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NRL Finals: Brisbane Broncos eliminate Gold Coast Titans but disputed calls dominate final

NRL: Broncos eliminate Titans, disputed calls dominate final | Photos Alex Glenn of the Broncos is congratulated by team mates after scoring a try during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
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Sam Thaiday of the Broncos takes on the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Tempers flare during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Anthony Milford of the Broncos is congratulated by team mates after scoring a try as Jarryd Hayne of the Titans looks dejected during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Corey Oates of the Broncos scores a try during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Corey Oates of the Broncos scores a try during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Konrad Hurrell of the Titans bumps off Sam Thaiday of the Broncos during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Josh McGuire of the Broncos attempts to break through the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Jarrod Wallace of the Broncos celebrates scoring a try during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Leivaha Pulu of the Titans takes on the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

A fan holds up a sign during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Alex Glenn of the Broncos is tackled during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Darius Boyd of the Broncos looks to pass during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Jordan Kahu of the Broncos attempts to break away from the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Alex Glenn of the Broncos takes on the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Sam Thaiday of the Broncos takes on the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Corey Parker of the Broncos during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Corey Oates of the Broncos is tackled during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Alex Glenn of the Broncos is congratulated by team mates after scoring a try during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Ash Taylor of the Titans is injured during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Adam Blair of the Broncos is tackled during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Tempers flare during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Luke Douglas of the Titans looks dejected during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Nene Macdonald of the Titans is tackled during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

James Roberts of the Broncos breaks through the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Matt Gillett of the Broncos takes on the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Anthony Milford of the Broncos passes the ball during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Greg Bird of the Titans during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Anthony Milford of the Broncos scores a try during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Ash Taylor of the Titans passes the ball during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Corey Parker of the Broncos is tackled during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

David Mead of the Titans is congratulated by team mates after scoring a try during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Corey Parker of the Broncos and Jarryd Hayne of the Titans embrace after the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Darius Boyd of the Broncos is tackled during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Josh McGuire of the Broncos takes on the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

James Roberts of the Broncos breaks through the defence during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

TweetFacebookIt has taken exactly one match for the NRL finals to descend into controversy around referees. The Gold Coast Titans are out, the Broncos advance but the post-game focus will surround a series of highly controversial calls at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

History will show the Broncos winning 44-28and even with some generous decisions in their favour, it would be difficult to argue that they weren’t the better team in a 13-try Queensland derby that surely now has some serious electricity.

The first sticking point surrounded a penalty try to Jordan Kahu early in the first half, the first in a finals game since Jamie Lyon’s against the Roosters in the 2013 grand final.

Titans centre Konrad Hurrell swung his boot around as Kahu was inches away from planting the ball and kicked it clear of his hands. It looked a neat piece of play but Bunker referees had little hesitation in awarding the penalty try.

They were right to the letter of the law and were later backed by referees boss Tony Archer. But it didn’t stop fierce debate from unfolding and the Titans would have little cheer about on that front for much of the night.

Down 22-18 early in the second half, Brisbane back-rowerAlex Glenn crossed for his second. It went upstairs but Bunker officials somehow managed to miss James Roberts kicking Ryan Simpkins after playing the ball.

Combined with David Mead being controversiallypenalised for dangerous contact with Corey Oates, who had climbed high to take the ball in his own 20m zone, the Titans were having one of those nights were little went their way.

That included losing halfback Ash Taylor for the final 45 minutes and back-rower Zeb Taia, who didn’t even make it to kick-off after injuring a quad during the warm-up.

Star signing Jarryd Hayne had his good moments but dropping the ball off the kick-off to start the second half was a telling error as Brisbane quickly pounced and were on their way to victory.

The first half was frantic from the opening whistle. Josh Hoffman was denied a try within the first two minutes, only for Chris McQueen to score minutes later and give the Gold Coast – notoriously slow starters of late – a welcome 6-0 lead.

Points avalanche: Jarryd Hayne can’t stop Anthony Milford scoring. Photo: Getty Images

Pulsing with energy and go-forward, the Titans were getting the best of things before a stunning series of plays that preceded the penalty-try ruling. Former Gold Coast man Robertscut them open on the left and was collared by Hayne a metre short.

Kahu would wrestle his way over on the next play before Hurrell’s boot sent the ball flying as he went to put it down. The penalty-try call appeared to be the right one and Archer, perhaps sensing the fan backlash, backed up his men in the middle during the half-time break.

“From our point of view, it’s a penalty try. Where they kick the ball out of his possession, it makes a significantdifference. He kicked it out of his hands,” Archer told Nine.

David Mead put the Titans back in front 12-6 after 15 minutes as Brisbane failed to clean up another kick before Kahu hit back after an Anthony Milford break down the left again, which would prove brittle all night for Gold Coast.

Hometown star: Alex Glenn enjoys the attention of teammates after his try. Photo: Getty Images

The Broncos were flying and Jarrod Wallace, powerful off the bench, went over under the posts as Brisbane settled clinically into their work. Battered and running on empty, the Titans somehow managed to conjure a try to Hoffman and lead 18-16 at half-time.

But halfback Ash Taylor was gone for the night and with him would go Gold Coast, who were hammered by referees in a second half that started in disaster for Hayne, who dropped the ball before watching Glenn score moments later.

Glenn’s second in the 51st minute came after the Roberts kick and the Titans were fuming.Down and effectively out by this point,Oates and then Milford hammered in the final nails.

Driver caught speeding on Hume Highway on the way to a funeral

Hume speeder heading to a funeral caught at 169km/h A 20-year-old Victorian man has had his car impounded after being caught speeding on the Hume Highway at Tarcutta. He and his passenger were on the way to a funeral, police said. Picture: NSW Police Force
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A 20-year-old Victorian man has had his car impounded after being caught speeding on the Hume Highway at Tarcutta. He and his passenger were on the way to a funeral, police said. Picture: NSW Police Force

A 20-year-old Victorian man has had his car impounded after being caught speeding on the Hume Highway at Tarcutta. He and his passenger were on the way to a funeral, police said. Picture: NSW Police Force

TweetFacebookTwo young men were on the way to a funeral when police caught them driving at almost 170km/h on the Hume Highway at Tarcutta on Thursday night.

Cootamundra Local Area Command highway patrol officers were on duty and patrolling the major highway when truck drivers alerted them to a car travelling at high speeds around 10.30pm.

It wasn’t much later that they came across a northbound Mazda 6 whizzing along the highway. A speed check indicated it was cruising at 169km/h, police said.

Soon after, the vehicle was intercepted and police spoke to the driver and passenger, both 20-year-olds from Victoria who police said were on the way to a funeral.

It emerged the driver had a provisional Victorian licence and was in the possession ofan expired NSW P-plate licence.

The vehicle, registered in the driver’s name,was allegedly not displaying P plates.

The young driver was issued infringement notices for driving at more than 45km/h over the speed limit, driving in the right hand lane with the speed limit over 80km/h and not complying with licence conditions (not displaying P plates).

The fines associated with those offences tally up to $2928.

As well as the tickets and fines, the young man will be without his car for three months and his NSW licence for six months.

The sedan was towed to Wagga and will remain impounded until December.

Acting Assistant Commissioner David Driver from the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command said the driver’s actions could well have led to friends and family needing to attend another funeral.

“With this driver and his passenger travelling to a funeral and given their high speed, any crash would have potentially resulted in friends and family attending their funeral also,” he said.

“We know that speeding, drink and drug driving, not wearing a seat belt or proper helmet, driving fatigued or distracted are all risks in fatal crashes on our roads.

“Whilst this driver has learnt a costly lesson, and will be without a vehicle and licence, at least he gets to go home. Sadly, many don’t.”

The pair arranged alternative transport after police transported them to Wagga.

The NSW road toll is currently at 274, 37 more than this time last year.

Brekkie Blog: Saturday, September 10, 2016

North-West weather
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A trough is slowly moving across Tasmania this morning, while an associated low moves through eastern Bass Strait. The low will move away to the east tonight, as a narrow ridge of high pressure extends over Tasmania. A front is expected to cross the state on Sunday bringing a cold southwesterly airstream, which will tend southerly during Monday as a ridge of high pressure extends to the south of Tasmania. A low is then expected to develop along the southern New South Wales coast during Tuesday.

North-West news

►RAINor shine thousands of people are set toflock to Latrobe for the NWFL grand final on Saturday.Latrobe Football Club general manager, Kandice Blake, said a crowd of 4000 would be wonderful. Read more.

► THEthreatenedDevonport Show will be held again in Novemberbutorganisershavecalled for morevolunteers to come forward.The future of the 108-year-old Devonport Show wasassured forthis year saidAgricultural and Pastoral Society presidentLesley Young. Read more.

►DESPITE the wet weather, students were happy to get their hands dirty for the Latrobe BioBlitz.The aim forBioBlitz is to discover and record as many species as you can within 30 hours, and involves students working closely with naturalists, volunteers and scientists within the community. Read more.

State of the nation

Need anational newssnapshot first thing – well, we have you covered.

► ILLAWARRA:Father’s Day started like a normal Sunday for Joseph Meli.That was until he was out walking through Crown Street Mall around Midday and noticed models on the catwalk during Heat 2 ofIllawarra’s Top Model.

Joseph has suffered from mental health personally and thought to himself“what a great thing they are doing”.

But it also got him thinking about what he could do to raise some more awareness and turn the depressing feeling that comesfrom the impact of a mental illness episode on itshead.

Lingerie Lad: Joseph Meli in the mall reflecting on all the interest he generated with his 20 second appearance on the Illawarra’s Top Model catwalk. Picture: Greg Ellis

► NEWCASTLE:Corrective Services NSW has unveiled its world-class training centre for new recruits in the former Tomago Detention Centre.

Corrective Services revealed it has started the recruitment process for150 officers who will be based at Cessnock CorrectionalCentre and undergo training at the new Tomago facility.

In a major milestone, the first recruits have become the first to graduate underCorrective Services’biggest recruitment drive in its history.

► TAS:Creating intrinsic sculptures is something that brings a great deal of enjoyment to artist Paul Brunyee.

As you drive up to his luscious green property you are greeted by some of his sublime sculptures.

“I’ve always been creative, in 1990 I had a small introduction into art cutting glass for a Dutchman,” Brunyee said.

“He was able to show me the benefits of cutting glass then I ended up for many many years with a leading glass designer namedJeffrey Hamiltonin Sydney.”

CREATIVE CIRCLE: Artist Paul Brunyee is a finalist in the Artentwine West Tamar Council Acquisitive Outdoor Sculpture Prize.

► BENDIGO: A formerBendigo Healthconstruction manager will next month plead to corruption and deception charges relating to goods and services said to be part of works clearing the way for the city’s new hospital.

It’s alleged Adam DavidHardinge, 39, stolemore than $30,000 in tools and equipment belonging to Bendigo Health, and allegedly gained more than $15,000 throughdeception.

Hardinge appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Friday where his matter was adjourned to a plea hearing on October 19.

► VIC:Among the many images gleaned from the Tromp family’s ill-fated car journey from outer Melbourne into the wilds of NSW – a long, 1500-kilometre road to nowhere – one remains more frightening than the rest.

The finer details of it are thin because the man who found Riana Tromp, 29, the eldest child of the successful berry farming family from Silvan, has opted not to elaborate beyond the basics. But what we know isKeith Whittaker, of Goulburn, got in his uteto drive to Canberra last week and felt a kicking on the back of his seat.

► PORT MACQUARIE:It might say spring on the calendar, but lifeguards operating in the Port Macquarie-Hastings region will get their first taste of summer this weekend when they are put through their paces at their annual proficiency and induction day.

Approximately 30 lifeguards will be at Flynns Beach on Saturday, September 10 for the formal induction process and testing of their skills and fitness.

The aim is for the recruits to be in peak condition and able to respond to any coastal emergency during the 2016/17 season.

► BATHURST:A crisiscan occur at any momentand having people reading and willing to help can make all the difference.

To markR U OK? day and World Suicide Prevention Day, which both occur this week,Lifeline Central West’s volunteer crisis supporters have stepped up to the mark.

The Bathurstcall centre, which takes crisis calls from across Australia usually operates from 6am-10pm, but from Thursday until Saturday this week volunteers will man the phones 24-hours-a-day.

HERE TO LISTEN: Lifeline Central West crisis supporters Astrid Taylor, Stephanie Robinson and (back) Vicki Byrnes are part of a marathon effort to answer as many calls for help as possible. Photo: NADINE MORTON

► WARRNAMBOOL:Elderly people who are being abused by family membersare encouraged to speak out.

Warrnambool police Acting Sergeant Shannon Kavenaghsaid elder abusewas a complex and hidden problem that occurred in thecommunity.

She said oftenfamily member or friend abusedthe older person, who did not report it for fear,shame or because they loved the perpetrator.

► WAGGA: MarcusStanford, the twin brother of the man who murdered schoolteacher Stephanie Scott, has been freed from the Junee jail.

Stanford hid in the back of a silver four-wheel-drive believed to be driven by his mother, going past waiting media camped at the gates of the Junee Correctional Centre this morning.

Stanford, who pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact of Ms Scott’s murder, was released after serving a 15-month fixed term jail sentence handed down on August 24 but backdated to June 15 last year when he went into custody.

National news►It has been just over10 years since John Bradley’s daughter,Heather–a budding actor – took her own life.YetMr Bradley, who has two other children, says grief still manages to “ambush” him.

“Last Sunday was Father’s Day,” he says. “I had some contact with my surviving children, but obviously notwith Heather. Those days, I feel, you get ambushed in your grief.

“I can hear just a bit ofmusic, see something –a photograph–orbump into someone.

►The education company at the centre of the donations furore that halted the front bench career of Labor senator Sam Dastyari is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the government’s new streamlined visa program, new data from the federal Department of Education reveals.

John Bradley says grief still manages to “ambush” him. Photo: Penny Stephens

Data released this week shows that 98.5 per cent of Top Education students are international, more than double the Australian private higher education institution average of 42 per cent. It has one of the highest proportions of international students of any private higher education institution in NSW.

Of the 13 local students the institution has enrolled, only 46 per cent successfully completed their first year.

National weather radar Top Education chief executive officer Minshen Zhu with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Top Education

International news►London:A furious Norwegian newspaper has taken Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to task for “abusing his power” as the world’s most powerful editor, after the social media company demanded censorship of the famous Vietnam war ‘napalm girl’ photograph.

Espen Egil Hansen, editor-in-chief of theAftenposten, the country’s biggest newspaper,has published a long tiradeagainst Mr Zuckerberg after receiving an email from Facebook saying the image contravened the site’s rules on nudity.

On this day Aftenposten’s editor-in-chief, Espen Egil Hansen. Photo: Aftenposten

The faces of Australia: Harris ‘Chip’ RedheadFor decades Harris ‘Chip’ Redhead has been seeing to the health of Blayney Shire residents as one of its longest serving GP’s, but if fate had turned a different corner, Dr Redhead could well have become an architect.

Chipping away: Harris ‘Chip’ Redhead will have a selection of drawings at the Barry Art Exhibition on September 17 and 18. Photo: Mark Logan

“I’ve always been interested in drawing, always, and before television of course I used to have a box of watercolours and I would copy the paintings on the wall,” he said. “I still have the original box of watercolour paint.”

That was in 1938 as an artistic 10 year old but it wasn’t until just after the Second World War had ended that Dr Redhead had his first lesson. Read more here.

Photos of the week: September 5-10, 2016

Photos of the week: September 5-10, 2016 ADELAIDE: Exhibitor Dusty Jones is the third generation of her family to show Romney sheep at the Royal Adelaide Show. Photo: JACQUI BATEMAN
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BATHURST: MacKillop College Year 8 students Joely Drinan, Lauren Muir, Saige Dwyer, Marnie Watson and Meg Wilson on Wednesday. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

BENDIGO: Are You Ok Day, included a petting zoo at LaTrobe University, Bendigo. Charlotte Bodenhamer. Photo: NONI HYETT

BATHURST: Johnno Seaman of Sid Newman Rural Supplies with a pallet of bloat block supplies. Photo: BRADLEY JURD

BATHURST: Deputy mayor Ian North and Phil Brock with the signed VZ Commodore back at the National Motor Racing Museum. Photo: BRADLEY JURD

BENDIGO: U15 Girls Cycling Time Trials. Neve Bradbury, St Kilda Cycling Club. Photo: NONI HYETT

BENDIGO: HDFL Football Grand Final. North Bendigo Vs Leitchville-Gunbower. Photo: DARREN HOWE

BENDIGO: HDFL Football Grand Final 2016. North Bendigo Vs Leitchville-Gunbower. Photo: DARREN HOWE

BENDIGO: Mario Espana is a forth gerneration circus performer on the wheel of death. He has broken over 17 bones in his body. Photo: GLENN DANIELS

BENDIGO: HDFL Football Grand Final 2016. North Bendigo Vs Leitchville-Gunbower. Photo: GLENN DANIELS

BUNBURY: Harvey ended Bunbury’s season on Sunday with a 29 point win in the first SWFL elimination final of 2016. Photo: CHRIS DE BLANK.

DUBBO: Jessica Willmott and Holly Taylor have spent months training to walk the Kokoda Trail. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

COLLIE: The Griffin Social Club will be winding down their operations after more than 60 years in the Collie community.

BUNBURY: Tim Seinor, Peter Gianfrancesco, and Antonio Gianfrancesco have been bestowed the title of Best Italian Gourmet Sausage in the South West

COWRA: Nicholas James shows off the hard work done by Carinya’s students for the pumpkin decorating competition at this year’s Cowra Show.

DUBBO: Kerrianne Nichols, Samuel Berryman, Marty Frew, Nicholas Steepe, Beverley Tyson, Joel Pickering, Anna Arrow, Kevin Jones.

DUBBO: PT Lord, Dakin and Associates agents, auctioneers Tony Morcom, Paul Dakin, Mark Garland, John Shadwell, at the Dubbo cattle sale. Photo: RACHAEL WEBB

FORBES: Flooding at Forbes. Photo: RACHAEL WEBB

DUBBO: Starting next week Karen and Jamie Manning, as well as their three children, will ride for 22 days to raise awareness and funds for Limbs4 Life. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

FOBRES: Flood waters on Friday morning at Landrace Rd, Forbes.

HUNTER: Actress Kellie Taylor will play the summoned spirit of Elvira the ex-wife in the Maitland Repertory Theatre’s new production, ‘Blithe Spirit’. Photo: PERRY DUFFIN

FORBES: Water on the road at Forbes. Photo: RACHAEL WEBB

FORSTER: Tina Gogerly has been turning trash into art. Photo: TINA GOGERLY

HUNTER: Holmesville resident Chris Halton with his unhappy neighbour

HUNTER: Firies work to put out grass fire in Woodville on Wednesday. Photo: PERRY DUFFIN

HUNTER: Hunter restaurants hold their own at annual Good Food Guide awards

LAKE MACQUARIE: Inside the Catalina Conference Centre, at Rathmines, ahead of its official opening. Photo: DAVID STEWART

LAKE MACQUARIE: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is coming to The Art House, at Wyong, in time for the September school holidays

HUNTER: Maitland’s Family Hotel General Manager Neil Hedges is delving into the historic pub’s past. Photo: JONATHAN CARROLL

HUNTER: Paranormal investigator Renata Daniel silhouetted outside Grossmann House. Ms Daniel will host a ghost hunt in the historic property next month. Photo: PERRY DUFFIN

LAKE MACQUARIE: Mary Parkinson with Christine Wenta from Toronto Workers Club after shopping for new garden ornaments. Photo: SIMONE DE PEAK

LAUNCESTON: Richardsons Harley Davidson’s Manager Chris Travers trains for the Strong Man Truck Pull for the Power Surge event on Saturday. Photo: PAUL SCAMBLER, The Examiner

MANDURAH: Coby, a three legged rescue dog, listens to Assumption Catholic Primary School students read in thier new Story Dogs program. Photo: JESS COCKERILL

LAUNCESTON: Songwriter Daniel Townsend and singer John Flanagan in the final throes of rehearsal before the opening of the Junction festival. Photo: SCOTT GELSTON, The Examiner

LAUNCESTON: Clare McCracken, artist behind the VILLAGE installation at Junction Arts Festival. Photo: PIIA WIRSU, The Examiner

MANDURAH: The Duyfken replica arrives in Mandurah from Bunbury. Photo: RICHARD POLDEN

NAMBUCCA: Bert Gray asks R U Ok. Photo: BRITT RAMSEY

NEWCASTLE: Joanne McCarthy with Royal Commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan at the close of the Catholic hearing. Photo: IAN KIRKWOOD

MANDURAH: The Mandurah War Memorial is back to its former glory after vandals destroyed it last year. Photo: NATHAN HONDROS

MANDURAH: The Duyfken replica on track to Mandurah from Bunbury. Photo: RICHARD POLDEN

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle surgeon Daron Cope devises brilliant way to remove facial tumour from Yvonne Boraso. Photo: MAX MASON-HUBERS

TAREE: Dave Quinlivan at Black Head, near where he was attacked by a great white shark last year. Photo: SCOTT CALVIN

PORT STEPHENS: Bernie Fitzsimons, president of the Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network, standing next to the memorial made of rocks at Boat Harbour. Photo: ELLIE-MARIE WATTS

PINJARRA: The feature film Three Summer was launched with a traditional Noongar ceremony at Fairbridge Village

PORT STEPHENS: Hunter Koala Preservation Society carer and rescuer Sue Swain with Dexter. Mrs Swain has been with the society for 13 years. Photo: ELLIE-MARIE WATTS

NYNGAN: Sonia Lane, Aime Taylor and Marley-Jo Wilson cross the finish line after the Cheetah Chase 10kms at the Dubbo Stampede. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE.

NEWCASTLE: Hamilton business operators have had enough. Photo: MATTHEW KELLY

ORANGE: Lolli Redini owner Simonn Hawke picked up a coveted hat with co-owner Leah Morphett at the Good Food Guide Awards. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle Knights awards 2016_ Dane Gagai, Trent Hodkinson recognised after club’s year to forget. Photo: JONATHAN CARROLL

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle Jets have sacked coach Scott Miller, barely a month before the A-League season kicks off

TweetFacebook Photos of the week: September 5-10, 2016​A look at photos taken by Fairfax photographers across Australia.

Charleville School of Distance Education celebrates 50 golden years

Golden opportunity: The cover of the book documenting the history of the Charleville School of the Air, authored by Jennie Bucknell and Julie Hawker.Schools of the Air were a revolutionary concept for ruralfamilies around Australia, struggling with huge distances and isolation from the source of their lessons sent out from Primary Correspondence Schools.
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Alice Springs pioneered the ideain 1951 but it was an exciting time for Queenslanders onJanuary 24, 1966 when Joe Tully answered the opening roll call broadcast from the Royal Flying Doctor base at Charleville, beginninga tradition of teacher-pupil interaction from the south westthat’s now half a century old.

Charleville School of the Air’s first teacher-In-charge, Anna Andler, at her desk in 1966, features prominently in the history book.

Part of the commemorations for the Charleville School of Distance Education’s golden jubilee in mid-August this year included a celebratory book, an eclectic collection of facts and recollections, anecdotes, comments and photosthat show the human element of such a uniquely Australian school.

Coming froma P&C meeting discussion, it is the creation of Mitchell’sJennie Bucknell, renowned as the author of Bush Kids, and a pastparent, Julie Hawker.

After discussing formats, a call was put out to the extended school community, past and present, for contributions in the form of memories and photos.

“The response was incredible and speaks volumes of the strength of communityof this school,” Julie said.“We were flooded with beautiful photos, memorabilia,anecdotes and memories.”

A photo from the 1967 Sports Day Muster at the Charleville showgrounds, in its second year. Anna Andler, the first teacher-in-charge, initiated the muster in October 1966, even marking out the track herself, with the intention of providing a chance for isolated students and teachers to put faces to names.

She said anoverwhelming theme through the book was the community spirit of all involvedwith the school.

“Throughout all the changes with delivery of lessons, thestrong relationship between the school staff, parents and students has neverwavered.”

Never was that more evident than when the pair’s unreliable internet failed to cope with the amount of data they needed to transfer.

“Due tothe vagaries of our internet we found that the easiest thing to do was tomeet in Charleville, a 550km round trip each, several times through themaking of the book,” Julie explained.

“Jenny Swadling (the principal)had to open the schoolfor us over the holidays at times so that we had somewhere to meet andaccess to the archives.

“Other times we found that the only way to sharefiles was to drive to the nearest town and find a wifi connection.”

Any gaps in contributions were filled by school archives, which weremade fully available for us to use for the duration of the project.

CSOTA fathers ambling down the track in a Father’s Day race one year – there was as much laughing and puffing as there was effort.

Some precious contributions were those of the first teacher-in-charge,Anna Andler (now Curtis) who sent original copies of telegrams, invitations,newspaper articles and photos, and Helen Shannon (Hacker) who sent foldersof lesson plans, photos, newspaper articles and past school publications.

These original documents, as well as the incredibly generous contributionsfrom other members of the community, were invaluable for telling the storyof the school over the decades.

The loss of so much school history in the 1990 flood made it difficult to put a lot of names to faces, according to Julie, butthe authorshadBill and Jan L’Estrange volunteer to edit their work, and former principalKaren Tully asfact-checker.

Julie said they wanted it tobe more than just a history of the school.

“We alsoaimed to capture the spirit of the school and give readers from all walks oflife, a real insight into how a school of the air (school of distanceeducation) works,” she said.

It has been divided into three broad sections to delve into each aspect of the school community–at school, at home, and getting together –and followed the decades through in each section.

At Schoolfocuses ontheschool’s development (including support services) and the teachers’experiences through the years; At Homefocuses on the comments andexperiences of children and their parents and; Getting Togetherrepresented all the times both sections of the school community cometogether, atsports muster, camps and swim muster.

There were plenty of funny anecdotes that showed even though things change, the challenges and triumphs don’t.

Kelly Twist, Juandah Downs, Mungallala, at kitchen play while her mother Kate was in the schoolroom.

Many teachers new to SDE/SOTA had to learn a new “bush language” when their students talked about mustering, poddies and smoko.

As teacher Jacqui Surman said, “I’d never heard of the Cunnamulla Fella, I’dnever experienced ‘smoko.’ I’d never encountered so many individual childrenwith the same lust for the land. Amazing!”

When School of the Air first began, the lessons were conducted over the RFDSairwaves. Anna Andler recalled that “lessons were a great source of entertainment and amusement for all, who madesure they took their lunch break during our two hours on-air.”

Children under the Kanyanna and Narungi banners at the 2011 sports muster.

Supplementary chapters include a history lesson on the the School of the Air in Australia and Queensland, and the quiet achievers, focusing on critical support networks such as the P&C and VISE tutors.

Did You Know? snippets are sprinkled throughout the book, and one of them perhaps putsthe school’s achievements in perspective.

In 2002, the school choir performed at the ICPA conferenceheld in Charleville. What made this performance different was that no choirmembers actually attended conference but rather all sang via the telephoneat their remote home locations, along with students from The SouthportSchool, who were gathered at their school. The students were accompanied byan isolated SDE student playing the digeridoo from his property near Injuneand the choir teacher conducted the choir from her studio in Charleville.Upon completion of the item, students were able to hear the warm applausefrom the hundreds of conference attendees by phone. This is truly atestament to the schools motto of ‘Divided by Distance, United by Voice.’Jennie and Julie actively workedon the book for about 12 months, fitting it inaround other things going on in their lives.

The bookcanbe purchased for $40 plus a freight cost if applicable, by contacting Annabel Tully at [email protected]杭州m

School history for parliamentary libraryThe book documenting the proud 50-year history of the Charleville School of the Air has made its way as far as Queensland’s parliamentary library, thanks to a donation by local Member, Ann Leahy.

Warrego MP Ann Leahy making a presentation of the history to Katherine Brennan, Parliamentary librarian at the Parliamentary Library.

The school’s first crackly HF radio transmission took place on January 24, 1966, which was celebrated in mid-August with the launch of a book amidst a weekend of celebration that included a reunion, markets, horse races, a trivia night, and a time capsule relaunch.

As a former distance education student, Ms Leahy told Parliament it was a significant milestone for the school, highlighting the importance distance education plays in ensuring all children in Queensland have access to quality education.

She said the book’s donation would allow fellow MPs and visitors to learn more about distance education and the stories that shaped half a century of learning in south west Queensland.

Wild Drover many a year

Paul Finlay inside the Camooweal Drovers Camp.The droving era may mostly have been passed but there is one place in Queensland where the flame still burns strong –the Camooweal Drovers Camp.
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The flame is kept alive by Paul Finlay who with his wife Ellen runs theDrovers Camp –literally –as one of the first things he showed the North West Star was how to light a carbide flame.

Carbide lamps, more properly acetylene gas lamps, are simple lamps, Mr Finlay saidthat produce and burnacetylene gas (C2H2) created by the reaction ofcalcium carbide(CaC2) withwater.

A chemistry lesson was one of the many surprises the Drovers Shed has in store for visitors but carbide lamps were in common use before properties hadelectricity.

Paul picked up toasting forks which on closer inspection were beautifully elaborately designed.

“An old fella in Charters Towers made these, if you pull wire back and forth it gets supple and pliable, so you get a couple of pliers and pull them back and forth, it’s a slow hideous job –but it’s a neat bit of work.

The other half of the team at the Drovers Camp Ellen Finlay looks after the office.

Paul said for visitors to get a sense of droving history at the camp, they had to do the tour.

“Otherwise you won’t know what you’re looking at, we’ve got old blokes here who can give a good tour,” he said.

Also pride of place was a big map of northern Australia showing the main droving trails.

“My wife’s grandflather Blake Miller took a mob from Victoria River Downs (NT) from Kidman and brought them down the Murrinji Track and he came down to Headingly Station in 1904,” he said.

It was important to get the terminology right when it came to stock routes.

“We call them stock routes (pronounced ‘rout’) not stock routes (pronounced ‘roots’),” he said.

The shed was built in 2005 though the drover’sfestival has been going since 1997.

“Camooweal was always a big drovers’ town,” Paul said.

“We always had horses and cattle here and next thing you know it was all replaced by road trains.”

An important part of the festival, which happens on the last weekend of August,is the lunch for old drovers in the shed.

“They are getting less and less now, although some of their family are starting to come back now,” he said.

Paul said drovers really knew how to look after cattle.

“I’m not a drover,I used to take a few into Camooweal, nothing much mind, but my father and my three brothers were drovers and so was my grandfather,” he said.

“It might seem hard to people now but we didn’t know any better.”

Travel deals: September 2016

Hit the Great Ocean Road with Scenic. Photo: Roberto SebaABOVE PAR
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This package for female golfers from Thailand’s [email protected] Design Hotels & Resorts and Siam Country Club Pattaya gives three nights’ accommodation at the [email protected] Design Hotel Pattaya and a night at the group’s Bangkok property, [email protected] Design Hotel.

You get return private car transfers between the airport and Pattaya, as well as being chauffeured to three golf courses (at each you receive one day’s green fees and clubhouse access). The courses at the Siam Country Club are The Old Course, The Plantation and The Waterside.

The price is THB33,000 (about $1320) a person twin share, available to single travellers for THB55,000 (about $2200).

For bookings email [email protected]杭州m. See siamatsiam杭州mBE SPONTANEOUS

Celebrity Cruises is offering a great, but very last-minute, deal on an 18-night trans-Pacific cruise aboard Australia’s favourite cruise ship: Celebrity Solstice.

Departing Honolulu, Hawaii on September 19, Celebrity Solstice calls at Maui before spending five days at sea as she makes her way down to the Pacific Islands. There, she visits ports of Bora Bora, Papeete and Moorea in French Polynesia before cruising to Auckland and the Bay of Islands in beautiful New Zealand.

Celebrity Solstice will then continue to her summer home port of Sydney, arriving October 8 as the first international summer cruise ship to return for the 2016/17 season.

The price is from $1999 a person. Phone 1800 754 500. See celebritycruises杭州m.auFLY AIR EARLY

Early bird airfare offers are rolling out from the big players, and The Great Singapore Airlines Getaway the latest. It includes promotional fares, such as flights to London from $1387 return, value-adds and prizes.

There are great deals on flights to Europe travelling from March 1 to September 30, 2017, or to Asia from now until February 28, 2017. And they come with the possibility to win prizes such as first-class tickets and shopping vouchers. Also, every flight ticket purchased attracts a $1-a-person twin share Singapore Stopover Holiday package, plus a S$10 KrisShop eVoucher and more if flights are booked at singaporeair杭州m

On sale till September 30. See singaporeairgetaway杭州m

Malaysia Airlines is also on sale, with airfares to Asia on sale until September 19. For instance, fly economy return Sydney to Penang from $682, or from Melbourne from $665.

See malaysiaairlines杭州m  COAST TO COAST SAVINGS

Scenic’s new Endless Wonders of Australia 2017/2018 brochure release comes with early bird offers for bookings made by March 31. They include two flying for the price of one with Qantas on the 23-day Treasures of the West Coast, and the 12-day Top End & Kimberley Spectacular, 17-day South Western Tapestry or 22-day Territory Discoverer & The Kimberley.

In addition, save $500 a couple on the 11-day Victorian Discovery round trip from Melbourne that takes you along the Surf Coast via Geelong, Lorne and the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool before heading to the spa town of Daylesford and inland Bendigo. It’s $4795 a person twin share if booked by March 31.

Phone 138 128. See scenic杭州m.au  NEW SKI LAND

There’s still plenty of snow in New Zealand’s Southern Alps ski fields and the Queenstown Spring Pass gives unlimited skiing and snowboard riding until the end of season at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.

With the scheduled closing day of October 2, a last-minute trip with this pass provides unlimited access to all operational lifts at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables from 9am to 4pm, and night skiing at Coronet Peak on Fridays and Saturdays (4pm–9pm) if it’s still going (it is scheduled to finish mid-September).

The price is NZD$299 ($288) for adults and NZD$199 for kids 7-17.

See nzski杭州m/spring-pass

Shipping news: September 2016

Viking Sea is sailing from San Juan.Iceland bound
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Lindblad Expeditions has three new cruises to Iceland with various departures in June and August 2017. One is a seven-day “Hot Springs and Icebergs” cruise on National Geographic Explorer, which starts with an exploration of Iceland including its thermal baths and capital, Reykjavik. A plane then takes guests over Greenland’s ice cap, before the Explorer sails along its glacier-lined edge. A 10-day “Wild West Coast” cruise on National Geographic Orion explores Iceland’s Westfjord region and sails among icebergs in the world’s largest fiord system. It, too, takes in Greenland.

Phone 1300 361 012. See expeditions杭州mChoices, choices

Variety Cruises has rolled out new cruises in destinations including Costa Rica, transits of the Panama Canal and the Seychelles. But the new cruises are particularly notable for their focus on the Mediterranean, with offerings in the Greek Islands, Adriatic Sea and Spain, the latter in conjunction with Atlantic-bound Portugal. Next year, Variety’s new mega-yacht Callisto also launches an inaugural Icelandic season. All the new itineraries showcase the company’s intimate yacht-style of small-ship cruising, with the freedom to explore history, culture, cuisine and notable sights in ports on privately guided tours.

Phone 1800 623 267. See discovertheworld杭州m.auBoating life

Le Boat has announced the launch of new Horizon boat models in 2017 for self-boating holidays on Europe’s inland waterways. All the new, larger Horizon models will be built to the same high-spec as the company’s original cruiser but each will either sleep five, seven or nine people. They will feature the same deck area for barbecues and sunbathing, plus spacious indoor lounge areas. The new model boats will travel on the Canal du Midi and Burgundy in France and the Thames in England, as well as in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

Phone 1800 118 940. See leboat杭州m.auEuropean explorer

Regent’s just-launched Seven Seas Explorer will be sailing out of London in June 2017 on a couple of interesting northern European itineraries. The 11-night “Discover the Isles” cruise sails around the British Isles to destinations such as Newcastle, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Dublin and Cork, and offers a choice of 43 shore excursions. It will be followed by a 12-night “Baltic Odyssey” to Belgium, the Netherlands and six Baltic countries. Varied shore excursions include sea kayaking, the Russian Ballet, a chocolate-making tour and much more. Three-day, pre-cruise stays in London are also available.

Phone 1300 455 200. See rssc杭州m.auCentral casting

Viking Cruises has two interesting new cruises in December 2017. The 22-day “From the Caribbean to the Amazon” cruise on Viking Sea sails round-trip from San Juan in Puerto Rico through the Caribbean islands and into the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. Viking Sun is meanwhile the latest ship with Cuba in its sights, with a new itinerary round-trip from Miami that takes advantage of the new Cuban entente. The eight-day “Central American Shores and Cuba” cruise visits five countries and five ports, and notably has an overnight in Havana for two days of exploration.

Phone 1800 131 744. See vikingcruises杭州m.au

Donations, Dastyari and Chinese soft power

The Sam Dastyari case marks a turning point in the political donations debate. Photo: Wolter Peeters ACRI Chairman Xiangmo Huang with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and David Coleman. Mr Huang, a businessman and philanthropist, has donated large amounts to both political parties. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
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Yuhu Group chief executive Huang Xiangmo and Sam Dastyari at a press conference for the Chinese community in Sydney in June. Photo: Supplied

Dr Zhu with Gillard government foreign minister Bob Carr after being appointed to the Chinese Ministerial Consultative Committee. Photo: TEI

 

With his long, sticky fingers Senator Sam Dastyari, hotshot of the NSW Labor right machine, this week managed to conflate two of the Australian electorate’s chief concerns, fabricate them into a political weapon and turn it on himself.

The first is growing anger at the propensity of Australian politicians and parties to pocket money from special interests in the form of gifts or donations. The second is the general and growing anxiety about the role of China in the region and its influence on Australian domestic affairs.

Dastyari’s undoing began last week when Fairfax Media revealed that having blown his travel allowance by $1670.82, the young senator contacted a Labor donor to foot his bill: Top Education Institute, a Chinese private higher education provider based in Sydney and run by Australian-Chinese businessman Minshen Zhu.

Dastyari had form. He had previously accepted payment for a legal bill from another prolific political donor, Huang Xiangmo. Worse still, it would surface that back in June he had appeared beside the Chinese property developer pledging support for China’s stance on the South China Sea.

It is worth noting Dastyari had broken no law, no regulation, nor even a norm in Australian politics. Technically he had not even taken a donation, but a gift. He had even properly declared the gift. He was determined to ride out the scandal.

Last Friday though, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, piled on, pointing to quotes in Chinese media suggesting that Dastyari had advocated China’s position on the South China Sea dispute, a position contrary not only to Australia’s stance, but that of our key ally, the United States.

Cash for comment, said the PM.

Still Dastyari was determined to stick it out, hence the disastrous press conference he held on Tuesday this week, the performance that finally undid him.

Asked time and again why he had asked a company to pay his bill, he was unable to give an answer. To anyone watching, the reasonable conclusion was that Dastyari did not pay his bill because he did not want to, because he was greedy, and because Australian politicians simply don’t have to pay bills if there is someone else around willing to – even if that person happens to be a friend of a foreign government.

The following day Dastyari resigned from his frontbench positions.

Australia’s political parties are addicted to cash, particularly donations. Over the past five financial years, the major parties – Labor, Liberal, the Nationals and the Greens – have taken in about $887 million, according to Australian Electoral Commission returns, in public funding, donations, membership fees and fundraising efforts. Donations form a significant portion of this pie, but the exact size is obscured by loose disclosure laws and associated fundraising vehicles.

Prime Minister Turnbull now finds himself under increasing pressure to reform donor laws. Speaking from a series of summits in Asia this week, he reiterated his long-standing personal view that donations would “ideally” be limited to individuals on the Australian electoral roll, striking off corporations, unions and foreign nationals.

“I’ve always felt that would be a good measure,” he said.

Whatever his feelings on the matter, so far the PM has taken little action. He has suggested reforms should be considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, a committee as yet unformed in this Parliament and one that has historically been seen as a paper tiger.

Meanwhile, his ever-enthusiastic predecessor, Tony Abbott, has seized the initiative, calling for sweeping reforms to curb “influence-buying” and “subversion of the system”.

Labor is pushing hard for a ban on foreign donations, and Liberal figures as diverse as Christopher Pyne, Cory Bernardi and Steve Ciobo have thrown their weight behind change in various forms.

Several roadblocks stand in the way of reform, chief among them self-interest (the horse that’s always trying, as Paul Keating once observed). Both Labor and the Coalition rely heavily on corporate cash, and Labor on funds from unions. A Fairfax Media analysis this week showed the major political parties would lose 90 per cent of their high-value donations if donations were limited to individuals on the electoral roll.

Then there is the High Court. The former NSW premier, Barry O’Farrell, (a man brought down by a gift) legislated a comprehensive ban on donations from corporations, unions and other organisations. But the ban was struck down by the High Court following a challenge led by the unions, with the bench ruling that banning certain types of donors was an unjustified burden on political communication.

The case saw Unions NSW and the libertarian Institute of Public Affairs forge an unlikely alliance, and on Friday the IPA railed against Abbott’s prescriptions as an undemocratic, unconstitutional “attack on freedom of speech”.

Critics say any attempt to replicate O’Farrell’s failed reforms nationally would die a similar High Court death, but Adjunct Professor Colleen Lewis of Monash University, who has written a report on the issue, dismisses the concern. “You can just step over the High Court problem,” she says.

Lewis argues that if the size limit on donations was lowered to, say, $1000 or less, you would not have to ban certain types of donors, like developers, because their influence would be no larger than an individual’s.

She does, however, support bans on foreign citizens and entities donating to Australian candidates or parties, which brings us back to Dastyari and China.

This week Dastyari might have felt himself to be at the centre of this story, but in truth he is just a minor cog in a far larger machine of political gift-giving and influence-peddling that China has built to advance its global influence.

Australia’s politicians and political parties took $5.5 million in donations from Chinese-linked firms in the two years to June 2015, according to an ABC analysis of disclosures to the Australian Electoral Commission, and both sides of politics have benefited.

Chief among the donors is property developer Yuhu Group and its chairman Huang Xiangmo.

More than $1 million in donations to both major parties have come from companies and individuals associated with Huang, who uses his position as chair of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC) to promote Beijing’s core interests, including lobbying against Tibet and Taiwan independence.

The Bayside Forum, which supports the federal Liberal seat of Goldstein which was held by former trade minister Andrew Robb up until his retirement, received $100,000 from interests linked to Huang, including $50,000 on the day the China-Australia free trade agreement was finalised and announced by Robb and then prime minister Tony Abbott. Robb also endorsed Yuhu’s $2 billion agriculture investment joint venture fund at its launch in September 2014.

And interests linked to Huang donated $280,000 to the Western Australian division of the Liberal Party. Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, the leading federal member of the party in that state, has been effusive in praise of Huang’s contribution to Australia and helped open the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) at the University of Technology , which was funded by Huang’s $1.8 million donation.

In the end, it was a $5000 payment from Huang to Dastyari to help settle the senator’s legal bills that has claimed a political scalp. Huang was alongside Dastyari as the Labor senator pledged to respect China’s position on the South China Sea during a June federal election campaign press conference.

Even if reforms preventing foreigners from making political donations in Australia were passed, they would have little effect on China’s deployment of soft power on our shores. Many major donors with Chinese government ties, including property and media tycoon Chau Chak Wing, and Top Education’s Minshen Zhu, have long been Australian citizens.

And no tweaking of donations laws would have had an effect on the money Dastyari took, which was a personal gift.

Besides, China has many more weapons in its soft-power arsenal than cash. Chinese government influence can be heard in the voices of Australian business figures who warn that the Australian government’s stance on the South China Sea could damage their business interests in China.

It can be seen in media deals too. Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, prints and distributes a monthly news liftout from the China Daily.

And separately, the ABC cut its local Chinese language radio service as it sought a semi-commercial deal to operate in China.

The Chinese government has made its presence felt on university campuses across the country with the establishment of Confucius Institutes, which teach language and culture at discounted rates.

It disseminates research via institutions such as ACRI, which Huang himself chairs and personally appointed former foreign minister and NSW premier Bob Carr to be its director.

From that position, Carr has been enthusiastic in championing policy positions that have coincided with Chinese state views. After the Foreign Investment Review Board blocked the sale of Ausgrid to China, for example, Carr condemned the decision across Australian media.

In response, the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, said Carr had not been privy to the national security briefings he had received and was uttering “complete nonsense”.

“Frankly the former foreign minister should know better,” he said.

In a statement this week Carr told Fairfax Media, “We take an unabashedly positive and optimistic view of the Australia-China relationship. Our position is no different from think tanks in Australia that receive American funding and take an optimistic and positive view of America and the US alliance.”

Carr finds himself bound to this story by Dastyari too.

In February 2012, following the sudden resignation of Mark Arbib from the Senate, Dastyari was able to lure Carr out of political retirement with the offer of not just a Senate seat, but the plum foreign affairs portfolio. Dastyari had joined Carr’s staff the day before he stepped down as NSW premier in 2005. Now he was playing kingmaker.

Both Carr and Dastyari, along with Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen, Liberal elder Philip Ruddock and Barry O’Farrell were listed as patrons of the pro-Beijing ACPPRC which Huang chairs. Both Dastyari and Bowen have since been removed from the council’s website.

Writing in a comment piece for the Global Times last month after an ABC investigation detailed millions Chinese-linked interests poured into Liberal and Labor Party coffers, Huang Xiangmo said the scrutiny smacked of “racism” and blurred the lines between Chinese nationals and Australians of Chinese ethnicity. He rejected suggestions his and other donations had the potential to “skew Australia’s democracy”.

One of Australia’s leading China observers is John Fitzgerald, director of Swinburne University’s Program for Asia-Pacific Social Investment and Philanthropy.

He argues that there is nothing particularly nefarious, nor even that surprising, about China’s broad push for influence in Australia. But he is concerned that some institutions and politicians might be naive in their engagement with Chinese actors.

And the stakes are high, he says. In the short term China would like to use its influence in this country to silence us in the South China Sea debate.

In the long run it hopes to sever our alliance with the United States.

Flight test: South African Airways

South African Airways will meet all your needs when travelling business class. Photo: South African Airways An Airbus A340-600, which like the Airbus A340-300, flies the Johannesburg-Perth route. Photo: South African Airways
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Our rating: 4/5

South African Airways

THE ROUTE

SA280 Johannesburg to Perth

THE PLANE

Airbus A340-300E with 254 seats – 38 business and 216 economy.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Voyager (Star Alliance).

CLASS

Business, window seat 16A.

DURATION

A strong tail wind means a shortened 8 hours 35 minutes.

THE FREQUENCY

Daily flights to Perth.

THE SEAT

A spacious 2-2-2 configuration offers forward-facing flat-bed seats with a generous 185.4cm (73 inch) pitch and 60.1cm (23.7 inch) width. I am in the smaller of two business cabins, in the back of two rows of 12 people. Economy’s bassinet row is just behind the curtain, but all is quiet on the baby front. Some dislike the closeness of front cabin seats (rows one and 15) to toilets and galley. If this is a concern, best avoid.

BAGGAGE

Four pieces up to 30kg plus an 8kg carry on. A distracted steward checks in our cases (two large/two small), forgetting a large artwork in a cardboard tube. We have to manhandle it on board – no problem in SAA business, an issue for Virgin Australia on the domestic leg.

COMFORT

An exceptionally comfortable seat trumps the beige-brown decor. It has quality padding, mattress, generous duvet and full size pillow, making sleeping easy on this night flight. There’s seat storage for toiletries, books and glasses and more on the seatback in front but that involve heaving yourself up, so best to get organised. You can squeeze past a fully extended aisle seat without mountaineering. A workmanlike unisex amenities bag has socks, skin and lip balm, eyeshade, toothbrush and paste but no earplugs. I have my own, fortunately.

ENTERTAINMENT

A personal touchscreen, 12-inch monitor with audio and video on demand is in the seat arm. There’s an adequate selection of first release movies, classics, TV shows plus music and interactive games but really, a business class night flight enables sleeping, so why not? Seats have 115V AC power ports but no Wi-Fi.

SERVICE

Four polite and super-efficient business stewards get things done speedily without seeming to rush. We are encouraged to stow our duvets before landing, a slight issue for a short, half-asleep person. It leaps from its overhead locker and attacks me. My kind steward materialises to disentangle.

FOOD

A delicious Methode Cap Classique is a welcome pre-flight drink – all wines are premium South African – we have shiraz and merlot from Stellenbosch and Robertson with dinner. Canapes precede a super-fresh salad and lovely warm wholegrain roll, then a tender chargrilled chicken breast with parmesan thyme crumble, baby carrots and salsa verde. My partner is delighted with his grilled beef fillet with samp risotto, roasted small tomatoes and rooibos-infused demi-glace. “Artisan” ice cream and brie, blue and provolone South African cheeses follow. Crisp linen tablecloths are always welcome. Breakfast of scrambled eggs with beef sausage, mushrooms, potato croquettes and tomatoes is very good.

ONE MORE THING:

I would like water served with meals as a matter of course – none was offered.

THE VERDICT:

Clear and updated flight information from the captain, good food, service and comfortable seats, plus a good sleep mean all needs are met.

Alison Stewart flew as a guest of SAA.