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Game’s history makes Meninga more elite

Mal Meninga was proud to be named an Immortal alongside rugby league greats from the pre-war era.The decision to elevate three players from the pre-World War II era to rugby league Immortality has only made his elevation to the elite group more illustrious, according to new inductee Mal Meninga.
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The NRL unveiled a record five new Immortals on Wednesday night, with Meninga and Norm Provan the two traditional inductees as well as Dally Messenger, Frank Burge and Dave Brown.

The naming of some of the game’s founding figures came in the first time they were eligible to be named, after the NRL took control of the award from the now-defunct Rugby League Week Magazine.

And Meninga backed the decision, given the group of 13 men now represents the very best players of the game from its first year in 1908 to the 21st century.

“That was fantastic, that was like a surprise out of the box, the game got that right,” Meninga said.

“It was a really good decision. The selection committee had the forethought and were brave enough and courageous enough to do it tonight.

“It was a great time to do it. I was proud of the game when those names appeared.

“I was chuffed.”

Meninga is a known student of the game, having introduced a number of practices as Kangaroos coach to recognise the national team’s history.

His elevation came at the third time of being shortlisted, having previously been overlooked in both 2003 and 2012.

The three-time premiership winner labelled it one of the best things to have happened to him in life, no mean feat considering his record as a player and a coach at both Queensland and Kangaroos level.

“It’s a fantastic feeling, a very humbling experience. I fully understand there are so many players that could be standing in my spot right now,” Meninga said.

“It’s one of the best things that’s happened to me personally. As I mentioned I love the game and am very fortunate to stay involved in the game.”

Meninga also revealed the crucial role Wayne Bennett played in putting him on the path to Immortality.

One of the judges in selecting the latest inductees, Bennett had a distinct impact on Meninga as a teenager when he told him to pursue a career in the game.

“I wanted to be a policeman. I wanted to be a copper. I wanted to arrest people,” Meninga said.

“He said I had some sort of talent about footy and we grew up watching Vince Lombardi and what he used to do. How he prepared teams and how he set goals.

“I can remember vividly, he said to me I can do anything in life as long as I put my mind to it.

“I went back to my room … and set a goal. I want to play for Queensland, I want to play for Australia.”

NRL names five new Immortals

Former Canberra Raiders great and Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has been named a league Immortal.And then there were 13. The NRL has taken the unexpected step of naming five of the code’s greatest stars Immortals, 37 years after the first of the elite club were inducted.
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Heralded Queenslander Mal Meninga, mighty St George captain Norm Provan and pre-World War II giants Dally Messenger, Dave Brown and Frank Burge were all bestowed the honour in Sydney on Wednesday night.

The latter trio are the first to join the illustrious group despite none of the judges having seen them play.

Wally Lewis, Bob Fulton, Andrew Johns, Wayne Bennett, Phil Gould and Ray Warren selected Meninga and Provan before considering the three founding greats should also be recognised.

It had been generally accepted that only two players would be named on the night after it took almost four decades to nominate the first eight Immortals.

“It was an opportunity the game could not afford to miss and the Immortals now reflect the full history of rugby league – from 1908 to the present,” NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

Messenger was the game’s original icon, Provan the winner of most premierships, Meninga State of Origin’s most successful product and Burge and Brown the respective record-holders for the most tries in a match and a season.

Ten players were nominated for Tuesday night’s inductions with try-scoring whiz Brian Bevan, Queensland Kangaroo forward Duncan Hall, North Sydney hero Ken Irvine, multiple premiership-winning backrower Ron Coote and modern Broncos great Darren Lockyer missing out.


Clive Churchill (1981), Bob Fulton (1981), Reg Gasnier (1981), Johnny Raper (1981), Graeme Langlands (1999), Wally Lewis (1999), Arthur Beetson (2003), Andrew Johns (2012), Dally Messenger (2018), Dave Brown (2018) Frank Burge (2018), Norm Provan (2018) and Mal Meninga (2018).

Maloney ready to lead Panthers to finals

James Maloney is excited about captaining a side to the NRL finals for the first time.Two premierships, a world cup, a State of Origin series win – there aren’t many boxes James Maloney hasn’t ticked in his distinguished career.
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But five weeks out from a seventh straight finals campaign, the Penrith veteran is being driven by a new challenge: leading an NRL team to the promised land.

Despite being at the club less than a year, Maloney is their captain after injury forced first-choice skipper Peter Wallace to retire mid-season.

And with the Panthers trying to shake off inconsistent form heading into the finals, it’s a role Maloney has embraced.

“It’s an exciting time for me,” he said.

“A leadership role, being captain of a club like this, it’s pretty special. And to take a group of young guys who are so talented and keen, it’s an exciting challenge.”

It’s why the 32-year-old dragged his body onto the field for last week’s historic comeback win over Manly despite carrying foot, hand and back issues stemming for State of Origin.

“I probably should’ve (rested) on the weekend but it would’ve been a last-minute sort of thing so it wasn’t ideal,” Maloney said.

“I had some conversations with (coach Anthony Griffin) about how we’re going now. Hopefully the worst of it is over and we can get on the mend and play some good footy come semis.”

Crucially for the Panthers, Maloney has plenty of experience.

Except for his rookie season where he played just four games for Melbourne (who won the grand final), the only time he’s missed the finals was in 2011 with the Warriors.

That’s why he’s refusing to panic about the Panthers’ inconsistency and is confident they can match it with the likes of Melbourne and the Roosters.

“They’re playing really good footy at the moment but the grand final is nine weeks away,” Maloney said.

“It’s not about the footy you play now, it’s about the footy you’re playing then.

“When the semis come, you need to be able to turn it, the energy and everything, up a notch.”

Lost for words to describe your feelings?

Ever feel like you’re walking on air? How about broken-hearted? Or lost for words?
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There are some expressions we use about our emotions or our mental state that we usually don’t mean literally. They are shorthand for a variety of feelings, and everyone knows what they indicate.

But then you have one of those moments of ecstasy or despair and you realise how precisely the expression fits.

Heartbreak –the loss of a relationship, or other extreme emotional turmoil – really can give us pain in our chests. Coupled with a sense of grief and longing, it’s no wonder people feel as if their internal organs –principally the one we associate with romance –have been rippedapart.

Science-y types say it’s the emotional pain that triggersthe stress-induced sensations in our chest: muscle tightness, increased heart rate, abnormal stomach activity and shortness of breath. In fact, emotional pain involves the same brain regions as physical pain, suggesting the two are inextricably connected.

There’s less explanation for the feeling of walking on air when you are ecstatically happy, though. I scoured the internet (well, the first two pages of Google results, anyway) and couldn’t find much more than worried questions about MS and vertigo.

But I have a distinct memory, following a moment of euphoria, of thinking, “This is what they mean about walking on air!” as I floated along.

It’s probably anendorphine thing and I could produce the same effect by going running or taking morphine, neither of which are likely to happen in the near future.

As for being lost for words:unless you have suffered a brain injury, this is likely to be a temporary state associated with shock. A traumatic experience locks the body down into a low energy state, and out go the language functions.

Anyway, I guess these expressions came about because the feelings they describe are common to humanity. You just have to live through enough ups and downs to experience them. I’ll remember that, though, next time I use the phrase “mind blown”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Financial disclosures reveal Maitland City Council’s big spenders

File image.Maitland councillors spent almost $40,000 in the last financial year on items including clothing, childcare and travel, a recent report has revealed.
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Cr Robert Aitchisonwas the biggest spender raking up $7544.32 on professional development, telecommunications and stationery, travel and subsistence.

Cr Ben Mitchell spent the least with only $337.30 spent on telecommunications and stationery.

While the incumbent councillors notched up their expenses for the full financial year, the new officers only spent from their starting date in September after the election.

Four councillors claimed professional development expenses associated with attending forums and conferences.The maximum yearly amount claimableto eachcouncillor is $4750 and $7750 for the mayor. However incidental expenses of up to $50 per day can be claimed forattending conferences, seminars or training courses.

Telecommunications and stationeryincludes costs for fixed lines, mobile telephones and data, as well as toner, paper and business cards. Council allows claims of up to $120 per month for landlines (mayor $140 per month and deputy mayor $130 per month) and up to $100 per month for mobile phones.

Councillor expenses for the 2017/2018 financial year.

Childcare and carer expenses (up to $2750 a year)are listed.CouncillorsNicole and PhilipPenfold were the only councillors to make a claim. They claimed$2460 and $855 respectively.

Councillors arealso supplied with: iPad,printer, sharedcar parking, access to secretarial support, photocopiers, telephones, PCs and postage, safety equipment, meals after meetingsand official ceremonies. The mayor is provided with: Office, executive support, car,fuel card andparking space.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Grandmother of 23 dies in Sydney home fire

A grandmother of 23 has died and her husband has suffered smoke inhalation following a house fire in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
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One of the couple’s adult grandsons ran to the burning home on Thursday morning to find his distraught grandfather outside.

Fire crews arrived at the Waverley home on Carrington Road about 6.30am to discover the semi-detached residence well-alight, with the fire also spreading to the neighbouring home.

Salma Yazigi was found dead inside while her husband was taken to Prince of Wales Hospital suffering smoke inhalation.

Ms Yazigi’s grandson, Anthony Mitry, who lives two doors down on the same street, was woken by sirens and raced to the burning home.

“I raced down and saw my grandfather hysterical so I tried to console him and tried to understand what was going on and was greeted with bad news,” Mr Mitry told reporters.

He described his grandmother – who had seven children – as “a wonderful woman (with) a heart of gold.”

She was “quite frail” and was “in a better place now,” Mr Mitry added.

“She loves us all equally, no favourites, that’s how we’ll remember her.

“Twenty-three grandkids, you’ve got to have a pretty big heart to love each and every one of them, and she did.”

Mr Mitry said his grandfather was being consoled by family members.

“He’s not coping very well at all, they took him straight to hospital, all the family are gathered around him.”

The distraught grandfather believes the fire may have started after his wife tried to turn on a heater in the lounge room, his grandson said.

“Whether she collapsed or not, we don’t know, her health wasn’t the best.”

The couple’s next-door neighbour was woken by an early-morning dog walker banging on her door telling her to get out.

“What a day, what a day,” she told AAP.

The blaze burnt through the roof of the couple’s home and spread to the roof of the neighbouring property, a Fire and Rescue NSW spokesman told AAP.

The busy road was shut down with numerous police cars and six fire crews at the scene.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze.

Minnelli auction fetches superstar prices

Actress Liza Minnelli has sold a collection of her accessories from the Cabaret film set at auction.Liza Minnelli’s signature “Cabaret” bowler hat, boots and halter top vest have fetched $US81,250 at a Los Angeles auction, while her hand-annotated script for the 1972 movie sold for $US15,000, organiser Profiles in History says.
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The three-day auction in Los Angeles, coming from the vast personal collection of the actress and singer, raised more than $US1.2 million, with some items selling for more than triple their pre-sale estimates.

The more than 1,700 lots included items belonging to Minnelli’s parents – actress Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli – and hundreds of the singer’s hats, scarves and Halston designer outfits from the 1970s.

Garland’s blond Dorothy wig from “The Wizard of Oz,” which was later replaced by simply brown braids, went for $US17,500 – 16 times the original estimate. Vincente Minnelli’s photo collection spanning his film career fetched $US11,875.

Profiles in History declined to release information on the buyers.

Memorabilia from “Cabaret,” which brought Minnelli an Oscar for her performance as Berlin nightclub singer Sally Bowles and sent her career rocketing, attracted some of the fiercest bidding.

Her shooting script for the musical was estimated to fetch just $US2,000 ahead of the sale, while her iconic boots and bowler hat costume had an estimate of $US6,000.

Minnelli, 72, said earlier this year that she wanted to downsize her life and sell off the collection she had amassed over decades and kept in more than six locations.

“I woke up one day and thought, ‘Honey, you ain’t gonna wait till you’ve bought the farm and leave your life on someone else’s doorstep.’ So it was time to go there, and I have, and it feels good,” she is quoted as saying in the auction catalogue.

Some of the proceeds of the sale will benefit the Great American Songbook Foundation which aims to preserve America’s musical legacy.

Surely we can care about people and pets

I was interested to read Geoff Black’s comments (Letters, 31/7) following a particularly curmudgeonly column from Jeff Corbett (‘Pet care ruff on pocket’, Newcastle Herald,30/7).
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As a veterinarian in the region for the past 28 years, I may well have a conflict of interest to draw attention to some of the wild claims made in both contributions. However, I could not let the opportunity pass.

Black’sclaim that pets are western society’s great indulgence may well be his opinion.

However, we know that apart from the utilitarian consideration for domesticated animals, we should recognise there is a symbiotic nature to the relationship.

Dogs provide companionship, but also protection.

They have assisted hunting in earlier societies and formed a communal bond with the human population.

Black claims that dogs’ life expectancies have increased at the expense of our own.

However, the lifeblood flows both ways.

Pets have been shown to provide benefits to mental health and physical health, including control of blood pressure.

Human society also benefits from the close bond with animals who have served as our test subjects for many medical advances over the past century.

As far as veterinary practices being the most lucrative businesses in western society, Black clearly has not looked at the books of any veterinary practices (average profitability 7 per cent) or the industry as a whole(‘Veterinary students to face lifetime debt for degree’,ABC News,14/7/14).

I think he has confused vets with plumbers?

In Australia, the pet market is estimated at $12 billion with 30 per cent spent on food.

About 25per cent is spenton vet services, 12per centon health products and about 8 per centor $1 billionon pet accessories.

This is a lot of money, but is spread over 24 million pets, with household ownership of pets (62 per cent) above the United Kingdom (40 per cent) but lagging New Zealand (64 per cent) and the United States(65 per cent) (‘Australia pet ownership in Australia’,Animal Medicines,2016)

Despite the claims by Black and Corbett, average veterinary spending on dogs per household per year is $397, out of a total pet spend per year of $1475.

So while we sometimes gasp at hearing about someone spending $10,000 or even $20,000 on veterinary care for their pet, there will be a lot of pets that never see a veterinary clinic.

And despite having a wonderful and wealthy society that can provide so much in healthcare for our people, and for our pets, we know that others, including pets, will not receive the care they need.

The paradox of spending money for dying children overseas is often thrown up as an argument against some moral travesty because my neighbour wants to buy his dog a pink collar or walks it in a pram, or spent $500 saving his dog.

YetI haven’t read the column that rails against the spending by that same neighbour buying a car with all the accessories – the special paint job, the sound system souped-upand the tinted windows.

It’s just a car, for crying out loud.

Why, I remember when cars got you from A to B, and they came in any colour you wanted, as long as it was black.

We make choices in life, and I am not sure how someone’s choice to spend whatever they want on their dog, or their car, should make one difference to Jeff Corbett.

But apparently it does.

As our labour market becomes more mobile, we move to more urban areas for improved work and lifestyle opportunities.

We delay child bearing and raising to late 20s and 30s.

Is it any wonder that we seek some companionship from our furry friends, and wish to bestow upon them the care, attention and love they draw from us?

I think it is great that we care about people AND about pets.

That we live in a society that can make these choices available.

And that if you want to believe your pet is waiting for you over the rainbow bridge, we are free to do so.

Dr David Tabrett BVSc MACVSc (Small Animal Medicine, Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care)2017 Australian Small Animal Veterinary Practitioner of the Year

Greens senator files defamation suit

Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has accused Sarah Hanson-Young of a “tepid whinge” after she filed a defamation suit against him alleging attacks on her private life.
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Senator Hanson-Young has filed the action in the Federal Court against Senator Leyonhjelm over comments he made on Sky News and 3AW radio in Melbourne.

“The defamatory statements Senator Leyonhjelm made and continues to make are an attack on my character, and have done considerable harm to me and my family,” the Australian Greens senator said in a statement on Thursday.

The Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young and NSW senator David Leyonhjelm.

Senator Hanson-Young said she was taking action because such treatment was wrong.

“No woman, whether she be working behind a bar, in an office or in the Parliament, deserves to be treated this way, and it needs to stop,” she said.

“It was always my preference that Senator Leyonhjelm apologise and acknowledge how hurtful, defamatory and damaging his comments were, however he refuses to do so.”

Senator Leyonhjelm revealed in a statement on Thursday night he’d engaged Senior Counsel to “strenuously” defend the claim.

He labelled the lawsuit a “whinge”, and called into question Senator Hanson-Young’s crowdfunding of her legal fees.

“She and her supporters have to date raised more than $60,000, pledging to use the funds to advance the cause of the sisterhood by fighting intimidation, bullying and ‘sexist slurs on my professional reputation’ through court action,” he said.

“Yet the Statement of Claim I received (on Wednesday) contains no such allegations. Instead it is a tepid whinge that I have insinuated she is a hypocrite and a misandrist.”

Senator Leyonhjelm told Senator Hanson-Young on the floor of parliament to “stop shagging men” after he believed she said all men are rapists.

He then later went on television and radio to make further comments about her private life.

Senator Hanson-Young has said if she wins damages from Senator Leyonhjelm she will donate them to Plan International and the Working Women’s Centre SA.

Police swoop in Victoria Labor rorts probe

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is not commenting on police action involving the Labor party.More than 15 people are being questioned by police as part of a fraud investigation into Victorian Labor’s rorts-for-votes scandal.
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It is understood MPs are not among those arrested in Melbourne, regional Victoria, NSW and the Northern Territory on Thursday morning.

The arrests come less than a week after a criminal probe was announced into the misuse of $388,000 by 21 past and present Labor MPs in the party’s successful 2014 election campaign.

A former organiser of what has come to be known as the red shirts scandal told AAP he was arrested at his Melbourne home shortly before 6am for allegedly making a false document.

He was strip-searched and interviewed at the Melbourne West Police Station for an hour before being released but was told he could be charged on summons at a later date.

A total of 17 people were being interviewed in relation to the alleged misuse of parliamentary entitlements, police said, adding further comment would not be appropriate.

Premier Daniel Andrews’ office declined to comment.

The fraud and extortion probe was opened on Friday, after Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass in March found Labor MPs unknowingly used public money in breach of parliamentary guidelines by diverting electorate officers for campaigning.

The money was later repaid and the premier apologised.

Police declined to investigate the scandal in 2016 before reassessing it following a letter of complaint sent by Liberal MP Edward O’Donohue.

The opposition has been calling on the six cabinet ministers named in the ombudsman report, including Attorney-General Martin Pakula, to resign.

Days after the investigation was announced, Deputy Premier James Merlino wrote to police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton requesting an investigation into 18 current and former Liberal and National MPs.

He alleged they used electorate staff for political campaigning during normal business hours but refused to release details of the government’s claims.

The opposition denies any wrongdoing.

Gates ‘may not’ testify in Manafort trial

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial is underway in the US.US prosecutors have raised the possibility that an expected star witness may not testify against US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort even as the judge tried to rein in their portrayal of Manafort’s lavish lifestyle.
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The second day of Manafort’s trial, the first stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 14-month investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 US election, was overshadowed by Trump calling for an end to the probe with some Democrats accusing Trump of obstructing justice.

Manafort’s consulting work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine that earned him $US60 million took the spotlight in Wednesday’s testimony in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington.

Prosecutors questioned veteran political consultant Daniel Rabin about the work he did for Manafort and told the court it expects to rest its case next week.

Manafort, 69, is charged with tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to report foreign bank accounts. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Rick Gates, Manafort’s former business partner who pleaded guilty to making false statements after being indicted by Mueller, was expected to be a star government witness.

US District Judge T.S. Ellis asked the prosecution if they will have Gates testify.

“He may testify in this case, he may not,” said prosecutor Uzo Asonye, a day after the defence told jurors its strategy centres on discrediting Gates as an untruthful embezzler.

When the judge asked Asonye for a clarification, Asonye said prosecutors are constantly evaluating the need to call a particular witness.

Prosecutors have portrayed Manafort as a tax cheat who hid money in offshore accounts, and lied to borrow millions more against real estate in a bid to maintain an extravagant lifestyle once the work dried up.

To hammer this home, the prosecution called Maximillian Katzman, of New York’s elite custom clothier Alan Couture, who said Manafort was one of his top customers and paid with international wire transfers.

Prosecution lawyer Greg Andres reviewed how much Manafort spent each year on clothing, including $US440,160 in 2013 alone. Ellis interrupted Andres to say, “The government doesn’t want to prosecute somebody because they wear nice clothes, right?”

With the jury out of the room, the judge complained about prosecutors’ efforts to show that Manafort’s life was luxurious and blocked them from showing one document on home renovations.

“Mr Manafort is not on trial for having a lavish lifestyle,” Ellis said.

When questioning witnesses who provided services to Manafort, prosecutors showed invoices that appeared to have been falsified as they sought to document the fraud charges.

Ellis chastised both sides for using the word “oligarch,” saying it has negative connotations and could give jurors the impression Manafort was “consorting and being paid by people who are criminals.”

Trump repeatedly has sought to discredit Mueller’s investigation, which is also looking into whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Moscow and whether the president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe.

The Republican president wrote on Twitter, “This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” adding that Mueller’s team is a “disgrace to USA.”

In another tweet referring to 1920s Chicago mobster Alphonse “Al” Capone, Trump wrote, “Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing?”

Fenech toughens Dib for boxing title tilt

Billy Dib will fight Tevin Farmer for the vacant IBF junior lightweight title in Sydney on Friday.Tough lessons learnt in life and from legendary boxer Jeff Fenech have Billy Dib believing he can maintain his pristine professional record in Australian rings and upset American Tevin Farmer in their world title fight on Friday.
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Dib (43-4, 24 KOs) will fight in Sydney for the vacant IBF junior lightweight title after Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa was stripped of the title for failing a drug test in his win over Farmer last December.

The result was changed to a no contest, meaning Farmer (25-4-1, 5 KOs) remains unbeaten in almost six years and 18 fights since dropping four and drawing one of his first 12 bouts.

All of Dib’s professional losses were overseas and he pointed out Farmer has never fought outside the US in his time in the paid ranks.

The American is a strong betting favourite, but Dib has plenty of big fight experience to draw upon and has been steeled by adversity in and and out of the ring.

He was prepared to give up boxing after losing to the then WBC super featherweight world champion Takashi Miura in May 2015.

It was a third world title defeat in just over two years for Dib who lost his IBF featherweight crown and a rematch to Russian Evgeny Gradovich.

He also experienced tough times outside the ring with his first wife dying from cancer and a divorce from his second wife.

Dib rediscovered his passion for boxing and has changed things since teaming up with triple world champion and experienced trainer Fenech last November.

“He’s tightened up my defence, he’s worked on my punch output and more importantly he’s worked on my mental strength,” Dib told AAP.

‘He’s pushed me to points in training where I thought I was going to vomit.

“I’m ready and physically and mentally capable of anything.

“After everything that I’ve been through in life, I feel that I’m ready for anything that happens.

“Whatever Farmer comes with we’re going to be ready, we’ve worked extremely hard.

“The life lessons I’ve had will get me over the line in this fight.”

Fenech was impressed with the way Dib had applied himself in the short time they have worked together.

“The guy who came to me eight months ago couldn’t have done a quarter of what he’s doing today,” Fenech told AAP.

“His punching, his fitness, he looks young, healthy and strong.”

The undercard features two of Australia’s brightest prospects in bantamweight Brock Jarvis and middleweight Tim Tszyu.

Why we must fight for the right to strike

Since January, hundreds of Hunter workers have joined the The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).
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I want to welcome them to a union with a proud history, and a movement that has won important victories for working people.

I first joined my union as an apprentice fitter at Tubemakers, now part of OneSteel.

I joined because I wanted to change the way apprentices were treated and being a union member gave us the strength to win better pay and conditions.

You don’t join a union so things stay the same.

We organise to create change, whether that’s better pay and conditions in your workplace or a better deal for working people in our society.

Across the country, the union movement is leading a campaign to end trickle-down economics and rewrite our workplace laws to give power back to working people.

The Change the Rules campaign is set to be the largest and most significant union campaign since Your Rights at Work.

Which is why I think it is time that our country has a conversation about the right to strike.

The simple fact is that the right to withdraw your labour, to go on strike or take other forms of industrial action, is the most effective way you can create change in your workplace, and our current laws are designed to prevent you from using it.

The debate about the right to strike is really about who gets to make the decision to take industrial action.

We believe that that decision belongs to the workers, not to a commission that is stacked against us and certainly not employers and their representatives in parliament.

Our current system takes that decision away from workers, instead giving them a bureaucratic system that strips workers of their rights.

Even when workers have gone through the appropriate steps to go on strike they can be overruled by the courts on the basis that they might “cause economic damage”.

The result of this system is that we currently have one of the lowest rates of industrial action in Australian history.

And while some may say that this is a good thing, especially employers and their friends on the conservative side of politics, there are larger consequences of preventing workers from going on strike.

Strikes are often inconvenient.

They are difficult, especially for the workers who decide to go on them.

But without them, workers never show employers how powerful they really are.

I think of strikes as a tool: a way that working people can shape the world around them.

More than that, they are a way for working people to think about the kind of world they want.

In most cases that will mean changes to their workplace: better pay and conditions, better safety standards or better job security.

And anyone who has gone on strike knows that it changes the relationship between you and your bosses, how they talk to you and how they treat you on the job.

That power has an effect that goes beyond your workplace, because strike action can create change outside our factory gates.

The 38-hour week for metal trades, won by the AMWU in the early 1980s, was won through strike action.

So was the eight-hour day, won by stonemasons in 1855.

So was long service leave, superannuation and just about all of the workplace conditions that we take for granted today.

Unions have even held strikes to support social or political demands.

Australian Unions have taken industrial action to support the end of nuclear weapons, enforce boycotts against apartheid South Africa, to defend public housing and historic buildings through the Green Bans, and for the universal healthcare system we now call Medicare.

This idea seems radical because we are told by many parts of the media that working people shouldn’t think or talk about the big picture, that it should be left to men and women in suits who went to the right schools and have the right jobs.

But that has never benefitted our working-class communities, only the very wealthy.

Workers have the right to think about issues that affect their lives.

They should be able to use their industrial strength to change it.

And if that appeals to you, you should join your union.

Steve MurphySecretary of the AMWU NSW and ACT Branch

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