Chinese naval ships close to Australia? ‘Get used to it’, experts warn

Chinese warships have carried out naval drills in Australia’s maritime backyard for the third time in three years in a move that experts say strengthens the case for greater co-operation with Indonesia.

China’s state media have reported that two missile destroyers and a supply ship conducted combat exercises during a 25-day voyage that took them close to Australia’s Christmas Island.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy made major headlines in early 2014 when they carried out similar drills in the eastern Indian Ocean close to Australian territory for the first time. This was followed by anti-piracy exercises close to Christmas Island in May last year.

It is understood the Australia Defence Force monitored the latest Chinese activities and the ships’ passage between Indonesian Java and Christmas Island.

Experts said that Australia needed to get used to a greater Chinese naval presence in seas to its immediate north and west, which in turn would demand more maritime surveillance including in co-operation with Indonesia.

Rory Medcalf, head of the national security college at the Australian National University, said the latest drills showed that Beijing’s “maritime silk road” initiative of creating global sea corridors was “much more than an economic initiative” but also had a military dimension.

“It confirms that the Chinese navy is going to get into the habit of substantial deployments to the Indian Ocean on a regular basis and that the Chinese navy recognises the great strategic significance of the waters near the Sunda Strait and Australia’s Christmas Island,” Professor Medcalf said.

“This in turn confirms the need for Australia to deepen its investment in maritime surveillance close to our Indian Ocean territories.”

He said the fact that China had carried out the combat, counter-terrorism and anti-piracy drills on its own rather than in partnership with other countries in the region meant “it looks like China is choosing the unilateral path, which can only raise the security anxieties of others in the region”.

He added that the latest drills also showed “the importance of strengthening maritime co-operation with Indonesia so we can share an operating picture with them of what’s happening” – a view shared by other analysts.

Euan Graham of the Lowy Institute said Australia’s new acquisitions such as P-8 Poseidon aircraft and Triton drones would allow greater maritime monitoring. Meanwhile the PLA Navy was retiring small attack missile craft that are used in coastal waters and focussing on building larger ocean-going warships, which showed a growing ambition to operate in waters well beyond its near region.

Malcolm Davis of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said that China was “going to deploy naval force into our backyard on a more regular basis”.

“We can’t ignore that. We’re going to have to start responding to it, not in an aggressive way but definitely in maritime awareness. We want to keep track of what’s happening out there.”

The analysts all said that China’s greatest strategic interest in familiarising its navy with these waters is that in the event of a crisis or conflict its adversaries would likely blockade the Malacca Strait on which China depends for energy supplies.

The Sunda and Lombok straits are the natural alternative route if the Malacca Strait is impassable to Chinese vessels.

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Broncos-Cowboys poised to deliver yet again

Surely we are due for a complete fizzer. The clock has to be ticking on a top-shelf stinker, with dire completion rates, abysmal kicking, under-8s (in the wet) handling and the kind of defence more at home in Monday night D-grade touch.

If that fails, can’t we just get one that’s all but decided by half-time? At least journalists trying to churn out coherent copy amid frantic field goal attempts would be able to feel slightly better about their night’s work. Thoughts and prayers.

Maybe the Broncos and Cowboys will serve up a match on Friday night so dull that it will have fans flicking channels to see if there is a decent Hitler doco on SBS, or file out of Suncorp Stadium early to get a seat on the bus or beat the beer queue at the Caxton.

Or more likely, they’ll just put in another early entry for game of the season and have everyone asking, once again, why the electricity crackles from these teams whenever they collide on a football field these days.

Once again, the stage has been beautifully set. A crowd of 45,000-plus will be at Suncorp Stadium and both teams started their 2017 seasons with quality wins over decorated opponents. One beat the premiers, the other beat one of this year’s fancies; not a bad sort of warm-up for the main event.

The recent history is spellbinding. Their 2015 grand final needs little introduction and those suggesting it wasn’t the greatest decider the code has seen are drowning hopelessly in nostalgia.

Then, for good measure, Brisbane and North Queensland followed it up the next season with a pair of games that almost broke the rugby league internet all over again.

In round four, on a Friday night at Suncorp Stadium, Anthony Milford did the business in extra time for a 21-20 victory. In the return bout in Townsville months later, Johnathan Thurston delivered the winning blow in the 75th minute to guide his team to a 19-18 win in front of the far northern faithful.

It’s easy to forget that before an era when their games become instant cult classics, Brisbane and Townsville played out plenty of plain old footy matches, often unremarkable apart from the occasional Cowboy victory.

As it stands before Friday night, the tally sits with Brisbane leading 27-14-1 since 1998. And at the start of the 2015 season there was little to indicate this was to swiftly become one of the great modern rivalries in the sport.

On that occasion, with the Cowboys tipped as a premiership prospect, Brisbane invited them to their home deck and sent them home with their tail between their legs. It was an old-fashioned flogging, with the Broncos winning 44-22 in their biggest margin over the Cowboys since 2008.

Wayne Bennett had just arrived back at Red Hill and said after that match he wanted bigger, bolder, faster: “There was lot of things about our performance I didn’t like. That’s why I’m here – to get it better.”

Ironically, it was the Cowboys who improved just that bit more to beat the Broncos when it mattered the most. Now Bennett finds himself in the middle of a fixture that manages to consistently over-deliver on its promises.

“It’s a great rivalry. I think everyone is looking froward to the contest. The game looks forward to it because it’s always been entertaining and played with great spirit by both sides. You can’t want much more out of a football game,” Bennett said on Thursday.

“You can’t really predict what’s going to happen. You prepare like you always prepare. It will be quick. Everybody knows that. We’ll have to go to a different level.”

Bennett would tee off on the media regarding the treatment of Titan Jarryd Hayne but had every reason to be in a good mood on Cowboys eve. His team had beaten the premiers in week one, then re-signed two of its best players in week two.

Prop Josh McGuire will be sticking around until the end of 2021, while winger Corey Oates extended his contract to until the end of next season.

Benji Marshall will have to wait to make his Broncos debut, however, with the former Dragons and Tigers playmaker not making the cut despite being named in the initial 21-man squad.

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More to a school than the results

BATHURST’S school principals can agree on one thing – parents need to look beyond NAPLAN results when evaluating and choosing schools for their children.

Each year school NAPLAN results are released publicly on the My Schools website, and each year they attract a lot of debate.

NAPLAN tests five areas – reading, writing, spelling, grammar andpunctuation, and numeracy -with national testing undertaken for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

Results are then available to the public with each school compared to other from “statistically similar backgrounds”, and also to the average of all Australian schools.

With the release of the 2016 results this week, Holy Family Primary School principal Kevin Arrow said what was published in “the public space is a very small, minute part of the total report the schools get”.

He said while his schooluses the comprehensive report to plan future education strategies, parents need to look beyond what is on My Schools.

“The data wasn’t intended as a school by school comparison, it’s about data and evidence collection,” Mr Arrow said.

O’Connell Public School principal Trish Forsyth agrees and said: “I don’t think it gives a whole picture of the school because it only looks at a few areas.

“Creative and performing arts aren’t catered for.

“It’s really a single dimension of what our school is, and I’d encourage parents to visit the school that they are interested in.”

Bathurst High principal Ken Barwick described NAPLAN’s results on My School as just a “snapshot” in time.

“I’d call the schooland see what it’s doing in terms of literature and numeracy,” he said.

Mr Barwick said schools do strategically analyse the comprehensive NAPLAN report, but reminded parents it was just one of many tests that students undertake each year.

The Scots School headmaster David Gates said the My Schools website offered some useful information for parents, but did not tell the whole story.

“I’m sure some of our parents are accessing the website but the most important information is the information they receive directly from teachers through exams, reports and parent-teacher nights,” he said.

“We are not a big school so parents can access this information quite easily when they need to.”

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Walking with memories

REMEMBERING DAD: “People think only old people get Alzheimer’s. That’s not true,” Minchinbury resident Kate Scanlon. Picture: Isabella LettiniWhen Kate Scanlon’s father was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s three years ago, it rocked the family to its core.

“He was always healthy and active. We never saw it coming,” she said.

“The symptoms were vague at first. He stopped talking and the doctors thought he might have been depressed.”

Kate’s tale is a familiar onefor many family members of people who develop the memory-sapping disease.

She watched her father’s mental state rapidly deteriorate before hepassed away in March 2016 at the age of 67.

“His progression was so quick and unexpected.”

It’s too late to saveher father, but the Nepean Hospital nurse wants to do her part to raise awareness and help others.

The Minchinbury mum will take part in theAlzheimer’s Australia NSW Memory Walk andJog at Tench Reserve, Penrith on Sunday, March 12.

Participants can try the 7.5 kilometre or two kilometre circuits.

The event will raise much-needed funds for Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, which provides support, education and resources for people living with dementia, their carers, family and friends.

It’s hoped the event can raise $300,000 this year.

“People think only old people get Alzheimer’s. That’s not true,” she said.

“Because my dad did get such a late diagnosis we were on the back foot from the start.”

More than 350,000 people have dementia in Australia. That number is expected to pass 500,000 by 2030.

Symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s include memory loss, confusion about the time or place, difficulty carrying out familiar tasks, trouble with spacial awareness anddifficulty speaking or writing.

It can also affectbehaviour and personality, with some sufferers becoming uncharacteristicallyaggressive or suspicious towardloved ones.

Sadly, the disease is not curable but treatment can help.

“It’s important that people know what the symptoms are to give them the best chance of treatment,” Ms Scanlon said.

National Demential Hotline: 1800 100 500 or visit 苏州美甲美睫培训fightdementia.org419论坛

Fatal crash driver tells his story

Peter and Sandra BlackFATAL crash driver Peter Clout has told his trial he can’t explain why he did not see an oncoming motorcycleuntil moments before it slammed into his utility, killing a Cootamundra couple riding onthe bike.

The 61-year-old Coolac cattle farmer was turning right off Muttama Road into a travelling stock reserve with the aim of checking on his stock about 10.30am on January 25, 2015, when the motorbike coming from the opposite direction hit the side of his Nissan ute.

Motorcycle rider Peter Black, 52, and his 47-year-old wife Sandra died at the scene.

Clout has pleaded not guilty to two counts of dangerous driving occasioning death, with the prosecution alleging he was driving dangerously because he failed tokeepa proper lookout.

Clout went into the witness box on the fourth day of his trial in Wagga District Court.

“You can’t explain why you did not see this bike?” asked Crown Prosecutor, Michael McColm.

“No, I can’t,” Clout replied.

“Could it be you were looking at your property, looking at your stock as you were making that turn?” Mr McColm asked.

“No,” Clout said.

Clout told the court he put his right-hand indicator on as he slowed, but did not come to a stop before turning.

“Was it the case you were focusing on the gate at the time you put your right-hand indicator on?” Mr McColm asked.

“No,” Clout replied.

Clout became upset while telling the court there was no time to apply his brakes after seeing the motorcycle through the corner of his windscreen.

The court has heard the impact createda fireball.

Earlier, Clout’s defence counsel, Gabrielle Bashir, took Clout to his video-recorded police interview in which he said he had kept his eyes up the road to make sure there was no-one coming before he started turning and then focused on where he was headed.

Before Clout gave his evidence, the jury heard estimatesof the speed at which the motorcycle hit the utility varied by more than100 kilometres an hour.

A police collisionreconstruction expert, Gavin Lennon, told the jury he estimated the Suzuki Boulevard being ridden by Mr Black hit the ute at a maximum speed of 30km/h, having lost about 63km/h of speed while skidding before impact.

But an expert engaged by Clout’s lawyers estimated the bike’s speed at point ofimpact at 132km/h, and at 138km/h at the start of the skid in the 100km/h speed zone.

The Crown closed its case on Thursday afternoon.

Thetrial will continue on Friday with more evidence presented by the defence followed by closing addresses.

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