WHAT’S UP SPUD: Poor old Malcolm Turnbull found himself mashed by political forces this week.Events in Canberra this weekunderlinethe issue that gets people so cynical about politicians, namely politics.
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They’re here to do a job. But unfortunately it’son each other. Stuff the country.

Was a leadership spill that urgent in the minds of Australians this week, or any other?

Queensland lost State of Origin this year, yes, but throwing Peter Dutton into the mix always seems a bit extreme.

Rumours midweek suggested all this momentum for change was fake news.

Kind of believable given how incredibly unpopular Mr Potato Head seems to be with just about everyone.

Soon, however, the momentum had momentum and everyone was putting their hand up for a crack.Not sure anyone warms to Scott Morrison and Ms Bishop either. But when it’s on, it’s stacks on.

Malcolm didn’t have any loyalty, except that pledged to him by senior ministers. A bit like getting the totalbacking of the club when you’re an NRL coach.Made you wonder, who was driving the bus, and where was it heading. Over a cliff?

The Libs are still in power, remember.The economy is going OK. No one is talking about inflation or unemploymentexcept in terms of making Mal unemployed.And Mal seemedsuch a preferable PM compared to his rival in opposition despite the newspolls.

Opposition now seems like where Mal and his rivals in government are destined. And you’ve got to ask yourself,was that really the plan?

Yes electricity prices are high, butMal was trying to do something about it amid the wrecking, although insistingon tax breaks for the banks during a royal commission probably wasn’t the thing.

Ultimately, energy policy energised his enemies who showed that just like loyalty, there’s no guarantees in power.

The latest putsch seems like the most suicidal election move since Gillard v Rudd v Gillard v anyone else Shorten didn’t like.

The Labor Party will be hoping the public don’t dwell on that because it only seems like last bye-electionthey were thinking of doing the same thing again,with Albo.

All Bill Shorten has to do now is keep his lame zingers in the holster until after the polls and the Libs will be rewarded with oblivion.

Resigning Liberal front bencherConcetta Fierravanti-Wellssaid on Wednesday her party’s leadership crisis represented a problemwith the country’s soul.The traditional Liberal Party under Turnbull, she said,had lost the plot over things like same sex,climate change and the republic.

It was time, apparently, to move forwards by lurching backwards. For this conservative party riddled with such disconnect and division,that should be a formality.

Round four of “knife our PM in the back”gets you wondering who the bloody hell pays for all this.Oh, that’s right, us.

If the true measure of political integrity is exiling your party to opposition, then the next Liberal team will have it in spades.

Handy, really, because they’ll need something to bury the dead.

SIMON WALKER: That’s Life archive

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FRANTIC PREPARATION: The crew on local yacht Frantic are coming into form after taking out the Sydney Noumea. Picture: Andrea FrancoliniNewcastle Cruising Yacht Club has invited all regional yacht clubs to contest the NSW Country Yachting Championships this weekend.
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Competition will be across IRC, PHS Cruising/Non-Spinnaker divisions.

“We are looking forward to the event, and know we have a few boats coming to compete with us up at Newcastle,” sailing manager Jack Buchan said.

“There will be some fantastic offshore sailing over the weekend”.

There will also be a team’s event to find the country yacht club of the year.

Clubs are welcome to enter multiple teams.

All sailing will be offshore windward/leeward racing.

The club will also host a comprehensive onshore program including welcome drinks on theFriday night and Saturday night party with live music, beforeending with a presentation barbecue on Sunday afternoon.

There will be some serious competition for honours, especially form the Newcastle-based sailors.

Mick Martin will be sailing Frantic, just having won line honours in Sydney Noumea Race.

“As per the boat’s name, we have all been pretty busy, frantically repairing the yacht from the Sydney Noumea, we got thrown around out there a bit,” Martin said.

“But were all squared now, we just want to get out there for a sail.

“We will be keeping an eye a few boats out there, we’ve had some good tussles with Nine Dragons.

“It’s all tactics, so we’re looking for a good start, and sustaining that throughout the weekend.”

Martin said “a decent amount” of local boats were entered.

“It’s always good to have racing here,” he said.

“We have a TP series later in the year, so things are really ramping up.

“Newcastle is a great city, it’s got a huge harbour and the foreshore is really coming on.”

Local skipper Phil Arnall and his Anger Management crew are in red-hot form, current trophy holders from the Pittwater to Sydney Race.

Joe De Kock will be inviting a special guest on board his yacht, Good Form.

Joining De Kock’s crew will be Carolijn Brouwer.

Brouwer is a world champion, multiple Olympian and Sydney to Hobart campaigner who etched her name in sailing history as the first woman to win the eight-month, 45,00 nautical mile Volvo Ocean Race on board DongFeng.

Meanwhile, Bob Cox and Nine Dragons – the current NSW yachting champions – and CYCA Winter Series winner Noel Cornish on St Jude will head up from Sydney.

Main sponsor Asahi Premium Beer returns for their second edition of the Asahi Super Dry NSW Country Yachting Championships.

The club hopes to attract like-minded sailors that enjoy good competition in a relaxed, friendly environment.

“We have a great fleet assembled,” NCYC Commodore Steve Rae said.

“There are some quality crews down from Sydney, but our local guys will give them a run for their money.”

Rae said boats like Frantic and Anger Management hadbeen going really well lately.

“Conditions look good, with 15-20 knots expected.

“It will give the Sydney boats some different racing to contend with and hopefully we will see some competitive racing out of it.”

ALL-ROUNDER: Cruise Craft Fish 360M offers unobstructed fishing thanks to its centre console design.

FISHING FROM ALL ANGLESIntroduced at the 2018 Melbourne Boat Show, the Cruise Craft Fish 360M capitalises onthe newfound popularity of the centre console configuration.

This new model offers the ability to fish 360 degrees around the perimeter of the boat. The360M combines a 20-degree deadrise vee hull with an all-new deck and interior layout.

This locally produced, fibreglass console boat gives Aussies an alternative to the US imports flooding the market.

At 6.35 metres long and weighing 2140kg, powered with Yamaha outboards, the 360M will likely prove more popular due to its lower cost and more manageable size.

NICHOLSON LINKS UP WITH DOYLELocal sailor Chris Nicholson is buying into Doyle Sails Lake Macquarie.

Nicholson is a world-renowned Australian sailor whohas a significant number of sailing accolades under his belt.

He has competed in six Volvo Ocean Races, most recently with Akzo Nobel in 2017-18.

He willworkin partnership with Peter McNeill, who has been a sailmaker for 40 years having set up his own business in 1992 and part of Doyle Sails Group since 2007.

McNeill is an experienced sailmaker and also a world-class sailor, winning multiple events including the 2004 Etchells World Championships.

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Sydney are wary of trading barbs with ex-Swan Tom Mitchell before they clash with the Hawks.You won’t find anybody at AFL club Sydney willing to offer an inflammatory barb about former teammate Tom Mitchell.
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Mitchell returns to the SCG on Saturday as a short-priced Brownlow medal favourite and Hawthorn’s most influential star.

The gun midfielder left the Swans after the 2016 grand final, a product of the salary cap squeeze created by Lance Franklin’s arrival.

Hawks president Jeff Kennett declared on Wednesday that Franklin has never played well against his former side.

Such niggle is not the Swans’ style, particularly when given many of their players remain friends with Mitchell.

“Tom was obviously a much-loved member of our playing group, obviously good mates with the guy,” Swans ruckman Callum Sinclair told reporters.

Mitchell was highly regarded by Swans coach John Longmire during his five seasons at the club. Nothing has changed.

Longmire suggested last year that Mitchell is the league’s best at winning contested ball, joking if “there was one football left in the world and you employed Tom Mitchell to go and find it, he’d find it”.

George Hewett tagged Mitchell in round eight at the MCG. Mitchell was restricted to 20 possessions while the Swans won a thriller without Franklin thanks to Ben Ronke’s seven-goal haul.

Hewett is expected to be given the same tough job in this weekend’s playoff for a top-four spot in the finals.

“We’ll have to wait and see what the coaches are thinking with that one but Tom’s expected a fair bit of attention over his whole footy career,” Sinclair said.

“Tom’s biggest strength is his work-rate. He’s got a massive ability to run around the ground and accumulate a lot of ball.

“He’s done that at the SCG a few times. He certainly knows the ground pretty well.”

Sinclair wouldn’t bite back in response to Kennett but noted Franklin’s “record speaks for itself”.

“He’s been a pretty consistent performer over many years. I don’t think he’ll be taking too much notice of it,” he said.

“I haven’t really give it too much thought. If the playing group’s focus goes down that path of the theatre of footy then our mind’s not really on the job.”

Sinclair has enjoyed a career-best season and shouldered an immense workload in the absence of Kurt Tippett (retired) and Sam Naismith (knee injury).

The 28-year-old is confident he’ll keep running out games well as the Swans seek to progress deep into September.

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Lachlan Gall says the rains will eventually come, it’s just a matter of hanging on until it does.Across western NSW farmers are “hanging on for grim death” as they run desperately low on both feed and funds in the struggle against a devastating drought that has gone on for two years and shows little sign of breaking.
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Kangaroos are dying in their thousands, but only after they raid rubbish dumps and homes as they search for anything to eat, even cardboard.

On the highways east of Broken Hill heading to Wilcannia and further north to White Cliffs, road kill litters the bitumen every few hundred metres, with the carcases of roos, emus and wild goats constantly picked over by crows and eagles.

The desperate animals gravitate to the verges in search of grass tufts that grow from the dew that descends during the freezing clear nights.

On the land, some dams and bores still have water, but many graziers have been forced to severely reduce stock numbers as they resort to hand feeding.

The price of hay has skyrocketed because of the escalating demand and diminishing supply, plunging many heavily into debt, putting their future in grave doubt.

After such a long period without any meaningful rain, the ground is parched and even the slightest breeze whips up blinding clouds of dust.

What plants continue to grow in the harsh environment, where summer temperatures can easily top 50C, are either toxic or unpalatable.

It’s a depressing sight for anyone passing through, not to mention those who have to deal with the issues every day, watching the health of their herds slowly, and heartbreakingly, deteriorate

“Obviously it’s desperately dry,” Pastoralists Association of West Darling President Lachlan Gall told AAP.

“Quite often, even during the worst of droughts, somebody will be getting some rain.

“But in this drought no-one’s getting any rain anywhere. There’s no respite.”

The situation is also taking a toll on the people of the western plains, with mental health issues an increasing concern.

Speaking about the stress, the wife of one farmer said, “you can just see it on their faces”.

“They’re struggling because they care. Mentally the men don’t deal with it very well.”

“They’re just not the same.”

Another grazier told of the tough decision to sell off almost all his sheep, gambling on restocking once conditions improved.

He said sometimes those dealing with the drought and all that entails on a day-to-day basis don’t appreciate the impact it’s having on them.

It’s an attitude that leads some to refuse help when it’s offered, though for the most part farmers in the west are grateful of recent assistance from the state and federal governments including cash handouts and freight subsidies.

But they say that assistance “won’t help much at all” and more needs to be done.

The pastoralists association has called for a range of measures including the national adoption of an emergency water infrastructure fund to provide assistance with the cost of sinking bores and laying pipelines to provide water for both domestic and stock use.

It also wants to see the streamlining of application processes to speed up approvals for drought support, incentives to fence open waters to better control grazing animals and the commercial harvesting of kangaroos by allowing them to be taken for their skins only.

Gall said his group was similarly concerned that the process of applying for support measures was simply too long-winded.

“Honestly, we simply haven’t got the time and sit down for a couple of days to cross the T’s and dot the I’s on applications for assistance that we may or may not be eligible for when all day, every day we’re out hand feeding our animals, checking troughs and pumping water,” he said.

“It’s like Groundhog Day at the moment.”

But despite all these issues, most remain convinced that both they and the land will get through the current situation and emerge stronger and better prepared.

This area has survived probably the worst drought ever in the late 1960s, similarly dry conditions in the 1980s and 1990s and the so-called millennium drought which prevailed across much of south-eastern Australia from 2002.

They need and want some rain, desperately, but aren’t just sitting around waiting for the heavens to open.

They have farm and drought management plans in place and are taking other steps, such as improving water retention on their land and fencing to reduce the load on pastures, to make their properties more sustainable over the long term.

Gall said pastoralists in the west were a tough bunch and there was no-one in the region worrying about where their next meal was going to come from.

“We’ve been dealing with this situation for well over 12 months now and we’re a very resilient lot in the far west of the state,” he said.

“We realise there’s always going to be droughts just as there are going to be floods.”

Gall said just when the next big rains would come might still be a matter of “guesswork”.

But until then, farmers would continue “hanging on for grim death”.

“It will rain eventually, it’s just a matter of hanging on until it does,” he said.

Louise Turner, an environmental scientist whose family runs a 37,000-hectare sheep station about 50 kilometres northeast of White Cliffs, is also optimistic about the future.

“This is my home. It’s a pretty good part of the world to be,” she said.

“And even though I have my moments every now and again, I’m a glass half full type of girl.”

Her husband Zane takes a pragmatic approach.

“There’s no uncertainty. We’re going to have droughts out here, it’s a fact of life,” he said.

“We’ve just got to try to prepare for them and hopefully not too many are as bad as this one.”

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The cast has been announced for the sequel of Tom Cruise hit film ‘Top Gun’.Jon Hamm, Ed Harris and Lewis Pullman have been cast in Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick” for Paramount Pictures.
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“Oblivion” helmer Joe Kosinski is directing the film, a sequel to the 1986 “Top Gun”, from a script by Peter Craig, Justin Marks and Eric Warren Singer. Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the first film with the late Don Simpson, will produce with Cruise and Skydance CEO David Ellison.

This latest project will be set in a world of drone technology and will explore the end of the era of dogfighting, with Cruise portraying a flight instructor. In late May, Cruise posted a photo of himself in front of what appeared to be a Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.

Variety reported on July 3 that “Only the Brave” star Miles Teller had been tapped to play the son of the Goose character and Maverick’s new protege. Goose, the co-pilot to Cruise’s Maverick character in the original, was played by Anthony Edwards.

Val Kilmer will reprise his role as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky in the sequel, which is set to be released on July 12, 2019. Charles Parnell, Jay Ellis, Bashir Salahuddin, Danny Ramirez and Monica Barbaro have also been cast. Variety reported on Aug. 21 that Barbaro would the love interest of Teller’s character.

The original film was a massive success with more than $US350 million in worldwide grosses on a $US15 million budget.

Paramount confirmed the castings on Wednesday but gave no details on the roles of Hamm, Harris and Pullman.

Hamm starred in “Beirut” and “Tag,” while Harris was last seen in “Geostorm”.

Pullman is the son of Bill Pullman and appeared in “Strangers: Prey at Night.” The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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Blake Austin is one of three players poised to play their final home game before departing Canberra.Attempting to send off departing players on a high is motivating Canberra before their NRL clash with South Sydney.
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The Raiders will miss the finals for a second straight season after a rollercoaster campaign that has seen them lose seven games by less than six points.

Leaving the nation’s capital at the end of the season are five-eighth Blake Austin, and forwards Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo.

That trio were a key part of the Raiders’ team that came within two points of making the 2016 grand final.

Saturday’s match with the Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium will be the Canberra’s last at home in 2018, with their final round across the ditch to face the Warriors.

Halfback Sam Williams said Austin could be proud of the legacy he’s left at the Raiders.

“It’s never nice to see players leave the club and Blake’s had a real impact within the Raiders and the group we’ve got here,” Williams said.

“The energy that Blake’s brought the last few seasons gives the boys a lift.

“As a group going forward we’ll take a leaf out of Blake’s book and try and find that energy ourselves.”

Facing the Rabbitohs will bring about a battle of the NRL’s two best attacking sides.

The Raiders have scored the most points in the competition (523), holding a narrow gap on Souths (519).

If Ricky Stuart’s side keeps that advantage they will become the first team in NSWRL/NRL history to top the points for table and miss the finals.

Stuart will enter his sixth season as Raiders coach next year, having been at the helm for 124 matches.

He will pass John Lang for ninth most games coached in the NRL early in 2019 – after previous stints at Sydney Roosters, Cronulla and Parramatta – and is the only mentor in the top 15 to have a winning percentage less than 50.

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Port coach Ken Hinkley is still holding hope Jared Polec will run out for the Power next year.Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley holds some hope that winger Jared Polec will reject a multi-million dollar offer to join AFL rivals North Melbourne.
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Polec, out of contract at season’s end, is considering an offer from North which exceeds what Port has tabled in both money and length of tenure.

Hinkley admits the longer the 25-year-old delays his decision, the more it appears he’s leaving Port.

“We’re educated people aren’t we, that is what it looks and feels sometimes,” Hinkley told reporters on Thursday.

“But … he has always said he wanted to stay and hang around and play at Port Adelaide.

“Like the season, nothing is done until it’s done.”

Polec could play his last game for the Power on Friday night against Essendon.

Ninth-placed Port must beat the Bombers at Adelaide Oval and then hope Gold Coast upset Geelong the next day to have any chance of sneaking into the finals.

Polec, who joined Port for the 2014 season after three years at Brisbane, is favourite to win the Power’s club champion award after turning in a fine season despite the uncertainty about his future.

“Jared has been in really good form, he has been able to play week-in, week-out really strong football for us,” Hinkley said.

“So we expect that again from him tomorrow night.

“And then he’ll have some decisions to make after that, but he has got a big role tomorrow night to play for us.”

Port stalwart Justin Westhoff is also yet to sign a contract for next year but Hinkley expected the utility, who turns 32 in October, to remain at Alberton.

“He is working through that, I don’t think there’s any issues,” Hinkley said.

“That is one I’m confident about.”

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Grazier Peter Cookson has noticed a number of NSW drovers on Qld stock routes looking for feed. .When Queensland grazier Peter Cookson pushed his cattle onto stock routes to find feed, he hoped it might get him through to the rains.
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But after two months of droving through the state’s southwest, he’s been forced to rethink his plan as cattle herds driven up from NSW compete for rapidly dwindling vegetation.

The third-generation farmer says that after a “long, nagging” drought on his 40,000-acre property near St George, and a doubling of grain-feed prices, he was forced to push the majority of his cattle off his barren land.

“Some people have de-stocked completely, others have pulled back to a minimal herd … we took the cattle on the road,” he told AAP.

With plenty of mulga and grass along stock routes, it seemed like a good option for his 900-head strong herd.

“We had feed in front of all the way, we could have kept walking … the route we were for the first month hadn’t seen stock in years,” Mr Cookson said.

But that changed quickly as the drought bit hard in NSW.

“Mobs were trucked in and walked in from different areas and they’ve decimated some of our potential avenues. They ate them out.”

Mr Cookson said he’s now been warned by his local shire that it’s considering closing the stock routes.

“They think there’s a great mob of stock coming and they should close the routes because they’ll be further eaten out,” he said.

Interstate cattle mobs often use southern Queensland’s stock routes but the drought is adding to the number of drovers heading north.

AAP spoke to several southern Queensland shire representatives who confirmed a significant influx in the number of NSW drovers in the area.

Balonne Shire chief executive Matthew Magin says with pastures below their average size due to low rainfall, the extra cattle were impacting the stock routes’ ability to regrow.

“There’s certainly a lot (of drovers) on the road around the district … mostly from NSW, they’re coming up because of the drought,” he said.

Agforce director Peter Hall said the Queensland government needed to overhaul the management of the state’s 2.6 million-hectare network for travelling livestock.

“The stock route network has been plagued for decades by issues such as overgrazing by producers,” he said.

Out on the road, Mr Cookson faces the prospect of trucking his cattle 10-hours north to an agistment lot at $50 per head.

That’s a lot of money to pay when the sale price of the cattle has dropped from around $1300 to $600 in just three months, he said.

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It’s not just teens that feel tethered to their phones, according to a new research study.Parents often lament the amount of time their teenagers’ spend staring at their phones, but they may want to take stock of their own screen time habits.
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A study from the Pew Research Center in the US has found that two-thirds of parents are concerned about the amount of time their teenage children spend in front of screens, while more than a third expressed concern about their own screen time.

Meanwhile, more than half of teens said they often or sometimes find their parents or caregivers to be distracted when the teens are trying to have a conversation with them.

The study calls teens’ relationship with their phones at times “hyperconnected” and notes that nearly three-fourths check messages or notifications as soon as they wake up. Parents do the same, but at a lower if still substantial rate – 57 per cent.

Big tech companies are facing a growing backlash against the addictive nature of their gadgets and apps, the endless notifications and other features created to keep people tethered to their screens.

Many teens are trying to do something about it: 52 per cent said they have cut back on the time they spend on their phones and 57 per cent did the same with social media.

Experts say parents have a big role in their kids’ screen habits and setting a good example is a big part of it.

“Kids don’t always do what we say but they do as we do,” said Donald Shifrin, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, who was not involved in the Pew study.

“Parents are the door that kids will walk through on their way to the world.”

The study surveyed 743 US teens and 1,058 US parents of teens from March 7 to April 10. The margin of error is 4.5 percentage points.

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