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Australian News

Powerball rises to $8 million prize


A life changing amount of money is up for grabs as the Powerball offers a division one prize of $8 million for Thursday’s draw.

If someone takes out tonight’s prize, they will be the first Powerball winner to scoop up the prize this year.

In 2020, the Powerball jackpot sat at $8 million 14 times.

It was most recently won on New Year’s Eve by a Wagga Wagga woman who discovered the news shortly after midnight.

“I was with some friends after midnight, and I was just trying to find something in my bag. I saw my ticket and thought maybe the results were out,” she said.

RELATED: The 16-year-old making more than $100k

“I checked the ticket on the app but initially didn’t (know) how much I’d won. I had to get my friend to check. It’s just unbelievable.”

Bronwyn Spencer, The Lott spokeswoman, said the winner from regional NSW wouldn’t be the only one kicking off 2021 with a bang if someone took out tonight’s division one prize.

“It’s not too late for your 2021 plans to change if you score $8 million in tonight’s Powerball draw,” she said

“While it has been an interesting year already for many, there is no doubt that an extra few zeros in your bank account would make it bigger and brighter than ever.”



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Australian News

Australian football continues to disenfranchise its prize asset to cover for administrative failings


You only needed to watch Diego Maradona waddle his way through the opposition, turning even the greatest defenders into human training cones, to appreciate his sublime talent.

On any playground, pitch or back alley on the planet, Maradona’s dancing feet would have set him apart from mere footballing mortals.

Yet the timing of Maradona’s death this week prompted a thought beyond the many touching tributes to his genius and explorations of his very human character — would he have conquered the world if he had been born in Brisbane and not Buenos Aires?

Coincidentally, Maradona’s death coincided with the publication of two media reports that shone a now routinely unflattering light on the way football talent is identified and developed in Australia, and the administrators who oversee that process.

Argentina captain, Diego Maradona, holds up the trophy after the 1986 World Cup final
Would Diego Maradona have flourished if he grew up in the Australian football system?(AP: Carlo Fumagalli, file photo)

Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper ran an extensive story on the cutthroat process whereby children aged between 9 and 13 compete for sought-after places in club-based skills acquisition programs.

Entry to these mini academies costs $1,500 per season, with the Sun-Herald reporting parents at some clubs were told they must pay a $500 deposit on the spot if their child passed a trial — sometimes under the threat they would miss out if they didn’t cough up the cash immediately.

This was just the first step in a “pathway” where graduates of the ultra-competitive skills acquisition programs would then fight for places in the National Premier League clubs at a further cost of $2,650 per season.

Of course, only the added details will be surprising to any parent or player who has endured Australian football’s bottom-to-top financial model in which participants pay for funding shortfalls at local clubs, state associations and even in the national administration.

The relative expense of playing even the earliest levels of football — often three or four times as much as Australian rules, rugby league and cricket — has long been the hottest topic at football forums where fans are invited to air grievances about the game, but are seldom rarely heard.

“Financial wherewithal should never be an indicator of sporting achievement, certainly not in the simple game the very nature of which is more inclusive than other, just a ball and boots,” retired Socceroo Craig Foster told the Sun-Herald.

Equally concerning is that skill acquisition centres are creating survival-of-the-fittest programs for players at an age when young talent — yes, even “elite talent” — is best nurtured in an enjoyable non-judgemental environment.

You need only see the changes adopted by New Zealand rugby, Australian junior cricket and various European football programs to understand how this immersive philosophy is being successfully embraced, despite the lingering ill-informed school-of-hard-knocks myth that competition builds “character” and “resilience” in early-age juniors.

Juniors faced by fees hike

Also, this week the ABC’s 7.30 program ran a report about concerns that former politician Robert Cavallucci had been paid almost $320,000 a year to become Football Queensland (FQ) chief — double the wage of the previous CEO — after a recruiting process led by fellow FQ board member Ben Richardson at a cost to football of $44,000.

These claims were first reported by former FFA corporate affairs director Bonita Mersiades and are the subject of a defamation suit filed by Cavalluci and Richardson who are claiming $800,000 in damages against Mersiades.

While the FQ executives deny any wrongdoing, a subsequent hike in registration fees for Queensland participants — an extra $2.50 for juniors and $5.50 — almost precisely covered the new chief executive’s salary and his recruiting costs.

A woman stands at the corner of a soccer field.
Bonita Mersiades is the subject of a defamation lawsuit taken out by Football Queensland’s president and chief executive.(ABC News: Dave Maguire)

So regardless of whether FQ can justify the added expense by creating new funding initiatives, again it is the players at the bottom of the sport’s competitive pyramid who are asked to stump up the cash to get the ball rolling.

You could blame Australian football’s failure to gain substantial media rights money and corporate backing for the A-League and national teams, the cash and government goodwill squandered during the disastrous 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cup bid, or the continued inability to use a vast participant base as anything but a convenient cash cow.

Whatever the cause, Australian football continues to disenfranchise and disenchant its greatest asset — its legion of male and female players — by making even the youngest would-be star literally pay the price for continued administrative failings.

Which makes you wonder if there has been an Aussie Diego whose parents couldn’t fork out the $1,500 for an academy place; or who didn’t bring their wallet to the trial and put $500 in the hands of a club boss desperate to buy a striker for his senior team.

Would Aussie Diego’s talent have thrived in a system that risks taking the innocent joy from kids who should be honing their skills in a supportive environment, not learning to suppress their instincts for fear of officious technical judgement?

Has the money that should have been allocated to Aussie Diego’s development instead been lavished on local and even national administrators “earning” the kind of salary the game can only afford by taxing its participants?

The answer, of course, is that a talent as colossal as Maradona’s would surely shine through.

But the subsequent question the newly branded Football Australia must ask itself is whether an Aussie Diego would conquer the world because of his experiences here, or despite them.

Host Kelli Underwood and the Offsiders panel will discuss all the latest sports news and issues on Sunday at 10:00am on ABC TV.



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Business

Joyce looks to pit state against state for juicy prize of Qantas HQ


This strategy is more about making money than it is about saving money.

Joyce is looking to hollow every log as Qantas moves into the eighth-month of COVID-19. He has already stood down the majority of his staff and is looking to renegotiate lots of supply deals and more importantly enterprise bargaining agreements.

Once Qantas is eventually up and running again Joyce won’t have missed any opportunities to overhaul the airline’s cost base.

Joyce watched Virgin before and during its recent administration get a financial assistance auction going between the state governments. Queensland ultimately won this battle but it came with a $200 million price tag.

Emboldened by Virgin’s success at pitting state governments against each other, Qantas dipped its toe in the pond a few months ago and approached the NSW government for some assistance/incentive to help pay for a new flight training simulator in Mascot – the plans for which had already been drawn up and approved (the hole had been dug and the concrete slab had been poured).

NSW declined the offer and Qantas stopped the project immediately.

This time around Joyce brought a much bigger weapon – its head office.

Already the Premiers of Victoria and Queensland, who were quizzed about the possibility during Tuesday’s COVID-19 press briefings, appear keen to have a horse in the race. Joyce is understood to have already spoken to the eastern state Premiers in recent weeks about its real estate plans.

Given Qantas is about three times the size of Virgin, having the flying kangaroo’s head office is a juicy prize and one that is arguably worth much more than the $200 million Virgin is scheduled to pocket.

Around 5000 people are employed at Qantas’ head office in Mascot and another 1000 at Jetstar’s base in Melbourne’s Collingwood.

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Qantas will also consider consolidating some facilities and “right-sizing” (shrinking) others.

But even with the government incentives, Joyce needs to find other creative ways to lower Qantas’ cost base. Virgin did this while under administration. It negotiated aircraft leases, property rental, shed staff permanently and of much more significance, it recast its enterprise bargaining agreements.

Virgin now boasts a cost base more aligned with that of Jetstar.

Joyce will undoubtedly consider that now is the perfect time to deal with international pilots. In the first instance he would understand that while the international division is in hibernation, the pilots are in a weakened negotiating position. And when international flying resumes around the world there will be plenty of spare pilots looking for work.

There is also a good chance that several of the aircraft type, such as the A380s won’t have much (if any) place in the post-COVID Qantas line up. It would be unsurprising to see a larger number of international pilots made redundant before the airline resumes normal services.

And Joyce is no stranger to playing industrial relations hardball. He did so in order to get a 30 per cent productivity lift when introducing direct flights from Perth to London and again on the Sunrise project to fly direct from Sydney and Melbourne to London, Paris and New York.

“There will be some reinvention required to succeed in a different (post pandemic) world,” Joyce said in August while reporting a pre-tax loss of $2.7 billion for the full year to June 30, 2020.

He noted that achieving a $15 billion cost slashing target over three years would involve “hard decisions”.

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The $172,140 photo: Australian photographer’s picture of whale and calf wins Hipa prize | Art and design


Brisbane underwater photographer Jasmine Carey describes here how she captured the shot that has won one of the richest prizes in photography.

I grabbed my 5D Mark IV camera, which is encased in waterproof housing and slipped off a small tour boat into the waters of the Vavaʻu Islands in Tonga.

Small bubbles breaking on the surface of the water every four minutes showed our group of divers that we were on the right track.

It began to rain. It fell rhythmically in a soothing pitter-patter on the water’s surface, gently lulling a large female humpback whale and her calf into a very relaxed and comforting sleep.

As we floated and stared into the deep, the sound of the rhythm faded just a little and the ocean calmed just enough for the tranquil pair to rise up, meeting the light rays starting to break through the surface.

Little Zai (the baby calf) is no more than 2 weeks old. His folds still noticeable, his complexion still smooth and velvety. His dorsal, pectorals and fins not yet grown in and his belly the purest of white.

Zai’s mother is stunning, the darkest of velvety grey tones with also a pure white underside. Angelically she rested. With open arms, she was perfectly vertical, her underside exposed.

She looked so vulnerable, yet she was relaxed. So poised. So nourished, cushioned and strengthened by the water that embraced her and will forever embrace, support and enrich them.

Careful not to waken his mother, Little Zai snuggled her— rubbing ever so gently along her nose and belly, familiarising himself with each of her dimples and each of her bumps.

Every so often he would blow her a small delicate trickle of bubble kisses, and follow their sparkly trail up for a breath. Every so often he would look over to us curiously, but he knew, as we knew, it was “mother and me” time.

As told to Carly Earl



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Alex and Jackson take out the prize


Western Australian LEGO fanatics Alex and Jackson are $100,000 richer after Monday’s LEGO Masters finale, with their vastly intricate Frankenstein-inspired build blowing the judges away.

The high school besties were ecstatic when their names were called, taking out the trophy after a gruelling 28 hours spent creating their elaborate steampunk scene.

RELATED: Hamish Blake admits Lego Masters copied a ‘MasterChef trick’

RELATED: Lego Masters contestants break record in ‘Australian television’ first

The winning brick creation was an impressive purple gothic mansion perched atop a hill, with a mini fig Frankenstein-esque robot monster smashing down the mountain terrorising the town below.

Viewers last night loved the boys’ efforts:

A tight race to the end, all three teams whipped up impressive final builds using their unique skillset that had the voting members of the public gasping in awe as they inspected each table.

Coming in second, Andrew and Damian created a “battle scene” in an expansive amphitheatre filled with mini figs in various poses.

And in third place, Trent and Josh’s pirate ship, complete with extremely intricate and large-scale figures on-board, was a sight to see.

But the creative long-haired, 29-year-old duo (Alex is an environmental engineer and Jackson is a visual artist) were awarded for their attention to detail and knack for creating a fun and interactive scene.

When first viewing their completed final entry, judge “Brickman” Ryan McNaught commented that the multi-layered scene was “like story book”.

“You’re experts at getting our attention and holding our attention,” he said in his critique.

Throughout the episode, host Hamish Blake had hilariously done his bit to assist the pair, who were sweating profusely as they raced to complete their gothic masterpiece.

“Jackson, I can see you guys sweating a little bit. I tried with that small fan but it didn’t seem to be good enough. If I could organise a more powerful fan would you be interested?,” the former radio star asked before producing a small leaf blower.


After jumping up and down with glee when their names were called, Alex commented that it was “the craziest thing that’s ever happened.”

The boys walked away with $100,000, an impressive yellow trophy made entirely from LEGO, and, most importantly, the joint title of 2020 LEGO masters.



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Australian author Shokoofeh Azar shortlisted for International Booker Prize with novel inspired by Iranian history and folklore


Posted

April 11, 2020 06:01:45

In 2011 the writer Shokoofeh Azar found herself in a strange country, with a strange dilemma.

As a journalist in Iran, words and language had been her weapon of choice — a way to speak out about the injustices she saw around her. But suddenly she was a refugee in Australia, where she couldn’t speak more than a few words of English.

“When I came to Australia I felt that I didn’t have language … and the journalism that I loved,” Azar says.

“But then I said to myself, ‘OK, you don’t have language, but you have freedom of expression’. I had language in my country but I didn’t have the freedom to write whatever I wanted, without being arrested because of my writing.”

So, in her new home in Perth, Azar began writing a novel in her native Farsi language — a novel highly critical of Iran’s Islamic government.

That book, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, has now been shortlisted for the International Booker — the top writing prize for a book translated into English.

She’s the first-ever Iranian writer to make the list.

Fleeing Iran

Shokoofeh Azar came to Australia by boat in 2011. She was seeking political asylum.

Back in Iran, she had been jailed multiple times for her journalism, which was critical of the theocratic Iranian Government, in power since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

After her most recent arrest, which included three months in isolation, Azar’s family had advised her to flee.

“After I came out of the jail my mother and my older sisters said ‘they will keep on arresting you, and next time it will be longer’,” Azar recalls.

The journey to Australia was difficult. Azar spent five nights on the ocean, on a boat with no roof, and by the time she arrived at the Christmas Island detention centre, she was having trouble breathing. She was sent to the mainland for treatment for suspected tuberculosis, and after being given the all-clear, was settled in Perth.

Far from her family and unable to speak a word of English, Azar says she was depressed and angry. But she eventually realised that distance gave her scope to write critically of Iran — without fearing prosecution.

In the foreword to her book, she pays tribute to her new home, and the freedom it gave her.

“I am profoundly grateful to the Australian people for accepting me into this safe and democratic country where I have the freedom to write this book, a liberty denied me in my homeland of Iran,” she wrote.

Demons and death

The Enlightenment of The Greenage Tree follows one family as they are caught up in the violence and fear of the years after the Islamic Revolution.

The book opens in 1988, when the matriarch of the family achieves enlightenment at the top of a plum tree — at the same moment that her only son is hanged without trial. It’s a shocking revelation that sets the tone for the rest of the book, which expertly weaves classical Persian storytelling techniques with clear-eyed accounts of atrocity.

Jinns (genie-like spirits), demons, ghosts and mermaids sit side-by-side with dictators and torturers.

It is a precarious balancing act between light and shade that took Azar long nights of writing to perfect.

The book is narrated by the teenage Bahar, another character whose past combines violence and mythology. Azar, who was born just seven years before the Islamic Revolution, says Bahar is a version of her own teenage self.

Booker bound

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is one of six novels in contention for this year’s International Booker, an annual prize for a book translated into English, which is published in the UK or Ireland.

The shortlist is normally announced at a packed party in London, but this year, with the COVD-19 outbreak keeping everyone home, it was revealed in an online video.

At her home in Geelong, Shokoofeh Azar got an email from her UK publisher to tell her she’d made the shortlist. The first person she shared the news with was her 8-year-old daughter.

“And then I sent a message to my mother in Iran, my sisters in Iran and my best friends in Iran, so everyone was so thrilled and happy,” she says.

As the first-ever Iranian writer to be shortlisted for the prize, Azar says she’s getting a lot of support from home — despite the fact that her book has not been published there.

“It’s really feeling amazing that both Iranians and Australians are happy that I’ve been shortlisted,” she says.

Azar joins on this year’s shortlist an impressive line-up of authors, whose books have been translated from five different languages — Spanish, German, Japanese, Dutch and Farsi.

Shortlisted books

  • The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezon Camara (Argentina), translated by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh
  • Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (Germany), translated by Ross Benjamin
  • Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (Mexico), translated by Sophie Hughes
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Japan), translated by Stephen Snyder
  • The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Netherlands), translated by Michele Hutchison

The International Booker celebrates translators as well as authors, with the 50,000-pound ($98,000) prize split equally between author and translator. If Azar wins, she will share the prize with a translator who has chosen to stay anonymous for their own safety.

“They still go to Iran and back, and it would definitely be dangerous for them because my novel is all about critiquing Islam in Iran,” she says.

The winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize will be announced on May 19.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is published in Australia by Wild Dingo Press.

Topics:

arts-and-entertainment,

books-literature,

awards-and-prizes,

novel,

australia,

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geelong-3220,

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Australian Open prize money jumps to $71 million, increasing most for the early rounds


Posted

December 24, 2019 12:51:54

The world’s best tennis players will compete for a record $71 million prize money at next month’s Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

Key points:

  • Australian Open prize money has increased significantly in recent years, up $31 million since 2015
  • Players who bow out earlier in the tournament will take home a larger percentage of the prize pool
  • The men’s and women’s singles champions will take home $4.12 million each

But it is the players who exit in the earlier stages who are set to benefit the most after officials announced an increase of 13.6 per cent on last year’s purse.

There will be double-digit percentage increases across qualifying and every round of the main draw except the singles finals.

Players losing in the first round of the main draw will earn $90,000 in prize money in 2020, up 20 per cent, while those who lose in the first round of qualifying will take home $20,000, up 33 per cent.

Semi-finalists will take home an extra $120,000 each, up to $1.04 million, and quarter-finalists will pocket $525,000, up from $460,000.

The men’s and women’s singles champions will pocket $4.12 million each, an increase of $20,000.

The prize pool has jumped significantly in recent years, up from $40 million in 2015.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said the increases were another important step in continuing to invest in the playing group.

“We have long been committed to improving the pay and conditions for a deeper pool of international tennis players,” Tiley said.

“In fact, since AO 2007, prize money has more than tripled from $20 million to the $71 million for 2020 we are announcing today.

“This year, as we do every year, we worked with the tours to establish the weighting for prize money increases round-by-round, and we pushed to reward players competing early in the tournament in both singles and doubles.

“We strongly believe in growing prize money at all levels of the game and we will continue to work with the playing group to create viable career paths in the sport and enable more players to make more money.”

ABC/AAP

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