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J is for jihad

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

IN MARCH this year, a group of Islamic radicals were scoping out new targets in Bali, hoping to enact their own murderous 10th anniversary of the 2002 attacks.
Nanjing Night Net

They had surveyed the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Kuta and the Australian-run La Vida Loca bar in Seminyak. They had chosen a suicide bomber and planned to fund the operation by robbing a money changer and a gold store.

What is not widely known is that three of the five plotters for ”Bali III” – including their leader Hilman, aka Surya – were low-level drug pushers who were radicalised in Kerobokan prison when they were locked up with the original Bali bombers in the early 2000s.

According to research by the International Crisis Group, Hilman, who was serving a seven-year sentence for marijuana possession, was the prisoners’ mosque functionary who came under the influence of Bali bomber Imam Samudra. On leaving prison he became a full-time jihadist. Another plotter shared a cell with another Bali bomber, Amrozi.

The radicalisation of their cellmates was the Bali bombers’ slow-burn revenge. If an attack had overshadowed this week’s 10th anniversary commemoration, they would have their last, posthumous, laugh over their jailers. (Samudra and Amrozi were executed in 2008.)

Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists, and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling this issue.

After the authoritarian and secular regime of Suharto fell in 1998, many groups that were previously repressed thrived under ”Reformasi” – Indonesia’s flowering of freedom. Among them were those groups with a radical religious agenda who wanted to replace the state of Indonesia entirely with an Islamic caliphate under Islamic law.

Until the Bali bombings, whose death toll of 202 woke it from its torpor, the newly democratic Indonesia knew little or nothing of the growing number of deadly men in its midst.

Ten years on, Indonesian law enforcement, spearheaded by Detachment 88, the anti-terror police, has had great success in cracking down on religiously inspired radicalism. On his recent visit to Indonesia, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith lavished praise, saying: ”There is no country in the world that is more successful in arresting and prosecuting terrorists.”

Since the first Bali attack, Indonesia has arrested 700 people for terrorism offences and prosecuted 500. For every 10 prosecuted, another one suspected terrorist – including some of Asia’s most dangerous men – has been killed by police on the streets.

That success story, though, contains the frightening truth that, in 10 years, Indonesia has produced 500 people with a proven link to terror, and many more who have gone unnoticed so far.

Every few months a new plot, with a new set of plotters, is uncovered. Some, such as a recent group calling itself ”al-Qaeda Indonesia”, have progressed far enough to start making bombs – albeit ones which blew up by accident in the kitchen.

Many now believe that law enforcement alone is not enough. They say the country’s jihad factories, which still pump out recruits, must be shut down and the radicals de-radicalised. The effort so far, though, has been piecemeal and anaemic, marred by poor funding and follow-through and an apparent lack of political will.

In Indonesian prisons, extremist preachers, terrorists and would-be jihadists are locked up with common criminals. Low-level terrorists – youngsters or those who have dabbled around the edges of a radical group – are housed with hardened jihadis, persuasive men with a seductive story to tell.

The most infamous of these men, Abu Bakar Bashir, is serving a 15-year sentence for helping set up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. But inside he is still surrounded by acolytes and young prisoners, and boasts in a written interview with The Sunday Age that he is ”busy spreading the word of Allah to the people”.

His words remain unrepentantly full of violent jihad – ideas of noble martyrdom and the overthrow of the state of Indonesia so ”that people’s life may be managed by Allah’s law”. Bashir refers repeatedly to ”evil Indonesia” and offers up a contradictory mish-mash of arguments to explain and justify the Bali bombs.

First, he asserts that the massive bombs were set by three individuals, ”Mukhlas and his two friends”. He calls them ”mujahideen [holy warriors] who actively defended Islam” and were ”slaughtered by the Jews, the United States and their allies”.

In the very next paragraph he claims the bombs were part of a conspiracy, a ”micro-nuclear device” planted by the US to discredit Islam. ”So it was the US who essentially killed tens of Australians not the three mujahideens,” he writes. ”God willing, Islam will win due to Allah’s help of jihad,” he writes, before exhorting Australian journalists to ”convert to Islam so you will be saved”.

Ask most ordinary Indonesians about Bashir and his ilk and they shake their heads and pronounce him ”gila” – ”crazy”. But his carefully cultivated look of a gentle and wise old scholar has made his loony rhetoric surprisingly resilient, despite the patent failure of the populace of Indonesia to rise up in support of holy war after the Bali bombings.

Jemaah Islamiah, Bashir’s former terror vehicle, is now mistrusted in the radical community because a few of its high-profile members – notably Bali bomber Ali Imron, and former senior member Nasir Abbas – ”turned” and offered information to police. But a whole slew of new followers have emerged. Bashir’s new radical group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, or JAT, has been involved in many of the latter-day plots that police have uncovered.

As disturbing is the fact that the Ngruki boarding school Bashir co-founded, and where his son (and leader of JAT) Abdul Rohim is a teacher, is still pumping out fresh-faced ”martyrs”. Bali bomber Idris, an old boy of Ngruki, said of his alma mater recently: ”That is where jihad was taught.” But suggest that the school in Ngruki, a suburb of Solo, might be closed down, and Indonesians simply laugh.

All schools look something alike, and, apart from the enormous mosque being built and the separate sections for boys and girls, the Al-Mukmin school in suburban Ngruki is no exception. The classrooms have whiteboards and teachers at the front, and rowdy students in rows. In science the boys are learning about microbes. Graffiti and motivational posters adorn the walls.

But in the girls’ section, along with exhortations to pious (veiled) womanhood, is a noticeboard. Pinned to it is a graphic photograph of a dead man, blood fanning out from the back of his head. The man is Farhan, a young jihadist shot dead by anti-terror police on a Solo street two weeks before our visit.

Farhan was an alumnus of the Ngruki school and the pictures and two separate stories describing his death were downloaded from radical Islamist websites, printed out and pinned up, presumably for their educational value. Depending on how it was spoken about, the story might have been placed there in mourning, or as an exhortation to righteous fury.

Asked about it, young English and Arabic teacher Abu Amar airily says the school teaches current events, just like any other. But this is not just any event. And there were no other posters on that board.

Abu Bakar Bashir’s son Aburahman Rohim is a senior teacher at the Ngruki school his father founded. He defends the teaching of jihad, saying: ”More than 60 verses of the teaching of jihad are in the Koran. Should we delete those verses?”

Not all the verses are about violence or war. Some are about the struggle to be a good Muslim; others about the desirability of an Islamic state. But alumni such as Idris recall a focus, particularly in extracurricular activities, on the warlike verses. Rohim bristles at any suggestion that this school is unusual, or its curriculum dangerous.

”Yes, some alumni of Ngruki are involved [in holy war], but you cannot put the blame on the school,” he says angrily. ”It’s so unfair. It’s so irresponsible. It’s a ridiculous way of thinking. For example, in your own country, if there’s a thief or a rapist, would you put the blame on their school?”

The fact is that not just one, but many terrorists have been to Ngruki, including some of the linchpins of the Bali bombings – Mukhlas, Idris, Mubarok. In a recent series of terror raids in Indonesia, a number of the jihadis arrested or killed were also Ngruki alumni. Rohim says when such cases come to light, the current students are taught that ”it’s such a wrong action”.

But his words are ambivalent at best. He refuses to call the Bali bombers terrorists, saying they were, at worst, misguided ”mujahid” (holy warriors). ”Mujahid can make mistakes. What they did will not reduce their status as mujahideen. They must be judged by what is their intention,” he says. ”I don’t want to even subtly claim that they were terrorists. It’s a word used by non-Muslims to corner Islam.”

Asked about the recent crop of alumni involved in terrorist activities, Rohim, like his father, claims a conspiracy. They were turned to terrorism by the police to discredit Islam, he says, even though a police officer was killed in one of their attacks. ”Well, it’s a conspiracy. Sometimes they are willing to sacrifice their own friends for the conspiracy … It’s a pretty normal thing for an intelligence officer to kill his own friends to cover up their own activities.”

Rohim boasts that the school has been continuously accredited by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education for more than a decade. He says demand for places grew fast in the wake of the Bali bombing, and the school is still expanding. Posters around the campus show plans for new dormitories in new locations.

Once radicals graduate from school or prison, the next stage is to be invited to join a training camp, or a plot. After the recent spate of arrests, there was a push for the government to establish a de-radicalisation program. Vice-President Boediono himself ordered an anti-terror plan to be in place by next year, and said that the fight against radical ideas had been too sporadic. ”This de-radicalisation blueprint will be comprehensive and will really serve the purpose,” Boediono said.

But Irfan Idris, the head of the de-radicalisation program at the National Agency for Counter-Terrorism, says the entire agency has a budget of only $9.5 million, of which only a part is set aside for the ”soft approach” of de-radicalisation (as distinct from hard law enforcement).

An existing program running in Indonesian prisons since 2010 applies three strategies, he says: culture (using traditional Wayang puppet shows); business (trying to establish an economic base for prisoners); and ideology (countering the radical brainwashing). But in the past two years, only 32 prisoners nationwide have completed the program and there has been no attempt to measure its success.

Professor Sarlito Wirawan, a psychologist working on this program and others, says it can take up to three years to convince someone not to act on their radical theology. At this rate it would take decades to even talk to one year’s supply of recruits from the radical boarding schools and the prisons. Asked about the radical boarding school in Ngruki, Irfan refers me to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which keeps accrediting the school.

There are also several private-sector de-radicalisation programs. Noor Ismail Huda, a journalist and former student at Ngruki, says Indonesian authorities ”have been doing extremely well after the milk has been spilled”.

He runs a program of ”disengagement”, which involves having former radicals run cafes. Here they are forced to serve customers of all cultures and religions, and they can also make money, making his program self-sustaining. ”We fight terrorism with doughnuts and coffee,” he says.

So far, though, he has only three cafes, and has helped perhaps a handful of radicals.

Another private program is the Afghan Alumni Forum, where former radicals, the hard core who trained in Afghanistan, try to use their kudos in the jihadi community to put people on the right path.

It is led by Abu Wildan, a former senior teacher at Ngruki who was asked to join the Bali plot but refused. Abdurahman Ayub, Jemaah Islamiah’s former deputy in Australia, is also a key member, as is one-time Bali plotter Maskur Abdul Kadir. It holds forums in suburban function rooms under a banner that reads: ”Indonesia, peace without violence, terrorism and radicalism in the name of religion”.

Psychologist Sarlito works with the forum and claims an 80 per cent success rate. He says attacking the ideology head-on simply did not work because the radical imams still hold such sway. ”I’m not replacing anything. I leave their beliefs, but I say don’t do this and this … don’t start hurting people,” he said.

”Then we bring in the wives, families, and say, ‘How about helping each other?’ … It’s step by step and it takes three years. It’s not an easy job.”

As these well-meaning efforts continue, though, schools and prisons keep churning out radicals. Australia has proscribed organisations and passed laws against hate speech. People have been jailed for preaching terror. Indonesia has nothing similar.

And, according to Nasir Abbas, the highest-profile reformed member of Jemaah Islamiah, it will not develop them. ”In Indonesia it’s different. They let you build whatever ideology you want, set up a school, as long as you don’t do the crime … this is what people here call Reformasi,” he says.

”We’ve got freedom of speech and expression. You can’t just shut down a school.”

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

Islamist teaching … cleric Abdul Rahim, a son of Abdul Bashir, is a teacher at al-Mukmin school. Students laugh during a break in classes at al-Mukmin school.
Nanjing Night Net

Students in an English class at al-Mukmin school.

In March, a group of Islamist radicals were scoping out new targets in Bali, hoping to enact their own murderous 10th anniversary of the 2002 attacks.

They had surveyed the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Kuta and the Australian-run La Vida Loca bar in Seminyak. They had chosen a suicide bomber and planned to fund the operation by robbing a money changer and a gold store.

What is not widely known is that three of the five plotters for ”Bali III” – including their leader, Hilman, aka Surya – were low-level drug pushers who were radicalised in Kerobokan prison when they were locked up with the original Bali bombers in the early 2000s.

According to research by the International Crisis Group, Hilman – who was serving a seven-year sentence for marijuana possession – was the mosque functionary who came under the influence of the Bali bomber Imam Samudra. On leaving prison, he became a full-time jihadist. Another plotter shared a cell with Amrozi.

The radicalisation of their cellmates was the Bali bombers’ slow-burn revenge. If an attack had overshadowed this week’s 10th anniversary commemoration, they would have their last, posthumous, laugh over their jailers. (Samudra and Amrozi were executed in 2008.)

Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But, despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling the issue.

After the authoritarian and secular regime of Suharto fell in 1998, many groups that were previously repressed thrived under ”Reformasi”, Indonesia’s flowering of freedom. Among them were those groups with a radical religious agenda who wanted to replace the state of Indonesia with a caliphate under Islamist law.

Until the Bali bombing, whose death toll of 202 woke it from its torpor, the newly democratic Indonesia knew little or nothing of the growing number of deadly men in its midst.

Ten years on, Indonesian law enforcement, spearheaded by Detachment 88, the anti-terrorism police, has had great success cracking down on religiously inspired radicalism. On his recent visit to Indonesia, the Australian Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, lavished praise, saying: ”There is no country in the world that is more successful in arresting and prosecuting terrorists [than Indonesia is].”

Since the first Bali attack, Indonesia has arrested 700 people for terrorism offences and prosecuted 500.

For every 10 prosecuted, one suspected terrorist – including some of Asia’s most dangerous men – has been killed by police on the streets.

That success story, though, contains the frightening truth that, in 10 years, Indonesia has produced 500 people with a proven link to terrorism and many more who have so far gone unnoticed.

Every few months a new plot, with a new set of plotters, is uncovered. Some, such as a recent group calling itself ”al-Qaeda Indonesia”, have progressed far enough to start making bombs – albeit ones that blew up by accident in the kitchen. Many now believe that law enforcement alone is not enough. They say the country’s jihad factories, which still pump out recruits, must be shut down and the radicals de-radicalised.

The effort so far, though, has been piecemeal and anaemic, marred by poor funding, little follow-through and an apparent lack of political will.

In Indonesian prisons, extremist preachers, terrorists and would-be jihadists are locked up with common criminals. Low-level terrorists – youngsters or those who have dabbled around the edges of a radical group – are housed with hardened jihadis, persuasive men with a seductive story to tell.

The most infamous of these men, Abu Bakar Bashir, is serving a 15-year sentence for helping set up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. But inside, he is still surrounded by acolytes and young prisoners, and boasts in a written interview with The Sun-Herald that he is ”busy spreading the word of Allah to the people”.

His words remain unrepentantly full of violent jihad – ideas of noble martyrdom and the overthrow of the state of Indonesia so ”that people’s life may be managed by Allah’s law”. Bashir refers repeatedly to ”evil Indonesia” and offers up a contradictory mish-mash of arguments to explain and justify the Bali bombs.

First, he asserts that the massive bombs were set by three individuals, ”Mukhlas and his two friends”. He calls them ”mujahideen [holy warriors] who actively defended Islam” and were ”slaughtered by the Jews, the US and their allies”.

In the very next paragraph, he claims the bombs were part of a conspiracy, a ”micro-nuclear device” planted by the US to discredit Islam. ”So it was the US who essentially killed tens of Australians, not the three mujahideen,” he writes.

”God willing, Islam will win due to Allah’s help of jihad,” he writes, before exhorting Australian journalists to ”convert to Islam so you will be saved”.

Ask most ordinary Indonesians about Bashir and his ilk and they shake their heads and pronounce him ”gila”(crazy). But his carefully cultivated look of a gentle old scholar has made his loony rhetoric surprisingly resilient, despite the patent failure of the populace of Indonesia to rise up in support of holy war after the Bali bombings.

Jemaah Islamiyah, Bashir’s former terrorism vehicle, is now mistrusted in the radical community because a few of its high-profile members – notably Bali bomber Ali Imron and former senior member Nasir Abbas – ”turned” and offered information to police. But a whole slew of new followers have since emerged. Bashir’s new radical group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, or JAT, has been involved in many of the more recent plots which police have uncovered.

As disturbing is the fact that the boarding school Bashir co-founded, and where his son (and leader of JAT) Abdul Rahim is a teacher, is still pumping out fresh-faced ”martyrs”. Bali bomber Idris, an old boy of Ngruki, said of his alma mater recently: ”That is where jihad was taught.” But suggest that al-Mukmin school in Ngruki, a suburb of Solo, might be closed down and Indonesians simply laugh.

All schools look something alike, and, apart from the enormous mosque now under construction and the separate sections for boys and girls, al-Mukmin is no exception. The classrooms have whiteboards and teachers at the front, and rowdy students in rows. In science the boys are learning about ”mikroba” – microbes. Graffiti and motivational posters adorn the walls.

But in the girls’ section, along with exhortations to pious (veiled) womanhood, is a noticeboard. Pinned to it is a graphic photograph of a dead man, blood fanning out from the back of his head. The man is Farhan, a young jihadist shot dead by anti-terrorist police on a Solo street two weeks before our visit.

Farhan was an alumnus of the Ngruki school and the pictures and two separate stories describing his death were downloaded from radical Islamist websites, printed out and pinned up, presumably for their educational value. Depending on how it was spoken about, the story might have been placed there in mourning or as an exhortation to righteous fury.

Asked about it, a young English and Arabic teacher, Abu Amar, airily says that the school teaches current events, just like any other. But this is not just any event. And there were no other posters on that board.

Rohim is a senior teacher at the Ngruki school his father founded. He defends the teaching of jihad saying: ”More than 60 verses of the teaching of jihad are in the Koran. Should we delete those verses?”

Not all the verses are about violence or war. Some are about the struggle to be a good Muslim; others about the desirability of an Islamist state. But alumni such as Idris recall a focus, particularly in extracurricular activities, on the warlike verses. Rohim bristles at any suggestion that this school is unusual or that its curriculum is dangerous.

”Yes, some alumni of Ngruki are involved [in holy war], but you cannot put the blame on the school. It’s so unfair. It’s so irresponsible. It’s a ridiculous way of thinking,” Rohim says angrily. ”For example, in your own country, if there’s a thief or a rapist, would you put the blame on their school?”

However, not just one, but many terrorists have been to Ngruki, including some of the linchpins of the Bali bombings – Mukhlas, Idris, Mubarok. In a recent series of terrorism raids in Indonesia, a number of the jihadis arrested or killed were also Ngruki alumni. Rohim says when such cases come to light, the current students are taught that ”it’s such a wrong action”.

But his words are ambivalent at best. He refuses to call the Bali bombers terrorists, saying they were, at worst, misguided ”mujahid” (holy warriors). ”Mujahideen can make mistakes. What they did will not reduce their status as mujahideen. They must be judged by what is their intention,” he says. ”I don’t want to even subtly claim that they were terrorists. It’s a word used by non-Muslims to corner Islam.”

Asked about the recent crop of alumni involved in terrorist activities, Rohim, like his father, claims a conspiracy – they were turned to terrorism by the police to discredit Islam, he says, even though a police officer was killed in one of their attacks. ”Well, it’s a conspiracy. Sometimes they are willing to sacrifice their own friends for the conspiracy … It’s a pretty normal thing for an intelligence officer to kill his own friends to cover up their own activities.” Rohim boasts that the school has been continuously accredited, both by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education for more than a decade.

Depressingly, he says demand for places grew fast in the wake of the Bali bombing and the school is still expanding. Posters around the campus show plans for new dormitories in new locations.

Once radicals graduate from school or prison, the next stage is to be invited to join a training camp or a plot. After the recent spate of arrests, there was a push for the government to establish a deradicalisation program. The Vice President, Boediono, has ordered an anti-terrorist plan to be in place by next year, and says that the fight against radical ideas had been too sporadic. ”This de-radicalisation blueprint will be comprehensive and will really serve the purpose,” Boediono says.

However, the director of the de-radicalisation program at the National Agency for Counter Terrorism, Irfan Idris, says the entire agency only has a budget of $9.5 million, of which only a part is set aside for the ”soft approach” of deradicalisation (as distinct from hard law enforcement).

An existing program running in Indonesian prisons since 2010 applies three strategies, he says: culture (using traditional Wayang puppet shows); business (trying to establish an economic base for prisoners); and ideology (countering the radical brainwashing). But in the past two years, only 32 prisoners nationwide have completed the program and there has been no attempt to measure its success.

A psychologist working on this program and others, Professor Sarlito Wirawan, says it can take up to three years to convince someone not to act on their radical theology. At this rate, it would take decades to even talk to one year’s supply of recruits from the radical boarding schools and the prisons. Asked about the radical pesantren at Ngruki, and Irfan refers me to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which keeps accrediting the school.

There are also several private-sector deradicalisation programs. A journalist and former student at Ngruki, Noor Ismail Huda, says Indonesian authorities ”have been doing extremely well after the milk has been spilled”.

He runs a program of ”disengagement”, which involves having former radicals run cafes. Here they are forced to serve customers of all cultures and religions, and they can also make money, making his program self-sustaining. ”We fight terrorism with doughnuts and coffee,” he says.

So far, though, he has only three cafes and has helped perhaps a handful of radicals.

Another private program is the Afghan Alumni Forum, where former radicals, the hard-core who trained in Afghanistan, try to use their kudos in the jihadi community to put people on the right path.

It is led by Abu Wildan, a former senior teacher at Ngruki who was asked to join the Bali plot but refused. Abdul Rahman Ayub, Jemaah Islamiyah’s former deputy in Australia, is also a key member, as is one-time Bali plotter Maskur Abdul Kadir. It holds forums in suburban function rooms under a banner that reads: ”Indonesia, peace without violence, terrorism and radicalism in the name of religion”.

Psychologist Sarlito works with the forum and claims an 80 per cent success rate.

He says attacking the ideology head on simply did not work because the radical imams still hold such sway. ”I’m not replacing anything. I leave their beliefs, but I say don’t do this and this … don’t start hurting people,” he said. ”Then, we bring in the wives, families, and say, ‘How about helping each other?’ … It’s step by step and it takes three years. It’s not an easy job.”

As these well-meaning efforts continue, though, schools and prisons keep churning out radicals. Australia has proscribed organisations and passed laws against hate speech. People have been jailed for preaching terrorism. Indonesia has nothing similar.

And, according to Nasir Abbas, the highest-profile reformed member of Jemaah Islamiyah, it will not develop them. ”In Indonesia, it’s different. They let you build whatever ideology you want, set up a school, as long as you don’t do the crime … This is what people here call reformasi,” he says. ”We’ve got freedom of speech and expression. You can’t just shut down a school.”

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

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Running with scissors

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Nicy try … Peter Morrissey, Megan Gale, Alex Perry and Claudia Navone.Looking back, model, actor, swimwear designer and host of Project Runway Australia, Megan Gale, has a clear memory about the moment when for her, clothes became ”fashion”.
Nanjing Night Net

Several waiters at the Southbank restaurant where we meet gaze at her from a discreet distance while an oblivious Gale stirs her coffee. ”It was the night of the school disco and mum wouldn’t let me go, but I just hassled her until she said, ‘All right, you can go, but you’ve got to go now.’ I was so happy I just went in the clothes I was in, which was a pair of jeans and tracksuit top.

”It was the ’80s so all my friends were wearing ra-ra skirts and their hair was crimped. That was the first time where I felt like I didn’t fit in because of what I was wearing.”

While you probably won’t see a ra-ra skirt on the fourth season of Project Runway Australia, Gale says some of its designers have produced remarkably original garments. ”Some of them interpret fashion in interesting ways,” she says. ”That’s what makes this show feel different each season. Everyone remembers Matcho from season three … he made you wonder where his head was creatively. This year we have Christina – she’s got this amazing vision and she really thinks outside the square. That’s exciting.”

Based on the long-running US version hosted by Heidi Klum, Project Runway Australia is a reality show about 12 fashion designers who must create a garment within the short time frame. Each week there’s an elimination – the last contestant standing wins.

The first challenge in episode one begins at midnight; pressure, exhaustion and creative temperaments are a compelling combination. Then there are the challenges. Gale says there are plenty of fresh tasks that force designers to use materials out of their comfort zones.

This year’s judges include Australian fashion designer Peter Morrissey and professional stylist and former fashion director of Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Claudia Navone. ”Peter’s very playful,” Gale says. ”He takes it all seriously, but sometimes he’s like a six-year-old on red cordial. But I’m the wrangler when it comes to the judges, designers and guest judges [including Miranda Kerr and Dannii Minogue], so that’s a lot of fun, too.”

As a judge herself, Gale doesn’t hold back and has developed an uncanny knack when it comes to spotting the designers’ attempts to hide wayward pins. ”It’s true. I have an evil eye when it comes to pins but constructive criticism is important – but not all the designers like to hear it. Some of them stand there and just give you excuses and that just brings out my ‘mum’ tone.”

Designer Alex Perry (if he had a more substantial moustache, he’d twirl it) returns as mentor, dishing out his signature advice, which ranges from supportive and astute to delightfully acerbic. ”A lot of people may not believe this,” Gale says, ”but Alex has one of the biggest hearts. He has this persona that works on the show but he’s very down to earth. He rarely goes out to functions – he’d prefer to be at home, in his jammies, having a cup of tea with his wife and his dog.”

At the suggestion that maybe the decision-making process featured on the show is the result of scripting, Gale stresses that every result is hard-won.

”We all have a different perspective. We don’t always agree – Claudia might focus on how the garment photographs, Peter’s looking at how it’s crafted, and I’m thinking, ‘Would I wear that on the red carpet and do I want my underwear hanging out the back?’ We nut it out until we have a result.”

Gale is reluctant to reveal any specifics about the new season, but says there was one challenge that almost ended in disaster.

”All I’ll say is that the designers were asked to make an entire outfit and someone decided they’d knock out a pair of jeans, but they ended up looking like something circa 1980 and not in a good way.”

It could be said, though, that the mishaps – say, the model teetering down the catwalk praying her ill-fitting garment doesn’t cause a wardrobe malfunction – are a large part of the show’s appeal.

”Coming up with new challenges that are good for both the designers and viewers at home is a challenge in itself,” Gale says with a laugh, ”but this year we’ve definitely managed to come up with some great ones.”

Project Runway Australia premieres on Monday, October 8, at 8.30pm on Arena.

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

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Inner-Sydney enrolments keep on soaring

January 31st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

INNER Sydney has become the new school-bag belt as gentrified generation X-ers shun the outer suburbs in favour of raising their families close to the city.
Nanjing Night Net

The Department of Education’s Sydney region has outstripped western Sydney and south-western Sydney in public school enrolments over the past five years.

Some inner-city primary schools have almost doubled their enrolments between 2006 and 2011. The inner west shows similar growth, with enrolments at Erskineville Public up 81 per cent between 2006 and 2011, Leichhardt up 89 per cent and Rozelle Public up 73 per cent.

And the inner-Sydney family trend shows no sign of declining, with the number of preschool-aged children in Leichhardt growing by 83 per cent between 2001 and 2011, by 51 per cent in Paddington and by 50 per cent in Annandale over the same period.

The city and inner west have shown the strongest population growth in Sydney over the past decade, according to figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics released this week.

It’s part of what demographers call the return-to-the-city movement as wealthy professional couples eschew the long commute for convenience and stay put once they start families.

”It’s a very interesting phenomenon and it’s almost as if nobody really thought it through,” said Bill Randolph, of the University of NSW’s City Futures Research Centre.

”The return to the city was probably seen as a movement by singles and couples, not people who might produce families. But that’s exactly what has happened,” Professor Randolph said.

The increasing acceptance of apartment living and inner-Sydney gentrification are fanning the trend, according to Andrew Wilson, the senior economist for the Fairfax-owned Australian Property Monitors.

”It started closer to the city and now it’s spreading out,” he said. ”It’s that generation of business couples who are becoming family couples.” The inner west is tracking ahead of Sydney overall, with price growth of about 2 per cent to 3 per cent, Dr Wilson said.

Professor Randolph believes there will be increased demand for secondary school places as the baby bubble of the early 2000s moves through the system.

”People who plan education systems tend to look at what’s happened in the past rather than what’s going to happen in the future so I think there will be some real pinch-points in the system in a year or two,” he said.

Community for Local Options for Secondary Education, a lobby group formed by inner-city parents last year, is campaigning for Cleveland Street Boys High School in Surry Hills to re-open as a comprehensive public school. It is being used as an intensive English high school for 232 students.

The independent candidate in the Sydney byelection, Alex Greenwich, said the reopening of the school could avert potential overcrowding in inner-Sydney secondary schools.

”Families are increasingly living in the city and it’s important that they are provided with the educational facilities they need to stay here,” he said.

The opposition spokeswoman on education, Carmel Tebbutt, said the O’Farrell government must plan for the growth.

”The last two budgets for education have reduced the capital funding and my fear is that they’re not investing in the infrastructure for schools which are going to be needed to accommodate future demand,” Ms Tebbutt said.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said secondary schools in inner Sydney still had capacity for more students. ”The Department of Education is constantly monitoring demographic trends and plans ahead for future needs,” he said.

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LATE one steamy Saturday night 10 years ago, Max Murphy, a 28-year-old Australian expat, was in the Sari Club in Kuta, talking to a mate, Peter Chworowsky, about his plans for the future.
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Earlier that day, the two had played for the Taipei Baboons in the Bali Tens rugby tournament, an annual 10-a-side competition that draws teams from Asia and Australia. While the other “Baboons”, including his brother Scott, danced and drank, Mr Murphy wondered aloud about leaving his job as a computer parts salesman.

“I remember telling Peter how I’d to really love to start a sports bar in Taipei,” Mr Murphy said. “Then I got up to go the loo, and was coming back when I heard the first bomb go off across the road. But it didn’t sound like a bomb – it sounded like firecrackers. In fact, everyone in the Sari Club started cheering and clapping.”

Moments later, the second, much larger bomb, went off, right outside, hurling Mr Murphy to the ground, where he lay buried under the club’s thatched roof. “I thought, if I don’t get out now, I’m going to get trampled to death,” he said.

Crawling from the rubble, he heard Scott calling his name, and followed his voice to a nearby wall, where they helped other survivors scramble out of the burning building.

“Five members of the team – all the guys who were dancing – died that night,” Mr Murphy said. “There was also another of our guys, Morne Viljone, who was missing, so we spent the rest of the night searching every hospital we could find, going through wards, pulling back curtains, till we found him.”

Mr Viljone had suffered burns to 45 per cent of his body. “But he was alive at least, so we got him evacuated to Darwin.”

Now, 10 years later, the Baboons are back in Bali.

“On Friday there will be a memorial at the old field we played on that day of the bombing,” Mr Murphy, who plays five-eighth, said.

They will also play on Saturday and Sunday ”when there will be a memorial match with players from teams who played in the 2002 tournament”.

Mr Murphy, who is now the father of a seven-month-old daughter, said it was “pure luck” who survived and who didn’t that night. “People often ask me if I am angry, but I’m not really; I just feel sad that it ever happened.”

However, the tragedy did make that much-discussed career change much easier.

“After Bali, I thought, ‘Screw this, I want to do something with my life that I enjoy’.”

So in 2003, Mr Murphy and some other survivors started up the Brass Monkey Bar in Taipei.

Together with members of the Baboons, the bar has raised thousands of dollars for the Bali Trust Fund, which assists victims such as Mr Viljone with medical costs, as well funding the development of rugby in Taiwan.

Max Murphy with his daughter.

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High rise by assembly line

January 31st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

ARCHITECTURE firm Elenberg Fraser claims to have developed a new factory-based model for building everything from single houses to high-rise apartment blocks that will cut buyers’ costs, increase developers’ profits – and reduce the need for architects.
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The firm has developed an off-the-shelf, predesigned, prefabricated system for houses, hotels, apartments and residential towers using pioneering manufacturing technology developed by another well-known architect, Nonda Katsalidis.

The predesigned building system called Klik will allow developers to preview modular apartment buildings online and the firm hopes it will save 15 per cent of the cost and halve the time it takes to build, Elenberg Fraser director Callum Fraser said.

The system uses modular components that can be pieced together on an assembly line in Brooklyn, in Melbourne’s west, using techniques similar to car manufacturing.

Despite the buildings’ standardised design and pre-engineered nature, architects would still be needed, architect and Grand Designs Australia host Peter Maddison said.

Modular systems had been tried over the years, some with more success than others, he said. ”I would be very surprised if it took the market by storm and put all architects in Melbourne out of work.”

The firm’s ambitious ”off-the-shelf” system allows for predesigned houses, multi-level apartments, a high-rise and hotel with either square, linear, C-shape or L-shape bases that can house up to 14 different one-to-three-bedroom apartment types.

Each building was made to look different using a unique facade.

Mr Fraser said the system was being used in the construction of a Melbourne hotel.

”If you’re an architect or developer, you can deliver a 75-square-metre apartment using Klik for the same price you can deliver a 65-square-metre apartment using conventional construction,” he said.

Katsalidis’ Unitised Building technology has manufactured four apartment buildings in Melbourne, including The Nicholson in Brunswick and Little Hero in the city. But each of those buildings was designed and engineered from scratch, a process that was standardised under the Klik system, Fraser said.

RMIT architecture professor Philip Goad said architects had ”long dreamed” about being able to mass produce housing.

”Unitised building is something the construction industry needs to embrace,” he said.

A modular UB Australia apartment will be placed in Federation Square today as part of The New Joneses sustainable living event.

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Busting into secure male territory

January 31st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Gina Field with some of her security staff.SLOSHING around in the mud protecting movie star Leonardo DiCaprio’s film shoot may not be everybody’s idea of Hollywood glamour.
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But Gina Field has never been one to care for the cliches. ”I like to get there amongst it, I like to get my hands dirty,” says the 44-year-old owner of Nepean Regional Security, which protected the set of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby during its rainy outdoor filming in the Blue Mountains this year.

While conditions were pretty horrible, Field says: ”I’ve always been a girl that has done something different. I’m not a real girly girl.”

Which is probably a good prerequisite when you’re a woman running your own business in the male-dominated security industry. Field, a veteran with more than 24 years’ experience, started her agency in 1998 from her Penrith home, doing her first patrol rounds in a clapped-out Holden Camira. The company has since grown into a $3-million-a-year business with 40 staff and 13 vehicles in Sydney’s western suburbs.

The movies have become welcome jobs, but her main business is still building protection, crowd control and other bread-and-butter security services.

Field recalls how she worked in a hardware store aged 19 and quizzed a security guard on how she could get into the industry. He told her not to bother because women wouldn’t be employed. ”Being the personality I am, when I was listening to that I thought ‘now I want to be a security guard because I want to show I can do it’,” she says.

She attended a training course and secured her first job, signing people in and out of an insurance building in Sydney. She was moved to corporate sites around the city, ”but it just wasn’t my scene … I’ve always been a bit of a daredevil and I wanted to get out there.”

Determined to become a mobile patrol officer, she snuck into her employer’s patrols on her nights off to learn the rounds, and got a chance to prove herself during a staff shortage. It was a poorly regulated industry in the ’90s, and before she had firearms training, an employer handed her an old .44 Magnum without bullets to carry on her hip.

After Field was made redundant in late 1997, a client encouraged her to start her own company. It was a slow grind until 2007, when she won a large government tender to secure three former Olympic sites in Sydney’s west.

Suddenly ”my turnover had gone from something like $90,000 to $800,000,” says Field, who was a finalist in this year’s Telstra NSW Business Women’s Awards.

Field admits there have been times when she felt vulnerable – arriving at crime scenes when the thugs were still there, or going into dark factories on patrol runs. The flipside was that clients tended to trust her a little more than some of her ”macho industry peers”.

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Banks hit by ‘relentless’ costs

January 31st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

AUSTRALIAN banks are seeing a ”relentless” increase in costs even as they shift their reliance from wholesale funding to deposits, ANZ’s Australian boss Phil Chronican said.
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His comments come as the ANZ is later this week expected to follow its big-bank rivals and hold back some of the Reserve Bank’s 25-basis-point interest rate cut.

The Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB last week faced criticism when they each lowered their standard variable mortgages by less than this month’s cut in official rates. CBA and NAB said they would reduce their rates by 20 basis points to 6.6 per cent and 6.58 per cent, respectively, while Westpac cut its rate 18 basis points to 6.71 per cent.

Since the start of the year, the ANZ has been conducting its own monthly review of interest rates. The go-it-alone pricing strategy takes place every second Friday and seeks to break the link in consumers’ minds between official rate moves and the rates charged by the commercial banks.

Mr Chronican told ABC television yesterday the cost of funding had ”gone up and up”, although he noted costs had started to stabilise this year.

Even so, ANZ was currently refinancing borrowings that were made between three and five years ago ”at materially lower costs”.

In addition, the cost of retail deposits had not fallen by as much as the cash-rate target, Mr Chronican said.

Australian banks have been cutting back their reliance on global money markets to fund their lending book since the global financial crisis. Instead, they have been using more deposits to write loans.

Meanwhile, Treasurer Wayne Swan continued to urge disgruntled bank customers to shop around, saying the timing was right for home owners to review their mortgage.

”While government policies play an important role in fostering a competitive market, consumers also play an important role,” Mr Swan said yesterday.

”When a bank decides to pocket some of an interest rate cut on a home loan, it’s betting you’ll put up with it.

”But you don’t have to cop it quietly on the chin. If your bank doesn’t do the right thing by you, tell them, and if they don’t lift their game, look around for a better deal.”

In the past two months, the ANZ has left its rates unchanged without mention of higher costs.

When the Reserve Bank cut official interest rates to 3.25 per cent last Tuesday, it said the banks were having ”no difficulty” in accessing funds, after a recent lift in financial market confidence.

Mr Swan acknowledged some parts of the Australian economy were under pressure from global headwinds, a high dollar and changing consumer behaviour.

However, he said it was ”encouraging” that the much lower interest rates come at the same time as unemployment is low and economic growth is healthy.

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ROSARIO: On this night, at this venue, on this occasion, the Wallabies could easily have lost their way. A team with its fair share of novices and new combinations would not have been used to such a zoo-like atmosphere, with a baying crowd perched right on top of the tourists, urging on the confrontational home side and even using a laser beam to put the Australians off the task at hand.
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So raucous was the crowd the players could barely hear each other. They were almost forced to resort to sign language to communicate. The high humidity made the ground slippery and the football was near impossible to hold. On top of that, the dimensions of the ground were such that the playing area was several metres too short. It was claustrophobic. Not a spot for anyone who is a bit sensitive, immature or paranoid.

However, a battered Wallabies line-up, nearly a second XV, stood up to this massive challenge and achieved one of Australian rugby’s most courageous triumphs in recent times by defeating the Pumas in a grim, gritty Test at Gigante de Arroyito stadium.

Apart from saving their coach Robbie Deans, the Wallabies again showed they are the masters of excelling when everything is seemingly against them. They are the ultimate backs-to-the-wall merchants.

Their task in Rosario was not easy. They were short of many key players, and had endured a demanding travel schedule just to get there after a week in South Africa, which ended with them being bashed by the Springboks in Pretoria.

A week on, they ran onto the field with raw combinations and a back line more or less thrown together. They were being asked to somehow stop a rampant Pumas outfit pursuing its first win in the Rugby Championship while being urged on by 40,000 screaming, excitable supporters.

To stay ahead took discipline, which the Wallabies showed in abundance. Mike Harris kept his head down, ignored all the distractions, and contributed 20 points with his accurate goal-kicking boot, taking advantage of an ever-pedantic South African referee Craig Joubert going through his usual tedious routine of endlessly whistling away. The only shot the fullback missed coincided with him being lasered by someone in the crowd as he ran in to kick the ball.

The Wallabies’ defence remained solid, holding the Pumas out until the 77th minute, while they earlier had finished off one of their few proper attacking chances when Digby Ioane scored a well-crafted try that involved attacking decoys and a delayed pass from his five-eighth Kurtley Beale. And so many inexperienced players were up to the challenge. Young flanker Michael Hooper was a standout, producing one of the few Test highlights when he scampered 60 metres down field after grabbing an opposition lineout throw on the Wallabies line in the second half.

The Pumas were hoping to score from that attacking lineout, but instead Hooper had them frantically back-pedalling.

Ben Tapuai and Nick Cummins were near mistake free, while Beale had his second accomplished Test performance in a row at five-eighth. Nick Phipps controlled proceedings well at halfback, while Harris was as assured in general play as he was lining up for kicks when the lasers were not aimed in his direction.

The Wallabies forwards also kept their opponents at bay, even taking them on in the mauling department. But most important, when under siege, they showed pride in the green and gold.

As their captain, Nathan Sharpe, explained: ”The character and the intensity was outstanding. That provided the platform for our victory. The field was a lot smaller than what we were used to, it was one of the wettest balls we had ever played with, and one of the most hostile crowds I had encountered in my career. And we got the job done.”

When a level head was required it came from the newcomers.

”It would have been very easy for us to lose our cool out there,” prop Ben Alexander said.

”The humid weather and the narrow pitch probably didn’t suit how we like to play. So tonight was a big step up for us, because for a change we started well and built pressure on the opposition, rather than the other way around.”

There was high drama in the final minutes as replacement Brett Sheehan was sent to the sinbin, and the Pumas were on the charge requiring a converted try to win. But the Wallabies again stuck solid, knocking over every Argentinian who came their way, for a victory of which every member of the touring party should be proud.

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Hoopla: Gai Waterhouse has a strong relationship with her regular jockeys Nash Rawiller and Tommy Berry.GAI Waterhouse left Randwick racecourse on Saturday elated at her record-breaking day and confident she had an unprecedented grip on Melbourne’s spring carnival.
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In fact, no trainer, on the eve of Australia’s most celebrated five weeks of racing, has ever shaped to have so much influence.

Waterhouse has pre-post favourites in the Cox Plate and the Caulfield and Melbourne cups, and prepares the shortest-priced favourite in Caulfield Guineas history with Pierro at $1.30.

Waterhouse’s remarkable mare More Joyous will also be favourite for the group 1 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday, as she has her last run before being one of three runners that the Sydney trainer intends to start in the Cox Plate.

While jockey managers across Australia have Waterhouse’s phone number prominently displayed, she yesterday spoke of her relationship with stable rider Nash Rawiller who will shoulder the bulk of her hopes this spring.

”I asked Robbie [Waterhouse’s husband] a few years ago to give me the name of the best heavyweight jockey and the best lightweight. He came back with Blake Shinn and Nash Rawiller,” she said.

”Shinn got straight on a plane to Sydney to speak to me, but Nash wanted time to discuss the proposition with his wife.”

While a relationship with Shinn was successful for several seasons before coming to an end, Rawiller’s continues to flourish and the pair remain one of racing’s most dominant and strongest partnerships.

But Waterhouse admitted she had doubts even until the end of the first 18 months. ”What most [jockeys] don’t understand is that I train differently to many other trainers. While they like to get them ready with a run or two, my horses are ready to go from the start.

”I like them to be dominant, I like them to be on the pace, and some jockeys don’t get it. But after a time Nash and I worked out a good relationship with the team.”

Waterhouse’s father, the late Tommy Smith, was one of Australia’s finest horse trainers and had, seemingly to the public, a strong relationship with former jockey George Moore. The duo won hundreds of major races.

”No, I didn’t follow on that style that dad did. Dad and Moore were pretty feisty customers. They had many arguments and I didn’t see the need for a trainer-jockey relationship to be as confrontational as theirs was.

”I’m not a yes person, but confrontations can be negative and if I find a person like that in my system, I weed them out.”

Rawiller was known to be a patient and old-style jockey who liked his horses to settle and come home late. Waterhouse says Rawiller has refined that and rides as she wants, but takes his input on board.

”He’s a deep thinker and I’m also a thinker, and it’s a good way to be as we’re always working towards the best for the horses. I know some of my jockeys think, ‘here she comes again with another idea’, but that’s the way it’s got to be; looking ahead and getting the best out of horses.

”Again, I’m a bit different from dad whose jockeys were worked hard as he believed they were extremely well paid, better than any horse trainer, so they had to do their share.

”I let Nash cut his cloth to suit himself. He probably rides three mornings a week and he’s a terrific worker, but I’ve always got to remember that a jockey’s lifestyle is not easy and they are wasting to get down in weight and it’s got to tell on them.”

Two years ago Waterhouse saw a jockey whose talents she believed could be moulded into the upper echelons of Australian riding ranks.

At the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast, Waterhouse approached local Sydney jockey Tommy Berry and offered him a position at Tulloch Lodge.

On Saturday, that belief materialised into Berry winning the Epsom Handicap and Metropolitan double.

”Tommy is another who has fitted in well. His instructions [on Saturday] were to be positive and what happens, he’s successful on both after he went whoosh at the top of the straight.”

In the next five weeks, Waterhouse could have upwards of 15 horses leave Sydney for Melbourne.

She said yesterday she wanted to let the dust settle on making premature plans for horses, but it would appear she will have a mixture of horses ranging from speedy two-year-olds to stayers this spring.

But Waterhouse maintains that her two jockeys will fly in and out of Melbourne on the one day during the spring carnival.

”They’re only an hour away, they can come in, ride and go home, sleep in their own bed, be with their families and their routine is unaltered. I worry that jockeys coming down to Melbourne for all that time will live in a fishbowl existence.

”They’ll eat too much, drink too much and party too much, and it’s like having a flower in a hothouse, it’s a pressure you don’t need.

”They’ve all got diets and they’ve all got set ways of going about things, so I’m happy for them to stay at Randwick.”

If, according to corporate bookmaking firm Centrebet, Waterhouse is a $61 chance to win the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup this spring, her efforts at grooming jockeys will well and truly be worth it.

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Artist’s digs show spring in markets

December 29th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

DEVELOPERS were absent at the auction of artist Murray Walker’s North Fitzroy industrial compound, at the weekend, as confident homebuyers put their hands up.
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The 480-square-metre property at 1 Hopetoun Place, squeezed behind St Georges Road and Brunswick Street, fetched $2.05 million after bidding from three parties, all potential home-owners.

There was a buoyancy to the weekend real estate market not seen for more than two years, pushed along by a 25-basis-point interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the prospect of more to come.

There is also some evidence the bottom might have passed, with research house RP Data-Rismark unveiling a 1.4 per cent increase in Melbourne’s median house price in September (4 per cent since May).

And the auction clearance rate hit a healthy high of 66 per cent from 497 auctions, according to the results collected by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.

Agents and buyer’s advocates all reported increasing numbers at inspections as a wave of new stock hits the market in late October and November.

Mr Walker’s Hopetoun Place compound, formerly stables and a warehouse, passed in at $2 million but was bought afterwards by a family with plans to use it as a town base and home for their children.

The island site is surrounded by nearly 20 properties and locals were concerned they would be overshadowed by a future development. But Nelson Alexander auctioneer Arch Staver said it was too difficult and too expensive for developers.

”We put it to developers, but they thought there was too much overlooking into people’s backyards,” he said.

”It would be tough to get the density that would have made it worthwhile for the $2 million our vendor wanted.”

But developers were engaged in tough competition in St Kilda for a block of art deco flats at 7 Belford Street, auctioned by agents Gary Peer on Thursday for $2.45 million.

The flats are on a 472-square-metre parcel surrounded by modern multistorey developments and face demolition.

Advantage Property director Frank Valentic said two developers were ”punching out” bids of $5000 and $10,000. ”It was a massive result. It was on the market at $1.9 million and sold $550,000 over reserve,” he said.

”That’s positive for the market. There’s a sentiment swing in the air.”

RT Edgar agent Glen Coutinho, who auctioned the top house on Saturday at 29 Callantina Road, in the Scotch Hill precinct of Hawthorn, said there was a change in mood at the weekend. ”The market was showing signs of good confidence and everyone was talking about the interest rate cuts. Even though not all the banks have passed on the full cut, it gave the market an injection of confidence and people are expecting more,” he said.

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IT CAME down to the last ball, but Australia’s Southern Stars last night celebrated a monumental upset against England to claim back-to-back World Twenty20 crowns.
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Jess Cameron, a laconic and powerful 23-year-old from Melbourne, starred with the bat, lifting her team to an intimidating total of 142. The semi-professional English, raging favourites to win the tournament, fancied a chase and sent Australia in, but fell agonisingly short.

The match was tense until the very end, with 16 needed from the last over.

It was bowled by Erin Osborne, and her nerves showed. A full toss, a no ball, a squirt to third man, a misfield and a run-out followed. With six to get from the last ball, England’s Danielle Hazell failed to get hold of a full toss, handing Australia a four-run victory. It was England’s second loss in 26 matches.

Fast bowler Ellyse Perry, an expert in pressure situations at world cups, made the the all-important breakthrough when Sarah Taylor, widely regarded as the best female cricketer in the world, chased an outswinger and was caught behind for 19.

It was a match-turning moment, exceeded only when Alex Blackwell launched herself forwards at full stretch at cover to grasp a low catch to rival any in the tournament, men’s or women’s.

The Australians dropped three catches but Blackwell’s blinder to dismiss Danni Wyatt reduced England to  6-90 in the 15th over. Still, the English would not succumb.

Perry’s breakthrough came at the halfway mark of the innings, with captain and opener Charlotte Edwards already sent back to the dug-out by Lisa Sthalekar for an excellent 28 from 23 balls.  Edwards had put together an ominous opening stand with Laura Marsh, which was broken when Julie Hunter was brought into the attack and held onto a return catch smashed at her by Marsh.

The grin Cameron wore during her innings of 45 from 34 balls turned to a grimace when she was struck in the knee while fielding, and limped off after the first over.

She scooped, reverse-swept and smashed her way to the highest score of Australia’s campaign, sharing a 51-run partnership with Sthalekar, who turned over the strike while Cameron took on the English attack.

She was both audacious – a six heaved over mid-wicket would have cleared the men’s boundary rope – and inventive. One of her five fours was a delicate reverse paddle against the off-spin of Marsh, and another was ramped over the wicketkeeper’s head off the medium pace of Anya Shrubsole.

Cameron, who was part of Australia’s winning World Cup campaign in 2010, fell before she could finish the job, picking out a fielder a long-on in the 17th over, leaving Sthalekar and Blackwell to push on to a strong total.

Openers Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy set a brisk early pace and Lanning, taking a liking to Emily Brunt’s seamers, carved 25 from 24 balls.

She made her runs with late cuts and cover drives, taking 16 off one Brunt over, but chipped a return catch to Holly Colvin before she could cash in her bright start. Healy was bowled in the 10th over for 26.

Not a single Australian batsman has made a half-century in the tournament and the Southern Stars had failed to defend 144 in their earlier group game against England. This time, the Australians overcame the superpower of women’s cricket.

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Georgina Robinson: It’s been a tough couple of months for Australian rugby – its players and its fans. Losses, injuries, controversy and now you’ve slipped to No.3 in the world. Tell us why there is still hope.
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James Horwill: Well, I think every cloud has a silver lining, you have to make sure you’re positive about things, and I think certainly there’s some guys that have been playing who probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity if everything had gone according to plan. I think a guy that’s a good example of that is a guy like Michael Hooper – obviously he’s been outstanding, and if Poey [Pocock] had have been fit you probably wouldn’t have imagined at the start of the year that he would have got as much football as he has. [Sitaleki Timani]’s another one [and] Dom Shipperley.

David Pocock: It has certainly given players an opportunity and this should add to the depth of the Wallabies in years to come. It has been a tough year. We had injuries in the June Tests but managed to win the series against a spirited Welsh team, but to beat the All Blacks and Springboks you have to be on top of your game and we have fallen short against them. I don’t think it is due to a lack of effort, we have just not been good enough on the night and it is a steep learning curve at that level.

GR: Can you get back to No.2 in the world?

JH: Definitely. There is no doubt we can. I think we all need to keep performing, keep focusing on things we do well. [The Springboks Test] wasn’t a great outing and we didn’t play as well as we could have and it’s always disappointing when that happens because you always want to play to the best of your ability and the guys are probably the first to admit that we didn’t do that. But we still have guys in the team who have great ability and we’ve got guys who are hopefully coming back soon to bolster the ranks.

DP: I think the short answer is yes, but I’d preface that by saying that it will take a lot of hard work and some very good player management during the Super Rugby season to ensure we have as many players available for selection as possible come the June Tests and then later in the year. New Zealand are clearly the best in the world at the moment and that has been evident in this tournament – that is the challenge – to close the gap and become more deserving.

GR: Is the No.1 ranking a pipe dream?

JH: I don’t think it’s a pipe dream at all. We know that we as a country, on our day, have the ability to beat any country in the world. Being No.1 in the world is a by-product of performing well all the time in every outing that you have.

GR: Which means it’s a by-product also of beating the All Blacks. Some people say there’s daylight between the teams. Is that true?

JH: We get an opportunity in [one] week’s time to prove that we can match it with them and I’m confident we can. While they’ve been playing excellent rugby with an exceptional amount of depth in all areas of their game, they’re not unbeatable. I talked about consistency, even when they have an off day they are still able to grind out a win. They are an amazing side but I still don’t think they’re that far ahead of everyone else. It’s not a bridge too far, so to speak.

GR: David, it seems a long while since the Wallabies beat the All Blacks. If you can cast your mind back to those victories, what did it take to beat them then and what will it take to do it again?

DP: Accuracy. Taking our opportunities, and a good team performance. We are certainly capable of it but playing against a team like New Zealand you have to take your opportunities. They haven’t scored many tries against us in the close games but we have not capitalised on opportunities that we’ve created. And that’s crucial.

GR: James, on Twitter a little while ago you posted a video clip for a song called Don’t You Worry Child under the ”Team Rehab” hashtag. I’m going to read you a few lines of that song: I was a king I had a golden throne / Those days are gone, now the memories are on the wall … Should we be worried about you, James?

JH: No, I don’t think so. I’m just a bit of a Swedish House Mafia fan, it was their last ever song and I just loved the video clip. I like my house/dance music and it’s a song that goes on quite loud in the gym.

GR: So journalists should lay off the psychoanalysis?

JH: Yeah, I think we’re looking too much into the words there. I just like the beat.

GR: David, do you have an anthem or anything helping you get through the post-op/rehabilitation period? I won’t go ferreting for lyrics.

DP: [Hip hop artist] Lupe Fiasco has been blaring out the speakers for the three boxing sessions I’ve done with [Brumbies winger] Joe Tomane this week. It’s been great. Boxing with Lupe and a whole heap of others – I’ll have to start sharing a few of my Spotify playlists.

GR: Does it take a certain measure of faith to come back from serious injury?

JH: You need to make sure you don’t leave anything to chance and you’ve got to have faith in the people around you and their expertise. The surgeons, the physios etc. But a lot of it does come down to your individual desire and commitment to it. It is not a nice place to be, it’s boring and never fun, especially early on, when you think, ‘How did I ever do that, that used to be me running around, running into people, and now I can hardly walk’. You have to have faith in your individual ability and then you have to set short-term goals to get you to the long-term goal.

DP: Yeah, that’s an interesting way to put it but it probably does. By the time you get back to playing you’ve done so much work with the medical team and strength and conditioning coaches that you just have to trust the program and that you have done the hard work and are good to go. There are always a lot more nerves than usual that first game back but you wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s so exciting getting back to training and playing with the group. You really miss it.

GR: Has it been frustrating watching your friends struggle and the game go through a tough period, without being able to contribute in the way you usually do?

JH: It’s extremely frustrating. Every time I’ve always wanted so badly for them to do well and it’s never nice to see things not go their way or them not play as well as they want to. You do your bit and try to help them and so forth but when things don’t go according to plan it’s tough, feeling helpless.

DP: It is always frustrating not playing. As for the game going through a hard period, I think it’s important we maintain some perspective. There are a lot of guys … getting their first real taste of rugby at this level – that is so important for us as a group going forward. The learnings, both individually and as a team, over the past few months are crucial if we are to build as a team.

GR: Will Genia told me that since he’s been injured he sometimes messages the assistant coaches a few tips at half-time, from the comfort of his couch at home – are you guys as hands-on?

JH: I text occasionally, but it’s a bit difficult to do that. I try and stay in contact but sometimes you have to give them their own space. Will’s been more involved than me unfortunately this season, I’ve missed much more. I often text the players though but you’ve got to give them their own space as well.

DP: No, that’s not my go. I think it’s important to support the team and stay in touch, but I haven’t tried to add my say in things while I have been injured – they have enough going on without that.

GR: What’s your game ritual been like at home – do you watch the matches live or record them, at home, with friends, etc?

JH: I watched the Springboks game live, certainly it’s very frustrating being so far away and I really struggled to get back to sleep after that one. I was a bit riled up and a little bit frustrated with the way things were going. You never like watching the guys suffer. I also try and watch it on my own. My girlfriend is sometimes brave enough to watch it with me. But I’m not really one for watching it in a group, I get a bit vocal and start yelling stuff and get a bit frustrated.

DP: I watch them live. The game against Argentina on the [Gold Coast] was a couple of days after Emma and I moved to Canberra, so we didn’t have a TV but figured most pubs would show it. Wrong – not when the Raiders are in the finals! We finally found a uni pub that had it on and watched quietly in the corner and then left straight after it finished. I get really nervous watching and stay very quiet. On a positive note, I have really enjoyed watching guys getting opportunities. I think Michael Hooper has been superb this tournament. He has had a huge work rate.

GR: You have both been mentioned as possibles on the end-of-year tour. What chance are you both in a percentage sense?

JH: I dunno, there’s still things I need to do. It’s hard to tell a percentage because I don’t really know. As I keep ticking the boxes it might get easier to say that with confidence. I’m certainly running and starting to do more rugby specific stuff, which is important. I guess I’m confident if it keeps going the way it is then I should be OK.

DP: My injury is a bit different to James because it isn’t muscular. I have got through a lot of work over the past month and a bit – it has been a bit of a mini pre-season, which is great. It’s improving slowly but at this stage it’s hard to put a definite time frame on it.

GR: If you both end up on tour, who will be captain?

JH: That’s probably not for me to decide, it’s a decision for the coaching staff. And you just concentrate on getting back. It’s too early for me anyway to worry about that.

DP: That doesn’t concern me at all. The priority is just to get on the trip and back to playing.

GR: What’s something you wish fans and supporters understood about life in the Wallabies?

JH: I think the main thing is that every player goes out there giving his all for his country and there’s never someone who goes out there and doesn’t put everything they’ve got on that field. We all make mistakes and things don’t always go our way but it’s not through a lack of effort or commitment. I’m not saying everyone does but there are times people say [players] don’t care about what they do or this and that. But knowing our group and knowing what it takes, playing for your country is a huge honour for everyone.

DP: For me, it’s important that fans know how much we appreciate their support. Twenty-two players get to pull on the jersey but they represent so many more – and it wasn’t long ago we were fans and shared that elation and disappointment watching at stadiums or on TV. Our time as players is short so we need to be doing everything we can to leave a legacy for the future players and living and playing in a way that brings pride to our fans and supporters.

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