The Reserve Bank fears the economy is even weaker than when it met one month ago.
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Tuesday’s board meeting considered new data released since its last meeting showing much lower than expected investment intentions for the third quarter of this year.

After the bank cut rates in February, it published a forecast for economic growth centred on 2.75 per cent for 2015-16.

The investment data casts doubt on that forecast and suggests it will be revised down when the bank updates it in May.

While deciding to keep its cash rate steady in March, the bank issued guidance that “further easing of policy may be appropriate over the period ahead”.

The guidance is understood to be the clearest about the future direction of interest rates for about two years.

The governor’s statement said “the available information suggests that growth is continuing at a below-trend pace, with domestic demand growth overall quite weak”.

The bank is concerned that in the past month investment has slipped more sharply than expected, unemployment has climbed to a 13-year high and that the December quarter economic growth figures (due on Wednesday) are likely to be weak.

Its forecasts already factor in a further rate cut by May. After digesting Tuesday’s statement, the futures market factored in a near certain rate cut by May followed by the certainty of another cut by November.

Those two cuts would take the bank’s cash rate from 2.25 per cent to 1.75 per cent.

Former Reserve Bank economist Paul Bloxham said Tuesday’s meeting was “a nail-biter”.

“In the days leading up to the decision, the market had been pricing a 50:50 chance of a cut, so it was a close call,” the HSBC economist said.

“The post-meeting statement was fairly short, downbeat, and continued to note that the Australian dollar was overvalued on most measures of fundamental value. Working in the other direction, the statement noted that dwelling prices continue to rise strongly in Sydney.”

The only things that could stand in the way of a further cut in interest rates in April or May would be inflated lending to real estate investors or a sharp drop in the dollar.

The bank was “working with other regulators to assess and contain risks that may arise from the housing market”.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has warned banks not to lower their standards for investment loans in order to chase business.

A sharp drop in the value of the dollar would boost the economy, making a further cut in interest rates less necessary.

The Australian dollar jumped more than half a cent after the Reserve Bank’s decision to leave interest rates on hold. It closed near US78¢.

Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age.

Twitter: @1petermartin

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GAI WATERHOUSE has not had a win in the Newcastle Newmarket, but may be represented this year by Woodbine, part owned by Racing NSW chairman John Messara. THE time-honoured Newcastle Newmarket is the highlight of Newcastle Jockey Club’s autumn racing, and the 2015 $125,000 group 3 event on March 18 will be the 60th anniversary of the race.
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The legendary TJ Smith trained the first winner of the Newmarket, Seacraft, in 1955, and his daughter, Gai Waterhouse, has won the race three times, with Secret Savings (1997), Hey Pronto (2002) and Platinum Scissors (2004).

The closest Waterhouse has come to winning the Newmarket in the past decade was in 2013 when the talented Laser Hawk was beaten by a long head.

Waterhouse may be represented by four-year-old Woodbine, which is part-owned by Racing NSW chairman John Messara.

Woodbine has had only two runs from a spell and indicated he was close to a win when beaten three-quarters of a length at Rosehill recently.

The late Max Lees won the Newcastle Newmarket three times, and his son Kris will be chasing his first win in the group3 event on March 18.

Kris Lees got a good sight in last year’s Newmarket when his imported galloper Slow Pace flew home for third behind Mercir.

Lees is yet to decide on his Newmarket starters.

Chris Waller’s foreman, Liam Prior, said the stable expected to have runners in the Newmarket, but Waller is a week away from deciding on his nominations.

The $100,000 Provincial Championship Qualifier is also on the March 18 program

Thermomix demonstrator Lauren McKinnon puts a Thermomix to the test at a presentation at the field days. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERWIMMERA FARMER
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A TRENDY cooking appliance made quick work of a traditionally tricky dish at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days this week.

Thermomix demonstrator Lauren McKinnon showed the crowd how easy it was to make a mushroom risotto with the multi-skilled device.

“It’s so hard to make but the Thermomix makes it so simple,” she said.

MEGA GALLERY: Day one at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days

Mrs McKinnon said the aim of the demonstration was to show people how versatile and handy the appliance was.

“People judge the Thermomix on the price tag,” she said.

A Thermomix costs about $2000.

Mrs McKinnon said one of the best features about the appliance was the recipe chip feature which displayed instructions on the Thermomix screen.

She said the interactive session was well received by the crowd.

“A lot of people were interested to see it,” she said.

More than 50 people attended the presentation.

Mrs McKinnon will hostThermomix presentations in the auditorium of the Country Gourmet Pavilion every day.

The final show is at 11.30am onThursday.

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Sussan LeyMILDURA GPs have welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to scrap its controversial Medicareco-p­ayment­ proposal.
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Health Minister Sussan Ley yesterday confirmed the government had “hit the pause button” on changes to the public healthcare system.

During Question Time in Parliament, Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated the hugely unpopular proposal to charge patients a $5 co-payment when they visited their GP was “dead, buried and cremated”.

Tristar Medical Group GP Afshan Shariff said the arrangement would have put an “unnecessary burden” on people who were already struggling to cover daily living expenses.

“For patients who come in on a regular basis, with chronic disease or disability, it was too much for them to pay every visit,” she said.

“I think most of GPs would be happy that’s been axed.

“I have some patients on Centrelink payments who are taking medication and can’t afford it – they say, ‘I can’t be taking it until my next (Centrelink) payment’.

“That is really sad to see. So if there was a co-payment, I fear they won’t even be coming to see us.”

The co-payment proposal was part of the government’s budget measures introduced last year to reduce the nation’s debt and deficit.

It was contested by the Opposition,­ the Greens and cross-benchers­ in the Senate, leading to the original $7 co-payment being reduced to $5.

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Updated: Bob Kotic with some of the new branding, which retains a modern interpretation of the Illawarra Flame Tree logo. Picture: GREG ELLISIllawarra Credit Union chief executive Bob Kotic launched a new brand identity on Sunday for the locally grown financial institution.
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The new look, designed with input from staff and members, is designed to confirm the credit union’s commitment to serving its members.

During the last 40 years Illawarra Credit Union has used the Illawarra Flame Tree as its logo and the new one is a modern interpretation supported by new visual identity and a new tagline of “Your money, your way”.

Mr Kotic said it highlighted the credit union’s dedication to serving its members, understanding their needs and providing competitive products.

“Our members are at the heart of everything we do and every decision we make,” he said.

The new look coincides with the introduction of new services.

An Android moneytree app has been launched following the success of the iPhone moneytree app in 2014.

A new member centre on the ground floor of the Wollongong head office building is the first of many being rolled out across the branch network.

Work is also under way on a new user-friendly website.

Forum speakers

First female premier of NSW Kristina Keneally and former politician Kathryn Greiner are among the speakers at the Illawarra Forum annual conference at The Pavilion in Kiama on March 10 and 11.

Illawarra Forum chief executive Nicky Sloan said the conference would look at success in the community services industry. Registrations are now open at trybooking南京夜网/GPNS.

Kristina Keneally

Zookeepers go wild

Images of Symbio Wildlife Park zookeepers mimicking animals continue to spread globally.

The #zookeepersasanimals photos on Facebook have now appeared in many daily newspapers in Europe.

Community grants

An information session on the IRT Foundation Community Grants program is being held at North Wollongong Surf Life Saving Club on Monday.

It is open to community groups, charities and councils interested in applying for grants of up to $20,000 for initiatives that help build age-friendly communities in the Illawarra.

Applications are open until April 10.

IRT Foundation Committee chairperson Dr Lee Moerman, Wendy Harmer and IRT CEO Nieves Murray at the launch of the foundation at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach in late 2014. Picture by Greg Ellis.

Zonta picks leaders

The Zonta Club of Wollongong is hosting its Young Women In Public Affairs Award at Centro CBD on March 8 as part of International Women’s Day.

Zonta International District 24 Lieutenant-Governor Dr Janette Curtis said the finalists come from high schools.

Dr Curtis said Zonta looked for young women who were good students and had a commitment to their community.

“We also expect them to demonstrate how they currently do, or plan to, empower women financially, educationally or socially,” she said.

“For this award, it is about thinking outside of themselves and giving back to the community, whether that be their school community, their local community through charities or clubs, or internationally by active support of specific charities.”

Heather Stuart, Kate Martin, Jessica Sparks, Thea Stephenson and Sheldri Weston at the 2014 Zonta Club of Wollongong International Women’s Day afternoon tea at Diamond Offices. Picture by Greg Ellis.

Top shop once again

For the fourth year in a row The Good Guys Warrawong was recognised as the top furniture/electrical store for customer satisfaction by Roy Morgan Surveys in 2014.

Warrawong’s Michael Seaman said it was a great result for the whole team who made customer service its number one priority.

Power for Manus

Electro Power Equipment recently completed construction of a power station switch room at Unanderra for the Manus Island Detention Centre. John Arthur said the facility was designed and built at Unanderra, and after construction in Wollongong it was shipped by road to Brisbane before being transported by barge to Manus Island.

Motivational event

Kiama Council, Inspiring Women Kiama and Illawarra Business in Heels are hosting a motivational International Women’s Day lunch at the Pavilion from 12 noon on March 6.

Further information on 4232 0405.

Network expands

Former Wallaby and rugbybusinessnetwork南京夜网 (RBN) convener Adrian Skeggs is including Wollongong in the rollout of the network across Australia.

Events feature a key business leader presenting on a specific topic followed by a rugby personality talking about their transition from rugby to business.

The inaugural network meeting is at iC Central at the Wollongong Innovation Campus.

Guest speakers are former Hungry Jack’s Australia chief executive Tim Tighe and former Waratahs players Peter Palmer, Michael Hayes and Richard Tombs.

Tim Tighe

Lunch celebration

This Saturday VIEW Clubs of Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands are joining together to celebrate International Women’s Day together at the Chifley Hotel.

The lunch includes entertainment by Katherine Akele and a tribute to the Anzacs on the centenary year presented by TIGS year 12 student Tahlia Jackson. A year 12 Learning for Life student will also speak on the opportunities provided to her by The Smith Family Learning for Life program.

Katherine Akele. Picture by Greg Ellis.

The Keynote speaker this Saturday is NRMA deputy director Wendy Machin.

Breast workshop

Lagoon Seafood Restaurant is hosting and sponsoring a free BreastAware Australia education and empowerment workshop on March 10. Jonni Nicolaou is so passionate about BreastAware’s life-saving message she became a board member.

Reservations at breastawareworkshop.eventbrite南京夜网.

Sustainable growth

Applications close on March 9 for the next round of Economic Gardening starting on March 24.

It is a free service to help Illawarra businesses achieve increased profits and sustainable growth.Online applications at economicgardening南京夜网.au.


March4 – Pride of Emergency Services Awards launch in Sydney.

Warilla Business Chamber hosts a free networking event at Southern Youth Family Services in Warilla from 5pm to 7pm.

March 4 to 15 – International Women’s Day Exhibition called Women: Equality: Art: at Project Contemporary Artspace.

March 5 – Illawarra Credit Union launches its new brand in its new member centre.

March 5 to 30 – On Flinders Life Drawing and Painting Exhibition at Wollongong City Gallery.

March 6 – Kiama Council, Inspiring Women Kiama and Illawarra Business in Heels are hosting a motivational International Women’s Day lunch with guest speakers Melissa Browne and Dr Susan Ang at The Pavilion Kiama from 12pm to 2.30pm. Further information on 4232 0405.

March 6 to 8 – Kiama Jazz Blues Festival with more than 60 free gigs in 30 venues.

March 7 – VIEW Clubs of Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands will celebrate International Women’s Day together at the Chifley Hotel Wollongong.

March 8 – Zonta hosts its Young Women In Public Affairs Award as part of International Women’s Day activities with a lunch at CBD Centro.

March 9 – IRT Foundation Community Grants program will be held at North information session at Wollongong Surf Life Saving Club 2pm.

March 10 – The Illawarra Business Chamber is focusing on infrastructure needs for the region by hosting a local candidate debate from 11am at the ITeC in Coniston. Illawarra businesses are invited to come and hear what both major parties are doing to address the infrastructure backlog and the needs of regional businesses.

A free BreastAware Australia workshop at the Lagoon Seafood Restaurant from 5.45pm.

WorkCover NSW hosts a Safer Communities event at Jamberoo with a safety information sessions for local farmers, inspectors visiting businesses in the main street and workplace visits. Further information on 4428 6700.

iAccelerate welcomes and inducts its new residents following the completion of applications for the first intake of 2015.

After receiving a quality field of applications the new cohort of residents will soon be announced.

March 10 and 11 – Illawarra Forum annual conference at The Pavilion in Kiama with Kristina Keneally and Kathryn Greiner among the guest speakers.

March 10 and 11 – THE first female premier of NSW Kristina Keneally and former politician Kathryn Greiner are among the speakers at the Illawarra Forum annual conference at The Pavilion in Kiama.

March 11 – Better Health By Daniella opening party at Figtree. Further information at www.betterhealthbydaniela南京夜网.au.

CleverLINK presents a Bartercard information evening at Corrimal.

March 13 – The Northern Illawarra Chamber of Commerce is hosting a free coffee with the candidates at Helensburgh Tradies to ask small business candidates what they would do for small business.

Pulse 94.1fm Gala Night at Panorama House featuring Brittany Cairns from The Voice and Karl Faase as keynote speaker. Bookings on 4228 8941.

March 14 – A three hour cartooning workshop for primary school age children with a full lunch included is being held by Little Leonardo’s Art Studio in Shellharbour.

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Finding the best way to keep track of your daily tasks is a very personal mission for all of us as this helps you with your notifications and reminders to keep you organised. Here are three of my favourite task apps you can use on your PC, Mac and hand-held device.
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Any.Do is a task management app for iPhone or Android smartphones. When you start to type in a task, it will offer suggestions for auto-completing it. It also will automatically link you to your email. Any.Do does not automatically come with a calendar feature, so you will need to download the companion app called “Cal,” in order to get this.

Google Keep lets you take down thoughts, take photos, dictate notes and have everything to hand. You can take a photo that can then be used as part of a note and you can also use the microphone option to dictate, with what you say being transcribed and ready for editing if need be. Photos can be edited using the built-in camera features of Android.

Wunderlist is a program that works with both desktops and mobiles for a to-do list manager with apps for iOS and Android, Windows, OS X, and Linux. It’s also a webapp, so you seriously have no reason to be without your to-dos on any platform you choose to use. It’s my personal favourite. It’s simple and easy to use, supports timed reminders, recurring to-dos, separate reminders from the due date of the task, notes and additional information associated with your to-dos and more. Its broad platform support – and its webapp – mean you’ll always have access to your to-dos.

Robert Morgan is a digital solutions consultant at Digital Phenix.

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FIGHT GOES ON: Trainer Darren Smith faces a long disqualification period. Picture: Jenny EvansNEWCASTLE trainer Darren Smith has been found guilty by Racing NSW stewards on 42 cobalt charges, but he will have to wait until March 20 to find out his penalty.
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Smith was charged with 62 offences, but 20 relating to race-day swabs were deemed unnecessary by stewards.

It is expected Smith, who has eight previous offences for use of banned substances, will face a long disqualification which could end his career in racing.

Smith said he was determined to clear his name.

‘‘I really don’t have a lot to say and I will be guided by my lawyers,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We have to wait to see what [penalty] they give me, but I will be appealing and continuing to fight these charges to prove [myself] innocent.’’

Stewards have indicated that at the March 20 hearing they will also rule on whether the horses would be disqualified, as is usually the case, from the races where cobalt was found in their swabs.

Smith’s case has had a high profile, and chief steward Ray Murrihy decided to speak on the findings.

‘‘It is not the standard practice of the stewards to give detailed written reasons, nor is there any requirement to do so,’’ Murrihy said in a statement. ‘‘However, in this instance, it is the view of the stewards that they should deliver written reasons in respect of the more critical findings.’’

The statement said stewards had found cobalt was a prohibited substance ‘‘as it is an agent that is capable of causing either directly or indirectly an action or effect, or both an action and effect, on the blood system.’’

Murrihy addressed an argument from Smith’s counsel, Paul O’Sullivan, that without a threshold cobalt was not a prohibited substance.

‘‘The intent of the threshold is to recognise that cobalt naturally occurs within horses and elevated readings can result from horses being administered registered supplements in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines,’’ Murrihy said.

‘‘However, those issues do not arise in this case as Mr Smith has admitted that he was provided with a bottle by Mr Shannon Wonson that contained cobalt and he administered cobalt to horses in his stable.

‘‘In this respect, Mr Smith maintained that he administered cobalt to horses that were ‘poor eaters’ and that each of those horses detailed above, in which elevated levels of cobalt were detected, were poor eaters.

‘‘Mr Smith does not maintain that the elevated levels arose from administration of registered supplements in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines but has instead defended the charges on the basis that cobalt was not a prohibited substance until a threshold was introduced.

‘‘For the reasons outlined above, that construction is not supported by a proper analysis of the Australian Rules of Racing.’’

Wonson is a disqualified harness racing trainer.

Another cobalt hearing is in the wings, against Kembla Grange’s Paul Murray, but stewards have not set a date for that inquiry to resume.

Damien De Bohun: “We still have a massive challenge in being able to play the grand final in Melbourne.” Photo: Peter Stoop Damien De Bohun: “We still have a massive challenge in being able to play the grand final in Melbourne.” Photo: Peter Stoop
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Damien De Bohun: “We still have a massive challenge in being able to play the grand final in Melbourne.” Photo: Peter Stoop

Damien De Bohun: “We still have a massive challenge in being able to play the grand final in Melbourne.” Photo: Peter Stoop

Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City in an  A-League grand final, with the match held interstate? It sounds ludicrous, but, it seems, it’s not impossible.

The likely venue for a title decider should either of the Melbourne clubs qualify to host the event remains up in the air. Etihad Stadium, the FFA’s preferred venue, is unavailable on May 17, the date of the grand final, and Damien De Bohun, the head of the A-League, has admitted that time is running out to find a suitable ground should either of the Melbourne teams win the right to  stage the match.

“We still have a massive challenge in being able to play the grand final in Melbourne,” De Bohun told radio station SEN on Tuesday evening. “We have met with the government recently … but there is still work to be done.

“We need a stadium at the right level. Every major stadium in the country has kept Sunday, May 17, free in the hope they could host the grand final. We have not been able to secure a suitable venue in Melbourne. If it comes to it we have made it clear to all and sundry including both Melbourne clubs and the government that if we had to we would take the grand final to the opposing team.”

Victory currently lies second on the A-League ladder, while City sits in sixth spot.

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Warning: Western Sydney Wanderers chief executive John Tsatsimas. Photo: Louise Kennerley Western Sydney Wanderers have issued a statement to their members condemning the violent action by a minority of their fans and vowed to stop troublemakers attending matches.
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Wanderers chief executive John Tsatsimas sent a letter to the club’s 18,700 members on Monday reiterating that anti-social behaviour towards opponents and rival fans will be met with severe punishment from the club, FFA and police in the wake of the violence that marred the Sydney derby on Saturday night.

Dozens of fans are facing potential police prosecution and long bans from attending all Australian football games after the FFA confirmed the identity of people involved in either an ugly brawl, throwing flares on the field towards an opposition goalkeeper and one for assaulting a rival player inside the stadium.

A Wanderers fan who was invited into the corporate area is facing a 10-year ban for striking Sydney FC defender Aaron Calver in the face after the full-time whistle.

The incident preceded a violent attack on Sydney FC fans near Parramatta railway station which left two men hospitalised. A few Sydney FC fans were allegedly attacked by a group of up to 30 men wearing black clothing believed to be associated with a Wanderers supporters group.

“As a club it is our job to ensure that we maintain this atmosphere at every match and reaffirm to all our members that anti-social behaviour at any Wanderers matches will never be tolerated,” Tsatsimas said. “This expectation of respecting fellow attendees will never be compromised or diluted by the Western Sydney Wanderers.  It does not matter what colour jersey or t-shirt your fellow attendee is wearing we will strive to ensure that there is no behaviour that compromises your match day experience or the safety of you or your fellow spectators.”

NSW Police are investigating the incident in conjunction with the FFA. It is understood witnesses, victims and officers analysed CCTV footage on Tuesday capturing the alleged assault. Tsatsimas confirmed the club are working to assist in the investigation.

“Our club has dramatically reduced the number of anti-social incidents since our inception and we remain totally committed to working with the authorities, venue and Football Federation Australia to remove any individual who is misplaced in their belief that Pirtek Stadium or any other venue allows them the right to express themselves illegally or in an anti-social manner. Any incidents that arise at any of our home matches will be investigated and serious punishments will be handed down to those involved,” Tsatsimas said.

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Climbing off the canvas: Tony Abbott trades verbal blows with Bill Shorten in Parliament on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Climbing off the canvas: Tony Abbott trades verbal blows with Bill Shorten in Parliament on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Climbing off the canvas: Tony Abbott trades verbal blows with Bill Shorten in Parliament on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

There comes a moment in certain prize fights when the contestant least-liked by the crowd goes down, spitting blood, both eyes all but closed.

At that moment, part of the unreliable crowd suddenly switches sides, hollering for the bozo to get up and go on with it.

Hearing this unaccustomed encouragement, the fellow crawls to his knees and on the count of nine, makes it back to his feet, shaking his head.

It is at this moment that the bloke who thought he’d had it won has to make a decision.

If everything he’d tried no longer worked, should he shift gear, try a new strategy?

Bill Shorten found himself with just such a dilemma on Tuesday. And just stood there, throwing the same old punches, discovering they failed to find a target.

Tony Abbott was supposed to be back in the dressing room by now, out cold, his trainers shaking their heads, sinking the boot into his inert form every now and then for the hell of it and telling each other they knew all along he had a glass jaw.

Instead, he was still in the ring.

And he was, at least a little bit, on his toes, having performed his own last-minute switcheroo.

He’d listened to the crowd, figured he had nothing more to lose, ditched his attempt at the sneaky uppercut. And he’d begun dancing. And taunting.

No more five-buck co-payment for a visit to the doctor, he sang, as if he’d been playing rope-a-dope all along, rather than tying both hands behind his own back.

Shorten could do nothing but accuse Abbott of hitting below the belt.

It was awkward, for Shorten and his seconds had spent months yelling that the co-payment was a dirty filthy trick that would ruin the game for everyone and if Abbott had any decency he’d kill it.

And here was Abbott declaring that it was, in fact, dead, buried and cremated.

Shorten kept coming, unsure what to do, but determined to remind Abbott that he and his seconds had called the newly non-existent co-payment and the the GP tax the right and proper thing to do, and why didn’t he think so now?

Abbott kept dancing. The co-payment was toast. Gone. Goading, too, accusing Shorten in his latest three-word slogan of “jeering, sneering and smearing”. It wasn’t quite “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, but it was preferable to lying unconscious on the canvas, the count reaching 10.

Malcolm Turnbull, not a fight fan, sat in the bleachers, humming. “Everyone should be zen,” he’d declared earlier to those still wanting to know if Abbott was about to suffer a KO.

Everyone, it seemed, had forgotten that Abbott was such a bruiser that he’d won two boxing Blues at Oxford. He’d won all four bouts required, Not one of them made it past the second round.

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