Filing from the front

Hugh Stevenson Roberton – or “Peter Snodgrass”.

HUGH Stevenson Roberton is arguably the most remarkable person who has written for The Land – a farmer and farm leader, columnist, author, soldier, Menzies government minister and Australia’s first ambassador to Ireland.

And for most of his stellar career he kept writing his fortnightly articles for The Land under the pseudonym “Peter Snodgrass”, the name of a character in a play written by his father, Sir Hugh Roberton, a famous Scottish choral music composer and conductor.

Roberton had carried his Hermes typewriter in a metal box during his stint as an anti-tank gunner with the 9th Division in the Middle East during the Second World War so he could keep writing his columns for The Land.

His commanding officer turned a blind eye when he tossed away his gas mask and spare pair of boots so he could carry his typewriter, nor did he ever have any problems with wartime censors.

* Read more about some of The Land’s legendary columnists in our 100-page Centenary liftout free inside the January 27 issue.

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Dairy despair at Coles cut

THE Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) has hit out at the decision by supermarket giant Coles to cut the price of its ‘supermarket brand’ milk, warning that the move will place significant financial strain and pressure on already stressed farming families.

Earlier today, Coles announced that it would be taking advantage of the earnings downturn faced by rival Woolworths to launch a heavily discounted milk offer to tempt shoppers into its supermarkets.

QDO President Brian Tessmann said dairy farmers across the country woke this morning to the unpleasant news, and said that milk prices are under unsustainable downward pressure from the retailers.

Coles will terminate its Smart Buy milk brand and reduce the price of its house brand milk to become its new flagship offering.

The price of a Coles brand two-litre carton of lite milk will come down to $2, a 33 per cent discount in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Coles full-cream milk will also be cut down to $2.

“We are now facing the bleak prospect of retail milk prices reaching a point that is unsustainable for the milk value chain. This will flow back through the processing sector and ultimately to farmers,” said Mr Tessmann.

“It is kicking family farmers when they are down. This is happening at a time when the industry is battling the devastation of the massive Queensland floods.

“These floods are taking a heavy financial and emotional toll on farmers, and for Coles to give farmers this announcement on Australia Day is cruel and insensitive. We want our farmers to have confidence in the future and to be rebuilding their businesses after the flood,” said Mr Tessman.

The QDO said that what is ultimately a publicity ploy from Coles will mean farmers will ultimately be paying for the advertising bill.

Mr Tessman said that Coles’ assertion that the price drop would not affect milk processors and dairy farmers was simply wrong.

“We know from a recent Senate Inquiry that the growing trend toward supermarket brand milk is putting a squeeze on the value chain and ultimately the farmer. This price drop will increase the price difference between large retailer ‘supermarket brand’ milk and milk processor branded milk. So of course shoppers will opt for supermarket brand milk and, with that, lower returns go to processors and that will flow on to the farm gate.

“We know that already the price differential between supermarket-brand and branded milk sucks about $90 million from the value chain in Queensland alone every year,” said Mr Tessman.

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Swan opts to fight states, not the miners

Wayne Swan.This time last year, Wayne Swan had spent his holidays reading a top-secret copy of the Henry review, which urged a 40 per cent tax on the mining industry.

A year on, with one prime minister removed after taking on the miners, the Treasurer’s holiday reading was a far cry from Dr Henry’s tome.

Shortly before Christmas, the former BHP chairman Don Argus handed Swan a report outlining the much watered-down resource rent tax, which has been welcomed by the big miners.

But although he now has much of the industry on side, Swan’s quest to extract more tax from the mining industry is far from over.

After what he admits was a ”bruising” encounter with mining heavyweights in 2010, Swan has effectively swapped a fight with the miners for a stoush with the states.

He is now pleading with Queensland and Western Australia to cap future mining royalties to keep the industry competitive – and the states are having none of it.

Swan’s decision to take on the states raises questions about just how powerful the mining heavyweights have become, with the industry expected to resume hostilities if the government cannot get the states on side.

Making matters more complex, Swan’s showdown with the states comes amid growing evidence Australia should be saving more of the proceeds from the once-in-a-century resources bonanza.

In the turbulent weeks after Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd, quelling the mining industry’s anger was a top priority in Canberra.

She largely achieved this in early July, signing a breakthrough agreement with the big three – BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata – to soften the tax considerably.

Rather than the 40 per cent tax proposed by Henry, it was agreed miners would pay effective tax rates of 22.5 per cent and enjoy generous deductions. Miners called off their anti-government ad campaign, and restarted work on shelved projects worth billions to the economy.

But although Gillard’s deal with the miners was hailed as a smart political move at the time, it now looks like a temporary solution.

In the secret July negotiations, the boss of BHP, Marius Kloppers, insisted that all state royalties – including future increases – would be refunded by the federal government.

Canberra later hinted it might not credit all future royalties because this would amount to writing states a blank cheque, but Argus’s report affirmed that all future royalties should be refunded.

Swan is widely expected to adopt this recommendation, and has already called on states to promise they won’t increase royalties.

However, the request has been met with vocal opposition from the premiers of Queensland and Western Australia, setting the scene for heated negotiations this year.

The floods – expected to slash Queensland’s royalty revenue – add another layer of complexity. Nevertheless, Swan has elected to fight the states rather than risk provoking the miners. His willingness to do so raises questions about just how powerful the mining industry has become.

The opposition’s spokesman on mining, Ian Macfarlane, says it is now clear the government rushed to sign a deal without fully understanding the consequences. While he opposes the tax in principle, Macfarlane also recognises the power the Big Three held over government.

”I suspect that the government has got itself so far in that they will have to bow down to the mining companies. They got skinned and that’s a fact,” he says.

”The mining companies have achieved the effective abolition of state royalties.” Macfarlane doesn’t blame the miners for this – instead pointing the finger at Canberra’s failure to consult with the industry and states before it announced the original 40 per cent tax.

On the government’s side, the Labor senator Doug Cameron is even more frank about how miners have thrown their weight around this year. ”I think the behaviour of the miners is the most overt case of big business using their power and privileged place in society to protect their own individual interests,” Cameron says.

”This is going to be something that is debated for many years, in relation to how you can ensure the national interest is placed before the interests of mega-rich mining magnates.” More sympathetic observers, however, say the miners were able to make a convincing argument against paying more tax because the public identified with the industry.

A former head of the Minerals Council, David Buckingham, says miners benefited from a perception that the industry had been an important factor in Australia weathering the global financial crisis. Over the previous decade, he says, the industry had also remade its public image around its handling of environmental and Aboriginal issues.

”There’s been an evolution in the position of the industry. I don’t think it’s simply been a case of a big ugly industry using its muscle,” says Buckingham, who supported the concept of a super profits tax.

Whatever the reasons for the government’s backdown, the miners’ strong influence over government will linger.

If Canberra cannot reach a deal with the states, miners have made it clear they will consider restarting their campaign of destabilisation.

In the weeks before Christmas, the boss of Xstrata Coal, Peter Freyberg, repeated his warning that the company would review $20 billion in planned projects if the government failed to refund all royalties.

Indeed, some official sources suggest the mining companies are deliberately seeking to exploit the government’s razor-thin majority in the lower house in anticipation of the debate heating up.

Small miners – who remain deeply opposed to the tax – would only need to convince a few rural independents to oppose the tax to defeat it. Coalition senators are now leading an inquiry which has aired small miners’ concerns, and is scrutinising the government’s deal with the big three.

In spite of this tension between the government and smaller miners over the tax, there is growing economic evidence that now is the right time for a meaningful resource rent tax. In November, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said the government’s mining tax was too narrow – and it should tax more products than iron ore, coal and gas.

While it supported the tax overall, the OECD said this focus on only parts of the resources sector could distort investment and would hurt its ability to raise revenue.

The governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, has also reminded the government that with a once-in-a-century mining boom gathering pace, now could be a good time to increase public sector saving.

In a November speech, he suggested a ”stabilisation fund” that could offset some of the volatility of a commodities boom led by China and India. Stevens didn’t mention the mining tax – but it’s increasingly clear the watered-down MRRT won’t be taking much heat out of the mining boom.

An economist at the Grattan Institute, Saul Eslake, is blunt when asked if the tax could help deal with some of the challenges of the two-speed economy. ”No, because it was not intended to, and now it would seem there are so few companies that are going to pay it,” Eslake says.

Even among companies which will pay the tax – it only applies to those earning more than $50 million a year – there are doubts it will raise the revenue Canberra claims.

According to official estimates, it will raise $7.4 billion, down from the previous $10.5 billion predicted before the election and $12 billion under Rudd’s super profits tax.

The government says the latest revision was driven by the strong Australian dollar, but analysts say the forecast was more likely slashed after officials consulted with companies about how the tax would be paid in practice.

And with each downgrade in how much revenue it will raise, the government is also pushing the friendship with the Greens, needed to pass it through the Senate in 2011.

The Greens leader, Bob Brown, sent the government a reminder in late December that his support is not guaranteed. He described the tax as a ”patched-up deal between the government and the mining barons”. He prefers the 40 per cent tax favoured by Rudd, and it is not clear whether he will support the mineral resource rent tax.

Cobbling together support from Brown, miners and the premiers of mining boom states won’t be easy. But this is the task facing Swan if he is to make the mining tax a reality.

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David Vandyke backs Sir John Hawkwood despite top weight in Tatts Club Cup

Christmas cheer: Sir John Hawkwood takes the Christmas Cup in a blanket finish at Rosehill on December 12. Photo: bradleyphotos苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing

David Vandyke concedes Jiayuguan deserves Tattersall’s Club Cup favouritism over his Christmas Cup winner Sir John Hawkwood but has faith in his horse’s toughness and fight to complete the summer staying double on Friday.

Sir John Hawkwood copped a 1-1/2 kilo penalty for his Christmas Cup win, where he saw off an unlucky Jiayuguan and Lucky Lucky Lucky in a blanket finish.

“I guess we got the money and the cup, so we deserve some more weight and I would prefer to have that in the bank,” Vandyke said. “If you look at it on weights, it is hard for him to beat the other two in that blanket finish in the Christmas Cup.

“But he is still getting better and he has won with a big weight in England before he came out here.

“He is a strong stayer and we think he could develop into a Sydney Cup sort of horse and it is another opportunity to get some black type.

“He is very tough and I think he will carry the extra weight and still be there at the finish.”

Jiayuguan is a $3 favourite to turn the tables on Sir John Hawkwood ($4.60) with Ladbrokes, while the Tony McEvoy-trained Lucky Lucky Lucky is at $5.50 with the stable expecting him to improve.

Lucky Lucky Lucky is coming off a runner-up finish in the ATC Cup before being run down late in the Christmas Cup.

“He has come on from  that last run and is flying on the track,” McEvoy’s racing managing, Rick Connolly, said.

“He might have just needed that run at 2400m and Kerrin McEvoy has stuck with him, which is a good sign, and he meets the winner a lot better at the weights.

“He gets a track that will really suit him because he loves firm going.”

Meanwhile, Magic Millions Classic favourite Capitalist will have a track gallop with Mooshakissa at Randwick on Friday after missing a barrier trial because of an elevated temperature on Tuesday.

“His temperature is back to normal now,” co-trainer Paul Snowden said. “It wasn’t a big thing.

“We’ll see how he goes on Saturday and then decide when he goes up on the float to the Gold Coast.”

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

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Best hangover recipes (lots of bacon)

Francesinha (Portugal’s answer to the croque-madame) is a huge meat-filled monster topped with egg and cheese and smothered in a beer-based sauce. French fries optional (Recipe here). Photo: William Meppem

Mexican hangover cure: Huevos rancheros (Recipe here). Photo: William Meppem

Fluffy buttermilk waffles with maple bacon butter (Recipe here). Photo: Steven Siewert

Frank Camorra’s BLT with avo and HP-mayo (Recipe here). Photo: Marina Oliphant

Stacks on! Adam Liaw’s American pancakes (Recipe here). Photo: Edwina Pickles

Matt Wilkinson’s bacon roll with homemade brown sauce (Recipe here). Photo: Simon Schluter

Hair of the dog: Luke Mangan’s classic Bloody Mary cocktail (Recipe here). Photo: Marco Del Grande

Or try Jill Dupleix’s vegetarian shakshuka (Recipe here). Photo: Edwina Pickles

Hash brown meets Japan’s famous savoury pancake in Adam Liaw’s ‘okonomirosti’ mash-up (Recipe here). Photo: William Meppem

Brigitte Hafner’s croque monsieur with toasted ham, cheese and gherkin – beer optional! (Recipe here). Photo: Marina Oliphant

Pan-fried bubble and squeak patties are a great way to use up leftover roast vegetables (Recipe here).

Baked eggs with spicy sausage. Just add a cooling dollop of labna (Recipe here). Photo: William Meppem

Frank Camorra’s french toast with banana and crispy bacon (Recipe here). Photo: Marcel Aucar

Spice up your fried rice with funky kimchi (Recipe here). Photo: Marcel Aucar

Slept in? Lunch on Caroline Velik’s fresh ‘n’ zesty tortillas with spicy tomato, fish and black beans (Recipe here). Photo: Marina Oliphant

This cheat’s chicken pho is ready in half an hour (Recipe here).

Jill Dupleix’s buttermilk fried chicken with corn (Recipe here). Photo: Marina Oliphant

Sriracha-slicked maple bacon (Recipe here). Photo: Edwina Pickles

Adam Liaw’s huge meat-filled toasted sandwich monster is topped with egg and cheese and smothered in a beer-based sauce. Photo: William Meppem

Matt Wilkinson’s bacon sandwich. Photo: Simon Schluter

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Big Bash League 2015: Record-breaking Perth Scorchers sell out all home games

Scorchers fans show their support during the Big Bash League match between Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers at WACA on December 21, 2015. Photo: Paul KaneRecord stand from Klinger and Marsh as Scorchers beat RenegadesPerth Scorchers crush Brisbane Heat at the WACAAdelaide Strikers cruise to win over Perth Scorchers

There’s bad news for fans hoping to watch the reigning Big Bash premiers in action this summer, if they haven’t already got tickets, with the Perth Scorchers officially selling out their remaining two home games.

The Scorchers are the first club in Big Bash League history to sell out all home matches in the regular season with all tickets for Perth’s January 16 clash against the Melbourne Stars sold by 9:30pm on Wednesday night.

The Scorchers sold out the first two matches of the season, against the Adelaide Strikers on 21 December and the Brisbane Heat on Boxing Day, and Saturday’s match against the Sydney Sixers will also be a full house.

Perth Scorchers CEO Christina Matthews said it was “extremely pleasing” news for the club to sell all the tickets before the turn of the New Year.

“Combined with the very promising viewing figures from our first ever Women’s Big Bash League broadcast game against the Sixers, which attracted an average national audience of 183,000, I hope this result is more than numbers and is also a reflection of the Scorchers’ ability and proactive desire to play an important role in the Western Australian community,” she told the Scorchers website.

“We have already had more than 8000 boys and girls take part in our junior programs across the summer and it has been heartening to see many of those children attending matches wearing their shirts from those initiatives.

“That is the power of the Big Bash League to the next generation and the Scorchers are proud to be a part of that.”

So far this season close to 40,000 fans have attended the Scorchers’ two Big Bash League games, with an attendance of 20,553 at the club’s season opener falling just shy of the Perth’s home attendance record of 20,783 set in the Big Bash | 03 final against the Hobart Hurricanes.

The Scorchers’ regular season attendance record of 75,327, set in the club’s championship winning season last year, looks likely to be trumped this year thanks to the sell-outs.

Ms Matthews said Perth has also achieved a club membership record this season with more than 5,000 members signed up.

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How much harm can one little fly do to your food

It only takes a single fly to alight on your picnic lunch to make you uneasy about what germs may have landed with it. But what harm can come from a fly landing on your food?

Manytypes of flypose a health risk but none hang about our homes more than the house fly. It’s a ubiquitous presence during the warmer monthscan be a substantial annoyance and also be a potential health risk.Musca domesticais one of the most widespread nuisance insects in the world.After laying eggs, maggots will hatch out and eat their way throughdecaying organic material before pupating and then emerging as an adult fly a few days later. The adult flies can live up to a month and may lay hundreds of eggs over that time.

When it comes to passing on pathogens, it’s not necessarily the fly itself but where it’s come from that matters. Flies don’t just visit freshly made sandwiches. They spend far more of their time in rotting animal and plant waste. As well as leaving behind pathogen-filled footprints, the flies leave their poop on our food. They vomit too.

In most instances, spotting a fly on your food doesn’t mean you need to throw it out. While there is little doubt that flies can carry nasties fromwaste to our food, a single touchdown is unlikely to leadto illness for the average healthy person.Flies thatwander about for a few minutes vomiting and pooping on your food or food preparation area are more of a concern. The more time passes, the greater the chance of pathogensgrowing and multiplying on our food.

Ensure your food is coveredand don’t leave “leftovers” sitting about outside.Screens will help block flies from coming inside, butminimising garbage around the house is critical. Insecticidal surface sprays around bin areas will help.An old-schoolfly swatworks a treat too.

Cameron Webb is a clinical lecturer and principal hospital scientist, University of Sydney.Read the full article on The Conversation.

Trump spokeswoman wears bullet necklace on TV

Katrina Pierson said her necklace was made of “real ammo”. Photo: YouTubeDonald Trump says Hillary Clinton got ‘schlonged’ Islamic State has a new recruiter in chief: Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s national spokeswoman has defended her decision to wear a necklace made of bullets on television.

The ammunition was real, Katrina Pierson said. But her later suggestion that she might wear a foetus to make a point about abortion – that was not to be taken literally, she assured.

Ms Pierson wore the arresting jewellery during a CNN interview on Tuesday, US time.

Afterward, CNN host Jim Sciutto asked Ms Pierson on Twitter if there was a message behind the necklace.

“Made in #Texas! Real ammo. #2A Support your local small business owners! #Trump2016” she responded. Made in #Texas! Real ammo. #2A Support your local small business owners! #Trump2016— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) December 29, 2015

Mr Trump is staunchly against gun control. He said the Paris massacres would have been “much, much different” if Parisian citizens had been allowed to carry guns.

Ms Pierson faced often-sarcastic criticism of her jewellery.

“Surely @KatrinaPierson wore bullet necklace on #CNN to bring attention to 90 Americans fatally shot daily #gunsense,” one Twitter user, Shannon Watts, wrote.

In response, Ms Pierson mused: “Maybe I’ll wear a fetus next time& bring awareness to 50 million aborted people that will never [sic] ger to be on Twitter.” Maybe I’ll wear a fetus next time& bring awareness to 50 million aborted people that will never ger to be on Twitter— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) December 30, 2015

Another Twitter user said that might not be practical.

“Of course it will be interpreted literally,” lamented Ms Pierson, whose boss has suggested building a wall the length of the US-Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants.

She put the criticism down to her being a woman.

“The liberals freaking out about my accessories are sexist. They only approve of women in pant suits and jackets. Oh, and tampon earrings.”

In 2013, an MSNBC host wore tampon earrings to protest against a law in Texas banning abortions after five months.

Mr Trump was labelled a sexist this week after referring to his political opponent Hillary Clinton being “schlonged” in the 2008 presidential race.

Fairfax Media

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Disney Research creates drone car that can climb walls

The VertiGo drone car clings to a wall during a demonstration video. Photo: Disney Research/ETHIf you’ve ever piloted a remote-controlled car, you’re familiar with the question we all ask ourselves after a couple of minutes of zooming around over horizontal surfaces: “Why can’t this thing climb straight up a vertical wall and scoot around like a fly or a gecko or some sort of tree frog?”

Well be disappointed by devices that obey the laws of physics no longer, because Disney Research Zurich and Swiss university ETH have concocted VertiGo, a prototype wall-gripping robot that appears to do just that.

In the age of consumer quadcopters, it’s perhaps not all that surprising to see a small device that can scale a wall, and in fact VertiGo achieves its trick in much the same way as your standard flying drone (no, unfortunately it is not covered in the tiny sticky bristles of a lizard foot).

In addition to the four wheels (the front pair of which enables the device to steer), VertiGo uses the thrust from a pair of tiltable propellers not to lift itself into the air but to press itself against a surface and evade the downward pull of gravity.

Vertigo’s propellers flip and angle themselves to allow a transition from ground to wall, and also let the machine sit still on a vertical plane or zip across bumpy surfaces and masonry.

An on-board computer crunches data from an inertial measurement unit and infra-red sensors to determine the VertiGo’s position in space and calculate the necessary thrust amount and direction.

This supposedly allows the device to be operated by very simple controls akin to a regular remote-controlled car (the researchers point out the device can even, “theoretically”, drive on the ceiling, but they apparently haven’t tried that out yet).

Of course all the propelling, oscillation and processing uses energy, and for that reason the VertiGo likely shares the same key weakness of consumer drones: battery longevity. More battery means more weight, which in turn requires more thrust and so greater power usage.

While the researchers have provided details on how they achieved the lightest design possible — a carbon fibre base plate, carbon rods and 3D printing are used to form the body and wheels — no details are given on the battery life.

No indication was given as to how long it might be before a device like VertiGo could be gracing the outside walls of our apartment blocks or leaving grubby wheel marks across the walls of our living rooms.

More useful applications for the technology might include military and emergency use, or for scouting out areas too dangerous for people to climb.

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‘Wrong midnight’: New Year well-wishers tripped up by Twitter scheduling

That time of year when your Twitter feed fills up with fireworks is almost here, but not quite yet. Photo: Fireworks Brisbane and Gold CoastIt would seem that some are getting a little too excited for the new year — accidentally scheduling their New Year wishes to go live many hours before midnight.

From Australia to Britain, people have been outsmarted by technology.

The Tower Bridge in London tweeted: ‘Happy New Year from everyone here at Tower Bridge!” at midnight, one night too soon. “Dave, did you set up the scheduled tweet?” – “Yep, all sorted.” – “You got the date right?” – “Yep. Definitely”. pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/vdLBpnM4rf— SimonNRicketts (@SimonNRicketts) December 31, 2015Oops, guess we got a little too excited there…— Tower Bridge (@TowerBridge) December 31, 2015

They weren’t the only ones prematurely excited for 2016. The Eureka Sky Deck in Melbourne also wished their followers a happy new year before being caught by Twitter user Jeff Waugh. Once again, the most difficult things in programming are times and dates. #EurekaSkydeck#melbourne#nyepic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/DVjv3MrzRs— Jeff Waugh (@jdub) December 30, 2015

The Eureka Sky deck wrote: “Happy new Year love the team at the #EurekaSkydeck! We wish you all the best in 2016! #melbourne.”

Twitter is expecting millions of people to take to the service to send out their well wishes. The company has even unveiled a new emoji to spread the festive cheer.

The firework emoji will be unlocked when users include the hashtag #HappyNewYear in one of more than 35 languages at the end of their Tweet. Wrong midnight. pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/e1fEd2Z5mQ— Nick Walker (@nickw84) December 31, 2015This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold mystified over striker Matt Simon’s suspension

Matt Simon of Sydney FC controls the ball during the round 12 A-League match between Sydney FC and the Central Coast Mariners at Allianz Stadium. Photo: Cameron SpencerMatt Simon cops one match ban over elbowAlex Brosque ruled out of Melbourne City clash

Furious Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold believes suspended striker Matt Simon should be available for Saturday’s crucial match with Melbourne City, saying the incident in question should never have been referred to the match review panel.

Simon was hit with a one-match ban by the panel after being cited for “serious unsporting conduct” in elbowing Central Coast Mariners defender Jake McGing.

However, the match review panel is only meant to adjudicate on matters not seen by the referee. Arnold contends the referee on the night, Ben Williams, not only saw the incident but verbally reprimanded Simon at the time.

“[Simon] is really upset because he knows what his intention was and he knows Ben Williams saw it and he knows what Ben Williams said,” Arnold said. “Williams said ‘I saw what both of you did – be careful next time’. So maybe we do have video referees.”

When asked how the matter could have ended up before the match review panel given Williams’ alleged comments, a bewildered Arnold replied: “I’ve got no idea.

“All I know is that Matty has been suspended for a week. The referee, as far as I know, and what he said to Matty Simon, was that he saw the incident.

“So he’s been overruled.”

Arnold reckoned that if Simon’s minor elbow on McGing was worthy of a suspension, a spate of incidents across the competition should wind up before the match review panel.

“I watch a lot of games and I saw a melee on the weekend. Nothing happened,” he said. “I watch every A-League game every weekend and now there will probably be players be cited every week.”

The absence of Simon and Alex Brosque, who suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury, means the Sky Blues will have to turn to 34-year old Shane Smeltz, who is back from injury, and 18-year old George Blackwood.

” ‘Brosquey’ is the captain of the team and you see what he does for us when he’s on the field. He does exceptionally well – last week he only played 25 minutes and scored two goals. He’s a loss,” he said. “But Shane Smeltz is back and young George Blackwood is a natural No.9 and Filip Holosko has played a lot of football at No.9.

“We’ll start Smeltz, if anything, because of his experience. He’s had the last few weeks off but he does a lot of work up front. I think the two weeks off will freshen him up and bring him back to life. He’s got a proven record in the A-League.”

Arnold defended Blackwood, the teenage forward with plenty of hype but no A-League goals in nine appearances in two seasons.

“I was very happy with George last week. I’m sure once he breaks his droughts, the goals will come in loads. If he can take what he does in training onto the games, he’s got a hell of a future,” Arnold said. “He out-muscles all the defenders at training. He’s quick, he’s got a lot of ability one-v-one. He’s had a bit of bad luck in front of goal when he’s played. He was unlucky with a header that was saved but he’s always dangerous with his runs off the ball. He’s a got a good chance of starting again.”

There is likely to be plenty of movement in the January transfer window for Sydney FC, with several players expected to be coming and going.

Mariners’ midfielder Anthony Caceres has been consistently linked with a move to Allianz Stadium while Smeltz – who nearly moved to Malaysia last year – could also be on the move.

“Let’s just say the phones have been working hot. That’s what the January transfer window is for,” he said. “There’s maybe players who aren’t getting game time who want to move on. It’s also about strengthening players who can help in the second half of the season. I’m looking forward to the transfer window and we’ll see what eventuates.”

After picking up Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares and Robert Stambolziev in the window last season, Arnold knows the month-long window brings real opportunity.

“We have to look over the first half of the season at what we’ve done well and haven’t done well,” he said. “That’s where I’ll try to work with my contacts and network of agents to see what’s available and what we can do. Maybe we can explore the guest player option as well.”

Meanwhile, Arnold weighed into the debate regarding promotion and relegation – and the Sky Blues boss is a fan of the status quo for now.

“What if you end up with six teams from Sydney, none from Adelaide and none from Perth? Or none from Brisbane or Melbourne?” he said. “I don’t know if the league is ready for that yet. There’s too big a difference in facilities, unfortunately. I think the clubs here now are good, they just have to get their ship in order.”

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Price of E10 fuel dips below $1 a litre in Sydney

E10 fuel was selling for less than $1 a litre at 24 Seven Fuel in Punchbowl on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Kirk Gilmour The AP service station in Punchbowl was selling E10 for 98.8 cents a litre. Photo: Kirk Gilmour

Oil falls towards 11 year lowConsumers to get access to retailers’ data

Thrifty motorists were picking up E10 fuel for less than $1 a litre in Sydney on New Year’s Eve as drivers prepared to hit the road en masse for the January holidays.

The cheapest price for E10 in Sydney on Thursday morning was at Punchbowl, where drivers were filling up for 98.8¢ a litre at the AP service station, and for 99.8¢ a litre at the nearby 24 Seven Fuel.

The cheapest unleaded petrol was being snapped up at BP Connect at Cabramatta and Metro Petroleum Narwee for 101.9¢ a litre, the NRMA said.

But NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury urged motorists to do their research and shop around, as there were large variations in fuel prices across the city.

The highest price in Sydney for E10 was 129.9¢ a litre, and 145.9¢ a litre for unleaded, according to the NRMA.

Mr Khoury said fuel prices were expected to rise in coming days, and he urged motorists to consider filling up now.

“We had forecast that prices would get to around these levels between Christmas and the new year, but then they will go back up again in accordance with the price cycle,” Mr Khoury said.

“As to when, we don’t know, which is why if people need to fill up, especially if you’re in Sydney, get in now. If the price drops further it’s not likely to drop by much, but it will go up, and we’re not exactly sure when.”

Mr Khoury said it was common to see the price difference between the cheapest and the most expensive service stations in Sydney to be upwards of 35¢ a litre.

“It’s madness. The other alarming thing is, we’re not talking one end of town to the other. Sometimes those gaps can be found in the same suburb,” he said.

“As a rule, the cheapest service stations are the independents, and they tend to be found in pretty large numbers around south-western and western Sydney. If you’re anywhere near there, do a bit of research and shop around because that’s where you’re going to find those dollar-a-litre prices.”

Mr Khoury also said the most expensive service stations tended to be on Sydney’s northern beaches, the north shore and eastern suburbs.

“There are fewer independents and there isn’t as much traffic going through those areas, so there isn’t as much opportunity for competition,” he said.

The Transport Management Centre said heavy holiday traffic was expected on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and motorists should expect delays on roads around Sydney Airport, on the M4 and Great Western Highway towards Sydney from the Blue Mountains, and on the North Coast and South Coast.

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Australia v West Indies Test series: Former West Indies opener Kieran Powell pursues Major League Baseball career

They’ve lost players to rival cricket competitions, and now the West Indies have shed a player to baseball.

Former Test opener Kieran Powell, who last played for the Windies in June 2014, is in Bradenton, Florida, preparing for a tryout day at the IMG Academy on January 13, in which he will showcase his batting and fielding skills in a bid to be signed by a Major League Baseball franchise.

Having fallen out with the West Indies cricket board, Powell is committed to ensuring the move is a success. “An opportunity came about after a few discrepancies with the West Indies cricket board I decided to take some time off from cricket and some footage of me playing cricket was seen by the LA Dodgers,” Powell told Fairfax Media from Bradenton.

“I’ve had some training out here in the US for a few months.”

Powell, 25, has played 21 Tests, 28 one-day internationals and and one Twenty20 international since first appearing at international level in 2009. He has three Test centuries to his name, including twin tons made in against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2012. Despite those successes, he averages an underwhelming 27.48 at Test level. He stepped away following the first Test of the 2014 series against New Zealand for personal reasons.

Once touted as a future Windies captain by WICB president Dave Cameron, the left-hander hasn’t played any top-level cricket since lining up for Tamil Union in Sri Lanka. He says that the American pastime has his full attention at the moment, even if cricket has not entirely been written off. “Baseball is my priority right now. Obviously cricket is my first love.

“[Baseball is] really fun, it’s an interesting game, I’ve loved every minute of it so far, and I hope to continue doing it for the rest of my career.”

He explained he had never contemplated a move to baseball prior to being approached, but having made the decision has received immense support from family and friends. “It’s a unique opportunity, it’s a once in a lifetime thing. This is what dreams are made of as I said earlier. I’m just so excited about it, like everyone’s so excited about it.”

Powell suggested the WICB had to do more to ensure the region’s top talent stayed with the world’s eighth-ranked outfit.

“It’s such a proud and historical region, that’s produced some of the best players that the world’s ever seen, you have to strike an even balance.

“The West Indies board could do something in terms of the retainer contracts, because you can’t have guys losing on the home front and then trying to stop them from losing on the international front as well.”

Despite having kept his switch a secret from ex-teammates, Powell says he has been keeping an eye on his former’s side progress in Australia this summer, where the Windies trail 2-0 ahead of the third and final Test, starting in Sydney on Sunday.

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