Archive for July 2019

Palace ‘backs changes’ on royal succession, marriage

WHILE the hit TV series Downton Abbey portrays a family’s struggle with the status of women and Roman Catholics almost a century ago, 2013 looks likely to be the year when the royal family finally catches up.
Shanghai night field

After doubts were raised over plans to change the rules on succession to the throne, British Prime Minister David Cameron has assured MPs that the moves have been cleared by Buckingham Palace.

Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell queried whether the plans – which will allow first-born women to take precedence in the line of succession for the first time and allow marriage to Catholics – had royal backing.

Sir Peter raised the issue  after Prince Charles’ questions about aspects of the plans earlier this week.

He said: ‘‘Bearing in mind that Bills which may be thought to affect the Royal Prerogative require the signification of the Queen at second reading, can you tell us whether you have yet heard from the palace whether it regards any of the major constitutional changes proposed in the Succession to the Crown Bill as intruding either on the Royal Prerogative or on the Coronation Oath which Her Majesty took?’’

Mr Cameron replied: ‘‘What I can say is throughout the process of bringing forward this proposal, which is a proposal that head of all the Commonwealth dominion realms have also signed up to, through that process there has been thorough contact between Number 10 Downing Street and the Palace.

‘‘All of the issues are settled and agreed.’’

The Bill, which will be retrospective when it becomes law, is expected to be pushed through the House of Commons in a single day.

It would allow the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first baby to succeed to the throne whether it is a boy or a girl, something that the fictional Lord Grantham’s eldest daughter Mary is unable to do in Downton Abbey.

In another clear sign that the changes will proceed, the Queen has declared that if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a daughter she will bear the title ‘‘princess’’.

Under past rules, a girl born to Prince William and Kate would have been styled ‘‘lady’’ and not known as Her Royal Highness – only a first-born boy would automatically become a prince.

But the Queen has taken action, by issuing new Letters Patent, to insure her great-grandchild has a title suitable for a future monarch.

Charles Kidd, editor of Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage, said the alteration was expected in light of the forthcoming  legislation.

Press Association

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Battle to contain fires before heat returns

Firefighters have been backburning overnight to try and contain several major bushfires across NSW, taking advantage of the cool temperature before hot, windy weather sets in again.
Shanghai night field

There are 126 bushfires burning across the state, including 15 that are not contained, on Thursday morning.

Over 1000 Rural Fire Service volunteers are working, using more than 80 firefighting aircraft and 360 trucks.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said firefighters are trying to contain the blazes before dangerous fire conditions return on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“When you’ve got more hot air dominating much of the state, which is already very dry and vegetation is highly susceptible to ignition and spread of any existing fire, that’s a real challenge to firefighters,” Mr Fitzsimmons told Sky News.

“We’re going to be working very closely with the weather authorities to make sure we’re identifying those most severe of conditions and those areas of concern.

“I expect to see more total fire bans across Friday and certainly into Saturday as these hot weather patterns dominate much of NSW.”

Crews were backburning at the Deans Gap fire, in the Shoalhaven on Wednesday night, but it has not been contained.

That fire has burnt through more than 5700 hectares of land.

Residents in Wandandian, Sussex Inlet, and those south of the coastal villages, are advised to remain vigilant and keep up to date with information.

Firefighters also spent the night backburning at the Cobbler Road fire, near Yass, to establish and strengthen containment lines around the blaze, which has burnt through 14,000 hectares and killed thousands of animals.

A bushfire continues to burn about 20 kilometres east of Cooma, in the state’s south, and residents are advised to stay informed.

A fire at Lithgow, which police believe was deliberately lit, is under control, but smoke is still affecting the town and the Bells Line of Road.

Mr Fitzsimmons said people in bushfire prone areas need to stay alert, and not always expect a warning message from the RFS.

“Some fires will start, they will take hold and they will spread so quickly that they could be impacting on people before someone’s even had a chance to report it to triple-0, or certainly before the fire engine is able to get on scene.

“Until someone’s got that crystal ball that can tell us exactly where that fire is going to be, and start, and exactly what time it’s going to be, that’s a reality of life.”

Total fire bans are in place in the North Western and Northern Slopes regions.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Raiders recruit emerges as bolter for All Stars game

Jake Foster with his fiancee, Kelly Brooks.Most league fans wouldn’t look twice if they passed him in the street, but that hasn’t stopped Canberra recruit Jake Foster emerging as a shock contender for the Indigenous All Stars next month.
Shanghai night field

Despite Foster playing just 10 NRL games in five years for Canterbury, coach Laurie Daley said on Wednesday the unheralded forward was a serious chance of selection.

A shoulder injury to Kangaroos star Sam Thaiday, plus a lack of depth of Indigenous back-row talent, has improved his chances of playing in the season opener in Brisbane on February 9.

The 24-year-old, who moved to Canberra to kick-start his career, had attracted the 25th-most votes by Wednesday afternoon. Voting closes on Monday.

Fans vote in the first 17 players and the remaining three bench places are at the discretion of Daley.

It means Raiders supporters could receive an unexpected glimpse of what the Guildford Owls product has to offer, before he begins his two-year deal at the club.

Not bad for a player who remains absent from the Raiders’ player profiles on their official website. ”I think all players on the fringe who haven’t played a lot of first grade [are a chance] because we don’t have a lot of depth in the back row, and the forwards in particular will come into consideration,” Daley told The Canberra Times on Wednesday.

”He would be someone you may look at to have involved in that squad. We’ve got plenty of backs, we just need a few forwards.

”You need to look at what 17 has been delivered [by the fans] before you start looking at other people.”

Boom Raiders rookie Jack Wighton also remains a possibility, and would likely play a utility role off the bench should he get the nod.

Canberra forwards Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Joel Thompson, mainstays of the Indigenous side in the concept’s first three years, will retain their spots and are fourth and 10th respectively in voting.

Raiders teammate Blake Ferguson is 14th in voting, and is tipped to claim a wing spot alongside Souths flyer Nathan Merritt.

Ferguson moved to the centres with great success for Canberra last year, but Greg Inglis and Justin Hodges are pencilled in to play there for the Indigenous All Stars.

After his big game against the NRL All Stars last year, Daley said Learoyd-Lahrs would be ”one of the first front-rowers picked” if Daley became NSW coach.

Those comments bode well for the 27-year-old, as Daley takes over from former Raiders teammate Ricky Stuart as Blues coach this year. ”Most definitely [he can play Origin], I’ve always admired Tommy and think he’s a wonderful player, he’s a big body and has been there before,” Daley said.

”Hopefully he’s injury-free and if he’s in the right frame of mind and starts off well, he’ll be a big show.”

Canberra prop David Shillington looks well poised for a recall to the NRL All Stars squad, boasting a handy lead over incumbent Josh Dugan approaching the closing days of voting.

Shillington, who last played the match in 2010, is 18th on the list with nearly 2400 votes, comfortably in front of Dugan, who has been the Raiders’ designated representative the past two years.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Claiming the stairway to haven

The Grand Stair itself is not only of reclaimed timbers, but so too is the ceiling void.If one had to nominate the Seven Man-Made Wonders of Canberra then the Grand Stair just installed in the environmentally gentle Nishi building in New Acton would jostle for a place.
Shanghai night field

Not quite finished (it leads from the Nishi’s downstairs foyer up to the unfinished foyer of an unfinished hotel), it is a hard-to-describe creation made of thousands of horizontally arranged pieces of reclaimed timber. Startled by the look of it in online pictures, we asked the Nishi supremos, the Molonglo Group, for a tour and explanation. We had as our tour guide Nectar Efkarpidis, one of the group’s three directors.

The idea of him as ”director” of a Group will summon a mental picture of a suited person of mature years, but he is startlingly young and was informally dressed, and tousled, and might have been an ANU post-grad.

He sounds truly earnest about Nishi’s planet-kindly mission and for the first time in my writing life (because cliches are not in my toolbox) I find myself able to describe someone, him, as softly-spoken.

He explains that the design is by March Studio of Melbourne and that, in Nishi’s spirit of sustainability, they’ve used reclaimed timber from a dismembered house, from a demolished basketball court, from about the Nishi site itself and offcuts from the building’s own distinctive blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) faç¸ade.

No two fragments of wood are the same. There are polished ones and rough ones, painted and unpainted ones, unblemished ones and others characterfully scarred by nails.

Above the staircase, but echoing it, there’s a ceiling space, a ceiling feature, made from 2150 more pieces of wood and then at the foot of the stairs there’s a continuing feature in the wall space. It is all indescribable but did feel, standing on the stairs and surrounded by thousands of horizontally ”flying” pieces of wood (the pieces are held together by hundreds of steel rods) as if one was in the middle of the frozen explosion of something wooden (a Spanish galleon perhaps) that has just been powerfully blown up with its smithereens flying away.

It’s all an alternative, Efkarpidis says, to ”having sterile, white, clean, fabricated materials brought in from China”.

”It was very much about having craftspeople paying respect to carpentry as a skill set. The intention of the building was always about ‘how do you create foyers and spaces, public spaces, that (a) are of genuine interest but also make a place?’ We want people to occupy this building.

”For us this ground-floor area, what we call the ground-floor plains, we see as public spaces, despite the fact that this is the building for [various clients]. We’ve always wanted the public spaces to be used not only by the tenants but by the entire community.

”It’s about welcoming, say, ANU students who might want to just sit here with a laptop.”

In time ANU students and others grazing there will get used to it, and be able to stop looking all about them in wonder and to concentrate on their laptops. But for the moment the ”flying” wooden pieces make the space feel excitingly crazy.

One of the designers says, acutely, ”I think you’ll agree the word ‘beautiful’ doesn’t cut it – the effect is so full of thought and expressive of so many stories, as well as being real nice to look at.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Long and short of it: Test focus to blame

CRICKET AUSTRALIA has acknowledged that its determination to regain Test supremacy might have affected its one-day results but refused to use this as excuse for the dismal performance in England.
Shanghai night field

The immediate consequences of Australia’s dreadful limited-overs tour of England will be known next week when selectors pick the one-day squad for a series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. The result suggests Australia have a mountain of work to do before the Ashes, especially on their batting, and heralded another injury crisis, with vice-captain Shane Watson, fast bowling sensation Pat Cummins and veteran paceman Brett Lee all breaking down with muscle injuries.

While George Bailey has made the most of his first two one-day series, the introduction of Peter Forrest, regarded as a potential Test batsman, and the return of Steve Smith have been less successful.

”There is a possibility, and there is a fine balance, that to try and deal with Test improvement there’s been a balance between ODI success and trying to develop players,” Howard said. ”Obviously that tour wasn’t acceptable and we’ve got to improve a lot in the next 12 months.

”We wanted people to develop and grow, and that takes time. There has been a methodology that the best players are the best players, and we’d get them in and expose them at different levels. We don’t make any excuses for our performances in England. We’re not going to throw out that it was a development tour. Four-nil wasn’t good enough.”

Watson’s calf injury is of particular concern given his importance as an all-rounder and his experience in the top order, with Australia’s batting looking distinctly vulnerable one year out from the Ashes, with tough series against South Africa and India to play before then.

”Mickey [Arthur] and myself and Shane have had conversations about when we can peak, when we can look after him, when does he get a break to try and rebuild himself. We’ve tried to map out the next 12 months with him,” Howard said. ”We’ve got a camp up in Darwin in the lead-up to the UAE tour, which he will be at. It’s not just Shane but all the guys who play three forms [of the game], and those conversations will be about getting them up for the big tours.

”Players can play all three forms. Whether or not they can play all games in all three forms is your challenge, particularly making sure the players have got enough load going up the levels in terms of the longer forms.”

There were no plans for Watson, who lost last summer to soft-tissue injuries, to give up bowling. ”When you look at his bowling, it has been such a positive for him,” Howard said.

Scans have suggested Lee’s calf injury is not as serious as first thought – he intends to be running again in 10 days – raising hopes that he will be fit for the World Twenty20 in September-October, which could be his international swansong.

”When we have more information the national selection panel can assess, can he get in a great position to keep playing? But he is a seasoned professional, he knows how to manage his body, and I’m sure he will be realistic,” Howard said.

Cummins, who has a side strain and was unveiled as a star recruit for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League yesterday, would be handled with care, Howard said. CA is working to ensure his workload is closely monitored whether.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.