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Why I’m ashamed of our pointless cruelty

MICHAEL MOORE Felled by sport’s ruthless face


Where nothing’s the size it seems to be



s s e r tig OF THE INNER

Kelly Henderson’s sensual yoga

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Mary Ann’s last, ‘cruel’ days in palliative care JOHN Paynter met the love of his life and partner of almost 40 years Mary Ann during their university days when they were both studying psychology at Sydney University. “It was real love at first sight and we never separated,” says John. They raised four children and played a parenting role in the lives of many other young people who needed their support. John and Mary Ann worked together for the majority of their careers that focused on creating computer-based learning. They moved to Belconnen to work as business analysts for the government in 2007, work-

ing side by side. John recalls the huge shock they felt when Mary Ann was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer four years ago. He has chronicled Mary Ann’s last days before she died in Canberra Hospital in April and what he describes as the “stupid, illogical and cruel” manner of her passing. John says that Mary Ann was a private person, but the heartbreak and pain that he and his family experienced in seeing her denied all nutrients, antibiotics and left to die over the course of one agonising week has motivated him to share his story to encourage Parliament to support a Private Member’s Bill to allow assisted dying in the ACT.

I stroked her head and spoke to her trying not to cry. I started reading to her from her beloved Kindle and she seemed to sleep.

Day six She was getting weaker and sometimes just couldn’t get a breath. Fighting for life, not knowing she had no chance, was so incredibly cruel. She fought the whole day. When I asked for more relief to stop her needing to cough up the liquid at about midnight I was told: “We can only give that three times a day and she had some an hour ago”. My god! Were they afraid it might make her sick? I felt I was living in a Stephen King horror novel.

In happier times, John and Mary Ann Paynter… “It was real love at first sight and we never separated,” says John.

One staff member told me that she would virtually die of thirst and that it could take several days or even weeks.” John writes… IF I took my pet cat to the vet and it was treated as was my soulmate of almost 40 years, the vet would be charged with cruelty to animals. Let me begin Mary Ann’s story by stressing that the nursing staff at Canberra Hospital were dedicated and kind. They do all that they can within the confines of their delegations. Mary Ann had stage four cancer and had many medical issues including a broken hip that was causing her much pain. She was rushed to the hospital on Easter Sunday with a high temperature. From then until Wednesday several specialist teams were working on a plan to improve her quality of life for whatever time she had left. This involved a series of CT scans, which were very painful for Mary Ann. From Tuesday, March 29, to Thursday, March 31, we told the doctors that she was acting very strange, forgetting things and sleeping with her eyes open. They put it down to the pain medication and her various infections. On the last scan, where she was making sense, a clerical error meant that she did not receive pain medication before the scan. The last thing she said to me with tearful, wide blue eyes was: “I’m scared”. I will never be able to get over that. All the scans and all the pain were in vain since a later brain scan revealed that she had suffered a massive stroke (probably starting Easter Sunday) and on the morning of Friday, April 1, I was told that it was too late to do anything about the stroke and that she was dying.

I and other family members were told there was little chance of saving her and that surgery would likely be fatal. I begged them to perform the surgery since if she died on the operating table, under general anaesthetic, it would be a peaceful death. But they refused stating that they could “do no harm”. They said they would keep her comfortable and she would probably be gone in 12 to 24 hours. I had no idea what palliative care involved. They removed anything that would help her stay alive, including saline drips and antibiotics. One staff member told me that she would virtually die of thirst and that it could take several days or even weeks. She was given a steady infusion of morphine, a sedative a few times a day and a drug to help dry out her throat.

Religion Mary Ann was an atheist and as such deserved the same right to her belief as any Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or any other religion. However, I was told by one of the staff that “only God can take a life”. This is despite the fact, as the member for Fraser Andrew Leigh told the House of Representatives in August, that: “Three out of four Catholics, four out of five Anglicans and over nine out of 10 Australians with no religion say they, in principle, support voluntary euthanasia”.

Days one to four For the first few days she was constantly gurgling and coughing in an attempt to clear her throat. She appeared terrified. After much complaining on my part they finally included the sedative in her continuous feed and allowed “breakthrough” sedation and pain medication once an hour instead of a longer period earlier. It was horrible to watch her with her face scrunched up in pain and trying to breathe through liquid and desperately trying to cough – but she was just too weak. I begged too much for her to be euthanised to the point where the palliative “care” nurse suggested the nurses did not trust my judgment and thought that I might “do her harm” with a morphine overdose. The complete lack of any logic is in itself unbelievable.

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Day five Still groaning and trying to cough, sometimes almost screaming. I asked the palliative “care” nurse who was very sympathetic and doing what she could to stay and watch her. After a few minutes she went and spoke with the palliative “care” senior doctor. They tripled her dosage of sedation and pain medication – too little too late. I was told by the nursing staff in an attempt to be kind but in actual fact was horrific that “hearing is the last thing to go” and “she will recognise your voice”. At the same time being urged to go home and get some sleep. I told my family and the nursing staff that I would not leave her side. “I’m not leaving my wingman,” I said. She seemed to recognise me when I came in after a breakfast break. She started moaning and

Day seven She finally got so weak that she stopped trying to cough and just breathed more and more shallowly. I was alone with her, my head on her pillow and holding her hand when I noticed the breathing had stopped. At last, the poor thing had some peace – after seven days of unnecessary and unbelievable cruelty.

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CityNews June 2-8, 2016  3


Since 1993: Volume 22, Number 19

Arts & Entertainment 19-21 Canberra Confidential 10 Cinema 20 Dining 21 Garden 22 Horoscopes 23 Letters 6 News 3-9 Politics 7 Puzzles 23 Socials 12-13 Sport 8

Wake up, they’ve got plans to share Cover: Kelly Henderson. Story Page 6. Photo by Andrew Finch.


CEO: Greg Jones, 0419 418196, Editor: Ian Meikle, Journalists: Kate Meikle,; Kathryn Vukovljak, Arts editor: Helen Musa, 0400 043764, Photographer: Andrew Finch Advertising manager: Greg Jones, 0419 418196 Senior advertising account executive: David Cusack, 0435 380656 Advertising account executives: Kathy Leigh, 0400 293991; Liam Jones, 0400 092095 Sydney advertising sales: Ad Sales Connect, 02 9420 1777 Production manager / graphic design: Janet Ewen Graphic designer: Paulette Leo Proof reader: Glenda Anderson Accounts manager: Bethany Freeman-Chandler Distribution: 02 6262 9100,

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Responsibility for election comment is taken by Ian Meikle, Level 1, 143 London Circuit, Canberra.

THE two leaders in the great election race leapt from their vehicles at Sunday’s pitstop for TV “debate” – Malcolm sounding like he owned the company that made his car while Bill had built his from spare parts in the garage. But both had a winning plan that would bring cheer to the nation… if anyone, that is, can stay awake till then.

THE Barr-Rattenbury government refused to publish the $939 million tram contracts, so who knows how many ‘nasties’ are hidden in the fine print? Leader Alistair Coe said: “The decision not to release the details is despicable.” Hard to argue with that.

AT least it was a change from a week of posturing from the lesser lights. Colourful Barnaby Joyce, skewered by Johnny Depp as “an inbred tomato”, reckoned it was no coincidence that after Labor stopped live cattle exports to Indonesia, hundreds of boat people left their shores heading for Australia. The controversy ran for a day till Turnbull verbally slapped him down. THE two coalition square-heads, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, claimed they’d discovered a $67 billion “black hole” in Labor’s budgetary Milky Way. But almost before they’d announced it, they revised it down to $35 billion and at week’s end it was still falling. SPEAKING of milky ways, when Waleed Aly made the case on “The Project” that Australia’s dairy farmers were going broke, Barnaby hinted at big loans “in the works”. And when “Gogglebox” weighed in, suddenly the money appeared… a

brand new twist on “caretaker mode”. THE Barr-Rattenbury government’s commitment to the big spend on the Gungahlin tram really hit home with the signing of a $939 million contract for the 12-kilometre line to Civic. “Just imagine how many bike paths and renovated shopping centres we could get for that,” said a Seven Days correspondent. They refused to publish the actual contracts, so who knows how many “nasties” are hidden in the fine print? Lib Deputy

IN that other election across the Pacific, Donald J Trump not only passed the 1237 delegate count to secure him the nomination, a respected poll showed him edging ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House. And that was before a damning report was released on her use of a private mail server when she was Secretary of State. Bill Shorten’s “barking mad” description of daffy Donald might have been “un-prime ministerial” but at least he was fair dinkum.

before we can be a truly united nation. THE Anglo connection was much in evidence as the British “Queen of home cooking” Nigella Lawson paraded her dimples and dumplings on “Masterchef”. The highlight was when she twittered George for putting his knife in his mouth. And about time, too – the man eats like a pirate. THE Chaser team released their election mag to a plethora of self-congratulation – mostly unfunny undergrad humour except for one nice line from the editor: “It’s really important we get this right because the PM we choose we’ll be stuck with… until the mid-term knifing late next year”.

SADLY Sorry Day barely touched the wider community. In fact, the most poignant tears to fall were from Nova Peris, whose departure from the Senate is clear evidence of how desperately we need our own Aboriginal Reconciliation Commission. The Anglo-Australian colonial crimes must be confronted


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Make your vote count this federal election Saturday 2 July At this year’s federal election, the way you vote for the Senate has changed and it’s important that you understand how to vote correctly. On the large white Senate ballot paper, you can choose to vote either above or below the line. If you choose to vote above the line, you now need to number at least 6 boxes. Put the number ‘1’ in the box for the party or group that is your first choice, a ‘2’ for your second choice and so on until you’ve numbered at least 6 boxes.

If you choose to vote below the line, you need to number at least 12 boxes, from 1 to 12, for individual candidates in the order of your choice. Voting for the House of Representatives has not changed. On the green ballot paper, you need to number every box, starting with the number ‘1’ for your first choice, ‘2’ for your second choice and so on until you have numbered every box. ‘How to vote’ instructions will be clearly displayed on your ballot paper. Don’t worry if you make a mistake — just ask for another ballot paper.

Your vote will help shape Australia. To learn more 13 23 26

Authorised by the Electoral Commissioner, 50 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT. CityNews June 2-8, 2016  5

news / cover story


Bringing out the inner tigress

Like it’s raining money AS much as I like Michael Moore, I find his advocacy at times goes beyond public benefit to rent-seeking advocacy (“Health starts to hurt election prospects”, CN May 26). Having a health policy and social policy background myself, I am surprised that Michael seems to have forgotten the decades long struggle of Federal governments of both colours to restrain health outlays while improving health outcomes. Medicare is only a small portion of the health system. Labor tried co-payments in 1991, also froze indexation regularly when in government and made substantial changes (i.e. reductions) to areas such as pathology, which saved many billions of dollars over subsequent years. It also came around to private health insurance rebates, too. While Michael may wax lyrical about

Kathryn Vukovljak reports

AS Canberra’s first Tigress Yoga teacher, Kelly Henderson says she wanted to bring the practice to women here to help them take time for themselves and rebalance their lives. “It’s sensual yoga for women, and it’s about working with the feminine energy – it’s like a moving meditation based in Taoist and Tantric philosophies,” she says. “As women we have so many aspects to ourselves that we don’t get to explore, but with Tigress we can take time out every week for ourselves, to self nurture. Women are craving that. “When we’re at work we can be so inthe-masculine or so busy being mums. We’re not taking time for ourselves and it’s really beautiful to rebalance.” Tigress is a feminine style of yoga created by Devashi Shakti in Melbourne more than 10 years ago. Kelly has been teaching Tigress in Canberra for three years, and says her own journey with the practice started when she realised she needed to do something for herself. “I was overweight, depressed and in a job I didn’t like, and I knew I had to find a way out of that,” she says. Meditation provided an outlet, she says, but it was still a disconnect from reality and her body. “When we had to come back into the body after the meditation session, I always felt like I didn’t want to,” she says. “I felt fat and uncomfortable in my body, but I had a feeling that I couldn’t ignore the body part of the ‘mind, body,

Medicare, he is overselling it. Along with many other programs, it comes with significantly escalating outlays, opaque benefits and no less an authority than the late (and great) Labor Finance Minister Peter Walsh noted that such Whitlam Government initiatives plagued 1980s Budgets (and I would suggest beyond). I know a good health system costs money, but I don’t buy every option offered up. I am sure doctors are delighted with the proposed very expensive Labor policy of the ending of the indexation freeze; for them it would be like it’s raining money. The impact on health outcomes will be much much more modest and for patients it will be invisible. Martin Gordon, Dunlop

TAMS not talking ’roos

Kelly Henderson… “I was overweight, depressed and in a job I didn’t like, and I knew I had to find a way out of that.” Photo by Andrew Finch spirit’ journey any longer.” Kelly met Devashi at a workshop in Sydney and says she knew she wanted to learn how to teach Tigress from her. “I had a body-level knowing with Devashi, and although I was overweight, unhappy and trying to find myself, I felt as though she saw me as I am now,” she says. “She had an energy, elegance and calmness about her, and I asked her, ‘what do you do?’” Kelly then went on to have two children, and when her youngest was a year old she started the yoga training. “It meant a week away in Melbourne but I knew it was something I had to do, because I wanted Tigress to be available to women in Canberra,” she says. “The practice can help you feel more centred, calm and in touch with your authentic self. You can speak your truth, listen to your intuition. “If you don’t know it exists, you can’t know what you’re missing.” Kelly says the practice has helped her with many aspects of her own life.

“I can feel emotions now, and I don’t have to numb myself,” she says. “I feel healthy, and have energy and vitality to enjoy my kids.” Kelly says that when she left the public service to teach Tigress Yoga full time, she felt she could be herself 100 per cent of the time. She is also a reiki practitioner, sensuality coach and burlesque performer – a long way from her degree in information management with a major in law. “I’ve learned to really let all that go, as it doesn’t mean anything,” she says. “At school I was very sensitive, emotional and intuitive and I found that it was ‘not cool’ to be that way, so I shut it down. “My Rock Eisteddfod teacher once told me never to wear my heart on my sleeve. I remember being so confused by that comment. “Now with my tattoos and how I live my life, I literally do wear my heart on my sleeve.” For more information, visit kellytigress. com or

BOTH last year and this year, I endeavoured to speak to someone in TAMS about the justification for the very large cull of 2000 kangaroos. I particularly wanted to refer to the work of Dr Daniel Ramp, conservation biologist at the University of Sydney, who was quoted as saying that the justification for killing kangaroos did not stack up. I rang Canberra Connect on both occasions and was put through to the area of TAMS that handled these matters.

I was told again this year that no-one was available and I would receive a call back. In both instances, no call was received. I can only assume that the section of TAMS that carries out this killing does not want to be held up for public scrutiny and questioning. Does any other city in Australia carry out annual culls of kangaroos that share the urban landscape with the human population? I certainly have not heard of one. Colin Lyons, Weetangera

Time to kill the haka IT’S time the Kiwi haka rubbish was called out for what it is: a group of grammatically challenged, mouth-foaming, eye-bulging, knobbly-kneed, blond-haired, blue-eyed twits engaged in 30 seconds of light comedy. Even some NFL College football teams in America now do it as do a bunch of Americans performing a Pacific Islands show in a resort hotel in Hawaii.

It’s time we told the Land of the Long White Cloud myth masters to take a hike as we are no longer interested because, additionally, just about every Pacific island nation has a version of it. Give us a break with the Pacific Island, human-flesh-eater warrior rubbish. We fear the cane toad more. Jason Ryan, Flynn

‘Sky Whale’ light rail I AM profoundly disappointed that the ACT Labor government has committed over a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money for Canberra’s very own white elephant five months before an election. This arrogant act demonstrates just how out of touch this government has become. They have not listened to the tens of thousands of Canberrans who do not want their rates wasted on such an expense, who do

not want their roads torn up and their lives disrupted to provide a transport system that services only one tiny part of the territory. Thank goodness the Canberra Liberals have listened and will stop the light rail if elected this October. We did not need the Sky Whale and we do not need this white elephant. Brooke Curtin, Liberal Party candidate for Kurrajong

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politics / asylum seekers

Why I’m ashamed of our pointless cruelty THE shame I currently feel as an Australian when travelling overseas is not just about our politicians. It is, after all, easy to blame the political parties. However, it also reflects our community. The great pride I feel in the fields of Flanders is so strongly undermined by the way we treat asylum seekers. The reality is that Australia’s reputation overseas has taken a serious dive. When the “New York Times” is prepared to publish an article with a headline “Australia’s Offshore Cruelty”, it’s about time to rethink our approach. The opinion piece, by Roger Cohen, identifies our inhumanity in leaving refugees in a situation of having no idea what will happen to them as they remain in indeterminate internment. Cohen has made the call to scrap a policy that condemns refugees to “languish with no notion of how their limbo will end”. He also reminds the world that Australia has adopted policies where “women and children are vulnerable in squalid conditions where idleness and violence go hand in hand”. Travelling in England and Europe over the last few weeks, I have been constantly asked why it is that such a wealthy community, with so much land, is so miserly, mean and nasty to refugees. It’s hard to answer. One version of the question is: “Weren’t you all refugees of one kind or another?” Another is: “Surely you are able to handle these people yourselves without palming them out to your impoverished Pacific neighbours?” And: “How do you feel about the courts in New Guinea finding that the whole process is illegal?” Some questions are even harder to answer, particularly when asked to put the ethics aside and consider international law. “Surely it is illegal under your system to incarcerate people for an unknown time when they have committed no crime? They are not serial killers after all.” The most cutting part comes when asked how it could be that even our centre-left political party, the Labor Party, could have the same attitude as the conservatives. Of course, Australia is not the only country wrestling with this issue. The hard right in Europe does have an increased following. They have similar attitudes to our major political parties as hundreds of thousands of refugees seek to escape the violence of war in Syria and other conflict zones. Austria even came within a percentage point of electing the far-right candidate, Norbert Hofer, to its presidency. Many argued that the main issue was about the handling of the European refugee crisis. Others disagree that it is all about refugees. One

Travelling in England and Europe over the last few weeks, I have been constantly asked why it is that such a wealthy community, with so much land, is so miserly, mean and nasty to refugees. It’s hard to answer. of the BBC reporters, in her coverage of the election, opined that although refugees from the Middle East wars are an important factor, dissatisfaction with the incumbent major parties played a much more important role. The overwhelming majority of refugees are trying to escape the weapons that have brought so much profit to other nations rather than seeking greater economic opportunities. Either way, history should demonstrate to Australians how hard refugees work to build a new life once they have been accepted in a country. They hardly fit the Peter Dutton description of intending to steal Australian jobs and “languish in unemployment queues”. The displaced refugees of World War II and those seeking refuge from the Soviet Union provide a great example of people who have helped build Australia. The same is true with the wave of immigration from Vietnam a generation later. There were always those who opposed certain tides of immigration. Attitudes post World War II to “wogs” and “dagos” and the White Australia Policy is testament to this historic reality. However, over the last decades Australia has been perceived as happy-go-lucky, as welcoming, as being tolerant. Not anymore! The Greens are still the only significant political party with a humane policy to refugees. And they are making it very clear that they believe “there is a better way”. The election will be a serious test not only for them, but for Labor. The real risk for Labor is the Greens are moving from their more radical left agenda into being the party of the centre left. As Roger Cohen puts it, Australia should “scrap a policy that shames a nation with its pointless cruelty”. Michael Moore was an independent MLA (1989 to 2001) and was minister for health.

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It’s all ‘Go’ for machine learning

Felled by the ruthless face of sport

MACHINE learning is becoming a very hot field at the moment and if, like everyone else, you’ve searched using Google lately then it’s already impacting on your life. Some recent successes of the field include the destruction of humanity’s finest “Go” player. The board game Go had been thought to be beyond computers because, as Wikipedia states: ”The number of possible games of Go far exceeds the number of atoms in the observable universe”. But machine learning is not about brute forcing every possible permutation in search of an optimal solution. It appears to allow computers to make inspired leaps to solutions we humans have never considered. In Canberra last month, scientists at ANU applied the same technique to the problem of using lasers to cool gases down to very close to absolute zero. The machine learning they applied discovered incredibly more efficient and fast ways to achieve their desired outcomes. They calculate that if it had merely simulated different permutations, it would have taken longer than the life of our universe to find its solutions. Basically, wherever a problem can be clearly

“Machine learning is a subfield of computer science that evolved from the study of pattern recognition and computational learning theory in artificial intelligence.” – Wikipedia

What if we asked the machines about a better way to organise our very societies to maximise happiness? Or to maximise wealth? stated, and large amounts of digitised data are available, machine learning has the potential to discover better ways of doing things. So here in Canberra there are super-cooled gas clouds owing their existence to machines that can far exceed our own capacity to learn and to reason. On Google your search and streetview results are being tempered by machinelearning systems and the big G is now building specialised computer chips to use the language of the system. There are, of course, seemingly endless applications and very smart people are already looking to harness them. You can buy machine-learning processing from Amazon right now, but you’ll need a postdoctoral degree to use it well. The financial markets in particular could get very peculiar very quickly. Trading houses are already technology leaders in networking switches to allow them to trade at high volumes ever faster. But what if we got a little more ambitious? What if we asked the machines about a better way to organise our very societies to

maximise happiness? Or to maximise wealth? Deciding what we really care about is going to be extremely important very soon now. When Google’s AlphaGo program beat world champion Lee Sedol by four games to one it produced moves never previously before known to the extensive world of Go scholarship. Currently our society is grounded in the teachings of a holy book over 2000 years old with some political theory largely cobbled together over 200 years ago. There are probably, almost certainly, better ways of doing things. The societies willing to embrace these new ways are going to bang the drums of their competitors. So while getting machines to think about how we structure our political economy is a scary idea, isn’t it scarier still to sit on our hands while competitors steal the head start? John Griffiths is the online editor of



Let’s build a Let’s build a better transport better transport network together network together

Dinner with a chef ONE of Australia’s most respected young chefs, James Viles, is the special guest at University House’s June 16 “Meet the Chef Dinner”, which features a two-course meal inspired by his new cookbook “Biota: Grow. Gather. Cook”. Owner of two-hatted Biota Dining in Bowral, Viles invites readers to celebrate food created from a balance of animal and plant life in the Southern Highlands. Tickets at $85 from 6125 5270 or via

Clean and warm THIS month’s Up-Opping@Limestone is offering large stocks of clean, quality clothing, bric-a-brac, books, toys etcetera in the warm environment at Church of Christ, 88 Limestone Avenue, Ainslie,10am-2pm on Saturday, June 4.

Lots of local music

We need We needyour yourhelp help to to guide guidethe thefuture future of of transport in Canberra. transport in Canberra.

8  CityNews June 2-8, 2016

ORGANISERS of North CBR Music have partnered with the RUC Turner Bowls Club to host the second North CBR Music event, showcasing 12 local musicians each playing a short set. The Sunday, June 5 event is free and runs from 3pm to 6pm.

Garden gets a start THE John James Foundation has donated $10,000 to kick start the $125,000 building appeal for the planned AIDS Garden of Reflection at the Arboretum. The not-for-profit foundation supports volunteer medical programs and a range of medical education activities. Philippa Moss, executive director of the AIDS Action Council, said “The Garden will provide a special haven where visitors can remember and honour those lost to AIDS, reflect on their own lives and contribute to their understanding of HIV and AIDS.

SPORT can be brutal at times; I am not talking about the gladiatorial aspect of sports, more the ruthless nature. Success and failure can be measured in the smallest of margins; an Olympic dream can be realised in a matter of minutes or seconds. That dream can also be shattered in a moment as well. Canberra swimmer Ben Treffers had set his sights on making his first Olympic team in the 100-metre backstroke. His specialty was the 50 metres, but this is not an Olympic event. So his motivation for years of early morning training sessions was the prospect of securing a place in the team for Rio in the 100 metres. But it wasn’t to be. In the trials in Adelaide he needed to finish in the top two positions. He finished in fourth place in a time well outside his best. In the end, it came down to 53 seconds of his life and he just missed out. Champion Canberra rower Hannah Every-Hall had to survive an appeal from a rival Australian crew to make it through to the qualifying regatta in Lucerne in the first place. In Switzerland, she and partner Georgia Nesbitt finished fifth in the repêchage and didn’t make it through to the final in the women’s lightweight double sculls. The result meant that both Hannah and the boat didn’t qualify for the Olympics. In the end it came down to one race. At 38 years of age, Hannah has achieved plenty with a world title in the lightweight quad in 2002, followed by a fifth placing in the 2012 London Olympics. Duke Didier represented Australia in judo in Glasgow and he had placed his energy in securing a place in his first Olympic team. After a series of gruelling competitions, he finished outside the cut off in the world rankings needed to qualify for the Olympics. Hockey player Glenn Turner is fighting for a place in the Australian men’s team for the Olympics, but his chances hang by a thread. He has battled injury and was forced out of the team for the series against Great Britain in what would have been his first appearance for the Kookaburras this year. As athletes struggle to come to terms with the fine line between what is perceived to be success and failure they could do well to draw on the inspiration provided by wheelchair basketballer Tim Markcrow. In 2009, Tim was a 16-year-old student at Daramalan College when he suffered severe spinal injuries during a fall off a motorbike at Fairbairn. In his own words, he could have given up and spent his days on the couch, but that wasn’t in his psyche. He devoted himself to achieving in wheelchair basketball. Fast forward to 2016 and Tim is in line for selection in the Australian wheelchair basketball team for the Rio Paralympics. There is still a selection process to overcome, but to get to this point is an achievement in itself. It is something from which we can all draw inspiration.


one man’s america


Where nothing is the size it seems to be

When the big men fly

GREETINGS from Los Angeles. I’ve been here for less than 48 hours, but I can already tell you it’s a strange place. And it’s where, as I write, a man is climbing the letter D on the Hollywood sign. He has some sort of banner. What it says, nobody can tell with the naked eye. You see, contrary to the image you may have of LA, the Hollywood sign doesn’t dominate the skyline. It’s actually about eight kilometres away from Hollywood Boulevard and while the letters are 14 metres tall, at that distance they look tiny. Our letter-climbing friend has inspired me to pen a few thoughts about this city of 18 million people, where nothing is actually the size it seems to be. Prices are one. Take the state sales tax here, which is supposedly levied at 7.5 per cent, but for some reason I haven’t yet been able to work out, gets whacked on at nine per cent. See? It’s not the size you’d expect it to be. There’s more; some taxes here aren’t included in the price you see on the shelf. Meaning if you spot a can of drink in a shop fridge labelled 99 cents and grab it, you’ll be charged $1.14. No, 99 cents plus nine per cent isn’t $1.14. They have a container deposit scheme, too. Five cents for some drink containers, 10 cents for others. But in all cases, the tax doesn’t have to be shown on the shelf. So imagine the fun of discovering I was a penny short and had to break a $50 bill, much to the cashier’s annoyance, which made it a bit more worthwhile. So, and I never thought I’d say this, be thankful for Australia’s GST. Or at least for how it works! On the subject of things that work, indicators on cars here work, I’m assured, but in a lot of cases there’s no conclusive proof that they do. Changing lanes? Just move into the gap if there is one. Turning a corner? If there’s no one

THE Geelong Cats’ supporters group invites fans to join them to watch the AFL team on the big screen at the Woden Southern Cross Club when this month they play GWS on Saturday, June 4, and the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, June 18. The group meets throughout the season and for more information and access to the weekly newsletter email AND the Canberra region Sydney Swans’ supporters group is also keen to involve fans in watching matches at the Woden Southern Cross Club throughout the season. The group also organises buses to “home” games in Sydney. Membership or more information at mclindin@ or call 0402 258157.

Imagine the fun of discovering I was a penny short and had to break a $50 bill, much to the cashier’s annoyance, which made it a bit more worthwhile. coming, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel with both hands and go! Now it’s no Mumbai or Taipei, but it makes being a pedestrian crossing at a busy intersection, with all the traffic on the “wrong” side of the road, an interesting exercise. And finally, to homelessness. I guess it’s inevitable with a population in this one urban aggregation equal to most of Australia’s that homeless people will be much more noticeable. Or at least some of them will be. Two in particular have stood out. One is such a fixture on the street our tour bus driver knew him well enough to stop next to him and have a chat about the time he (the homeless guy, not the bus driver) appeared in a Lady Ga Ga music video. Oh, he also held a sign mentioning how you could find him on Twitter. The second was a lady begging for change outside a large high-end shopping centre in Beverly Hills. Who, as we passed, said: “If you’ve got a credit card I have a swiper.” Yep, the high-tech world has truly reached new ground.

VIEW from the south

Chris Coleman is the drive announcer on 2CC and chose to fly to Los Angeles with Qantas.

THE annual Canberra Gang Show, featuring a cast of 74 youth members, is treading the boards at the Tim Murray Theatre, Canberra Grammar School, July 9-16. Presented by Scouts and Guides ACT, it’s been performing for Canberra audiences since 1966. Tickets at $21 and $15 from Phone enquiries to 1300 354451.

THE guest speaker for the June lunch meeting of the Tuggeranong Day VIEW club is Graham Waite, from TADACT, who will be talking about providing purpose-built equipment to people with disabilities, older people and their carers. At the Tuggeranong Vikings Town Centre Club, Greenway, 11.30am-2pm, Tuesday, June 21. Visitors and interested ladies welcome. Lunch is $26 and bookings to 6284 8804 by June 17.

Pelvic floor workshop WOMEN of all ages are invited to attend a free pelvic floor workshop presented by professionals from ACT Health. It will provide information, education and self-help strategies covering issues such as bladder and bowel control/ incontinence; bladder and bowel prolapse and concerns pre/post gynaecological surgery. At the Gungahlin Community Health Centre, 1pm-4pm, Tuesday, June 21. Bookings essential to 6207 9977.

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Decoding the path to better hearing A guide of what to look for BY DR. VASS

You have noticed a change in your hearing and would like to seek some advice. What do you do next? On average people wait 6 years before doing anything about their hearing loss and in that time their hearing not only deteriorates but it also affects their quality of life and connections with others. Taking action is daunting and can be very confusing; once you begin your search for help you are bombarded with the promise of a ‘free hearing test’ or ‘free trials’ and ‘free services’ not to mention a discount on your hearing aids. You may actually be paying more in hidden costs that are bundled into supposedly free services. Here are a few things to consider before deciding on taking the next step and before seeking advice: • Ask others for a recommendation – Who do your friends see and are they happy? • Get to know your hearing professional – What qualifications do they have? How long have they been in the industry? Are they locally owned? • Get to know the practice – Are they independent? This is important as an independent practitioner can offer you unbiased advice on hearing solutions, they are not owned by a multi-national company. • Are they receiving commission on sales? Sadly, many hearing professionals do receive commission on hearing aid sales and this can shift the focus from the best outcome for patients to making their sales target each month. There is no requirement to tell you a clinician is receiving a commission but you should ask the question. • Are they offering a free trial on hearing aids? A free trial is common practice in the industry but the free trial is often bundled into a higher cost for the hearing aid. • Don’t rush. Get a second opinion and work with someone you feel deserves your trust. Some of these ‘free’ things may sound enticing but really at the end of the day your hearing is something that you don’t want to compromise on.

Dr William Vass Suite14, John James Medical Centre 175 Strickland Crescent, Deakin. Phone: 02 62822717 Email: Website: CityNews June 2-8, 2016  9

Canberra Confidential presented viewers with a level of titillation and taboo subjects that had never been seen on Australian television before. The screening of its first episode on March 13, 1972, came to be known as the night Australian television lost its virginity. The NFSA is bringing out “the ultimate ‘96’ experts” – TV guru Andrew Mercado, the show’s producer David Sale and Nigel Giles, author of the upcoming tribute book “Spirit of 96”. Tickets are $25. The full “Let’s Talk About Sex” program is at

work looks to create a contemporary Australian vernacular through a series of thoughtful objects that celebrates regional materials and processes.”

A sort point Sex symbol of “Number 96”, Abigail who played Bev Houghton.

Afternoon delights THE National Film and Sound Archive is lifting its skirts and talking dirty in June for a month of “Let’s Talk About Sex”, exploring sexuality and gender on the screen. One of the highlights is an afternoon of saucy nostalgia, steamy conversation and a rare 35mm screening of the 1974 film “Number 96: The Movie” (R18+), from 4pm on Saturday, June 11. The film was a spin off from the wildly successful television series that

IN an email to loyal guests from the necessarily toffee Hyatt Hotel, the personal assistant to the general manager wrote to inveigle bookings for its impending Veuve Clicquot Truffle Dinner. She describes it as “a sort after signature dining experience”. Which it sought of isn’t.

About the vernaculars ARTISANS Elliot Bastianon and Andrew Carvolth, a couple of very creative carpenters, are putting on “Material Objects”, a furniture exhibition at Nishi Gallery, New Acton, June 4-26. “Bastianon’s work is a speculation of material possibilities that draws inspiration from folded structures,” inanely bubbles the opening-night invite. And if you’re feeling confident of understanding that, try this: “Carvolth’s

Don’t give up the day job YOUR taxes at work – from the ACT police Facebook page, where they write: “We found this photo a little amoosing and thought we’d share… Our officers came across these three cows blocking the road and kindly asked them to mooooove to the udder side. They were thinking of trying to get past them, but the steaks were too high… and before you ask, no it wasn’t on Dairy Flat Road.” THEN it gets worse. On the afternoon of May 26 ACT Policing uploaded a YouTube video of its cheesy “recipe for a united community” with the bewildering message: “While you’re indulging in all the culinary delights this weekend at the National Multicultural Festival, don’t forget to visit us! We’ll even give you a recipe book and tea towel.” If the cops don’t know the NMF is in February, what hope have the rest of us got?

Know something? /

Unforgettable beer THE Battle of Passchendaele was one of the most horrendous campaigns of World War I, with the War Memorial estimating there were 38,000 Australian and 5300 NZ casualties. “But who would have thought that the Belgian village near Ypres was also home to one of Belgium’s finest beers?” writes our imbibing arts snout after swanning around the embassy the other night. “That was the beverage chosen by the ambassador of Belgium, Jean-Luc Bodson, for the launch of ‘The Belgians Have Not Forgotten’, a travelling exhibition from the Memorial Museum of Passchendaele to tour rural Australia and NZ from the end of this year.” And it wasn’t just beer – the ambassador had also commissioned a TasmanianBelgian confectioner to create chocolates filled with crushed Anzac cookies.

Notes from the dark side THE ACT government’s kangaroo cull continues. Here’s a protester writing from Isaacs Ridge Reserve, where he/she says the contractor shooters were “driving the kangaroos down from the trees into the open grassland dangerously close to Mugga Lane, where they are easier to shoot”. “We found an injured kanga on the road immediately below where they had been shooting. One leg was badly broken and there was blood coming out of his nose and mouth,” the protester writes. “He wasn’t big, not fully mature, only about two, but it was all two of us could do to pick him up and move him into my car. “Because of the ACT’s sick rules about rescuing and rehabilitating kangas, all we could do was cover him in a padded jacket and drive him to one of the NSW sanctuaries after ringing them at around midnight. An hour’s drive, very slow because of all the other kangas gathered on the roadsides. “Now the police have threatened to arrest anyone found just sitting in a parked car on the opposite side of any road bordering a reserve. “If sitting in a car on the roadside is hindering their bloodfest, it must be because they think they might accidentally shoot us, and what kind of admission is that with streams of through traffic passing between the shooters and the parked cars?”

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advertising feature ‘We take the time to understand each of our patients’ individual needs.’

Optical pair with a clear view of patient care ASH and Ashita Vadher know the limitations and challenges people face when they don’t have good eye health or great vision. They say that wearing glasses from an early age has enabled them to develop a holistic approach in their optometry practice Eyecentric, focusing not just on dispensing quality eyewear but also on each patient’s health and approach to life. “We take the time to understand each of our patients’ individual needs,” says dispensing optician Ashita. “People’s eyes are so complex and no two people have the same eyes. We love helping each patient identify what is best for them.” Ashita and her optometrist husband Ash opened Eyecentric nine months ago in the heart of Manuka to create a welcoming environment for patients. They use digital imaging equipment and other diagnostic instruments to detect any changes in the eyes and monitor them. “How many of us take our eyes for granted? We just assume that we’ll wake up every day and our sight will be the same,” says Ashita. “Yet one in four Australians are going about their daily lives with an undiagnosed eye disease such as glaucoma, which can lead to vision loss without showing any symptoms. “At Eyecentric we know that early detection of eye conditions and prevention of loss of vision is possible with an annual eye check-up.” While Ash and Ashita have a total of more than 40 years’ experience in optical care, predominantly in large corporate companies, they say they relish the autonomy that their independent practice allows to choose quality products and provide patients with tailored eye care. Ashita and the Eyecentric team hand pick the practice’s range of spectacles and sunglasses, including the Silhouette brand, worn by the Queen. Other designers include the quirky Masunaga range, made in Japan, Tag Heuer and Maui Jim. “We balance value, quality and design when choos-

Husband-and-wife team Ashita and Ash Vadher… “We know that early detection of eye conditions and prevention of loss of vision is possible with an annual eye check-up.”. ing anything in the practice,” she says. “I ask myself: ‘Would I pay for that?’ and always question the value that our patients will place on the product. That’s why we choose quality frames.” When eye testing, Ash says he combines his many

years’ experience with digital imaging technology and a thorough approach, answering patients’ questions and helping them understand more about their eyes. He also enjoys the challenge of helping patients who have had multifocal issues in the past.

“If a new patient has had issues with multifocals before and is hesitant to try them again, we encourage them to try ours at no risk,” says Ash. Ashita says that they have had lots of success with patients who have never previously worn their multifocal lenses or had many issues with them. “They are now enjoying their lenses and the benefits of having better vision,” she says. Eyecentric takes great pride in its stock of tailormade lenses, using German brand Rodenstock, which has been making lenses since the 1890s. Ashita says she chose Rodenstock because of its reputation for lens engineering. “Working with Rodenstock means we can use the latest technology in lens design, to provide individual solutions for our patients,” she says. Mirroring a desire to help their patients is a commitment to help the community and support charities close to Ash and Ashita’s hearts. “The team at Eyecentric are excited to be part of the community in Manuka. Every Saturday local singer Rosella busks outside the practice and, for every dollar she makes, Eyecentric donates to the charity Optometry Giving Sight to support eye-care projects in the third world. “Thanks to Rosella’s talent and everyone’s kind donations we have so far helped more than 150 children in third-world countries receive eye tests and glasses,” says Ashita. Eyecentric is also involved with the charity’s I Care & Share project. “With every set of frames purchased at Eyecentric, we ‘pay it forward’ by making a donation to help someone access eye care who otherwise wouldn’t receive it,” she says. “Australians have access to the best eye care in the world. A full eye exam at Eyecentric costs less than a new pair of shoes and your eyes need to last much longer!” Eyecentric, shop 8, 17-19 Flinders Way, Manuka. Call 6156 5959, visit or check out their facebook page.

Multi-focal problems? We will solve them for you! “Tailor made solutions giving you vision for life”

Make the Switch to Eyecentric • Locally owned with a reputation for personalised care • Classic brands and frames from around the world • Bespoke designs of frames and lenses • Comprehensive eye examinations • Contact lens assessment and fitting • Diabetic and Glaucoma screening • Children’s examinations • Direct health fund claims

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Customised lenses to match your lifestyle CityNews June 2-8, 2016  11

scene / around canberra At the Africa Day celebrations, Deakin

Julian Okunia and Jacquelyne Oniru

Victor Trevino and Jana Grilc

Joanna Adamson and Brendan Augustin

Ahmed Ataissa with Donni and Samuel Pho

David Lucas and Annebelle Davis

Mercy Matlho and Anthony Ontumetse

Italian ambassador Pier Zazo and EU ambassador Sem Fabrizi

Cigdem and Peter Lasalle with Monique Cavalot

sundayROAST Stay in touch with the names making news on Sundays from 10am as 2CC and “CityNews” present Canberra’s only local weekend news and current affairs program. It’s a revolving panel show that brings to the microphone great “CityNews” commentators and 2CC personalities. Be part of the conversation and call 6255 1206 between 10am and noon.

12  CityNews June 2-8, 2016


At the launch of the travelling exhibition ‘The Belgians Have Not Forgotten’, Yarralumla

Stephanie Mbombo and Belgian ambassador Jean-Luc Bodson

Jeanne and Ron Horton with Commodore Richard Powell

Christophe de Nijs and Maj-Gen Dave Chalmers

Spencer and Anne-Marie Bell

Esther De Graaff and Jacqueline Wilson

Chris Jobson, Anne Jensen, Ian Cartwright and Tony Jensen

Leonie Mack and Nerrilee Cushbertson

Sonia Holt and Richard Woods

invite us /

At the 32nd Radford Art Show, Bruce

Bethany and Clare Lome

Sienna, Angela and Eva Graham

John Shevlin and school principal Fiona Godfrey

Christine and Alexander Wanjura with Brenda Foley

Celebrating 90 Years of Eastlake, Manuka Oval

Anita and Paris Lome

Melanie Moss and Natasha Kahles

Julie and Matthew King with Carolyn Farrar

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Information evening 6.00pm Wednesday 08 June at the Travel Makers office 21 Eastlake Parade, Kingston Foreshore. Please RSVP by call 62232780 or email CityNews June 2-8, 2016  13

all things financial

advertising feature

Expert ways to make the most of money WHETHER it’s finding a better mortgage deal, the best loan suited for you, advice on your financial situation, leaving a will or getting advice on running a business, this week’s experts will show you the best ways to get the most out of money...

Taking the stress out of chasing a mortgage SINCE 2002, Melita Beilicz and Suzanne O’Connor, the directors of Dominion Finance Mortgage Brokers, and their all-women team including mortgage brokers Amber Ferry and Alicia Wilkinson, have been bringing a wealth of knowledge and a personal touch to helping clients own their own homes. Suzanne says that she and Melita started Dominion Finance after working for many years in the banking industry. “We wanted the opportunity to access all different lenders and provide a personal service, acting solely for our clients rather than the banks,” she says. “We have access to 25 financial institutions and hundreds of lending products available to find you the most suitable loan.”

Dominion Finance Team.

From first-home buyers, upgraders, downsizers to investors and car loans, the team at Dominion Finance can also work alongside their clients’ accountants and financial planners on all lending needs. “Buying a house can be a stressful experience and we hold our clients’ hands through the process, taking away any stress they feel,” says Suzanne. Suzanne says that they have recently moved to new offices at Forrest, but can also arrange to go to clients to help fit around their needs. “We all love what we do and are passionate about our industry,” she says. Dominion Finance, 7/9 Fitzroy Street, Forrest, visit or call 6162 2740.

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14  CityNews June 2-8, 2016

We bridge the gap between you and the bank to find the most suitable loan for your individual situation. At Dominion Finance we are accredited with 25 lending institutions, having detailed knowledge of their broad range of products so we can truly find a loan to suit your specific needs. We are Canberra based mortgage brokers – our knowledge is derived from 15 years of servicing locals, with solutions from our extensive banking and mortgage broking experience. We have a passion for helping our clients achieve their financial dream. We understand your time is valuable and going down the usual road of investigating loans and meeting appointments with banks is an endless process. We’ll do the leg work for you and are mobile for appointments seven days a week.

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all things financial

advertising feature Gail helps kick financial goals THE specialist team at Gail Freeman and Co Pty Ltd can assist with all areas of finance and taxation, providing professional advice to a client’s personal needs. With more than 35 years of experience as a chartered accountant, registered tax agent and financial planner, director Gail Freeman and her staff look after all aspects of financial affairs from tax, financial planning and investment advice to retirement planning, superannuation, self-managed superannuation funds and all aspects of business improvement. “When people are managing their finances they can find that they aren’t able to get decent returns from interest from their investments,” says Gail. “The stock market can be volatile and the scaremongering about negative gearing can all contribute to their confusion about what to do with

Why wills are important “IF you die without a will, there are some automatic provisions which determine how your estate is divided and these may not be in accordance with your wishes,” warns Capon and Hubert solicitor Lee Usher-Clarke. “It may even be possible that, if you have no family, your estate could be forfeited to the Crown! “Making a will provides for those you care about and enables you to include people who would not otherwise receive anything from your estate. It also means you can appoint someone you trust as your executor, whose job it is to put your wishes into effect.” Lee says there are some technical requirements for a will to be valid. “Sometimes these can be fixed but this can increase costs and cause difficulties


e1 re

for your executor, she says. “Wills can also be challenged and so it is better and safer to have your will completed by a solicitor. “In addition to a will, everyone should have an enduring power of attorney. This is a document that allows a person you have selected to look after your interests and make important decisions (financial, lifestyle and medical) on your behalf if you become unable to do so due to accident, illness or advancing age. “You should always obtain legal advice and guidance if you propose to make a will or power of attorney,” she says. To make an appointment with Lee Usher-Clarke, of Capon & Hubert, 32-38 Townshend Street, Phillip, call 6286 1977.

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their money.” Gail says she and her team can design individualised plans, taking into account personal short and long-term goals. “We understand that people can be concerned during these volatile times and we Gail Freeman. provide advice that is right for them, for now and in 10 years’ time,” she says. Gail says that the recent Federal Budget has impacts on superannuation and that she has, particularly, received enquiries about this topic.

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“THE people who come to us for assistance generally do so because they want a fresh approach, quality of service and a timely result,” says Tony Lane, of Vincents Chartered Accountants. Vincents is a leader in distressed financial consulting, restructuring and insolvency services. “Increasingly we are finding that our clients come to us looking for a change for a range of reasons – we bring a refreshing alternative across all our business units,” says Tony, who heads the Vincents Canberra insolvency practice. He says that it’s the Vincents approach to financial distress that sets the firm apart from the market. “When someone is staring down financial uncertainty – either in business or personally – there are a range of associated issues that often are overlooked,”

Tony says. “Too often I’ve seen and heard of people being given early assurances as to outcomes, only to later find the circumstances change. “A holistic approach to managing financial difficulties Tony Lane. is increasingly what our clients are demanding and we believe we are filling that gap in the market – certainly our results speak to that. “We’re not just financial firefighters – we aim to maintain and where possible add value.” Contact Tony Lane on 6274 3400.

FINANCIAL ADVICE HOME LOANS Our specialist team can assist with all areas of finance and taxation, providing professional advice to suit your needs. As an authorised representative of Lifespan Financial Planning (AFSL 229892), Gail Freeman can assist with investments, superannuation and insurance, as well as home loans and finance via Quay Finance.

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9/71 Leichhardt Street, Kingston CityNews June 2-8, 2016  17

National Tree Day

special feature

Tree day – a chance to make a difference NATIONAL Tree Day is the largest tree-planting event in the country. Organised by Planet Ark, it is celebrating its 21st birthday and 23 million trees planted nationally since it began. National Tree Day manager Debbie Agnew says it’s an opportunity for people to make a difference in greening their local community and bringing back native wildlife. Debbie says that thanks to the support of Canberra Toyota, there were 120 tree-planting sites last year in the ACT, involving 6500 people and resulting in 25,000 seedlings being planted. “If we have 150 sites this year it would be exceptional,” says Debbie. “We are thrilled to have so many groups help us every year, but I also encourage people who haven’t done it before but want to do something meaningful and be able to directly see the fruits of their labours to join us this year. “National Tree Day brings the community together and planting a tree is a very special thing to do!” Canberra Toyota’s dealer principal Mirko Milic says he and his team thoroughly enjoy their long-standing involvement with National Tree Day, and have for a number of years co-ordinated with local schools to ensure the Schools Tree Day, held on Friday July 29, is a success. He says National Tree Day is important as it brings the community’s focus to the

future,” says Debbie. “The problem and challenge we face in our digital society is the reduced time children spend playing outside. “Our research shows that Australian children are at risk of growing into an unhappy generation by living an inside lifestyle and being disconnected from the natural world. “But the impacts of just adding nature are significant, including benefits to mental and physical health and wellbeing. “We all need nature to thrive!” Mirko says that Toyota has always led the way in environmental initiatives by making energy efficient cars, such as the popular hybrid models of the Prius and Camry, which operate on petrol and electric motor. “These cars have been found to be reliable and efficient. Being less reliant on fuel is another way of further supporting our commitment to the environment,” he says. Mirko says that it is important to Canberra Toyota to give back to the community and they have been a dedicated supporter of a number of charities and sporting organisations for many years, including St Vincent de Paul’s annual CEO Sleepout event. Mirko will be Mirko Milic and Aranda Primary School students, from left, Charlotte, Miranda, Thomas, Kayd, Frankie, Kairlyn, Emma and Kevin get ready for Schools Tree Day on Friday, July 29. Photo by Andrew Finch participating in his fifth sleep out in a few weeks, to raise funds for homeless Canberrans. environment. with local schools to encourage them to outside and getting dirty. We all have fun “A lot of businesses, ourselves included, sign up for Schools Tree Day and provides and appreciate the environment, which is To get involved with National Tree Day visit take a lot out of the environment, and we are them with the trees, supplies and some man what it’s all about,” he says. or call 1300 885000. committed to giving back by being a good power from their team. “We see children as the primary audience Schools are also welcome to contact Lisa corporate citizen,” he says. “Each year we go out and help a different as they have the potential to make a differGray at Canberra Toyota on 6221 3545 about Mirko says Canberra Toyota works directly school. The kids love it! They enjoy being ence and safeguard the environment in the Schools Tree Day support.

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arts & entertainment

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Collaboration goes a long way By Helen Musa

ACTOR Eugenia Fragos is the perfect person to fill us in on the new play, “Things I Know To Be True”, shortly coming to The Playhouse, for not only is she acting in it but she is married to the playwright, Andrew Bovell. Bovell is known to the wider public as the writer of “Speaking In Tongues”, which became the film “Lantana”, and for the stage adaptation of Kate Grenville’s “The Secret River”. Fragos has been seen on screen as Ari’s mum in “Head On”, as Hector’s sister in “The Slap” and Isaac’s mum in “Dead Europe”, all adapted from books by Christos Tsiolkas. Unsurprisingly, she plays Fran, the mum in “Things I Know To Be True”, but she doesn’t mind one bit. “Andrew and I met at drama school 30 years ago at the Victorian College of the Arts. He was doing the writing stream and I was doing acting,” Fragos tells “CityNews” by phone from Adelaide. “It’s great to be working together after five or six years.” But it’s not just any kind of work. Collaborative theatre is what she likes, the kind of thing she and Bovell did back in the good, old days at the Melbourne Workers Theatre where they got to create with Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves and Patricia Cornelius. That was before their children started growing bigger, so the pair bought a farm in SA to be near her family. “I conceded defeat and realised I needed my mum… then somehow

Andrew’s career took off but mine, well, not so much.” But in recent years she’s had plenty of work on stage with the State Theatre Company of SA and elsewhere. Fragos still looks back on their 20 years in Melbourne, where they joined with “The Slap” producer Tony Ayres and Michael McMahon to buy two houses and pulled down the intervening fence. “We were married early and among the few to have kids, so if you can’t go out you say: ‘You’re welcome to come to our house and talk around the kitchen table’ – there was an immense creativity about it all, she says. Bovell’s newest play is a kind of Australian family epic, which comes to Canberra immediately after its Adelaide premiere and will then go to a six-theatre tour in Britain. So what’s it like having your husband there in rehearsals? Does he behave himself? “He does,” Fragos concedes, “but the directors and the actors are very respectful to him and he’s a really good collaborator. I don’t skite much about my husband, but so much of his work has been in collaboration.” Working with the co-directors, Geordie Brookman, artistic director of State Theatre Company SA, and Scott Graham, artistic director of Britain’s Olivier Award-winning company Frantic Assembly, has been a career highlight for Fragos. In the finished play Fragos plays the mother of four, the major breadwinner because her husband Bob has been retrenched from Mitsubishi. But she is a mother with a temper and she would kill for her kids. She and Bob, now empty

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nesters just like the Bovells, have been together since they were very young, so this is the portrait of a long-term marriage. A phone call comes in the middle of the night. The parents wonder which of the kids is in trouble or hurt or dead. The play moves back in time and all those kids come to the foreground. And who is that on the other end of the phone line? That would be telling, Fragos says, you’ll just have to be there to find out. “Things I Know To Be True”, The Playhouse, June 9-11, bookings to or 6275 2700.

Above: Eugenia Fragos and Andrew Bovell… “He’s a really good collaborator. I don’t skite much about my husband, but so much of his work has been in collaboration,” says Fragos.


Canberra Theatre Centre presents State Theatre Company of South Australia and Frantic Assembly’s

arts in the city

Alive with the sound of music By Helen Musa DIRECTOR Dave de Santi has signed more than 30 Australian and international artists to perform at this month’s Perisher Peak Festival. One of the most exciting is Matiu Te Huki, (“The Hook”) the Maori-Italian singer, pictured, based in NZ, whose peacemaking efforts led to his best-known hit “Rainbow Warrior”. As well, the South East Arts Youth Stage will give young musicians a venue to showcase their talents. At Perisher and Smiggins, June 10-13, bookings and all info to IT’LL be back to the ‘50s when Queanbeyan Players take on Meredith Willson’s musical “The Music Man” at The Q. It’s based around a smooth-talking con-man Harold Hill (played by Gordon Nicholson) arriving in River City, Iowa, with a money-making scheme that involves recruiting all the boys in town to form a band. American as apple pie, they’re saying. At the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, June 10-25, bookings to or 6285 6290. A NEW work written by Australian composer Brenton

Broadstock, inspired by the journey of a child refugee to Australia, will be on the program when the fabulous Ensō String Quartet comes to Canberra for Musica Viva. Founded at Yale University in 1999, the quartet has been praised by “The Washington Post” for its “glorious sonorities”. At Llewellyn Hall, 7pm, Thursday, June 9, bookings to CANBERRA Men’s Choir will sing classical and modern songs in a Wednesday “Lunchtime Live” concert at Wesley Music Centre, 12.40pm-1.20pm, on Wednesday, June 8. Entry $5 or donation; no bookings required, tickets at the door. MUSIC for Canberra is staging a concerto competition where finalists from Canberra Youth Orchestra will perform their chosen concerto pieces as they compete for a solo performance at Llewellyn Hall later in 2016. Adjudicators are violinist Barbara Jane Gilby, flautist Vernon Hill and conductor Leonard Weiss. Wesley Music Centre, 5pm, on Sunday, June 5. Bookings to HARD-boppers, Sydney’s Andrew Dickeson Quintet is performing at “Jazz in Concert” at The Gods Café, ANU Arts Centre. “My arithmetic tells me that quintets are more expensive than trios,” says convener Geoff Page, a hint that he wants a sell-out crowd. Music starts 7.30pm, on Tuesday, June 7. Bookings to

The wriTer of Lantana and The sTage adapTaTion of

The Secret River

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CityNews June 2-8, 2016  19

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Comedy on the run with Hector and Ricky “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (PG) and a bit CANBERRA cinema audiences aren’t given to clapping. But they clapped after previewing Taika Waititi’s comedy based on “Wild Pork and Watercress”, Barry Crump’s only novel ever filmed. Waititi, now working in America, wrote and directed “Boy”, which pleased Australian audiences. An improbable relationship begins when child protection officer Paula delivers city kid Ricky, whom previous foster-parents have declared intractable, to the rundown farmhouse where Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hector live. Hector doesn’t get on with people. When Bella, wise and warm-hearted, suddenly dies, Ricky flees into the bush to avoid going back to the institution. Hector finds him faring not too well. Everybody reckons that Hector must be a pederast taking advantage of the boy. A long chase ensues through the wilderness culminating in a demolition derby involving cop cars and military fighting vehicles in the Rangipo Desert. Ricky (Julian Dennison) and Hector (Sam Neill) initially deliver a delightful comic antagonism that becomes less prickly as they discover their need of each other for survival. Paula’s (Rachel House) injured professional self-esteem, mobilising police and army to hunt the pair down, becomes their nemesis. The NZ wilderness provides terrific locations. The plot sags a little in the middle but has the chops to grab and enhance audience enthusiasm as the tension builds and the conflict resolves.

The two men are engaged to find Holly’s friend Amelia who may have information useful to the police. Heavies come on the scene to intervene. The California chief of the Justice Department (Kim Basinger) pays the two men big bucks to find Amelia. And the film still has about 80 minutes to run. Will discovering what those minutes have to offer be useful? In a curious way, yes. Crowe and Gosling prove themselves to be deft comedians. The plot has far to travel before reaching resolution. The film’s noisy, acrobatic violence is funnier than violence has any right to be. All these qualities add up to cheerful escapist entertainment. And tiny Angourie Rice from Perth, born 2001, is a knockout, evoking Jodie Foster in “Taxi Driver”.

At Palace Electric

At Palace Electric, Dendy, Capitol 6 and Hoyts

“Alice: Through the Looking Glass” (PG)

“Queen of the Desert” (PG)

THIS film does not tell the story that Lewis Carroll wrote. It’s a fictional fantasy on a well-worn theme – the megalomaniac determined to conquer the earth, the solar system or even the universe. Sacha Baron Cohen plays the Lord of Time splendidly, controlling everything pertaining to the particular moment. How does that relate to the plight of a young woman seafarer who feels she must travel back in time to resurrect the Mad Hatter’s family, all now deceased? Why should she bother? In a period when her real-world life is turning very sour, she feels a need to help her best friend. On her first visit to Wonderland, Alice met the Hatter and his tea-party guests, the Red Queen, the tartmaking Queen of Hearts and the Tweedle Twins. But what she and these characters do through the looking glass is old hat that we’ve seen too often in various forms in films of little merit. The computer-generated images are up to standard but James Bobin’s direction is listless, as are the principal performances from Mia Wasikowska as Alice and Johnny Depp as the Hatter. If your youngster enjoys the book, be prepared to explain why the film bears no resemblance to it.

IN a Yorkshire church, on a stained-glass window memorialising Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE (1868-1926) the inscription reads: Versed in the learning of the east and of the west Servant of the state Scholar Poet Historian Antiquary Gardener Mountaineer Explorer Lover of nature of flowers and of animals Incomparable friend sister daughter. To those words, add “unflustered British intelligence agent travelling unarmed among tribal conflicts in the Middle East during World War I, instrumental in founding the kingdoms of Jordan and Iraq” and you have a comprehensive word portrait of a quiet, determined and, above all, interesting woman. Idiosyncratic German writer/director Werner Herzog’s first feature film for six years works hard with spoken word and moving images to do Gertrude honour. Nicole Kidman playing her appears in virtually every shot and (reportedly) persuading Herzog to shoot the unscripted sequence of Gertrude cooling off in the bath under a palm tree surrounded by desert sand! Among wonderful Middle Eastern locations, Herzog has made an agreeable, unhurried film with the air of authenticity that has long been his trademark. It implies that neither the diplomat (James Franco) nor the army officer (Damian Lewis) whom she loved shared her bed. The screenplay obviously draws on Gertrude’s letters and diaries. In “Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East”, three American academics recently called her “one of the few representatives of His Majesty’s Government remembered by the Arabs with anything resembling affection.”

At Palace Electric, Dendy, Capitol 6 and Hoyts.

“The Nice Guys” (MA) WHEN a car in Hollywood crashes through a house, an adolescent boy sneaking a midnight snack goes to investigate and finds that the dead driver is the porn model who also appears on the centrefold of the magazine stashed underneath his bed. She died wearing her working clothes! It’s the mid-1970s. In Hollywood, enjoying the sexual revolution, Jackson (Russell Crowe) is earning a few bucks persuading child molesters to stop. Holland (Ryan Gosling) is a somewhat gormless private eye with a whip-smart 13-year-old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice).

20  CityNews June 2-8, 2016

Julian Dennison as Ricky in “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”.

At Palace Electric



When Gentlemen gather By Helen Musa

“WE are all old gents with families,” says Pip Branson from Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen, purveyors of gypsy, cabaret, world, ballads and black humour.

Photos by Andrew Finch.

Tastebuds take to dancing THERE’S nothing better than buying food direct from the person who has produced it. Nothing. The taste is unbelievable, the produce fresher and long-lasting, and the experience of meeting producers soul satisfying indeed. My tastebuds took to dancing when the new Farmers and Foodies Market opened at the old bus depot building, Kingston (Fridays 3pm to 7pm). I’ve been three times and will return many more. The “food stalls” are mostly outside and “produce stalls” inside. The music adds life and you can enjoy a glass of wine and something to eat as well as shop for the week. It’s almost impossible to pick my favourite stalls, but here are some delish recommendations: • Don’t go past Riverina Berkshire Gold, from Wagga. It’s easy to trace the origins of this food because Steven Anderson is the qualified pig stockman and his own butcher. His pigs live a great life. I can’t rave enough about his range of premium rissoles and handmade sausages, and am in love with the fig and beetroot and pork and fennel. His bacon is out of this world. Indeed, everything this hands-on producer produces is out of this world. • Another must is Bush Goddess, a small-holder, locally focused farmer from the Riverina, which has been on “River Cottage” and “Landline”. Its desert dukkah is gorgeous. Use it when slow-roasting tomatoes or as a rub when roasting a leg of lamb. Penny Scott, a true

foodie, is on hand to give tips. •K im De Poorter’s fine terrines and pates are amazing. He makes one of the best duck rillettes in the world – not exaggerating. Enjoy on the best bread you can buy. • I f you’re a fan of premium chutneys, relishes and jams, Black Horse Fine Foods is the go. Try its dark whisky marmalade. This small, family Canberra business makes each batch to exacting standards. No artificial colouring, flavouring or preservatives. • The display of mushrooms by Gooda Creek Mushrooms (Murrumbateman) is a feast for the eyes and a regular sell out – Enoki, King Brown, Black Fungus and more. • P op by Mister Microgreens for micro herbs to add colour, flavour and goodness to your dishes, such as purple basil, lime basil and red dandelion chicory. •O n the sweet side, Crème n’ Sugar Patisserie has tarts, cakes, pastry slices and macaroons. Patisserie Valerie dishes up handmade chocolates and caramels. •N eed a bit of honey? Bees R Us from Braidwood has a great range, as well as all-natural hand products and lip balm. • The Tilba Real Dairy stand sells milk and wonderful cheeses (including a great fetta) and its stall outside sells the most deliciouslooking toasties ever.

We’ll see them all soon – Guido Libido (Guy Freer), Little Ivan (Sam Martin), T.G. Muldavio (Phil Moriarty), Rufino (Pip Branson) and Mikelangelo (Mikel Simic) – when they launch their fourth album, “After The Flood”, at the Polish White Eagle Club in a night of Cooma-inspired music set against the backdrop of a vintage ‘60s-era nightclub. The Black Sea Gentlemen have been together for 15 years and, although these days he lives in Newtown with his partner and two kids, in Canberra Pip is better known as one of our top musos. Younger brother to the late, lamented theatre personality David Branson, he’s been fiddling from very early days as part of the Peg Mantle Strings, ensemble of the James McCusker Orchestra and the Canberra Youth Orchestra. Educated at Campbell High and Dickson College he lived on the fringe of the notorious Splinters Theatre, of which his brother was co-founder. David, one of the original “Gentlemen”, died in a car accident on Anzac Parade 15 years ago on the very day that Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen were to premiere at The Street Theatre. Pip was asked by ensemble leader Mikel Simic – Mikelangelo – to play a couple of numbers at David’s wake and he’s been with them ever since. Last year, Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen provided the music to Big hART Theatre’s production “Ghosts In The Scheme”, a play woven around the real-life stories of people who worked on the Snowy Mountains Scheme in the ‘50s and 60s, when Cooma was transformed from a sleepy country

Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen… from left, Guido Libido (Guy Freer), Little Ivan (Sam Martin), T.G. Muldavio (Phil Moriarty), Rufino (Pip Branson) and Mikelangelo (Mikel Simic). town to a world of 24-hour nightclubs, hard work and pethidine drug abuse. During the two-year community arts development process that led to the play, Simic, Branson, Moriarty and Martin spent time in Cooma meeting the people. “Cooma has a fantastic past, but now it struggles to get back to its cosmopolitan heritage,” Pip says. “We met lots of lovely ladies who gave us sandwiches and cups of loose-leaf tea.” A Ukrainian lady who owned a restaurant in Cooma treated them to

vodka, herrings and sauerkraut and an 88-year-old bocce player taught the Gentleman how to play that curiously European form of bowls. The stories of the Snowies, they found, were of hard work and awful experiences, but underneath it all, “they always had music to help them through – a celebration of life through tragedy.” “After the Flood” at the Polish White Eagle Polish Club, Turner, Friday, June 10, bookings to 6248 8563 or tickets at the door. Peak Festival in Perisher, June 11-12, bookings to

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CityNews June 2-8, 2016  21



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Locals that love the winter AUSTRALIAN plants are mainly thought of as spring flowering, yet there is a wide range that flowers in winter, as a walk through the Botanic Gardens will quickly verify.

Winter-flowering plants also provide food for birds, which means also that it’s a great bird-watching time as they gather nectar from the gardens. In the early days of Canberra householders could collect the government’s free issue of 10 trees and 40 shrubs. The big surge in Aussie plants came with the development of the Woden Valley at the time Canberra was promoted as the “bush capital”. In those days, Yarralumla Nursery supplied plants in plastic bags with plain black and white labels listing only the plant name and no information on ultimate size or growing conditions. Some recipients of the free trees and plants, in search of quick screening, planted only half a metre along the fence lines of their new gardens. Little did they realise that, for example, Melaleuca linariifolia or “Snow in Summer” would grow to more than six metres, with almost a similar spread. The advice at the time, even from native plant societies, was not to prune, feed or water native plants, after all they were Australian plants and were used to growing with no attention.

Today we have excellent, coloured plant labels listing information on growing conditions, height and spread. Also, we now advise that native plants should be regularly pruned, fed and watered the same as any other plant. Regular feeding programs were encouraged in spring and autumn, with specialised native plant foods becoming readily available. However these days, with ever decreasing block sizes, we have to be cautious in selecting plants. The height of most shrubs, native and exotic, if allowed to grow naturally will equal the spread. HERE are some suggestions for the smaller garden or for containers on balconies (providing they get at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day). • Correas come into their own at this time of the year and continue flowering through winter. A few examples include Correa “Canberra Bells”, which was especially grown to celebrate the Centenary of Canberra. A compact, small shrub with two-tone red and cream flowers grows to 1m x 1m. • Correa “Autumn Blaze” with its cheery, brightorange flowers that appear from now until spring. It’s ideal for container growing 0.3 high x 1m spread. • Grevillea “Winter Flame” has a mass of bright

red flowers, high in nectar for the birds, growing from 0.6 height to 1m wide. It makes a perfect low-growing hedge, much more exciting than plain box hedging. • Acacia “Winter Flame”, which grows to one metre height and spread has fine, soft foliage tipped orange in winter. • Finally, don’t overlook the wonderful range of banksias.

Jottings... • Prune after flowering reducing by no more than a third at any one time. This encourages compactness and more flowers. • Feed with “Bush Tucker”, specially formulated for native plants. • Learn more about native plants from the Canberra region Australian Native Plant Society (via anps_canberra). • Get a copy of “Australian Plants for Canberra Region Gardens” (available at the Botanic Gardens bookshop).

Fall in love with where you live For bookings and enquiries email or call Dinah 0422 628 190.

22  CityNews June 2-8, 2016

puzzles page Joanne Madeline Moore

General knowledge crossword No. 550

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Your week in the stars – June 6-12, 2016

ARIES (Mar 21 – Apr 20)

Mars (your power planet) is still in retrograde mode until June 30, which can make you feel frustrated and frazzled as motivation is muted; enthusiasm is snuffed; and projects seem to be permanently stalled. You’re full of fabulous ideas, but it’s just not the right time to put them into action. The solution to this cosmic conundrum is patience – something that does not sit naturally with your speedy constitution. So smart Rams will deliberate, re-calibrate and learn to wait.

Chartered Accountant

Carpenter Pete wants to dovetail Jack into a job

TAURUS (Apr 21 – May 20)

Financial matters and joint ventures are favoured – as long as you take the time to check details carefully and vet prospective partners thoroughly. Confidence is also high, as the Sun and Venus boost self-esteem and encourage others to give you positive feedback. But strive to be at your diplomatic best on Thursday and Friday Bulls. The more you dig your heels in and refuse to budge, the more frustrating things will be. So be flexible and keep the lines of communication wide open.

Pete’s carpentry business has been running for almost two years and things are looking up.

GEMINI (May 21 – June 21)

Your imagination is firing and original thoughts and creative ideas could strike at any time so make sure you have your phone, tablet, laptop, pen and paper, or paint brushes within easy reach. Thursday and Friday are tricky days though, when impulsive words and hasty actions could lead to messy misunderstandings or fiery confrontations. Quick-fix solutions just won’t work this week. So take a chill pill Twins, as you think things through carefully and plan projects properly.

CANCER (June 22 – July 22)

You’re likely to feel extremely unsettled on Thursday or Friday, as trivial matters irritate you and more important issues get your blood boiling. Calm down Crabs, before you get really cranky and blow a fuse! Saturn urges you to be more responsible about your physical and emotional wellbeing. So wind down with some yoga or meditation; plus nurture your body with healthy food and regular exercise. Disciplined effort now will pay off handsomely further down the track.

LEO (July 23 – Aug 22)

The week starts well, when Venus hooks up with the Sun (your power planet) and your sunny charisma shines for all to see. Creativity is stimulated, dreams are big, ambitions are inspiring and aspirations are golden. Don’t get too cocky though – or casually flirt your way into a professional or romantic fiasco. If you get carried away, then you could blurt out something that you regret and others refuse to forget. So tread carefully Cats… and explore all options before you pounce.

VIRGO (Aug 23 – Sept 22)

Jupiter is moving through your sign, which will give you a huge confidence boost if you let it. Don’t allow other people’s perception of who they think you should be crowd out your own vision of your authentic self and preferred future. If you are true to yourself, then success will follow. So your motto for the moment is from birthday great, actress and singer Judy Garland: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else.”

LIBRA (Sept 23 – Oct 23)

Activities involving education, travel, international connections and networking are all favoured, as you extend your peer group to include some fabulous fresh faces. At the moment, it’s not what you know but who you know! Money matters look messy though, as you impulsively purchase something extravagant that catches your eye. But can you really afford it? When it comes to a domestic issue, there’s a lot more going on with a family member than meets the eye.

Solution next week


2 Who was one of Australia’s most renowned explorers, Charles ...? 3 What, colloquially, do we call one who avoids traditional conventions of behaviour, dress, etc? 4 What is the faculty of oral communication? 5 Which of the red cosmetics is used for colouring the cheeks? 6 In which places are milk, cheese, butter, etc, produced? 7 Which plants of the lily family are the national emblems of Wales? 13 Name a more familiar term for otalgia. 15 What do we call base, dishonest, persons? 16 Who performs a composition intended for one singer or player? 17 What is another term for a specialist? 18 Which flat rubber discs are used in place of balls in ice hockey? 19 To be passing away, is to be doing what? 20 Which viral disease is also called infantile paralysis?

4 What is a very thin sheet of pastry, spread with a filling, and baked slowly? 8 Name a province in northern Belgium. 9 To be learned or scholarly, is to be what? 10 What is a graduated glass tube, commonly having a stopcock at the bottom? 11 What, informally, are fools called (coll)? 12 Which persons besieged Troy for 10 years? 14 What are coverings of minute ice needles? 18 What is a self-contradictory and false proposition? 21 Name a small flute, sounding an octave higher than the ordinary flute. 22 Which bitter crystalline alkaloid constitutes an addictive drug? 23 Name another term for mass meetings. 24 Which word describes skill, of dexterity?

Down 1 Name the largest seaport in continental Europe.

Sudoku medium No. 175

SCORPIO (Oct 24 – Nov 21)

This week looks tricky to navigate, because Mars reverses through your sign and opposes Mercury (plus Pluto opposes the Moon). So expect some intense exchanges with others, as you feel frustrated and clear communication is compromised. Smart Scorpios will switch into hibernation mode, conserve energy, pace yourself and be extra patient. Draw inspiration from fellow Scopion, Neil Young: “As you go through life, you’ve got to experience the valleys as well as the peaks.”

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22 – Dec 21)

Taskmaster Saturn is still reversing through your sign, which is incredibly frustrating. But it also teaches you a valuable lesson, that ideas must be brought from the abstract astral realm and transformed into concrete reality down here on Planet Earth. Just because you’ve thought of something, and talked about it enthusiastically and endlessly, doesn’t mean you’ve actually done it! Manifestation is the key – which takes oodles of planning, patience and persistence.

CAPRICORN (Dec 22 – Jan 19)

With powerful Pluto reversing though your sign, plus Mars and Saturn (your ruler) both retrograde too, it’s a frustrating time. But, in your impatient desire to get ahead, you’re likely to arouse opposition in others. Avoid the temptation to boss people around, as it will only make matters worse. Instead, calm down and recalibrate Capricorn. Plus, when it comes to a private matter, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface so Saturn urges you to backtrack and take a long second look.

If you require any information on tax law changes or how to deal with new employees call the friendly team at Gail Freeman & Co Pty Ltd.

AQUARIUS (Jan 20 – Feb 18)

It’s a wonderful week to share a creative new activity or go on an exciting adventure with a special child, teenager or friend. And how long has it been since you had heaps of fun with your own inner child? But you may feel as if a cherished dream is taking forever to come true. And you may be blaming circumstances or other people for the delays. Take a long hard look at yourself Aquarius. Perhaps you are the prime saboteur? Food for thought and fodder for contemplation.

Solution next week

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Solutions from last edition

PISCES (Feb 19 – Mar 20)

Home sweet home is a pleasant place to be on Monday and Tuesday, when the Sun and Venus visit your domestic zone. So it’s a suitable time to entertain family and friends, buy something special for your home, or beautify your living space. Fragrant fresh flowers are a must! The stars also favour collaborating with work colleagues or helping loved ones. But don’t let them take advantage of your creative and compassionate nature. Make sure it’s a two-way street.

So much so that he called by last week to see what was needed to move Jack, his casual employee of one year, to full-time employment. “I’m not a lawyer, so I can only give you an overview,” I told him. “The Building and Construction General Onsite Award 2010 is complex, so you may also need to speak to a specialist in this area. “There are a number of classifications in the award and each employee is required to be classified and paid in accordance with it. “It’s a requirement that you pay him at least the award wage, but I know Jack has been receiving a higher rate as a casual and you intend to pay him at that rate. “You are also obliged to meet all the award conditions, however not all the conditions are specified in the award. “There is another document called ‘National Employment Standards’ that specifies such things as annual leave and personal leave entitlements. You will need to have both these documents available to your staff in the office.” I advised Pete that the award requires him to provide each employee with a letter setting out their terms and conditions. “This is particularly important when you are paying above the award or varying anything in the award,” I said. “The award, in clause 7, specifies that the letter must include such things as arrangements for when the work is performed, overtime rates, penalty rates, allowances and leave loading. “It also states that these conditions can be varied, but any variation must be stated in the letter. Basically, this document is your agreement and protects you both in the event of a dispute.” Pete said that while all this was new to him, he now had a clear picture. But there was another question: “I understand that I can get a $20,000 deduction if I buy a new drill now?” I told him he was elegible for a deduction for only the cost of the item. He said the drill cost $750. “Then you get a deduction for $750, less GST,” I said. Pete said he’d also seen a ute for sale at $19,990 and asked if he should go and buy that, too. “There’s a lot of confusion about this $20,000 deduction, I told him. “The law states you can claim up to $20,000 for an item of plant or equipment as an outright deduction. “If it costs more than $20,000, then you depreciate the item as you do at present. “Given the business made a loss last year, it would be more prudent to think about buying the ute in the next financial year as you won’t get a lot of benefit from the purchase this financial year.”

(Chartered accountant, SMSF specialist advisor and Authorised Representative of Lifespan Financial Planning Pty Ltd AFS Lic No. 229892)

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