Archive for May, 2019

Watson raring to go for Thunder in Big Bash


Sydney Thunder captain Shane Watson has declared himself fully fit ahead of next week’s Big Bash season-opener against the cross-town Sixers, having recovered from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of this year’s Bangladesh Premier League.
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The retired Test all-rounder has returned to grade cricket with Sutherland after injuring his troublesome hamstring early in the summer, rendering him unavailable for the Dhaka Dynamites in what would have been his first crack at the BPL. He scored 108 off 51 balls in grade cricket on Sunday against Mosman.

Watson missed the first four matches of last season’s tumultuous Thunder campaign with a calf injury. He returned to lead his side to three wins from their last four games, but it wasn’t enough to steer them into the finals and their title defence ended with barely a murmur.

His injury was only one of several unsettling issues that plagued the club last summer.

England one-day captain Eoin Morgan was forced back to international duty halfway through the season, while Pat Cummins couldn’t see out the season due to commitments with the Australian team.

West Indian dynamo Andre Russell also missed the back half of the summer through injury. He subsequently received a 12-month ban for a doping whereabouts rule violation.

“It didn’t help that I was injured for the first four games as well, so that mucked around the batting order and the bowling line-up,” Watson said.

“We had Andre Russell come in and had a few things hanging over his head. It was a pretty disruptive season with a few things that happened.

“What we took out of last season was to be able to make things simpler, make sure that we really set the foundations really strongly in the first week in the lead-up to our first game, so everyone really is on the exact same page, everybody knows exactly what’s expected of them.”

The Thunder have recruited well as they target an instant return to the top four in this summer’s expanded competition.

Callum Ferguson has joined from the Renegades while New Zealand quick and Twenty20 specialist Mitch McClenaghan signed earlier this year. Both are expected to play out the entire season.

English wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has also joined the Thunder. He’s been named in England’s 16-man one-day international squad which will play Australia in five ODIs after the Ashes, starting on January 14, but should be available for most of the BBL.

“We’ve lost a bit of experience with Eoin Morgan, but for us to be able to get Jos Buttler, he’s a world-class T20 player and, from my dealings with him, he’s a world-class guy as well,” Watson said.

“His experience and his quality as a T20 player is going to add a lot of value.

“We’ve obviously lost Pat Cummins and the impact he provided with both bat and ball last year. The reason we went for Mitch McClenaghan [is that] he’s an impact bowler, very experienced as well – he’s had a lot of success at T20 cricket.

“Then through the middle order with Callum Ferguson, he is a huge coup. To be able to get Ferg up from the Renegades, he’s still playing great cricket.

“He’s going to add a lot of experience in that middle order. He’s a highly-skilled batter, reads the game very well, very calm under pressure.”

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

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Why private schools need to be a thing of the past


More wealthy parents are looking past private schooling for their children. Photo: Jim RiceOpinionIf I had one wish for Australia it’d be this. Ban private schools.
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TheTurnbull government has been caughthiding funding figures for Catholic schools but it beats me why such funding even exists. Indeed, it beats me why private schools exist. Why they’re even legal.

Private schools don’t necessarily produce bad people, although it’s true that (as a 2013 Crikey survey found) most cabinet ministers attended them. Private schools are just very, very bad for the country.

Public money is our money. It’s there to fund stuff in which we all believe and from which we all benefit – stuff that makes Australia fairer, more creative, more harmonious, more successful.

Illustration: Simon Letch

We’re across it. That’s why Peter FitzSimons’petitionagainst Gladys Berejiklian’s $2 billion stadium rebuild gathered 150,000 signatures inside a week. “We are tired of taxpayer dollars being lavished on …Sports Big Business while community sport withers on the vine…” wrote FitzSimons. Everyone agrees.

Yet when it’s schools withering, we’re fine. Every year we pour $53 billion into a system that can only divide us, with a quarter of it – $12.7billion – going straight to educational big business.

And for what? What does it buy, this immense spend? It buys a system that deliberately tribalises children before they can read, that has parents selling their houses for school fees, stressing about homework and entry exams and increasingly investing inprivate tutoring for four-year-olds. Yet for all that effort and angst, it’s a system that leaves us (asrecentnewsyet again makes clear)less well educatedwith each passing year.

Increasingly, education seems like happiness: despite (or because of) a vast global industry devoted to generating angst, the harder we try, the more elusive it becomes.

Three arguments are usually advanced for private schools. One, choice. Parents should be free to choose expensive or religious education for their kids if they wish. Two, quality. Private schools offer better education and, regardless of politics, the kid’s interests should prevail. Three, burden: private schools, far from siphoning wealth from the public system, lightens its load.

None of these arguments stack up. Take choice. Choice relies on comparison, product to product. But education is not shampoo. You can’t try a school for a few weeks or years and know that how your kid tracks is a direct result, or how things might have been different elsewhere. So comparison is illusory.

Indeed, anew papersuggests that the focus on choice and competition may itself be distracting us from the content and purpose of education, in favour of its trappings.

Which goes directly to the quality argument.Many parents send their kids to private schools, even when they don’t approve, because they think the education is better and there’s at least a modicum of discipline. And yes, private schools are more able to impose order and sack teachers for non-performance. But, given that these students are already more biddable and more literate, it’s impossible to prove any net educational benefit.

Three years ago, David Gillespie (author ofFree Schools) argued persuasively that, once you correct for socioeconomic advantage, even the most expensive schools add nothing to educational outcome. This may be one reason why – it’snow reported– more wealthy parents are choosing to put their kids in the public school system.

Across the board, though, quality is low and falling, with consistently dropping international test scores in maths and science. Even a recent and welcomeimprovement in reading, mainly because girls love books, still takes us only to about the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average. Could do better.

And that leads immediately to the idea of burden. Does anyone suggest sport’s Big Money dudes – the sponsors and gravy-trainers, the owners and big-bucks players – are taking the burden off the public sport system?

No, they’re creaming off the talent, quarantining it from public access for vast private profit and getting a public leg-up on the way. This is so wrong on so many levels. What’s weird is that we can see it with sport, but with schooling – where the bill is six times the size, and annual – we’re blind.

But honestly – burden? According to theABC, almost a quarter of the $53 billion funding of schools ($12.7 billion) goes to private schools – which educate roughly a third (34 per cent) of populace. So each private school student sucks almost two-thirds as much as each public one. Before the benefit of their $30,000 in fees.

In other words, for every private school student the burden decrement on the public system is fairly small, but the personal advantage is immense.

This is manifestly unfair. Private schools heighten inequality, privileging the privileged, hogging the teaching talent and siphoning off kids already equipped with reading backgrounds, so depriving the public system of beneficial peer-to-peer learning.

But that’s not all. Tribalising children before they outgrow the booster seat can only encourage class-based and religious sectarianism. Friendly rivalry is one thing. But you can’t allow a lovely school like Loreto Normanhurst without also allowing schools that demand your mother’s birth certificate, or preach against infidels. This can only bring hatred.

But the best argument against private schools is productivity. Squabble all you like about divvying up the pie but far more useful – and more fun – is growing it. Technically, yes, education is a burden, but as an appreciating asset it’s more house than car; an investment.

Forty years ago, Finland stunned the world by nationalising schools, revering teachers, ending streaming, entering school late, shrinking the school day, reducing homework and extending holidays – then topping every test.Lately, its schools slipped a little, mainly due to global financial crisis-driven reductions. But its schools are still up there, and in an extraordinary turn-up Dr Pasi Sahlberg, who as minister designed the Finnish system, will move to Sydney next year, to teach.

Maybe we can persuade him to fix our schools, putting all schools up there with Grammar, say, or Loreto. If he needs more than Gladys’ stadium money, we could give him WestConnex as well. Wouldn’t that be great? Save the parks, clean the air, grow the future. Win, win, win.

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Kurt Gidley back at Knights in corporate position


Returning: Former Newcastle Knights skipper Kurt Gidley is returning to the club in a corporate role following his retirement. Picture: Peter StoopTwo years after his decorated 251-game NRL career endedat the club, Kurt Gidley is back at the Newcastle Knights.
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The former Knights skipper will join the club’s corporate management team for the first time on Monday in a business developmentexecutive role as part of Newcastle’snew era under the ownership of Wests Group.

In an appointmentcertain to win widespread approval from sponsors and fans, Gidley’s job description includes community and corporate workas well as an involvement in media.

Read more: Knights to target Radradra

“I’m really looking forward to it and grateful for the opportunity,” Gidley said on Sunday.

“I’m starting tomorrow and it is going to be a bit of a hybrid job whereI’ll probably be involved in a few different areas.

“There will be some community stuff, some corporate stuff initially and game day involvement during the season as well and some input intothe club’s on-line media.

“I’d imagine I’ll be pulled in a few different directions and I can see it beinga really good experience.”

Gidley’s15 seasons as a player at the Knights saw him becomethe club’s second-most capped player behind Danny Buderus before he finished up at the end of the 2015 season.

He has spent the past two years playing with English Super League club Warrington, coming agonisingly close to winning the Challenge Cup/grand final double with the club in his first year.

But after finishing up at the end of last season and returning home to Newcastle with his young family,Gidley said a football department role did not interest him.

“I’m looking forward to doing something on the corporateside of things as opposed to the footy side of it,” he said.

“Igot my level two strength and conditioning while I was in England but by the time I finished that, I was thinking I don’t really think this is what I want to do.

“I wanted to try something new and after talking to Phil [Gardner, Wests boss and Knights CEO], this opportunity opened up for me on the corporate side.

“To be honest, I’m happy to try and steer away from the coaching side of things.Maybe one dayit will happen but at the moment -part of retiring -I want to get away from it a bit.

“It’s great the way it’s worked out that I can still stay involved in the game and back at the Knights, who I love and back in Newcastle. But I want to try something else and learn some new skills.”

Gardner said Gidley’s standing withinthe club and in Newcastle makes him a perfect fit for the business development role, which was previously filled to some degree by James McManus.

Gardneralso revealed Gidley’s former teammate Mark Hughes will be working more closelywith the Knightsfollowing the sale of his cleaning business.

“To haveKurt and Mark, who had such great playing careers at the Knights,involved again is a huge positive for ourclub and will enhance our strong corporate position,” Gardner said.

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Climate group ‘charity’ question


The blockade starts.THE climate groupthat organised an anti-coal blockade of Newcastle harbour last yearis being investigated by the federal government’s charity regulator.
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The deputy chief executive of Australia, Glen Klatovsky, told the Newcastle Heraldon Sunday that the organisation was being investigated under the Charities Act for allegedly “engaging in, or promoting, activities that are unlawful or contrary to public policy”.

Mr Klatovsky said Australia was contacted in September 2016 by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission over the May 8, 2016, event, in which 2000 people gathered on Horseshoe Beach and in the harbour as a protest to “break free from fossil fuels”.

Read more: How blockadedNewcastle harbour

There were no arrests on the harbour but more than 50 people were detained by police after a protest on the coal rail lines at Sandgate.

Mr Klatovsky said the commission was trying to ascertain whether was “promoting unlawful activity” in its role as protest organiser.

“Our goal was to be part of a global set of actions on climate change using the rights of Australian citizens to protest,” Mr Klatovsky said. “We didn’t tell people ‘while you are here, go and get arrested’.”

He said the organisation also denied “advocating for a particular political candidate”. Hesaid had asked whether there had been a complaint made against it but had not received an answer for the commission.

“Many of usfeel that following similar attacks on similar groupsin Canada and the UK, that what we are seeing here is an attempt to silence civil society voices,” Mr Klatovsky said.

Fairfax Media’s Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday that the organisation had emailed supporters saying the probe was costing “thousands of dollars in legal fees’.

“We need to make a stand against these attacks on charities by the federal government, the Minerals Council of Australia and the fossil fuel industry,” the email said.

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