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Love and eight: women’s rowing drama continues

THE EXCLUSION of reserve rower Emma McCarthy from the competition’s  headquarters outside London has emerged as another bone of contention for the Australian women’s eight on the eve of its Olympic final on Thursday.
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As the eight’s impressive fast-tracked campaign to the London Games reaches its climax, the women’s underlying resentment with rowing officialdom has been publicly put to one side but crew remains disenchanted that five male reserves have been accredited in the rowing village with McCarthy left out.

The 25-year-old Bundaberg rower is rooming in a bed and breakfast near the course at Eton Dorney with the team’s boatman, a physiotherapist and two soft tissue therapists. She cannot train on the water with the Australian team nor enter the athletes area at the course. When the Olympic regatta is completed on Saturday the rest of the team will prepare to move to the Games village in London but McCarthy will be expected to fly home or fund her own accomodation.

Rowing’s section manager Ray Ebert conceded McCarthy was ‘‘very disappointed’’ when she learned at the Games training camp in Italy that she had been excluded from the team. ‘‘It’s a terrible numbers game,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about prioritising how crews are going to go and where the biggest risk of injuries are and those lay with the lightweight men and the other male crews.

‘‘It was a decision taken after meetings with all the coaches and the chief executive. The unlucky sixth person was Emma. We have been bringing her down to the house where the rowers meet up for some training sessions and we’ve got her tickets in the grandstand every day. To put it in perspective the Germans also have five alternates but they have nine reserves living outside the village.’’

The 2012 Games mark the first Olympics where ‘alternates’ have been granted village accreditation on a pro rata basis. The Australian rowing team had prepared for four reserves places but gained an extra accreditation for a reserve when the eight qualified in Lucerne. That the place was given to a fifth male has angered some members of the crew and its supporters.

Ebert conceded he had had a number of ‘‘lengthy discussions’’ with McCarthy’s father Bruce.

‘‘He wasn’t happy about his daughter’s circumstances and we spoke about it three nights ago and again last night,’’ Ebert said. ‘‘I think he’s more comfortable with the situation now.’’

Ebert said he remained hopeful the squad would not need to call upon any reserves.The only official women reserves in the team are already rowing with Sally Kehoe and Pheobe Stanley from the women’s eight selected as stand-ins for the sweep and scull events respectively. In that event McCarthy, primarily a bowside oarswoman, would be called up into the eight.

‘‘It’s unfortunate for Emma,’’ conceded Rowing Australia boss Andrew Dee.  ‘‘But you have to have athletes who can cover off several positions. So she doesn’t have any accreditation and she’s just on call if there’s an injury. It’s very cutthroat.’’

On the Rowing Australia official website McCarthy lists her career highlight as winning selection into the Australian eight squad for the London games.

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Property prices post surprise gain

Property prices unexpectedly rose in the June quarter despite buyers receiving conflicting signals about the outlook for the property market.
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House prices rose 0.5 per cent in the June quarter, following an upwardly revised 0.1 per cent drop in the March quarter, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. Economists polled by Bloomberg tipped a 0.5 per cent fall.

Over the year to June, house prices fell 2.1 per cent, after an upwardly revised 3.5 per cent fall in the year to March, the ABS said. The drop was the fifth consecutive quarterly fall on a year-on-year basis in the ABS series which began in 2003.

Analysts had forecast a 4.2 per cent drop in the year to June.

Values on residential property have drifted lower through much of the year, as consumers show caution about borrowing for properties and the outlook for the economy remains unclear.

The Reserve Bank, responding to a broader slowdown in the domestic sector, has cut rates four times since November, helping to buoy prices in June and July, according to RP Data figures released today.

ANZ property economist David Cannington said the June-quarter data was stronger than expected but it did not suggest a recovery in house prices.

"It's still too early to call a turnaround in house prices because of the weak sentiment and weak sales activity in the market," said Mr Cannington.

The property market continues to be dogged by poor confidence, said Mr Cannington, with the European debt crisis and uncertainty about the health of the global economy likely to continue to weigh on market sentiment in the near-term.

The 75 basis points in RBA rate cuts in May and June should help prices in the September quarter, said Mr Cannington.

‘‘But on their own I don’t think the rate cuts are enough to trigger a turnaround in house prices given the weakness of sentiment.’’

Sydney house prices increased 1.4 per cent in the quarter, while Melbourne prices slipped 0.4 per cent, the ABS said.

Brisbane house prices edged up 0.1 per cent and Perth's increased 0.6 per cent. Canberra's fell 1.3 per cent, outpacing Hobart's 0.4 per cent drop in that time.

House prices in Adelaide rose 0.5 per cent, the ABS said.

Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan said the surprising strength in the index may have been driven by the end of first-home buyers’ incentives in New South Wales and Victoria.

‘‘I suspect that’s having an impact in some way on how the measures are picking up activity,’’ he said.

Mr Hassan said the ABS data and earlier figures from RP Data showed the market may stabilising.

RP Data-Rismark's capital city home price index rose 0.6 per cent in July, after a 1 per cent rise in June.

‘‘With rates where they are at the moment, it should be enough to stabilise the market,’’ said Mr Hassan. ‘‘I don’t know if it will be enough to generate an upturn,’’ he said.

Market sentiment remains quite fragile and susceptible to shocks from offshore, which could trigger the need for more rate cuts, he said.Source: BusinessDay

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Transgender prisoner fails to get lower jail term

A woman jailed for at least 14 years for the execution-style shooting of her grandfather has failed in her attempt to have her sentence reduced on the grounds that her transgender status made prison more onerous.
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Ben Richard Clark has been known as Stephanie Elizabeth Clark since September last year, resulting in her being placed in protective custody in jail.

Clark sought leave to appeal against her conviction and sentence in the Court of Criminal Appeal. In a judgment handed down today, both applications were dismissed.

In August 2007, Clark was convicted and sentenced to a maximum 20 years' jail after pleading guilty to the murder of her grandfather, Ernest Richard "Dick" Clark two and a half years earlier.

Her father Michael Rex Clark was also convicted of murder after a jury trial.

During the sentencing hearing, Clark said she shot her grandfather in the head at his Bexley home in anger after suffering physical, verbal and sexual abuse as a teenager.

The Crown alleged she was motivated by money, and committed the crime to enable her and her father to inherit their share of her grandfather's estate.

The three appeal judges found the sentencing judge made no error in deciding the sentence and the sentence did not need to be redetermined.

Because the court was not resentencing Clark, the transgender issue would not be taken into account, as Clark became known as a woman long after she was originally sentenced.

The court heard evidence of how transgender inmates are managed in jail, including being placed on a non-association order for protection. As well as increasing isolation, protective custody reduces access to services, programs, employment and educational facilities, the court heard.

In appealing against her conviction, Clark claimed there had been a breakdown in communications between her and her legal team in deciding to enter a plea of guilty to murder.

Rather than pleading guilty to murder, she could have gone to trial seeking a verdict of manslaughter on the partial defence of provocation, she said.

Her legal team had advised her that provocation was unlikely to be successful and her allegations surrounding her grandfather's abuse could be used to mitigate her sentence.

The appeal judges found no miscarriage of justice arose from her plea of guilty to murder. There was no realistic basis upon which provocation could be raised, they said.

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Suncorp’s NZ quake tab keeps growing

Weeks after Suncorp completed its reinsurance renewal program for the next 12 months, speculation out of London is that the general insurer will have to add as much as $400 million to a reinsurance claim for the second New Zealand earthquake.
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The rumours first appeared in the online insurance bible, Insurance Insider yesterday and were confirmed by a well-placed reinsurance broker in London overnight. They effectively lift Suncorp's claim to $2.6 billion from a previous $2.2 billion for that second Christchurch temblor.

While the increased cost will not make a big dent on Suncorp, it begs the question why are its claims still increasing in New Zealand. The rest of the market has been largely static and rivals haven't moved their reserves for 12 months.

The upshot is while the cost will be borne 100 per cent by Suncorp's reinsurers, it might have a long-term impact on their negotiations, with some suggestions that reinsurers might decide to load Suncorp with an added cost for any potential unknown factors.

It is not hard to understand why given Suncorp made a similar discovery last year when it completed its reinsurance renewals and then 12 days later revealed that the loss was worse than expected by $400 million. The reinsurers were not impressed.

This time around, it is believed that Suncorp handled the process differently by giving prospective reinsurers the heads up that the second New Zealand earthquake claim would be higher than previously expected.

Cover reduced

Suncorp recently announced it had reduced its top-layer reinsurance cover by $500 million after entering a "quota sharing" arrangement to reduce its exposure in flood-prone Queensland.

Under the arrangement, Suncorp will hand over 30 per cent of the home insurance premiums it collects in Queensland to a third-party insurer owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. The billionaire's company has agreed to cover 30 per cent of Suncorp's claims and handling expenses.

According to Insurance Insider, Berkshire Hathaway's intervention in Suncorp's July renewal transformed the reinsurance renewal process.

It said Berkshire's deals “sucked $1.5 billion of event limit out of the open market, taking the heat out of a renewal that was initially expected to be both difficult and expensive.”

Sources said that the placement had resulted in a program-wide rate rise of 20 per cent, which is well below initial estimates of as much as 50 per cent.

Berkshire Hathaway role

Berkshire Hathaway intervened in the renewal in a number of ways.

Firstly, it agreed a multi-year deal to write a 30 per cent quota share of Suncorp's loss-hit Queensland homeowners' book, with London underwriting sources putting the annual premium at roughly $300 million.

The overall reinsurance season worked out well for general insurers, after so many calamities hit the insurance industry in 2010-11 - including earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, floods in Queensland, storms in Victoria and eight big tornadoes in the US.

This year has been relatively benign but any insurers with exposure to crop programs in the US will be exposed given so much of midwest is in the grip of the region's worst droughtsince the Great Depression.

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Riewoldt’s knee treatment a success

A medical treatment on his troublesome knee that's designed for osteo-arthritis is helping St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt find his best form in years.
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Ahead of their clash with Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday night, the in-form 29-year-old bristled when asked if he was starting to feel like the Riewoldt of old.

"I'm still the good side of the 30, so I'm not sure how well that sits with me," he said.

Riewoldt revealed that he has undergone therapy called Orthokine, devised by German doctor Peter Wehling, which has also proved a great success with US basketballer Kobe Bryant and baseballer Alex Rodriguez.

It involves injecting proteins from the patient's own blood back into the joint.

"We've managed it really well this year. We've tried a few different things over the last couple of months medically so we'll continue to do those and hopefully it will be problem free for the rest of the season," said the All-Australian forward.

"I'm sure there's a few players in the competition that are doing it and it's given me a bit of a lift in the second half of the year.

"I don't think I've had some of the highs I've had in the past but I haven't had too many quiet games so hopefully I can keep that consistency going."

He said that he was now able to train more than he had in recent years, which was key to his revival, particularly in the second halves of games.

"It plays such a big part, if you're able to get out Monday to Friday and have a run around you're able to stay pretty fit and you go into a game with a level of confidence.

"If you haven't trained during the week and you do that for two or three months on end it can have a hit on your confidence."

St Kilda had a crushing 76-point win over the Western Bulldogs last round to remain in touch with the top eight, in 10th position.

Riewoldt said he felt it was a good time to meet the fourth-placed Magpies because a win could be a springboard into the finals.

"This time of year if you want to be contending you've got to be beating or at least being competitive against those sorts of sides," he said.

"Clearly it's a big challenge, Collingwood are a great team but so are we at times."

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Jason Trifiro a Wanderer at heart

Jason Trifiro epitomises the heart and soul of Western Sydney Wanderers - born and raised in Winston Hills, and now on the verge of signing his first professional contract with the A-League newcomers ahead of tonight's trial match against Blacktown Spartans.
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Trifiro, 24, fell in love with football at an early age, carrying a ball everywhere he went, even practising in the house when his father's back was turned. His parents were so sick of him smashing vases and windows in their small property that they bought a house behind Valentine Park - the heart of NSW youth football development.

"We were living in a small backyard and mum and dad got so sick of us digging it up that they bought the house behind Parklea because it made it easier for us - we would just jump the fence and would be able to train," he said.

Trifiro would spend countless hours at the park with brother Glen, mastering the latest tricks in an attempt to mirror his football idol Maradona. So superb and advanced were his skills at a young age that he was quickly appointed the nickname 'Tricky' by his coaches and teammates. Although he represented Australia in the under 17s, Trifiro admits that at some point in time, he fell off the radar of the A-League.

"From Joeys I just was floating around in the state leagues," he said. "There was probably a period when no one really knew of me."

Sadly, it is an all too familiar story in Australian football.

A promising young junior slips through the cracks of the selection process because, despite his undeniable technique and skill, he is not 'tall enough, strong enough or fast enough.'

Trifiro has heard it all.

"There were times when I though that maybe it wouldn't happen," he said. "I have heard all those things - that I wasn't the tallest or fastest guy. But I stayed focused and maintained belief in myself. Football was first and I just knew that I always wanted to keep playing."

Western Sydney may have produced some of Australia's greatest players such as Brett Emerton, Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill, but the heartland has at times become a wasteland of lost and neglected young talent. It is football Darwinism at its finest.

But Trifiro's inspiring story restores some faith - a reminder that it doesn't matter how old you are or where you came from, if you are willing to work hard selectors will eventually have to pick you.

Prior to his breakthrough with the Wanderers, Trifiro drifted through the NSW Premier League with Marconi Stallions, Sutherland Sharks and South Coast Wolves before, two years ago, packing up his bags and heading to Melbourne to play with Northcote City in search of an elusive A-League contract.

Far from despondent, the passionate footballer persisted with the game he loved, confident that the landscape of Australian football would eventually progress to suit his style of play.

"Football evolves - and it is slowly changing in this country'," said Trifiro. "Look what Barcelona have done; they are not the tallest players. Now coaches here are now starting to take notice and choose that smaller, more technical player. It is definitely for the better."

Jason and Glen Trifiro were so passionate about the increasing importance of technique and skill in Australian football, that they have established their own football academy 'Futboltec'. It is no surprise that Glen is the first to shout his brother's praises when he heard the news about Western Sydney.

"For Jason this is just the beginning, it's his opportunity and he knows how important it is to make the most of it," said Glen Trifiro."Jason is the biggest inspiration to me because I'm well aware of his journey; every step he has taken, every setback he has had, and every successful moment he has experienced. As young players growing up in the west we travelled a further distance to Westfields sports high to attend the football program. We would catch trains and buses. Jason didn't attend his formal because he had training, he didn't go out on Friday nights because game day was on Saturday. These are just a few examples of his commitment to football."

Trifiro certainly realises the magnitude of his achievement, and will be proud to wear the colours of his hometown.

"To be looking for a professional deal, then to come home and play for the area where your grew up in - it would be a very incredible moment," he said.

Meanwhile Western Sydney have launched their membership drive with prices starting from $195 for Adults, $95 for concessions and $390 for a family. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that members will be able to vote for two seats on the inaugural board.

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Endangered species: Film Critics

Everyone's a critic .... "there is a world of difference between an opinion and a review, though: between being critical and providing criticism."The invitation to join a panel asking "What is a film critic in this day and age?" has left me pondering the role.
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What's not to like? You watch films before they're released, for free, and get to tell other people what you thought of them. A lucky few even get paid to do it. Except that the combined effects of piracy and the internet mean that nearly anyone so inclined can do the former, and that those lucky few are becoming fewer by the day.

Is a tweet as good as a review?

By the above, overly simple definition, once a film is released anywhere in the world, in the age of social media everyone is a film critic. Before the credits have rolled, 140 characters praising or panning any film will be tapped out and disseminated by that new collective noun, a cinema of critics.

There is a world of difference between an opinion and a review, though; between being critical and providing criticism. A rant, no matter how long, loud or widely read, is still a rant.

What do critics have to offer in a digital age?

What is missing from a digital audience-byte? It's not writing style or quality. For many that already exists or comes with time. Nor length, a blog or tweet extending apps will let any audience member with a smart phone write as much as they like.

Rather it is perspective and explanation that are the key qualities of a film critic.

The latter is that vital, rare quality in an excellent film critic, those not just brave enough to declare a film objectively good or bad, but with the capacity to explain why, such that someone who hasn't seen it can understand. A good film reviewer, on the other hand - to draw a personal distinction - goes one step further. He or she uses perspective to assess, regardless of objective quality and without patronising or lecturing (as I am now), what sort of audience might like a film; whether the target audience will approve.

Do critics write for the audience or the film maker?

The audience is key for film critics. They are more informed and aware. In fact, those who want to find out about a film online can drown themselves in content - interviews, trailers, behind-the-scenes featurettes and, yes, reviews from around the world - to the point where they can almost recite a film the first time they see it. Then afterwards they can discuss it with countless others online.

Yet audiences also know that if they don't want to know the plot going in, they can't trust trailers. Studios gave up any pretence of withholding key plot points. Film critics must take up that baton, forgoing the lazy review style of recounting story to assist in analysis. A spoiler-free, well-argued and audience-focused criticism is harder to find now among the noise.

Will critics have a role in the future?

There is a counter-culture, those seeking a surprising cinema experience, wanting to take in a film untainted by spoilers and hype. They go into Facebook lockdown and #TwitterOff for days before a big film release. For those audiences, one good reviewer is worth a thousand tweets and may well be the one outlet they will check before deciding to spend money. A trusted critic is a sacred friend.

Is there still a role for film critics in the digital age? Do you read reviews? Do you have a favourite critic? What are film critics doing wrong?

The panel discussion ''Where and what is a film critic in this day and age?'' is at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, Moore Park, today at 6.30pm, free.

"New Bond revealed"? What's with the headlines on SMH these days? This is a mild case to be fair, but I'm becoming more and more suspcious that the Editors at Fairfax are masters at troll headlines.

This is an article about a new Bond movie, not about the next actor to play Bond. This curiosity is what caused me to click on this article, and now I'm feeling like I was deceived.

Fair enough if it wasn't intentional, but with all the sensational and downright false headlines creeping into Fairfax, combined with new Fairfax editors being installed recently, makes me more and more suspicious. And that's why I come here, because I trust Fairfax (at least I did). I do not like the new Fairfax at all.

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Bikes building a head of steam

Growing click ... a new found fondness for riding is opening doors for bicycle lovers.If you live anywhere near an urban area, it's impossible to miss the burgeoning popularity of bicycles.
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It seems everywhere you look there's either a peloton of MAMILs (middle-aged men in Lycra) on their expensive carbon-fibre machines, or a bunch of hipsters on their fixies. And there'll be a new bike boutique on every corner, ready to serve them a macchiato.

Bikes are suddenly big business, a $1 billion-a-year industry. According to Bureau of Statistics figures, for the 10th year in succession Australians have bought more bicycles than cars. Since 2000, more than 11 million bikes have been sold nationwide, a number is expected to explode with the introduction of new rules allowing the sale of electric models powered up to 250 watts.

According to industry data, in the first quarter of this year we imported 171,783 bicycles, which suggests there's not a lot of employment in Australia when it comes to building our own bikes — although a few specialised frame makers remain locally.

But you don't have to know how to weld to land a job with bikes: the Australian bicycle industry employs up to 10,000 people and generates $139 million in income tax revenue. If you have a passion for cycling and want to turn it into a career, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

"Many start their career in the industry volunteering for work experience at the local bike shop," the general manager of Bicycle Industries Australia, Peter Bourke, says. "This can lead to specialising in either sales or servicing, and eventually to managing the workshop or even an entire store.

"As for training, Bourke says most of it is on the job, although he believes a retail course in customer management will help if your main focus is on the sales floor. Some store managers and shop owners also have business degrees.

Becoming a bicycle mechanic is another option, with big-city "wrenchmen" earning about $50,000 a year. Most of the training is done on the job, although some formal certificate study is available through TAFE courses.

The Bicycle Industries Association in Victoria has recently been disappointed by a state government decision to cut funding for bicycle mechanics training by 40 per cent.

"The result of this is that there won't be any accredited training available at all," Bourke says.

"Our industry employs 1000 mechanics in Victoria and we are already struggling to recruit qualified staff."

There are also many employment options available outside the world of the bike shop.

Mechanics, for instance, can work for a local cycle team, move up to a national squad and, finally, graduate as highly paid wrenchmen with a professional team.

Bourke says another option is bicycle-related tourism."This is an area that is expanding rapidly," he says. "We're seeing operators leading people on tours around wineries or even across to the Tour de France.

"As the need for integrated, sustainable transport grows, cycling departments are filling an important role in city councils, too. "More and more of these positions are becoming available at both a city and state level," says the manager of cycling strategy at the City of Sydney council, Fiona Campbell. "I came to my role with a background in IT but I had been a bicycle advocate for a decade," she says.

Bourke is the first to admit a career in the bicycle industry is unlikely to make you a millionaire, but says the lifestyle is good and you interact with passionate riders.

New Start

Atelier de Velo is one of the new breed of urban cycle shops — a one-stop destination for bicycle addicts. It's a hip space in the inner city where you can get your bike serviced, buy a new jersey or a treadly, and sit in the cafe drinking Mecca Espresso, eating sour-cherry raisin toast and reading a cycle magazine.

Owners Chris Herron and Mike Shaw have been messing about with bikes since they could walk.

Both worked in management at the renowned Clarence Street Cycles until they were retrenched last year when the company downsized.

"It was always my dream to open a store of my own, so I said to Chris, 'Let's do it'," Shaw says.

Atelier de Velo now employs six staff, including three mechanics, two baristas, and Shaw's wife, Narissa, who is in charge of the cafe.

Shaw has pedalled a typical career path in the industry.His advice to people wanting to get into the trade?

"Train on the job and find your niche interest, whether it be sales, management or mechanics," he says. "And find a bike store that fits your personality."

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Gym fined for pumping up carbon tax claims

A fitness gym has become the first company to be fined for making false claims about the impact of the carbon tax.
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Genesis Fitness Club Berwick, in Melbourne, has paid an infringement notice of $6600 relating to claims made about the cost of membership fees, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has confirmed.

Genesis has gyms all around Australia and describes itself as "one of Australia's premier fitness organisations".

In April, the Berwick club sent a letter to more than 2100 members promoting a "rate freeze". The letter offered a range of contract extensions at current or reduced rates, suggesting that by taking up this offer, members could avoid a fee increase of 9-15 per cent due to the carbon price.

It is understood that more than 200 people took up the offer and extended their gym contracts.

Today, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said that the ACCC believed GFC Berwick did not have a reasonable basis for their carbon tax claim.

"We are concerned that the false claims about the carbon price may have encouraged these people to sign lengthy contract extensions they otherwise would not have."

Mr Sims said that businesses were free to set their prices as they saw fit, but said carbon tax claims needed to be truthful and "have a reasonable basis".

The company that manages the GFC franchise network has already written to affected members and offered to break their contract extensions at no cost.

Last month, the parent company of the Brumby's Bakery franchise apologised for "foolish and ill-considered" advice that encouraged bakeries to put up prices and "let the carbon tax take the blame".

The consumer watchdog looked into Brumby's about potentially misleading claims about the tax – but then accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from Retail Food Group, owner of Brumby's, that it would not engage in similar conduct in the future.

If the ACCC finds there has been wrongdoing, it can issue warning letters, infringement notices of $6600, or take court action with fines up to $1.1 million.

Before it was implemented on July 1, the government warned businesses not to make misleading claims about the carbon tax.

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Gold medal? No thanks, we’re British

Great Britain's grand Olympic dreams of a 70-medal haul are off to a shaky start — and the desperation is setting in on Fleet Street as the media and the fans look for the team's first victory.
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Yet to claim a gold medal, the British effort flies in the face of London mayor Boris Johnson's motivational message to athletes before the Games. "Can we beat Australia? Yes, I think we can."

British coxless four team member Pete Reed went so far as to tell the Daily Mail that Johnson's attempt at a pep talk fired him up.

"It really hit home with me personally. This will be the biggest race of our lives and we have a big job to do against Australia," he said.

Reed's contest with Australia is likely on Saturday, London time, but the hordes of reporters in Fleet Street have already grown impatient.

Great Britain's effort thus far puts it 21st on the medal tally — behind Australia in 12th, as well as Romania, Hungary, Brazil, Holland, Ukraine, Slovenia, Georgia and Lithuania, and just ahead of Colombia, Mexico and Indonesia.

Johnson told Australia's SBS today that "natural British restraint and good manners” was behind the nation's lack of gold.

"It would not be right for us as host nation to be monopolising that medals table, and we're allowing others to score a few in the knowledge that we're lulling them into a false sense of security,” Johnson said, tongue in cheek.

“Even if – which I don't for one moment believe – even if we didn't win a single additional medal it would still be a fantastic thing to have put on a great Olympic Games, plus last night Team GB got their first ever medal in gymnastics for 100 years and that is a stunning thing to do.”

The dearth of a British gold medallist, and the disappointment surrounding hot favourites who have failed to take the top prize, is a frustration to the host nation's papers. Tabloid The Sun's front page today screams: "Wanted. Gold Medal" and carries the plea: "Historic bronze for our brilliant gymnasts but please, can we have just one gold. Any sport. We're not bothered. As soon as possible. Please. COME ON TEAM GB."

The Daily Mail is attempting to assuage the disappointment of the nation by suggesting that "a gold rush will come ... as early as today". The newspaper says the nation has six strong medal contenders in rowing, cycling and swimming finals, including Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.

The Telegraph is more conciliatory its athletes who finish back in the pack than Australia — it has described British gymnasts who finished sixth as "brave".

The Guardian says British sport executives are considering lowering their expectations of the medal haul, from 70 to 60.

"I'm comfortable with where we are, absolutely. We need to be patient and we'll see that the medals and gold medals will follow," the British Olympic Association chairman, Lord Colin Moynihan, reportedly said. "When you look at the rowing finals, the cyclists and the sailors, we'll begin to have that core delivery of success. We're beginning to see, as we forecast, more medals in more sports – we delivered on the gymnastics."

Britons expect to do well in events where medals have not yet been won, discussions in online forums suggest.

"Some in OZ and US are saying we will be the first country to do WORSE at a home games ! Classic," wrote late8 on the UK Digital Spy forums. Others on Yahoo! Answers suggest that biding time is the best option.

Others suggested that the media over-hyped cyclist Mark Cavendish and Britain's position was as expected.

Given that there was success for Great Britain at London's previous hosting turns in 1908 in events no longer part of the program, 2012 organisers could have given thought to re-introducing polo, tug-of-war (in which Great Britain won all the medals), jeu de paume (tennis, not to be confused with the lawn tennis event of the same Olympiad), lacrosse, rugby union and water motorsports.

In its most recent home Olympics in 1948, Great Britain won three gold, 14 silver and six bronze to Australia's two gold, six silver and five bronze and in 1908, swept the pool with 56 gold, 51 silver and 39 bronze to Australasia's one gold, two silver and one bronze.

More recently, after four days of competition in 2008 in Beijing, Britain had claimed two gold medals to Australia's three and at Athens in 2004, the score was six to zero Australia's way.

But it's not as though Australia's effort this year is all that stunning. Our women's swimming relay gold remains our only victory. There's three silver and two bronze for a miserly six medals, behind Japan's 13 (one gold, four silver, eight bronze) and South Africa, which has just two medals — but they are both gold.

Australia is also behind North Korea (three gold and one bronze), Kazakhstan (three gold), Germany (two gold, three silver and one bronze) and Russia (two gold, two silver and four bronze).

In 2008, then-sports minister Kate Ellis lost a bet with her British counterpart Gerry Sutcliffe that Australia's medal tally would be bigger than Britain's. Ms Ellis then suffered the ignominy of wearing a team Great Britain shirt to the Paralympic Games. Great Britain took home 19 gold to Australia's 14 in Beijing.

But her predecessor, Liberal Senator Rod Kemp, warned of such a travesty two years earlier. In a speech in Melbourne in 2006, he said that "the British are getting their sporting act together" and that "the Australian success on the sporting field is under a great challenge".

New Zealand has just one bronze medal, from equestrian, so all is not for lost Australia yet. But after four days of competition, our athletes are running out of time to better our final medal totals in Atlanta, 1996 (nine gold, nine silver, 23 bronze), Barcelona, 1992 (seven gold, nine silver, 11 bronze) or Seoul, 1988 (three gold, six silver, five bronze).

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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