Phoenix miss Paul’s legs for Olympic test

FULL OF RUNNING: Valentine’s Matt Paul competes for the ball with Jets Youth midfielder Jackson Frendo last week at Cahill Oval. Paul scored the only goal of the game. Picture: Marina Neil Valentine face a test of their progress at home against Hamilton Olympic on Saturday, and they will have to do it without key midfielder Matt Paul.
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The dynamic Paul scored the winner in last week’s 1-0 win over the Jets youth team, but he is competing in the Port Macquarie Ironman on Sunday, the day after his 26th birthday.

Coach Darren Sills, who recruited Paul from Adamstown midway through last season, said the midfielder would be a significant loss for his second-placed team.

“We’ve given him the weekend off. It means a lot to him to do these ironmans and triathlons. That was part of the deal. We knew early days he was going to do this,” Sills said.“He’s been super. He runs out a full 90 minutes, he’s incredibly fit and a very, very good footballer.”

Sills said he would move defender Alec Faulkner into midfieldand fellow American Jalon Brown wouldreturn from injury to start up front. Wilson Edwards will return at right back.

Valentine are chasing a fourth straight win, but Sills expected a tough outing against Olympic, who are two points back in third.

“It’s probably a good test of where we are. I watched Olympic a few weeks ago against Maitland, and they were pretty awesome. They could have been four or five up at half-time.

“We’re playing Edgeworth the following week. If we’re going to be any yardstick, we’ll see how we go against those two teams.”

Rhys Cooper (knee) and captain Kyle Hodges (toe) are still out for Olympic.

Elsewhere, eighth-placed Broadmeadow host Maitland at Magic Park on Sunday looking for their first win in five weeks after two losses, two draws and the bye.

Weston go looking for their first win when they host defending champions Edgeworth, who are slowly finding form and have seven points from their past three games.Eagles striker Daniel McBreen’s suspension is over, but he will miss them match due to Fox Sports commitments at the A-League grand final.

Also on Sunday, Charlestown host winless but improving Adamstownat Lisle Carr Oval, and Lake Macquarie entertain the bottom-placed Jets.


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Drayton highlights big questions on coal

FOR the past decade in particular, as the coal mining boom greatly expanded the number and size of open cut mines in the Hunter region, community and environment groups have asked a big question.
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What happens when the boom ends? Who is responsible for the legacy in the form of massive mine voids and rehabilitated land that the mining industry has made big promises about, but which have not been tested?

The boom has ended. Big mining companies are leaving or reducing their Hunter holdings, and the big question about what happens after the boom is suddenly with us.

Into that frame sits Anglo American’s Drayton mine at Muswellbrook, and the tortured history of attempts by Anglo over the past six years to have its Drayton South mine approved. Those attempts finally ended in February when a NSW Planning Assessment Commission panel issued a fourth refusal, primarily because of an expanded mine’s impact on Coolmore and Darley thoroughbred studs and the thoroughbred industry as a whole.

Confirmation on Friday that Anglo had sold its controlling interest in the Drayton site to Malabar Coal wasa surprise only in terms of timing, coming so quickly after the PAC decision. For a community divided by the “foals v coal” debatethe news of a new mining interest, and talk of a possible underground mine, brought back memories many had hoped could be put behind them.

Malabar is talking about jobs and getting on with its neighbours.

But a Valuer General’s land revaluation of the Drayton site at $1 is a reminder that there are significant legacies of coal mining, and the warnings by community and environment groups for all those years are more relevant now than ever before.

The NSW Government seems to be leaving the market to decide the Hunter region’s fate in a world where financial institutions are openly refusing to fund new coal projects, and climate change is a direct challenge to coal’s social licence.

Throughout the Drayton saga a broad cross-section of the Hunter –from farmers to the tourist industry, thoroughbred breeders to community and environment groups –have called on the NSW Government to take the lead on protecting and promoting the industries that will remain, after coal mining ends. Those calls are getting louder.

The question now is if anyone is listening.

Issue: 38,484.


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Xenophon and Wilkie take on case of Canberra problem gambler

Tasmanian anti-poker machine Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon have called on the Raiders club and a bank to pay back the money lost by Canberra professor Prof Laurie Brown, amounting to about $230,000 in two gambling sprees.
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“Regardless of any legal liability the bank or Raiders club might have, surely if they’re good corporate citizens they would understand that they have a clear moral responsibility to remedy the situation and to actually pay that money back to Laurie,” Mr Wilkie said on Friday.

Senator Xenophon said safeguards that were supposed to be in place at clubs had failed.

“What happened to Laurie can happen to anyone. The industry will try and portray it as people having a ‘character flaw or a weakness’ but in reality the real flaw here is in the design of the machines which are designed to addict, and it highlights the need for urgent reforms,” he said.

The Greens produced figures on Friday showing the ACT has the highest number of machines of any state or territory – with 16.2 machines for every 1000 adults, slightly higher than NSW at 15.8. Next is the Northern Territory, at 11.9 per 1000 adults. Victoria has 6.1 and Western Australia 1.1.

The Greens’ Shane Rattenbury will push next week for limits on eftpos in clubs, after it emerged that Prof Brown exploited the loophole to withdraw as much as $3900 in a night.

Mr Wilkie said Prof Brown’s story showed the addictive design of poker machines.

“This is a remarkable story, it’s simply unbelievable,” he said. “When Laurie first got in touch I didn’t doubt what she was telling me but I still struggled to believe it. Here’s a university professor, an incredibly learned person, and some people would assume the last person who would become a poker machine addict. And she fell as far and landed as hard as anyone . It just went to show how dangerous Australia’s high-intensity poker machines are and how intensely addictive they are.”

The ACT Racing and Gambling Commission is investigating, but the Raiders says it will not compensate Prof Brown for her losses.

Chief executive Simon Hawkins said Prof Brown showed none of the signs of problem gambling, despite her withdrawals of substantial sums to play the pokies for up to six hours at a time.

Prof Brown and her partner John Formby have a spreadsheet of transactions showing that on at least five occasions between July 2016 and January 2017, she withdrew more than $3300 a night from Raiders Belconnen’s eftpos and ATM machines.

On July 5 2016, she withdraw $3990 in eight transactions, including $680 from an ATM machine outside the club, and six eftpos transactions inside the club. Prof Brown insists staff knew she was taking out big sums, because even when she keyed in the amount herself, the machine noisily spat out numerous $20 bills in front of them.

She began the gambling bender in July 2015, initially spending about $250 a night, but escalating from September 2015 when she made her first eftpos withdrawal, of $700.

By February 2016, her withdrawals jumped dramatically again. On February 16, she withdrew $2260 in six transactions, two outside the club. From April, withdrawals in the thousands of dollars a night were the norm, until she was stopped in January 2017 when the bank alerted her partner.

The couple has given the spreadsheet to the Raiders, but Mr Hawkins said given it is the couple’s own compilation, it provides no proof the money was withdrawn at the club, nor that it was spent at the club. Even if that proof was provided, Mr Hawkins does not accept the club should have picked up on Prof Brown’s gambling problem simply by virtue of the amount of money and number of transactions.

A spokeswoman for Gaming Minister Gordon Ramsay said he met Prof Brown in March but could not comment on the case given the investigation. The government was looking for ways to reduce harm, including cutting machine numbers from 4985 to 4000.

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Why David Lynch will never make another movie

David Lynch might be revealing little about the imminent return of TV series Twin Peaks -“some things change, some things remain the same”- but he’s more forthcoming about the state of modern filmmaking. The Montana-born writer, director, producer, painter and composer has not made a film in more than a decade. Inland Empire, his 2006 release about an actress auditioning for a comeback role, contained many of the established motifs of his work, such as surreal visuals and dopplegangers. But it is, he says, likely to be his last.
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“Things changed a lot,” Lynch says. “So many films were not doing well at the box office even though they might have been great films and the things that were doing well at the box office weren’t the things that I would want to do.”

He is uncertain at first, but then appears to make up his mind: he has indeed made his last feature film. That’s a yes? “Yes it is,” he says.

Lynch’s stories have been described as a negative of the American landscape, where time flows more slowly and people meet (or sometimes become) their double; his darker portrayal of small-town America is not “truer” than the more upbeat version, he says, but it is true.

That landscape is dotted with small towns such as Lumberton, North Carolina, and Twin Peaks, Washington. The latter was the fictional setting for what many consider to be Lynch’s greatest work.

Airing from 1990 to 1991, Twin Peaks followed the investigation by FBI special agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) into the brutal murder of high school student Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee).

It was a stunning mixture of eccentric characters and long, sensual visuals, set to music that was alternately haunting and heartbreaking. Laura, the too-perfect-to-be-true homecoming queen, is found dead in the opening scene, “wraapped in plaastic,” as reported by fisherman and sawmill manager Pete Martell (Jack Nance).

As confounding as it was compelling, Twin Peaks drew almost universal acclaim – and some 34.6 million viewers – and permanently altered the nature of television storytelling.

Having been asked to consider creating a show in the style of small-town soap opera Peyton Place, what Lynch and his co-creator, Mark Frost, delivered was its antithesis, with Laura and bad girl Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) standing in for Peyton Place’s diametrically opposed teenagers Alison and Betty.

The series almost defied definition. It was a quirkily humorous mystery series that also contained elements of horror, such as the menacing Bob (Frank Silva) and the Black Lodge, an otherworldly place where one’s shadow self dwells.

“It is said if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage it will utterly annihilate your soul,” warns Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) in one scene; such Shakespearean observations were a hallmark of the show’s exquisite scripts.

Even now, Lynch is unwilling to box the series into a category. “The word genre is around and some films fall into those but I always say, in life there’s different genres going all the time, and cinema can do that too,” he says.

Though the bubble burst midway through its second season, the series was followed in 1992 by the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. When the show returns next month, it picks up the story in the present day.

The modern-day exhumation of Twin Peaks began when Lynch and Frost met for lunch at the iconic Hollywood restaurant Musso and Frank Grill in 2011.

“We sat and we talked and it did happen to be not quite 25 years later,” Lynch says. “We started talking and more things started coming out and then, at a certain point, enough came out that we started talking about doing it.”

Speculation about a new series began to emerge in 2013 and the series was formally announced in October 2014. Asked about whether he and Frost weighed up the pros and cons, Lynch smiles.

“There must not have been a lot of cons, because we did it,” he says. “The good things, the pros, were many. It’s the love of that world and the characters and the possibilities, it sucked us in.”

Perhaps the biggest albatross around the show’s neck was the revelation midway through the original series of the identity of Laura Palmer’s killer.

“Let’s say you have a goose and the goose lays golden eggs, it’s a beautiful thing,” says Lynch wryly. “The goose is laying these little golden eggs and pretty soon you’ve got a lot of golden eggs and someone comes along and says it’s time now to kill that goose. Not a good thing.”

The revelation was essentially a decision made by the network, ABC, which felt the question posed by the show’s extraordinarily successful marketing campaign demanded an answer. But Lynch concedes that he and Frost had a choice.

“You always have choice,” he says, an echo of regret in his words. “But I don’t know, there might have been a bunch of things going on. It just happened that we did that, but it’s OK.”

That mystery – who killed Laura Palmer? – seems now to be impossibly formulaic, though Lynch insists it was not.

“There are classes of screenwriting where they reduce things down to formulas but there are no rules, there shouldn’t be any rules,” he says.

“Ideas dictate everything and the ideas are like gifts,” he adds. “You follow the ideas and you don’t worry about a form, you don’t worry about rules and you try to stay true to those ideas. They tell you everything and that’s how it goes.”

In the absence of any plot revelations, much of the focus around the rebirth of Twin Peaks has been on the reassembly of the show’s extraordinary cast, including MacLachlan, Lee, Fenn, Madchen Amick (Shelly Johnson), Peggy Lipton (Norma Jennings) and James Marshall (James Hurley). They are joined by an impressive band of newcomers, including Naomi Watts, Jim Belushi, Laura Dern and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The new series also sees the return of the show’s less tangible elements: the acoustic signatures of composer Angelo Badalamenti and singer Julee Cruise and the spectacular setting of Twin Peaks itself, real world location: Snoqualmie and North Bend, in Washington, in America’s lush Pacific northwest.

“The mood and atmosphere … is important for every film and to make a world,” Lynch says.

“Angelo brings heart and you know, before Twin Peaks I worked with Angelo on an album with Julee Cruise,” he says. One of the tracks from the album, Falling, became the Twin Peaks theme.

“The combination of the three of us working together comes up with this kind of feel in the music. [It] is definitely a huge part of Twin Peaks,” Lynch says.

Brilliantly, for an era in which film and television marketing is driven by predigestion of character details and plot points, nothing has been revealed about the upcoming series.

At a programming showcase in Los Angeles in January, Lynch was almost comically brief when pressed for details. Speaking to Fairfax Media, he is equally to the point: “It’s 25 years later, some things change, some things remain the same.”

It raises an interesting question about the consumption of art, and whether the predigestion required by modern marketing is actually damaging.

“Completely ruins it,” Lynch says candidly. “People want to know up until the time they know, then they don’t care. So, speaking for myself, I don’t want to know anything before I see something. I want to experience it without any purification, pure; [I want to] go into a world and let it happen.”

So the last word, perhaps, should go to someone who has seen the new Twin Peaks, David Nevins, the chief executive of the cable channel Showtime, which commissioned the revival.

It is, Nevins says, a “pure, heroin version of David Lynch.”

The description makes Lynch smile. “I don’t know why he says that, but I will answer that by saying, well, that’s OK because heroin is a very popular drug these days.”

Twin Peaks premieres on Stan, May 22.

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