The inside story of how the Liberal leadership duo of Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop cracked

Prime Minister Tony Abbott address the media after two Liberal MPs revealed plans to trigger a leadership spill. Photo: Christopher Pearce Julie Bishop confronted Tony Abbott during a meeting at Kirribilli House. Photo: Gary Warrick
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Abbott comes out fighting for political life

When Julie Bishop returned to Australia from visiting Afghanistan last week, she could see that Tony Abbott’s prime ministership was in serious difficulty.

She phoned him on Thursday last week and told him she was not campaigning for his job. Neither was anyone else, as far as she could see. The deputy offered to work with the leader to improve the government’s fortunes. She offered to help him with the major speech he was scheduled to give to the National Press Club the following week.

Abbott, apparently suspicious of Bishop’s motives, brushed aside her offers and a tense and sometimes angry conversation followed. Abbott rejected his deputy’s help. Trust seemed to have evaporated. This phone conversation is analogous to the moment when trust between the then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, and his deputy, Julia Gillard, broke.

In the case of Labor, it came when Gillard read The Sydney Morning Herald disclosure that Rudd’s chief of staff, Alister Jordan, was testing the support for Rudd among Labor MPs.

But the analogy does not extend beyond that point. In Gillard’s case, she and her lieutenants seized the opportunity to precipitate their immediate challenge for the leadership.

In Bishop’s case, she did not sever the relationship with her leader. She did not move to organise a challenge. She gritted her teeth and braced herself to continue as deputy to a suspicious and increasingly isolated leader. She knew that there was a spontaneous upwelling of angry discontent among Liberal MPs. How could she not? Her colleagues had been asking her to run against Abbott.

But she did not seek to channel the revolt to serve her own ambition. Indeed, she had been telling agitated backbenchers to give Abbott more time.

Bishop was determined not to be Gillard. Remarkably, as Abbott announced on Friday, her loyalty now extends so far as standing by her leader to oppose a spill motion in the Liberal party room. This is one of the central differences between the two episodes. Rudd was brought down by a coup led by the deputy leader and an echelon of factional lieutenants. Abbott is under attack in a spontaneous revolt by the lowly footsoldiers of his party, the backbench members of parliament.

But after rebuffing Bishop’s spontaneous offer of unity last week, Abbott next tried to engineer a forced one this week.

The pair next saw each other three days later at the prime minister’s official Sydney residence, Kirribilli House. Abbott was to host a dinner for British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who were visiting for annual Australia-UK ministerial consultations.

The big political news of the weekend was the shock Queensland election result. A first-term conservative government with an enormous majority had been thrown from office. The sense of foreboding among federal Liberals deepened.

In a private conversation before the dinner, Abbott probed Bishop’s loyalty. “Come on,” she replied, “I shouldn’t have to do this. I’m not your problem. You’re your own worst enemy.” The next morning Fairfax Media reported that Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop, under growing pressure from colleagues to challenge Abbott, were actively considering their options for the first time.

Abbott delivered his speech to the National Press Club. The speech was spruiked by his lieutenants as buying him time. It was dismissed by his critics as inadequate. The events of the days since show that it did nothing to arrest the crisis in the Liberal Party.

During the question and answer, Sky news reporter Kieran Gilbert put to Abbott: “You met with Julie Bishop last night, did you ask her for a commitment that she should not challenge you and if so what did she say?” Abbott ducked: “Julie’s a friend of mine, Julie’s my deputy, she’s been a terrific deputy, she’s been a terrific minister, I believe I have her full support and I certainly look forward to continuing to have that.” But perhaps he wasn’t so sure. Gilbert later reported that, according to unnamed sources, Abbott had indeed asked her for a commitment that she wouldn’t challenge him and that none was forthcoming. In Abbott’s circle fear was afoot. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane went public and issued an ultimatum to Bishop. “We need to see a situation where the Government governs,” he told the ABC.

“I’d call on both Malcolm — who I know is not planning any leadership challenge because he gave me that assurance — but I also call on Julie Bishop to make that assurance.” Bishop had been telling reporters that she had been deputy for seven years; that she didn’t need to daily rule out doing something she clearly was not doing – challenging Abbott.

But on hearing Macfarlane, an exasperated Bishop decided to give an assurance not to the media but to the Abbott cabinet when it assembled later the same day. “You are all calling on me to publicly make a statement,” she said, looking directly at Macfarlane.

“I am not campaigning for the job of prime minister, I am not ringing the backbench asking for support, I am not counting any numbers, I will not challenge the leader.

“Now that I’ve told you first, I’m going to tell the media.”

It was a pointed rebuke to Macfarlane and to whoever had informed Kieran Gilbert in the first instance. The atmosphere relaxed as ministers joked that it was an authorised cabinet leak. Bishop left the room to phone reporters. Remarkably, the eyes of the assembled ministers did not all turn to Turnbull. All suspicion seemed to attach to the Foreign Affairs Minister and none to the Communications Minister. There was no further talk of the leadership.

Yet Turnbull was the most likely and most viable of the leadership rivals to Abbott. He was the real candidate. Oddly, while pursuing Bishop on the subject Abbott did not seek reassurances from Turnbull, publicly or privately, over his ambitions. Turnbull has occupied a delicate position in recent days. When he decided to remain in parliament after losing the leadership, Turnbull made a commitment not to damage Abbott, the man who tore him down, in any way. Conscious of his promise, aware that he is a member of the Abbott cabinet, he has been careful to avoid actually asking colleagues whether they would vote for him in a leadership ballot.

But he has gone close, talking to many colleagues, asking them for their views, discussing the party’s situation and Abbott’s prospects. But Turnbull, like Bishop, has not been undermining the prime minister.

“There has been no campaign of destabilisation against Abbott,” a minister attests.”He has had a clear run.”

Bishop has performed impressively as Foreign Affairs Minister. Abbott repeatedly named her as a “star” among his ministers. She is poised, articulate, tough. She has stood up to intimidation from Beijing in defence of Australia’s right to speak its mind when China has destabilised the region with its territorial ambitions. She has privately confronted Russia’s Vladimir Putin over the shootdown of MH17 and she galvanised the UN Security Council into giving political protection to the recovery operation. She has cultivated backbenchers, agreeing to appear in their electorates and help them with fundraisers. Her public recognition has soared. Her standing in polls testing public opinion for preferred Liberal leader has risen until she eclipses Abbott and rates second only to Turnbull.

But Turnbull rates number one, as he has consistently for years. He is a former party leader. He has had a high public profile not just for a decade but for over two decades. He has been prominently successful in several fields, including the law and investment banking as well as politics. He is a gifted orator. He is independently wealthy. Both have felt failure. Bishop was demoted from the Treasury bench in opposition. Turnbull self-detonated as opposition leader in his mishandling of the Godwin Gretch affair of fabricated accusations against Kevin Rudd. That made him vulnerable to internal challenge over his climate change policy, which appealed to the left of his party but aroused the ire of its right.

But of the two, the emerging sentiment in the party is that Turnbull is the more rounded, the more complete, and the readier to lead.

A Liberal senator, a factional operative in the conservative arm of the Liberal Party, said this week that Turnbull was, in other circumstances, unacceptable as leader because of his centrist policy stance.

“But when you’re heading over a cliff, anyone who can rescue you starts to look pretty attractive.”

Turnbull’s standing in the business community is a distinguishing credential. In briefings to the Abbott cabinet this week, the governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens and the secretary of the Treasury, John Fraser, agreed on the missing ingredient for a thriving economy – business confidence.

They emphasised that the elements of a faster-growing economy were in place, with the standout exception of confidence. The Australian dollar has fallen dramatically, restoring much lost competitiveness. Interest rates are low. Wages are not growing but remain stable. Inflation is well in check. The services and agriculture sectors are poised for growth. But business confidence is low. It fell after the federal budget last May and has remained feeble since. And that means that firms are reluctant to take risks, to invest, to expand, to hire. Both Stevens and Fraser emphasised this point, according to multiple cabinet ministers who were present.

Abbott and his Treasurer have failed to generate business confidence. Many in the Liberal party are looking to Turnbull to achieve what the Abbott government has not. To win the confidence of the community and the business community.

Abbott’s prime ministership is now mortally wounded. There is a strong chance that he will lose a ballot on Tuesday. But even if he doesn’t, the damage of open party revolt has already been inflicted.

“Once the leadership is in play, prime ministers ultimately cannot recover,” says an Abbott minister who hopes he will succeed but is resigned to the likelihood that he will not.

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Sydney FC’s Alex Gersbach confident Sky Blues can ride winning streak to finals

Intense: Alex Gersbach at training. Photo: Brendan EspositoSydney FC left-back Alex Gersbach believes the Sky Blues are every chance of remaining in title contention if they can get on a winning run to kick-start the second half of their A-League season.
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Graham Arnold’s side at least emerged from the Asian Cup break with a thumping 5-1 win over Central Coast, one that signalled the side was anything but a spent force despite their form and injury concerns.

As they head to Perth to face top-of-the-table Glory at NIB Stadium on Saturday night, Gersbach wants to see his teammates do everything in their power to put together a streak that would see them surge up the table.

“We’re looking to get on a winning run and we’re looking for a better performance than the first half of the season,” he said before training at Leichhardt Oval on Friday morning. “Hopefully we don’t hit another slump and we can make a charge for the finals and see what happens from there.

“I think the boys are all ready to go for the game against Perth. Training has been really intense this week. There’s been a few short, sharp sessions. We get to Perth [late Friday] and I think the boys will be ready to go on Saturday night.”

The Sky Blues camp is buoyant after the win in Gosford, but Gersbach is aware the Glory will be a much sterner test.

“Perth are the team to beat at the moment and you can see that – they’re top of the league,” he said. “We’ll be doing our best to take our game plan and see what we can do to get the three points.

“The mood in the change room is really good at the moment, especially after that win against the Mariners. But that doesn’t mean anything at the moment and we’ve got to take it one game at a time and Perth this weekend is going to be a tough test. If we can get the three points that would be really good for us.”

The 18-year-old has been in wonderful form this season, taking over as the permanent left-back after Ali Abbas injured his knee, and he has never looked back.

“I’m finding it really good at the moment and the boys have been really helpful as have all the staff,” he said. “I’m just looking to keep it going for the rest of the season.”

Central to that development has been the influence of Arnold, a figure so important in the careers of several young Australian players, including many who played at the Asian Cup.

“‘Arnie’ has been really good,” Gersbach said. “Without him, I don’t know what I’d do. He’s given me [advice], he’s shown faith in me and given me confidence to play the way I play and that’s all I can ask for, really. [I like] attacking, getting down the wing, getting a few crosses in. That’s what I like do when I’m playing at left-back.”

One player who is a chance to come back into the starting side is Terry Antonis, fresh from being part of the squad that claimed glory for Australia against South Korea. While Antonis didn’t see any game time during the tournament, he might be the first one to shout drinks when the players next head out on the town.

“The boys have been joking around a bit about his cash bonus,” Gersbach said. “But it’s really good to have him back. He’s a great member of our team and gives a lot to our team and hopefully can help us get a win this weekend as well.”

Although new signing Mickael Tavares may keep Antonis out of the side this weekend, Gersbach said Tavares and Jacques Faty had earned their spots.

“Those two boys have been really good coming into the team,” he said. “We saw against the Mariners they contributed really well and I think they’ll be looking to do the same this week.”

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Jose Mourinho a genius and the Aussies made a big impression, Damien Duff recalls

Melbourne City winger Damien Duff has worked with some of the top coaches in the world and played alongside some of the best-known names in the game.
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Liverpool and Scotland legend Kenny Dalglish was manager when he signed at Blackburn as a teenager. He worked with current England boss Roy Hodgson when Fulham reached the Europa League final. And he played for Italian master coach Giovanni Trapattoni, one of the biggest names in the game, when the Italian coached the Irish national team.

But he is in no doubt who was the best he worked with: the self-appointed Special One, Jose Mourinho, when the Portuguese took over at Chelsea in his first stint at Stamford Bridge.

“It was an amazing time … he’s this big personality to everyone looking in, but he’s an amazing guy to work with. You’d run through a brick wall for him. From the football point of view on the pitch, getting coached every day, he’s top notch.

“He might not have been a top player, but he’s certainly an amazing, amazing coach, and I have learned a lot from him. He’s a genius when it comes to motivation as well.

“For me, he ticks every box. Outsiders looking in probably love to hate him, but he laughs off that, he loves it.

“I was very fortunate to work with all of them – Dalglish, Hodgson, Mourinho – you could also say that Trapattoni has one of the best CVs in the game, both as a manager and a player, if not the best. So, all in all, I always embraced it, worked my socks off and made the best out of things. I am a lucky man.”

Duff played with and against some of the best-known Australians in an era when many Socceroos were in the Premier League. Harry Kewell, a similar age and position, was someone against whom he was benchmarked, while he played alongside Mark Viduka at Newcastle and with Mark Schwarzer at Fulham.

“I had a year or two with Dukes, he had a few injuries. but he had some ability, to be fair to him … we probably didn’t play a lot together because of injuries, but when I did play with him he was a target man with amazing feet.

“He could pick out your runs, probably more so when he was at Leeds with Harry Kewell. He [Kewell] was amazing. He was coming through with Leeds when I was coming through with Blackburn. He impressed me week in and week out. He was banging goals in left right and centre, they were always challenging for the title.”

His longest partnership was with Schwarzer, whom he rates highly. “Possibly, and I have played with some top, top goalkeepers, for me, he could be No. 1. The amount of points and games he saved was ridiculous and his shot-stopping was amazing, and definitely without doubt he had the best hands, soft hands, catching a ball, saves, I have ever seen.

“He was also the best professional  … I thought I was a top pro, but he takes it to the next level. The amount of graft he puts in is amazing.”

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Home is where the Heart is for Damien Duff – but business comes first in derby clash

Melbourne City’s star import Damien Duff sucks in his cheeks and his mouth forms in a half smile when asked whether he would consider staying on for another season in the A-League.
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The Irishman admits that, perhaps to his surprise, he has loved his time in Melbourne, where he arrived in the depths of last winter to prepare for a season with a club that was reinventing itself in an emerging league on the other side of the world that he was used to – a world of big-name players, glamorous clubs and top-flight competition.

So much so that the Victorian capital would, he says, be one of the few places in the world that he might consider settling – if his desire to return home to his native Ireland were not so great.

Not even an A-League championship and the lure of a last hurrah in the Asian Champions League would, says Duff, be enough for him and his wife Elaine and children Woody and Darcy to stay.

Home is where the heart is for the Dublin-born Duff, and he intends to return to Ireland to play one final season in the local Eirecom League, the Irish national championship, and then study for his coaching badges with a view to eventually moving into football management.

“It’s on my bucket list. I have always said I will go home and play in the Eirecom league. I am a proud Irishman so I will eventually finish playing in my national league,” he said in a media round table leading up to Saturday’s Melbourne derby.

“For my two kids and my wife it’s been brilliant for them, a great eye opener [to be in Australia]. The one city that’s touched me the most throughout my career, I would probably say Melbourne. If I was going to stay somewhere and live outside Dublin it would be Melbourne, even though I have probably spent 10 years in London. It’s a great place, sport crazy and I have loved it.

“We are going to raise our kids in Ireland. That’s the plan, to go home. I have loved it here and this is probably the spot that I will always come back on holiday.”

The sandy-haired winger turns 36 in three weeks, so the end is coming.

But when he does hang up his boots Duff will have some wonderful memories from a decorated career that began some 20 years ago when a quiet young kid from Ballyboden, South Dublin – the small town where AFL legend the late Jim Stynes began his Gaelic football career –  moved to England to sign as a junior with the then recently crowned English champions Blackburn Rovers.

In the subsequent years Duff won a League Cup with Blackburn, two Premier League Championships with Chelsea, reached the final of the Europa League with Fulham and played in a World Cup for his country, for whom he eventually amassed 100 caps.

But to spend time with him, you wouldn’t know of these achievements unless you did your research first.

By his own admission not the most voluble of characters, or a man who likes bothering overmuch with the media, Duff is the archetypal quiet achiever who has always preferred to let his deeds speak louder than his words.

It has been an approach that has worked well – with the exception of a miserable three-year stint in the Premiership with Newcastle in which he was often injured and ended with the team being relegated to the Championship.

Through it all, it is his time with Chelsea (2003-06) that sticks out as the most successful.

Signed by Claudio Ranieri, he was part of the Blues team that was subsequently coached by the Italian’s successor, Jose Mourinho, to Chelsea’s first championship in 50 years when they took the Premiership crown in 2004-05. A year later they repeated the triumph, establishing Chelsea as a Premiership force who would ultimately go on to become one of Europe’s major clubs.

In that second season, with Duff on one wing and Dutch flyer Arjen Robben on the other, there was pace, skill and danger on both flanks, creating chances for the likes of Didier Drogba to put away.

“From a winning point of view, we are all competitive sportsmen, and it’s nice to go home in a good mood. So, from that point of view, you say Chelsea [was the best time] because you are winning every week and you go home with no worries.

“But they have all been equally good experiences, although saying that, Newcastle to a lesser extent. It was a long three years of my life which didn’t go too well on or off the pitch.  Sometimes moves just don’t work out.

“I had three years at Newcastle where I couldn’t walk down the streets because I was told all sorts of horrible things. Talk about character building, that was probably the best sort of character building I had, getting abuse on the street …,” he says with the sort of wry smile that those reflecting on an unpleasant experience can, with hindsight, afford.

It is a lingering regret for Duff that he got to play in only one World Cup. His was an era in the Ireland side when he often played up front alongside Robbie Keane, a contemporary from a young age, a pairing that gave the Republic a strike force that could threaten the best.

Ireland’s last appearance at the big show was in Korea/Japan 2002, when they made the round of 16, losing to Spain on penalties, and Duff recalls it fondly.

“It was massive … it doesn’t get any bigger. Every time I pull the jersey on it could bring a tear to your eye, is a special time in our life, and to do so at a World Cup was nice. It was unfortunate not to get to another one. It was before Spain became a super power, we battered them for most of the game, I remember that very clearly. “

Duff did his research on the A-League before he came in search of a football adventure to round out his career, so he hasn’t been surprised by the pace and level of the game.

“It’s been hard work, I won’t lie to you … I knew before I came it wasn’t going to be a holiday, and it certainly hasn’t been, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. I did my homework, and knowing Australian sport, I knew it wasn’t going to be a jolly up. I knew it was going to be physical.

“I suppose you do miss that English atmosphere, but really it’s been nothing but good and I have recommended it to Irish lads already and I think more and more will come out. “

If all goes to plan, this will be his last Melbourne derby – and he is looking forward to the occasion. “It’s certainly up there, when there’s 40 or 50,000, which there was at the Etihad last time, you can’t help but be excited. It’s a big game, and I have played in some big ones, but the Melbourne derby is up there. When there’s 40,000 people at it, you don’t have to say much more than that.”

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Sydney’s best-value family suburbs

On the move: Jim and Kay Demetriadis are selling their home in Kogarah Bay. Photo: Brendan Esposito On the move: Jim and Kay Demetriadis are selling their home in Kogarah Bay. Photo: Brendan Esposito
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On the move: Jim and Kay Demetriadis are selling their home in Kogarah Bay. Photo: Brendan Esposito

A great family home in a suburb with plenty of potential price growth within a 20-kilometre radius of the Sydney CBD?

It’s many people’s dream and, although it’s not going to come particularly cheaply any more, there are pockets of Sydney around that are still undervalued, or that will  benefit from infrastructure projects that are under construction or on the cards.

“You have to have an eye to the future when you’re looking for something like this,” says buyers’ agent Chris Curtis of Curtis Associates. “There might be infrastructure coming along and improved connectivity that will really help a suburb or area. You need to look for key drivers of growth as well as family lifestyle.”

It’s for both those reasons that, in the eastern suburbs, Curtis favours places like Randwick, Kingsford and Kensington because of the coming south east light rail line, and Rosebery nearby.

Martin Farah of sales agents NG Farah agrees. “The light rail will make Kingsford like an epicentre, and prices there will go up,” he says. “It’s very good for young families.”

In the inner west, Curtis names Dulwich Hill, Haberfield and Leichhardt as areas also still with future growth as a result of their new light rail links. Summer Hill, is the pick of Dennis Kalofonos, principal of Sydney Property Finders. “That’s still a nice suburb for families,” he says.

Kalofonos also rates some of the suburbs to Sydney’s south as likely to pick up value as a result of the WestConnex project and upgrading the M5. For families, he recommends Sans Souci, Rockdale, Kogarah, Carlton, Ramsgate and South Hurstville.

“They will benefit significantly from the road improvements,” he says. “Traffic will be reduced substantially and Ramsgate council has always been a fantastic upgrading body, while there’s lots of accommodation for families, particularly in Kogarah and Carlton.”

Brad Fair of agents PRDnationwide Woodward-Ramsgate says it’s an area that offers a healthy lifestyle with the beaches, parks, schools and shops. “It’s already close to everything, but it will soon be even better,” he says.

In the south west, Domain Group senior economist Dr Andrew Wilson names Georges Hall, Bass Hill, Fairfield, South Granville and Chester Hill as his affordable family picks, still with incipient price growth. “It’s in the vicinity of those areas that you’ll still find good buying,” he says.

To the north west, he thinks Cherrybrook and Castle Hill are still good bets. The North West Rail Link he feels has already sent many prices in the area soaring, but these still offer value. “They’ll still be cheaper than some of the surrounding areas, and they’re my personal preference in terms of neighbourhoods,” he says.

On the Upper North Shore, he also likes Hornsby and Pennant Hills as still being good value, while Curtis believes Pymble and Turramurra could be excellent choices. “Turramurra has a lovely village feel and a good local community which is great for families,” he says. “I think they’re both still a little undervalued.”

Local agent George Carey of Ray White Turramurra agrees. “Turramurra is a great area close to the national park and there’s still good price growth there to come,” he says.Case study: A fabulous area for families

When Kay and Jim Demetriadis went to inspect a house in Kogarah Bay, they reckoned it could be the perfect home for their young family. And 22 years later, they know they were absolutely right.

“It’s been great for us,” says Kay, 55, whose two daughters are in their early 30s. “It’s a lovely family home, especially with the extensions and renovation and all the improvements we’ve made to it, and it’s a fabulous area for families.

“You’re on the foreshore of Kogarah Bay, so you have the beach, parks, schools, shopping centre, airport and the city just 15 minutes away. You’re right smack in the middle of the St George area and you’re so close to everything. It’s going to be even better soon with the new roads.”

Over the years, Kay and Jim, 63, a carpenter, have turned the original 1920s workers cottage at 8 Ramsgate Road into a more spacious three-bedroom home. While they’ve retained many of the original features, such as the high ornate ceilings, picture rails and fireplace, they’ve put in a new kitchen and bathroom, swimming pool, pergola, garage and polished timber floors throughout – Jim’s specialty.

But now the couple are selling their house through Belle Property Ramsgate Beach agent Tony Giouzelis (Phone 0433 133 660) via auction on February 26 with expectations of over $950,000.

“With our daughters grown up and with grandchildren, we’ve decided to find another house to renovate in the area,” says Kay. “But we’ll miss it.”Feature property

9 Alice Street, Turramurra Price guide: $1.3 million

Close to quality public and private schools in the area, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom house would be well suited to a growing family, in a suburb that still has plenty of price growth left.

“It is a beautiful character home in an area that’s great for families,” says Ray White Turramurra agent Kevin Hinder (Ph 0417 253 633). “There’s a lot of good value in Turramurra and I believe there is price growth still to come.”

The house was built in the 1920s in a quiet, leafy part of the Upper North Shore, North-facing, and with a traditional front porch set midst pretty greenery. To the back, there’s a private rear deck and an easy-to-care-for established garden.

Inside there are high ceilings, timber floors and a dining room opening out to the garden. The modern kitchen has a wraparound deck, perfect for alfresco dining and entertaining, and there’s also a study or nursery, while the master bedroom has an en suite.

“The house is just a short walk to the local shops, too,” says Hinder. The house is going for auction on February 21 via Hinder and fellow agent George Carey (Ph 0422 005 985). More photos: Domain上海龙凤419m.au

Or try these:

24 Snape Street, Kingsford Price guide: Around $2 million

Four oversized bedrooms, four bathrooms and a large living and dining room make this a perfect family home. Upstairs, it has two balconies, one shaded by grape vines and with views. it also has a paved garden with pool as well as a study, and is close to local shops and parks. For auction February 24 via N.G.Farah agent Martin Farah Ph 0418 402 015. More photos: Domain上海龙凤419m.au

4/39 Walter Street, Sans Souci Price guide: $850,000+

Just 800 metres to the beach at Dolls Point, this large townhouse has three bedrooms and an office, and two bathrooms. Strata-titled in a security complex, it has an upstairs family room and a kitchen-dining area that opens to a north-facing grass courtyard, as well as a lock-up garage. For auction February 21 via Peter McGuinn of South Eastern Realty, Ph 0414 283 055. More photos: Domain上海龙凤419m.au

2B Greendale Avenue, Pymble Price guide: Offers over $1.25 million

A stroll to schools, parks and the rail station, this free-standing brick home has four bedrooms and three bathrooms with open plan lounge and dining areas leading to a covered outdoor entertaining terrace. There are polished floorboards, ducted reverse cycle airconditioning and a double lock-up garage. For sale via Mary Hepburn, Century 21 Cordeau Marshall – St Ives, Ph 0413 240 505. More photos: Domain上海龙凤419m.au

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Coach Matthew Beckenham says beating Sally Pearson an important step for Melissa Breen

Breen Pearson was an ultra-consistent performer and a close result with a quick Pearson would also be a good result. Photo: Rohan ThomsonCoach Matthew Beckenham says Canberra sprint queen Melissa Breen has the perfect chance to start silencing doubts she can compete against the world’s best when she takes on Australian golden girl Sally Pearson on Saturday.
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While Breen and Pearson have played down the importance of the showdown that pits the Australian women’s 100-metre record holder against the national 100m champion at the AIS Track – with the importance switched to the world championships in Beijing in August – Beckenham still sees it as an important race for Breen.

About a year ago she shocked the Australian athletics world when she scorched down the AIS track to break Melinda Gainsford-Taylor’s 20-year-old national record in 11.11 seconds.

It was on the same day Breen beat Pearson for the first and only time in their careers. While that run proved Breen was fast, Beckenham said there were still doubts about whether she could run quickly at a major meet – or against Sally Pearson.

He felt his charge was closing the gap on the Olympic champion hurdler, and every time Breen ran against Pearson it was a chance to remove the question marks.

“As we’ve learnt with Mel, she can run well in Canberra, but the jury that decide whether or not she’s a successful athlete judge it on how she runs at the majors,” Beckenham said. “This is a real opportunity on her home track … let’s run a good race against Sally.

“Let’s see if you can execute what we’ve been practising for the last 12 weeks on your own. The easiest way to assess it is she beats Sally.”

He said Breen was an ultra-consistent performer and a close result would also be a good result.

Breen is still in a heavy training mode and won’t be at her fastest on Saturday, with an eye on peaking in Beijing.

She reiterated her desire to simply run as fast as she can, with the goal of breaking the 11-second barrier.

It is the combination of Breen’s national record and Pearson’s glittering resume – an Olympic Games gold medal, a world championship crown and two Commonwealth Games golds in her beloved 100m hurdles – that has generated so much interest in this meet.

But Breen tempered expectations the national record would again be lowered on the super-quick Canberra track. “I appreciate, on face value, that’s great but it took 20 years for someone to do it, it’s not a thing that was easy to do,” she said.

“Obviously you’d always want to see an Aussie record … but for us right now, the top athletes … their main goal is to run their best times at world championships where you can make finals and get on the podium.”

Breen said there was added pressure running against Pearson, someone she has always looked up to.

“She’s probably one of the best starters in the world and in 100m that’s pretty critical and it obviously brings a lot more hype to [the race],” she said.

“So it makes you nervous, but it also makes you excited because you know it is going to be a fast race because she always turns up and she’s always in good shape.

“You always know you’re going to have a battle on your hands and that’s something you want to thrive on.”

Beckenham said another Canberran, 400m hurdler Lauren Wells, was in good shape and would be looking to run a world qualifying time of 56.2s on Saturday.

“Loz will run well tomorrow, I’d like her to get a qualifier,” he said.

“She’s got this week, she’s [got] Perth and the ACT champs three weeks in a row, which are normally good conditions.”

CANBERRA TRACK CLASSIC

Saturday: At the AIS Track, from 3.30pm.

Tickets $10, under-18s free.

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Alex Rowe aiming for world champs qualifier at Canberra Track Classic

Time is of the essence for Australian 800-metre record holder Alex Rowe, and the medical student has vowed to back Canberra to host the national championships if he runs a fast time at the AIS Track on Saturday.
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Rowe holds the record along with Ralph Doubell, who set the mark of one minute 44.4 seconds at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, and the 22-year-old wants to hit the ground running at the Canberra Track Classic on Saturday to book his place to the world championships in Beijing in August.

With his medical studies set to ramp up a notch in 2015, Rowe will have limited time to travel and compete abroad, making the Australian domestic season of the utmost importance to qualify for the worlds.

“Getting the qualifier here in Australia is a bit more important than it has been in previous years, which makes Canberra just another opportunity to try and get that qualifier,” Rowe said.

“I’d like to hit the ground running in Canberra because it’s an amazing track … but with subsequent runs you do improve. I like to start the season at a high level and then improve.”

But he also has an eye on regaining the national title he lost to Josh Ralph last year.

He won the title in 2013 and missed the feeling of being on top of the podium when he finished second to Ralph.

Like many athletes, Rowe loves running in Canberra due to the typically fast conditions and said he’d love for the Canberra Track Classic to become a permanent fixture on the Athletics Australia calendar.

Not just for himself, but also to gain publicity for the sport – records create interest.

But the Australian Sports Commission is currently reviewing AA, which is expected to be completed at the end of February or early March.

It will decide the organisation’s structure going forward and they can’t commit to continuing the CTC until they know the review’s outcome.

But Rowe said he’d back it to even host the nationals – if he runs a good time on Saturday.

“It wouldn’t be a bad atmosphere and the size of the venue is also fantastic because it’s not a massive, massive venue that dwarfs [everything],” he said.

“I’ll run here tomorrow night [Satruday] and I’ll give you more details about whether nationals should be here – if I run fast then you’ll know what the answer will be.”

CANBERRA TRACK CLASSIC

Saturday: At the AIS Track, from 3.30pm.

Tickets $10, under-18 free.

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Commonwealth gold medallist Michael Shelley to contest world cross-country titles

Commonwealth Games marathon gold medallist Michael Shelley will contest the Australian cross-country championships at Stromlo Forest Park on Sunday. Photo: Andrej IsakovicIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the mantra Commonwealth Games gold medallist Michael Shelley is following with his decade-long long-distance partnership with renowned Canberra coach Dick Telford.
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Shelley will catch up with Telford when he competes in the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships selection trial at Stromlo Forest Park on Sunday.

Shelley will bypass the world titles in China in March, electing instead to direct his energy towards preparing for the London marathon on April 26.

The 31-year-old became just the fourth Australian to win the men’s marathon at the Commonwealth Games with victory at Glasgow last year in a personal best time of 2 hours, 11 minutes,15 seconds.

Shelley has trained on the Gold Coast since 2005, working with Telford via correspondence. He transmits a detailed heart-rate graph of all of his training sessions to Telford from a GPS watch.

“We talk once or twice a week and I send him my training through the internet with the heart-rate graph, so I can’t slacken off and he knows what’s going on,” Shelley said.

“I can’t rehash old heart-rate graphs either because he’s on to it, not that I’ve tried it. He knows I train hard and I know he expects me to train hard, we just know what’s each other is doing. It’s been working out well since I moved back here in 2005, so why go changing it.”

Telford is one of Australia’s most revered distance-running coaches, having mentored the likes of Lisa Martin (nee Ondieki), Andrew Lloyd, Kate Anderson and Susan Hobson. He was the first sports scientist employed by the Australian Institute of Sport and was last year inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Shelley does the majority of his training individually and has encountered dangerous customers during his runs through the Gold Coast hinterland.

“I have to focus on some of the trails I run anyhow because there’s snakes and that sort of thing, so it keeps you on your toes,” Shelley said. “Training by myself doesn’t really worry me, but occasionally it would be nice to have another person with me so they could keep any eye out.

“I used to see [snakes] quite regularly, but this summer I haven’t seen any, so it’s been a good summer.”

The 12-kilometre cross-country event is at the perfect time and distance for Shelley ahead of the London marathon.

Shelley placed 65th at the world cross-country championships in 2007 and completed his first marathon in 2010, finishing 12th at the Rotterdam marathon.

He won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and 16th at the 2012 London Olympic Games, but says it’s difficult to put expectations on how he might fare at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“The marathon is a different beast,” he said. “Hopefully you wake up fantastic on the day and you’re training will pay off.”

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ICC’s anti-corruption boss likens grooming tactics of cricket corrupters to paedophiles

The head of world cricket’s anti-corruption and security unit Sir Ronnie Flanagan has likened criminals who lure cricketers into illegal activity to  paedophiles grooming their victims.
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Just over a week before the  World Cup begins, the ICC has outlined security measures that  it believes will ensure the tournament is free from corruption and the threat of corruption.

The ICC has handed a “watch list” – featuring the names of 100 corrupters – to law enforcement agencies in Australia and New Zealand who are banned from entering the World Cup venues. Players and officials from the 14 competing nations will be shown videos this weekend reminding them of their obligations to report suspicious corruption-related behaviour.

Flanagan, a retired senior British police officer, said the ICC had seen a “100 per cent increase” in reports by players, many of whom  are innocent, in the past three years. The video includes a message from Flanagan, other international players and at least one disgraced player, who urges today’s stars not to make the same mistake he did. The disgraced player is not former Pakistan seamer and spot-fixer Mohammad Amir, who  last week was cleared by the ICC to return to domestic cricket.

Flanagan has told players they have the trust of the ICC’s ACSU but warns them of “rotten” criminal elements who “do all in their power to get at players” and officials.

“They’ll trick them, coerce them, try and attract them, they’re almost like paedophiles in how they attempt to groom people into ultimately doing what suits their nefarious intentions in terms of illegal betting and other elements of criminality,” Flanagan said.

“I’m certain the players, match officials and support staff will be working very carefully in support of what we do and we’ll work in partnership to ensure  [criminals] never get their way in this tournament.”

The ICC signed in August 2013 a memorandum of understanding with Australian Federal Police in their fight against corruption at the World Cup.

Fraud detection providers Sportradar have been hired to monitor betting on regulated markets. Analysts will  trawl through social media looking for  approaches  to players.

Security staff  have also been briefed to watch out for “pitchsiders”, the term given to fans who attend matches live and capitalise on the TV delay to either bet or pass on information to bookmakers.

Although pitchsiders do not influence results, the ICC believe it is a threat to the integrity of the game as “it feeds into wider and more sophisticated network of illegal betting”, Flanagan said.

“That’s where there is a risk of it being a minor contagion.”

Pitchsiding is not illegal but Flanagan said pitchsiders can be ejected and banned from World Cup venues for breaching the terms and conditions of entry, which is what happened to a British national during this summer’s Big Bash League.

Fairfax Media has been told pitchsiders apprehended by security staff are often tight-lipped, but the ICC has gleaned enough information to believe their interventions have disrupted the business of illegal bookmakers and gambling syndicates.

“The disruption we bring about from that multiplies. The people whom they will be talking to will be talking to other people,” Flanagan said.

“We’ve had instances after the removal of one person where we know the messages are coming: “Where has he gone? What has happened to the commentary?”.

Flanagan said the intelligence gathered by cricket’s anti-corruption fighters would be shared among other sports.

“I’m certain these bad guys don’t put themselves in pigeonholes and say I only deal with cricket, tennis or snooker,” Flanagan said.

“The same people will be seeking to be in operation wherever they can make money. It’s important all sports keep in close contact with each other.’

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Injury-time own goal sinks plucky Jets

HIGH POINT: Jets substitute Radovan Pavicevic scores his first A-League goal. Picture: Getty ImagesTHE new-look Newcastle Jets gave up a goal in injury time to suffer a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Brisbane Roar in front of 6944 fans at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
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Teenage substitute Radovan Pavicevic looked to have earned Newcastle a deserved draw when he scored his maiden A-League goal in the 72nd minute.

But with moments remaining, substitute Allan Welsh, who had been on the field for 14 seconds, stuck out his right boot to clear a low free kick from Thomas Broich only to deflect it into his own net.

The rookie defender had just replaced Scott Neville, who had given the free kick away.

The Jets showed plenty of fight after two weeks of turmoil at the club which included the sacking of five of their teammates and three of their coaching staff.

Striker Jean Carlos Solorzano put the visitors ahead in the 35th minute when he was left unmarked at a corner and flicked the ball home from inside the six-yard box.

Plucked from the youth team, Pavicevic equalised when he collected a misdirected back pass from Corey Brown, rounded goalkeeper Michael Theo and kept his cool when the ball bobbled up from Brown’s late challenge to volley it deftly between two defenders.

Radovan Pavicevic scoring a goal for Newcastle. Picture: Dean Osland

In the end, it was not the win the Jets craved, but it was a vast improvement on the insipid performance in the 7-0 surrender to Adelaide two weeks earlier.

Content to sit back for much of the contest, the Jets finished the stronger and could have snatched all three points.

Daniel Mullen hit the crossbar with a header and the Roar had to defend desperately at the death to hang on before snatching the winner against the run of play.

Taylor Regan, who had not played since round six, led a bare-bones outfit after a fortnight of bloodletting.

Former Wanderers centre back Mullen made his Jets debut alongside Regan in five team changes from the Adelaide rout.

New assistant coaches Mark Jones, James Pascoe and Jesse Vanstrattan, who also acted as back-up keeper, joined besieged coach Phil Stubbins on the sideline for the first time.

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