Monthly Archives: May 2019

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Wests Tigers cubs need to step up: Brasher

Balmain great Tim Brasher says it’s time Wests Tigers cubs Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks and Curtis Sironen start fulfilling their talent.


The Tigers are in need of inspiration following the Robbie Farah scandal and the departure of Martin Taupau which have threatened to derail their 2016 NRL campaign before a ball is kicked.

Coach Jason Taylor’s one-season tenure has been fraught with controversy and he goes into next season under pressure after the Tigers’ second-last finish this year.

The Tigers have invested heavily in highly-touted youngsters Moses, Brooks and Sironen and Brasher says they need to lead the way for the Tigers if they’re going to improve on last season’s dire showing when they finished 15th.

Brasher himself was a teenage prodigy, debuting in 1989 while still at high school and playing in Balmain’s famous grand final loss to Canberra that year.

Speaking at the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic in the Hunter Valley, Brasher said the talented trio needed to start showing why they had been earmarked as NSW State of Origin prospects.

“They’ve all been touted as future NSW players but they’re not playing like it,” Brasher said.

“I’m not saying individually but as a team they’re not. If they can get that teamwork together and work together they’ll be fine.

“They really need to get their on-field stuff together and not worry about who’s coaching.”

Brasher had some strong words for Taylor, describing his first year in charge as “terrible” and his decision to ask Farah to leave the club as “horrible”.

“He’s got a shovel and he’s digging a hole for himself,” Brasher said.

However he said Brooks, Moses and Sironen needed to lead from the front and it was up to the playing group to put the club’s off-field dramas to the side and unite.

“I think (Brooks, Moses and Sironen) have to do it this year, they’ve got to start making inroads this year into what it’s believed their potential is,” Brasher said.

“They’re definitely players who can do it.”

Turning a siege into a force for good

A year ago Louisa Hope stepped into a cafe for a cup of coffee and her life changed.


She was one of 18 Australians who became unwitting players in a day-long siege at Martin Place in the heart of Sydney.

“It was an ordinary day and then the next minute it was insanity,” she says.

“For a split second, I thought it was a bad joke. But then a man pulled out a gun and I realised it was very serious.”

At the end of the 17-hour siege, gunman Man Haron Monis used Ms Hope and her 73-year-old mother as human shields when police stormed the Lindt Cafe in a hail of gunfire.

“I thought I was going to die,” she says.

“The firestorm that was the end – it was quite terrifying.”

She was shot in the foot. The gunman and two of the hostages, cafe manager Tori Johnson and lawyer Katrina Dawson, lay dead.

Ms Hope spent three months in hospital and has since endured innumerable appointments and physiotherapy sessions to allow her to walk again.

But rather than dwell on her misfortune, Ms Hope, 53, is using her experience as a force for change.

“There’s no time to be wishing it all away,” she says as the anniversary of the siege, which began on December 15, nears.

“There’s a purpose for me being there that day. It’s my duty to work with that.”

But it hasn’t been straightforward.

She still has moments of distress.

“You’re fine and then, whoosh – in comes another piece of information or a new question,” she says.

“Did this, in my ordinary life, happen?

“It sort of takes you back and you are reminded again that, yes, this did happen to our country and I was there that day. That moment of reckoning.”

Reverend Bill Crews, who helped counsel some of the hostages, says the trauma of the siege will take a long time to overcome.

“This sort of thing takes years and a lot of talking through,” he says.

“The anniversary will be really traumatic for them because it brings it all back.”

Rev Crews, who led the funeral service for Tori Johnson, saw how the hostages clung to each other in the aftermath, even as the city opened its heart to them.

Martin Place was blanketed with flowers and cards.

Premier Mike Baird spoke from the heart when he told Sydneysiders: “The values we held dear yesterday we hold dear today – values of freedom, democracy and harmony. They define us yesterday, today, tomorrow.”

For him, the flowers represented the spirit of the city.

As the months wore on, Mr Baird reflected on how Sydney responded.

“It’s probably my proudest moment in this state,” he said.

“I’ve never seen anything like it – never experienced anything like it – where people of all different faiths, backgrounds, ages, cultures came together as one.”

In Ms Hope’s view, Australia had to find a way forward.

“Our country was on a knife-edge,” she told AAP.

“I felt very strongly that we had to get something positive and good out of this scenario … that we cannot let ourselves be defeated.

“We could retreat and we could become suspicious,” she said.

“I would hope that doesn’t happen to us, because that is part of what makes us Australian, that generosity of spirit and open-heartedness towards strangers, visitors, friends and foreigners.”

Her sentiments are more than mere words.

She is determined to give back to the nurses who helped her through a painful recovery at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

With the $25,000 fee she received for an interview with the current affairs program 60 Minutes she founded the Louisa Hope Fund for Nurses.

It has now raised almost $100,000 for research and already provided for equipment such as a new monitoring device to measure patients’ vital signs.

“That will hopefully bring some good out of what happened,” Ms Hope says.

“How blessed am I to have that chance?”

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Two thirds of TV watchers admit bingeing

Binge-watching television shows is becoming the most common way to take in our favourite programs, with many viewers shunning their families to do it alone, new figures suggest.


Research by telecoms firm ARRIS found that 67 per cent of the UK admits to binge-watching a TV show, with the average viewer doing so for more than three hours a week.

More than three fifths (61 per cent) choose to do it alone, taking advantage of the increasingly personal nature of many online streaming and catch-up services.

According to ARRIS, data on downloads of digital boxsets from the Sky TV Store suggested that subscribers will spend nine days watching US comedy Modern Family this winter, and six days watching fantasy drama Game Of Thrones.

About six per cent of those surveyed said they binge-watched every day.

Sandy Howe, senior vice president of global marketing at ARRIS, said: “Binge-watching very quickly has grown into a very popular way to consume media, and even more quickly has become a solitary activity.

“This isn’t just a passing trend in TV, this is the new normal, and it is fundamentally different.”

Howe said it suggested a very different TV future, “in which ‘prime time’ is whenever consumers want it, for as long as they choose, and increasingly they’re choosing to enjoy it alone”.

The rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Fire TV, alongside download and catch-up options from major broadcasters, has increased the availability of bulk numbers of episodes of major TV shows.

Statistics from Netlfix published earlier this year claimed users watched more than 10 billion hours of content every month.

Qantas on track for record annual profit

Qantas shareholders could be set for another windfall after the airline revealed it is on track for a record full year profit, just two years after its biggest ever loss.


The airline said Tuesday it expects to more than double first-half pre-tax profit to between $875 million and $925 million when it announces its six-month results in February, not far off the $975 million it made in the whole of the 2015 financial year.

Qantas, which lost a record $2.8 billion in FY14, said improved revenue, cost cutting and continued lower fuel prices were all playing a part in its continued turnaround.

The first half of the financial year is typically stronger for Qantas because it includes Christmas travel, while the second half features a drop in business travel during the holiday months of January and February.

But even allowing for the seasonal variation, analysts expect Qantas to report pre-tax profit of about $1.6 billion, comfortably beating its 2008 record of $1.41 billion.

That puts it firmly in line to obliterate last year’s $557 million net profit and trump the all-time record $970 million net profit it reported in 2008.

“We’ve seen improved revenue in our domestic and international operations, reduced costs across the group through the Qantas Transformation program, and expect another record half-year result from Qantas Loyalty,” chief executive Alan Joyce said.

“This strong performance is underpinned by our continued focus on delivering the best service for our customers in all of the markets we serve.”

The vast majority of the $557 million full year net profit announced in August was handed back to shareholders in the form of a 23 cents per share cash distribution, and Merrill Lynch analyst Matt Spence said he expects Qantas to announce a buyback of between $500 million and $800 million.

“Qantas has the cash to accommodate up to $800 million,” Mr Spence said.

“It will more be a question of how hard the company goes in actually executing the program.”

Qantas shares were down 6.5 cents to $3.72 at 1410 AEDT.

The positive forecast by Qantas includes the $25 million hit sustained by its Jetstar service due to cancellations after a cloud of volcanic ash twice forced the closure of Indonesia’s Denpasar airport in July.

Qantas bounced back into the black in FY15 thanks largely to a hedging program that exploited falling fuel prices and a $2 billion transformation program that included 5,000 job cuts.

The same factors are in play this year, while the airline is wringing extra capacity out of its existing fleet by reducing turnarounds for its workhorse Boeing 737s to as little as 35 minutes through new ground procedures.

The airline, which said it has also renewed its frequent flyer participation in Woolworths’ supermarket reward program, reported on Tuesday that group domestic capacity for November was 0.9 per cent higher compared to the prior corresponding period.


* expected FY16 pre-tax profit: about $1.6 billion

* FY15 pre-tax profit: $975 million

* FY14 pre-tax loss: $646 million

* Record full year pre-tax profit: $1.41 billion in 2008

* Record first half pre-tax profit: $905 million in 2008