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Sydney wins the race to host COSPAR 2020, the global ‘Space Olympics’

The planet Mars beckons. Photo: NASA/AP An artist’s impression of the Square Kilometre Array being built in Western Australia.
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Business Events Sydney chief executive Lyn Lewis-Smith at the Powerhouse Museum. BES helped co-ordinate Sydney’s successful bid. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Sydney will host the world’s biggest gathering of space scientists in 2020, at the start of the decade when humans are planning to travel to Mars.

Dubbed the “Space Olympics”, the world assembly of the Committee on Space Research, or COSPAR, will convene in Sydney’s new billion-dollar convention centre in Darling Harbour.

“This is a ringing endorsement of our people, infrastructure and high regard in the global space community,” Science Minister Greg Hunt said.

The successful bid defeated a field of cities including Shanghai, Valencia, Prague and Lausanne.

Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel was delighted that Sydney will host COSPAR 2020.

“We come to the table with a bold vision for our nation’s place in science – and through science, our place in space,” Dr Finkel said.

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said: “Up to 3000 international space experts will descend on Sydney with more than $10 million direct expenditure expected.”

The announcement is expected to trigger further debate about whether Australia should have a space program.

Australia and Iceland are the only member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development without a formal space program, and Iceland is expected to join the European Space Agency soon.

New Zealand launched its space agency in July.

Professor Russell Boyce is head of space research at UNSW Canberra. Working with the Australian Academy of Science he led Australia’s bid for COSPAR 2020.

“While we have no formal space agency we do, in fact, have a space program,” Professor Boyce said.

“COSPAR 2020 will follow on from the International Astronautical Conference in Adelaide. All these activities in Australia should help reverse the brain drain in space science – these events are laying the seeds of an Australian space agency,” he said.

Professor Boyce said Australia needed a co-ordinating framework, but it was probably too soon for the announcement of a formal agency.

COSPAR 2020 will take place within the timeframe that Elon Musk’s SpaceX program is expected to start sending missions to Mars. The billionaire entrepreneur announced in September he would begin missions to Mars as soon as 2018 with hopes of landing humans there in 2024.

NASA and the European Space Agency are taking a longer time to get there, expecting to have humans on Mars by the late 2030s, but they expect that to start a permanent presence on the red planet.

Lyn Lewis-Smith, the chief executive of Business Events Sydney, which helped co-ordinate the bid, said: “We have vigorously pursued this important gathering, which will enable high-tech jobs to be further developed on our shores.”

Space science activities in Australia include: In November, NASA and CSIRO opened the second of two 34-metre dishes at the Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla near Canberra. That centre will play a central role in supporting the US space agency’s missions to Mars and beyond.On Tuesday the Parkes radio telescope announced it had started listening in to our nearest neighbour, Proxima b, as part of the 10-year $100 million search for extraterrestrial intelligence announced by Professor Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner.CSIRO is working as part of a global consortium to build the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array.In December the first Australian payload to the International Space Station will be delivered by science education start-up Cuberider.The first Australian-built satellites for 15 years will launch early next year to explore the thermosphere.UNSW with the Defence Science Technology Group is launching high-tech cubesat miniature satellites soon.CSIRO with UNSW, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the DSTG have been using the Parkes dish and the 70-metre dish at Tidbinbilla to co-ordinate asteroid detection.

Ardent Leisure to update Dreamworld future this week

Dreamworld was closed on October 25 after four people were killed on a ride. Photo: Glenn Hunt Members of the public left thousands of flowers in the wake of the tragedy. Photo: Mark Jesser
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Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate wants Dreamworld to get the OK of families of the four victims from last month’s tragedy before reopening the theme park, according to Sky News reports.

“It’s been a difficult time,” Mr Tate said.

“The timing of reopening Dreamworld – I’d leave that to the management of Dreamworld – they know what to do but I would ask that they talk to the families and get their OK on that.”

This comes as police on Monday handed back the site of the fatal October 25 accident to Dreamworld’s owners.

The fate of the theme park will become clearer this week as the owner, Ardent Leisure, work towards a reopening in the lead-up to the vital holiday season.

The embattled Ardent is expected to clarify the timetable for the park’s operations in coming days, after having gone off media “air” in respect for the families who held funerals this week for the four people killed at the park.

A spokesman confirmed the group would be making an announcement on Wednesday regarding Dreamworld.

The Gold Coast will be inundated with “schoolies” in coming weeks, although theme parks are not generally one of the main attractions for that age group.

After a torrid two weeks that saw the Ardent share price drop by as much as 30 per cent, the shares have stayed around $2 as investors await further news.

It comes as the new Ardent chairman George Venardos took over on Monday from the retiring Neil Balnaves, who held the position for 15 years.

The group held its annual meeting two days after the accident, when the board and chief executive Deborah Thomas said losses from the closure would be “significant” on the group’s overall earnings.

The fate of the new Lego store, which has been billed as a major drawcard for the park, is also in abeyance until the park reopens.

A spokesperson said: “At this stage we have no new information to share on the planned Lego-certified store opening. For further information related to the park, please reach out to Dreamworld Theme Park directly.”

Dreamworld is one part of the group’s theme park business, including Sky Point and White Water World, which is about 22 per cent of total revenue, but it has become a sentiment and reputation issue.

An investor, who declined to be named, said recently that only when the park reopens will they be able to gauge whether the earnings loss is down enough to justify the share price sell down, currently about 30 per cent, since the tragedy.

While it is tipped to remain a theme park in the medium term, the site spans 850,000 square metres and sits in a growth corridor for residential housing.

“Our initial view is that Ardent’s carrying value for Dreamworld of $235 million would be supported under this scenario,” Credit Suisse analysts said.

Property agents have said the site could also be redeveloped into a mixed-use hotel and retail area to connect with the nearby Coomera town centre.

Sixth refugee flown from Nauru to Cambodia under $55 million deal

Mohammed Rashid has been unable to find a job in Cambodia. Photo: Nara Lon Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Australia has secretly flown a sixth refugee from Nauru to Phnom Penh under Australia’s controversial $55 million agreement with the Cambodian government.

The Syrian man who arrived last Sunday is staying in the offices of the International Organisation for Migration, which has received millions of dollars from Australia to care for refugees in Cambodia.

But only one of the five other refugees who agreed to take a one-way flight from Nauru since the deal was signed two years ago remains in Cambodia.

Rohingya Muslim Mohammed Rashid, 26, told Fairfax Media in March that he felt abandoned and feared he would die in the country which admitted in April it does not have the social programs to support the refugees.

Mr Rashid has moved into a rented apartment and is receiving vocational training but has been unable to find a job.

The others – three Iranians and a Rohingya man from Myanmar – have returned to their countries.

Two more refugees on Nauru – one from Afghanistan and the other Pakistan – changed their minds at the last minute and decided not to take Sunday’s flight to Phnom Penh after initially agreeing to the move.

“I do not know why the two other refugees changed their minds because the Australians did not tell us,” Tan Sovichea, who runs the refugee department at the Interior Ministry told TheCambodia Daily.

Cambodian officials who went to Nauru last month had approved the three resettling in Cambodia, one of Asia’s poorest nations that Australia agreed to give $50 million to take an unspecified number of refugees from Nauru at a ceremony attended by then immigration minister Scott Morrison in 2014.

The deal has been condemned by the UN refugee agency, Cambodian opposition groups, non-government-organisations and human rights groups.

The Turnbull government refuses to make public any details about the refugees who arrive in Cambodia.

But they are known to be promised cash payments, accommodation, training and loans to start up a small business.

However the five refugees who previously made the journey privately expressed their unhappiness with the move after giving up any hope of reaching Australia.

Cambodia, a country ruled with an iron-fist by strongman Hun Sen for more than three decades, is the only option available to refugees on Nauru who refuse to be repatriated to their country of origin.

On Tuesday Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said his government has been courting unnamed third countries besides Cambodia to take refugees from Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus island.

“We are going to land a deal,” he said, without elaborating.

Prince Harry rebukes British press ‘abuse’ of girlfriend Meghan Markle

Prince Harry has issued an official statement rebuking the media for the “wave of abuse and harassment” his new girlfriend has been subjected to.
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In an unprecedented move by the Palace and for such a senior member of the royal family, Harry, in a lengthy memo, has outlined the efforts some have gone to for stories regarding his new partner, American actor Meghan Markle.

“Her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker and loved one in her life,” the statement read.

The palace refused to comment on the romance when news broke a little over a week ago that Harry, 32, and the 35-year-old Toronto-based star had been secretly dating for months.

Since then, the Suits actress has been at the centre of a media cyclone which has, according to the Palace, resulted in a maelstrom of sexist and racist commentary online and via “the smear on the front page of a national newspaper”.

“Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her,” the statement continued, while confirming the pair have been in a relationship for “a few months”.

“He knows that commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game – it is her life and his.” Kensington Palace has issued a statement this morning about the harassment currently being experienced by Meghan Markle and her family. pic.twitter南京桑拿/EuFZ4fmUIj— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 8, 2016

The complaint about a “front page smear” probably refers to The Sun’s front page ‘exclusive’ last week claiming “Harry Girl’s on Pornhub”, saying she could “be seen stripping off and groaning” in the video, compiled from scenes from Suits.

The Mirror followed the story up online, publishing its own video of “Meghan Markle in raunchy sex scene” and saying a similar video of “steamy scenes… of her stripping off and straddling co-star Patrick J Adams, and in lacy underwear, have been watched more than 40,000 times on the X-rated site.”

Over the weekend the Daily Star Sunday promoted a story on “Harry’s girl sex pics shocker” off its front page.The story turned out to be about fake photographs featuring “Snaps with the US actress’ head superimposed on to the body of a porn star … published on an X-rated site.”

“The images are fake and of poor taste,” the newspaper said, reproducing one of the images with some areas pixelated, sourcing them to a “porn website”.

The Daily Star Sunday along with the Sunday Express was the first newspaper to break news of the relationship.

Another Sun story read “Prince Harry ‘was secretly dating David Gandy’s ex while wooing Meghan Markle'”.

The reference in the Kensington Palace statement to ‘racial undertones’ may refer to a piece in the Daily Mail on Markle’s background, which referred to her “mixed-race heritage… more ordinary than the super-aspirational middle-class Middletons”, an ancestor who was a freed slave, and her childhood white and black Barbie dolls chosen to “reflect her biracial heritage”.

Many tabloids, and the Daily Telegraph, also ran stories quoting disparaging comments on Markle from her estranged half-sister.

Last Wednesday The Sun ran that story as a front page exclusive, with the banner headline “Princess Pushy”.

Gossip columnist Alex Wickham on Tuesday published a part of what he claimed was a confidential complaint to press regulator IPSO from “representatives of Meghan Markle”.

According to the excerpt “Ms Markle says that she and her mother have been the subject of harassment by journalists abroad”.

The Mail Online has published paparazzi photos of Markle taken outside her Toronto home, and has also ‘doorstepped’ her mother in Los Angeles and interviewed neighbours in the LA area where she grew up, according to Press Gazette.

A police car was stationed outside her Canada home due to the level of media interest.

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said editors in the UK might abide by the prince’s requests but foreign publishers probably would not.

And the BBC’s Peter Hunt  said the “cri de Coeur” from Harry might backfire, as he tried to appeal to newspaper editors’ better nature.

“In going public, Prince Harry has confirmed his relationship of a few months with Meghan Markle,” he said. “There’ll be those in Buckingham Palace who’ll appreciate his pain, but who’ll question the wisdom of issuing this statement.”

The young royal has had a turbulent relationship with the press ever since the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, following a car chase involving paparazzi through a Paris tunnel in 1997.

In 2008, while serving with British troops in Afghanistan, an agreement between the British Ministry of Defence and the media was broken when three outlets, including Australia’s New Idea, published details of his top secret mission before the end of his tour where he was directing air strikes.

Since then he has attempted to build a rapport with the press to publicise his charitable causes and his beloved Invictus Games, where he reportedly first met Markle earlier this year. This official smackdown is not the first time Harry had broken with protocol.

In May, the rebellious royal cast his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, in a social media campaign with the Obamas to promote the event for disabled servicemen and women.

69 public service no-votes but women are the real losers

Policy working well: Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd. Photo: Jay CronanPublic servants have rejected the Coalition’s tough industrial relations rules 69 times since 2014, as a Senate committee prepares to investigate the three-year bargaining saga.
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But women working in the Australian public service have emerged as the big losers, according to Canberra-based workplace academics.

As the Senate’s education and employment references committee prepares for its first public hearing in its inquiry into the bargaining round, Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd has revealed in his submission that government workforces had rejected enterprise agreements developed under the policy 66 times since 2014.

Mr Lloyd argued in his submission that the policy was working well, and noted that agreements in 16 agencies were accepted at the second or even third time of asking.

“Enterprise agreements have been finalised in 65 agencies, with 69 agreements being accepted by employees. Fifty-four of these agreements have been accepted since the current bargaining policy has applied,” the Commissioner wrote.

“This demonstrates that the current policy is enabling agencies to make agreements with their employees.

“Since the 2016 federal election, 13 out of 19 agreements put to a vote have been accepted by employees.

“Sixty-six agreements have been voted down in 48 agencies during this bargaining round.”

Since Mr Lloyd’s submission was compiled there have been yes votes at Cancer Australia and, controversially at the ABC while workers at the CSIRO and the Department of Immigration and Border protection have voted no.

On Tuesday, public servants at the Fair Work Commission voted by a margin of 67 per cent to reject a deal, taking the total number of rejected proposals to 69.

The Department of Human Services has a ballot under way and Agriculture will vote next week after a union challenge in the Fair Work Commission to the holding of the ballot failed.

In their submission to the committee, University of NSW workplace academics Sue Williamson and Michael O’Donnell say they are worried that the bargaining policy’s rough edges were being felt most keenly by the public service’s women.

“Gender equality or flexible working arrangements clauses have also been amended – or removed – from agreements, to the future detriment of employees,” the academics wrote.

“Some agencies have reduced important part-time working provisions.

“For example, one agency has amended the relevant clause in their agreement so that employees no longer have the right to work part-time on returning from parental leave.

“Instead, the ability to work part-time is dependent on managerial discretion.

“Yet another clause removes the requirement for managers to provide written reasons for their decision on an application for an employee to work part-time and also removes a principles-based clause that part-time employees should be considered for promotion on merit.”

Dr Williamson and Professor O’Donnell told the committee that Australia has one of the highest rates in the OECD of women working part-time yet some agencies wanted to change part-time work provisions to the detriment of female employees

“Research we have undertaken on APS bargaining suggests that the current round of protracted enterprise negotiations is likely to be damaging employee morale,” they wrote.

“This may be resulting in lower productivity – and is likely to be lowering employee engagement, an important prerequisite for an efficient, creative and productive APS.

“In rather more tangible terms, however, the current bargaining round may be resulting in decreased entitlements for employees with a proportionately negative impact on female employees.”

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.
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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.
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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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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
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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.

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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”.
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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.

SUPER NETBALL 2017

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
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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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