagement strategy in Canberra is going to be and what we can do to help support them in that,” Horner said.

“But there’s no doubt we would like to see them be active in our community.”

Horner said Netball ACT would continue to “put their hands up” to host the Diamonds in Canberra, but felt having had them here three times in three years they were unlikely to play here again soon.

This year they played in Tasmania for the first time in 30 years and Horner felt they would continue to take games around Australia.


March 19: Giants Netball v Adelaide Thunderbirds at AIS Arena, 1pm.

May 14: Giants Netball v Melbourne Vixens, at AIS Arena, 1pm.

David Taylor says he loves Sara Connor ‘even more’ on eve of murder trial

Sara Connor’s lawyers take pizza to her inside Kerobokan jail on Tuesday. Photo: Amilia Rosa David Taylor has admitted to bashing Mr Sudarsa with binoculars, a smashed beer bottle and a sharp object but not to killing him. Photo: Amilia Rosa

The widow of Wayan Sudarsa, Ketut Arsini, and her son Kadek Toni, hold a portrait of the police officer who was killed on Kuta beach. Photo: Alan Putra

British DJ David Taylor has said he loves Byron Bay woman Sara Connor “even more” on the eve of their murder trial over the death of a Balinese police officer on Kuta beach.

“Fact is, David loves Sara,” Taylor’s lawyer Haposan Sihombing said after visiting his client at Kerobokan jail on Tuesday.

“I asked him ‘Do you love her?’ He said: ‘I love Sara. I love her even more’.”

Wayan Sudarsa, a father of two and member of Bali’s police force for 35 years, was found dead on Kuta beach with 42 wounds, including ghastly head injuries, on August 17.

The couple face charges in the Denpasar District Court including unpremeditated murder, group assault or assault leading to death, which carry a maximum 15 years’ jail.

In September Taylor changed his statement to “I don’t remember” in key areas relating to the involvement of Connor, a mother-of-two who ran a fresh pasta business in Byron Bay, in events surrounding the death of Mr Sudarsa.

The amendments were made after a so-called “confrontation”, during which Connor and Taylor held hands across the table while police quizzed them about differences in their statements.

At the time another of Taylor’s lawyer’s, Yan Erick Sihombing, said the amendments were to reflect that Taylor had been in a panicked state and couldn’t remember clearly what had happened.

Taylor, who is also known as DJ Nutzo, had earlier claimed, for example, that Connor had told him she had hit the police officer after he bit her while they were wrestling on the beach.

“Before the confrontation, he said Sara told him that [she hit Mr Sudarsa] after they got back to the homestay. But now, after the confrontation, he said: ‘Maybe … I forgot’. He was in a panicked state, he was scared, he only remembers now,” Mr Sihombing said in September.

Taylor, 34, has confessed to bashing Mr Sudarsa with a broken beer bottle, among other weapons, but not to killing him.

Connor, 45, denies any involvement in the killing. She claims she was trying to intervene in a fight between Taylor and Mr Sudarsa in order to help the police officer.

Connor’s lawyer, Robert Khuana, said the Byron Bay woman was stressed because she had heard from many people that there was no guarantee under the Indonesian legal system that an innocent person would be released.

“Her feeling is she never do it and so absolutely she said she must be released but the system here makes her worried,” Mr Khuana said.

He said Connor’s lawyers would do their best for her. “We still have a belief in this system.”

Mr Khuana said Connor’s lawyers would object to the charges, which he felt were unfair. He said they believed the proper charge was elimination of evidence, which carried a maximum penalty of seven months’ jail.

Mr Sudarsa’s widow, Ketut Arsini, this week said she could not forgive the couple and her husband may still be alive if they had sought help instead of leaving his battered body in the sand.

“Whatever they are saying, that it was an accident, they didn’t mean it are all just excuses,” she told Fairfax Media.

Her youngest son, Kadek Toni, cried as he said: “I can’t forgive him, what he did to my father. How he died, his head was bashed repeatedly. We leave it to the law, to punish them for what they did.”

Mr Sihombing said Taylor understood the severity of the case and the reaction of the family.

“He is deeply saddened, if it happened to him he would feel sad too. He understands that they can’t forgive him,” the lawyer said.

“If it was him, he would probably feel the same. He hoped, someday, the family can forgive him.”

Meanwhile lawyers for Connor also visited Kerobokan jail on Tuesday, bringing a box of pizza.

The Byron Bay community called for supporters of Connor to write character references for her ahead of the trial.

“It is important that the court in Bali know what a wonderful woman Sara really is,” her supporters said in a statement on the website thesarafund南京桑拿.

Connor’s Australian barrister, Peter Strain, told Fairfax Media: “We are at about 70 character references and going strong.”

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