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Brett Sutton tells hotel inquiry he did not know security guards had a key role


“My team and I did not have oversight in relation to infection prevention and control personnel and processes in place at each hotel,” he said.

Professor Sutton’s deputy, Annaliese van Diemen, said in her evidence that “everybody has responsibility in some way, shape or form”, prompting a query from Arthur Moses, QC, the counsel for security guard company Unified: “Are you trying to blame others?”

Former deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen.

Former deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen.Credit:The Age

Dr van Diemen had earlier warned that the hotel quarantine program was being run as a “logistics or compliance exercise” rather than a health program, meaning she “lost the opportunity” to know if infection control measures, including the use of protective gear, were adhered to in the hotels.

Private security guards, many working as casual subcontractors at the Rydges on Swanston hotel in Carlton and the CBD’s Stamford Plaza, spread the virus from returned travellers into the wider community. Professor Sutton told the inquiry that, “with the benefit of hindsight”, the use of such an insecure workforce was unfortunate.

“I can see that using a highly casualised workforce, generally from a lower socio-economic background, where that means that poor leave provisions, limit how one can care for and financially support one’s family if unwell,” he said.

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Many of the staff guarding the hotels combined multiple jobs “across different industries to maintain an adequate income, creating transmission risk”, Professor Sutton said. Guards also often came from relatively larger families and larger networks of friends, “which creates additional transmission risks should they become unwell”.

The evidence came as Premier Daniel Andrews, who set up the $3 million inquiry, once again declined to comment on accusations that he lied to Parliament by saying in August that soldiers working in hotel quarantine in other states had not been offered to Victoria. Mr Andrews will appear before the inquiry next week.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos was also quizzed in State Parliament on Wednesday about whether she was aware of the offer by Canberra to deploy the army in quarantine hotels.

“I was not aware of any offers of Australian Defence Force support when hotel quarantine was established,” she said. “I’ve not been involved in approving the structures or the operational plan of this program.”

Professor Sutton told the inquiry that there had been instances where security staff in hotels did not appear to trust the information provided to them about infection control. “In particular about how to wear PPE gear, and the use of hand sanitiser, in particular … concerns about using an alcohol-based sanitiser”.

This hand sanitiser concern was also included in notes from the manager of Your Nursing Agency, the company employed to supply nursing staff to quarantine hotels. In mid-June, the company’s manager noted that security guards had informed the agency “they were concerned about using hand sanitiser because it is against their religion”.

The same notes said the registered nurse working at one hotel “raised a complaint of a lack of infection control awareness and [the] sense that security were disinterested in use of PPE”.

The nurse reported “security staff had masks under their noses, were not removing gloves and even going to the bathroom with gloves on”. The nurse told the nursing agency that “something needs to be done with security to keep everyone safe”.

The inquiry heard that an email sent by Deputy Public Health Commander Dr Finn Romanes, a former deputy chief health officer, warned on April 9 of “a lack of a unified plan for this program”. This warning, made just two weeks after the hotel program began, said there was “considerable risk” that unless issues were addressed there would be a risk to the health and safety of detainees.

Dr Romanes requested an urgent governance review of the program and said it needed a clear leader and direct line of accountability. Professor Sutton said he backed Dr Romanes’ email. “Dr Romanes was acting on behalf of me,” he said.

It also emerged at the inquiry that the deputy state controller Chris Eagle – who was coordinating information between the agencies involved in hotel quarantine – was warned the day after the hotels program began that there needed to be a proper police presence.

The Department of Jobs Precincts and Region’s executive director of Priority Projects, Claire Febey, warned Mr Eagle after a highly agitated guest quarantining at the Crown Metropole left his room and went to the ground floor foyer for a cigarette that better security was needed.

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“We strongly recommend that private security is not adequate given they have no powers to exercise. Can you please escalate our request for a permanent police presence at each hotel,” she wrote.

Chief Commissioner Shane Patton and his predecessor, Graham Ashton, will appear before the inquiry on Thursday.

Dr van Diemen said that, before the hotels program began in March, health officials considered quarantining returned travellers at home using electronic surveillance to keep them secure.

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Twenty years on, one Yolgnu elder recalls his leading role in the Sydney Olympic opening ceremony


His eyes are gleaming with pride, while teeth in a wide smile catch the day’s last light.

Sitting on a remote beach in north-east Arnhem Land, thousands of kilometres away and 20 years on, Djakapurra Munyarryun recounts his leading role in the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony.

“It was huge,” he beams.

A man stands on a beach with arms outstretched.
Djakapurra Munyarryun still performs at home near Yirrkala in the Northern Territory.(ABC News: Matt McLean)

Munyarryun is perhaps most recognisable as a guide to the show’s younger star, Nikki Webster, but it was the chance to share his culture that meant so much to the Yolngu elder.

He carried a piece of it around his neck that night.

“I was carrying that sacred dillybag. It’s significant for my community and my clan group … [because it] carries a lot of stories,” Munyarryun said.

“When I was walking through the field, watching around, what surrounded me, there was a lot of eyes and there was a lot of cameras flashing, make me more proud.”

More than a 100,000 people witnessed the spectacular from the stands of Stadium Australia in Homebush, while another 2 billion from across the globe tuned in on television.

A man and a woman hold hands on a large circular stage
Djakapurra Munyarryan with Nikki Webster performing during the Olympic opening ceremony.(Allsport: Jed Jacobsohn)

But Munyarryun was not nervous.

“I started … when I was five years old,” he said.

“The dances and songs came from thousands of years [ago], we’re still doing it.

“People need to see that we are here, the Indigenous people of Australia.”

Djakapurra still performs, but these days spends more time closer to home at Yirrkala in the Northern Territory, teaching others traditional song and dance.

A man wearing cap and jacket looks to the right and stands amongst smoke and dramatic lighting.
Stephen Page faced pressure to boycott the Sydney Olympics.(Supplied: Bangarra/Tobias Rowels)

Of the opening ceremony’s 12,000 performers, about 1,000 were involved in the Indigenous segments called ‘The Awakenings’, co-directed and choregraphed by Stephen Page.

“Ninety per cent of them had never been to the city,” he said.

“The fuel of empowerment that was running through our black veins at the time was very special.”

But Mr Page said he faced pressure from some quarters to boycott the Olympics and instead use the platform to campaign for black justice.

“I said I’d choregraph the protest march from Circular Quay to Victoria Park,” he recalled.

“But we needed to have representation inside the stadium and to hear our voices, so this was a perfect time for us in 2000.”

Two women prepare to embrace, while one holds a large flaming torch
Shane Gould passes the Olympic torch to Debbie Flintoff-King during the ceremony in 2000.(Allsport: Billy Strickland)

It was also high time to celebrate the achievements of women.

Seven of Australia’s great female athletes — Betty Cuthbert, Raelene Boyle, Dawn Fraser, Shirley Strickland, Shane Gould, Debbie Flintoff-King, and Cathy Freeman — carried the torch in the opening ceremony, marking 100 year of women competing in the Games.

Olympic swimmer, Gould, said the group represented the depth of talent and the longevity of strong Australian performances by women.

The duty was an honour, Gould said, but it required serious preparation in secret.

“I got a call from John Coates, the President of the Australian Olympic Committee … he said this is of the highest secrecy.”

Gould thought she’d better practice some running so she practiced carrying a stick like a torch around the back streets of Margaret River where she lived at the time.

A smiling woman with glasses sitting in a stadium.
Shane Gould was one of Australia’s greatest female athletes chosen to carry the torch.(ABC News: Mitch Woolnough)

And what of nosy neighbours?

“There were some windy tracks so I could see if anyone was coming. I’d just sort of drop the stick,” Gould joked.

The operation was so clandestine, even Gould did not know who would be joining her on the night until she arrived in Sydney for uniform fittings.

She was in good company.

“Each one of them broke many barriers and showed that women just are. We don’t have to be compared with men,” Gould said.



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Business

Bain offers unions key advisory role in Virgin reboot


Virgin Australia’s presumptive owner Bain Capital has extended an olive branch to the airline’s unions in the form of a workers’ advisory council that will consult on how the carrier is relaunched from administration.

The establishment of the body made up of three union representatives, Bain and Virgin chief executive Paul Scurrah follows a union revolt over the US private equity firm’s choice of directors to oversee Virgin.

Virgin creditors, owed $6.8 billion, will vote on the ownership transfer to Bain this Friday.

Virgin creditors, owed $6.8 billion, will vote on the ownership transfer to Bain this Friday.Credit:Getty Images

In a letter sent to unions on Sunday, Bain’s local boss Mike Murphy said he agreed to the unions’ request to establish a union advisory council, which will meet every fortnight until the end of the year.

“We see this confidential forum as an important opportunity to discuss key matters that go to the heart of Virgin’s recovery, including how we can secure long lasting employment for as many Virgin people as possible,” he said.



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Broncos coach Anthony Seibold steps down from role, says he will take online bullying matter to Queensland police


Embattled Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has stepped down immediately to spend more time with family, saying they have made “enormous sacrifices” for him.

Seibold officially cut short his five-year contract this morning after approaching chairman Karl Morris about his intentions last week.

The outgoing coach addressed the media this morning, after an “emotional” meeting with players.

“I get judged with what happens on the field, I take responsibility for that,” he said.

“I thought it was best for the Broncos and myself that we separate.

“The final straw was hopping on a plane back from Sydney when I wanted to be with my daughter.

Anthony Seibold arrived at the Broncos club this morning before the press conference.
Anthony Seibold arrived at the Broncos club this morning before a scheduled press conference.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

“From a professional viewpoint, this was the hardest decision I have ever made.

Seibold said he had decided last week to end his tenure and a meeting was held with chairman Karl Morris.

‘I’ll go the police, give them names’

About a fortnight ago, the 45-year-old engaged lawyers and a cyber-security firm to investigate allegedly slanderous comments about his personal life online, with the intention of referring the matter to police.

He said today that he intended to take the investigation “as far as he can”.

Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold speaks to player Anthony Milford at training.
Seibold (left) with player Anthony Milford (right) at Clive Berghofer Field in Brisbane in May, ahead of the planned restart of the season.(AAP: Darren England)

“I’ve been in a bubble, I haven’t been able to get in front of a solicitor, I haven’t been able to speak to the police,” he said.

“I’ll certainly be making a considered decision but my decision making is that I’ll be going to the police and giving them some names and let them deal with it as they wish.”

‘A heavy burden was placed on his family’

Broncos chief executive Paul White said while Seibold had been in home isolation after travelling interstate, he reflected on his role at the club “and the impact it is having on his life away from rugby league”.

“The role as coach of the Broncos is one of the most high-profile and high-pressure in Australian sport, and Anthony has performed admirably since starting in late 2018,” Mr White said.

“But the levels of scrutiny — some of it bordering on hysterical, if not slanderous in recent times — have placed a heavy burden on Anthony and his family.

“As a club, we have endeavoured to support Anthony and his loved ones through all of this.”

Mr White said he and the board were accountable for hiring Seibold, along with today’s decision for the coach to step down.

“Can we do better, could we do better? Absolutely,” he said.

“At the time there was widespread support for our decision.

“For all the right reasons that decision was made then, it hasn’t worked out.”

For the remainder of the season, Peter Gentle will continue to coach the team, as he has done for the past fortnight.

The Board will begin the search for a new coach immediately but Mr White said they would not place a timeline on that process.

It is expected the Board will meet this Friday to discuss allowing Kevin Walters to walk from his position at the Maroons if he wants to coach the Broncos.

New Broncos coach Anthony Seibold poses with captain Darius Boyd
Seibold (R) and former captain Darius Boyd at the start of the coach’s stint in December 2018.(AAP: Dan Peled)



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Business

HR’s modern-day role needs examining


Problems are troublesome things. Especially for businesses.

As industrialist John Paul Getty said, “if you haven’t got a problem, you haven’t got a job”. In other words, employees solve the problems that employers cannot or do not want to solve themselves.

There are a range of problems that companies face. There are core problems such as providing an acceptable product or service to a customer in an efficient manner, while making a profit, or offering value to taxpayers or patrons. These are the problems that directly relate to the business’ reason for being. Restaurants serve food, car manufacturers make cars, and politicians make my stomach churn.

HR departments hankered after a place at the board table determining the strategy of a business.

HR departments hankered after a place at the board table determining the strategy of a business.Credit:iStock

Then there are non-core problems that have a less direct relationship with the core business of an organisation. These frequently relate to the efficiency or productivity with which a business solves its problems. How can we solve our problems more competitively, such as better, faster, cheaper, more ecologically, or more ethically?



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Australian News

Qld Police charge two international students for role in money laundering


Two Brisbane-based international students have been arrested for their role in an international money laundering syndicate that duped hundreds of Australians out of a total of $3 million.

Police charged the 24 and 26-year-old Albion residents earlier this week with recklessly engaging in money laundering.

The Criminal Assets Disruption Team as part of the Financial and Cyber Crime Command have been investigating the cold call technology scam since May last year as part of Operation Romeo Taper. Since then, 11 people have been charged on 25 offences.

It’s believed the international syndicate funnelled money from 150 innocent victims into 1000 Queensland-based bank accounts before being siphoned offshore.

Part of an ongoing police investigation will determine the role these international students played in the scheme. They have been bailed to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 28.

Detective Senior Constable Brett Weder said the majority of victims had been “vulnerable, elderly people” over 60, with the oldest victim 95 years old.

The average victim lost between $10,000 – $20,000, but the hardest hit victim lost $300,000.

“(The basis of this scam is) an offshore call centre cold calling victims around Australia, pretending to be a telecommunication company or financial company,” he said.

“They are then saying to victims they (the scammer) are having trouble with accessing the IP address and that fraud has been detected within their bank accounts.

“As a result, the caller/scammer offers assistance to fix the problem, they then gain access to the victim’s computer or device.

“The scammer then asks the victim to download a program which allows the hacker/ scammer into the victim’s computer.

“The scammer then requests the victims to log on to their bank account to make sure they haven’t been hacked … thus gaining access to the account.”

Det Sen Const Weder said the scammer then asked the victim to minimise their banking details and said the process of virus-checking could take a few hours, asking the victim not to hang up.

“Before they know it, the call has ended and the victim is unaware of the hacking until they next log on or their bank calls them,” he said.

The money is then transferred into multiple “mule” accounts, including accounts with small institutions.

“One male offender opened 57 accounts with 18 different institutions,” Det Sen Const Weder said.

“Once the money hits the account, the mule deals with the money. They receive $2000 and the rest is sent offshore using various remitting agencies.”

If that doesn’t work, the scammers have a Plan B, tricking victims into directly depositing money into the mule accounts.

“They’ll say ‘we’ve identified fraud, we can’t access your account, to assist us catch the hackers can you deposit money into these accounts’,” Det Sen Const Weder said.

While some of the scam money has been recovered, many victims remain out-of-pocket, prompting an urgent reminder from police.

“If you get a cold call from someone saying they need access to your accounts, or need you to send money, hang up,” Det Sen Const Weder said.



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Business

Virgin co-founder breaks silence over role in rebel bondholder bid


“We believe in the airline, firmly support the vision of management and are confident that Virgin can return to being a successful airline.”

Virgin’s administrators Deloitte has said the bondholders’ plan cannot be considered because it has already signed a binding sale deed with Bain. Despite that, the bondholder are taking court action to try and force Deloitte to put their alternative proposal to a vote at its second creditors’ meeting on September 4.

Bondholders, which include around 30 major institutional investors and around 6000 retail investors, would swap their debts for shares in Virgin, which would remain listed on the ASX, and contribute to a $800 million capitalisation under the plan.

“We also want to be very clear that we don’t want to run the airline,” Mr Sherrard said. “That is the job of the existing management team. We are focused on rebuilding our airline through a solid recapitalisation proposal.”

“We firmly believe our ‘Founders and Bondholders’ proposal will result in the best return for all creditors and employees.”

Bain accused the bondholder group earlier this week of trying to destabilise Virgin’s future with a proposal that is “not credible… conditional, incomplete, indicative and non-binding”.

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Broad Peak and Tor, who fear they will be receive less than $30 million of the $300 million they are owed if the Bain sale goes ahead, revealed in court documents this week that major investors including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS were supporting their proposal. In total, creditors owed $800 million were backing the push, they said.

Virgin owes $6.8 billion in total to creditors including banks, aircraft lessors and around 9000 employees.

Last week Virgin outlined its re-launch plan under Bain’s ownership. It included axing a third of its workforce, or around 3000 jobs; drastically reducing its fleet, pausing long-haul flying and closing its budget arm Tigerair.



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startups push for bigger role in vaccine making


“By giving all government procurement contracts to big companies, this blocks opportunities for any up-and-coming companies and [brings] no opportunity to create an innovation ecosystem,” he said.

“This is a major problem in Australia, whereas the US government mandates that a proportion of even the largest procurement contracts must flow to small- to medium-sized enterprises.”

Vaxine is planning its phase two and three trials of its COVAX-19 product and has been looking overseas for broad-scale manufacturing options given Australia would not have capacity to produce its doses onshore.

The company hopes it can work with the Australian government to deploy its vaccine locally if successful but has not yet been able to engage policymakers in that conversation.

A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government was working on a range of fronts to secure vaccine supply for Australians.

“Negotiations are well under way with COVID-19 vaccine developers on access and supply. The Australian government is considering advance purchasing options as well as local manufacturing options,” the spokesman said.

The government acknowledges that its key focus has been engaging biotechnology giant CSL in manufacturing.

“Our clear expectation and intention is to be able to provide manufacturing onshore through CSL either being a producer of Australian vaccines or producing under licence for an overseas vaccine supplier,” the spokesman said.

Contract manufacturers say CSL is best placed to produce a vaccine at scale in Australia but that the country should still be looking to invest in manufacturing options for different stages of the vaccine making process.

Melbourne firm Sypharma works with researchers on the “fill and finish” part of vaccine making, adding products to vials and ensuring they are safe for use in clinical trials.

The company has worked on both Vaxine’s candidate as well as clinical trial doses for the University of Queensland.

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Sypharma’s business strategy and innovation manager Ganesh Varnakulasingham said he hoped policymakers would think hard about future investment in the contract manufacturing sector. “One of the things that comes out of this pandemic for me is that lack of security that Australia has within its shores to be able to move quickly and be able to make 100 million doses of a vaccine,” he said.

While companies such as Sypharma tend to work on projects up only to about the phase two trial stage, Mr Varnakulasingham said more investment in firms of this size could attract more biotech business onto Australian shores.

“The exposure for us [from COVID products] has been great. We are finding a lot more people in that phase one stage reaching out and touching base.”

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Nic Naitanui, Max Gawn, Brodie Grundy or Todd Goldstein? It might be time we rethink the role of an AFL ruckman


For those who are unsatisfied with modern footy and crave a return to a simpler time, the ruck is the last bastion of what was once holy.

Across every line on the field, the one-on-one contest has been mostly replaced by sophisticated but arguably sterile team defences. Rarely will you see two players go head to head as they did in the good old days, back when it was Carey v Jakovich and not Carey v the entire West Coast backline, a few midfielders and a resting ruck.

But offering solace from those weekly — currently nightly, how fun! — complaints are the ruckmen, their craft relatively untouched and in some ways protected from the evolution that has gone on around them.

Two ruckmen enter, only one can win. The position still carries the old-fashioned mystique, which is why we habitually refer to it as a prominent make-or-break factor in any game.

It also helps that we are genuinely in a golden era of AFL ruckmen.

Jarrod Witts and Sam Jacobs are tangled up and looking upwards at a ball (out of picture)
Jarrod Witts has been among the Suns’ standout players in 2020.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

It’s hard to remember a time when there was so much quality and so much diversity in the position across the entire league. It’s not a stretch to suggest at least five ruckmen could be leading their respective club’s best-and-fairest counts at this point in the season, and the All Australian arguments are well and truly underway.

But, as it turns out, the very same things that so enamour us with ruckmen and their duels make it tremendously difficult for us to properly rate them, and may lead us to overrate the position entirely.

A few weeks ago, Max Gawn — many people’s pick for King of Ruck Mountain — made this point far more effectively on The Phil Davis Podcast.

“It is a hard position to play, because you look at the stats and you literally go ‘ruck v ruck, who’s had more numbers?’,” Gawn said.

“And if you don’t watch the game, you go ‘Mumford 15 disposals, Gawn 10 disposals. Mumford 30 hit outs, Gawn 25 hit outs — Mumford won that battle’.

“It’s the only position you can do that on.”

Max Gawn has a steely look on his face as he walks onto the field ahead of his teammates.
Max Gawn says he no longer gets sucked into debates ranking the best ruckmen in the AFL.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

Does a great ruckman make a team great?

Gawn is right. We take for granted the mano e mano nature of the ruck and generally rely on strict statistical parameters to proclaim winners and losers, great players and poor ones.

It ignores the fact that a good Gawn game looks completely different to a good Brodie Grundy game, which looks completely different to a good Nic Naitanui game, which looks completely different to a good Todd Goldstein game and so on.

A Melbourne AFL players pushes against a North Melbourne opponent as they look to the sky waiting for the ball to be thrown in.
Max Gawn and Todd Goldstein go to work.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

And it also oversimplifies what “winning the ruck battle” means in terms of team success, giving arguably a false impression of how important a ruckman is to a team.

Let’s try an exercise to demonstrate this — off the top of your head, can you pick the last time the All Australian ruckman won a premiership in the same year?

You can have a second to think about it.

Did you guess 1996? North Melbourne’s Corey McKernan? It’s been a while, hey.

Without reading too much into it, that does tend to suggest that having an elite ruckman isn’t a precursor to or requirement for ultimate team success.

An AFL ruckman gets his hand to the ball to tap it clear while his opponent watches.
Brodie Grundy’s work at ground level sets him apart from his ruck rivals.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

Gawn himself recognises that a ruckman is too often viewed in isolation and not part of an overall team setup, arguing that “the more we’re looked at as part of an 18-man team, I find it puts us more at ease”.

It’s quite possible, likely even, that streak will continue this year. Currently Gawn and Goldstein are the two favourites for the All Australian spot — their teams are 15th and 14th, respectively.

Grundy will always be in the conversation, but even Collingwood has slipped to 10th and is plagued with issues on and off the field. You’d be mad to rule the Pies out of 2020 entirely, but they and Grundy are both some way back at the moment.

But the missing name in this conversation is Naitanui’s, which is fitting — he more than any other ruckman sums up the divide between our comfortable analysis of the ruck role and a ruckman’s true value to a team.

The Naitanui conundrum

The irony is this might be the year the Naitanui debate, tortured and ridiculous it has always been, is ended for good.

In some ways it’s easy to see why it has persisted. Naitanui has been injured for almost all of his peak years, reappearing in dominant fits and starts but then succumbing once again.

More commonly quoted though are the many statistical holes in his game. Naitanui doesn’t take marks like Gawn, he doesn’t rack up the touches like Grundy, he can’t be an ever-present midfield extension like Goldstein.

By just about every statistical measure we have come to rely upon for judging one ruckman against another, he comes up short. And then you watch him play. And you see what he does for his team. And none of that other stuff matters any more.

A West Coast AFL player pushes against a Geelong opponent as they look to the air for the ball.
Nic Naitanui is in hot form at the moment, and was best on ground against Geelong.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

His ruckwork and connection with his midfielders creates more pure opportunity for scores than any of his contemporaries, and his presence influences stoppage situations like few others. You can’t appreciate the little things unless you watch them, the stats sheet just can’t capture it.

It’s why Naitanui is currently fifth overall and the highest-ranked ruckman in the voting for the AFL Coaches Association’s player of the year award, having polled votes in six out of his nine matches — only Jack Steele and Lachie Neale have polled more often.

It’s why those same coaches said he was one of the three most influential players on the ground in the round six game against Adelaide, despite his opponent Riley O’Brien taking nine marks to Naitanui’s zero and having 19 disposals to his seven.

And, quite frankly, it’s why West Coast beat Geelong on Saturday night.

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But instead of viewing him as a complete outlier, Naitanui’s unique form of influence can become a new standard with which to judge ruckmen. As mentioned at the top, every other position on the field has undergone evolution and, while belated, perhaps the ruck finally is too.

Dustin Martin became a better player when his priority stopped being possessions and became impact, and that switch has inspired two Richmond premierships. Defenders are no longer just fists with bodies attached, they are required to intercept and rebound and marshal an entire team.

It’s worth emphasising that this isn’t about downplaying the ability or impact of the likes of Gawn and Grundy, but rather to suggest that their teams could still be getting so much more out of their immense talents.

Gawn has taken one mark inside 50 all season, and is yet to kick a goal. That’s not because he can’t do those things, but because that is not currently his role.

Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn hold on to each others arms and look up
Could Collingwood and Melbourne be getting more out of Grundy and Gawn?(AAP: Daniel Pockett)

Brodie Grundy has more hit outs to advantage than any player in the AFL this season, but his team is ninth overall in clearances. That is not maximising his significant ability.

West Coast has a clear plan to get the most out of Naitanui. St Kilda has a clear plan to get the most out of both Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder. In all cases, it’s making a difference.

It wouldn’t take a whole of tweaking for Melbourne and Collingwood to start getting real bang for their buck out of the undisputed champions they have at their disposal.

It might not always show up on the stats sheet, but one day soon it’s going to make a difference in the destination of a premiership.



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Local News - Victoria

History focus can play an important role in reconciliation


Divides have deepened when understanding and healing should be our goals.

Our school system is partly to blame for this failure of knowledge and understanding. Far too little Australian history is taught. In fact, without radical action, the only school subject that focuses specifically on our history — “Australian history”, at year 12 — will die within the next five years, maybe sooner.

Last year, of 49,324 Victorian students to complete the VCE, only 628, or 1 per cent, did Australian history. Over the past six years, this figure has been almost halved, with almost 100 fewer students enrolling every year.

A key reason why so few students choose to study Australian history in year 12 is that little has been done in earlier years to fire their passion. History is not even a standalone learning area, but is subsumed within the broader “humanities”.

So across years 7 and 8, students complete only one short unit on ancient “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture”. Then, in years 9 and 10, there is another unit focusing on Australia during the world wars.

For many Victorian students, that is the sum of Australian history taught across their secondary years. At years 9 and 10, there is another optional unit covering the period from 1750-1918.

Three actions should urgently be taken to save Australian history in Victorian schools. First, history must become a standalone learning area like English, maths and science.

Because history is taught only as part of the humanities, it is given little space within the curriculum. It is also normally taught by humanities generalists who have not studied history themselves.

Historical skills, such as the analysis of evidence, are complex. We must recruit more specialist history teachers to make sure these are taught in an accessible and exciting way.

Third, the study of Australian history from 1788 to 1914 must become compulsory. Students love familiarity. So many of my former students decided against Australian history in year 12 because they would have had to learn the content from scratch.

Knowledge of our history alone will not bridge our deep racial divides. But without it, as the Victorian curriculum makes clear, the task is hopeless.

Dr Matthew Bach is a Liberal member of the Victorian Parliament and former deputy principal of Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar.

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