‘Toxic’ … Australian swimmers abused alcohol and drugs, report finds.’Toxic’ culture in Australian swimmingSwimming hit by second damning report
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THE Australian Olympic Committee will investigate, and is prepared to financially sanction, the swimmers accused of breaching the team agreement in London.

Fairfax Media has been told that AOC president John Coates has been briefed about the damning findings of two reports into a grossly mismanaged national swim team that performed badly in and out of the pool at the Games last July.

It’s understood the AOC is particularly concerned about the evidence that Olympic swimmers breached the team agreement by misusing prescription drugs and bullying teammates during the Games period.

The culture and leadership report into Australian Olympic swimming prepared by Doctor Pippa Grange, released on Tuesday, says “there were enough culturally toxic incidents across enough team members that breached agreements (such as getting drunk, misuse of prescription drugs, breeching curfews, deceit, bullying) to warrant a strong, collective leadership response that included coaches, staff and the swimmers.”

Doctor Grange laments that “No such collective action was taken”.

Fairfax Media has been told that the AOC, deeply concerned about the report findings, will punish individuals financially if serious breaches of the Olympic team agreement are proved.

Australian athletes that medal at the Olympic Games win money from the AOC for their feats. It’s understood the AOC will seek to recoup that money from any swimmer who medalled in London and breached the team agreement.

Swimmers who did not medal but who are also found to have breached their team agreement may be also punished by the AOC in other ways an insider said.

Australian Olympians are expected to abide by the team agreement on their pre-Olympics camps, during the Games and on their way home.

The Australian Olympic Committee team agreement, which was signed by all national representatives before the London Games, references bullying explicitly in the Ethical Behaviour by-law.

The by-law states:

“…all relevant persons must not, by their acts or omissions, engage or participate in:

(1) Direct discrimination;

(2) Indirect discrimination;

(3) Unlawful harassment;

(4) Bullying;”

It says ” If a breach of this by-law occurs at any time other than during a Games period, then the breach and any sanctions to be applied will be determined by the AOC in its sole and absolute discretion.”

The team agreement also says that “All Relevant Persons must provide assistance and disclose honestly and fully all relevant information to the AOC and during the Games Period the Chef de Mission of the relevant team” and that the AOC may “impose financial penalties in respect of AOC financial or other support” in the case of a breach.

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Source: The Border Mail
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The NSW border town of Alburycould be the nursery for Hollywood’s next Quentin Tarantino with local product Nicholas Clifford taking out the prestigious short film festival Tropfest Australia.

The Melbourne director’s short film We’ve All Been There was chosen by a star-studded panel including Avatar’s Sam Worthington, Underbelly’s Gyton Grantley and Albury’s own Richard Roxburgh as best film.

The former Albury High School student, 30, told The Border Mail that the win, against 15 other finalists and more than 700 entrants, was up there as the highlight of his career so far.

“Easily one of the best,” Clifford said.

“It’s pretty great to have it screened in Sydney in front of that many people and those judges.”

The six minute and 40 second film explores the idea of shared kindness through goodwill and pay-it-forward style ethics.

It also landed actress Laura Wheelright the best actress gong.

Clifford was a Tropfest finalist last year and has directed two other films in the festival, in 2009 and 2011.

In 2009, he established Truce Films in Melbourne, with his AHS school mate Charlie Sarroff.

But a career in Hollywood is the dream.

“That’s the plan,” Clifford said.

“Just to keep getting better and better and the US is where it’s all happening.”

Clifford isn’t the only success in his family.

He is one of six children, who all have established distinguished careers.

The eldest, Lynda lives in London with her husband and is a costume designer, Cherie is the centre manager at Centro Wodonga, Alex is an engineer in San Francisco and twins Anthony and Mark are Albury police officers.

Clifford said a year spent travelling in Canada after year 12 defined what he wanted to do.

“That’s when I started writing,” he said.

“… I think once I found something to focus my energy on … now it’s become my whole life.”

Nicholas Clifford accepting his Tropfest gong this week.


THINKING AHEAD: Novotel Newcastle Beach executive chef Chris Stanley. Picture: Ryan OslandPERHAPS you’ve been planning for a while or maybe you’re newly engaged (it’s just a week after Valentine’s Day after all).
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Either way, for many the first step in wedding planning is actually the engagement party.

Novotel Newcastle Beach is holding a Bespoke Wedding Open Day on Sunday.

Executive chef Chris Stanley offered some advice on planning an engagement party.

What are the first steps in planning a menu for an engagement party?

One of the first considerations in planning the menu is the length of the function.

The longer the scheduled function is, the more substantial the menu can be.

A party of a few hours can suffice with canapes, while a function of a longer duration can include savoury and sweet options all the way up to a three-course dinner.

Is it best to go for finger food options at an event like an engagement party?

I think finger food or canapes encourage more interaction between the guests, and can also be anything from back tie to super-casual.

Our high teas also tend to be very social and lively.

Do you need to take into account special diets, such as vegetarian or gluten-free?

Absolutely. Things like gluten-free and vegetarian are becoming more ‘‘normal’’ than ‘‘special requests’’.

And, if you offer these options to your guests within the menu, you will be sure that everyone feels they have been catered for.

Should the food reflect the couple getting married?

Yes, it’s all about the couple. If you can’t indulge your favourites now, when can you? And we love to tailor the menu to make it more personal.

Can you choose a theme for your food?

Theming of a menu is always exciting and we are happy to accommodate. It always invigorates the kitchen team to think up new, interesting menu items and send different dishes out once in a while. Being near the beach, we get a lot of requests for that kind of theme – seafood and champagne – you can’t go wrong.

The Bespoke Wedding Open Day is on Sunday. Complimentary admission, canapes and drinks included. View venues for receptions, engagement parties, bridal showers and even the Honeymoon Suite.


Greens leader Senator Christine Milne says Labor has ended the alliance with the Greens. Happier times… the Greens sign off on a deal in support of Labor after the 2010 election.
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Greens leader Senator Christine Milne has announced the end of the formal alliance between Labor and the Greens, but pledged to continue to vote against no confidence motions and for supply bills in order for the parliament to continue until the September 14 election day.

Directly challenging Labor’s election pitch that it stands for ”fairness”, Senator Milne accused the Gillard government of  ”walking away from its agreement with the Greens and into the arms of the big miners”.

”Labor’s priorities lie with powerful mining interests not with the people and the Greens,” she told the National Press Club, saying it was Labor – by its actions – who had effectively ended the alliance with her party.

Senator Milne said the Greens were proud of the clean energy package implementing the carbon price, the start of a national Denticare scheme and the introduction of a Parliamentary Budget Office, and attacked Labor for allowing mining in the Tasmanian Tarkine wilderness, for reducing payments to single mothers and for subsidising ”big miners” and fossil fuel exports.

She promised to ”deliver confidence and supply until the Parliament rises for the election”.

”By choosing the big miners the Labor government is no longer honouring our agreement to work together to promote transparent and accountable government, the public interest or to address climate change,” she said.

”We will not walk away from the undertaking we gave not only to the Prime Minister but to the people of Australia. And that was to deliver confidence and supply until the Parliament rises for the election.

”We will see this parliament through to its full term.”

She said ”the Greens will not add to the instability that Labor creates every day for itself”.

Responding to the speech, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: ”This is a matter for Christine Milne and the Greens. We will always be the party that puts jobs and growth first.”

Ms Gillard and her deputy Wayne Swan signed the agreement with the Greens on September 1, 2010, after the election on August 21 did not result in either major party achieving a parliamentary majority. Along with her agreements with three independents, the agreement allowed Labor to form government.

The immediate response from Labor strategists to Senator Milne’s speech was that the Greens’ message that the environment should be put before jobs could be helpful for Labor in its re-election about creating jobs.

Senator Milne insisted Labor would not have introduced a carbon price if it had been elected in its own right.

”We have a carbon price in Australia because of the Greens. If it had been Labor on its own or the Liberals on its own we would not have a carbon price,” she said.

Industry Minister Greg Combet said Senator Milne was engaged in political ”product differentiation”.

And Australian Workers’ Union national secretary Paul Howes accused Senator Milne of trying to score ”cheap headlines” in retaliation over the federal government’s decision to reject World Heritage Listing for the Tarkine wilderness in Tasmania.

”This is just a political ploy by Christine Milne because she’s upset that she lost the campaign in north-west Tasmania. Well, boo hoo. At the end of the day the federal Labor government has done the right thing for jobs,” he said.

”Frankly for Christine Milne to say that Julia Gillard hasn’t delivered for the environment after she introduced a carbon price demonstrates how out of touch with reality Christine Milne is.”

Mr Howes also questioned the practical impact of the Greens’ decision, saying the minor party had been opposing a range of Labor initiatives for some time and would still support the government on supply and confidence votes.

He said Senator Milne was ”a leader who’s struggling” with a collapse in support after predecessor Bob Brown’s retirement.

”Frankly if Christine Milne wants to rip up an agreement, excellent,” Mr Howes said.

”I’m not surprised. These are people that can not handle doing things pragmatically, these are people that cannot handing doing things sensibly,” he said.

Mr Howes said Labor and the Greens did not share common objectives. Labor stood for protecting the environment but this must be done ”pragmatically and smartly” and would not ”sacrifice jobs at the altar of Green ideology”.

with Daniel Hurst

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AWU chief Paul HowesAustralian Workers’ Union chief Paul Howes has taken a swipe at Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson for rejecting calls to reserve gas supplies for domestic use.
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Delegates at the AWU national conference passed a motion on Tuesday demanding an expansion of the natural and coal seam gas industry, while ensuring a scheme to reserve supply for domestic energy use.

Mr Howes, the union’s national secretary, said gas supply should be expanded but more of its should be available to use in Australia.

Mr Howes said resources ministers ”should be there to talking about what resources can do for this country not for the companies that extract them in the first place”.

”Why is it that we have a federal resources minister in the form of Martin Ferguson who is actively campaigning against this?” he said.

Western Australian branch secretary Stephen Price argued Australia was allowing its reserves to be dominated by international oil and gas companies.

Mr Howes also condemned the ”bizarre alliance” of Greens and farmers who were combining to oppose coal seam gas.

The AWU resolution calls on the federal Labor government to review its domestic energy policy while also demanding the NSW Coalition government ”reduce red tape and existing barriers to the extraction of coal seam gas in NSW”.

It allows Mr Howes to launch a campaign stressing the need to retain gas for domestic use as well as a focus on expanding new supplies.

”This is one of the most important resolutions we’ll debate at this conference,” he said.

”It may all seem a bit pie-in-the-sky . . . but remember two years ago when we launched our anti-dumping campaign at national conference there wasn’t much focus on that issue either.”

Mr Howes added: ”It is bizarre that this country has gone through a massive expansion of natural gas right across every state and yet we can’t seem to keep any of this gas, to add value here . . .”

The resolution was passed on the second day of the four-day AWU national conference on the Gold Coast.

Earlier, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten sought to energise AWU members ahead of the looming federal election battle.

In a fiery speech, Mr Shorten said he was proud to be an AWU member and said Labor was at its best ”when we remember where we come from”.

The former AWU national secretary held up his membership card and declared: ”I am very proud to carry in the Parliament of Australia every day my union membership card.”

Mr Shorten rattled off a list of achievements including the government’s steel and aluminium plans, stronger anti-dumping laws, tax cuts and paid parental leave.

”When you hear people say they’re not really doing what Labor governments do, tell them to put that  in their pipe and smoke it,” he said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard sought to brush off the latest poll slump on Monday night by telling AWU members she would fight every day until the election for the Labor cause.

Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan is set to speak on Tuesday afternoon.

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