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Cronulla Sharks skipper Paul Gallen rates Sharks team as good as he’s seen

Black, white and blue: Paul Gallen. Photo: Getty Images High hopes: Cronulla captain Paul Gallen said the 2016 side was full of promise. Photo: Chris Lane
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Cronulla captain Paul Gallen has compared his current side to the talented 2002 roster that came agonisingly close to breaking the club’s premiership drought.

The Sharks won’t have to wait long for a chance to avenge their 39-0 loss to North Queensland that bundled them out of the finals, with a rematch scheduled for the opening round of the new season.

Cronulla will go in with a new-look halves combination after adding James Maloney and Chad Townsend to a side that was the biggest improver from the previous season.

Gallen, the only surviving member of the 2002 campaign, believes the latest Sharks outfit has shades of the one that included former stars David Peachey, Brett Kimmorley, Preston Campbell, Danny Nutley, Jason Stevens and Chris Beattie.

On that occasion, they reached the penultimate weekend of the season before narrowly losing to the Warriors.

“I compare it about back to 2002 when I was first starting,” Gallen said.

“I was 19 or 20, me and Birdy [Greg Bird]  were a similar age and there was a number of us coming through.

“It’s like what we’ve got now. I’m like the old Jason Stevens of the team, we had David Peachey, Paul Mellor and blokes like that.

“We had a real mix of youth and experience, we played in a grand final qualifier that year. I’d love to be in that position at the end of the year but there’s a lot of hard work between now and then.

“We have some youth and experience and hopefully it can all come together like it did back then.”

The Shire outfit has yet to win a premiership and this season may be Gallen’s last opportunity to do so. The NSW skipper said the drought – and the fact it is often brought up – is a source of frustration.

“We do a lot of school visits this week and one of the questions put by the NRL was ‘how many comps have the Sharks won?'” Gallen said.

“What would you do that for? I can’t believe it was a question.

“It does [grate], to be honest with you. Especially personally, I’ve put so much into the club for so long, it is a bit hard to take.

“I do get hammered on social media a fair bit but I can be proud of my efforts, I always put 100 per cent in.

“It needs to be a team performance and, unfortunately over the years, to be brutally honest, we haven’t had a team anywhere near making the semi finals.

“There have been years we’ve won the spoon, we’ve come 14th or 15th a number of times. We’ve finally put together a spot that can do something and hopefully we make the most of it this year.”

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AFL considers short-term player contracts to cover injuries

The AFL could introduce short-term playing contracts into the game for clubs seeking to replace injured footballers mid-season.
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And the rookie player could become a relic of the past as the competition explores ways of simplifying club lists from 2017.

With the league’s finance boss Ray Gunston heading a team of AFL executives addressing each of the 18 clubs regarding the forthcoming carve up of the forthcoming $2.5 billion media rights, the league chiefs have also sounded out club bosses regarding potential list management reforms.

The mooted mid-season draft remains on the table but Fairfax Media understands the AFL’s preferred model is to introduce short-term contracts into the competition. The proposal has not yet been discussed with the players association but if adopted would form part of the next collective bargaining agreement.

Under the reform, clubs suffering long-term player injuries could sign a player from a state league or potentially country or amateur competitions on a short-term deal. The club would have no rights to retain the player beyond the term of the contract.

The short-term contract proposal has received more support at club level than the mid-season draft and is the preferred model of football boss Mark Evans.

Players union chief Paul Marsh said there was some support among the players to abandon the rookie system. “In some quarters there is a view that it is no longer necessary,” he said.

“We’re open to having discussions about all this sort of stuff. In the case of rookies we’ve heard the view that that there are young guys and older guys on rookie lists doing the same work and preparation as the rest so I’m sure that’s something we can explore.”

Gillon McLachlan told 3AW this week that the AFL was examining ways to simplify club lists in the wake of the one-year suspensions handed down to the 34 past and present Essendon players.

“Our view is if there’s ways to streamline the system then we would support that,” McLachlan said.

The complex issues and disputes surrounding top-up players at both Essendon and the five other affected clubs have prompted the push to provide the clubs with more list flexibility.

While a small proportion of clubs remain opposed to abandoning rookies, the majority of clubs questioned to date have indicated they would have no problem widening the team list to include a total 48-50 players on their primary lists, dispensing with the rookie draft and making all listed players available on any given round of football.

Rookie-listed players wages have lifted to see them now earn about 10 per cent less than a third-round draft pick on a basic contract.

With concern around the extra cost of placing the 2016 rookie on a 2017 primary list, one proposal suggested by former AFLPA chief Matt Finnis would see fourth- and fifth-round draft choices signed to one-year contracts.

The investment model discussions headed by Gunston have also included a revolving team of executives – Travis Auld, Andrew Dillon and Evans.

The united view from the clubs addressed is that the AFL must cover the entire cost of the next six years of total player payments.

The clubs remain disenchanted at being forced to carry the cost of some of the benefits granted to the players late in the negotiations during the last protract CBA discussions.

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Insulted Rio mayor hits back at Australian Olympic Committee

A stoush has erupted between Rio de Janeiro’s mayor and the Australian Olympic Committee over an athlete ban that has offended the leader of the Games’ host city.
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Clearly fed up with a sense of negativity he has detected for some time, Rio mayor Eduardo Paes has hit back at the AOC for being “a source of aggressions to Brazil”.

“There is a lot of ignorance about Rio and Brazil, a certain drama of how things are,” Paes added.

The comments follow the AOC’s move to ban all Australian team members from visiting Rio’s favelas during Games time in August. The history of the tension, however, points back to an observation of AOC head and International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates who in April 2014 declared that Rio was “the worst” city he’d seen in terms of its Olympic preparations at the time.

While the AOC is steadfast on what it says is an entirely appropriate team safety measure, it was moved on Wednesday night to clarify its position with Brazilian Olympic authorities directly and underline that Rio had made vast improvements in regards to its competition readiness.

Mike Tancred, the AOC’s media chief, told Fairfax Media: “He [Paes] has taken it the wrong way. We didn’t mean to upset him. It was not intended to be a slur against the people of Brazil. It’s just a security question for our team and it’s nothing more than that. We’re disappointed and upset if he has taken it the wrong way.”

Australia’s position and Paes’ pointed public rebuff has attracted media attention internationally. The AOC on Wednesday night was preparing to send a written response to the communications director of Rio’s organising committee, Mario Andradas.

The Rio security plan for the Australian team, which will number around 450 athletes, is set to be formalised on Thursday after three days of planning meetings relating to all manner of issues.

The AOC is taking advice from the same security expert, Greg Nance, who guided the team in London four years ago. Nance will provide an up-to-date emergency response plan that will be distributed to Australian team leaders of all sports who will be responsible for conveying the advice to selected athletes.

The AOC accepts it cannot control the movements of every athlete or team official and has told Fairfax that a team member that chose to flout the favela directive would not be punished.

The committee expects that other large teams will impose similar limits on their teams for security reasons.

“We’re saying that officially they’re off limits,” Tancred said. “It’s a security risk and we can’t guarantee their security if they go to a favela on their own.”

The AOC released a press statement on Wednesday that began with hearty praise of the next summer Olympics hosts.

“We love Brazil and we look forward to sharing in the excitement of the Rio Games in August. Rio has made tremendous progress with their Games’ preparations and the Australian athletes are all looking forward to competing in Rio. We have no doubt Rio will deliver,” the statement said.

“In regard to the favelas, the chef de mission of the Australian Olympic team, Kitty Chiller, has decided that the favelas are off limits to our athletes because of the security. We have a team of 450 athletes, there is no way we could manage, or police, visits to the favelas by our athletes.

“Our athletes will certainly engage with the residents of Rio, and they will join in the fun on Copa beach but the favelas are areas we cannot control and the personal safety of our athletes must come first.”

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Horse vaccine ‘next year’

THE company that makesan equine vaccine subject to acritical shortage in Australia is producing a batch of the product, butsays itintends onimporting it into Europe first.
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On Thursday the Newcastle Herald reported fears of an “abortion storm” at Hunter Valley stud farms due to a critical shortage of the drug Duvaxyn, a vaccine for equine herpes.

Supply of the vaccine has been halted since the end of 2014when the only company that makes it, Zeolis, shifted its production from Europe to the United States.

It hasn’t explained the problem, but the company’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs, John Messer, saysthebatches produced “have not met the required standards for titres, a measure of the potency of the vaccine”.

The company says it aims to restore supply of the drug into Australia “next year”, but in the meantime, batches for European markets are still being produced.

Asked why the batch of the vaccine currently under production could not also be introduced to Australia, Mr Messer said in a statement that the company had “applied to the Department of Agriculture for a permit to import any batches produced to European specifications”.

He said the department would “need to assess whether the differing materials used in the European batch pose a risk to Australia’s biosecurity”.

He said it “will be necessary to apply to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for a permit to import specific batches for use in Australia”.

The company has also resisted calls to introduce a similar drug calledPneumabort which is currently licensedin New Zealand, because, it says,the lengthy process of licencing the drugwould mean it wasn’t available until 2018 or 2019 in a “best case” scenario.

“Given these timelines, we are putting all of our efforts into restoring supply of Duvaxynas quickly as possible, as we believe this is the quickest solution for Australian horse owners,” Mr Messer said.

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Glifberg set to highlight pro-am class

AIR: Rune Glifberg has been announced as one of the international riders in the pro-am category of this weekend’s Australian Bowl Riding Championships.
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LEGENDARY Danish skateboarder and 12-time X Games medallist Rune Glifberg is among a host of talented international and local riders listed to compete in the pro-am category of this weekend’s Australian Bowl Riding Championships at Bar Beach.

Known as The Danish Destroyer, Glifberg, 41, is well-known among even occasional skateboarding fans around the world and appeared in the first five Tony Hawk skateboarding video games.

He is one of only three skateboarders to have competed in every X Games event since the competition’s inception in 1995 and will be among the headliners on a massive weekend of skateboarding at Empire Park.

With three-time Bar Beach winner Alex Sorgente not listed to defend his title and Brazilian Pedro Barros also not expected to attend, the door has been left open for a host of top bowl riders.

Among the skaters to watchin the masters division are Melbourne legend Renton Millar and former Australian Bowl Riding Championship masters winner CalifornianPat Ngoho.

Multiple Bar Beachjuniortitlewinner and teenage skating prodigy Keegan Palmer is also not listed to compete, but the Hunter will be well represented by Jedd McKenzie and pint-size duo Alfie and Boaz Bonar among others.

The fifth Australian Bowl Riding Championships at Bar Beach are tipped to be the biggest in the event’s history, with two days of competition, more competitors and a second grandstand.

Warners Bay business Grundy’s Skate Store have come on board as the naming rights partner and have planned a host of crowd activities to compliment the action in the bowl, including free skate coaching.

“We’re proud to be involved with ABC as it is one of Australia’s most prestigious bowl championships,” Russell Grundy said.

“It brings Australia and the world’s greatest skateboarders to our amazing city which I’m stoked to call home.”ABC is not to be missed by anyone.”Once again this year there will be four categories –juniors,women’s open, pro-am and masters – with competition startingon Saturday and semi-finals and finals set down for Sunday.

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Six of the best: Victorian country escapes

The respected and rather posh Lake House restaurant, Daylesford, has held its two The Age Good Food Guide hats for many years. Photo: supplied The Schaller Studio, Art Series Hotel, Bendigo.
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The Buckland.

LAKE HOUSE, DAYLESFORD

Still Victoria’s quintessential luxury rural retreat, this stylish Central Victorian stalwart is forever evolving. Never ones to pause, visionary owner Alla Wolf-Tasker and family last year unveiled snazzy new lodge suites and studios with the respected and rather posh restaurant still clinging, after all these years, to its two The Age Good Food Guide hats. If you’re in the mood for a sybaritic splurge book the Retreat, a richly decorated stand-alone house that channels New Zealand’s luxury lodges. Doubles from $503 per night, minimum stay two nights, including dinner and breakfast. See lakehouse南京夜网419论坛THE SCHALLER STUDIO, BENDIGO

It’s plonked in an incongruous, not particularly well-located hospital campus, with rooms so small you could barely wield a scalpel in them. But the 120-room Schaller Studio is a funky, surprising antidote to predictable country Australian accommodation. Part of the groundbreaking, Melbourne Art Series Hotels group, the Schaller Studio (named after, and styled around, the Melbourne artist Mark Schaller) has provided a further fillip to Bendigo’s ambitions as Australia’s regional cultural hub with its excellent and enterprising art gallery as the centrepiece. Don’t forget to hop on the special Schaller Studio-decorated tram for a  jaunt into town and back. Doubles from $115. See artserieshotels南京夜网419论坛THE BUCKLAND, BRIGHT

When it was opened some years ago now by its far-sighted German-Australian owners, the Buckland established new standards in Australia for so-called self-contained accommodation. The five luxuriously equipped, light-bathed studio retreats deliver breathtaking views across farmland to the adjacent might of Mount Buffalo. Don’t miss the Buckland’s fruhstuck (German for breakfast, don’t you know) in the communal and convivial breakfast lounge. Bright itself is shaping as one of Victoria’s best emerging foodie towns with Simones and Tani Eat & Drink both one-hatted with Feathertop Alfresco Dining a good casual choice at Boynton’s superbly situated winery. Lively Bright Brewery, with its “mountain-crafted beer”, is good for a feed and a pint. Doubles from $305 per night, minimum stay two nights. See thebuckland南京夜网419论坛CHATEAU YERING, COLDSTREAM

Historic Chateau Yering is perfectly locatedslap bang in the middle of the Yarra Valley, a region rapidly gaining a global reputation for the quality of its premium wines. Unapologetically old-fashioned, Chateau Yering is a bed and breakfast on a grand scale. Dating to the 1850s, this 32-room grand dame is a mere 45-minutes from Melbourne with one of the iconic five-star property’s few nods to the contemporary being its one-hatted Eleonore’s restaurant. It’s complemented by both the congenial Sweetwater Cafe and the neighbouring landmark Yering Station winery. Hot-air balloons often conveniently deposit their passengers at the conclusion of flights in a cow paddock directly across the road from Chateau Yering (mind the squishy pats). Doubles from $395. See chateauyering南京夜网419论坛POLPERRO VILLAS, RED HILL

The premium cool-climate fine wines of the Mornington Peninsula have come far and, judging by these swanky digs set amid the eponymous winery, so too has the region’s accommodation offerings. Each of a quartet of swanky and capacious villas overlook the vineyard and include an open fireplace, a centrally-positioned spa bath and a private deck. Villa four even features a private sauna with guests at of the villas provided with choice of quality breakfast items including fresh bread, homemade muesli and preserves. For lunch and dinner there’s the winery’s own and equally mod The Age Good Food Guide-listed bistro. Doubles from $320. See polperrowines南京夜网419论坛HARVEST BIRREGURRA BED & BREAKFAST

Who said that the bed and breakfast is dead? It’s certainly not the case in tiny Birregurra, a charming, one-street town west of Melbourne which literally and figuratively these days feeds off the success of Brae, Australia’s premier regional restaurant. The graphic design sensibilities of one of the owners is evident in the branding of the proudly pot pourri-free Harvest Birregurra, a former GP’s art deco-style practice and residence. Harvest, and its counterpart Birregurra B&Bs is set for competition from Brae itself when chef Dan Hunter and wife Julianne open their own, albeit more exclusive, accommodation this year. Doubles from $210, including breakfast. See harvestbirregurra南京夜网

Anthony Dennis travelled as a guest of Tourism Victoria (visitvictoria南京夜网) and the featured properties.

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Star women shine at Surfest

ON POINT: Stephanie Gilmore powers into round five of the Surfest Women’s Classic on Thursday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll MEREWETHER’S Philippa Anderson, top seed Sally Fitzgibbons and six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore all progressed asthe big names of theSurfest Women’s Classic hit the water in round four on Thursday at Merewether.
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Anderson took down championship tour surfer Laura Enever in heat two of the day with a two-wave score of 15.1. Enever still progressed in second with 12.93.

“I got a few good waves and it was good to get it out of the way,” Anderson said.

“No matter what heat you’re in, it’s prettyhard. All the girls here are really impressive.

“It was my first 6000-point contest heat of the year, so I was a bit nervous as well.”

All eyes were on Fitzgibbons and Gilmore later in the morning and they had contrasting heats.

Fitzgibbons came up against the Sunshine Coast’s Dimity Stoyle in a repeat of the 2013 Surfest final and again it was an upset result.

Stoyle, who is trying this year to get back on the CT, produced the standout performance of the round, earning scores of 9.43 and 8.23 for a 17.66 total. Fitzgibbons was second with 14.77 (7.77 and 7).

”All the other girls got off to a really quickstart and got a few good waves straight off the bat,” Stoyle said.

“I kind of had nothing, so I thought I just had to relax, sit out here, use priority and wait on a bomb, and that’s what Idid. I got a nine on that, and that turned my heat around.”

Fitzgibbons believed her wave selection needed to improve.

“We’re expecting some increase in swell and hopefully some more opportunity,” Fitzgibbons said.

“There’s a few things I really need to tighten up on, but it was my first heat back in the water, so hopefully next heat I can have a few more opportunities and the waves I’m selecting are a little more on point.

“I think you get so excited, putting the jersey back on. You want to catch waves, then you remember you’re in a heat. That strategy will definitely come into play next heat.”

Gilmore had an easier time in her first heat of the year, posting an eight-point ride early, despite fallingon the wave,to set up a winning total of 15.1. It was the 2008 Surfest champion’s first heat of the year after missing most of 2015 with injury.

”It’s good to take the pressure off with a nice first wave,” Gilmore said.

“I fell off at the end, and that was my first surf of the morning, and I was a bit nervous and had a few things going on.

“It was a nice way to start. Merewether is always a nice spot to hang out with these little right-handers, which is what I like to surf.

“They are my sort of waves, and I think in the next couple of days we’ll get some more, so it’s going to be fun.”

Australian Keely Andrew and Alessa Quizon, who are both CT surfers this year,were the major casualties of the round.

The Surfest men’s competition resumed with round three in the afternoon. Merewether’s Ryan Callinan is due to surf at 3.30pm.

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Program to prevent dog attacks hits the Hunter

An education program for small children is being rolled out across the Hunter in a bid to prevent dog attacks.
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Pet educator Vicki Collins and her four-legged assistant Mr President, who is affectionately known as Linc, are at the forefront of the visual and music session that teaches children to observe a dog’s body language and act accordingly.

It comes after a spate of dog attacksacross the Hunterin recent months, where children and adults have been attacked.

The most horrific incident occurredin August when eight-year-oldThalia Standleylost her right hand after she leaned against a retaining wall in Valentine and placed her hand near a gap in a fence.

AnAlaskan Malamute stuck its head through the small gap,grabbed onto her and pulled her hand and arm under the fence.

Ms Collins said children up to the age of nine were most at riskand learning to give a dog its space in certain situations would help to reduce attacks.

Statistics show most children are bitten by their own dog, or a dog that is known to them, while they were playing, patting or feeding them, she said.

The program teaches children to leave a dog alone if it is nervous, frightened, angry or aggressive.

It also tells them to stay away from a dogwhen it is eating,in the backyard, sleeping, in its kennel, sick or injured, at a party, and not with its owner.

Ms Collins said parents need to provide active supervision whenever their child is near a dog.

“Childrenshould not hug a dog around the neck, play aggressive games with it, star into the dogs eyes, hurt it, pat it on the head or corner it so it cannot escape,” she said.

“In Victoria they’ve had great success with this program in reducing the number of incidents.

“It hasn’t been in NSW very long, but it will definitely help as we get the message out there.

“We run programs for preschool parents too, but there aren’t many who want to be involved.”

Children at Clarence Town preschool were confident around Lic once Ms Collins had taught them how to assess the dog’sbehaviour.

“They need to know what they should and shouldn’t do andthey need to learn about this from a young age – if we don’t teach them they won’t know how to read the dog,” preschool director Rebecca Bolandsaid.

Lic has been educating children for three years and eagerly waits for the part of the program when they taketurns atpatting him.

He has two canine friends at home who also participate in the program.

“When I put my uniform on of a morning the three of them want to come with me, they love it, they want to get pats,” Ms Collins said.

Ms Collins said children often wanted to rush up to a dog and pat it.

She said they needed to stop and give the dog and its owner enough space, while they asked if they could give it a pat.

“One of the biggest things you can teach a child is to always ask the owner if they can pat the dog,” she said.

“Children might encounter a service dogand they can’t be patted even though they’ve got a great temperament, so it’s very important they learn to stop and ask.”

If the owner consents the child should hold their hand in a fist and let the dog smell the back of their hand, before stepping to the side of the dog and stroking it gently from the collar to the tail.

“We’ve found the program also helps children who are nervous around dogs,” Ms Collins said.

“Once we’ve gone through the course they are confident because they know what to look for.”

The NSW Office of Local Government is rolling out the Living Safely with Dogs program in preschools across NSW. It also has a program forkindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 students.

Ms Collins said the repetition of the information, along with more detailed informationabout how to look after a dog, would help reinforce the message in the child’s mind.

Clarence Town preschooler Scarlet Fitzpatrick pats Linc the dog as part of the Living Safely with Dogs program that aims to reduce dog attacks.

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Ikea plans mushroom-based packaging as eco-friendly replacement for polystyrene

An example of mushroom packaging Photo: Evocative/The Telegraph. London Ikea’s new veggie meatballsIkea recently introduced vegetarian meatballs as part of its efforts to go green Photo: Ikea/The Telegraph London
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Ikea plans to use packaging made with mushrooms as an eco-friendly replacement for polystyrene, the Swedish retailer giant has revealed.

The flat-pack furniture retailer is looking at using the biodegradable “fungi packaging” as part of its efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling, according to Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea in the UK.

“We are looking for innovative alternatives to materials, such as replacing our polystyrene packaging with mycelium – fungi packaging,” she said.

Mycelium is the part of a fungus that grows in a mass of branched fibres, attaching to the soil or whatever it is growing on – in effect, mushroom roots.

US firm Ecovative developed the product, which it calls Mushroom Packaging, by letting the mycelium grow around clean agricultural waste, such as corn stalks or husks.

Over the space of a few days the fungus fibres bind the waste together, forming a solid shape, which is then dried to stop it growing any further.

Ms Yarrow said Ikea was looking at introducing mycelium packaging because “a lot of products come in polystyrene, traditionally, which can’t be – or is very difficult to – recycle”.

While polystyrene takes thousands of years to decompose, mycelium packaging can be disposed of simply by throwing it in the garden where it will biodegrade naturally within a few weeks.

Speaking at an Aldersgate Group sustainability event in London this week, Ms Yarrow added: “The great thing about mycelium is you can grow it into a mould that then fits exactly. You can create bespoke packaging.”

An Ikea spokesman confirmed it was looking at working with Ecovative, adding: “We always look for new and innovative processes and sustainable materials that can contribute to our commitment.

“Mycelium is one of the materials IKEA is looking into, but it is currently not used in production.”

Ecovative, whose founders invented the mushroom-based material in 2006, currently manufactures its packaging in New York. Customers include computer giant Dell, which uses it to cushion large computer servers.

Ikea’s green drive has already seen it launch vegetarian meatballs as a more eco-friendly alternative to the Swedish meatballs served in its cafes, because of concerns about the greenhouse gas emissions from beef and pork.

A spokesman for the retailer said: “IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people and planet, which includes taking a lead in turning waste into resources, developing reverse material flows for waste materials and ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled.

“IKEA has committed to take a lead in reducing its use of fossil –based materials while increasing its use of renewable and recycled materials.” How the Mushroom Packaging is made:Agricultural waste such as corn husks is cleaned.Mycelium is added, and the mixture is left for a few days.Mycelium grows fibres as it reaches out to digest the agricultural waste.Mixture is broken up into loose particles.Particles are put into shaped mould for a few days. Mycelium grows and forms a solid shape.Solid shape is removed and dried to stop growth and prevent production of mushrooms or spores.

Source: Ecovative

The Telegraph, London

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Binge-eating burger competitions: meat the contenders

Riley Murphy AKA Chompamatic and Cal Stubbs AKA HulkSmashFood at Burgled in Carrum Downs They are pros at eating competitions. Photo: Penny Stephens Not on the menu – 11 patties, pulled pork, cheese croquet, bacon, extra cheese layered, onions and pickles in a burger tower – Dandenong Pavilion Photo: supplied
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Despite not being prepared to smash a burger today, Cal won, eating this burger in 5 min 47 sec. Photo: Penny Stephens

Eleven meat patties, pulled pork, a cheese croquet, bacon, layers of extra cheese, onions and pickles in a “burger tower monstrosity of deliciousness” – welcome to the eating games.

While others toil away on the cricket field or at fun runs on weekends, three Melbourne men are battling it out at the table – chomping through more food than some people eat in a week.

Cal Stubbs (@hulksmashfood), Riley Murphy (@chompamatic), and Issac Martin (@issac_eatsalot) spend weekends carving up Melbourne burger joints as  @the_chew_crew.

These real-life Homer Simpsons met at a bratwurst eating competition and quickly became chow buddies – “hitting up burger places that do crazy big burgers”.

On Tuesday, Mr Stubbs and Mr Murphy, visited the Burgled burger venue in Carrum.

With no preparation they each ploughed through a burger that included eight beef patties, 16 slices of cheese, 24 slices of bacon and six fried onion rings – these special burgers are four times the size of the biggest burger on the menu.

Mr Stubbs, 38, said they eat healthily during the week, then visit up to eight venues over the weekend, often providing burger reviews on social media.

“In two days we’ll each get though five kilos of meat a day, it’s pretty crazy,” Mr Stubbs said.

He expects the next competition to be at Burgled burgers in April with an attempt at a new Australian patty record in one burger –  22 meat patties, each 150 grams.

The monster eating bug hit Mr Stubbs when he saw a competition advertised at Hofbrauhaus Melbourne – a 1.5 kilogram pork schnitzel, half a kilo of chips and a stein of beer which entrants had to eat in 45 minutes.

“I managed to do it in 39 minutes and I found out only about 13 people in the country had managed to do it out of thousands,” he said.

“Six months later I went back … I think I did it in 12 minutes,” he said.

The three travel interstate and overseas entering eating competitions.

Mr Stubbs will head to Tasmania next week to enter a chicken-wing eating competition.

“I think the record is 111 chicken wings, you just keep eating them until you are full. So I’ll go and break that,” he said.

Another member of the chew crew, Riley Murphy, said he is attracted to the wow factor – the disbelief in people’s eyes.

He said venues often set them a challenge and on a recent visit to the Dandenong Pavilion staff asked “would you be interested in heading big today … we can never say no”, so they munched through an 11-pattie burger (don’t ask for it, it’s not on the menu).

“I really like the element that people say it can’t be done. I am only a small guy myself, and the fact that we can do things, it’s almost superhuman in a funny sense,” Mr Murphy said.

Mr Stubbs said the group prepare by drinking three lites of water quickly about six hours before a competition.

“I started by sculling a litre of water and have that sit in your stomach and stretch and then you build up … now I am at 3.2 litres … you don’t want to do any more than 3.5 litres because after that you can drown your organs … it can get dangerous,” he said.

He said the water stretches the stomach.

They also have a big meal 24 hours before a competition and then don’t eat again before the event.

Yes, there are health warnings about this level of eating.

VicHealth dietician Sonya Stanley said “regular binge eating and consuming excess calories from foods that are high in saturated fat, salt and added sugars, increases the risks of becoming overweight or obese and developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes”.

“As part of balanced eating, it’s ok to enjoy a treat occasionally and in small amounts but overeating and consuming large portions of unhealthy foods is not recommended,” she said.

The health issues are not lost on the group and the three exercise regularly.

“We have check-ups every three months, we go and get our blood checked by the doctors … if anything is off in that three months then we will rein it back in,” Mr Stubbs said.

“When you are doing that amount of food and doing that with water it can get dangerous so you have to take it seriously,” he said.

Mr Stubbs, said he probably has a year or two left competing – “it does take it out of you”.

Research released by the University of New South Wales last month indicated binge eating on weekends could be just as bad for the gut as eating badly all the time.

The researchers found intermittent exposure to junk food three days a week was sufficient to extensively shift the gut microbiota towards the pattern seen in obese rats consuming the diet continuously.

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The perfect storm for a progressive alternative

Newcastle has drawn the short straw when it comes to federal politics. Both Labor and the Coalition, for their own distinct reasons, have effectively abandoned any interest in presenting positive campaigns for the future in this electorate. This has amounted to wilful neglect of the real issues in our region, and a recurrent failure to deliver any meaningful benefits to our community.
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Everyone knows the ALP takes Newcastle for granted. The Newcastle electorate is summarised in the Sussex St spreadsheets with one word: “Safe”. This ALP campaign will be no different to the last. We can expect no election time sweeteners, no new initiatives, no regional vision or courageous leadership coming from Labor. At best, we may once again see a dusting off of those embarrassing plans for an unbuildable convention centre and ‘iconic skybridge’ that resurface each election. Newcastle will miss out again, as any big ALP commitments will undoubtedly be saved for more marginal seats.

LOST CAUSE: Both Labor and the Coalition have abandoned any interest in presenting positive campaigns for the future in this electorate. Picture: Marina Neil

Meanwhile, Newcastle is marked on the Coalition spreadsheets with a different word: “Unwinnable”. They know that donation scandals have cost the trust of those voters who made the difficult switch to Liberal in recent elections out of sheer frustration with the idleness of the ALP.The Liberal Party knows just how hard it will be to win that trust, and those voters, back.

Newcastle needs alternative political leadership now more than ever. Our region has been hit first and worst by the global decline of the coal price. Both of the old parties have been idle bystanders as the coal and gas companies have abandoned the region, leaving behind a legacy of youth joblessness, disrupted communities, bankrupted small businesses and enormous irreparable voids in the landscape.

We now find ourselves in a downturn without a transition strategy or even so much as a jobsplan, and this is an appalling failure of political leadership.

The end of the fossil fuel and pollution economy era was as predictable as it was inevitable. The Greens have campaigned for over a decade about the need for a planned transition away from fossil fuels, especially in regions like ours with a history of reliance on carbon intensive industries.

The Greens are the progressive alternativeto position our region to take advantage of the shift to a clean energy future.

The transition from a pollution economy to a clean energy economy means opening new industries, innovative business models and new jobs. Our clean energy package will renew investment in our region’s world-class manufacturing and energy industries, revitalise local business and cut pollution. To get there, the Greens will enhance our capacity for innovation and training through increased funding for our research institutions, including the CSIRO, Newcastle University and Hunter TAFE. We have a jobs plan that focuses on the real work needed to retrofit our existing infrastructure, reskills our workforce for more secure, meaningful employment, and supports workers as they move across industries.

I am deeply committed to the sustainability, vitality and prosperity of this region. I believe we can transition to a 21st century economy here, and that means more resources to invest in the welfare of our communities and environment, and guarantees an economically resilient future for our city and its future generations.

John Mackenzie is contesting the federal seat of Newcastleas the Greens candidate

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Jessica Peris reported Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s alleged assault to police after Sydney Roosters denied her payout, court hears

Nova Peris was with her daughter Jessica in court for the hearing. Photo: Peter Rae Shaun Kenny-Dowall is accused of assaulting his former girlfriend Jessica Peris. Photo: Peter Rae
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Jessica Peris asked the Sydney Roosters for money prior to reporting the assault allegations to police, a court has heard. Photo: Peter Rae

Shaun Kenny-Dowall put ex-partner in headlock, court hears’Oh, I bashed her’: Kenny-Dowall’s joke to mother

The former girlfriend of Sydney Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall went to police to report assault allegations after the NRL club wouldn’t give her any money following the break-up, a court has heard.

Jessica Peris, daughter of Olympian turned Northern Territory senator Nova Peris, gave evidence in the Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday about 11 alleged incidents of violence over a nine-month period of their relationship in 2014 and 2015.

The NRL star has pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges, include headbutting his girlfriend, pushing her, pulling her hair, putting her in a headlock, destroying a mobile phone, grabbing her arm so tightly it left a bruise, kicking her out of bed and sending offensive text messages.

Mr Kenny-Dowall’s barrister, Ian Temby, QC, tendered an explosive letter on Thursday sent from Ms Peris to Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan on June 30, 2015, days after the couple had an allegedly violent fight and broke up.

In the letter, Ms Peris told Mr Canavan about the “sensitive situation”, adding that it was her second abusive relationship after a partner in Darwin was convicted of assaulting her.

She rejected an earlier offer from the Roosters to provide her with shelter and a car for one month after the break up.

Instead, she asked Mr Canavan to provide her with six months of accommodation, six months use of a car and one month’s income.

“I’m undecided as to whether or not to report this to police,” she said in the letter, Mr Temby told the court. “I’d prefer this not to become public.”

She told Mr Canavan she was bankrupt. The court heard she was not working at the time and had large debts she was struggling to meet, including repayments on her car that had been re-possessed.

Her proposal was rejected by the club.

“It wasn’t until you found out that there would be no material support forthcoming that you went to police,” Mr Temby asked.

“In a sense sir, yes,” she said.

However, Ms Peris denied that the rejection was the reason she went to police, saying she was still considering reporting Mr Kenny-Dowall when she sent the letter.

Mr Temby quizzed Ms Peris about the couple’s “vigorous” sex life, including graphic texts in which Mr Kenny-Dowall said “I will bend you over and pull you hair”.

Ms Peris responded by text, saying “pull my hair while I moan”.

She denied Mr Temby’s assertion that the only hair pulling in the relationship happened during sex.

The texts also show that she referred to her boyfriend as “f–king c–t”, “f–kwit”, “mutt dog pig dog” and “d–kwit”.

“These messages… show, don’t they, that in the message interchanges between Shaun Kenny-Dowall and yourself, you gave as good as you got?” Mr Temby asked.

“Under the circumstances, I responded in the same language he used,” Ms Peris replied.

She had earlier told the court that she spoke to club liaison officer Cathy King in the days after the break-up, to ask for help in recovering some of her belongings from the couple’s Maroubra apartment.

Ms King arranged for her to go to the apartment when Mr Kenny-Dowall wasn’t there.

About three weeks later, Ms Peris went to police.

On the first day of the three-day hearing on Wednesday, Ms Peris, a professional track athlete training for the Olympics, gave evidence about a string of alleged incidents.

During a fight over previous partners, she said Mr Kenny-Dowall smashed her phone, pinned her up against a wall, grabbed her tightly by the arm and punched a framed photo on the wall beside her head.

Mr Kenny-Dowall then joked to his mother that he had “bashed” his girlfriend when she turned up at a family lunch with a visible bruise on her arm days later, she said.

He had admitted to punching the picture frame, causing his hand to bleed, but has denied all allegations of violence towards her.

The hearing continues.

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NSW Parliament apologises to the 78ers who began the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

The scene outside the Central Court of Petty Sessions in Sydney where gay and lesbians demonstrated in 1978. Photo: Fairfax Media Members of the 78ers in the NSW parliament hear the apology on Thursday.
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The Member for Coogee, Bruce Notley Smith, delivers the official apology. Photo: Peter Rae

A brightly sequinned hat, tie-dye t-shirts and rainbow flags in the packed viewing gallery did nothing to distract from the gravity of the historical moment in NSW Parliament on Thursday morning when, after nearly 38 years, the 78ers received a formal apology from the state over the discrimination they suffered at Sydney’s first Mardi Gras in 1978.

“For the mistreatment you suffered that evening, I apologise and I say sorry,” said Bruce Notley Smith, the member for Coogee, as he moved the motion of apology in the NSW Legislative Assembly.

“As a member of the parliament which dragged its feet in the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, I apologise and say sorry. And as a proud gay man and member of this parliament offering this apology, I say thank you.

“The actions you took on June 24, 1978, have been vindicated.”

The bipartisan apology, unanimously passed in both houses of parliament, drew emotional and at times highly personal reflections from MPs, including the Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton and the Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian. Mr Notley-Smith recounted the pain of growing up as a gay teenager in Sydney at the time of the melee.

That evening, more than 500 activists took to Taylor Square in Darlinghurst in support and celebration of New York’s Stonewall movement and to call for an end to criminalisation of homosexual acts and discrimination against homosexuals. The peaceful movement ended in violence, mass arrests and public shaming at the hands of the police, government and media.

About 70 of the original protesters and their supporters rose for a standing ovation as Mr Notley-Smith ended his highly charged speech, commending the tireless activism of the 78ers and acknowledging that the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras had as its foundation the violence and struggle of that night.

The Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong, called for the NSW police to add their weight to the apology, before reading personal stories of violence and terror that June evening. Her opinion was greeted by loud applause by 78ers, though Mr Notley-Smith later said that he believes that the cross-party apology speaks for the police as a government agency.

With two openly gay members sitting across the chamber from one another, Alex Greenwich, independent member for Sydney, proclaimed the NSW parliament the “gayest parliament in Australia.”

The cheers that followed were welcome levity in a moment that was grounded, for many of those present, in darkness and pain.

Speaking after the debate, Ron Austin, a 78er and originator of Mardi Gras, said that the apology was “delightful”. Flanked by Steve Warren, Julie McCrossin and a raft of other 78ers, he recalled a jubilant street party turning into a tragedy as he remembered the day. “We were hunted along all the way down by the police,” he says of the route along Oxford Street.

“We were sick and tired of being treated as second class citizens, it was intolerable, inexcusable.

“This whole discrimination thing was just absurd to the nth degree.”

The “unqualified and unreserved” bipartisan apology has not come a moment too soon for many of those who were traumatised by the events and the subsequent public outing of many of those involved by The Sydney Morning Herald.

In some instances, protesters lost their jobs and homes, and for some individuals, the trauma ended only in suicide. On Wednesday, The Sydney Morning Herald added its voice to the recognition of wrongdoing and injustice.

Apologising to the 78ers, Darren Goodsir, editor-in-chief, said: “In 1978, The Sydney Morning Herald reported the names, addresses and professions of people arrested during public protests to advance gay rights. The paper at the time was following the custom and practice of the day.”

“We acknowledge and apologise for the hurt and suffering that reporting caused. It would never happen today.”

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