Australian News

Poolwerx issues health warning to pool owners

Thousands of Victorians are at risk of serious illness – even death – as family pools go untreated since the start of lockdown and become “breeding grounds” for waterborne parasites.

Poolwerx chief executive John O’Brien warned the pool service industry remained shut throughout the stage four lockdown – meaning pool owners had not had access to qualified pool technicians in at least seven weeks.

And with a warm spell of weather this weekend, Mr O’Brien urged Victorians to be cautious.

“We have still had no clarification whether, as an industry, we can send a technician to fix a pool or even open for water testing in store, ultimately leaving our clients and franchise partners completely in the dark,” he said.

“The bacterial health risk is also only one side of it – the physical and mental health benefits for locked-down families to enjoy recreation in their own backyard pools, where they don’t even have to leave home, is ultimately just as important.”

Mr O’Brien said untreated pools turn green and are like “breeding grounds” for waterborne parasites such as Legionella, Cryptosporidium and Giardia which can cause gastroenteritis, ear infections and, in severe cases, death among the very young and elderly.

“Incredibly, the Premier has deemed dog washing more important than human health, with commercial dog washing approved from September 23rd but not pool maintenance – bodies of water that Victorian people submerse in,” he said.

“We have the support of local councils who are terrified of the public health risk to domestic, public and commercial pools if forced to go untreated by the Government’s refusal.

“The only reason the Andrews’ Government could continue the ban on pool maintenance is the belief that ‘only the rich have pools’, which has been indicated to us as political thinking. Around 155,000 working Victorian families have pools – it’s the great Aussie dream, and warmer spring weather is already upon us.”

Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the gradual opening of businesses, saying “ false hope is no hope”.

“I know people are disappointed. I‘m disappointed too that we cannot open up faster. But the key point here is to open and stay open,” he said.

Under the state government’s road map recovery plan pool service workers can operate again in late September, subject to official health advice.

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Local News - Victoria

Another blow to the arts and theatre community

It is heartbreaking that not only will my degree, and those of many others, be compromised by cuts to theatre, but future students will also be deprived of the chance to study one of Victoria’s most versatile and enriching theatre courses. Many students, including myself, came to Monash specifically to do a an arts double degree that allows us to study theatre and performance with no audition required.

One thing has been made clear through all the hits to arts students over the last couple of years: universities are no longer concerned with fostering student learning, rather it is about making money. The Centre for Theatre and Performance may have low enrolments but there is a strong sense of community and an incredible, creative environment under the guidance of the amazing staff. It is a resilient community and the staff and students will not be taken down without a fight. The centre needs all the support it can get to stay alive and continue to support Melbourne’s theatre industry. The show must go on and so must the centre.
Stephanie Lee, Beaumaris

The train wreck which is the sector’s demise

Labor is correct, at least in part, in blaming ‘‘uni bosses’’ (The Age, 17/9) for the university sector’s current predicament. As a retired, long-term academic, I believe there are two continuing frustrations at watching the slow-motion train wreck.

Whilst a primary source of the sector’s problems is the withdrawal of federal government funds over two decades and the replacement of these with increasing dependence on overseas, fee-paying students, the sector has contributed substantially to its crisis in at least two self-inflicted ways.
First, university councils have become dominated by business people with little or no understanding or experience of the sector, apart from personal experience often 30-plus years in the past. Secondly the sector has allowed governments to repeatedly ‘‘divide and conquer’’ it. The main division has been between the extraordinarily selfish, self-congratulatory and myopic Group of Eight and the rest. Governments of both persuasions have been able to play these internal groups off against each other.

This is compounded by using salary-focused, inward-looking, competitive vice-chancellors to focus solely on their own institution and personal welfare, to the detriment of staff and students at universities. Unless these senior executives and council members can unite as one to confront government, and put the sector as a whole front and centre, we will lose what is a rich, vital and critical part of our culture and society.
Geoff Wescott, Northcote

Rural students are especially disadvantaged

Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek implies that the new fee structure for university courses will make it more expensive and harder for many Australians to attend universities. Whilst some courses will be more expensive, many others will be cheaper.

The HECS idea that Labor introduced meant that undergraduates do not have to repay their fees until they have graduated and entered the workforce. Hence the cost of a course is no hindrance to entering university. How quickly the debt is repaid depends on the individual’s decision of what course they choose, the demand for the occupations the course leads to and the salary level available. Those who choose a high-paying occupation will repay their debt relatively quickly.
What Plibersek should be more concerned about is the financial disadvantage that potential students from regional and rural locations face. The cost of moving away from home and relocating to capital cities is considerable. This cost cannot be deferred, unlike HECS.
Ian Bennett, Jan Juc


Accentuate the positive

Thank you, Janet Whiting (The Age, 18/9). Living in lockdown is stressful but is being made worse by the constant criticism and negativity being expressed. Protesters and critics are making a lot of noise but are not offering positive solutions or encouragement. Could we hear more about the creative and constructive ways in which people are working? This would lift our spirits and help us through this crisis.
Gwenyth McMahon, Blackburn South

Face the harsh facts

In your letters pages, apologists for Daniel Andrews are somehow taking the second COVID-19 wave overseas to rationalise why we have one in Victoria. Surely even the most rusted-on of his supporters have noticed there is no second wave anywhere else in Australia, and the enormous damage that has been done to lives and livelihoods here is due to the incompetence of the Andrews government in handling hotel quarantine and contact tracing.
Brian Healey, Brighton

Let’s all work together

How does the Victorian opposition think that putting forward a no-confidence motion in the Victorian government is a worthwhile move? Michael O’Brien could have chosen to work, in a bipartisan way, to assist the government during this dreadful pandemic. Instead he has politicised the situation by undermining the government and Dan Andrews at every opportunity. Surely the worst thing, at the moment, would be a change to the leadership team. Let us get behind the Premier and his team and work together, as Victorians, to reach a satisfactory outcome for us all.
Pam Parnell, Footscray

The psychology of fear

Chris Uhlmann (Comment, 17/9) hits the nail on the head. His article suggests he is a realist. He says that, ‘‘As a nation we seem comfortable with authoritarianism’’. I agree and feel that these days as a people, we lack courage. We are becoming more selfish and inward. In Victoria, Dan Andrews works on the psychology of fear. Too many people respond and become scared – a bit like a mob of sheep. This does not augur well for our future as a nation.
Richard Wilcox, Camberwell

Impossible ‘ring of steel’

Recently COVID-19 killed my 97-year-old mother-in-law. Although she had some dementia, she took no medication and was physically well. She still had her humour and Belfast feistiness.
Ann lived in aged care and received exemplary care. They were ahead in their precautions but COVID-19 got in. It appears a staff member caught it from her child who had been infected at school before anyone was aware of its presence. She isolated as soon as the outbreak was identified, but too late for Ann.

The world’s best contact tracing cannot prevent such occurrences. Chris Uhlmann suggests a “ring of steel’’ around aged care homes. It does not exist. He also neglects the fact that countries that have not locked down have had both the worst death rates and the worst economic outcomes. My mother-in-law was worth more than his neoliberal platitudes.
Peter Cook, Essendon

Very faulty memories

I can guarantee that in every government inquiry or royal commission, a key player when giving evidence will say at some point, ‘‘I don’t remember’’ or ‘‘I can’t recall’’. In the hotel quarantine inquiry, former police chief commissioner Graham Ashton and Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp do not disappoint (The Age, 18/9).
Mandy Morgan, Malvern

Health must come first

I received an email from Qantas on Thursday asking me to click to support the opening of state borders. Here is my response: ‘‘Hello Qantas, I have no desire to lobby to see borders opened until the chief health officers declare it is safe to do so. I imagine that many Qantas customers share this opinion and would prefer that the corporate sector stayed out of the discussion.’’
Carolyn O’Brien, Richmond

In the spirit of WWII

In England during World War II, local agricultural committees ran large, tented, harvest camps to help farmers bring in the harvest. You were taken by bus or truck to a farm, worked all day, and returned to the camp in the late afternoon. Perhaps a similar organisation could be formed to pick fruit this year if overseas workers and backpackers are not able to come here (The Age, 15/9).
Penny Garnett, Castlemaine

Towards independence

Congratulations, Barbados, on your intention to remove Queen Elizabeth as your head of state and become a republic. Come on, Australia, let us do the same and become an independent country.
Christine Hammett, Richmond

Elephant in the room

I agree with Stephen Downes – ‘‘Push to make us eat outdoors is just ridiculous’’ (Comment, 16/9). The current number of cafes and restaurants with outside seating is not being disputed. What is being challenged is that this can work in all establishments, and must be part of the exit plan.

I have spent my life in hospitality, as a successful owner, manager and maitre d’, always working on the floor, dealing with the customers. I do not know how many times I have seated people, on a pleasant spring or summer evening, outside for drinks and/or dining and they have eventually requested to move to a table inside. Their reasons include it’s too hot, too cold, too windy, it’s starting to rain and even that people walking past are smoking. Not to mention flies and mosquitoes. Melbourne’s summer is usually short and the weather is unpredictable. Most cafe owners I have spoken to are shaking their heads. It needs to be 50/50, inside and outside.
Meredith James, Glen Huntly

A man for all seasons

Climate science denier Donald Trump has reassured the people of wildfire-ravaged California, Oregon and Washington that their fiery nightmare will soon be over, as the weather will ‘‘get cooler’’. The people of Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, inundated by massive floods, must be waiting anxiously for him to announce that it will soon ‘‘get drier’’.
Richard Hughes, Woodend

Ensuring integrity

There has been concern that the US postal service will not be able to cope with the volume of postal voting in the coming presidential election. We need to raise a similar concern in Victoria where ballot papers for council elections will be mailed out in a couple of weeks. Australia Post is struggling to provide a basic service, with letter delivery reduced to three days a week so that it can cope with a deluge of parcels.

Given my experience waiting weeks for letters to arrive, I worry about the integrity of council election results. Australia Post must guarantee pre-COVID collection and delivery for the election period.
David Glanz, Hadfield

Get your priorities right

How awesome that, according to Amber Collins, chief marketing officer at Australia Post, the staff have been so productive during lockdown (Comment, 18/9). Research, community sponsorships, digital programs, advertising campaigns, restructuring departments, promoting people and hiring team members does not actually get the post delivered.
On August 22, I posted a parcel to Belgium. According to the tracking device, it is still at Melbourne Airport. Amber, a little less marketing and advertising, and a little more attention to delivering mail, whether done from home or your office would (unlike my parcel) be well received.
Gina Brotchie, East Ballarat

Another tearless tip

I have a similar solution regarding Richard Cornish’s advice about how to stop the tears when cutting onions (Good Food, 15/9). I take a big sip of water and do not swallow until after I have finished the chopping. Somehow, it seems to work.
Cynthia Pollak, Elsternwick


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Could we please extend the foreign influence legislation to include corporate and donor interference.
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove

Aged care: There’s a hole in the funding bucket, dear Henry.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

An election slogan (technically one word more than usual) for the conservatives: Give Gas a Go.
Peter Angelovski, Hoppers Crossing

Herd mentality: Republicans going over a cliff with Trump.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont


I imagine there are smiles behind masks in Victorian regions.
Kaye Jones, Nagambie

The Andrews government’s failed quarantine response: ‘‘I know that I know nothing.’’
Alastair Wright, North Dandenong

I suspect Chris Uhlmann (18/9) is referring to ‘‘Toorak Village’’.|
Kristen Hurley, Seaholme

Take the advice of Uhlmann and ignore the majority medical advice? Irony, surely.
Shane McGrath, Kialla

Michael O’Brien, show a bit of bipartisanship instead of persisting with unproductive, ‘‘attack dog’’ methods.
Angela Gill, Moonee Ponds

Let’s hope Andrews is under-promising so he can over-deliver.
Peter Walker, Black Rock

Yes, Janet Whiting (16/9), we must stop the blame game for now. All we are doing is giving nutters authority.
Marilyn Hoban, Mornington


Re the Commonwealth Bank’s ads on financial abuse. Does it get the irony?
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne

Lucky Susan Leeming (17/9). Parcels sent on August 7 from Fitzroy to Essendon are yet to arrive.
Ruth Finlayson, Fitzroy

Susan Leeming, I sent an item to Eltham via registered mail on August27 and it still hasn’t arrived.
Graziana Spinelli, East Bentleigh

An ad on the back page of The Age again? Is nothing sacred?
Grant Nichol, North Ringwood

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Twenty years on, swimmer Chris Fydler and broadcaster Gerry Collins recall a wonderful week in Sydney’s Olympic pool

It was the final race on night one of swimming at the Sydney Olympics, and as Australia’s Ian Thorpe made the final turn behind the US’s Gary Hall Jr with 50 to go in the 4x100m freestyle relay, the level of agitation was rising.

On the blocks at the other end of the pool, Chris Fydler and leadoff man Michael Klim — who had smashed the 100m world record by more than a second to give Australia the perfect start — were watching closely.

Twenty years later, Fydler still remembered his unease.

“At the turn, I remember turning to Michael and saying ‘do you think he can make that (gap) up, or is it too far?'” he recalled.

“We knew that Ian was going to be faster in the second 50. The question was, how much faster?”

The din inside the Sydney International Aquatic Centre was incredible, as the home crowd — already on cloud nine after Thorpe’s win in the 400m freestyle a little over an hour before — did their best to lift the roof off the venue.

The US had never lost a 4 x 100m freestyle relay at the Olympics, and Hall Jr had laid down a marker in the leadup to the Games, saying the Americans would “smash them [Australia] like guitars.”

No one at the venue that night had forgotten that message, least of all the Australian team.

“Gary was a fantastic athlete who always finished his races quite well, and was generally really fast on the way out,” Fydler said.

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“Even at the 25m mark, Ian still had quite a bit to catch up, but he was chasing and coming (home).

“With about 15m to go, we noticed that Gary had really started to shorten up (his stroke), that we thought there was a glimmer of hope — and that was all it was, it wasn’t ‘yeah, he’s got this!’ It was a glimmer of hope.

“It wasn’t really until his last couple of strokes that we could see him (Thorpe) coming, and he just had the momentum.

“Both Michael and I were leaning right over our blocks, and we saw his hand right in that last stroke just stretch out a hand-length in front of Gary to touch the wall.



The impromptu demonstration of air guitar by the four Aussies on the blocks drew an even bigger roar from the crowd, and would become one of the memorable images of the Games.

Fydler had been to two previous Olympics — this was his swansong, as a veteran of the team. He’d seen it all before, and his calm nature was a boon to the team.

“I joined the team in 1989 — in ’88 in Seoul we didn’t even race the 4×1(00 freestyle relay), in ’92 we just made the final, and then by ’96 we came seventh but Michael and I had started to form the core of that team.

“By ’99, we actually beat the Americans in the Pan Pacific Games, in the 4×1. I had quite a bit of experience swimming relays by that time.”

On that night in the Olympic pool, the Australians put it all together, and Fydler said they had a right to be proud of their performance as a team.

“What we do is not particularly difficult, it’s a 100m freestyle [relay] — you swim two laps, right? [But] there is a great capacity there to make mistakes, and they can make the difference between winning a gold medal, or winning a bronze medal, or no medal at all.

“The other guy who did really well that night was Ash Callus. Michael [and I] had been to an Olympics, and Ian was an extraordinary athlete, but Ash was at his first Olympics, and I think it was his first 4×1 relay final that he had ever swum for Australia.

“And he put together a cracking race that was really faultless in the way he executed it.”

Cool and calm the veteran swimmer might be, but even he had been taken aback by the atmosphere at poolside.

“Nothing prepared me for Sydney and the energy that night.

Up in the commentary boxes high in the stands, there was a bit going on as well.

‘Best atmosphere I’ve ever seen’

GRANDSTAND 21ST - Gerry Collins
Gerry Collins covered six Olympics for ABC as a broadcaster, but night one of the swimming in Sydney was a highlight.(ABC Sport, file photo)

ABC Grandstand broadcaster Gerry Collins and the rest of the commentary team were thrilled with the way the Olympic swim meet began — starting with their location.

“[At Olympics] we were always almost in line with the finish. Either one, or two, or three or four metres at most away from the finish line,” he said.

“Up in the stands looking straight down on it. It was always a perfect position and in Sydney with Australia being hosts it helped with the [broadcast] position as well.

“NBC were near us, we had [Australian three-time Olympic medallist] Mark Stockwell as part of our commentary team, plus Norman May and myself.

“[Three-time Olympic gold medallist] Rowdy Gaines was commentating for NBC, and Mark and Rowdy had been great rivals, and they were stirring each other.


Collins recalled the excitement in the air coming into the venue.

“Nobody was ready for that magic night of swimming. It was just extraordinary, starting with Ian Thorpe winning the 400 freestyle,” he said.

“Then with the men’s freestyle relay, where Thorpe was the anchor, but Klim broke the world record in the opening leg. The crowd was going berserk!

“That night was the best atmosphere I’ve ever seen, I’ve never heard a crowd make so much noise.

Building to Sydney

Fydler had been 12 years in the Australian swim team by the time of the Sydney Games.

He would go on to fill numerous roles in swimming, including with Swimming Australia, as well as being Deputy Chef de Mission for Australia at the London and Rio Games.

He has also been involved with FINA’s Disciplinary Panel, and is now president of Swimming NSW.

In his view, the way the Australian team built towards Sydney had a turning point in Atlanta, where the team received criticism for not meeting expectations.


“We started to mature as a team after that [the Atlanta Olympics],” he said.

“Beyond ’96, the team began to get some additional firepower. So Michael Klim joined the team just before the Atlanta Olympics, Grant Hackett joined not long after, Ian Thorpe joined in 1997, and you start to see there’s a pretty good group of people.

“Sydney was also the last Games for people like Susie O’Neill and Matthew Dunn and Phil Rogers and Kieren Perkins, so we had the experience of people who had been around for a decade.

“Then we had the youth and talent of people like Klim, Hackett, Thorpe, Leisel Jones, etc, who could benefit from that calmness and that experience.

“Two Olympics was usually a pretty good run at that point, and then you kind of moved on with your life. But Sydney kept that longevity for a number of people.

A young Australian swimmer with a gold medal stands beside two other medallists at a world titles.
When a 15-year-old Ian Thorpe (C) broke the WR in winning the 400m freestyle world title in 1998, expectations went through the roof.(Reuters: David Gray)

Collins recalled the phenomenon of a teenage Ian Thorpe and the impact he had on the profile of the team — and the sport of swimming.

“Ian Thorpe won a world title in 1998 at age 15, then at 16 he broke the world record in the Pan Pacific Championships,” he said.

“Then, [before 2000] because the Olympics were coming all the Australian championships, World Championships and Pan Pacific Championships were held in Australia, they always opened with the 400m freestyle.

“Because the 400m was on the opening night, Thorpe would win the 400, and he’d break the world record. And immediately everyone in Australia wanted to know about him, and about the swimming championships.

“So that’s why the Australian swimmers themselves did such a great job of dragging the Australians in and saying ‘come and support us because we’re good!'” 

Olympics ups and downs

A man wears a gold jacket, sunglasses and three gold medals - a woman in a gold jacket leans in.
Susie O’Neill and Ian Thorpe both had disappointing races in Sydney, but they still managed success in the pool.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

The upshot of that amazing opening night in the pool was even more raised expectations for the Australians in Sydney.

Not all those expectations were met, with Thorpe beaten by Dutch champion Pieter van den Hoogenband in the 200m freestyle, and ‘Madame Butterfly’, Susie O’Neill, taking silver behind American Misty Hyman in the 200m event.

“What came out of that first night was Michael Klim broke the WR in the 100m freestyle in the opening leg [of the relay],” Collins said.

“You thought — he can win the 100m freestyle — but he didn’t.

“We thought Ian Thorpe would win the 200m freestyle — but he didn’t.

“We thought Susie O’Neill would win the 200m butterfly, she was going for her second successive gold medal in that event. She didn’t win that, but she did go on to win the 200m freestyle — and we weren’t expecting her to win that.

Looking back on Sydney, Fydler didn’t feel the swim team was overly caught up in emotions — aside from the fallout from night one, where Klim and Thorpe found it difficult to back up for the 200 freestyle.

“My recollection though is that it was a very tight team — everyone understands that to win at an Olympics is really, really hard. You have to get everything right,” he said.

“Susie went up against Misty Hyman who swam out of her skin on that one night, and there was nothing that Susie could do about that.

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“For most of us who had been competing for a while, we recognise the great achievement of a gold.

Two swimmers have medals around their necks and Australian flags around their shoulders.
It was a changing of the guard in the 1,500m freestyle, with Grant Hackett beating countryman Kieren Perkins.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Fydler also pointed to success stories like Justin Norris, who boosted the team with his surprise bronze in the 200 metres butterfly, and the handover in the 1,500m freestyle where Grant Hackett took over from two-time champion Kieren Perkins.

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“It was hard to get disappointed for Kieren in silver, when Grant was a gold,” Fydler said.

“And there was the discovery of Leisel Jones at that meet, who went on to become an absolutely amazing athlete for Australia.

“While there may have been some personal disappointments, as a team I think we were delivering night after night and keeping everyone positive.”

Looking back on Sydney

The 20th anniversary of the Sydney Games has brought a wave of nostalgia, intensified by the scheduled Olympic celebration in Tokyo being postponed due to COVID-19.

Fydler said the team didn’t really comprehend what had happened at the time, although they enjoyed every minute of it.


“It was monumental that Sydney had the Games … You recognise that piece of history, but not so much the performances.

“We remember some performances from other Olympic Games — in ’84 with Jon Sieben, and Duncan Armstrong in ’88.

“But there are a number of people and events that people remember from Sydney, and the fact that people are still interested in it all 20 years later is not something I would have contemplated at that time.”

Sydney was a first boost for Australian swimming, but it got better in succeeding Games.

In Athens four years later, Australia won seven golds in the pool, and six more in Beijing in 2008.

“The culture and the quality of athletes and coaches that we put together in that 90s decade really built a team that was successful then for another decade following,” Fydler said.

A group of female swimmers wave flowers while holding relay gold medals at the Athens Olympics.
Australia’s golden run from Sydney continued in Athens and Beijing as a new group of female swimmers began to dominate.(Reuters: David Gray)

“There was a transition that happened after 2000, but … it wasn’t just those big-name boys.

“At times in those early 2000s with people like Libby Trickett, Alice Mills, Jodie Henry and Steph Rice, we had at one point the top five 100 freestyle girls in the world (in Australia). 

“It was an incredible time for swimming in Australia post 2000 right through, there was great depth for at least a decade.”

Collins called his 10th Australian Olympic gold medal in Sydney — Lauren Burns’ taekwondo win. He would end up calling 23 Australian gold medal performances over his six Games.

“My first thought now is to shake my head, I can’t believe my life unfolded like it did and I got to do those things,” Collins said.

For Fydler, it wasn’t just the racing — although the memories of competition still fire him up. 

“It’s a cracking [relay race], and I’ve seen it a number of times, and it still makes me immensely proud,” he said.

“I still get goosebumps thinking about it as well. It wasn’t just us, the whole of Australia bought into these Olympics, and we all felt part of it, whether you were an athlete or a journalist or a spectator or someone watching at home, we all lived it.

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Australian News

Denmark’s Soren Kragh Andersen sprints to second stage win, Roglic retains lead as rider hospitalised

Denmark’s Soren Kragh Andersen claimed his second solo stage win of the Tour de France with a perfectly timed attack late in the 19th stage, an undulating 166.5 kilometre ride from Bourg en Bresse to Champagnole.

The Sunweb rider, who also won the 14th stage in Lyon with an instinctive move in the finale, jumped away from a group of late breakaway riders to give his team their third stage win this year after Marc Hirschi’s victory on stage 12.

Despite the gap he put behind him the Dane could not believe he was that far ahead calling out at official for the time gap as he rode into the final kilometre.

“I was screaming can you confirm one minute I did not believe it.” Andersen said.

“Two wins I am speechless, I couldn’t dream of anything better.”

A cyclist sits up in the saddle and puts his arms out to the side as he celebrates a Tour stage win.
Denmark’s Soren Kragh Andersen claimed his second stage victory in the 2020 race.(AP/Pool: Christophe Ena)

Slovenian Luka Mezgec took second place on Friday, and Belgian Jasper Stuyven finished third, both 53 seconds behind, as Primoz Roglic retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey.

Roglic leads fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar by 57 seconds going into Saturday’s decisive individual time trial, which should see the Jumbo Visma rider secure his maiden Tour title.

Australia’s Richie Porte remains in fourth place and is still a shot at the podium if he can take 1’39” off of Colombia’s Miguel Angel Lopez, on stage 19 both riders stayed in the main peloton.

In the race for the green sprinter’s jersey Ireland’s Sam Bennett did a good job at keeping triple world champion Peter Sagan at bay, even extending his lead in the points classification to 55 points from 52.


Bennett is hoping to become the first Irishman to win the green jersey since Sean Kelly in 1989 while Slovakian Sagan is looking to claim it for a record-extending eighth time.

France’s Remi Cavagna was the only early breakaway rider and the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider, helped by a strong tailwind, opened a decent gap.

He was however caught by the bunch 50km from the finish and several attacks took place within the group of 12 riders, featuring top sprinters and one-day race specialists, who broke clear with 25km to go.

Australia’s Caleb Ewan was not part of that group but remains in fifth in the classification on 158 points.

Stung rider sent to hospital

As is often the case there have been plenty of hard luck stories in this year’s Tour but Austria’s Lukas Postlberger may have the roughest one yet.

Having ridden nearly 3,200 kilometres over four mountain ranges he was forced to abandon his Tour after a bee sting to the mouth.


The Austrian rider, who has devoted his Tour to helping team leader Sagan in his quest for the race’s green jersey, suffered an allergic reaction to the sting.

He was taken to the hospital but quickly recovered and “is already feeling better again,” his Bora-Hansgrohe team said.

The Tour was only a few minutes into the stage when the insect struck, Bora said it was a bee, race organisers said it was a wasp.

His withdrawal left the Tour with 146 riders, 30 fewer than when it started nearly three weeks ago.

The 28-year-old Postlberger was riding his third Tour. He also abandoned last year, on stage 18.


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Local News - Victoria

Government makes fit-testing of masks mandatory on COVID wards

Without a proper seal, even the best mask will not offer perfect protection against the virus, as air can leak around the sides.

One study in a NSW hospital found even the best mask tested failed fit-testing 18 per cent of the time. One mask in widespread use failed testing 71 per cent of the time.

The Victorian government announced on Friday it would roll fit-testing out to all coronavirus hospital wards in the state.

Every health service will be required to have a respiratory protection program in place by the end of October, which includes mask fitting and training. Fit-testing machines will be rolled out as a part of that program.

The Age revealed serious concerns from healthcare workers about the lack of fit-testing in the state’s hospitals in August.

Some medicos had taken to paying for the testing themselves.

“You’re going to end up with dead healthcare workers,” said Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah, an infectious diseases physician at a major Melbourne hospital who has been campaigning for mandatory fit-testing, in August. “We’d be happy to pay for this ourselves.”

Up until now, Victoria’s Health Department had recommended fit-testing but had not made it mandatory.

“While we’re pleased to see the rate of healthcare worker infections trending down its critical that we continue to boost protection for our healthcare heroes in line with the best expert advice,” said Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos.

The move won backing from the Australian Medical Association Victoria.

“Although somewhat overdue, this measure will better protect healthcare workers and bring Victoria into line with other states and countries like Canada which mandate N95 fit-testing for all Health Care Workers,” said association president Julian Rait.

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Swarm of moths caused panic during the Sydney Olympics closing ceremony

It took Australia’s 40 best forecasters to predict the clear skies and sunny weather for the Sydney Olympics closing ceremony, and one swarm of moths to put everyone in a flap.

Minutes into the ceremony, Tony Bannister — the head forecaster for the Games — noticed a growing rain blip on the weather radar while in the Bureau of Meteorology office.

“It was stressful, we were holding our breaths,” Mr Bannister said.

“We were running from the radar to the window on the other side of the building and making dozens of phone calls. It was happening very fast.

“In our line of work every second counts,” Mr Bannister said.

Then the real culprit landed.

The massive rain cloud approaching the stadium was actually a swarm of millions of moths, attracted to Stadium Australia’s giant lights.

As legendary soprano Yvonne Kenny sang the Olympic Hymn in a dazzling purple gown, a ruffled bogong moth crash landed on her torso.

A man smile
Tony Bannister was stressed by a radar ping, thinking rain was on its way.(Supplied)

“There were six of us there with a little TV on in the background and we saw it,” Mr Bannister said.

“We couldn’t laugh, because at the time I was thinking it was going to be a raindrop, we’d be lined up outside like the Russians and shot.”

Mr Bannister, head of severe weather for Victoria in 2000, was invited north for the Olympics along with more than 40 forecasters and researchers from across Australia.

“We thought of ourselves as the A-Team,” he said.

But the radar ping had the veteran weatherman stressed.

“We had stuck our necks out and said it would be clear skies and this cool change would happen later in the evening,” he said.

“The radar was showing stuff that looks like drizzle, which is much worse than heavy rain because you get so much more soaked and it’s really annoying.”

A man draws on plastic overlay over a computer screen to plot movement of rain.
A senior forecaster plots rain and wind movements during the Games.(Supplied)

As she performed, Ms Kenny saw the moths approaching.

“I’d prepared the dress, my hair, everything, the hymn. But you don’t have ultimate control,” she said from the UK.

“Life presents you with something unexpected and you have to take it in your stride and not take it too seriously.”

The swarm of moths fluttered on their way as the Olympic flag was lowered and passed on to Greece, and the weather team was finally able to exhale.

“It’s turned into a great story and it was a beaut night,” Mr Bannister said.

A group of people smiling
A team of more than 40 forecasters and researchers worked on the Sydney Olympics.(Supplied)

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Aliro to regenerate Toyota site to new employment hub

The Aliro project is one of many developments in the Sutherland Shire which also includes the Woolooware Bay Town Centre by developers Aoyuan International and Capital Bluestone. That includes new commercial suites, to cater for more people who are opting to work closer to home.

Aliro’s chief executive Daniel Wise, said Aliro had been fielding strong interest from a range of leading global and national brands keen to secure a position on the 12.4 hectare site.

These have come from a range of uses including logistics, education, corporate office, recreational, food and beverage and multiple film production studios.

“The estate will create a strong employment hub within the Shire,” Mr Wise said.

“Importantly, the creation of this significant employment hub will provide an opportunity for businesses to attract and retain a mix of different local skills.”

The estate will create a strong employment hub within the Shire

Aliro CEO Daniel Wise

Mr Wise said that given the scale and strategic location of the site, it represented a generational and industry-creating opportunity to secure significant international investment for Sydney and NSW.

“Together with the appropriate government support and investment, we anticipate creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs upon completion. This comes at a critical time for NSW and the community, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Wise said.

“We are currently scoping possibilities for the future of the site, however, local jobs are a key focus. The great thing about this iconic site is that the possibilities are endless.”

Mr Wise said the scale of the site, including the potential for adaptive reuse of the existing buildings, provided the opportunity to deliver more jobs and amenity for the Shire community.

Mr Wise said Aliro would work closely with the the council, government, local business and the community to deliver an “outstanding” result for the site and the Shire.

“To ensure the site achieves its maximum potential we will be looking for government to support critical and important transport infrastructure investment to and around the site to ensure safe and effective access and traffic flow for occupants, business and the surrounding community,” he said.

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North Melbourne delists Majak Daw as Kangaroos axe 11 players for 2021 AFL season

Majak Daw’s AFL career is at a crossroad after he was among 11 players delisted by North Melbourne following its horror 2020 season.

Daw, whose AFL comeback after a life-threatening fall was one of the more inspiring stories of the season, was a casualty of the Kangaroos’ dire campaign that produced only three wins from 17 matches.

They will finish with the wooden spoon if Adelaide — currently in bottom place on the ladder level with the Kangaroos on 12 points — beats Richmond on Saturday.

Daw’s delisting will hit most Kangaroos supporters the hardest, with the defender’s rollercoaster 11-season stint at Arden Street ending after 54 matches.

He suffered hip and pelvic injuries in a fall from Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge in December 2018 and had two 15-centimetre-long metal rods inserted in each of his hips, while his rehabilitation involved him learning how to walk and run again.

Daw, who was the first Sudanese-born player to debut in the AFL back in 2013, did not play a league match for almost two years but he made his return last month against the Crows.

“I’ve made some really good mates at this place. I’ll miss the locker room banter … it just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to this year, there’s been challenges I’ve gone through,” Daw said in a North Melbourne statement.

“The last few years obviously haven’t been easy for me, and I can’t thank this footy club enough for what they’ve done for me.”

Majak Daw (L) and Nathan Vardy await a throw in in the Kangaroos versus Eagles match in Hobart.
Daw (left) played 54 AFL matches for the Kangaroos after making his debut in 2013.(AAP: Rob Blakers)

North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw labelled Daw’s effort to recover from the injuries he sustained in 2018 as “superhuman”.

“How Majak was able to physically recover and mentally get himself back to playing elite level football will be the stuff of legend in the years to come. It’s one of the more remarkable things I’ve seen in my time,” Shaw said.

The 29-year-old Daw joined the likes of Jasper Pittard and Jamie Macmillan among those delisted by the Kangaroos.

Pittard and Macmillan were members of the club’s leadership group this season.

Ben Jacobs, Paul Ahern, Mason Wood, Sam Durdin, Marley Williams, Joel Crocker, Lachie Hosie and Tom Murphy were the other Kangaroos players who did not have their contracts renewed.


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Local News - Victoria

A portrait of an artist that took generations to create

Thus began a year-long journey culminating with this week’s announcement of the Archibald finalists. (The portrait didn’t make it, meaning the Archibald judges join those from the Walkleys and Quills who secretly conspire against me year on year.)

He is described as a classical realist and a figurative draughtsman. I have been described as a classic fantasist and a journalistic draught horse.

This is not a story (sadly) about me. It is about Mica because, frankly, his is much more interesting.

There is a little bit of the boxer in Mica. He moves his head from side to side while staring intensely at his subject, looking for a way through the mask we all wear.

He looks at light and shade and wants to know what makes his subject tick. He says he finds me interesting and intense. Paint fumes will do that.

While I sit there, I try to work out what makes him tick. He talks while he paints. It is a story that could make a movie.

His journey to Melbourne took three generations, a family that triumphed over crimes against humanity on three continents and sliding-door moments of unexpected romance stretched across the globe.

Mica Pillemer: A self-portrait.

Mica Pillemer: A self-portrait.Credit:Mica Pillemer

We begin in Lithuania in the 1940s. It is the darkest and deepest hole of the Holocaust. When Germany invades, there are 210,000 Jews living there. When they retreat three years later, there are 15,000. Mika’s grandmother, Edith, is 16 when she is imprisoned in a concentration camp. She eats only what she knows is safe and keeps well enough to work in factories and avoid the gas chambers.

One of her friends becomes a camp guard’s mistress. Mica says: “He told this girl, ‘I don’t want you to die and they are going to liquidate the camp. I want to get you out.’

“She said, ‘I’m not going without my friends’, and my grandmother was her best friend. If it wasn’t for her sticking her neck out for my grandmother, she wouldn’t have survived.”

The guard smuggles them out and hides them in a flat. They live on tiny portions of sugar and a few potatoes until liberated by the British.

Years earlier, a successful Berlin baker had seen the beginning of the Nazis’ Final Solution.

He had two Catholics working for him as delivery men. “The SA Brownshirts killed one driver because he worked for a Jew. That was the sign to my great-grandfather that if they would kill someone for working for a Jew, they would eventually kill all the Jews.”

The family fled to Palestine. When Edith sailed into the same port, a young man was assigned to greet her, and so Sol Goodrich —- the Berlin baker’s son — became Mica’s grandfather.

Meanwhile in Latvia, there is a family of eight sons and eight daughters. Well before the Nazis’ reign of terror, anti-Jewish sentiments are growing and the eldest son escapes on a cargo ship to South Africa.

“He worked day and night and saved enough money to send for a brother and they worked until they had enough to get two more brothers [out], and then they got the four remaining ones,” Mica says.

They urge their sisters to join them but they are married and decide to stay. They are all killed in the Holocaust.

The man who jumped on the cargo ship died young and his son became a partner in a prestigious South African law firm. They are wealthy but the family that was oppressed in Europe sees the same racist overtones in apartheid.

The lawyer’s son — Mica’s father, David — is an outspoken critic of a regime that doesn’t tolerate outspoken critics. “He couldn’t keep quiet, he marched and protested. The secret police parked outside the house and in the middle of the night, knocked on the door and told my grandfather his son was hanging around with the wrong people and something needed to be done or there would be trouble.”

David was put on a plane to Israel. When David’s father died, more than 200 people of colour came to pay their respects to a man who had secretly helped them for years. Mica says they told his widow “your husband paid for my kids to go to school” or “your husband helped set up our business”.

In New York, Edith’s daughter, Arna, takes a year out to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and answers an ad for shared accommodation. One of the renters is David Pillemer.

Mica's portrait of his grandfather Sol Goodrich.

Mica’s portrait of his grandfather Sol Goodrich.Credit:Mica Pillemer

“He hated her at first,” says Mica. Eight months later, they were married.

The couple set up a law firm in California. They give their son, Mica, a career choice: be a lawyer or a scientist (a relative had won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, so it was a pretty high bar). The trouble is that from the age of 17, Mica knows he wants to be an artist.

He has to overcome more than his parents’ concerns, for in the beginning he isn’t very good.

“I was actually quite lousy. I thought I was a genius but I was actually pretty awful.”

He drops out of university and moves home. “I was getting pressure to drop all this art rubbish and become a lawyer.”

He sent a portfolio of work to Disney to join their animators’ art school. “I thought I was a shoo-in but I was rejected with a note saying: ‘Learn how to draw first’.”

While at Disney, he picks up a pamphlet for an art school where the works look as if they are produced by historical masters. He eventually enrols for one class. Soon, he is doing 14 a week.

In New York, Melbourne lawyer Tania Mattei is a big cheese in the Big Apple’s world of international takeovers. It is energy-sapping work, with all-night cramming considered part of the job.

A photo taken after American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Centre, before the South Tower was hit on September 11, 2001.

A photo taken after American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Centre, before the South Tower was hit on September 11, 2001.Credit:Tania Mattei

It is a Tuesday, about 8.45am, and she is running late for work when she hears a plane flying at an unusually low altitude. Moments later, an American Airlines Boeing 767 ploughs into the World Trade Centre. It is September 11, 2001.

She grabs her camera and is taking pictures when the second plane hits. She takes the lift to the foyer of her apartment building, where the doorman directs everyone to head away towards Brooklyn.

“As she was heading there, she thought this doesn’t feel right,” says Mica.

She turns around and heads back against the flow. She is near her apartment again when the first tower falls.

“She felt something was going to happen and started to run. She just heard this collective gasp from people behind her,” Mica says.

Mica is living in Los Angeles and after September 11 considers giving up his art dreams to enlist. Then his parents decide having a son who is struggling artist is not such a bad idea. He moves to New York and takes classes at the Art Students League.

A shot taken by Tania Mattei as she left her apartment building on September 11, 2001.

A shot taken by Tania Mattei as she left her apartment building on September 11, 2001.Credit:Tania Mattei

After September 11, Tania takes stock of her life: “It drove home to her that if there is anything you want do in life, seize it, because in a moment it can all be gone.”

Tania wanted to paint and enrolled at the Art Students League. “That’s where we met,” Mica says.

Soon, they are travelling to the great art cities of Europe. In Florence, she is delighted when a care package arrives from Australia. Her father has included DVDs of Melbourne’s AFL games.

“She said, ‘this is AFL, now sit down and I will teach you the rules’,” Mica recalls. “She made me watch every single game and they always lost. At the end you could see she was just miserable. She couldn’t wait for the next game.”

Eventually, he understood and is now a rusted-on Demons supporter, believing AFL is the best sport in the world.

In 2015, they moved to Melbourne to raise their son, Gaius. Mica is now an enthusiastic Melburnian. He loves the little wave motorists give (or should) if you let them into traffic. Back in America, he forgets and starts waving at other drivers.

“That was a lapse in judgment. It could get you shot.”

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Panthers beat Cowboys to claim NRL minor premiership, Brisbane Broncos facing wooden spoon

Penrith has clinched its third minor premiership and extended its historic winning streak to 14 matches with a comfortable 32-12 triumph over North Queensland in Townsville.

The Panthers previously claimed the minor premiership in 1991 and 2003 before winning the grand final in both seasons.

They secured the JJ Giltinan Shield in the penultimate round of the regular season, having recorded 16 wins from 18 matches.

At the other end of the ladder, Brisbane is in line to collect the first wooden spoon in club history after slipping into last place following a 26-12 loss to Parramatta.

Despite resting captain James Tamou and injured star Apisai Koroisau, the in-form Panthers were never threatened by a cumbersome Cowboys side.

The visitors did much of the damage in the first half when they established a 20-0 lead at the break before completing their assignment in the second term, as they became the first team other than the Roosters and Storm to claim the minor premiership in eight years.


The only serious blemish is the possible suspension for strike second rower Viliame Kikau, who was put on report for a high tackle on North Queensland fullback Valentine Holmes in the first half.

Kikau, who has already been suspended for a match this season for dangerous contact, has 50 carryover points and could be looking at another ban should he be hit with a grade-two charge.

He was arguably the Panthers’ best, carrying the ball for a team-high 180 metres and scoring a try and setting up another.

It was one-way traffic from the kick-off, with winger Brian To’o on the end of a Dylan Edwards grubber in just the fourth minute and then Kikau rampaged through three defenders for Stephen Crichton to score soon after.

Josh Mansour and Jarome Luai also scored for the Panthers in the first half.

Kikau continued the carnage soon after half-time when he took a Nathan Cleary kick, before the Cowboys finally got on the scoreboard through Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in the 61st minute.

Retiring Cowboys veteran Gavin Cooper, playing his final home match in Townsville, played a crucial part in the build-up to the try.

The four-pointer proved a consolation, with Brent Naden finishing off a 50-metre kick-return that included a Cleary line break to score the Panthers’ sixth try of the night.

Kyle Feldt added a second Cowboys try late in the match.

Cleary kicked four conversions for the Panthers, who wrap up their regular-season campaign against Canterbury on Saturday week.

Eels add to Broncos’ season of woe

Brisbane Broncos players reflect after conceding a try
The Broncos will enter the final round in last place on the ladder.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

The loss to the Eels at Western Sydney Stadium was the 10th straight for the Broncos and leaves them in position to finish last.

Brisbane fell to last place on the ladder behind the Bulldogs, who scored a rare win on Thursday night when they defeated top-eight side South Sydney.

To avoid finishing last the Broncos will need to beat North Queensland at Lang Park next Thursday and hope the Bulldogs do not upset the Panthers.

The Eels shored up a top-four spot but failed to put the Broncos to the sword.

Regardless of next week’s result against Wests Tigers, in the final game of the regular season, the Eels will get a second chance in the NRL finals.

And luckily too, with prop Junior Paulo put on report for a tackle on Brisbane second-rower David Fifita two minutes into the second half.

It could mark Fifita’s last match in a Broncos jersey with their final match of the season just six days away.

The Gold Coast-bound forward was taken from the field in agony with what is believed to be a low-grade ankle sprain after Paulo’s 123-kilogram frame fell on his lower leg.

After weeks of stuttering performances, the Eels looked nervy early but put their season back on track with four tries in 19 minutes to lead 20-6 at half-time.

And while it was hardly a fair fight between the premiership hopefuls and the cellar-dwellers, it served as a reminder of what the Eels are capable of when they are on.

But it was also a lesson in concentration as the Broncos kept fighting, scoring in either half.

Fifita’s try was the best of them and came when he shrugged off a poor tackle from Mitch Moses to power over and score.

Two tries to Eels fullback Clint Gutherson in four minutes, however, gave the Eels a healthy half-time lead.

But they did not go on with it in the final 40 minutes.

Everything was set up for them to run up a score and build confidence leading into the finals, but somehow it did not reach any great heights.

Even after the Broncos lost their five-eighth Tyson Gamble to a head knock in the opening minute, the visitors kept rallying.

Gamble was laid out by hulking Eels winger Maika Sivo while trying to make a tackle and was helped from the field and did not return.

It set an ominous tone for the night, but to their credit the Broncos did not concede easily with just two players on the bench for the second half.


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