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Helani’s death ‘highlights need for more education’

Helani’s death ‘highlights need for more education’

When Helani Sirianni died shortly after her suction delivery birth at Wollongong Hospital, her parents vowed they would fight for answers.Yesterday, more than two years later, when the findings of an inquest into her death were handed down, Michael and Marlissa Sirianni made a special trip to their daughter's bright pink gravesite at Lakeside Cemetery, Kanahooka."We wanted to let her know that fight may not yet be over," an emotional Mrs Sirianni said last night."In my heart I know she would have survived if she had been given a chance," she added.Deputy Coroner Scott Mitchell found Helani died on February 10, 2008 from lack of oxygen to the brain following hypovolemic shock and multi-organ failure probably associated with vacuum extraction.Although her death exposed certain weaknesses in medical care she received at Wollongong Hospital, Mr Mitchell found no evidence any person was responsible."Sadly the full story of how Helani came to die so young will never be known and there are many questions which cannot be answered with any clarity," he said.He said cord blood may have assisted but it had been lost.The Siriannis pushed for the inquest, claiming their child had died through systematic failures at the hospital.The three-day hearing heard Mrs Sirianni had endured a long labour with slow progress and the baby in the wrong position.There was evidence from the Siriannis there were three requests for a caesarean but the obstetrics and gynaecological registrar on duty, Dr Monique Cebola, after consideration, decided a vaginal birth was achievable.When Dr Cebola decided a suction birth was necessary she said she warned the parents there would "be some risks", but Mr Sirianni in court strongly denied this was ever done.Dr Cebola checked the CTG foetal monitoring at 10.30pm on February 7, again at 1.30am on February 8 and found them "reassuring" but made no immediate decision for an assisted delivery and invited Mrs Sirianni to start pushing. When she returned at 2.30am she found there was no progression and signs of foetal distress on the CTG trace, which the court heard had become apparent as early as 1.50am.This was not communicated to Dr Cebola.Expert witness and consultant Dr John Schmidt told the inquest the dips were indicative of danger and foetal distress and he found them particularly alarming, Mr Mitchell said yesterday.Because Dr Cebola alone was authorised to make decisions regarding delivery and she was engaged elsewhere, she was unaware things had taken a turn for the worse."In Dr Schmidt's opinion, she should have been summoned," Mr Mitchell said.There was also evidence that paediatrician Dr Steve Hartman was called in at 3.30am when there were several attempts at inserting a cannula for fluid replacement, but when Helani began to stabilise he did not persist.He returned four hours later when Helani's condition deteriorated markedly.Despite the boggy swelling, a clinical indicator of a brain bleed, Dr Hartman initially missed the diagnosis, explaining to the court it was the first of this type he'd seen in 32 years.Mr Mitchell said Dr Hartman's difficulty in diagnosing Helani's condition underlined the need for education regarding brain bleeds.The court heard the only hope in these types of bleeds was if the body repaired itself."Had Dr Hartman recognised the bleeding when he first saw Helani at about 3.30am, then she could have enjoyed a longer period of circulation support and consequently a longer period during which the chances of spontaneous cessation might have been enhanced," Mr Mitchell said.Mr Mitchell made no adverse findings against Dr Cebola or Dr Hartman.He said the need for continuing education was amplified in expert evidence regarding the failure of nursing staff to properly read Helani's CTG trace, grasp its meaning and call for assistance.The court heard that since Helani's death the health service had tightened and improved its protocol and education in neonatal.Mr Mitchell described those improvements as "significant".Outside Glebe Coroner Court, the Siriannis said they were pleased with the changes."But unfortunately there was not enough evidence to find out if Helani may or may not have survived ... we don't believe she was given a proper chance for a better outcome and we are considering our options for further action," Mr Sirianni said.
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Injury won’t bench McLeod

Injury won’t bench McLeod

Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod is adamant his job with the Hawks won't be affected by a serious Achilles injury.McLeod ruptured the tendon during a game of squash on Tuesday night and will be on crutches for the next few months.But when the question was raised whether he'd take time off work, the 2009-10 NBL Coach of the Year left no doubt he would be back on the job within days. Full coverage of the Wollongong Hawks "It's not really going to matter because I only have to coach," McLeod said. "I don't have to do any running, so I'll pretty much be doing what I would normally do."The Hawks have started preseason training at the Snakepit and McLeod has trialled a few Australian-based American guards. But he isn't rushing to sign the club's second import and will continue to scour the United States in search of a starting playmaker."The guys that came in competed very well, but obviously we still have a list of guys overseas that we're interested in," he said."Finalising your roster is something you want to try and get done, but this time last year we were only just starting that process. We're further along the track with that this year and there's certainly no need to panic or rush things."While the Hawks effectively have just one vacancy for a US point guard, former Illawarra junior representative and Gold Coast Blaze shooting guard Tyson Demos has been training with Wollongong in recent weeks.The 22-year-old is without a club and McLeod is keen to add him if he can be fitted into the budget."Tyson started establishing himself with Gold Coast last season and you don't want to see a young player like that just kicked to the kerb," McLeod said."It'd be crazy not to try and look at how we might be able to get him involved. Hopefully we'll get some information back from the NBL on that and then we can consider ... Tyson's situation."The 2010-11 season tips off for the Hawks with an October 15 home game against Gold Coast.
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Let’s blow rivals’ minds: Saffy

Let’s blow rivals’ minds: Saffy

St George Illawarra prop Jarrod Saffy (second from left) shows some speed during a sprint at training in Wollongong yesterday. Picture: SYLVIA LIBERSt George Illawarra prop Jarrod Saffy believes landing psychological blows on their premiership rivals now will be the key to avoiding a repeat of last year's finals fade out.The Dragons play six teams that are well into the finals hunt before the play-offs start in September, beginning with the stuttering Gold Coast Titans at Kogarah on Friday.The squad and coaching staff have gone to extraordinary lengths to monitor workloads and training regimes to ensure the spectacular collapse in last year's title campaign doesn't recur. Full coverage of the Dragons Saffy claimed the Dragons were ready to lift a gear to maintain their momentum in the face of opponents scrambling to secure a finals position."I think it's important for the form of your team going into the finals, regardless (if) it's a top eight team or whoever you play," he said."You want to be playing well and doing the little things right, so when you come into the finals, you're winning games and doing those things correctly."I guess beating the top eight teams and getting in the finals knowing we beat them four weeks ago sits in the back of your mind."However, Saffy said losing to Parramatta in last year's qualifying final a week after beating them in round 26, remained a stern reminder about maintaining their intensity."We beat Parra and lost to them the next week, so we can't really take anything for granted," he said.This season is South African-born Saffy's last chance to win an NRL title before joining Super 15 rugby union franchise Melbourne Rebels.The Dragons welcomed back NSW State of Origin centre Matt Cooper, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, as well as Kiwi international second-rower Jeremy Smith after overcoming a calf problem.Smith has been named on an extended bench, with Mark Gasnier to come off the interchange again.Saffy said the hard-fought victory over South Sydney last Friday was a massive shot in the arm to kick-start their campaign towards a second successive minor premiership."It's great the belief," he said."Believing in your teammates and your team and what you're doing," he said."We sort of just stuck together and hung in there and it paid off in the end, no-one panicked."St George Illawarra tackle an eighth-placed Gold Coast without NSW star Greg Bird and Queensland lock Ashley Harrison at WIN Jubilee Oval.The Dragons then face Brisbane (seventh) at Suncorp Stadium, Manly (sixth) and Souths (ninth) at Kogarah and the Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the remaining rounds.Their other games are against the Raiders - still in the finals hunt - at Canberra Stadium and the struggling Newcastle Knights at EnergyAustralia Stadium.Saffy's front row teammate Matt Prior claimed the Dragons were preparing themselves to take on some desperate opposition trying to secure their finals positions in the coming rounds."Everyone is going to want to be playing their best football at this time of year to get into the semi-finals," he said."It's the most important part of the year."
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A sneak preview of a Keneally bloodbath

A sneak preview of a Keneally bloodbath

Picture: ANDREW MEARESThe swing of almost 7 per cent against Labor across NSW continues a voting trend likely to overwhelm the Keneally government at the election in March.While the Premier, Kristina Keneally, was clinging for comfort to narrow Labor victories in two central coast seats and in the southern seat of Eden-Monaro, the results across greater Sydney, the Hunter and the south coast hold grave implications for Labor-held state seats.Byelections since late 2008 have produced state swings of between 10 and 25 per cent.The loss in Macquarie - based in the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury - suggests defeat in the state electorate of the Blue Mountains. The big anti-Labor swings in Lindsay and Greenway bode ill for the state electorates of Mulgoa, Londonderry, Riverstone and even Toongabbie. Calls for Bitar's head after inept campaign Voters censure Labor's lack of principlesThe Gillard government's failure to win Hughes in the south-west, nominally Labor under new boundaries, is bad for Labor in at least three state seats - Menai, Heathcote and parts of East Hills.Another nominally Labor federal seat, Macarthur on Sydney's south-west fringe, fell easily to the Liberals, putting on notice the state Labor MPs for Wollondilly and Camden.A third federal seat that had been redistributed in Labor's favour - Gilmore on the south coast - went comfortably Liberal, in a sign of likely defeat for the Keneally government in the electorate of Kiama.In the federal seat of Reid, in the inner-west, the Labor MP John Murphy, long considered an ideal parish-pump MP, suffered an 8 per cent swing, which should terrify the state Labor member for Drummoyne, Angela D'Amore.The Keneally government's prospect of holding the state seat of Coogee in Sydney's east also weakened, given the 10 per cent swing to the Liberals' Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth and the 8 per cent swing from Labor's Peter Garrett in Kingsford-Smith. Coogee straddles the boundaries of Wentworth and Kingsford-Smith, and the Greens also polled strongly in both federal electorates.The huge Greens vote of 25 per cent-plus in the federal seat of Grayndler almost guarantees they will take the state electorate of Marrickville in March. Neighbouring Barton delivered an 8 per cent swing to the Liberals - a worrying portent for state Labor in the seats of Rockdale and, possibly, Kogarah.In regional NSW, the 8 per cent swing to the Nationals in Calare and the 5 per cent swing to the Liberals in Patterson - which Labor had targeted as a possible pick-up - will be gloomy results for the Keneally government as it fights to retain Bathurst and Maitland.While the Labor machine argues the Keneally government could withstand a uniform 7 per cent swing, the ABC election analyst, Antony Green, told the Herald: ''State Labor was not on the ballot at this election. The Keneally government should not be thinking about 7 per cent but about the 25 swing against it at the recent Penrith byelection.''
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DRAGONS BLOG: Why I hate the Raiders

DRAGONS BLOG: Why I hate the Raiders

Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme. I mean, I can’t totally hate the place – my wife came from the city. And the in-laws still live there.It’s probably more accurate to say I hate part of the city. The part that wears awful lime green jerseys and hangs around in the vicinity of Bruce Stadium.I hate them because we’ve only beaten them once in roughly 712 games. I hate them because we haven’t won in Canberra since dinosaurs roamed the earth. I hate them because, even when their season is over or they’ve exhibited very ordinary form and it seems like a win over them should be the easiest thing in the world, it turns out to be anything but.Yesterday afternoon was supposed to be different. Yesterday afternoon was supposed to be the time we ended the hoodoo. We were in the ascendency on the back of two very good games while the Raiders were supposed to be feeling the pressure of having to beat the Dragons to keep their finals hopes alive.And, of course, we were supposed to inflict an enormous defeat that would see the Raiders fans leaving at half-time. Okay, to be honest, I’d have been happy if we only inflicted a small defeat. Even by a field goal in golden point. And I hate golden point. But I hate the Raiders more.All that was supposed to happen. In fact, I was so sure of things that I was really excited about watching the game. That lasted for half the game, where while we could only score a single try, we denied the Raiders 74 of them (yes, that’s correct. I counted each one). But then the second half came along and a different Dragons team came out.Actually, I reckon if you made the teams swap jerseys for the second half, their performances would fit what everyone expects of both teams. Everyone expects the Dragons to dominate the completion rate, starve the opposition of good field position and run in some tries. And everyone (except those who live in Canberra) expect the Raiders to perhaps score a try or two in the back 40 but generally get overwhelmed and lose.Yet the two sides reversed their roles in the second 40 – the Raiders came out ready to smash and score while our players seemed to have the hoodoo in our heads more than they might admit. And we got beaten by a scoreline I decline to mention here (but I think it was the most amount of points we’ve had scored on us this season. Which would be one more reason to hate the Raiders).While I am certainly incredibly irritated at the loss, it’s not the end of the world. Coming into the last three rounds, I would have loved to win them all but would settle for two out of three.And it’d also be nice if the Raiders didn’t make the semis. Because, if they do they’ll most likely finish in eighth spot and, with us most likely in first, that means we’d play them in the first week of the finals.And we all know how the Dragons go against Canberra.
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Rivals try to poach top Stingrays

Rivals try to poach top Stingrays

Grand final goal-scorer Ash Connor, plus Trudy Camilleri and Sam Muscat could be lost to the Stingrays in 2011 after rivals Marconi dangled cash in front of the trio before yesterday's decider.Coach Brett Wallin made the startling revelation just moments after Illawarra completed back-to-back doubles by defeating Inter Lions at Balls Paddock.Wallin, who has been with the Stingrays since their formation in 2006, is confident the lure of more silverware, rather than money, will keep the influential threesome in Wollongong. Stingrays celebrate grand final victory"A few of them have received money offers to go elsewhere," he said."I'm pretty angry about the timing, but if they can get money elsewhere that they can't here they're going to go with my blessing."This team doesn't want to split up. They love each other and work for each other. I think we have a very good chance to keep them."Players were offered cash to go elsewhere this year and they didn't go."Wallin declared his side could complete a hat-trick of top-flight titles next season if its core remains intact."If we stay together as a group I can't see any reason why we can't keep going," he said."We proved that this year when we lost some quality players and didn't miss a beat."Wallin pin-pointed hard work - not loot - as the reason why Illawarra could call themselves the best side he has seen at this level."That's a good call; it's the best team I've seen since I've been in the comp and that's seven years," he said."I don't know if we want that tag yet, but we're right up there as a great side."We're a good team on the training paddock as well."I've played in semi-pro teams and even the men didn't do that. They're unbelievable."We're where we are because we are the hardest working side."Although Illawarra had to battle hard for their third consecutive grand final victory - including the 2008 Super League triumph - Wallin believed the title was never in danger."It was unreal, the result could have come a bit earlier, their goalkeeper did very well in the first half," he said."We controlled the game and picked up where we left off in the major semi against Manly."They only had a couple of chances on the break - our two best performances of the year came at the right end."
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Wayne Bennett’s take on latest Raiders loss

Wayne Bennett’s take on latest Raiders loss

Danielle Vidot gets a late ball away. David Shillington comes under pressure from the Dragons. Pictures: KARLEEN MINNEY
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Coach Wayne Bennett has promised there will be no psychological fallout from another loss by St George Illawarra to Canberra in the national capital yesterday.Stretching their Canberra Stadium winning streak over the Dragons to 10 years and eight consecutive wins, the Raiders piled on six second-half tries in an emphatic 32-16 victory.Last year the Green Machine were full of grit and barge in a strong-arm performance that derailed the Dragons' premiership campaign. Full coverage of the Dragons Yesterday, it was an effort full of breathtaking skill that delivered four tries in eight minutes to deny the competition leaders victory and stop them from securing the minor premiership, at least for now.But Bennett dismissed comparisons to last year's devastating loss, declaring the Dragons had suffered an intensity let-down on the back of rugged recent victories over Manly and the Roosters."I expected a flat spot," Bennett said."You can't go and play Manly last week and the Roosters the week before [without one]."And [we had] the Broncos the week before that up in Brisbane, the list just goes on for us in the last five weeks."We've been on our game and we've been trying extremely hard."We were a bit off the pace here today and we hung in good and we were gutsy to half-time, but they played just about the perfect second half."Canberra trailed 4-0 at the break, only because of some desperate Dragons defence which denied them on several occasions, but winger Daniel Vidot put the Raiders on the board when he scored in the corner on 49 minutes.It signalled the start of a Raiders onslaught which saw them score four tries in eight minutes, including breathtaking runaway efforts from fullback Josh Dugan and second-rower Joe Picker.The floodgates had suddenly opened, after the Raiders went to half-time wondering how they were going to break them.St George Illawarra produced a mini-revival when Mark Gasnier (70th minute) and Neville Costigan (72nd) crossed to close the gap from 22 points to 26-16.But replacement hooker Glen Buttriss darted over with three minutes left to seal victory for Canberra.The heat remains on the Dragons in the minor premiership race with two rounds remaining, after Wests Tigers hung on to beat Parramatta yesterday at Parramatta Stadium.And the Gold Coast have the chance to join the Tigers on 32 competition points, two behind the Dragons, if they beat the Roosters in Sydney tonight.Bennett said St George Illawarra's focus would be on regrouping for Saturday night's showdown with Newcastle and not capturing the JJ Giltinan Shield for a second successive year."It would be nice [the minor premiership], but we're in a great position," he said."We've just got to go home and get ourselves refocused a little bit and recognise the things that work for us."And not the things that make us look like any other team and that's what we were in the second half today, just another footy team," he admitted.

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Albion Park campaign to win Miss World crown

Albion Park campaign to win Miss World crown

Miss World Australia Ashleigh Francis at Tecnica salon in Albion Park with Felice Colarusso. Pictures: SYLVIA LIBER Ashleigh Francis shows the style that won her the Miss World Australia title.
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Is Ashleigh Francis, 23, the young woman who can bring the Miss World crown back to Australia for the first time since Belinda Green won in 1972?Albion Park hair and beauty salon owner and national Miss World Australia judge Felice Colarusso thinks she has a great chance.In fact, Mr Colarusso and hairdresser Zarrette Sheil are keen to help Ms Francis prepare in any way they can to be the first Australian in 38 years to win the international title.They talked her into choosing Albion Park for her first public appearance since she was named Miss World Australia, on August 3.It didn't take too much to convince the former McDonalds' College of the Performing Arts student and budding fashion designer to visit the Illawarra.Ms Francis lives at Rushcutters Bay with her Jamaican father and Scottish mother, but once lived in the Macarthur region and spent many a summer's day visiting Bulli."I used to go to Bulli for the dogs and I would sit under those big palm trees and get fish and chips across the road," she said."Bulli was awesome."Ms Francis' visit to Albion Park on Saturday was an important part of her preparation for the Miss World judging in China in just over a month, where she will contest the title with 119 other young women from around the globe.The contestants won't have hairdressers or beauticians on hand during their four weeks in China, so Ms Francis was invited to the Tecnica salon for tips and advice on how to manage it all herself.She said she was also using her contact with Mr Colarusso, who has also judged in Italy, to help get herself mentally ready for the month away from home."It will be very intense but I am up for the challenge," she said."We will be constantly watched. It is very exciting."The pressure to go there and do your best is a challenge in its own right and that is what I have promised myself and Australia that I will go and do."It is 38 years since Australia has won the title ... I believe it is our time."

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THROSBY: ALP’s Stephen Jones wins

THROSBY: ALP’s Stephen Jones wins

Throsby candidates: Stephen Jones for the ALP and Juliet Arkwright for the Liberal Party Newly-elected ALP MP Stephen Jones with his wife Julia Quilter celebrate at the Illawarra Yacht Club. Picture: ROBERT PEET
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Union official Stephen Jones will be among the new chums in Federal Parliament after winning the seat of Throsby tonight for Labor.Mr Jones is at the Lake Illawarra Yacht Club where he has just declared victory. PHOTO GALLERY: The Illawarra decidesWhile admitting there was a degree of arrogance in declaring before 50 per cent of the vote had been counted, Mr Jones said he had elected to put wind-wearied volunteers out of their misery. Addressing a crowd of around 100 ALP volunteers and devotees at the Illawarra Yacht Club tonight, Mr Jones praised retiring member Jennie George for passing on such a solid foundation. ‘‘As I’ve gone out around the place I’ll tell you its been a lot easier for me to say I’m Stephen Jones and I represent the Labor Party when you’re immediate predecessor has been Jennie George,’’ he said. ‘‘She has done such a fantastic job, been a fantastic community representative, a great advocate for Labor and Labor values.’’With over 70 per cent of the vote counted at 9pm, Mr Jones triumphed with 51 per cent of first preferences.Liberal candidate Juliet Arkwright took a notable 30 per cent of first preferences while Peter Moran of the Greens claimed close to 12 per cent.On a two-party preferred basis, Labor has taken 67 per cent of the vote with the Liberal Party taking 33 per cent.Mr Jones replaces the retiring Jennie George, a former president of the ACTU.Throsby lost some working class areas to the seat of Gilmore in a redistribution. COMMENT: NSW voters punish LaborTHROSBY: THE STATSUpdated: 10pmCounted: 54 of 54 booths (83.5% of votes)Primary votes:ALP 51.15%Libs 29.85%Greens 11.75%Nationals 5.42%Two-party preferred:ALP 60.85%Libs 39.15%

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GILMORE: Gash expected tighter race

GILMORE: Gash expected tighter race

Gilmore candidates: The ALP's Neil Reilly and the Liberal's Joanna Gash Newlyweds Natalie Potter and Matthew Lightfoot arrive at Gerringong Public School to cast their vote. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
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Victory: re-elected Liberal MP Joanna Gash. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Sitting Liberal member Joanna Gash has defied her critics to win the marginal seat of Gilmore for a sixth term.She overcame the addition to her seat of Labor heartland around Shellharbour to record a convincing win over ALP rival Neil Reilly. PHOTO GALLERY: The Illawarra decidesAbout 8.15 tonight, Mrs Gash took to the stage at the Nowra School of Arts, declaring to more than 200 party faithful she was ‘‘delighted to be back’’. After spending the day handing out how-to-vote cards at every polling booth in her new areas in the north of the electorate, she arrived to a rousing reception at the Liberal Party function. A tally board in the hall showed she was the clear leader in almost all polling booths across the South Coast seat with the exception of a handful of booths, including at Flinders, Warilla and Shellharbour. She paid tribute to her campaign staff and family and said she thought the race would be closer. ‘‘We have made a dent in the Labor voting pattern up north (of Gilmore). That was something I really wanted to prove could be done. We didn’t win it in a lot of booths but we certainly gave it a good shake.’’At 9pm, with 75 per cent of votes counted, first preferences were: Liberals (Joanna Gash) 50 per cent; ALP (Neil Reilly) 36 per cent; Greens (Ben van der Wijngaart) 9 per cent. This would mean Mrs Gash would win on first preferences. On a two-party preferred basis, Mrs Gash would lead 54-46 per cent over Mr Reilly. COMMENT: NSW voters punish LaborWhile Mrs Gash has held the seat since 1996, this election it was notionally regarded a Labor seat (0.4 per cent) because of a redistribution.Gilmore stretches from Bawley Point in the south, up through Burrill Lake, Milton, Ulladulla and into Nowra. Further north Gilmore takes in Gerringong and Kiama. Since the redistribution it includes Shellharbour, Shell Cove, Barrack Heights, Warilla and a small part of Albion Park Rail. These were thought to greatly favour the ALP, but Mrs Gash seems to have made good inroads into this heartland.Labor candidate Neil Reilly declined to concede defeat despite Mrs Gash’s declaration of victory.‘‘You always wait until 100 per cent of the vote is counted,’’ he said.‘‘It’s like giving away your HSC with one exam remaining.‘‘It was an extraordinarily intense campaign with little time to prepare.’’He said the six per cent swing against Labor was not due to the change of ALP candidates in the seat.David Boyle, a high profile former rugby league player, was initially parachuted into the candidacy but withdrew in June after an outcry from furious rank-and-file members.‘‘David Boyle only affected one seat and when you look at that kind of swing right across the state I don’t think what happened was that influential,’’ Mr Reilly said.GILMORE: VOTING STATSUpdated: 10pmCounted: 61 of 62 booths (77% of votes)Primary votes:Libs 50.22%ALP 35.92%Greens 9.48%Two-party preferred:Libs 55.31%ALP 44.69%

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DRAGONS BLOG: Round 24 footy tips

DRAGONS BLOG: Round 24 footy tips

So here’s why the Dragons need to win at Canberra. Because it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing that we haven’t won there in forever. Okay since 2000, but still that feels like forever.It’s embarrassing to support a team that is usually in finals contention each year but who can’t beat a team that saves its best form until the moment the finals are out of the question (come on, Raiders fans, that must annoy you. That they can play like kings once the pressure’s off and they’re no chance of making the finals. That would annoy the hell out of me.Look, Big League this week says “since 2001, the Green Machine has made mince meat out of the Dragons”. Rugby League Week says “It’s 3716 days since the Dragons last won in Canberra”. And the Sydney Morning Herald says “when it comes to playing in Canberra, the Dragon suck big-time. Black holes wish they could suck that hard”.Okay, so I made that last one up but, if they did really say that, no-one would bat an eyelid, because it’s true. I’ve been there to see a few of those losses in person and few things are less enjoyable that sitting in an arctic-cold stadium after your team has lost to a side that should, realistically, have been little more than a speed bump.Well, I reckon this weekend is when the Dragons break their nine-year, seven-match losing streak. Why? Well, firstly, the game is being played in the afternoon rather than the night-time, when it’s much colder and when most of the Dragons’ Canberra losses have happened. So the Raiders won’t have the weather on their side.They also won’t have the throw caution to the wind “we’re not in the finals” attitude. Instead, they’ll be feeling a bit of pressure because the Raiders are still in the finals race and need to win every game to make the top eight. That creates a new wrinkle for them – they’re not just playing for pride this weekend. The result actually means something.Also after a small slump, the Dragons form has been on a steep climb the last two weeks – compared to late last year where we met them when the death wobbles had already kicked in.So it’s a new and better Dragons outfit going down to Canberra to face a worried and under pressure Raiders side. Dragons to win. The other games: Broncos, Bunnies, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Storm, Tigers, TitansSeason so far: 100 points
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Roosters’ James Aubusson could join Dragons

Roosters’ James Aubusson could join Dragons

Sydney Roosters hooker James Aubusson could be bound for the St George Illawarra Dragons next year.The Mercury understands Aubusson and his manager David Riolo have met Dragons officials about a possible move south for the 2011 NRL season.Aubusson, 23, is off contract at the end of this season and is keen on a shift to Wollongong. Full coverage of the Dragons With veteran rake Luke Priddis set to hang up his boots at the end of the year, the Dragons are interested in luring Aubusson to the club to fill the void.Aubusson, who has missed most of 2010 with an ankle injury, has attracted interest from several clubs, according to Riolo.When contacted by the Mercury yesterday, Riolo was reticent to comment on the situation."I don't like to get involved with player announcements," he said. "That's up to the clubs."Aubusson, a lively dummy-half who made his debut for the Melbourne Storm in 2007, is in the final year of a three-year contract with the Roosters.His brother Mitchell recently re-signed with the tri-colours, but James is unlikely to remain a Rooster beyond the end of the season.Nathan Fien still has another two years left on his contract and is the obvious first-choice No 9 selection for 2011, but Aubusson is no stranger to coming off the bench.In his 55 first-grade appearances, the former Australian Schoolboy has started on the pine 40 times, coming on as an impact player.Mark Gasnier's return has left the Dragons short on salary cap funds, forcing the likes of Jeremy Smith and Neville Costigan to move to rival clubs.But the release of those players not only frees up enough money to pay for Gasnier but would also cover Aubusson's pending move.Jon Green, who was one of Wayne Bennett's most consistent forwards during the representative period, is expected to become the latest victim of the squeeze.The Melbourne Storm will be desperate to attract several bargain buys ahead of 2011, and Green is one of the players on the club's radar.Despite being keen to remain a Dragon, a less than substantial offer from the red and whites has left the prop with an important decision to make in the coming weeks.His manager Gavin Orr said the Dragons weren't able to budge on their original offer."The Dragons are in a situation where they can't make any real offers to him because of the salary cap," Orr said."We've spoken to Craig Bellamy and the Storm are interested but in the end it is up to Jon and what he wants."
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Rico the missing monkey is alive: psychic

Rico the missing monkey is alive: psychic

Psychic Lynn Overhill with Rico's family at Symbio. Ms Overhill said Toro, Bella and Mitu told her their brother would soon return. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO Rico was stolen in May.
Nanjing Night Net

The good news from animal communicator Lynn Overhill is that Rico the missing cotton-top tamarin is alive. The bad news is he's still lost - and iron deficient.The psychic Mrs Overhill visited Symbio Wildlife Park this week and telepathically communicated with Rico's family of tamarins. The result was a message of hope: don't give up on a Rico reunion.Mrs Overhill is in Wollongong for this weekend's Spiritual Festival at the Master Builders Club and the Mercury arranged for her to visit Symbio in an attempt to get to the bottom of the monkey mystery.She says Bella, Mitu and Toro told her they missed Rico, but believed he would return soon.Mrs Overhill sensed that Rico is being taken care of by someone who fell in love with him when he was stolen, but he will be returned when the time comes for veterinary care - which could be soon if he is not being fed the correct diet.Apparently, those who have him are only feeding Rico grapes and other fruit, depriving him of the protein and iron-rich worms and bugs that are a vital part of his diet.But the big question remains unanswered: where is Rico? Mrs Overhill said she could not get a read on that from his relatives.The monkeys did, however, say they were happy with their habitat at Symbio and how much they were loved.The four pygmy marmosets that were also stolen were apparently too shy to communicate with Mrs Overhill. Park owner John Radnidge said it sounded like Rico would be able to reassimilate , though it could be difficult after such a long absence.Mrs Overhill claims to have had psychic communication with animals for 18 years and said "anyone can do it, you just have to clear your mind and heighten your senses through something like meditation".She will be appearing at the Spiritual Festival, alongside psychic Amanda Roussety and alchemy specialist Michael Lamb.Mr Lamb will conduct an interactive seminar based on his 23 years' experience of spirituality, astrology and science."I'm passionate about unifying people ... so it's all about universal love and understanding," Mr Lamb said.He is also an ancient mythology enthusiast researching folklore and legendary creatures. The festival runs from 10am-7pm today and 10am-4pm tomorrow.

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