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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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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
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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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Seal rejoins The Voice Australia as Channel Nine reveals its 2017 TV schedule

Back in the red chair: Seal on The Voice Australia. Photo: Nine Delta Goodrem has appeared on The Voice for five of its six seasons to date.
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Australian Ninja Warrior host Rebecca Maddern with contestants, husband and wife team Zac and Amanda. Photo: Steven Siewert

Karl Stefanovic will front This Time Next Year, as well as co-hosting Today with Lisa Wilkinson. Photo: Sahlan Hayes

Hamish & Andy will have a new show on Nine but details are being kept under wraps. Photo: Nine

Returning: House Husbands (from left) Firass Dirani, Rhys Muldoon and Gary Sweet. Photo: Steven Siewert

Could Seal be the voice to turn around the fortunes of Nine’s flagship talent show?

The British singer who led 2012 and 2013 winners Karise Eden and Harrison Craig to success is heading back to Australia for 2017’s season of The Voice in a move hoped to boost the show’s declining ratings in recent years.

Seal will be back alongside fellow coach Delta Goodrem who has signed up for her sixth season on the show, with Sonia Kruger also back on board as host.

Seal’s return has been announced as part of Nine’s wider programming plans for next year, with the network promising its biggest focus yet on local content and largest ever local production budget.

Goodrem, speaking from Perth where she is currently on tour, said she welcomed the return of Seal, the hugely popular coach who first appeared on The Voice in its first season in 2012.

“Seal has been a part of it since the inception and I can’t wait for him to get back in his big red chair,” Goodrem said. “After coming from a win on The Voice this year [with her act Alfie Arcuri], Seal has won it the two years he was on the show so it will be a big challenge to come up against Seal again, but I’m truly looking forward to having my friend back.”

There’s no word as yet as to the identity of the other two coaches, but Goodrem said she welcomed her chance to return to the show.

“From day one, there was just something in the air that felt really special about it,” she said. “It felt like we were all together, between the crew, between the network, between us coaches that are artists that have lived and breathed music our whole lives, we felt like we had the one intention to really bring light to music in Australia.”

The network is promising 500 hours of locally produced entertainment viewing with 50 hours of local drama, with a rough and ready focus across the board.

Nine’s biggest punt is on what it says will be it’s number one family entertainment show for next year. Australian Ninja Warrior, a long-running Japanese format being brought here for the first time, will be hosted by the AFL Footy Show’s Rebecca Maddern and features a “fitness elite” competing on the toughest of outdoor sports courses.

Host Maddern said she expects it to be an exhilarating show. “I am so delighted to be a part of it – it is everything that I love – it is sport, entertainment and this is family friendly viewing. The family is going to gather around the TV and be a part of it,” she said.

Its 250 contestants, drawn out of a pool of 3000, are shortly to begin filming on the show’s ‘Ninja Island’, an undisclosed location.

Nine is also attempting a fresh take on a food show with Family Food Fight where multi-generational families will compete for the title of Australia’s greatest food family.

Karl Stefanovic is to front an “inspirational” new series titled This Time Next Year, where everyday Aussies attempt to achieve huge personal goals.

At first glance it seems an uneven offering, with participants pledging resolutions ranging from the monumental such as a man committed to losing 100 kilograms and a mobility impaired person who wants to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the superficial such as getting a boob job.

Other familiar figures on the schedule will include Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, who return to Nine with a new series, details of which remain under wraps.

Other new reality shows include The Last Resort: Love Me or Leave Me, where five couples at breaking point head to a relationship bootcamp on a tropical island.

Returning will be the controversial Married at First Sight, which will double in number next year to pairing 10 couples.

In line with other networks, Nine is continuing the trend for biopics with the House of Bond miniseries telling the colourful story of businessman Alan Bond, starring Ben Mingay, Rachael Taylor and Sam Neill.

Underbelly is making a return, but focussing entirely on Mark “Chopper” Read in Underbelly Files: Chopper, the franchise revisiting thecharacter it previously portrayed in 2009’s Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities.

Also returning is Doctor Doctor, getting its second season next year, alongside Here Come the Habibs, Love Child and House Husbands.

The Block – which has its grand finale on Sunday – will also be making a return.

Missing off the roster for next year so far, however, is Australia’s Got Talent, which has seemingly been put out of its misery after eight seasons, and Reno Rumble, which died in the water earlier this year.

Other new offerings include Travel Guides, where ordinary Australians act as travel guides trying out the same long-haul and domestic trips with mixed results.

A true-crime series, Murder Calls, is also on the cards and revisits Australian cases and the investigators that took them on.

Richard Wilkins is also to present a new entertainment show The A List, featuring in-depth interviews with famous names.

Border Force bosses score $6400 pay rise

Michael Pezzullo, secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe Immigration Department has responded to a rejection by its workforce of a proposed new workplace deal by handing its senior executives a pay rise worth up to $6400 a year.
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About 186 members of the department’s “senior executive service” have been given a 2 per cent pay rise by departmental secretary Mike Pezzullo the day after more than 10,000 of Immigration’s public servants voted to reject a proposed new deal.

The department says the executives have been waiting for a pay rise for as long as the rank-and-file, who have not had an scheduled increase since 2013, nor did the high-flyers get a chance to vote on their pay and conditions.

The new deal will be worth an extra $6400 a year to a senior executive at the top of the elite band 3 level, taking their pay to more than $326,400 per year.

The department’s annual report shows just more than $47 million was spent by DIBP on senior management remuneration in 2015-2016, including salaries, vehicles, redundancies, superannuation and other benefits.

Mr Pezzullo and Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg will not be included in the new round of pay rises.

Their pay packages, of $605,000 and $731,000 respectively, are set by the Remuneration Tribunal.

After Monday’s no-vote on the proposed pay deal for the department’s 13,300 rank-and-file public servants which would have paid an average of 2 per cent per year for the three-year deal, the dispute now enters a period of uncertainty.

The parties must submit to compulsory arbitration at the Fair Work Commission in a process that will be keenly watched across Commonwealth workplaces where about 97,000 public servants from a total workforce of about 150,000, have still not got new enterprise agreements in place.

An Immigration Department spokeswoman said the SES had been waiting a long time for their pay rise too and, unlike of their colleagues, had not had a chance to vote on a pay deal.

“SES pay rises in the department generally occur after EA negotiations have concluded,” she said.

SES, like all employees have been awaiting the outcome of EA negotiations

“The general pay increase of 3 per cent offered to staff in the first year of a new EA has been voted down by a majority of staff, and a further delay will occur while an arbitrated outcome is determined by the Fair Work Commission.

“SES employees are not covered by the department’™s enterprise agreement or the collective bargaining process and have not had a say on the quantum or timing of any pay rises.

“In these circumstances, the secretary has decided to apply a 2 per cent increase to SES.”

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood described the SES pay rises as a “slap in the face” for frontline Immigration officials.

“This is yet another slap in the face to the frontline Immigration and Border Force staff working to combat terrorism and organised crime,” she said.

“How can the department possibly justify giving a no-strings-attached pay rise to its highest paid executives while most frontline staff have their pay frozen and some even face pay cuts?”

Central Coast Mariners consider Canberra Stadium as potential A-League finals venue

Ivan Slavich is hoping a big crowd turns out to see the Central Coast Mariners play at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Elesa KurtzIn a sign of the Central Coast Mariners’ commitment to making Canberra their home away from home, they’re considering playing any potential A-League finals games in the nation’s capital, says former A-League4Canberra bid leader Ivan Slavich.
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​And while FFA boss David Gallop told Fairfax Media a crowd of 10,000 was a pass mark for Canberra Stadium, Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp says it’s not about a “one-match pass or fail”, but laying the “foundations” for them to become accepted as the ACT’s team.

The Mariners will play the first of two A-League games at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, against the Wellington Phoenix, with the second against reigning champions Adelaide United in February.

This weekend’s game will be part of a double-header with the W-League clash between Canberra United and Melbourne City.

Slavich raised $5 million to try and bring an A-League club to Canberra, but has now joined forces with the Mariners as their business development ambassador in the ACT.

He said the Mariners, who continue to be plagued by financial woes, were committed to making Canberra Stadium a long-term home and revealed it wasn’t just regular-season games that were on the table.

“If they got into a final it’s quite possible they would play the final in Canberra and not on the Central Coast,” Slavich told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“That’s how much they’re committed and serious about Canberra being their market.”

Slavich said the Mariners were now Canberra’s best chance of hosting regular A-League games and encouraged the nation’s capital to come out in force on Saturday.

With Gallop and FFA chairman Steven Lowy set to be at the match, Slavich was concerned Canberrans might not realise how important voting with their feet was in terms of having high-quality games in the future.

He pointed to the success Greater Western Sydney has had in bringing AFL games to Manuka Oval as Canberra’s best chance of ensuring the A-League had a future there.

“People in Canberra keep talking about an A-League team and this is the first time we’ve had an A-League side play [here] since 2009, which is the last time the Mariners played,” he said.

“This is our A-League ticket … the concern I have is if the football community keeps going, ‘this is not our team, we go for the Wanderers and we go for other teams’, then we’ll forever be in this vortex of no elite football in Canberra other than the odd Socceroos game.”

Mielekamp said the Mariners wanted to “make a genuine difference to the football community in the ACT”, which is why they were not only playing games at Canberra Stadium but establishing a pathway for players by providing opportunities to join their A-League squad.

While Gallop indicated a crowd in excess of 10,000 would be a pass mark for the Mariners-Phoenix game, Mielekamp said it was more about establishing a “core group of support”.

He said with Remembrance Day falling on Friday, players would pay their respects to the armed forces with ceremonies before the game – including the Last Post and a minute’s silence – as well as wearing a specially designed jersey.

The club will also be raising money for the RSL.

“We’re not as dictated by setting a particular number, it’s probably more of a quality rather than a quantity scenario for us,” Mielekamp said.

“We’d be really excited by a decent crowd that’s really passionate and understood the game and was highly engaged with the sport.

“That would be really good for us and a sign that there is a core group of support that is there to grow from.

“We’re not looking at this as a one-match, pass-or-fail opportunity, we’re really looking … to set up something long-term that can really grow.

“It’s not about how many people come to the game on the weekend, it’s about how many people come to A-League games in five years.”

The Mariners will arrive in Canberra on Thursday evening and will train at Canberra Stadium on Friday.

A-LEAGUE ROUND 5

Saturday: Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix at Canberra Stadium, 5.35pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.

W-LEAGUE ROUND 2

Saturday: Canberra United v Melbourne City at Canberra Stadium, 3pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.

US election 2016: Voting on a Tuesday? Americans cling to an antiquated oddity

A polling official walks past voting booths in Lancaster, Ohio. Photo: TY WRIGHT Artist Pedro Reyes with his installation Doomocracy in New York. Photo: Seth Wenig
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Of all the strange things about the US election – and strange barely begins to describe the current madness – the idea of voting on a Tuesday remains distinctly odd.

Imagine juggling a day’s work, dropping the kids at childcare or school and picking them up, shopping for dinner, cooking, and somehow, amid all this, lining up at a polling booth to do one’s democratic duty.

In a nation where voting isn’t compulsory, is there any surprise that not much more than half the nation’s eligible voters actually bother?

Just 53 per cent of eligible voters – 129 million out of a potential 241 million –  turned out at the last presidential election in 2012.

That left the US dangling at 31st out of 35 of the most democratic nations in  the OECD, according to a study by the Pew Research Centre.

But why vote on a Tuesday?

It makes no sense at all in the 21st century. Tuesday is a working day.

It wasn’t so much in 1845, which is when Congress chose “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November” (which makes the earliest date November 2 and the latest November 8, which happens to be voting day this year).

Americans, being Americans, have never got around to changing the edict. Perhaps they imagine it’s in their apparently sacred constitution – though it’s not.

But why was a Tuesday in early November chosen those 171 years ago?

The best explanation available is on the Federal Election Commission’s website.

America, it explains, was a predominantly agrarian nation for much of its history. The autumn harvest was over in November and the weather was still mild enough in much of the nation to allow travel over unimproved roads.

And Tuesday? It took many people a full day to travel to the county seat to vote. They couldn’t leave on Sunday, because of the need to worship at church, so Tuesday was chosen to give voters the chance to travel on Monday.

And the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the month?

It forced the election beyond November 1, which was All Saints Day – a day of holy obligation for Catholics. Besides, most merchants did their books for the preceding month on the first day of the month.

“Apparently,” the election commission notes dryly, “Congress was worried that the economic success or failure of the previous month might prove an undue influence on the vote!”

All of which is very quaint.

America, apparently, still likes quaint more than common sense.

Australians are haggling over whitegoods but hesitant with bills and home loans

The average saving from haggling on whitegoods was found to be $139. Photo: Dominic LorrimerAustralians are comfortably haggling over fridges and dishwashers and enjoying big savings, but are less assertive when it comes to their bills and banking products, a new study shows.
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A survey of more than 1000 shoppers found 60 per cent had tried negotiating a better price on a whitegood and, of those, 94 per cent had won a discount. The average saving was $139.

While haggling over a home loan could lead to savings equal to a year’s worth of salary, less than half said they had asked for a better rate – but among those who did, 77 per cent succeeded.

“After whitegoods, Aussies are most likely to ask for discounts on home loans, and their efforts are being rewarded with successful home loan hagglers saving close to $1000 on average,” said Kirsty Lamont of comparison website Mozo, which commissioned the survey.

“Consumers are least likely to ask for a discount on internet and mobile plans, with just a quarter attempting to haggle. However, the majority who do ask are successful with combined savings over $150.”

Australians are more likely to haggle over whitegoods (average saving $139), home loan ($968) and car insurance ($99), and less likely to try with mobile phones ($75), internet plans ($78) and pay TV ($85).

The research also found male shoppers are better hagglers, saving 60 per cent more than women even though just as many female shoppers ask for and obtain discounts.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon from The Money Mentor Way, said banks made their home loan rates appear competitive using “big, fancy signs” and that consumers should always ask for discounts, especially if they’re after $500,000 or more.

“We’re quite law abiding and we follow the retail rules and in particular the banking rules and when it comes to haggling there’s this concept of engineered legitimacy – the more official a vendor makes prices look, the more likely you are to swallow them,” said Ms Pedersen-McKinnon, also a Fairfax columnist.

“But the more you borrow, the bigger discount you can command. Even if it isn’t a big amount, knowledge is power, know the deals of their competitors.”

According to her calculations, the average monthly saving from getting a 1 per cent mortgage discount – from the average advertised big bank rate of 5.25 per cent – on a $363,300 loan would be $209, or more than $2500 a year.

“To someone who thinks this is all too hard, this saving is probably equivalent on your home loan to one year of your salary over the lifetime of the mortgage,” she said.

“Civility is key. Arm yourself with information and then be clear, calm and compelling. I just knocked $200 off my house insurance premium as a result of a very amicable chat with the consultant.”

Consumer advocate Christopher Zinn said being an effective haggler required time and persistence.

He said negotiations should start with a polite question about whether the retailer is open to negotiation and the customer should go through with the deal.

“You can haggle over furniture, beds, consumer durables essentially because retailers have to shift stuff,” he said.

“We do not live in a fixed price universe. We’re given the impression of that. You can ask and if they decline, take your business elsewhere.” How to haggleDo your research: Compare prices so you know what rates or fees are on offer and tell the provider they’ll have to beat the best offer to get your business.Don’t accept the first offer: Always ask if the initial discount you’re offered is the best they can do.Use your bargaining power: Ask if you can get a bigger discount by bringing your credit card to the bank or bundling your mobile, internet and pay TV.Don’t limit yourself to haggling on rates: You can also ask for discounts or waiver on fees or for extra features to be added for free.Prepare to bluff: Tell your provider you’ll walk away so they know you’re serious about getting the best deal.

(Source: Mozo)

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