“There are moments in your life that you wish you could go back and change”: Former Knox Grammar teacher and current Kings headmaster Tim Hawkes. Photo: Daniel MunozThe faces of Knox’s dark eraWilkinson ‘appalled’ by ribbon removalBoys ‘cheered’ while girl ‘assaulted”Gobsmacked’ paedophiles still there
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King’s headmaster Tim Hawkes has apologised to his school community and admitted he was stupidly insensitive to say he had “no regrets” about his actions almost 30 years ago at Knox Grammar, where he failed to report the sexual abuse of a young boarder.

“There are moments in your life that you wish you could go back and change,”  Dr Hawkes wrote in a letter to King’s School parents on Tuesday. “There are moments when you cannot believe your stupidity. There are moments when you want to run away.

“I was met with such a moment last week when being pounced on by the media when leaving the Royal Commission looking into the Knox case. How on earth can you disentangle the appalling impression given that, ‘I had no regrets’ in relation to a Knox matter some 27 years ago.

“Regrets! I have thousands.”

Dr Hawkes had given evidence to the royal commission into child abuse that, while he was a housemaster at Knox, he was unaware of the mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse introduced in 1988, soon before a 14-year-old boy was groped by a man who had hid under his bed, wearing a balaclava and an old Knox Grammar tracksuit.

Nor did Dr Hawkes confront two teachers who had been possible suspects, Chris Fotis and Damian Vance, but he believed he had done his duty by reporting the attack to then Knox headmaster Ian Paterson. Nobody reported it to authorities.

In his letter to his school community, Dr Hawkes said: “My heart breaks for the boys whose trust in some Knox staff was betrayed. I, along with much of Australia, have been appalled at the revelations coming out of the Royal Commission. Regrets? None of it should ever have happened.

“I can make no excuses for my comment. I was tired after three hours in the witness box. I was alarmed – even frightened by being ambushed by the media scrum, and greatly angered by the hostility of their questions.

“I should have said absolutely nothing. What I tried to say was that I had no sense of not having done the right thing by reporting the matter to the headmaster at the time. However – it did not come out that way, and people, quite rightly, were appalled at the apparent heartlessness of my comment.

“The media have offered to re-interview me. That is kind, but it will come across as a revisionist attempt by me to make me look good – and that thought appals me.

“Regrets? Absolutely! Regrets for an insensitive remark – yes  – but even more so, for the things that happened at Knox. There needs to be justice given, care provided and lessons learnt – not least, by me.”

Mr Fotis remains at large after a warrant for his arrest was issued last Wednesday, following his failure to appear before the royal commission the previous day.

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Forget the pictures you’ve seen in adult films and the “lifelike” drawings scrawled on public bathrooms, there is now a scientific guide for the average penis size – and hopefully it will put some men at ease.
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British researchers have pooled the measurements of more than 15,000 men’s penises to more closely determine what constitutes “normal-sized” anatomy.

They found the average penis is 13.12 centimetres when erect and 9.31 centimetres when flaccid.

The team, led by psychiatrist David Veale, created graphs of both length and girth, finding the vast majority of men range between 11 and 15 centimetre in length and between 10 and 13 centimetres in circumference when erect.

“We believe these graphs will help doctors reassure the large majority of men that the size of their penis is in the normal range,” said Dr Veale, a specialist in body dysmorphic disorders at King’s College London Medical School.

Only 2.28 per cent of the population have an abnormally small penis.

A distribution of penis length among 15,000 men.

The researchers didn’t measure 15,000 men themselves – they combined the measurements of 20 other studies, from a variety of countries, into a meta-analysis.

The report dispelled several myths about penis size being related to a man’s shoe size or index finger. While urban legend says men of African descent tend to be well-endowed, the report found there was insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions about differences in the penis size of different races.

The question of size is one most men consider at some point in their life. One study included in the analysis reported that 55 percent of men were not satisfied with their size.

“This is a centuries-old issue,” Dr Veale told Fairfax Media. “It may have gotten worse as men may compare against models in porn films over the internet.”

But the same study found only 15 percent of women took issue with their partner’s anatomy.

“Girth is usually more important than length – and technique is more important,” said Dr Veale.

The team said the size scale may offer comfort to men who are overly concerned by the size, a condition known as “small penis anxiety”.

Dr Veale said about 10 percent of males, mostly young men, may have the condition. An even smaller proportion suffer body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), where they are preoccupied with the size of their penis and find it shameful.

A distribution of penis girth among 15,000 men.

“We will also use the graphs to examine the discrepancy between what a man believes to be their position on the graph and their actual position, or what they think they should be,” said Dr Veale, whose analysis has been published in the scientific journal BJU International.

One bone of contention is that only a few studies collected measurements while men had an erect penis; most studies had men stretch their flaccid penis to infer its erect size.

Dr Shomik Sengupta, from the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand, said for those men who fixate on the issue of size, these comparisons may not reduce their anxiety.

But he said treatments for penile enlargements, while widely advertised, were often not effective and potentially dangerous.

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Former England superstar and Chelsea legend Frank Lampard was never a likely option for Melbourne City, Brian Marwood, the football administration officer for the club’s Abu Dhabi-controlled owner, City Football Group, has revealed.
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And while Marwood stopped short of agreeing that the David Villa signing – where the Spanish World Cup winner played only four games for City – was a “disaster”, he admitted that both the Melbourne club and the CFG had learnt plenty of lessons from an experiment that left a sour taste in the mouths of many City fans, especially those who had swelled the club’s membership in the expectation that Villa would play 10 games for the Melbourne team.

Results in the first half of the season, when City struggled badly for form, were unacceptable, Marwood said. But coach John van ‘t Schip’s job was not dependent on making the finals.

“We will assess it in the summer. We will take a view. We are happy with JVS and the group. We have a lot of faith in the staff. And when you are on the inside you know what they have to work with in terms of the dynamics of certain aspects,” said Marwood, an English League winner with Arsenal in his playing days.

Nevertheless the Manchester-based executive believes that Melbourne City’s first year under CFG’s control has been, with some exceptions, more successful than not as the UAE-based owners seek to bed the Melbourne franchise into a group in which EPL champion Manchester City is the jewel in the crown and New York City is the bold new frontier.

“In some areas, yes (it’s gone the way CFG hoped), in other areas, probably no,” Marwood said. Referring to the club’s newly opened training centre at Latrobe University, he said: “The yes bit is if you look at where we are sitting today, it’s much different to the Epping experience that I walked into.” Back then, City used to train at a suburban ground, often using wheelies bins full of ice as cooling baths.

“Some of the big highlights for me have been the emergence of the young players. Ben Garuccio, Jacob Melling and Connor Chapman are three players who have found their feet this year. They look extremely promising for the future of the club.

“I was really pleased by the fact that the youth team won their league. That was a great achievement. We have got some interesting emerging talent. The plans we have, the academy, the first team, we have an interesting summer coming up. We have a number of players who are out of contract.

“In a salary-capped league it was frustrating for me that people seemed to miss the point when they saw the City group taking over Melbourne City. They just expected us to throw a lot of money at the team. You can’t do that … it’s not the world we live in.

“It wasn’t like Man City six years ago, where we could take a team that was a potential relegation Premier League team to one that was going to compete for the championship.

“I think there’s been more pluses than minuses. The minuses have certainly been the amount of injuries we have had this year. A lot of them have been impact injuries rather than soft-tissue injuries.”

While City will still consider sending big-name players who are probably in their twilight years to Melbourne, it seems more likely that they will send younger players from the under-21 squad over for training or to play a season if they fit into the team dynamic. Currently a youngster from Manchester City’s under 21s, James Horsfield, is training with van ‘t Schip’s team to gain experience and develop his football.

“The Villa experience taught us a lot of things. Was it the right thing, the wrong thing … in certain times you have to test it and see whether it works or not.

“Frank [Lampard] had struck an agreement last summer to go to New York. The team were not going to start playing until March (when the MLS kicks off). He needed to keep himself fit in that period between August and March.

“We talked about the potential of Melbourne and the situation with Manuel (Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini) came up, and Manuel felt that Frank could add something to the City squad. It never got past the concept idea of talking within the group. When Manuel felt he could contribute and Frank realised that was the case, everybody felt that it was probably the best [for him to stay in Manchester],” said Marwood.

He readily admits that the Melbourne club did not make the most of the opportunities that it was presented with at the start of the season.

“Certainly the results in the first half of the season were poor, not acceptable,” Marwood said. “We didn’t capture the momentum earlier in the season when membership went to 10,000. We had nearly 16,000 to David’s first game. But because the results weren’t there … people used to say at first that it was always same old City in Manchester and I heard it here too, that Melbourne City will take you to the point, then disappoint you. But hopefully symbols like the new training ground will show that we are here for the long term.”

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Michael Patrick Malady, 41, of Hoki Street, Warrnambool, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to causing criminal damage and unlawful assault. AN angry offender who smashed a window of his partner’s car and bashed her daughter during an alcohol-fuelled mid-morning argument has been placed on a community corrections order.
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Michael Patrick Malady, 41, of Hoki Street, Warrnambool, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to causing criminal damage and unlawful assault.

He was placed on a 12-month community corrections order which involves assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for alcohol, drugs and mental health issues.

Police said Malady and his partner had been together for three years and on the morning of September 18 were drinking with her mother and daughter.

At 11.40am they argued and Malady demanded his partner leave the home. He threw her clothes out a window, called her names and kicked and smashed a window of her car.

The woman left to seek alternate accommodation but returned to check on the welfare of her mother and daughter.

The daughter armed herself with a stick when she heard Malady make a threat to kill her mother, but he took the stick from her and punched her to the face.

Police were called and arrested Malady, who admitted breaking the window but said he only punched the daughter because she was assaulting him with the stick.

During a previous hearing a magistrate said Malady was a huge man, was clearly enraged, there was alcohol involved and any self-defence response was excessive.

Solicitor Kiernan Celestina said his client admitted pushing the victim with an open hand to the face. He said Malady had a bad reaction to events on the day and admitted his actions were inappropriate.

Magistrate Peter Mellas said photos of the victim showed bleeding and injuries to her face and it looked like a significant assault. He said it appeared that Malady blew up every couple of years and the recent offending was part of a long-term pattern.

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John Knight.DUDLEY residents who have been isolated for days with no mobile phone reception are angry Optus failed to notify them of a planned outage.
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Optus said the Dudley tower had been switched off between February 25 and March 1 during an upgrade to bring stronger 4G coverage to the area.

A spokesperson from Optus told the Newcastle Herald it ‘‘contacts customers to let them know when their service may be affected, and what they can do to stay connected’’.

During this time,with no, or very little service, including three days in which only emergency calls could be made, numerous residents said ‘‘no one was notified’’.

Ross Partridge, a self employed electrician who runs his business from home, said he called Optus last Thursday and was told there would be no reception for a week.

’’When you’re running a business, it’s a joke,’’ Mr Partridge said.

‘‘It’s a planned outage and they’ve not given anyone any notification … it’s an essential service like electricity, you can’t just do that.’’

Dudley corner store owner said elderly customers had been confused and thought their own phones were at fault.

Oceanview Hotel publican John Knight who relies ‘‘massively’’ on his mobile to book the hotels’ entertainment said it was a ‘‘disgrace’’.

‘‘It’s a shut down … and we were not notified at all,’’

An Optus spokesperson said a text was sent on February 19 checking to all customers whose billing addresses indicated their service would be affected by the upgrade work.

Optus said an unrelated transmission issue was discovered at Dudley tower on March 3.

‘‘Optus technicians are on site working to fully restore mobile services as a priority…we appreciate customers’ patience and apologise for any recent service interruptions’’ a spokesperson said.

AARON ROYLEOLYMPIC dreams will be pushed firmly to the back of Aaron Royle’s mind as he focuses on a more immediate reality – the season-opening International Triathlon Union world series race in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
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The short-course showdown is the first of 10 world series races Royle plans to contest this year, but his ultimate challenge will be a separate Olympic test event to be held on the same course as the Rio 2016 Games in August.

That race will provide a chance to qualify for next year’s Olympics. Finishing as the top-placed Australian, and inside the first 10, will secure automatic qualification.

Royle, the 25-year-old from Maryland, said it was important not to be distracted from the task at hand.

‘‘It’s all about producing my best performance and worrying about the processes, rather than the outcome,’’ he told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘We won’t be talking about finishing top10. It’s all about focusing on doing our best and hopefully the byproduct will be selection.

‘‘But of course I’m thinking about Rio. I started thinking about Rio four years ago.

‘‘But there’s other races I need to perform in before then, so I’m just aiming to do my best in each race along the way.’’

Royle, who was 10th on last year’s world rankings, had no qualms about Olympic selection riding on a one-off race, rather than consistency over the course of a long season.

‘‘That’s what the Olympics is,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s one race and it’s about who can step up on that day and perform in a pressure scenario.

‘‘It is quite different racing throughout a series rather than just target a big race.

‘‘The Olympics is a once-in-every-four-years chance, and you have to do it on that day.’’

After a successful 2014, in which he placed third in the opening race of the ITU season, collected a team bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, and scored a hat-trick of second-tier race wins in Las Vegas, Noosa and Nepean, Royle was hoping to use that as a springboard to bigger and better things.

‘‘If I could finish in the top eight in Abu Dhabi it would be a good start,’’ he said.

Gnotuk State School, circa 1917-20, with headmaster Gerard Reidy first on the right.BEFORE Gnotuk Primary School’s closure more than two decades ago it was the heart of the farming community just west of Camperdown.
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The school opened in 1902 and a year later reached its peak, its intake of pupils reaching 131.

On Saturday, former pupils and staff will come together to share memories of a close-knit school community.

A time capsule of stories from children who attended the school in the late 1970s will also be opened.

Former student Joanne Cook, one of the organisers of the reunion, said the school would average between 50 and 64 children before its closure in 1993.

The school, now demolished, overlooked Lake Gnotuk and each year there would be school picnics and sports days with the other local schools including Bookaar, Chocolyn, Talindert and Tesbury.

“We had a beautiful timber playground with a fort and climbing equipment and the views were spectacular,” she said.

She said school plays were always a big occasion and the hall would be filled with parents.

Mrs Cook was one of the children who put work in the time capsule and said from what she could remember it was a story about what they were going to be when they grew up.

She said Nancy Fowler was the longest-serving teacher, starting when Mrs Cook’s mother was at the school in 1955. Mrs Fowler, nee Quick, left for 13 years to raise her own children and then returned in the 1970s until she retired in 1990.

The reunion will be held at the Camperdown Guide Hall in Manifold Street from 2pm. Those attending have been asked to bring a plate and a gold coin donation will go towards hiring the hall.

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DANIEL MULLEN DANIEL Mullen is back where he feels most comfortable.
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Deployed mostly as a right fullback at Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory, Mullen has settled in the heart of the Jets defence.

In partnership with Taylor Regan, the 25-year-old has helped right a ship that had leaked a whopping 35 goals in 15 games when he was signed from Western Sydney.

‘‘I love playing centre back,’’ Mullen said in between training sessions on Tuesday. ‘‘That was one of the main reasons I wasn’t so happy before.

‘‘Playing at right back is all well and good, but when you have a body like mine, it is hard to be mobile and agile.’’

Mullen’s arrival followed the mass sacking of senior players, including central defenders Kew Jaliens and Adrian Madaschi.

Since the shambolic 7-0 defeat to Adelaide, which was the tipping point for a failed player coup against coach Phil Stubbins, the Jets have conceded five goals in four outings.

‘‘It’s hard for me to say what the difference has been because I have only been here a few weeks,’’ Mullen said.

‘‘Since I have come in we have worked really well together and been defending as a unit, starting from the front.’’

Next up is a rampant Sydney FC side at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.

‘‘In the past couple of games they have got some cohesion back and are looking pretty dangerous,’’ Mullen said. ‘‘We will have to be on our toes.’’

Sydney have exploded into form with 19 goals in five games. Towering Austrian striker Marc Janko has contributed eight of them.

‘‘When you come up against teams with that sort of quality, they will test you, certainly a lot more than we have in the past couple of weeks,’’ Mullen said.

‘‘You look at Janko. He is very confident at the moment and starting to play some really good football. It will be something different, too, obviously, with his height.’’

Standing 1.96m, Janko is the tallest skyscraper in the league and has 10cm on Mullen and Regan. But, as he showed with his brace against Wanderers, the marquee has quick feet and is potent on the ground.

‘‘They are a good team because they have quite a few options,’’ Mullen said.

‘‘They can play the long ball and work off Janko, but they can also play little combinations in and around the box.’’

Daniel Mullen playing against the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Sydney also have former golden boot Shane Smeltz, former Socceroos regular Alex Brosque and rising star Bernie Ibini in their attacking arsenal.

‘‘Sydney have a tremendous forward line,’’ said Jets midfielder Ben Kantarovski, who returns from suspension with Sydney-bound Andrew Hoole.

‘‘They have Terry Antonis and Bernie Ibini in midfield as well, who are threats going forward. We have to make sure we close Antonis down early and not give him too much time. That is key for all their midfielders.

‘‘They are pretty good on the ball. We have to make sure we get on them early with our pressure and block the passing lanes in behind.’’

Kantarovski is confident the Jets can cause the visitors some problems of their own.

‘‘Sydney have had some good results in the past couple of weeks, but they also have some weaknesses which we are going to try and exploit,’’ he said. ‘‘They have a few injuries and suspensions, especially in their back line.’’

Hoole played striker in a shape drill at training on Tuesday in a sign that Stubbins may be considering a tweak in personnel.

Jaiden Marcus Schneebeli, 21, of Rodgers Place, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to multiple counts of drink-driving, careless driving and unlicensed driving. AN unlicensed Bushfield driver who twice crashed after drinking alcohol has been placed on a community corrections order.
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Jaiden Marcus Schneebeli, 21, of Rodgers Place, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to multiple counts of drink-driving, careless driving and unlicensed driving.

His licence had been disqualified after he was caught hooning behind the wheel.

Schneebeli was also previously jailed on drug offences and had a four-month suspended jail sentence hanging over his head.

Police said that on July 2 last year Schneebeli went to a pool tournament at a Warrnambool pool hall, where he drank alcohol, and at 4.30am drove his mother’s Mitsubishi Lancer home.

At 4.45am Schneebeli turned into Rodgers Place, lost control and stuck two small trees on the opposite side of the road.

He walked the 100 metres to his home and called police. When officers arrived he was drinking a stubbie.

A blood sample taken from Schneebeli returned a reading of .129.

An expert said the driver had to consume five cans of beer to get to that reading.

At 1.50am on August 31 Schneebeli drove from Bushfield to Warrnambool in his white Holden Commodore stationwagon and then south down Banyan Street.

The court was told he looked up after reading a phone credit receipt to find he was headed directly at a parked car, which he crashed into, pushing it into another parked car.

Police checks revealed Schneebeli was still unlicensed. He recorded a blood-alcohol reading of .029.

Schneebeli told police that when he looked up he could not avoid a collision.

Magistrate Peter Mellas said there was a good reason Schneebeli did not have a driver’s licence — he was “a crap drivRer”.

Schneebeli will now not be able to apply for a driver’s licence for another 12 months.

Mr Mellas said it was clear Schneebeli had a problem with alcohol and it was time he did something about it.

He noted Schneebeli had made significant changes and improvements to his life.

Schneebeli was convicted, fined $1000 and placed on a CCO for 12 months with conditions he undertake treatment for alcohol issues and programs to reduce the chances of reoffending.

No action was taken in relation to the suspended jail sentence, which will continue until the end of this year.

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PEOPLE interested in having a say on the future of the south-west coastline are invited to a meeting in Warrnambool tomorrow.
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The Western Coastal Board is holding a forum to outline its draft plan for the region and seek community feedback.

Chaired by Moyne Shire councillor Jill Parker, the board has eight members, including south-west tourism administrator Carole Reid and Professor John Sherwood from Deakin University in Warrnambool. The draft plan was released for public comment last month and submissions close on March 20.

Cr Parker said the public meeting, at Proudfoots on the River from 6pm, would be a good chance to present information and get feedback.

“There will be a presentation on what the draft plan is about but the main thing is we will be there to listen and not preach,” Cr Parker said.

“We would love to hear from groups or organisations with an interest as well as individuals who use the coast.

“The long-term aim of the final plan is to create a document that is a guideline for how we best use and look after our coastline. There have been smaller local-level plans done before but this is the first big regional plan so it does bring some challenges with it.

To comment on the draft plan, email [email protected] or write to PO Box 103, Geelong, 3220. The draft plan can be viewed online at www.wcb.vic.gov.au

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NEAR MISS: Mitch Cooper unleashes his shot against the bar against the Mariners on Saturday. Picture: Ryan OslandMITCH Cooper opened his A-League scoring account in just his second game.It seems an eternity ago.
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Then aged 17, Cooper scored for Gold Coast United against the Central Coast Mariners at Skilled Stadium on February 22, 2012.

Three years – and two knee reconstructions – later the now Jets attacker is still waiting for his second.

He came within a blade of grass of ending the drought against the Mariners on Saturday when a right-foot shot hit the bar and angled down onto the turf, catching the inside edge of the chalk before being cleaned up by keeper Liam Reddy.

Cooper’s close call sparked debate over video technology and occurred on the same weekend that a FIFA rules committee put off a trial of video reviews for contentious decisions for at least a year.

‘‘I did think it was in and celebrated a bit early,’’ Cooper told the Herald.

‘‘I didn’t want to look back at the linesman. I was hoping to hear the whistle. At the end of the day it wasn’t a goal.’’

Rather than curse his bad luck, Cooper said the near miss had made him hungrier.

‘‘I am just going to back myself,’’ he said. ‘‘I have been making the runs and getting closer and closer.

‘‘A player in my position, it is important to score goals.

‘‘That is a key factor I have to focus on. I am getting in good positions. I just have to finish off. Hopefully next week, if I get an opportunity, luck might go the other way.’’

In his eighth appearance and third start since returning from a second ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, Cooper was deployed in central midfield in the derby.

Although ‘‘happy to play anywhere’’, the 20-year-old believed he was better suited closer to the action.

‘‘I can play out wide, but I feel like I can impact the game a bit more in the middle,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘I like to get between the lines and turn, get in positions where I can shoot. Playing centrally gives me more flexibility.

‘‘That was my first solid 70 minutes. My fitness levels are getting better.

‘‘The more game time I get, my body will catch up.

‘‘Hopefully I can start again [against Sydney] and build on last week.’’

Apart from ending a goal drought, Cooper hopes to do enough to earn a new contract at the Jets.

‘‘I want to stay here and give something back to the fans,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘I have been missing for two seasons. To be back on the stage at Hunter Stadium is what I want.’’

Cooper has a firm backer in Jets assistant and former youth coach James Pascoe.

‘‘Unfortunately for Mitch his injury history is well documented,’’ Pascoe said.

‘‘That has meant he has spent a little bit more time in the youth team than his talent deserves.

‘‘People got a bit of a glimpse on the weekend what that boy is capable of. He just needs a little bit of luck with his body, a run of games and I think that first goal and assist will see him take off.’’

AAP reports: Goals may be their focus but defence is the key to Brisbane Roar rekindling their Asian Champions League campaign against the Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan on Wednesday night.

Roar coach Frans Thijssen has made no bones about the fact that they must come out firing against the powerhouse Japanese club, especially after losing 1-0 at home last week to a 10-man Beijing Guoan in their ACL opener.

And the portents are good for the reigning A-League champions.

The Roar have scored nine goals in their past four A-League games. But Thijssen admits all eyes will be on his back four at Saitama Stadium on Wednesday night.

‘‘They will continually try and get behind us. We will have to be disciplined and not let their attackers get too much room,’’ Thijssen said.

Veteran defender Shane Stefanutto will replace Jerome Polenz, who did not travel due to visa player restrictions

JERRIL Rechter (Letters, March 2) is unhappy that Australia’s “gender gap” is too wide.
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Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the pay gap is 18.8 percent.

What should it be?

“Zero gap”, say gender-theory ideologues.

“100 per cent gap”, say others who think fathers should earn and mothers should mother (at home).

What do our children want?

A friend working in child-care is alarmed when the inmates call her “mummy”.

What do they call their working mothers?

I wasn’t told that.

Let’s agree men and women are equal – equal in human dignity. But identical?

Identical in the sense of women imitating men all day in the workplace? No, please.

Not every social role is equally suited to men and women …

What to do about it?

Hard to say.

Perhaps we need a very different society.

Arnold Jago,

Nichols Point

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MAYBE it was a good omen.
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Warrnambool City Council could learn a valuable lesson from a magpie that flew around the civic chamber on Monday night just as the meeting came to a close.

It was in a confused flap going around and around in circles, but managed to find its way out of the dilemma with a little help from someone in the gallery.

The big question is will the same thing happen at last for the city’s seven councillors?

The hapless bird flew into the room just after a tense debate triggered by one councillor’s call for the mayor to work harder at healing rifts.

At times it resembled a verbal boxing match, with punches and counter punches thrown across the room, sometimes directed very personally.

But in the end they unanimously voted for a beefed-up set of guidelines which cover conduct, performance and basic principles on what a councillor’s role entails.

We can only hope it represents a peaceful new chapter for the council team spirit which, ratepayers know, has been hard to come by on some issues.

In the past few years an estimated $250,000 has been spent on investigations and special hearings triggered by dozens of complaints by some councillors against colleagues and staff.

Most of these proved to be frivolous, adding nothing to efforts to foster harmony.

Mayor Michael Neoh wisely challenged all councillors to sign the code of conduct and for their actions to match their words in seeking harmony.

It’s a small point but in the interests of mutual respect, it would also help if the time-honoured practice of all seven councillors attending a friendly meal after monthly briefings were to be resumed rather than them going separate ways.

Warrnambool’s image has taken a battering and there have been suggestions that investment in the city has dried up because of the unstable nature of council decision-making.

Ratepayers will be hoping Monday night’s clear-the-air session will fly.

Just like the magpie.

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