Farmborough Heights home of bullied girl a fortress

Faith Mason, 15, with her mum, Sophie, beside their new security fence. Picture: GREG TOTMANCommunity backs Illawarra girl with Down syndrome bullied by neighbours’It’s a challenge to see if they can make me cry’: bullies taunt lllawarra girlA Farmborough Heights mum has made a fortress of her family’s home – complete with motion-sensing cameras – to guard against neighbourhood vandals and bullies who taunt her daughter, who has Down syndrome.
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Sophie Mason crowdsourced funds for a protective fence after her Warrah Place home was repeatedly pelted with dog faeces and eggs, and 15-year-old Faith Mason began avoiding the front yard for fear of being called a “retard” by passing tormenters.

After word of the family’s troubles spread and donations surged past the $400 target – to more than $4000 – Ms Mason added two security cameras to the set-up.

“They have night vision, motion sensors and they automatically record,” she said. “The house is no longer being damaged.

“The kids still get [bullied] a little bit when they go down the street but the fact that they feel safer at home is much better.”

Despite the treatment meted out by neighbourhood tormenters, Mrs Mason said Faith and her siblings had emerged feeling triumphant. Their story had prompted many, including strangers in the street, to offer well-wishes and support.

“We’ve got them [vandals and bullies], but there were more people that were saying ‘it’s wrong and we’re here if you need us’. We don’t carry the burden ourselves, we know there are people willing to help,” Ms Mason said.

“Faith has got a lot more confidence. If they’re saying stuff, she just pokes her tongue out.

“She says: ‘They can’t come in any more – suckers!”‘

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O’Shea wins gold at Commonwealth Games

Gold medalists Jack Bobridge, Luke Davison, Alex Edmondson and Glenn O’Shea of Australia look on during the medal ceremony for the Men’s 4000 metres Team Pursuit final at Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome during day one of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Picture: GETTYBENDIGO cyclist Glenn O’Shea has won goldat the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
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O’Shea was part of the Australian team pursuit squad which defeated Englandin Friday morning’s (AEST) final.

The Australian squad was coached by Bendigo’s Tim Decker.

The Aussies started strongly to lead by 2seconds at fhe halfway mark.

They continued their dominance to win in a Games record time of 3.54.851.

“It’s pretty special,” O’Shea told Network Ten.

“We all grew up watching the Commonwealth Games. I remember when I was younger going to Melbourne (2006) to watch.

“So to come here and win is special.”

O’Sheasaid the quartet had surprised even themselves with the margin of the blitz in the final.

“We probably rode a little bit quicker than we thought we would,” O’Shea said.

“Our aim was to try and break the Commonwealth record, I guess, and we did that so that’s fantastic”

Gold medal-winning team-mate LukeDavison had special praise for Decker.

“We knew coming into the final that we kind of dipped a little bit at the 2km mark in the qualifying so that was an area that we wanted to improve on. To ride the time that we did I think is testament to our training and to Tim Decker and how much he’s backed us,” he said.

The English team was led by 2012 Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins.

The Aussies went into the final as favourite after being the fastest qualifier by 1.3 seconds.

It was O’Shea’s first medal at Commonwealth Games level.

The 25-year-old is a triple world champion on the track and he claimed a silver medal in the team pursuit at the London Olympics.

O’Shea is the only sportsman to win three Bendigo Advertiser-Prime TV Sports Star of the Year awards.

Meanwhile, Bendigo netballer Caitlin Thwaites came off the bench to play a dominant role in Australia’s 63-36 win over Wales.

Thwaites scored 19 goals from 23 attempts in an impressive Commonwealth Games debut.

Australia’s badminton team won its opening teams event pool match against Wales.

Bendigo’s Jeff Tho lost his singles match in three tight sets, but that result didn’t have a bearing on the overall scoreline with the Aussies dominating the doubles matches.

with The Age

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Julia Gillard offered to make me PM: Greg Combet

AN embattled Julia Gillard secretly offered to stand down as prime minister in June 2013 and secure the leadership for cabinet colleague Greg Combet in order to fend off Kevin Rudd, Mr Combet has revealed.
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But dogged by months of ill-health, and unsure that a switch to a third leader so close to an election would improve Labor’s position, the then climate change and industry minister declined the chance to be prime minister.

‘‘I was struggling a good deal personally by the time June [2013] came around,’’ Mr Combet told Fairfax Media in an interview this week. ‘‘I was in constant pain with the problems that I was having, and the thought of taking on additional responsibility and not being 100 per cent fit to do it, in that febrile environment, it didn’t look easy.’’

He says he took a week or so to consider his ‘‘gut-wrenching’’ decision, which he discussed with his partner, ABC-TV newsreader Juanita Phillips.

But by the time Ms Gillard put the ‘‘extraordinary and generous proposition’’ he was already ‘‘90 per cent gone’’ from federal politics.

GREG COMBET

Mr Combet concedes his exit dashed the hopes of many inside Labor who viewed him as a future leader, including former leaders Kim Beazley and Bob Hawke.

In a book co-authored with Mark Davis, The Fights of My Life, Mr Combet provides new insights into the toxic and ‘‘vicious’’ atmosphere which engulfed the parliamentary party in the run-up to the September 2013 election.

By early June, Ms Gillard was desperate to prevent a Rudd return, while the Rudd forces were equally determined to force her to stand aside without a party-room vote. Mr Combet advised Ms Gillard to bring on a ballot to ‘‘flush’’ out Mr Rudd. In response, he writes, ‘‘she spoke to me privately and said she would stand aside if I stood against Rudd’’.

She told him that ‘‘my view is that Labor’s electoral position would be best served by moving to a new leader, and I think you are the best person to take it on … I will muster as much support as I can for you. I don’t know if it will be enough to get you over the line, but you are held in high regard and I would do everything I could to persuade people to switch their support to you.’’

Mr Combet writes that after declining Ms Gillard’s offer, he urged Mr Rudd to come out of the shadows, resulting in what he claims was a payback leak by Mr Rudd against him.

Mr Rudd was suspicious of Mr Combet’s union background – the latter had come into politics after being president of the ACTU – and told him when first offering him a junior frontbench position after the 2007 election that ‘‘you are going to have to be deunionised first’’.

Mr Combet writes: ‘‘After spending my life in the union movement, the idea that I needed to be cleansed of my union past was pretty offensive.’’

He remains convinced that Mr Beazley would have won the 2007 election and become a highly successful prime minister if Mr Rudd had not dislodged him.

ACTU polling as part of the Your Rights At Work Campaign in the run-up to the 2007 election left him ‘‘completely convinced Beazley would have won’’, which would have resulted in a ‘‘vastly more experienced, mature person as prime minister presiding over, for want of a better description, a really grown-up government, avoiding all the mistakes’’.

‘‘Neither Julia nor Kevin had had a lot of experience in leadership roles and I think that impacted on their capacity to do the job,’’ Mr Combet told Fairfax Media.

Mr Combet battled illness and near-constant pain for much of his time as minister, including a vascular condition in one leg, and osteoporosis which left him with neck, shoulder and arm pain.

‘‘It was the most difficult time of my working life’’, he recalls.

While he does not regret his decision to leave parliament, he says it will not be the end of his political activism and the work he and others put into a carbon pricing scheme will pay off in future, despite the Abbott government’s axing of the carbon tax last week.

‘‘This is a battle that’s [been] lost, but it’s not the war. [Labor] has to keep fighting.’’

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Julie Bishop arrives in Kiev for MH17 talks

Julie Bishop pauses at the tribute to victims of MH17 outside the Dutch embassy in Kiev. Photo: Nick Miller Julie Bishop arrives at the Dutch embassy in Kiev. Photo: Nick Miller
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Julie Bishop has arrived at the Dutch embassy in Kiev for a day of talks with Ukrainian officials about the MH17 disaster.

She said the sea of flowers and stuffed toys outside the embassy reminded her of the children who died on the Malaysia Airlines flight last week and reinforced her determination to succeed in Thursday’s talks.

“It’s so unspeakably sad,” Ms Bishop said after stopping to look at the thousands of flowers, candles, toys and messages heaped in front of the embassy.

“The more I become involved in this matter in trying to get a resolution for our families at home, I understand how much pain and anguish there is across the world.

“Seeing these flowers and tributes and toys reminds us there were 80 children on board that flight.”

She then headed inside to begin talks with Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, accompanied by Angus Houston, who is heading Australia’s recovery and investigation team in Ukraine.

Ms Bishop and Mr Timmermans were in Kiev to get “the necessary authorisations so that an aircrash investigation and a crime investigation can commence without delay”, she said.

The two will hold a joint meeting with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, discussing options for securing the site to ensure the safety of those still looking for human remains and to establish what caused the tragedy.

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Hoiles forgets Brumbies’ emotion

Former ACT captain Stephen Hoiles says he never felt a part of the new generation Brumbies when Jake White started coaching, adding there’s no room for emotion as he prepares for a Super Rugby finals blockbuster against his old teammates.
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Hoiles will take on the club he captained when he runs out for the NSW Waratahs on Saturday night just three years after standing down as Brumbies skipper and agreeing to prematurely end his Canberra contract.

The Brumbies and Waratahs are battling for a grand final berth in the biggest Australian rugby derby in 12 years.

Hoiles’ career appeared over when he battled an Achilles problem in 2011 and White cut him from the squad, a decision Hoiles still believes was the right one for the coach to make.

But the veteran has reinvented himself in Sydney and says his early Brumbies exit removed any lingering emotion going into the semi-final.

“It’s different now. I’ve never played with the current [Brumbies] side,” Hoiles said.

“I know a lot of the players and I’ve played with a lot of the players, but once Jake came in … I never felt part of that current team because I never played under Jake or [Stephen Larkham].

“It’s not a team I associate myself with, not the Brumbies team I was a part of.”

Hoiles was the Brumbies captain when the ”Real Madrid of Super Rugby” – boasting Matt Giteau, Rocky Elsom, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Stephen Moore and a host of Wallabies – failed to make the Super Rugby finals.

He was also the leader through some of the club’s darkest days, standing tall for his team when close mate and Brumby Shawn Mackay died in 2009 and taking charge when coach Andy Friend was sacked in 2011.

But his playing days appeared at an end when he left the Brumbies with a year left on his contract and an Achilles problem that wouldn’t heal.

He travelled the world trying to find a remedy for the injury, making 11 flights in 11 days before finding the answer with some last-ditch surgery in Sweden.

Now he has reinvented his career where it started – with the Waratahs – and helped the team finish at the top of the Super Rugby ladder.

“Hoilesy was very good when he was down here with the culture as well,” said Brumbies coach Larkham.

“He had some injuries that we thought he wasn’t going to come back from. Credit to him, he’s got himself right and we’ve known all along he’s a very skilful player.”

Hoiles has played the Brumbies twice since joining the Waratahs this year, and he feels the current Brumbies side is a vastly different beast to the one he left almost three years ago.

“There’s always a little bit more emotion in it [playing your old club], but to be honest, having played them twice this year I’ve got that out of the system now,” he said.

“It’s just all about doing the right thing by your team. You can’t really get caught up in that [emotion] … it’s just business as usual as there’s so much on the line.”

In his five seasons with the Brumbies, Hoiles didn’t taste finals action although they came close on several occasions.

While Hoiles didn’t expect to be on the verge of playing in a Super Rugby grand final a year ago, he always felt he could get back to this level.

But if he stayed fit, he thought he might be playing overseas by now.

“Who knows where I would be? I’d probably have seen out my contract, I think I had another year to go, 2012,” Hoiles said.

“I don’t know if I’d be playing Super Rugby; I might have done my time and headed overseas like many do, but because of what’s happened I’m here and hopefully going to play in what’s going to be the biggest week of my Super Rugby career.”

SUPER RUGBY SEMI-FINAL

Saturday: NSW Waratahs v ACT BRUMBIES at Allianz Stadium, 7.40pm

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