‘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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Thousands of patients with a previously incurable strain of hepatitis C will be disease-free, with two new drugs that provide the first breakthrough in treating the chronic condition in a decade being included on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
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For patients unsuccessfully treated by existing drugs, hepatitis C can lead to liver cancer, liver failure and the need for a liver transplant.

But more than 130,000 patients will benefit from two drugs, boceprevir and telaprevir, which the federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek announced on Tuesday would be subsidised by the government.Patients would otherwise pay up to $78,000 for the drugs.

”More than 40 per cent of people seen needing liver transplants have had chronic hepatitis C, these drugs, in combination with existing treatments, will lead to a much better cure rate,” Ms Plibersek said.

”Over the next few years we hope 9000 cases of liver damage will be prevented and we will stop the need for liver transplants for 870 people.”

Hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood transmission and is a significant public health issue in Australia, with about 220,000 Australians living with a chronic form of the disease in 2011.

The head of the liver transplant unit at Royal Prince Alfred hospital in Sydney, Professor Geoff McCaughan, said the drugs would cure up to 75 per cent of patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C – the most common strain of the disease. Current treatments cure half of those patients.

”Treatment time will also be cut in half for many patients, from one year to six months,” Professor McCaughan said.

Hepatitis C is one of the most commonly reported notifiable diseases in the country and there is no vaccine.

Warren Fahey has had the disease since 1979 after he received blood transfusions following a motorcycle accident. He had two unsuccessful treatments and said he has been ”buying time” ever since.

”I adopted a healthy lifestyle, I exercise, eat well and drink minimal alcohol, all to buy time after the treatments did not work,” he said.

”So I’m euphoric about these new drugs that might cure me and that they are being subsidised, otherwise they would be out of reach for most people.”

He urged people with the condition to see their doctor to see if they were eligible for the treatments.

The government will provide more than $220 million over five years to subsidise the medicines, which are expected to be available in the next few months at a maximum cost to patients of $36.10.

Other newly subsidised drugs include an oral contraceptive, levonorgestrel, a treatment for Parkinson Disease, rotigotine, and a drug for type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, sitagliptin with simvastatin.

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A crime thriller being shot in Western Australia and starring Ewan McGregor has raised eyebrows by issuing a casting call that does little to challenge racial stereotypes.
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On February 10, the producers of Son of a Gun issued an urgent casting call on starnow南京夜网 seeking extras to portray the roles of “prisoners/gangs”, “hired muscle/henchmen”, “tactical response group” and “Chinese people”.

While the last of those was necessarily limited by ethnicity, the others were not. In theory at least.

But while the police extras were not limited by gender, acting experience or even age, so long as they were a fit adult who could handle a gun, the demands for those on the wrong side of the law were more specific.

For the hired muscle, the producers wanted “Australian, Italian and European gang member/organised crime types”. For the prisoners, they were “mainly looking for Aboriginal, Islander, Maori and Middle Eastern males”, though there was room too for “tough-looking guys of other nationalities”.

Does this amount to a subtle form of racism? According to Gary Paramanathan, director of the Colourfest Film Festival, which focuses on “migrant and diasporic” stories, yes.

“I understand the characters were written this way and the casting director was just following instructions, but the problem lies in the fact it’s only the extras and the villains who are from these backgrounds and there’s nothing to offset that,” he says.

“You never get to find any redeeming qualities in them, they’re always relegated to being people you never have any attachment to – and I think that can be projected into reality.”

While conceding that many white writers legitimately express reservations about trying to write characters from a non-Anglo background, Paramanathan said that it only highlighted the need for more diversity in terms of the creative talent in the industry.

“Otherwise you risk the stories being exoticised because you don’t really have an insight into the true experiences of those characters,” he said.

The production company behind the film acknowledged criticism of the perceived racism, saying in a statement: “The casting call was unfortunately worded and needed proper context.

“It is an unfortunate fact that a high proportion of WA prisoners are of Aboriginal descent.

“When the advertisement was placed we had already sourced our prison extras of ‘Caucasian’ descent (who form the majority of prisoners) … Finally, it should be noted that overall there are a broad range of nationalities portrayed in Son Of A Gun and practically every character in this film is ‘crooked’.”

Controversy aside, hopes are high for Son of a Gun, which is the first feature film from writer-director Julius Avery, whose 2008 film Jerrycan won best short at the Australian Film Institute awards and the Berlin Film Festival and collected a jury prize at Cannes.

According to filmink, the feature film “contains all the elements of a classic Greek tragedy”, with McGregor playing a criminal who returns to the underworld for one last job.

In announcing funding support for the film in November 2012, Screen Australia summarised it as “a psychological thriller about a young man sent to prison who becomes the apprentice to public enemy number one”.

Brenton Thwaites (Home and Away’s Stu Henderson), Swedish actress Alicia Vikander (currently in Kiera Knightley’s Anna Karenina) and the veteran Polish-Australian actor Jacek Koman also star.

The film is expected to be released next year.

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Renovation… the backyard auction. Photo: Jacky Ghossein. The inside of the house. Photo: Jacky Ghossein.
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With the TV show My Kitchen Rules gaining popularity, home entertaining seems to be on the mind of house hunters.

That was the case at 54 Samuel Street, Tempe, on Saturday. The property’s free-flowing kitchen and outside entertaining deck were drawcards and the house sold for $872,500. It was initially passed in at $830,000 after a vendor’s bid of $825,000.

The auctioneer, George Kazanis, from Under The Hammer Auctions, coaxed the five shy registered parties in the crowd of about 50 people to vie for the three-bedroom home. The bidding opened at $750,000 and went up twice in $10,000 increments before halting and forcing the vendor’s bid.

After five minutes of negotiation, the property was sold, to the delight of vendors Nick and Polly Lambert who had been watching the backyard auction via Facetime from inside.

The couple bought the once-derelict deceased estate for $465,000 at auction in 2004 and renovated it. ”Even in 2004, Newtown and Erskineville was too expensive for us and now others are moving out to Tempe to get more for their dollar,” Mr Lambert said. ”When we first moved into this house there was no functional kitchen or bathroom, so we did renovations slowly.”

Agency By Glenn Regan agent Louise Mitchell said people who liked to entertain and families wanting to upsize were drawn to the 283-square-metre property.

The freestanding home has three bedrooms, two with feature fireplaces. The loungeroom has a functional Jetmaster fireplace. The property has original features including floorboards and light switches as well as a renovated extension at the back with a contemporary bathroom and wetroom shower.

The CaesarStone kitchen has a gas stove, red glass splashback and stainless steel appliances. A bi-folding window that leads onto the covered attached bar and decking area is the main highlight of the house. The deck has inbuilt seating and storage. A manicured garden trims along the perimeter. The garden also has a small laundry/shed and a nook for a barbecue.

There is no carport or driveway but plenty of angle parking on the street. The property is close to the airport but not directly under the flight path. If you stand at the front door, you can see the planes come in to land.

Rental appraisals suggest the property can fetch between $750 and $800 a week.

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Photo: ERIN JONASSON
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Source: Bunbury Mail

A West Australianpolitician has called forcyber safety to form part of the national curriculum.

Member for Forrest Nola Marino told Fairfax Regional Media cyber safety was a national issue and that students needed bettereducation on the subject.

“They (students) need to be able to enjoy what they do but they also need to be safe,” she said. “I think education is the key to that which is why I believe that cyber safety should be and must be made a part of the national curriculum.

“It is not okay when a child suffers abuse because they did not know how to protect themselves from an online sexual predator, who was pretending to be another 13-year-old girl.

“It is not okay that a teenager takes their own life because they did not know how to protect themselves from cyber bullying.”

Mrs Marino is on parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety and has delivered a number of cyber safety presentations to schools and community groups in her electorate in the past three years.

“This year I have been asked to provide sessions from preschool through to year 12…this is how I know that there is a need and what the answer is.

“The number of online friends on social websites for eight-to-10-year-olds I meet I find to be extraordinary andfor them all, issues such as sexting and the risks associated with geo-tagging are ones they face on a daily basis.”

The principal at one of the schools where the Liberal MPhas conductedcyber safety presentations said he supported thecurriculumproposal.

“I think it’s an initiative that’s been a long time coming,” Georgiana Molloy Anglican School (GMAS) principal Ted Kosicki said.

“I think it’s a great that Nola (is)raising the issue and I feel something should be introduced into the national curriculum to support online learning by students.”

Mr Kosicki said students at GMAS were online daily and even Year 1 students used iPads in class as a learning tool.

He said the school had a social media policy which covers internet usage and being online at school, but believed education on cyber safety was still important.

“With the advent of mobile devices, students can be online 24/7 and it’s very difficult for us to control that environment outside of school hours,” he said.

Mrs Marino said there was precedent for a national education approach.

“In the United Kingdom online safety is a compulsory part of the national curriculum for children aged five and upwards,” she said.

“We need an Australian population that is cyber-savvy, much more aware and alert than we are now.

“I understand very well the challenges that this presents in relation to the National Curriculum but I believe this is a conversation we all need to have.”


“I’m not rushing out a gimmick robot” … James Dyson.Sir James Dyson, the British billionaire industrial designer who invented the dual cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, has derided today’s competing robot vacuums as “pathetic” with poor suction and no navigating skills.
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In Sydney on Tuesday to launch his latest product, a tap that can also dry your hands in 12 seconds, Dyson, whose eponymous company has grown to nearly 4000 staff and $1.5 billion in annual sales, said he would only launch a robot vacuum when he got it right.

“When we do one we want it to clean properly,” he told Fairfax Media. “The present ones are pathetic with no suction at all – they just sweep with a rather feeble brush and they also don’t navigate they just bounce around.”

Robot models launched in Australia recently include the $399 Robomaid, LG’s Roboking range ($549-$1149) and Samsung’s $999 Navibot. Dyson didn’t name names but he was dismissive of the current lot, criticising their navigation and efficiency which meant they offered poor battery performance and cleaning ability.

“They’ve got whiskers sticking out of them – whiskers don’t clean anything they just disturb the birds,” he said.

“It’s a difficult job and I’m not rushing out a gimmick robot to pretend to people we’re cleaning the floor, we’re not doing that we’re doing it properly.”

Dyson, 65, said the most exciting trend in technology is the development of advanced new materials. He had a swipe at companies such as Google or Facebook who he believes aren’t really making things.

“Google … helps us but for me it isn’t a substantive exporting thing,” he said.

Despite coming up with his vacuum cleaner breakthrough in the late 1970s, it only reached the British market 10 years later, and Dyson is now a global market leader. A third of British homes now have a Dyson.

The company has also launched other innovations such as bladeless fans and an “Airblade” hand dryer that uses jets of air to scrape the water off the hands. The same sort of technology but with a far more advanced motor (“three times faster than any electric motor has gone before”) powers the new hybrid dryer-taps.

Dyson has fought for years to prevent companies copying his designs, winning a $5 million damages award from Hoover in 2000. Now, the problem is coming out of Asia and Dyson believes intellectual property protection is weaker because people are getting away with copying.

“Koreans and the Chinese are copying things and I think it’s very bad,” he said. “It’s said by certain people that that increases competition, actually it decreases competition because all they’re doing is copying the market leader.”

He said the copycat companies could produce cheaper products because they haven’t incurred all the development costs and associated risks.

“It’s morally wrong, I think it’s legally wrong and I think it hurts the consumers because the consumer doesn’t get a choice,” he said. “Intellectual property should be supported better; the law should be made stronger.”

In October last year Dyson filed a lawsuit alleging a “spy” employee stole the blueprints to a £100 million ($149.7 million) technology and passed them to rival Bosch.

Dyson said western countries such as Australia and Britain need to focus on educating more scientists and engineers, as they are increasingly being overtaken by countries in Asia.

“40 per cent of all graduates from Singapore are engineers,” he said. “For Britain, Australia, the US and other European countries to compete in any way they’ve got to heavily arm themselves with technology.”

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