Winner of Barbara Jefferis award Peggy Frew writes a new song of hope

Peggy Frew has won the Barbara Jefferis award. Photo: Supplied Melbourne writer Peggy Frew has won the Barbara Jefferis award for her second book Hope Farm. Photo: Josh Robenstone
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 After high school and before children Peggy Frew was bass guitarist in an indie rock band that made three albums, toured internationally and won an ARIA Award.

As the band grew apart and she tired of the “crappy jobs” she took to support the music and pay the rent, Frew enrolled in a professional writing and editing course at Melbourne’s RMIT University. It was a relief not to be looking for dead-end work.

A decade later, Frew’s second career has paid dividends with her second novel, Hope Farm, receiving a rich literary fiction prize established to reward an Australian author’s positive depiction or empowerment of women and girls.

The Barbara Jefferis Award is offered biennially, administered by the Australian Society of Authors, and comes with prize money of $50,000, funded by a significant bequest from Jefferis’ husband, the late film critic, John Hinde.

Frew was shortlisted along with Sarah Hopkins for This Picture of You, Gail Jones for A Guide to Berlin, Alice Pung’s Laurinda, Claire Zorn’s The Protected and Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things. Her novel had also been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin and Stella prizes.

“It’s a sign that my writing is taken seriously in the world which might seem like a silly thing for me to take away from [the award]”, says Frew, “but I didn’t complete a university degree. I have never studied literature. Writing was something I’ve come to later in my life. It helps to get this external validation, it certainly does, it kind of makes me think I must really be a writer now.”

In Hope Farm Frew explores a complex mother and daughter relationship through the eyes of 13-year-old Silver, who is brought to live in a hippy commune that has “seen better days” in rural Victoria during the mid-1980s.

The judges applauded Frew’s “exquisite novel of female sensibilities about the decisions women have to make and the consequences of living with them”.

Said Frew: “I was drawn to the notion of hippies and alternative ways of living and communal ways of living as a backdrop in which to take a parent-child relationship and see what happens when it is tested; what it may be able to withstand.”

Frew had been thinking of her own relationships with her three children when she started the novel four years ago. “One child in particular is very independent and I’ve had to learn to really tune in with her in order to have love expressed back and forth. I think this became a big theme in the book, that there is a big difference between loving someone and having the skills to demonstrate that love.”

Growing up in Melbourne, Frew always loved books, and in high school wrote short stories but remembers harbouring an adolescent irritation “at having to work at something I knew I would have to try at”.

“I thought I should automatically be the best writer in the world and never have to put any effort in.”

In 1995 she formed Art of Fighting with her high-school sweetheart. “It was great,” Frew says. “We toured Europe and did a lot of touring in Australia. We did three albums and won an ARIA and did pretty well for a while and then everyone started having children and taking jobs more seriously and that kind of receded. We are trying to finish an album at the moment so we still get together and work on music, we just haven’t been able to give it the time it deserves for many years now.”

From the band Frew derives a sense of common purpose. “Everybody’s doing something different and you are interacting with each other in real time. There is a lightness to it, an element of mindfulness to it, which is a very hackneyed term.”

Writing is more exposing and terrifying but more personally satisfying, she says. “What’s so good about writing is I can’t pretend that it’s anybody else’s work – it’s just me. I’ve done it.”

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Alleged killer Robert Adams raped three women before Mary Wallace disappearance, court told

Robert John Adams leaves the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday. Photo: Peter Rae Alleged killer Robert John Adams targeted his victims in a similar fashion and committed similar, violent acts upon them, a court has heard.
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He would often meet them in bars or clubs on Sydney’s north shore and engage in conversation with them before enticing them to his car.

As soon as they were isolated, he would put his hands around their throats and squeeze hard before raping them.

“The accused had a tendency to strangle women,” Crown prosecutor Mark Hobart SC told the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Mr Hobart outlined about how three women had come forward and described the way they had been attacked by Mr Adams in the 1970s

He said this was tendency evidence that a judge should rely upon to find Mr Adams guilty of the murder of nurse Mary Wallace at Crows Nest in 1983.

“The tendency evidence strongly supports the Crown theory that on this night, September 23, 1983 … the accused killed the deceased.”

Ms Wallace, 33, was last seen leaving a Crows Nest wine bar with Mr Adams and getting into his car on the night she disappeared.

Mr Adams has told police he and Ms Wallace engaged in sexual activity in his Holden Commodore, but he later fell asleep. He said when he woke up she had vanished.

Police allege Mr Adams raped and most probably strangled Ms Wallace before disposing of her body – which has never been found.

Two hairs found in the boot of his car were later identified as belonging to Ms Wallace.

Mr Hobart also outlined how witnesses had seen Mr Adams cleaning out the boot of his car the day after Ms Wallace’s disappearance.

“When he washed out the boot of his car, the Crown says he was trying to erase all evidence that Mary Wallace had ever been in that boot,” he said.

During his closing address Mr Hobart reiterated the evidence of the three women who said they had been attacked by Mr Adams.

Mr Adams has been previously convicted of the rape of one woman he met at the Middle Harbour Yacht Club.

The woman told police how she was in Mr Adams’ car when he pulled over, put his hands around her throat and began to choke her.

He said to her: “I’ll f— you either dead or alive.” And later: “Either f— me now or I’ll f— you when I kill you.”

The court heard how Mr Adams raped the woman after threatening to “finish her off” and throw her in the river if she did not do what he wanted.

Mr Adams’ defence barrister Peter Lang is expected to give his closing address on Wednesday.

The trial continues before Justice Richard Button.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bega Cheese shares dive on fears over China demand for infant formula

Its failure to penetrate the infant formula market led to Bega Cheese shares dumped on Tuesday. Photo: Steven Siewert Bega Cheese is trying to move away from commodity products for the bulk of its revenues.
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Bega Cheese bore the brunt of a dairy sector sell-off on Tuesday after revealing its recently launched joint venture with Blackmores is under pressure from weak Chinese demand.

Bega Cheese shares dived after it warned it would write off much of its exposure to a newly formed infant formula venture, which analysts had hoped could help the dairy group transition away from being a bulk commodity processor and boost margins by moving further into the branded-products sector.

Bega shares closed down a heavy 17 per cent at $5.40 Tuesday, near the day’s low of $5.20.

Bega Cheese’s woes spilt over to other makers of infant formula such as Bellamy’s, which shed 2.8 per cent to $12.90 as A2 Milk fell 2.5 per cent to finish at $1.95. A2 Milk generates about a third of its revenue from the infant formula market.

Announced a year ago, the first Blackmores-branded infant formula product was launched in April with initial sales in pharmacies, and more recently in supermarkets.

At its recent analyst briefing, Blackmores said early sales of the venture had topped $9 million as it prepared to enter the China retail market in 2017. Changes under way

“There are significant market changes under way,” Bega Cheese executive chairman Barry Irvin said after Tuesday’s annual general meeting.

“Some of these are short term and we will continue to observe the market as these changes play out.”

The biggest change is the move to close the ‘grey’ market with individuals buying infant formula in chemists and supermarkets and shipping it into China, which prompted the Chinese government to impose regulations to try to shut this market down.

“Chinese demand for infant formula is strong. It is more the change with the market evolving,” Mr Irvin said.

Bega Cheese’s Irwin conceded it will take time for the venture to build a brand presence, which involves taking on global giants of the sector, although Blackmore’s experience in developing product for the China market is seen as an advantage, he said. Contested share

Rivals, however, claim the venture’s share of the infant formula market is less than 1 per cent.

“I was always cautious about that deal,” an analyst said of the Blackmores venture.

“Blackmores doesn’t have a presence [in that market sector] and it meant taking on long-standing players such as Mead Johnson and other groups.

“The heritage value for Blackmores lies with its vitamins business. I always thought China was a reputational issue, with Chinese interested in Blackmores vitamins.”

Bega Cheese has been seeking to move away from relying on commodity products for the bulk of its revenues, and the global surplus of dairy products has squeezed margins across the industry, with the company warning on Tuesday that earnings will be flat this year, before taking into account the write-off from the Blackmores venture.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Toughen up, everyone

“Punch to destroy,” I remind my 10-year-old daughter on the drive to her hand-to-hand combat training, being an annoying father who says the same stuff all the time.
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“Yes, Dad,” she says, scrolling through pop songs on her iPad.

“You don’t want to be one of those people,” I tell her, tapping the steering wheel for emphasis. “And I know you’re not, but you know what I’m talking about – those people that just flop their arms out or slap the target.”

“I’m not, Dad,” she says, settling on a Sia tune.

“Coz if you get in a fight – if you have to defend yourself or defend someone else – then tapping the bully, not hitting them seriously, you know, is just going to annoy them and make them hit you harder. You gotta stop them in their tracks. You gotta be ferocious – controlled, but ferocious.”

“I know, Dad. I know.”

“And if they sense that sharpness, that controlled ferocity, in you –”

“Dad.”

“Then chances are the fight won’t happen in the first place.”

“Dad! I know. Can I listen to my song now?”

“Of course, sure – sorry.”

I gear down for a corner and she restarts She Wolf, singing along to “What do you see in those yellow eyes?”while I ponder the challenge of raising a girl to be able to fight.

The stand-up-for-yourself attitude hasn’t been easy to instil when her schools have drummed into the kids that it’s always wrong to fight – that “two wrongs don’t make a right”. Shoving a bully away can easily land the defender in as much trouble as the bully – a tad more trouble even than doing one of the many banned activities which include cartwheels, handball at times (depending on how heated the games get), and going up the slippery dip instead of down.

This all might make life easier for teachers and minimise their charges bruises, scrapes and sprains, but longer term it’s weakening kids. Years back when I did some neighbourhood karate instructing I had a pair of boys about my daughter’s age training together. One was used to the ouches and tumbles of the physical world while his mate was soft as butter, having grown up to that point with permission and even more – encouragement – to opt of out of things that might hurt.

We spent a morning learning how to block kicks – something in which your arms sometimes get bruised, especially before you loosen up and get supple, get your timing in, get in the flow. And when butter-boy copped a sharp heel-thwack on the arm, he burst into tears and ran out.

I found him over in the shade clutching his mortal injury and asked if he was OK. “I’m hurt!” he said. “My arm hurts!” He was now stunned that anyone would choose to do this. “It hurts!” And for a moment he cried harder at the shock of it all.

We sat for a while and as he calmed I told him that pain and emotion can be separated – that something can hurt, and hurt a lot, but that the pain need not be distressing. “In fact, unless it’s done some real damage, you know, like broken a bone or wrecked your knee or something, don’t even give it the time of day. It’s just pain. And if you’re fighting, then don’t even show it. Eat it. Eat the pain and use it as fuel. Use it to make you sharper.”

The little lad looked at me in amazement. “Just pain?”

The concept was utterly foreign to him. So far in his life he had been taught that pain and emotion – being upset, more specifically – go together.

“Just pain?” His eyes were wide.

“Yep. Can wake you up, can’t it?”

The lad’s mate came out to see how he was going and butter-boy surprised us both; he wanted to get straight back into it, and he did. When he collecting a few more bruises he yelped but grinned and later didn’t even yelp so much but worked well on stance and timing and movement and counter-attacks. When the session ended he was the most satisfied I’d seen him, and his hardier little mate looked at him in a new light.

Later that day I caught up with the changed kid’s mum, and I ran her through the transformation in thinking, in being, that had taken place. She stared at me, somewhat appalled. “There’s nothing at all wrong with getting upset about pain,” she said.

“Sometimes, sure,” I said. “But this is just pain, it’s only pain – and even when it’s more than that, when you’re hurt because of someone’s cruelty, then not going straight to distress and mess but instead showing nothing – no sign of it – and even using it to get sharper, well then this separation I’ve taught your son about is useful. It could strengthen him.”

She was lost for words and stared at me like I was a maniac, which made me glad I hadn’t gone into full loony cult-mode and given the boys set readings like Joyce Carol Oates’ book, On Boxing, particularly the part where she so reverently writes that the sweet science “inhabits a sacred space predating civilization”. To nail it even further, Oates describes boxing with a sizzler of a line from a DH Lawrence poem. Boxing, she writes, comes from a time “before God was love.”

What I wanted those boys to know then, what I want my daughter to understand now, is that despite all the moral and physical hand-holding going on at schools and in popular culture, we still live in that time. God is vaster than love. Life is vaster than love. Life, God, existence, is also made of terror and torment and pain.

We can’t run from it all. We can’t always go and tell a teacher. Sometimes we need ferocity and control.

“I can’t compete with the she-wolf,” sings my little girl. But putting aside the song’s adult connotations, when I see her switch to war mode in the class and punch with speed and power, I think maybe she can.

Matt Thompson is the Dungog-based author of Mayhem: the Strange and Savage Saga of Christopher ‘BADNE$$’ Binse.

Barnaby Joyce pushes for resolution of disrupted live cattle trade with Indonesia

Australia is now the only country to export live cattle to Indonesia. Photo: Louie Douvis Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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19 companies have now been issued with import permits. Photo: Paul Harris

Simon Crean met with Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita in Jakarta on Monday. Photo: Joe Armao

Australian cattle at a feedlot run by the firm PT Tanjung Unggul Mandiri in Tangerang, 25 kilometres west of Jakarta. Photo: Irwin Fedriansyah

Australian cattle at a feedlot run by the firm PT Tanjung Unggul Mandiri in Tangerang, 25 kilometres west of Jakarta. Photo: Irwin Fedriansyah

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is pushing for negotiations over a proposed new rule disrupting the live cattle trade to Indonesia to be resolved as quickly as possible, warning any interruption to trade will hurt exporters, importers and Indonesian consumers.

No cattle were exported to Indonesia in September due to permit delays amid negotiations over a proposed new policy requiring importers to bring in one cow for breeding for every five cows to be fattened for slaughter.

The previous month 71,458 cattle were imported to Indonesia, while 51,255 were imported in July.

The unexpected new rule shocked the beef industry and led to cattle being stockpiled in feedlots in Australia and exporters having to absorb the massive costs of ships sitting idle in Australian ports.

Indonesia was Australia’s largest live cattle export market in 2014-15, taking 746,193 cows valued at $601 million.

Although 19 companies have now been issued with import permits and the first ship left Townsville at the end of September, the number of cattle imported in the final trimester of the year is expected to be significantly reduced.

“The government is conscious that many Australian producers and exporters … need to see this situation resolved as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson for Mr Joyce said.

“Unfortunately any interruption to the trade will have cost implications for Australian exporters, for Indonesian importers and unfortunately for Indonesian consumers.”

The spokesperson said the agriculture and foreign affairs departments had been in “constant communication” with the Indonesian government over the past fortnight.

“The minister is in contact with his counterpart in Indonesia as is the Australian minister for trade, to seek a timely resolution on this matter.”

Australian Live Exporters’ Council chairman Simon Crean met Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita in Jakarta on Monday seeking clarification of the new policy.

Mr Crean said Mr Lukita had indicated the new breeder rule did not apply to individual consignments of cattle but would be tallied at the end of a period.

The two countries had agreed to establish a working party to assist with implementing the new policy.

Mr Crean said fattening cattle for slaughter and breeding cattle were entirely different operations and the breeding program would take time to establish.

“We have pointed out that all of Australia’s experience and breeders generally globally is that feedlots do not make good outcomes for breeding,” Mr Crean said.

“And therefore what has got to happen is we have to find the land.”

Mr Lukita said the Australian Live Exporters’ Council had told them breeding was difficult. “But if we don’t start today, when will we start? I said we are responsible for ensuring our cattle population is increasing.”

Australia is now the only country to export live cattle to Indonesia.

But Mr Lukita said he told the delegation Indonesia was also exploring importing live cattle from Brazil, Mexico and Spain to ensure there would be no shortage of supply.

“I told them the price in Brazil is far lower,” he said. “[Importers] will go away from a market in which the regulation is complicated and the price is too high.”

Asked if Australia would lower the price of cattle given that Indonesia was exploring opening up its market to other countries, Mr Lukita said: “I don’t know. But I gave them hints about us having alternatives, they understand already.”

But Mr Crean said the price of beef was up to the market: “We can’t guarantee the price will come down.”

Uncertainty surrounding the issue of import permits also had an impact on cost.

“If the cost of shipping is higher because the vessels have to be hired at the last minute, somewhere or other someone has got to pay for that,” he added.

Mr Lukita said 80,000 cattle would arrive from Australia before the end of the year. He said none of these would be required to be for breeding, in order to give companies time to adjust to the new policy.

Asked if 80,000 cows would be enough, Mr Lukita said: “More than enough.”

He said an audit would be undertaken at the end of 2018 to ensure importers were complying with the new breeding rule.

Meanwhile, Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting issued a statement on Tuesday detailing the virtues of her $365 million offer with Shanghai CRED for S. Kidman and Co – Australia’s biggest cattle empire, hoping to counter any concerns about foreign ownership.

with Karuni Rompies

Follow Jewel Topsfield on Facebook

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.