Pyne’s pitfalls, and the wind from the west: How the Liberal leadership crisis unfolded

January 15: The government backs down on its $20 Medicare cut. The reduced rebate had been widely criticised by doctors. Labor said the Coalition’s health policies were in a “shambles”. Only 24 hours earlier, Tony Abbott had been robustly defending the cut.
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January 26: Abbott announces that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh will be knighted, a move which was widely ridiculed and raised internal questions about his judgment. He later confirmed it was a “captain’s call”.

January 28: Rupert Murdoch tweets that Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin should be sacked. “Tough to write, but if he won’t replace top aide Peta Credlin she must do her patriotic duty and resign …” he wrote.

January 31: Campbell Newman’s Liberal government suffers a massive backlash in the Queensland election. Meanwhile Queensland MP Mal Brough reveals he could challenge Abbott.

Feburary 1: Abbott meets Julie Bishop in Sydney to discuss leadership

February 2: Abbott delivers a speech at the National Press Club, admitting that he had made some mistakes, but he was not considering resigning.

Jeff Kennett says the Liberal Party’s leadership was now “terminal”. “It needs to be resolved as quickly as possible so that the party can move on,” he said.

February 5: Abbott tells the media he is “confident” that he will be leader next week, but news of a secret leadership meeting with Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull emerges. February 6:  A motion is called for a leadership spill by WA MP Luke Simkins. Tony Abbott says Julie Bishop and he will stand together during the motion on Tuesday (10 February). 

February 6: 6am: Christopher Pyne says he “hopes” the Prime Minister still has the numbers in the party room, raising speculation Abbott’s support in the cabinet is waning.

1pm: Bishop refuses to quell rumours of the spill motion, saying she does not have any advice for her colleagues because they are elected members of Parliament and “they take whatever action they see fit”.

1.30pm: West Australian MP Luke Simpkins writes an email to his colleague, announcing he will move a spill against Abbott. Fellow West Australian MP Don Randall supports it. Both are supporters of Bishop.

1.50pm: Phillip Ruddock, the chief government whip, writes an email confirming a motion will be moved by a secret ballot that the “senior positions of the federal parliamentary Liberal Party be declared vacant” on Tuesday.

3.10pm: Social Services Minister Scott Morrison says he will not contend the leadership.

3.30pm: Abbott fronts the media in a short conference, where he confirms the spill of the two positions, but says he and Bishop will stand together to defeat the motion.

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Liberal Party Tony Abbott spill: Twittersphere awash with reactions

Bring it on: Tony Abbott, with insets Luke Simpkins (top) and Don Randall. Photo: SuppliedLive: Tony Abbott faces leadership challenge’We must bring this to a head and test support’Julie Bishop refuses to quell unrestAbbott’s leadership enters the killing zone#libspill spills into ‘political protest’
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West Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins has emailed his colleagues, announcing he will move a spill motion against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

In his email he said: “In the last two weeks I have been inundated with emails and walk-ins to my electorate office all questioning the direction the government is being led in.

“The knighthood issue was for many the final proof of disconnection with the people.

“I have therefore submitted to the Chief Government Whip [Philip Ruddock] a motion to spill the leadership position of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party… “

It was seconded by fellow West Australian Liberal MP Don Randall.

The motion has been listed for discussion at the Liberal Party meeting on Tuesday.

The Twittersphere is awash with quips and pictures of reactions to the spill, especially on the hastag #itson.  BREAKING: IT’S ON! Here’s @JuliaGillard watching @ABCNews24 as we speak… #itson#libspill#auspolpic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/4VkfxyReWh — Chris Chamberlin (@popculturechris) February 6, 2015 Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott debate the republic. Pic from The Australian Moment’s gallery of rivals. #itsonpic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/kutARysGz8 — George Megalogenis (@GMegalogenis) February 6, 2015 Bet you’re regretting making this tweet #itsonpic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/GfFKnurGWa — James Mc9 (@cashbonez) February 6, 2015 Fairfax and Sky News reporting of the #itson story has been first class. They’ve been slaking my thirst for stories. — Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) February 6, 2015  

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Revamped V8 Supercars television coverage to start on Sunday

As well as having to pay for live TV coverage of every race for the first time, V8 Supercars fans will also have to get used to new commentary teams.
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Some familiar names have been replaced in V8’s switch from Channel Seven to an AFL/NRL-style split broadcast deal with pay TV’s Fox Sports and Channel Ten.

The $241 million six-year agreement begins on Sunday with live coverage of the final day of the two-day pre-season V8 SuperTest at Sydney Motorsport Park by Fox Sports and delayed highlights on the Ten Network.

The key casualty of the change is V8 legend Mark Skaife, who makes way for former Ten Network motor sport presenter Greg Rust.

Returning to the V8 commentary team after an eight-year absence, Rust takes over as the lead caller.

Also missing from the new-look line-up is popular pit lane analyst and ex-V8 racer/team owner Mark Larkham, replaced by four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy.

New Zealander Murphy, an outspoken observer famous for his Bathurst 1000 heroics, has retired from co-driving in the V8 endurance races to become a full-time commentator.

Skaife, winner of five V8 championships, is expected to have a role on Fox Sport’s new weekly V8 Supercars discussion panel show, which may also feature regular appearances by Larkham.

Staying on as the expert commentator is veteran V8 analyst and former racer Neil Crompton, with Riana Crehan also returning as the other pit lane reporter alongside Murphy.

Fox Sports and Channel Ten, which will simulcast the six biggest events, are sharing the commentary across the season, adding their own hosts, experts and guests around the common coverage of track action.

Fox Sports will telecast every practice and qualifying session, and all races of the 14-event V8 championship series live, while Network Ten will simulcast the Adelaide 500, Townsville 500, Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000, Gold Coast 600 and Sydney 500.

Channel Ten will show delayed highlights of the remaining eight events following Fox Sports’ coverage.

V8 Supercars’ move to primary coverage on subscription TV is controversial because it is the first time fans have had to pay to watch every race since regular telecasts of major Australian touring car racing began in the mid-1970s.

While the split broadcast deal is good for V8 teams, which will receive more income from the much more lucrative arrangement, dedicated motor sport followers are upset that only six events will be screened on free-to-air TV.

It will cost $50 a month for a Foxtel subscription that includes Fox Sports’ wall-to-wall live coverage on all days of each event.

V8 Supercars and Fox Sports maintain that the improved and expanded coverage, which will include all supporting races, justifies the cost for hardcore motor sport followers while enhancing the service for existing subscribers.

V8 executives predict the total viewing audience will increase because Fox Sport’s coverage will be augmented by Ten’s free-to-air telecasts.

Fox Sports is expected to announce its additional V8 on-air line-up to supplement the shared commentary team, while Channel Ten will confirm its presenters later this month.

It is expected that Fox Sport’s motor sport presenter Jessica Yates will host the network’s V8 coverage. Former Channel Seven frontman Matt White will host Ten’s telecasts, joined by ex-F1 star Mark Webber at the season-opening Adelaide 500 and the blue ribband Bathurst 1000.

White will also host the return of the weekly RPM motor sport magazine show, which will feature V8 drivers as regular guests.

Fairfax Media understands that former V8 champion Rick Kelly has signed with Ten to provide behind-the-scenes insights during race weekends.

The pre-season V8 SuperTest this weekend will be a trial run for Fox Sport’s coverage, which is produced by V8 Supercar’s own broadcast production unit.

Fox Sports is promising telecasts loaded with new technology that will enable viewers to select alternative in-car and on-track vision during the broadcasts of track action.

The free-admission SuperTest consists of three practice sessions on Saturday and one on Sunday morning, with the pre-season hit-out culminating with a shoot-out for the fastest lap time on Sunday afternoon.

All 25 cars will race one at a time against the clock over a flying lap.

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#libspill spills into social media frenzy of political protest

Social media went into a frenzy at the news of Tony Abbott’s impending leadership challenge. Photo: Christopher PearceTwitterphere awash with reactions
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Confirmation of the challenge to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s leadership to take place on Tuesday sent social media into a frenzy on Friday.

The hashtags #libspill, #spill and #itson spent most of the afternoon at the top of Twitter trend charts.

According to analytics site Topsy杭州龙凤419m, in 24 hours to 3pm, #libspill had amassed more than 20,000 tweets, with 4900 just in the hour between confirmation of the spill and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s extremely brief press conference at 3:30pm. By 5pm the tag featured more than 42,000 times.

The more playful #itson, featured in less tweets – some 3500 in 24 hours – and was quickly upstaged by the simple #spill. The perennial #auspol continued to accompany most of the leadership tussle tweets, adding 3700 just in the hour prior to publishing.

By 4:30pm leadership related hashtags dominated all of the top 10 Australian Twitter trends, with “Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard” – after a slip of the tongue by Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews.

Independent social researcher Tiphereth Gloria was not surprised by the Twitter frenzy. She said Australians were using the hashtags as a form of protest.

“Everyone is pent up with frustration, and it has erupted under this #libspill hashtag. People are saying ‘can we chuck out his other policies’. People are using it as away to make their opinions heard socially,” Gloria said.

Using a number of social media monitoring tools to observe the trends, Gloria said it was “going crazy.”

“What was interesting is that #libspill actually started when #knighthood started. People were already calling for it, because they had the idea it was an event of that magnitude.

“That’s probably the most interesting thing – it seems to be directly connected to the knighthood [of Prince Phillip]. Everyone’s said it was Tony Abbott’s last idiotic move.”

The #auspol tag, in turn, is used to encapsulate everything that happens in Australian politics. The use of such national term was unique to Australia, with other countries not appearing to have an equivalent, she said.

“It’s one of the most interesting ongoing hashtags. It’s been going for years. It’s like an umbrella term for anyone talking about Australian politics on Twitter,” Gloria.

Despite some believing that Twitter was limited to a circle of media-obsessed users, she said it pointed to informed and strong political opinions.

“Even though there’s less people on Twitter than on Facebook, the ones that are there are more engaged and have very firm opinions. It’s not only the influencers.”

The Prime Minister’s Facebook account posted a transcript of his five-paragraph speech shortly after his TV appearance. Within 20 minutes it had more than 2000 likes. Post by Tony Abbott.

Within half an hour of the PM’s brief appearance, another hashtag began trending: #ThingsLongerThanAbbottsPressConf. Tony Abbott’s nose #ThingsLongerThanAbbottsPressConf — Sir Tony LiesAlot (@liarabbott) February 6, 2015

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Homes fit for baby Bingleton

3-13 Holdsworth Street, Woollahra, Sydney. The grand, four bedroom property has a children’s wing, a cocktail bar, sun-lit living areas, a marble fireplace, rainwater shower and designer bath in the master ensuite, a Villeroy and Boch marble powder room, multiple courtyards and a freestanding cabana overlooking the pool with its own powder room and steam room. Photo: Supplied 3-13 Holdsworth Street, Woollahra, Sydney. The grand, four bedroom property has a children’s wing, a cocktail bar, sun-lit living areas, a marble fireplace, rainwater shower and designer bath in the master ensuite, a Villeroy and Boch marble powder room, multiple courtyards and a freestanding cabana overlooking the pool with its own powder room and steam room. Photo: Supplied
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Darling Point, Sydney – address withheld. Modeled to be akin to living in a resort, the property in a prestige pocket of Sydney has two kitchens with sculleries, staff accommodation, Grecian stone floors, winding staircases, his and hers changing rooms beside the pool, a theatre and a steam room. Photo: Supplied

Darling Point, Sydney – address withheld. Modeled to be akin to living in a resort, the property in a prestige pocket of Sydney has two kitchens with sculleries, staff accommodation, Grecian stone floors, winding staircases, his and hers changing rooms beside the pool, a theatre and a steam room. Photo: Supplied

3/133 Alexandra Avenue, South Yarra – a short walk to Chapel Street’s boutiques, where Bingle can sate her love of designer style. The home has three bedrooms and all the mod-cons and upmarket flourishes you’d expect in this deluxe price bracket, including an American oak feature wall, under-floor heating and Italian fittings in the bathroom. Photo: Supplied

16 Boandyne Court, Toorak. Kay & Burton agent Tim Blackett emphasises the “substantial wardrobes” in the main bedroom, which we think would be a prerequisite for the well-heeled and style conscious Bingle. The property has a lift for ease of access between the floors, a wrap-around terrace, horizon pool and manicured gardens. Photo: Supplied

16 Boandyne Court, Toorak. Kay & Burton agent Tim Blackett emphasises the “substantial wardrobes” in the main bedroom, which we think would be a prerequisite for the well-heeled and style conscious Bingle. The property has a lift for ease of access between the floors, a wrap-around terrace, horizon pool and manicured gardens. Photo: Supplied

27 Wooster Street 6B, SoHo/Nolita, New York City. From “bleach zebrawood cabinetry” in the kitchen to the “Toto Neorest toilet” (apparently a super fancy brand of loo), every inch of this three bedroom home in a trendy part of NYC smacks of a designer touch. The master bedroom has a double rainwater effect shower head and steam shower. The building has a 24-hour concierge desk – essential security for celebrities. Photo: Supplied

27 Wooster Street 6B, SoHo/Nolita, New York City. From “bleach zebrawood cabinetry” in the kitchen to the “Toto Neorest toilet” (apparently a super fancy brand of loo), every inch of this three bedroom home in a trendy part of NYC smacks of a designer touch. The master bedroom has a double rainwater effect shower head and steam shower. The building has a 24-hour concierge desk – essential security for celebrities. Photo: Supplied

Greenwich Village loft, New York City. This loft built in 1899 in a trendy part of Manhattan, where all the celebrities live, has three bedrooms, has had an upmarket renovation and features high ceilings and Washington Square Park. The kitchen opens to a playroom or study – perfect for little Bingleton – and the master bedroom ticks all the boxes, from a designer soaking tub to the generous wardrobe space and a retreat lounge. Photo: Supplied

Greenwich Village loft, New York City. This loft built in 1899 in a trendy part of Manhattan, where all the celebrities live, has three bedrooms, has had an upmarket renovation and features high ceilings and Washington Square Park. The kitchen opens to a playroom or study – perfect for little Bingleton – and the master bedroom ticks all the boxes, from a designer soaking tub to the generous wardrobe space and a retreat lounge. Photo: Supplied

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HUNTER HEALTH KICK: Workouts Week 1

SquatsSession 1: Test yourself
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Head to a park or oval and set your timer for 15 minutes. See how many laps you can cover in that amount of time. This might be walking or running or a combination of the two. Jot down somewhere how you went and in four weeks you will repeat the exercise to see if there has been any improvement. You could alternatively map out a road run/walk and see how far you get in 15 minutes.

Session 2: Strength and cardio

Workout: 30-45 minutes

If outdoors, walk or run between your sets if fitness allows. If at the gym, rest between sets and add 10-15 minutes of cardio before doing your strength work. This might be 5 minutes on the rower, bike and treadmill, for example.

10 squats with 1min rest/walk/running short shuttles. Repeat 1-2 times.

10-20 lunges (10 alternating stationary, 10 walking lunges or 10 on each leg) with 1min rest/walk/run. Repeat 1-2 times.

10 push-ups (wall, elevated, knees, toes, chest press machine at the gym) with 1min rest/walk/run. Repeat 1-2 times.

10 rows/pull-ups (seated horizontal row machine at gym, bent-over row with dumbbells, single arm row) with 1min rest/walk/run. Repeat 1-2 times.

10 opposing arm and leg or 20-30 second hover (on knees or toes) with a 30-60 second rest. Repeat 1-2 times.

Session 3: Intervals

Workout: Aim for 20 minutes of intervals at a 1:2 work:recovery ratio. This might be walk fast:walk slow; walk:jog; harder run:easy run. Start with 20 seconds harder:40 seconds easy. You could do this around an oval or around the block. At the gym you could do it in 5 min blocks using cardio machines. Modify as you go. If it feels too easy, work harder for longer and have less rest. If it’s too hard, rest more.

Session 4: Strength and cardio

Workout: This session is a circuit-style session. Add rests as you need and perform 2-4 through, depending on your level of fitness – ie, if you are just starting out stick to twice through, if you have been exercising for a while and are looking to improve your fitness further perform 3-4 times and limit your rests.

10 squats.

50 skips (with skipping rope. If you are not a confident skipper just jog or walk).

10 push-ups.

Walk/jog/run hard 200 metres.

10-20 lunges.

20 star jumps.

10 pull-ups/rows.

50 skips.

10 opposing arm and leg/20-30 second hover.

Walk/jog/run hard 200 metres.

Renee Valentine is a qualified personal trainer and mother of three. [email protected]杭州龙凤419m

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Drayton mine to shed 45 jobs

DRAYTON coal mine is cutting its workforce by about 10per cent, with at least 45 jobs set to go, owner Anglo American said on Friday.
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The company’s head of open-cut mining, Mark Heaton, said the failure to gain approval for its planned Drayton South extension was one of the main reasons for the job cuts.

The announcement has alarmed the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, with district president Peter Jordan saying the union was not consulted.

‘‘We had a delegates’ meeting on Wednesday and if it’s the case, as it looks like, that we’ve found out about this through the media, then that is pretty disappointing,’’ he said.

Mr Heaton said Drayton would run out of mineable reserves later this year.

“We had hoped Drayton South would have given smooth continuity of employment for our 500 workers and 140 local suppliers,’’ Mr Heaton said.

‘‘However, we now find ourselves in the difficult position of balancing depleting coal levels with extending the mine’s life for as long as possible without approval for Drayton South.

‘‘The redundancy positions will be subject to the business needs and in full consultation with employees.’’

A spokesperson said later that the job cuts were a mixture of employees and contractors.

Drayton is 10kilometres south of Muswellbrook.

The predicted impact of Drayton South on nearby horse studs was a major reason behind a Planning Assessment Commission decision to reject the project.

With coal prices in the doldrums, Anglo announced in December that its other Hunter mine, Dartbrook underground – closed on care and maintenance since 2007 – was on the market.

Asked on Friday, the company said Dartbrook was still on the market but Drayton was not for sale, regardless of the setbacks facing it.

Anglo lodged plans for a scaled-back third version of Drayton South in late December, with the company confirming on Friday that a new environmental impact statement was scheduled to be lodged with the Department of Planning and Environment by about April.

In early December, the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association said it was not ‘‘a fair system when endless applications are made’’.

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Is it safe to travel through Iraqi airspace?

Qatar Airways flies a safe route to Europe.I BOOKED A QATAR AIRWAYS FLIGHT FROM DOHA TO ATHENS AND HAVE JUST NOTICED ON FLIGHT RADAR THAT THIS FLIGHT TRAVELS THROUGH IRAQI AND SYRIAN AIRSPACE. I THOUGHT FLIGHTS OVER THESE COUNTRIES HAD STOPPED BUT IT SEEMS ONLY CERTAIN CARRIERS HAVE. ON THE ADVICE OF SMART TRAVELLER I CONTACTED THE CARRIER TWICE BUT HAD NO RESPONSE, BUT I DO FIND THIS UNSETTLING. WHAT MAKES A ROUTE SAFE FOR ONE CARRIER BUT NOT FOR ANOTHER? SHOULD YOU BE ABLE TO CANCEL A TICKET IF YOU BELIEVE THE AIRLINE IS PUTTING YOU AT RISK?
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J. SINGH, MELBOURNE

I’m tracking today’s Qatar Airways Flight QTR201 from Doha to Athens using Flight Radar 24 (flightradar24). From Doha it travelled north across Bahrain then turned west to cross the Arabian Peninsula, the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt and across the Mediterranean to Athens. This track takes it well south of Iraq, and nowhere near Syria. Looking at yesterday’s data on Planefinder (planefinder杭州龙凤419), flight QTR201 flew the same route. In the opposite direction, Athens to Doha, flight QTR202 follows a parallel track. It’s entirely possible that the airline has changed its route, as airlines do in response to perceived dangers, some more quickly than others. It seems that you don’t have to worry on this account, however your concern is justified, especially following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine.

Looking at the data on Flight Radar, it is notable that there are very few flights operating over Iraqi airspace. Most airlines operating between the Gulf States and Europe are either flying over Saudi Arabia and the Mediterranean or in the air corridor over western Iran, then turning west to cross Turkey. Over Syria there is practically no air traffic.

Of course you could cancel your ticket if you believe that your airline was operating on an unsafe route but it is doubtful that you would be able to claim a refund, or compensation. You would have to prove that an airline was knowingly flying a route that was likely to put you in harm’s way, and no airline is going to admit to that without an almighty tussle.

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Hands-on review: Try OPPO N3 and R5 smartphones for something different

A curved, protruding bottom edge makes the Oppo N3 phablet easier to grip. Photo: Hannah Francis Oppo’s Color OS with custom theme. Photo: Hannah Francis
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The Oppo R5’s hand-polished aluminium chassis, right, is slightly rougher than that of the iPhone 6. Photo: Hannah Francis

The ultra-slim Oppo R5, top, next to the iPhone 6. Photo: Hannah Francis

Oppo has released two new smartphones. Photo: Supplied

Chinese electronics manufacturer OPPO has traditionally dealt in top-notch BlueRay players, though more recently it has been dabbling in smartphones.

It began testing the waters in Australia last year with the Find 7, Find 7a, N1 Mini and Neo, with very little in terms of marketing and hence very little fanfare.

Initially OPPO phones were only available at its Australian website, but now you can get your hands on one and try before you buy at Allphones stores.

Now come two new devices, the N3 and R5 – charmingly different to the more popular Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy or Note, yet considerably more affordable.

Color OS

Both new handsets are fitted out with OPPO’s own Color OS. Based on the Android Kit Kat 4.4 operating system, the user experience is more or less like Android but with a bunch of playful extras.

At its heart, Color OS is all about customisation.

A wide range of theme options lets you change not just the wallpaper but the appearance of icons, too.

A suite of screen-on, screen-off, and even hands-free “air gestures” can be assigned to different functions and apps – for instance, drawing a circle on the lockscreen to launch the camera app.

Some of these gestures are a little pointless – air gestures, for instance, can be used to browse your photo album or desktop hands-free, but a finger swipe is quicker and you’ll still need to touch the screen for other functions.

In addition to the standard Google apps, the OPPO phones also come pre-installed with an OPPO-branded browser. It’s visually appealing, with a range of easy-to-navigate options including full-screen mode, “untrackable browsing” and “night mode”, which inverts to soft grey text on a black background.

The inbuilt, retro-style music player lets you spin tunes by dragging a needle onto a record. It’s cute, but the player itself has limited functionality. There are no EQ functions to tweak the sound for different musical styles, and on the lockscreen you’re restricted to stopping, starting and skipping backwards or forwards, track by track. You could also make these commands with finger gestures, but that adds little value.

Also included are Kingsoft Office, an open source app suite compatible with Microsoft Office, and messaging app WeChat.

OPPO N3

An upgraded version of the N1, which also sports a rotating camera, the dual-SIM N3 is the premium – and pricier – of OPPO’s new handsets.

I have small hands so I’ve never been a big fan of phablets, but the bottom edge of the 5.5-inch N3 has an ingeniously curved extension that balances neatly along your pinkie as you reach across the screen with your thumb.

I have trouble with this action on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the iPhone 6 Plus – both only marginally wider – but no such problems here.

The device’s curved, smooth plastic back also slides easily in the palm of your hand, which you’ll probably need in order to reach the on/off switch, which is awkwardly located on the top left edge.

At 16 megapixels and with f/2.2 aperture, OPPO has improved the camera specs on this model, and claims it’s the best there is for taking quality selfies. There are some great “beautify” filters but they lose a lot of definition.

Despite the iPhone 6 (rear-facing) camera only being 8 megapixels, I still find it takes better shots than the N3. .

Still, the N3’s rotating camera is great for taking panoramas, while photography nerds can switch to “expert mode” and toy with exposure, shutter speed and more.

Camera rotation can be controlled via the touch-screen, or using the included “OTOUCH” bluetooth remote. The OTOUCH also controls the music player, and has a handy Find My Phone feature – two clicks and the N3 starts crowing from where it fell down the back of the couch.

Specs

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Bali Nine ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan to be executed this month

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Photo: Anta KesumaSukumaran, Chan plead for moratorium on death sentence
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Bali Nine ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan will be executed this month, Indonesia’s foreign affairs spokesman has confirmed.

“Yesterday afternoon we received notification from the Bali prosecutor’s office that the execution of the two Australian males will be held in February,” Arrmanatha Nasir told Fairfax Media. “We forwarded this to the Australian embassy.”

An overwrought Brintha Sukumaran, the sister of Myuran, was outside Bali’s Kerobokan prison on Friday begging the Indonesian government not to kill her brother.

“We love him so much. Please don’t kill him, please,” Brintha pleaded, her hands clasped together in  a gesture of prayer. “He is scared, I can see it in his eyes. Please don’t do this. He is doing everything he can do for others.”

His mother Raji also pleaded for mercy saying Sukumaran and Chan were “good children”.

“We don’t know how long,” she said.

The two men were told on Friday by Australian embassy officials that they would die this month.

News of the time of the execution comes as Robert Myers, the barrister who asked the Australian Federal Police to intervene and prevent one of the Bali Nine committing a crime overseas, says there is no excuse for their “deliberate lies” and “unlawful actions”.

Sukumaran’s and Chan’s Indonesian lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, said he was yet to receive any official notification of the execution date.

“We are preparing another legal action in the next couple of days,” Mr Mulya said. “In the circumstances there are not many avenues to appeal.”

Asked if the news came as a surprise, Mr Mulya said: “Well, the attorney-general said it would be in February. Anything could happen.”

The chilling announcement comes as nine fellow Kerobokan prisoners wrote to Indonesian President Joko Widodo pleading with him to spare Sukumaran and Chan. Two even offered to be executed in their places.

Rico Richardo said Chan had helped him when he almost died inside Bali’s Kerobokan prison on January 23.

“It was Andrew Chan who insisted I got taken back to hospital,” Richardo wrote. He said he did not have enough money to pay the hospital bill but Chan asked his lawyer to assist.

Richardo said when it came to Chan the president was “seeing with just one eye”. “Even though Andrew Chan is on death row … he never thinks of himself. This could be taken into consideration of your conscience, honorable Mr President,” Richardo wrote.

“If you still insist on executing Andrew Chan, I, Rico Richardo, an Indonesian citizen, am ready to take his place and be executed.”

Fellow prisoner Inyoman Andre has worked as a translator for Chan’s bible classes for the past three years. On Thursday Chan asked him if he would take over running the classes.

“He told me: ‘You must be ready to be used by God,” Andre told Fairfax Media.

“He is strong. If you study the bible you don’t fear death because we learn in the bible this life is temporary. After that we have eternal life in our heaven.”

Andre was a methamphetamine user when he was imprisoned four and a half years ago. A former Hindu, who converted to Christianity in jail, he said Chan had taught him to appreciate life. “Andrew is a good person who has done much for us in here.”

Will he take over the bible classes? “I will,” Andre says simply.

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House of Hancock: In defence of Gina Rinehart

Note: At the time this story was written, Gina Rinehart was a shareholder of Fairfax Media, the publisher of this website.
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As a relatively young, slightly left-leaning journalist with only a rudimentary understanding of the business world, I might not be your typical Gina Rinehart sympathiser.

Maybe sympathy is the wrong word, but it seems to me there’s a culture of “Gina-bashing” out there, when I’m not sure it’s entirely warranted.

Is it just my generation? Is it just my fellow West Australians? Is it a classic case of tall poppy syndrome?

Sure, she inherited a lot of money from her late father. Whatever your thoughts on how she has managed her fortune, she hasn’t squandered it, but rather built on it and earned her place among the world’s richest people.

For a whole host of reasons, there are fewer women at the top of the corporate chain, never mind those who are mothers as well. That’s something to admire, right? Or at least, not hate on her for?

Strip away the fortune and there’s a lot more. This is a woman who has lost her parents, a husband and has a difficult relationship with some of her children.

Other than that, we don’t know her. The only interaction the public seems to have with her, rightly or wrongly, is when she’s in court battling with family members, if there’s an incident at one of her company’s mine operations, or if she says something unpalatable to the average Australian.

Rarely, we hear something nice about scholarships in some faraway land, or some other philanthropic effort which doesn’t immediately spring to mind, but they must be out there – you tell me.

Opinion is divided among my little circle. The prevailing feeling, without ever having had anything to do with the woman, is that she’s ruthless, litigious and difficult to work with, to put it politely. Others I have spoken to describe Mrs Rinehart’s kindness, selflessness and passion for the country she calls home.

The truth is, we don’t know, but I suspect the real Gina lies somewhere in the middle. Everyone wants to love and be loved, and I can’t imagine Mrs Rinehart is any different.

Do I like some of her business and political decisions? No. Do I like the fact that money can buy influence? Absolutely not. But I haven’t walked in her shoes and can’t help but cringe when some think to judge Mrs Rinehart for her looks, rather than her actions.

By all means, no one is perfect, but the devil incarnate does not walk among us either.

Even the actress tasked with playing the mining magnate in House of Hancock doesn’t have a lot to work with in bringing her “character” to life.

“Here’s a woman who was basically her father’s business partner since she was 12. She hasn’t really had the childhood or the backpacking experience that most of us have to discover who we are,” actress Mandy McElhinney told Perth radio station 96fm.

“[Rinehart] lived an incredibly rarefied life, it’s hard to really understand. Most of us have normal lives where we discover our own destinies and have to scrape a bit of money together to get ahead.”

“I’d be really interested to hear what [Rinehart] thinks… but don’t worry, I’ve checked with my lawyers.”

And so, I’d urge viewers to watch House of Hancock with a grain of salt. As thoroughly researched as the production is, some creative licence would had to have been used when it comes to the intensely-private Mrs Rinehart.

While it would be disrespectful to gloss over her joys and her sorrows, there is something a little odd in knowing that a human being’s life (and dirty laundry) is being aired for the enjoyment of others.

No doubt, it’ll be a ratings bonanza, but I’m a firm believer that there’s no true delight in recounting someone else’s misery.

Just a disclaimer, too. No one asked me to write this article, so if you think I’m part of some wider pro-Gina conspiracy, please think again.

House of Hancock will screen on Channel Nine this Sunday, February 8.

At the time this story was written, Gina Rinehart was a shareholder of Fairfax Media, the publisher of this website.Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Architecture award winners shun conventionphotos

Architecture award winners shun convention | photos Building of the Year 2015 Winner: : Commercial Architecture. Cultura Bookstore / Studiomk27 – Marcio Kogan + Diana Radomysler + Luciana Antunes + Marcio Tanaka + Mariana Ruzante. Photo: Fernando Guerra | FG+SG.
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Building of the Year 2015 Winner: Interior Architecture. Wieden+Kennedy NY / WORK Architecture Company. Photo: Bruce Damonte.

Building of the Year 2015 Winner: Educational Architecture. Farming Kindergarten / Vo Trong Nghia Architects. Photo: Gremsy.

Building of the Year Winner: Healthcare Architecture. Livsrum Cancer Counseling Center / EFFEKT. Photo: Quintin Lake.

Building of the Year Winner: Hospitality Architecture. Nine Bridges Country Club / Shigeru Ban Architects Photo: Hiroyuki Hirai.

Building of the Year Winner: Offices. The Building on the Water / Álvaro Siza Vieira + Carlos Castanheira. Photo: Fernando Guerra | FG + SG.

Building of the Year Winner: Public Architecture. Twin Stations / Spora Architects. Photo: Tamás Bujnovszky.

Building of the Year Winner: Housing. The Iceberg / CEBRA_architecture + JDS Architects + SeARCH + Louis Paillard Architects. Photo: Mikkel Frost.

Building of the Year Winner: Industrial Architecture. Carozzi Production and Research Food Center / GH+A Guillermo Hevia. Photo: Nico Saieh.

Building of the Year Winner: Houses. Sambade House / spaceworkers Photo: Fernando Guerra | FG+SG.

Building of the Year Winner: Cultural Architecture. Fogo Natural Park Venue / OTO. Photo: Fernando Guerra | FG + SG.

Building of the Year Winner: Sports Architecture. Arena do Morro / Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron. Photo: Iwan Baan.

Building of the Year Winner: Religious Architecture. Sancaklar Mosque / EAA-Emre Arolat Architects. Photo: Thomas Mayer.

Building of the Year Winner: Refurbishment. The Number 6 / Building. Photo: Piero Ottaviano.

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Marathon medallist Jess Trengove learns from brother Jack’s resilience

Whenever Jess Trengove is having a bad day, she only has to look as far as her brother Jack for inspiration.
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The resilience of the luckless Melbourne Demons midfielder to battle through persistent foot injuries shows the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist what it takes to succeed at the elite level.

Trengove will scale back in distance from the marathon, after having stood on the podium in Glasgow last year, to contest the Australian cross-country championships in Canberra on Sunday.

It’s the first time the 27-year-old has contested the eight-kilometre event since taking out the title in Brisbane in 2010.

Since then, Trengove has been a revelation in the longer distances, finishing a respectable 39th in the marathon in the 2012 London Olympic Games before winning Commonwealth bronze in Glasgow last year.

Younger brother Jack – the second pick in the 2009 AFL draft – has been beset by crippling foot injuries which restricted him to just two games last year. He was on the verge of being traded to Richmond before scans detected he required further surgery to repair damage to the navicular bone. It is unclear if Trengove will play at all this year.

A physiotherapist by trade, Jess has a big interest in bone stress injuries. “I love chatting to him and see what he’s been doing,” Trengove said. “It’s taught me a lot as a physio and a lot as an athlete about staying positive and being patient, resilient.

“He’s got an incredible attitude towards it all and it’s really put it in perspective for me.”

Trengove managed a toe injury in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games and is looking forward to Jack being able to leave the moon boot behind and walking again.

“I’ll be really interested when they start looking at drills and gradually getting back into running,” she said. “My background in running is different to the type of running he’ll be doing as a footballer.

“The training we do is very different. The one thing I will be able to probably help is the early days of retraining his gait, because he hasn’t run for so long.”

Trengove said growing up there was a healthy rivalry between herself, Jack and sister Abbie, who represented South Australia at rowing.

“It sort of inspired me to have a crack at the running,” Trengove said. “Rather than competing against each other because we were in such different sports, it was more of a I’d see what they were doing in training and it would fire me up to pursue my goals.

“When Jack got drafted, it made me think I want to have a real go at running and see where that could take me.”

Trengove is aiming to qualify for the world cross country championships in China in March.

She said the course at Stromlo would make for a fast race. “There’s pretty even grass, so you can take it on pretty hard and I think the pace is generally on,” she said.

“I remember finding it very challenging the last time I raced there. It’s more of a race course with a few little inclines.”

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