Fatal Dreamworld accident captured on CCTV

Dreamworld on October 25, 2016 in Gold Coast, Australia. Photo: Jason O’Brien/Getty ImagesDreamworld fatalities come after history of theme park accidentsDreamworld emergency: multiple deaths confirmedThe horror theme park accident that killed four people at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast was caught on CCTV, police have confirmed as investigations into the tragedy began in earnest.
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Gold Coast Inspector Tod Reid said police would remain on site for a significant amount of time to assist in both the investigation and the recovery of the four bodies.

The four victims were on board the Thunder River Rapids ride, which involved six-person circular rafts riding a heavy man-made current.

Police and investigators at Dreamworld on October 25, 2016 in Gold Coast, Australia. Photo: Jason O’Brien/Getty Images

“There is CCTV footage available and that will be reviewed as part of the investigation,” Inspector Reid said.

Inspector Reid said forensic pathologists had examined the victims, two women aged 32 and 42 and two men aged 35 and 38, “in situ” and the Queensland coroner had also examined the scene.

“We have specialist police here engaged with witnesses and those people are being offered support, along with the responding police are being offered appropriate support as well,” he said.

Responders would be on the site well into the night, Inspector Reid said, as he expected the “complex” retrieval of the bodies to would involve heavy equipment.

“That will take several hours,” he said.

Inspector Todd Reid speaks to media about the accident at Dreamworld. Photo: Queensland Police

Queensland Ambulance Service acting senior operations supervisor Gavin Fuller said two people were ejected from the ride and the other two were caught in the ride.

“They were assessed by Queensland Ambulance personnel and had all sustained injuries that were incompatible with living,” he said.

Mr Fuller said responders had been “deeply affected” by what they had seen and would be offered counselling.

Dreamworld chief executive Craig Davidson said the amusement park would not be open on Wednesday.

Later, the Dreamworld website announced the park would be closed “until further notice”.

Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson addressed the media some hours after the fatal accident. Photo: Seven News

“At this stage, the park is closed and Dreamworld is working closely with police and emergency services and authorities to establish the facts around the incident,” Mr Davidson said.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this and our hearts and our thoughts go to the families involved and to their loved ones.”

Dreamworld visitor Lisa Walker said the Thunder River Rapids ride had broken down earlier in the day.

“It had broken down and we went back a couple of times to this particular ride,” she said.

“We were standing on the bridge watching and the water had stopped.

“There was no rapids.”

The tragedyoccurred about 10 minutes after Ms Walker and her daughter, Kaylah, walked away from the ride.

“We had just got off the ride,maybe five or 10 minutes,and hadcome over to the water park,” Ms Walker said.

“We had just come back and heard all the sirens and things and we saw all the people being ushered out.

The scene at Dreamworld after an accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the Gold Coast theme park on Tuesday. Photo: Jason O’Brien/Getty Images

“Some were coming out by themselves, some were coming out on their own. Some were coming out crying, cuddling people.

“It was just horrible.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said police and workplace health and safety were doing a “thorough” investigation and expected that to continue until early Wednesday morning.

“I understand there were many witnesses and I want to thank paramedics and police who were there,” she said.”I have been told the scene was horrific.

“Everyone is in deep shock that this has actually happened at one of our most popular theme parks, our heart goes out to family and victims.”

I’m very saddened by the tragedy at Dreamworld today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families. https://t.co/FGF9vsrB1s

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) October 25, 2016

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in Brisbane on Tuesday when the tragedy occurred.

“Theme parks are a place for family fun and happiness, not tragedy,” he said Tuesday evening.

“This is a very, very, sad, tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives.

“This is a verysad day, and we trust there will be a thorough investigation into the causes of this accident over the days to follow.”

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said his city would assist the loved ones of the victims in any way it could.

“Any help they need, whether or not they need some help to get family or loved ones back to their hometown, things like that,” he told Nine News.

“We want to reach out and let them know that Gold Coasters will be doing our best to make sure they are comforted.”

Ardent Leisure, the operator of the Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast, had itsshare price fall by as much as 8 per cent following news of a tragedyat the venue.

ASX-listed Ardent ownsDreamworldand the neighbouring WhiteWater World on the Gold Coast.

-Amy Mitchell-Whittington, Jorge Branco, Tony Moore, Cameron Atfield and Carolyn Cummins

NBA veteran Steve Blake ready to mix it with Sydney Kings young guns

Old head: Steve Blake in action for Detroit against Matthew Dellavedova’s Cavaliers. Photo: CARLOS OSORIOA question about the age of Sydney’s latest NBA import, Steve Blake, was delicately put to their coach ahead of his anticipated arrival on Wednesday.
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“36, I don’t see that as being particularly old,” said Kings coach Andrew Gaze.

“Certainly you’re closer to the end of your career than the start of it but it’s not to say you’re not capable of playing at a very high level.

“Let’s not forget, as short a time as seven months ago was running around with the Detroit Pistons playing 17 minutes a game.

“My experiences in the NBA are very, very brief. But if you’re playing 17 minutes a game in the NBA, you’ve got some skill and you’re still capable of playing at a very high level.”

Blake has played 870 games, plus a further 53 of the playoff variety, for nine NBA teams including the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, Washington Wizards and the Golden State Warriors. His time at the Lakers didn’t quite coincide with the championship-winning stint of another Kings import, Josh Powell, but between them they boast enough big-game experience to raise hopes Sydney may retain its position on top of the NBL ladder for some time yet.

The addition of Blake continues Gaze’s honeymoon period as a rookie basketball coach. The Kings have won three of their first four games, including Monday night’s hammering of arch rivals Illawarra, to mark the club’s best start to a season since 2007-8. They will get a chance to avenge their only loss, to Brisbane, with the addition of Blake in front of their home fans on Sunday.

Corporate Sydney is also coming to the party, with the Kings announcing on Tuesday that The Star has joined as one of the club’s foundation partners.

Blake will have little time to acquaint himself with his new surrounds or teammates. Asked if the veteran guard, the 38th pick of the 2003 NBA draft, was a chance of facing the Bullets, Gaze said: “He is going to play this weekend, he’s not a chance to play. He will play on Sunday.”

Blake, who has averaged 6.5 points and four assists during his regular-season NBA career, has played alongside some of the game’s biggest names. Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Draymond Green are just some of the superstars to have called him teammate. He has also played alongside Australian Andrew Bogut at both Golden State and Milwaukee.

The Kings have struck up a chemistry that has not been evident in sides wearing the purple and golds in recent campaigns. Gaze is confident his newest recruit will add to, rather than disrupt, it.

“Steve brings awesome experience, 13 years in the NBA with a variety of different clubs,” Gaze said.

“The more experienced the players are, the less ego involved, the more team-first type mentality. Sometimes imports come over here and are under enormous pressure to carry the team. We’ve got great depth and it’s about playing a role and sometimes that requires sacrifice from some of the players.

“When you’ve got experienced guys that have been around, they understand team success outweighs individual success. There’s far greater enjoyment when there is team success involved.”

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Northern Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching damage worse, surveys suggest

Diver Margaux Hein surveys dead branching corals at Day Reef, near Lizard Island. Photo: Greg Torda, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies Dead coral at Yonge reef, near Lizard Island. Photo: Greg Torda, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies
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Healthy reef between Mackay and Townsville escape. Photo: Tane Sinclair-Taylor, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

Crown-of-thorns starfish attached to healthy coral on a reef between Mackay and Townsville. Photo: Tane Sinclair-Taylor, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

Extensive bleaching of Acropora corals on the reef crest of North Direction Island, April 2016. Photo: Andrew Hoey, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

Dead bleached corals on the reef crest of North Direction Island in October 2016. Photo: Andrew Hoey, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

A healthy southern reef. Photo: Tane Sinclair-Taylor, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

Fresh surveys of the Great Barrier Reef six months on from a mass coral bleaching have found large-scale damage north of Cairns, where a growing coral death rate due to heat stress is being exacerbated by disease and predators, scientists say.

Researchers from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies have released a map with new pictures and video that show the aftermath of the extreme underwater heatwave last summer.

The southern half of the reef is in good condition, but the scientists say ongoing surveys at the top end – stretching north of Cairns to Papua New Guinea – confirm it was the worst bleaching episode recorded.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority earlier this year estimated 22 per cent of coral died across the length of the reef due to heat stress.

Greg Torda, from the Centre of Excellence, based at James Cook University in Townsville, said millions of corals died from heat stress in March and ongoing surveys showed many more had slowly died in the months since.

“On the reefs we surveyed close to Lizard Island [off the coast of Cooktown, in far-north Queensland], the amount of live coral covering the reef has fallen from around 40 per cent in March to under 5 per cent now,” Dr Torda said.

The scientists reported finding damaged living coral in that area under attack from snails and affected by disease.

In the central section of the reef, between Mackay and Townsville, Andrew Baird said there was still close to 40 per cent coral cover at most sites.

“The corals that were moderately bleached last summer have nearly all regained their normal colour,” Professor Baird said.

The high mortality rate across the reef came at the end of what was then the warmest year on record, and during an El Nino, when sea temperatures are particularly warm in the eastern Pacific. (This year has been warmer across the globe, but the El Nino cycle is over.)

Scientists warn that as the planet warms due to climate change, bleaching of many types of coral is expected to become more frequent and severe.

Coral bleaching occurs when the stressed coral host ejects the tiny marine algae, known as zooxanthellae, that lives inside its tissue and gives it its colour and the bulk of the energy needed for it to grow and reproduce.

Most corals rely on zooxanthellae to feed. Without it they start to starve and their tissue becomes transparent.

Corals can regain their zooxanthellae and colour if the temperature returns to normal, though some never fully recover. When heat stress continues for eight weeks or more, bleached coral often die. If the mortality rate on a reef is high it can take reefs years or decades to recover.

There was historically significant coral bleaching at reefs across much of the globe last year. Scientists say along the Great Barrier Reef it was worse than previous episodes in 1998 and 2002.

The current surveys are due to be completed in mid-November.

See more video and pictures of the reef here.

Follow Adam Morton on Facebook and Twitter.

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Horse racing: John Kissick to miss 12 months with fractured spine

John Kissick is expected to make a full recovery from his fractured spine. Photo: Jenny Evans John Kissick is expected to make a full recovery from his fractured spine. Photo: Melissa Adams
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Canberra jockey John Kissick has broken his back and could be out of the saddle for up to 12 months after a nasty cattle riding fall.

The popular hoop was flipped from a steer on a private property in Braidwood on Monday, landing heavily on his head and fracturing his T-12 vertebrae.

It is believed Kissick and a number of Canberra-based jockeys were enjoying an informal steer riding competition on the property where the incident occurred.

After initially experiencing a tingling sensation in his toes, he has since restored feelings in his limbs but will be bed-ridden with the lower back injury for the next six weeks.

It couldn’t come at a worse time for the in-demand rider with race meetings ramping up to coincide with Melbourne’s Spring Carnival.

Kissick’s fellow jockey and housemate Brodie Loy was awaiting results in hospital on Tuesday and said his friend was feeling “down” and “shattered” but relieved to have feeling in his legs and arms.

“You’ve got to look on the bright side of things; he’s not in a wheel chair, he’s going to be back riding and he’s going to be kicking goals in six months,” Loy said.

Kissick is expected to make a full recovery but it is a cruel blow for a highly sought after jockey.

“It’s massive,” Kissick’s manager Dean Walsh said. “Obviously this time of the year is busy and he had 20-odd rides booked for just this week so you can work out the magnitude of it over a course of 12 months.”

Kissick recently moved from Wagga Wagga to Canberra to further his career and has become a popular rider amongst trainers at Thoroughbred Park.

“Everybody hires him, he’s such a well sought after rider and he’s lucky and good enough to get the attention of just about everybody,” Walsh said.​

Although Kissick’s injury was not sustained working with horses, his accident is another reminder of the dangers associated with the sport a week out from the Melbourne Cup.

Canberra riders Richie Bensley, Carly Frater, and Chynna Marston have all suffered serious injuries over the last two years, as well as Victorian Michelle Payne.

And National Jockeys’ Trust manager and NSW Jockey’s Association vice president Tony Crisafi said the falls occur with frightening regularity.

“One in four NSW jockeys will be transported to hospital by ambulance following a fall from a horse at either track work or during the races,” Crisafi said.

This translates to one rider a week for the around 200 jockeys in NSW and Crisafi said it was important to be mindful of the dangers in the industry.

“While everyone is celebrating on Melbourne Cup day these jockeys are putting their lives on the line every day,” he said.

“The top jockeys riding at Flemington will be well remunerated but not the ones riding around Narrandera, Tumut and other places like that.”

“The National Jockeys’ Trust and the Australian Jockeys’ Association are here to help John in ever way. That’s what the NJT is for; to help injured jockeys and their families.”

At this stage it is believed Kissick’s fracture will heal without requiring surgery and the results of the MRI will provide further information.

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Sheffield Shield round one, day one: All you need to know

BIRD IS THE WORD
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The first round of the Sheffield Shield season had loomed as a bowl-off between Jackson Bird and Peter Siddle for the third fast-bowling spot in Australia’s XI for next week’s first Test against South Africa in Perth. With Mitchell Starc returning from injury ahead for NSW’s clash with Queensland at the Gabba, and Blues teammate Josh Hazlewood another likely starter for the WACA match against the Proteas, Siddle and Bird both arrived at the MCG for Victoria’s meeting with Tasmania as the two leading candidates to join the NSW pair next week, and were striving to impress on-duty selector Mark Waugh. Bird got first crack after Tasmania won the toss and elected to bowl in the pink-ball clash. He was typically economical and caused trouble for Victorian opener Travis Dean early, but took just one wicket as Victoria cruised.

SMUDGE STARS

Starc – restricted to playing half of this match as he is managed by Cricket Australia – and Hazlewood were also denied the chance to bowl early on day one after NSW were sent in by Queensland captain Usman Khawaja at the Gabba. David Warner fell early but Australian skipper Steve Smith notched a century, as did Kurtis Patterson. Luke Feldman impressed with the ball for the Bulls, finishing with five wickets.

TIMELY DECLARATION

Starc was preventing himself from bowling in a handy rearguard partnership in which he and Ryan Carters put on 52 for the eighth wicket. Smith declared however at 7-327, allowing Starc and Hazlewood a crack at the Bulls under lights. It meant an early crack for the pair at under-pressure Australian batsman Joe Burns. Charlie Hemphrey was then bowled by Hazlewood for a duck, setting up the tantalising prospect of Starc and Hazlewood bowling at Khawaja and Burns under lights. First Bulls wicket down… but Burns survives. Hazlewood clean bowls Hemphrey for a duck. Khawaja next man in… Bulls 1-0. Presure much?— Phil Lutton (@phillutton78) October 25, 2016FIGHTING FIT  

In good touch: Shaun Marsh staked his Test claim with the bat. Photo: Paul Kane

Left-hander Shaun Marsh was looking to prove his fitness ahead of the first Test in Western Australia’s WACA clash with South Australia after suffering a hamstring injury during the Matador Cup earlier this month. So far, so good, with Marsh notching 73 as the Warriors made a bright start to their campaign. His brother Mitch struggled though, making just 12.

MAXED OUT

Glenn Maxwell was unlikely to play in any of Australia’s home Tests this summer but was seen as a smokey for February’s Test tour of India. But in order to stake a claim for that series he’ll need to play some first-class cricket. It’ll be hard for him to do that as 12th man, where he was on Tuesday after being overlooked for the Bushrangers’ XI for the MCG match. Maxwell – who unsuccessfully sought a move to NSW during the winter – was understood to be shocked by the news.

SCAPE ESCAPE

No dramas: Queensland’s Usman Khawaja is still very much in Australia’s Test plans, according to Darren Lehmann. Photo: Chris Hyde

While Maxwell has something to worry about, Khawaja does not. Having claimed to have been a “scapegoat” for Australia’s failure having been omitted from the Test team following poor form during this year’s whitewash loss in Sri Lanka, concerns those comments would be held against him were allayed by Australian coach Darren Lehmann, who said Khawaja was in the frame to play in the first Test.

MAKING HIS ED

The strangest moment of the day came when former Australian opener Ed Cowan declined to play a shot to this ball from Queensland seamer Luke Feldman when on 10. The rest was history. Ed Cowan’s leave a few minutes ago, on a scale of 1 to Glenn Maxwell… #SheffieldShieldpic.twitter南京夜网/k1wOBR8hFa— Ethan (@ethan_meldrum) October 25, 2016

PINKER PINKER

The pink balls being used on Tuesday weren’t the same pink balls used in the Test in Adelaide last year. They are, in fact, pinker than ever before and include a more-pronounced seam (black stitching, not white) to see if that can encourage some more movement. Kookaburra has continued to work on the design and all of the players at the Gabba were keen to see how it performed. Darren Lehmann was keeping a close eye on proceedings but with only about 40 per cent humidity on a 27 degree day, it’s hardly a good guide for how it might play in the middle of December.

with Phil Lutton

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Sheffield Shield: Steve Smith makes century for NSW against Queensland

Big Blue: NSW captain Steve Smith salutes the crowd after reaching his ton. Photo: Chris HydeAustralian captain Steve Smith has roared into form ahead of the opening Test of the summer, posting a commanding century against Queensland in the day-night Sheffield Shield game at the Gabba.
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Smith (117) combined with Kurtis Patterson (111) to help the Blues rebound from the early loss of David Warner (12) and Ed Cowan (10), who found himself an unwanted social media star after he failed to offer a shot to Queensland quick Luke Feldman and had his off stump rocked.

NSW would declare at 7-327 and give themselves an hour to make in-roads against the Bulls, with Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja surviving a testing examination from Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood to give themselves a chance to press their Test claims on Wednesday.

Earlier, Smith and the in-form Patterson took NSW from 2-23 to 3-251 before the pair went as part of a collapse as night descended, with NSW losing 5-24 under lights as Feldman (5-68) tore through the middle order.

Test incumbents Moises Henriques (11) and Peter Nevill (1) had short-lived stays while Trent Copeland produced a nine-ball duck to put Queensland momentarily back in the contest.

But Starc would slog NSW out of trouble, ending up on 36 off 28 balls as he combined with Ryan Carters (27 not out) to see their side safely past the 300 mark and prepare for the early declaration.

Starc was having little trouble with the cut on his leg at the crease and would soon give it the full test as Smith unleashed he and Hazlewood deep into the evening against the Bulls top order.

Charlie Hemphrey was cleaned up by Hazlewood for a duck but Burns (21 not out) and Khawaja (18 not out) withstood a high-pressure period to take their side to 1-39 heading into day two.

It was a key session for the Queensland pair, who are both trying to force their way back into the Test team after being dropped for the final match in Sri Lanka in August.

Shaun Marsh compiled a watchful 73 for WA in the Shield game against South Australia in Perth, with suggestions that should be enough for him to retain his opening spot if his hamstring continues to hold firm.

But Burns is facing the better calibre of attack and came through with flying colours on Tuesday night, giving himself a launch pad to hit back against Marsh should he be able to go on with things on day two.

Khawaja stands to be given a recall despite his suggestion that he was made a ‘scapegoat’ for the poor results in Sri Lanka.

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Dreamworld fatalities come after history of theme park accidents

Multiple witnesses said there were problems with the ride on Tuesday morning, several hours before the fatal accident. Photo: AAPA fatal accident at Dreamworld that has closed the theme park until further noticecomes after a series of incidents haveleft visitors injured or strandedat the park over the past two decades.
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The most recent unfoldedsix months ago, whena man almost drowned when he fell from the Rocky Hollow Log Ride.

The man swallowed water and was taken to hospital with cuts to his head when he fell from the ride on April 17.

Health and safety bodyWorkSafe investigated the incident and the ride was reopened two days later.

The log ride is nextto the BuzzSaw roller-coaster, whichwas shut down for more than a week in February2015 after a problemwith a safety harness was investigated.

The Thunder River Rapids ride,on which four adultsdied on Tuesdayin one of the worst Australian amusement park accidents, is in the same area of the theme park.

​In January 2004, about 50 people were trapped on cable cars in the park when a tree fell on the main cable suspending the ride in the air.

This is not the first safety incident to occur at one of Australia’s premier theme parks. Photo: Getty Images

Four years earlier, a problem with the gearbox on the WipeOut ride left thrillseekers stranded.

Dreamworld is not the only theme park on the Gold Coast to have had issues with its rides.

Last month,a roller-coaster at Sea World stopped mid-rideand a group of teenagers were forced to wait until park staff could rescue them.

On Tuesday afternoon, emergency services rushed to Dreamworld’s”Goldrush Country” areabut two men and two women on the ride were unable to be revived.

Dreamworld will remain closed after the tragedy. Photo: Nine News

Multiple witnesses said there were problems with the rideon Tuesday morning, several hours before the fatal accident.

One girl told Nine News that engineers were called in to drain and inspect the ride.

“We were waiting there for about half an hour and the engineers had to come.

“They drained all the water out and then had to refill it back up. Then we were allowed to go. We were stuck there for about 30, 40 minutes at least,” the witness told Nine News.

Two other witnesses, New Zealand touristsKaylahand Lisa Walker, said they lined up at the rideseveral times but it was broken down.

“We were standing on the bridge watching and the water had stopped,” Lisa Walker said.”There was no rapids.”

They said the incident happened about 10 minutes after they walked away.

At a press conference on Tuesday,Dreamworld chief executive Craig Davidson said his park would remain closed until further notice.

“Dreamworld is working closely with police and emergency services and authorities to establish the facts around the incident,” Mr Davidson said.

First appeared SMH

Brumbies team manager Ben Gathercole joins Triathlon Australia as high-performance director

Former Brumbies team manager Ben Gathercole is the new Triathlon Australia high-performance director. Photo: Jay CronanRugby union wasn’t ACT Brumbies team manager Ben Gathercole’s first love, but he grew to love it over his two seasons with the Super Rugby province.
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Now he’s got the chance to lead his true love “back to the glory days” after Triathlon Australia announced him as its high-performance director on Tuesday.

It means the Brumbies are now looking for a new chief executive, a new team manager and also a playmaker.

Gathercole will remain in Canberra where he’ll work closely with Australia’s best triathlon coaches to take Australia back to the top after it “faded a bit” at the Olympic Games in Brazil.

He’s a former triathlon coach – guiding Simon Thompson to the Athens Games – author of the book Better Than Winning, and his father Terry won a silver medal in swimming at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

Gathercole brought a different perspective when he joined the Brumbies, but now returns to his original sport.

He said this year was a tough one due to the controversy surrounding the departure of former chief executive Michael Jones, but he was proud of the way the club had come through it.

Now he’s looking to get Australian triathlon back on track after he said it “punched above it’s weight” during and after the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The Australian women won one gold, two silver and two bronze across the four Olympics leading into Rio de Janeiro, but neither the men nor women stepped on the podium in Brazil.

“I really enjoyed rugby and I enjoyed the people, it was fantastic, but it wasn’t my first love, so to speak, although I grew to love certain aspects of it,” Gathercole said.

“The chance to lead a sport that you love and to have the ability to influence elite coaches and elite athletes [drew me back to triathlon].

“We’ve always had that rich history [in triathlon] and maybe that’s just faded a little bit, but as we know in truly elite sport that comes and goes … and we’re hoping to evolve that and get back to our glory days.”

Brumbies acting boss Phil Thomson will now begin the search for a new team manager, while the board is searching for a new chief executive.

Thomson said Gathercole had already put in place a lot of the planning for next season, which would allow assistant team manager Sam Rolfe to take over the role in the interim.

“I’d say he’s got his ideal job by the sound of it. He did a good job while he was here, adapting to a different sport and different requirements,” Thomson said.

“He’s offered a different look on things, which was good for the organisation.

“He was a good operator and we’ll go through the process of identifying a replacement.”

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Australian paedophile Robert Ellis sentenced to 15 years’ jail in Bali

Australian paedophile Robert Ellis prays before his sentencing in Denpasar District Court on Tuesday. Photo: Amilia Rosa Robert Ellis outside Denpasar District Court after his sentencing on Tuesday. Photo: Amilia Rosa
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Australian paedophile Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis has been sentenced to 15 years’ jail after being found guilty of persuading children to commit an indecent act.

The 70-year-old Victorian last week insisted he did not deserve to be imprisoned because his crime was “not a serious thing” and he “paid them generously”.

Ellis, who sexually abused 11 girls aged under 18 between 2014 and 2015, requested a brief moment to pray before his sentencing started on Tuesday.

Head judge Wayan Sukanila sentenced Ellis to 15 years’ jail minus time already served and a fine of two billion rupiah  ($200,000) or an additional six months’ jail.

He said aggravating factors included that Ellis had damaged the children’s future and children were a human resource to build Indonesia in the future.

Judge Sukanila said Ellis had also damaged the image of Bali as a tourist destination, which could lead to a decrease in income for Indonesia.

Mitigating factors were that Ellis had admitted his guilt, felt remorse and had never been convicted before.

Ellis said via his lawyer he objected to the sentence and would appeal.

The Australian, who appeared dazed by the sentence, said outside court: “I am 70 now, it will take me to 85. I don’t know if I will live for that long.”

Prosecutors claimed Ellis admitted to the digital anal penetration of some of the girls while bathing them in his rental property in the Bali town of Tabanan, where he had lived since 2013.

Former Victorian police officer Glen Hulley​, whose anti-child sex exploitation organisation Project Karma helped facilitate Ellis’ arrest, said he was satisfied with the sentence.

He wrote on Project Karma’s Facebook page last week that Ellis had been grooming children in the streets of Tabanan for years, often buying toys or food for children as young as four.

“Robert Andrew Ellis, you are a child sexual predator who indulged your urges for many years undetected before we caught up with you,” Mr Hulley wrote.

“You are a vile, despicable human being who shows no sign of remorse for your actions. It’s offensive that you continue to portray to the court and the media that you are some caring old man who was just helping some poor children, whom you claim have been paid for their “inconvenience” and that they love you and miss you and that they don’t want to see you punished…. “

Ellis told reporters last week he would give the girls a “mandi”, the Indonesian word for bath. He said they would negotiate a price of 200,000 to 300,000 rupiah ($20-30) if the girls had a bath.

“If you don’t want it that’s ok,” Ellis said he told them. He denied having “sexual relations” with any of the girls.

Asked if the parents had been aware of what was going on, Ellis said: “The parents know now but they didn’t know before.”

Referring to the girls he abused as his “friends”, Ellis said: “I haven’t murdered anybody and none of my friends want me in prison I am sure of that. None of them want me in here.”

Indonesia has recently passed legislation that would allow judges to impose chemical castration for child sex offences.

However this did not apply to Ellis as the legislation is not retrospective and prosecutors had instead requested 16 years’ jail.

Bali Police Chief Sugeng Priyanto told Fairfax Media the community became suspicious because of the number of children who visited Ellis’s home.

“It aroused the people to wonder, suspect what was really happening there, were they really there to play, or were there other unusual activities?”.

Mr Sugeng said the case was a very serious one because the victims were children.

“The targets, the victims in paedophilia cases are children, teenagers, they are the hope, the future of each nation. If they are victims when they are children, in a wider sense it can be seen as crippling a generation, it can’t happen, we can’t allow it to happen.”

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Housing crisis not just about supply, says Liberal MP who wants his inquiry back

John Alexander: “If you were to play Roger Federer you would lose every time; that’s what it’s like for the homebuyer against the investor.” Photo: supplied Investors have an enormous advantage over would-be homebuyers, John Alexander says. Photo: Arsineh Houspian
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The Coalition backbencher who chaired the stalled inquiry into home ownership has appealed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to restart it, and says it will address the role of investors sitting on properties that should be going to owner-occupiers.

John Alexander is now chairing an inquiry into the potential for value-capture to fund large infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail.

He said the lapsed housing affordability inquiry – which considered 30 hours of evidence from organisations including the Treasury and Reserve Bank without reporting –  should be taken over and finalised by his committee, because there was no point in using infrastructure such as fast trains to create new affordable housing if it was snapped up by investors.

“We have been told time and time again that supply is the answer,” he said. “But it’s no good creating cities in the southern highlands and outside of Goulburn and outside of Shepparton if the same game is played … where the investor will have an enormous advantage over the homebuyer and then dominate that market.

“If we can build a city near Goulburn using the increase in the value of the land to fund a very fast train that could get homeowners to Sydney in half an hour, we could create affordable housing, so long as we knew it wouldn’t be snapped up by investors.

“If you are going to have a complete suite of policies regarding home ownership, you’ve got to address your supply and you’ve got to address the opportunity of homebuyers.

“I feel owner-occupiers ought to be put in front of investors, but at the moment there is no restraint on how many [properties] investors can buy, which means they are dominating the market.”

Mr Alexander, a former professional tennis player, said would-be owner-occupiers competing against negative-gearers were like ordinary tennis players coming up against Roger Federer.

“If you were to play Roger Federer you would lose,” he said. “If you were to play him 1000 times, I promise you you would lose 1000 times, and that’s what it’s like for the homebuyer against the investor – it’s stacked against them.

“The current level of supply is being completely consumed by speculative opportunistic investors who are driving the volatility of the market.”

On Monday, Treasurer Scott Morrison told the Urban Development Institute the reason people were being locked out of the housing market was that supply couldn’t keep pace with demand.

“The government will therefore also be discussing with the states the potential to remove residential land use planning regulations that unnecessarily impede housing supply,” he said.

In evidence to Mr Alexander’s inquiry, Reserve Bank official Luci Ellis said investors were constraining supply, noting that “it is a truism that if an investor is buying a property an owner-occupier is not”.

Mr Alexander said he had made a formal request for his committee to take over and complete the home-ownership inquiry and that the Prime Minister was supportive.

The decision would have to be signed off by Mr Turnbull. There would be no need to take any further evidence and both reports could be completed by Christmas.

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