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THE HUB: Passion for a good yarn

Holly Marlin and Xanthe Roxburgh are co-owners of new pop-up store Fibre & Yarn. Picture: Marina NeilISLINGTON has added another feather to its creative cap in pop-up Fibre & Yarn.
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It’s the passion project of Xanthe Roxburgh and Holly Marlin, crafty types who connected via a mutual friend before launching their charming shop next door to Suspension Espresso last month.

With a commitment to “sustainable, ethical and natural”, the duo source natural fibres and yarns locally and globally for use in knitting, crocheting, weaving and other generally crafty pursuits.

Intent on sharing the craft love, they have assembled a circle of comfy chairs, including a granny rocker, at the back of their premises for customers to plonk in.

“We want people to have a space where they can come and handle [yarns] before they buy them, and also a space where they can work on their projects and learn new things from each other,” Ms Roxburgh said.

Craft work nights and “crafternoons” are in the pipeline, so too a stall at the December instalment of The Impossible night market at The Edwards.

The duo’s retail venture celebrates the resurgence of ’70s craft – celebrities including Meryl Streep and Madonna knit – and acknowledges a desire by many of us to drop our smartphones or tablets to learn an old-fashioned skill that relaxes the mind.

For those who think being crafty is beyond them, hope is not lost.

“Weaving is so easy, you don’t need rules or a pattern and you can pick it up and put it down,” Ms Marlin said.

“A child can do it. It’s so easy to be creative and put your own spin on it.”

Ms Roxburgh, a photographer (see xanthe上海龙凤论坛m.au) and Ms Marlin, an environmental scientist at Hunter Water, say their desire to open their shop came from a shared frustration at having to buy their craft materials online because they were unable to source ethically produced fibres locally.

They stock a large range from New Zealand company Ashford, which sources its wool from ethically produced, grass-fed sheep not subjected to mulesing, the practice of cutting flaps of skin from around a lamb’s tail and breech area to prevent flystrike.

“Ethics is a very important part of who I am as an environmental scientist,” Ms Marlin said. “I really care about the environment and sustainability. We are trying to show people how beautiful natural fibres are – it’s just buying better and being thoughtful instead of just buying acrylic crap to make acrylic crap that nobody wants.”

The tactile experience is paramount, and customers are urged to feel the fibres and yarns before purchase.

Ms Marlin is “obsessed” with weaving, which she discovered after dabbling in sewing and crocheting.

“It’s quite addictive – it gives you more freedom to be creative,” she said, picking up the small loom she’s using to make a wall hanging [some are for sale in the shop] and explaining the terms warp (loom framework) and weft (the ‘‘pretty bit’’ or design).

A fan of texture, she weaves with wool, silk, alpaca, linen and recycled fibres.

Ms Roxburgh is a dedicated knitter, taught the basics by her mother at an early age.

Later, staying with a mate in London, she learnt how to pearl.

“Suddenly I could do something more than knit a long triangle, I could shape,” she said, adding she now knits jumpers and beanies.

“I find it very meditative and I am now skilled enough to be able to watch TV and not look at what I am doing. I actually feel like I am wasting my time if I am watching TV without knitting.”

The women say the response in their first weeks of trade has been strong, with a local knitters’ guild and a spinners’ and weavers’ guild among clients.

“We love talking about our craft and we love to learn,” they said.

Having a yarn about yarn has also provided welcome leads.

“We had a wool grader in here who has put us in touch with a local merino farmer who has a small but spoilt crop,” Ms Roxburgh said.

“She has very well treated sheep and I prefer to know that, because once you start working with these fibres you notice how much nicer they are.

“The more a fibre has been processed with chemicals, the more plasticky it feels.”

The pair hope early demand fortheir product will see them eventually open their own permanent store.

“This is the shop we wished someone else would open and nobody did so we did,” Ms Roxburgh said.

MATTHEW KELLY: Codeine call is a pain

ACCORDING to research published in the Medical Journal of last week, accidental overdoses make up just under half of all codeine-related deaths.
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More disturbingly, the number of deaths linked to the painkiller have more than doubled since 2000.

In response, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is considering making about 150 codeine products prescription-only drugs from next June.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that potentially affected products include Nurofen Plus, Panadeine, Codral Original Cold and Flu tablets, Aspalgin soluble tablets, Mersyndol tablets and some cough and cold medications.

All of these can be presently obtained at a chemist without a prescription.

But the TGA argues that a 2010 decision to charge pharmacists with dispensing the drugs hasn’t worked and tougher restrictions are needed. I get this criticism.

Rarely am I quizzed about why I want a box of codeine tablets.

It’s almost always something like ‘‘Is it for yourself?’’ or ‘‘Make sure you take it with food’’.

Codeine is a naturally occurring methylated morphine drug that has been used for pain relief since the 1830s. More codeine is presently consumed in than any other opioid.

Clearly it is addictive and, like dozens of other substances, is dangerous if abused. But how do you define abuse?

For me, codeine is great for back and leg pain.

Maybe plain-old paracetamol is just as good, but I prefer codeine.

I’ve never felt the need to pop more than a couple of 12.8mg pills at a time – that’s less than a single prescription-grade Panadeine Forte tablet.

I’ve never experienced a high from codeine and, in fact, like a lot of people, it makes me nauseous in strong doses.

Obviously someone sliding into codeine addiction may be inclined to consume more than the recommended dose.

In fact I used to work with someone who put away a box (30 tablets) of Panafen Plus tablets every couple of days.

Perhaps more disturbingly, she got them from the same chemist every time.

A recent Medical Journal of study into codeine-related deaths in found those who had intentionally overdosed were more likely to be older women with a history of mental health problems.

Those who accidentally overdosed were more likely to have a history of substance abuse and chronic pain.

It is also worth noting that benzodiazepines, paracetamol, antidepressants and, who would have thought, alcohol, featured prominently in many codeine-related deaths between 2000 and 2013.

The reality is ‘‘most’’ people don’t have a problem with it.

Why should the majority be penalised by a minority?

Equally, why should codeine be treated differently to other potentially dangerous substances?

Irresponsible alcohol consumption causes untold social harm ever year, yet is freely available to anyone over the age of 18. Unfortunately that situation is not going to change any time soon.

The TGA suggests pharmacists should take more responsibility for minimising the potential harm of codeine.

Maybe if the pharmacists did the job the TGA asked them to do in 2010, there wouldn’t be a need to now consider rasing the drug’s status to prescription only.

But in defence of pharmacists, where should their responsibility begin and end for how someone uses the drugs they supply?

Why don’t hold the bottlo responsible for the actions of those who buy alcohol from them every week?

If codeine’s supply must be tightened, maybe those who want it should be required to provide proof of identity so they can’t go from one chemist to the next.

This system has worked effectively for the supply of pseudoephedrine cold and flu tablets, which I also partake in from time to time.

EDITORIAL: An energy policy vacuum

Art by Andrew DysonAS calls go out for an end to price-gouging by energy retailers, the Hong Kong-based owner of retailer Energy is complaining that is a ‘‘risky’’ place to invest.
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According to the chief executive of China Light and Power, Richard Lancaster, investing in India and China was more attractive than because of this country’s changing rules and policies in the energy sphere.

Mr Lancaster also cited weak power prices and tough competition as disincentives to investment in .

That’s an interesting perspective, especially in view of a finding by researchers working for the St Vincent de Paul Society who have asserted that the removal of price controls in has resulted in soaring margins for energy retailers.

According to the charity’s report, the retailers’ margins are now the biggest component of a typical customer’s energy bill, amounting to an average of about $600 a year per customer.

As much as 30per cent of a power bill might be pure profit to the retailer, with the next biggest chunk being the amount paid to network companies for distribution services (‘‘gold-plated’’ or otherwise).

The only way customers could reliably avoid paying ‘‘over the odds’’ for power (apart from going off-grid, presumably) was to take the time and trouble every year to shop around and switch retailers.

The report argues that the problem is weak competition, with the market dominated by a handful of big players. Unlike other markets, where suppliers have to ‘‘price to entice’’ customers to stay after contracts expire, the power market usually has contracts of a year, after which customers have to act to avoid being ‘‘gouged’’, the report asserted.

Governments could act to make power more affordable, either by re-regulating or by ensuring enhanced competition.

Unfortunately they are unlikely to do either, at this stage at least. It wasn’t long ago that the NSW government sold Macquarie Generation to AGL, despite the protestations of the n Competition and Consumer Commission, which argued the sale would diminish competition.

Some cynics presumed that governments went out of their way to create helpful conditions for profit-maximisation in order to pocket the biggest possible sale proceeds.

But while consumer advocates complain about alleged price-gouging, China Light and Power clearly doesn’t agree. The company says ’s oversupply of generating capacity and shrinking demand for power provide little incentive for further investment, especially in renewables.

That’s where privatisation has left n energy policy.

Zac Purton believes Caulfield Cup will test Fame Game

Testing time: Zac Purton rides Fame Game during a trackwork session at Werribee racecourse on Monday. Photo: Vince CaligiuriJapanese raider Fame Game might be popular with the punters for Saturday’s Caulfield Cup but Zac Purton warned he is not as sharp as last year’s winner Admire Rakti.
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The Hong Kong-based hoop flew in to gallop Fame Game at Werribee on Monday, as he did with Admire Rakti 12 months ago.

“When I went and galloped Admire Rakti [last year] I got off him and immediately thought he was a real chance to win the Caulfield Cup, that’s how well he worked,” Purton said. “He was sharp around the turns, handled the track well and gave me a really good feel.

“This guy [Fame Game] also gave me a really good feel but he didn’t handle the corners as well and he has a bit more of a stayer’s stride on him. He needs to go through his gears that little bit more. I think Caulfield is going to test him, and Flemington will suit him a bit more.”

Purton, who has a good record at lifting group 1s in flying in from Hong Kong, said it was good to have the chance to get on Fame Game, who is a fairly straight-forward ride.

“I don’t think it was that vital [to ride him] but he is going very well and the owners wanted me to come and make sure he was where he should be for Saturday,” Purton said. “It was good to get a little bit of [a] feel for him. He looks nice, very healthy and bright. He is moving well and I was really happy with him.”

Purton has been booked for both the Caulfield and Melbourne cups for Fame Game and pointed out he had won the Diamond Stakes over 3400m for the past two years in Tokyo. There is no doubt he will be better at the 3200m and Flemington.

Purton even hinted Fame Game, which is a $8 second pick behind Mongolian Khan, would be improved with a raceday hitout.

“He is a couple of kilograms over his fighting weight at the moment but after that gallop and the race on the weekend I’m sure he will tighten up and he will be spot-on going into the Melbourne Cup,” he said.

Purton returned to Hong Kong to ride at Happy Valley on Wednesday and will be back in Melbourne on Friday morning. He will be joined by Hong Kong-based Chad Schofield, who has the ride on n Oaks winner Gust Of Wind, and perhaps Joao Moreira if Godolphin has two runners in the cup form the racing mecca.

Fame Game is part of a two-horse Japanese contingent, with Hokko Brave, which is an $11 chance. Purton said in doing his form for his ride he had noticed Hokko Brave.

“There was not much between these horses in Japan, once again it will come down to luck in running. Hokko Brave has got a more positive racing style than my bloke, he races handy. My bloke relaxes a bit more and comes home strongly,” he said.

The Japanese stayers have been respected since betting opened on the Caulfield Cup, even though Hokko Brave, an eight-year-old, hasn’t won since 2013.

“Everyone knows how good the Japanese stayers are and we went up about $12 Fame Game to start with and punters were happy to take that,” Ladbrokes’ Paul Di Cioccio said. “He has been well supported in doubles as well. Hokko Brave has had his supporters but not to the extent of Fame Game, but we aren’t sure they are as good as Admire Rakti. Punters are waiting to see what barriers these good chances come up with in the draw [on Tuesday] at the moment.”

Unions royal commission: ‘Bogus invoices’ part of payments to Bill Shorten’s AWU

Former Thiess John Holland senior executive Stephen Sasse outside the royal commission on Monday. Photo: Ben Rushton Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Photo: Michelle Smith
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Royal commissioner Dyson Heydon. Photo: Ben Rushton

Mr Sasse giving evidence on Monday.

Former Thiess John Holland executive Stephen Sasse has given evidence that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was directly involved in discussions about $300,000 in payments to the n Workers Union when he was national secretary in late 2004 and that a series of invoices for large payments appear to be bogus.

When shown a series of invoices including one for research into back strain injury and another for $110,000, Mr Sasse, who has until now declined to comment on the issue publicly, told the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption on Monday they appeared to be bogus.

Senior counsel assisting the commission Jeremy Stoljar asked Mr Sasse about a series of large payments made to the n Workers Union including one for research on back strain.

“Does it look like a bogus invoice to you?,” Mr Stoljar asked.

“I fear so,” Mr Sasse replied.

Mr Sasse said his early discussions about a payment of $300,000 to the union as part of a deal over the $2.5 billion EastLink Melbourne road project were with Mr Shorten in late 2004.

Mr Sasse said he made an in-principle agreement to deal with Mr Shorten’s union only because of difficulties in dealing with the CFMEU, which was not as flexible. The negotiations with the AWU were in Melbourne and ran for about six weeks.

In his sworn statement, Mr Sasse said he was not aware of the total payments made by the joint venture to the AWU until the royal commission made them public.

“It appears that the total payments approximate the $300k initially discussed between Shorten and me, and that the relevant documentation was deliberately falsified,” he said.

In June, Fairfax Media revealed payments by Thiess John Holland to the AWU after a ground-breaking workplace agreement that cut standard industry conditions established by the rival CFMEU and delivered savings of as much as $100 million to the builder.

Mr Sasse said he had discussed a payment of around $100,000 a year for the three-year term of the project, which included a salary of $75,000, superannuation and a car.

When asked if the early discussion was with Mr Shorten, Mr Sasse said “yes”.

He said, “initial discussions were between the two of us” around September to October in 2004.

Mr Sasse said Mr Shorten had suggested that an organiser be appointed full time to the project and funded by Thiess.

“I was deliberately non-committal about that proposal. It was not something I particularly liked the look of,” Mr Sasse said.

Later in the hearing, Mr Sasse said he could not clearly recall whether he and Mr Shorten had discussed the “precise number, but we talked about the company funding the costs of an AWU employee to be deployed full-time on the project and I, either in my own mind or on the basis of a discussion, concluded that was going to be $100,000 a year”.

“I couldn’t say with any great level of confidence that Mr Shorten said ‘it will cost you $100,000 a year’, but it was crystal clear that the request was to pay the costs of an organiser, which, in a practical commercial sense, is largely the same thing,” he said.

By the end of 2004 the “entire logic” for funding the organiser position had “fallen away completely”.

Asked about a series of invoices paid including one for $33,000 on advertising in the n Worker Magazine, Mr Sasse said it was not “typical or usual”.

“It’s an awful lot of advertising,” he said

Mr Stoljar asked: “Would you have any concerns about this invoice?”

Mr Sasse replied: “Yes I would … The need for it in the first place and the value associated with it.”

Mr Shorten has denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, the issuing of bogus invoices and said in July that he left details of the project to his successor, embattled Victorian MP Cesar Melhem​.

EastLink deal

Documents tendered to the royal commission show that Mr Melhem dealt directly with former Thiess John Holland HR manager Julian Rzesniowiecki over many of the invoices stemming from the EastLink deal, and a Fairfax Media analysis found that almost half the payments made by Thiess John Holland to the AWU appear to involve suspect invoices for services never provided.

Mr Sasse is among eight executives from Thiess John Holland called to give evidence to the royal commission over the controversial deal with Mr Shorten.

Other notable witnesses include Ted Lockyer, whose company, Unibuilt, bankrolled Mr Shorten’s entry into Parliament through an in-kind donation of a campaign manager, Lance Wilson.

Also called for the first time to the inquiry is former n Workers Union national secretary and Shorten protege Paul Howes.

The commission has also recalled   Mr  Melhem, whose political career has already been damaged by commission revelations about deals he did as union leader that appear to have left his own members out of pocket.

The commission has devoted an entire day to his evidence.

The first two days of the AWU hearings that started on Monday will be on Thiess John Holland.

Mr Shorten was questioned in the royal commission in July about the payments, with  Mr Stoljar asked the Opposition Leader: “Do you say that you had discussions with Mr Sasse or, indeed, anyone else during those negotiations about a proposal pursuant to which an amount of $100,000 a year plus GST would be paid at any stage?”

Mr Shorten told the commission he did not “particularly remember” such discussions, later refining his evidence to acknowledge he may have raised the idea of the AWU providing training “and the like”.

At one point, royal commissioner Dyson Heydon was moved to criticise Mr Shorten for his “non-responsive” answers over the EastLink line of questioning.

‘Procedural unfairness’

During Monday’s hearing, Mr Shorten’s legal representative, Neil Clelland QC, who also represented former prime minister Julia Gillard at the royal commission hearings last year, challenged the commission on procedural fairness.

“We wish to place on record our objection to the process which has been undertaken, in particular the questioning of Mr Shorten in the way it was conducted when the commission was in possession of an interview with Mr Sasse …,” Mr Clelland said.

“In our submission that process had the potential to unfairly damage Mr Shorten’s reputation. He is clearly entitled to be fairly treated.”

Mr Clelland said Mr Stoljar had said some of the claims made in relation to procedural unfairness were defamatory.

Mr Clelland asked, as a matter of fairness, that he be provided with all records of meetings or interviews with Mr Sasse and royal commission staff.

Mr Stoljar said Mr Shorten “had no less than six counsel, three senior counsel, two present in the witness room, and we would respectfully submit that he was amply protected and persons were able to make whatever submissions they wished about the questions that were put”.

“The questions that were put were in any event denied. He said he didn’t remember anything about that matter and he has been invited subsequently as one has seen from this correspondence, if he wishes he can put on further evidence to amplify or clarify the evidence he gave. That invitation has been issued,” Mr Stoljar said.

Mr Heydon said it was “technically correct to say Mr Shorten did not accept what was put to him and later rejected Mr Clelland’s application for the correspondence requested.

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Father tried to kill himself when son was cured of TB as doctors over-ruled by immigration

Paediatrician Dr David Isaacs was moved to tears when describing to the ABC’s 7:30 the fate he witnessed for patients on Nauru. Photo: ABC ‘Systematic child abuse sanctioned by the government’: AMA president Brian Owler. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Imagine your child caught tuberculosis, a potentially deadly infection attacking their growing lungs.

Now imagine they recover – but instead of relief, you feel nothing but devastation.

Western Sydney paediatrician and University of Sydney professor David Isaacs told Fairfax how the father of one of his tiny patients, a toddler aged nearly three, tried to kill himself after learning his son’s tuberculosis had been cured.

The reason? When Professor Isaacs delivered the good news, he also had to deliver the bad: the family were asylum seekers and the man, his wife and son would likely now be woken in the middle of the night, the parents handcuffed and the family sent to Nauru.

Professor Isaacs described a topsy-turvy system where parents and doctors feel almost relieved when children get sick, and when doctors’ decisions about what is best for their patients are overruled by immigration officials.

“If they want to get medical advice they will get it from International Health and Medical Services… which has a very lucrative contract with the government – it’s worth millions,” he said. “Then surprise surprise they will agree with the government”.

Doctors are particularly concerned about sending children to Nauru, where the Human Rights Commission found there had been 33 reports of sexual assault and more than a 100 cases of self harm in just over one year.

On Monday morning n Medical Association president and paediatric brain surgeon Brian Owler​ said it was well-documented that keeping children in detention was a form of “systematic” physical and psychological abuse “sanctioned by the government”.

Labor immigration spokesman Richard Marles​ said he would introduce a private members bill requiring immigration officials to report all suspected child abuse in offshore and onshore detention camps.

It was revealed at the weekend that doctors at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital refused to discharge an asylum seeker and her child to immigration detention.

Professor Isaacs said most asylum seeker children were outpatients, meaning doctors could not refuse to discharge them.

In the case of this toddler, now three years old, he wrote to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton three times begging that the family not be returned while his parents’ mental health was so unstable. He told the father the truth only because he was worried about how he would cope when he was suddenly transported away.

The boy has now developed obstructive sleep apnoea and needs his tonsils out, a procedure for which there is a significant waiting list in NSW – meaning he has been given a reprieve for now.

Professor Isaacs said doctors are forced to treat vulnerable child patients being held in Villawood detention centre in Sydney in the presence of security guards, undermining their care and humiliating them.

“They are being treated like they are violent criminals – it happens all the time and it’s demeaning and humiliating,” he said.

Under Mr Marle’s private members bill, immigration officials will be required to report all suspected child abuse in offshore and onshore detention camps.

If a worker reasonably believed a minor had suffered a reportable assault in detention, they must alert the n Border Force Commissioner within 24 hours. The bill would also make it an offence for a worker not to report an assault.

“There should be absolutely no doubt that staff, including medical contractors working in these facilities not only have the freedom to report abuse, but have a legal obligation to do so,” Mr Marles said.

“n funded facilities … need to be safe, humane centres where people can have their claims processed without fear of violence or assault”.

He said Mr Dutton’s response to doctors’ concerns raised over the weekend was “cringe-worthy and callous”, adding detention was “no place for children” and the government should speed up the processing of refugee claims.

In February Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said “one child in detention is one child too many”. However as prime minister, he is under pressure from right-wing elements of the party not to relax the party’s hardline border protection stance.The government says the number of children in detention has fallen dramatically since the Coalition took office.

Also on Monday Greens’ immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said her party would introduce a bill to ban the detention of children in n-run centres.

“In the last few days we’ve seen thousands of people rallying in the streets and doctors refusing to send refugee children back to detention,” she said.

“Members of Parliament often say they don’t want children behind bars, but talk is cheap. We need to change the law to ensure that children are protected and not detained.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton did not respond before deadline.

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

Condolences flood in for Fairfax columnist Sam de Brito

Shock: Sam de Brito. Photo: Jacky Ghossein Sam de Brito deadSam de Brito’s columnsLeave your condolencesSam de Brito’s final columnSam de Brito’s first Fairfax column
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Sydney was just going to lunch when word got out that our columnist Sam de Brito had been found dead in his Bondi home a few hours earlier on Monday morning.

Immediately the internet began to lament.

Sam de Brito was essentially a very private man. Yet he wore his column on his sleeve and the public man had been a part of Sydney life for 13 years. It was his last column that struck home the deepest.

On Sunday, de Brito wrote in The Sun-Herald about the joys of sharing his bed with his daughter:  “Childbirth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping – it’s difficult for a male to voice an opinion on these subjects without coming off as telling women what to do with their bodies, so you won’t find this caveman going there … except.

“Except, when you’re a single father, you get to make your own decisions about co-sleeping when your child stays overnight.

“Thankfully, my ex and I agreed upon this enthusiastically; we embraced co-sleeping, still do, and believe it’s been a cornerstone of our five-year-old daughter’s serenity and security.

“I understand why people don’t co-sleep. Mum and dad in bed, plus a child or two – it gets crowded; there are more kicks and punches to the face than a Fremantle home game. Still, from the moment our daughter came home, both of us thought it bizarre to shipwreck her in another bed, let alone another room.

“Homo sapiens and homo erectus have survived more than two million years sleeping with their children, and when I draw my daughter into my chest, smell her hair and mumble love to her in the quiet hours of the night, I feel more a father, more human, than at any other time. Best of all, my daughter wakes calm and happy … before she sits on my head.”

Seconds after the Herald ran a story on Monday about de Brito’s death, messages started flooding in.

His media colleagues were quickest off the mark.

Mia Freedman tweeted: The best job Sam de Brito ever had, by his own reckoning, was being a dad. Go well, Sam. My heart breaks for your family & beloved daughter.— Mia Freedman (@MiaFreedman) October 12, 2015

The comedian/columnist Wendy Harmer: OMG ! NO @SamdeBrito. I love you to bits. xxxx— Wendy Harmer (@wendy_harmer) October 12, 2015

Radio man Ben Fordham: RIP @SamdeBrito An extremely talented writer, complex character and a bit of a rebel. Thoughts with his friends and love to his family.— BenFordham (@BenFordham) October 12, 2015

ABC broadcaster Allan Clark: Such tragic news about Sam De Brito. His passion to push for more Aboriginal people in newsrooms inspired me years ago when we first met.— Allan Clarke (@AllanJClarke) October 12, 2015

Jessica Rudd, writer and daughter of former prime minister Kevin Rudd: It’s a terrible shock to have lost Sam de Brito, a brave, honest writer. My condolences to those who loved him, especially the littlest one.— Jessica Rudd (@Jess_Rudd) October 12, 2015

Age sports journalist Daniel Cherny: In an era of columnist overload, @SamdeBrito’s voice still managed to stand out as punchy and thoughtful. Gone way too soon.— Daniel Cherny (@DanielCherny) October 12, 2015

Over the years, as Bondi moved from a beachside suburb towards a destination for both backpackers and wealthy young workers, de Brito became a fixture who reflected a local take on life.

In the process he became a bit of a local identity.

His tireless work with the North Bondi SLSC as it struggled to raise funds for a new clubhouse five years ago was well appreciated in the local community. On Monday, North Bondi SLSC posted on Facebook: 

A very sad morning for North Bondi Surf Club. Sam De Brito was a much loved club member and the former Communications…Posted by North Bondi SLSC on  Sunday, October 11, 2015RIP Sam de Brito who passed away yesterday. He was a long time vegan writer/journalist, and wrote many… http://t上海龙凤论坛/cAbDXeVZuO— Shellethics (@shellethics) October 12, 2015

Similarly Animal Liberation NSW lamented Mr de Brito’s passing.

Really terrible news. The animals have lost a strong, passionate, and articulate voice on their side. If you haven’t, check out Sam’s articles from the last couple of years when he made the choice to start living a more compassionate life as a vegan. Thoughts are with his family, and an immeasurable debt of gratitude to all the lives he saved and minds he changed. RIP.Posted by Animal Liberation NSW on  Sunday, October 11, 2015

First HSC English paper for 2015 ‘pleasingly broad’,’easier than trials’

Nicholas Bekin, 17, Maddie Allen, 18, and Chloe Arens, 18, from Lambton High School, sat the English HSC exam on Monday. Picture: MARINA NEIL ACROSS the state, 70,000 teenagers are white-knuckled and tense. The Higher School Certificate is here again.
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On Monday, students began a gruelling four-week exam schedule, sitting the first of a two-part English paper.

At Lambton High School, where a prefect named Sharon Claydon once sat the same finals, there was a mix of nerves and relief as the exams got underway.

The overall verdict on the first English paper was that the essay questions were pleasingly broad, and, as is the tradition, felt easier than the lead-up trials.

Maddy Allen, 18, from Merewether, is hoping to do well enough to study primary teaching.

After weeks of study, she was pleasantly surprised coming out of the first exam.

‘‘Compared to how I was feeling before, I feel so much better,’’ she said.

‘‘I had a study plan and I think it definitely helped; I feel more relaxed and calm about it.’’

After a year-long build up of pressure, it can be hard to heed the advice of people like Premier Mike Baird, who on Sunday took to Facebook to wish students well, and share some of his own experience.

‘‘Here’s the truth of it … life isn’t defined by your exams. It begins after they are finished,’’ he wrote.

‘‘It’s always important to give everything you do your very best shot, but make sure you keep some perspective.’’

Chloe Arens, 18, from Mount Hutton, has been doing her best to keep the pressure in check.

She wants to study nursing at the University of Newcastle.

‘‘You could say it’s more like a 13 year build up,’’ she said.

‘‘I have to find a way to study and manage my anxiety levels, too.

‘‘It’s just the overall pressure of the HSC, I think. Everyone puts pressure on you and of course you put pressure on yourself.’’

Nicholas Ekin, 17, from Cardiff, had a similar philosophy:

‘‘I’ve tried to keep a balance so that I don’t go insane,’’ he said.

He’d been doing his best to keep his motivation levels going for the long haul.

‘‘I’ve got nine days to prepare for woodwork, which is a bit of a joke, I could have used that for something else.’’

Nippers hit Wanda for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge

Nippers hit Wanda for 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge: gallery Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage
Shanghai night field

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

Nippers turned out for the 2015 Medibank Wave Junior Challenge on Saturday at Wanda. Picture: John Veage

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Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey take seats on Turnbull government backbench

Backbencher Joe Hockey takes his seat with Tony Abbott as Parliament returns. Photo: Andrew Meares Mr Hockey and Mr Abbott during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
Shanghai night field

The newly elected member for Canning, Andrew Hastie, is congratulated by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after being sworn-in. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The Pulse live from Parliament House

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has returned to the House of Representatives to sit on the backbench as Malcolm Turnbull’s refreshed ministry faced its first question time.

Mr Abbott had not set foot in the chamber since Mr Turnbull ousted him in the leadership spill of September 14. He has not sat on the backbench since 1995, when Paul Keating was prime minister.

Labor leader Bill Shorten again sought to exploit the leadership spill, questioning why Mr Turnbull “overthrew” a prime minister who, by his own admission had achieved “great things, great reforms, great commitments”.

“I am delighted that the Leader of the Opposition, showing his gallantry, has given me the opportunity once again to praise the member for Warringah,” Mr Turnbull replied.

He then spoke of how Mr Abbott led the Coalition out of opposition and ended the “reckless spending and dysfunctional management” of the former Labor government.

Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd were both forced to navigate these questions after they unseated each other in 2010 and 2013.

Mr Abbott is now seated between former treasurer Joe Hockey and former defence minister Kevin Andrews, both staunch allies who publicly defended him on the night of the spill.

Following the spill, Treasurer Scott Morrison claimed that Mr Abbott offered to “throw Joe Hockey under a bus” by offering him the deputy leadership and Treasury portfolio.

Mr Morrison also said he warned the former prime minister’s office that the partyroom was “febrile”. Mr Abbott accused him of “badly misleading” people.

On Monday, Mr Morrison revealed he and Mr Abbott had a “very, very short conversation” at the NSW Liberal Party’s state council meeting on Saturday.

Monday’s question time was Mr Morrison’s first as Treasurer.

Assistant Treasurer and Small Business Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, promoted to cabinet from a parliamentary secretary position, spoke about the China- free trade agreement.

Today’s session also saw newly elected member for Canning, Andrew Hastie, sworn in.

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