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Brenton Avdulla getting the job done for Sydney’s biggest stables

Consistent performer: Brenton Avdulla rides Pearls to win the Toy Show Quality at Randwick. Photo: Bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Brenton Avdulla has positioned himself to be the lightweight jockey for Godolphin and Chris Waller  and it delivered a black-type double at Randwick on Saturday. After his explosive win on Omei Sword in the Silver Shadow Stakes, Avdulla lifted Pearls to victory in the Toy Show Quality holding off a late challenge from favourite Dixie Blossoms.
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“I have worked hard to make myself an option for  both stables when they get one down in the weights and that’s what happened today because James [McDonald] and Hughie [Bowman] could not get down to those weights,” Avdulla said.  “It is a good place to be and if I keep getting the job done it will keep me in the good books.”

The win on Pearls  was another strong ride from Avdulla, who knew Tim Clark on Dixie Blossoms was right on his hammer.

“She jumped, she travelled. I actually had a peek over my shoulder at the half mile to see where Tim  was because I thought he was my main danger and he was right there stalking on my back,” Avdulla said.

“I had to be smart with my movements, when I pulled the trigger, I had to time it, and when I got up the rise I thought we’ll see how good Timmy is and if he can run me down, but my filly was too good.”

Storming home: Kerrin McEvoy rides Tycoon Tara to win race 6 at Randwick. Photo: Bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Tara proves doubters wrong 

Tycoon Tara got under punters’ guard again as she proved too strong in the Show County Quality at Randwick on Saturday. The Written Tycoon mare had won the Missile Stakes at her first start for Peter and Paul Snowden and has continued to improve. “I don’t think people gave her the credit for  that win on a heavy track. We knew she had improved and had a fitness edge on them,” Paul Snowden said. “She is the sort of the horse who is going to get better again and I think  we can  place her to advantage. She is one to follow.” Tycoon Tara ran away from her rivals and won by 1-1/4 lengths from favourite La Romain with Mount Nebo another length back third. “She’s obviously a smart mare and she’s really enjoying her new lodgings up here with Peter and Paul,” jockey Kerrin McEvoy said. “She’s thriving and today she has shown that by going out and winning again after that first-up win in heavy ground. You always just wonder what it takes out of them but Peter and Paul were happy with her.”  Super Tycoon wins fourth on the trot

Gosford trainer Greg McFarlane will give Super Tycoon a shot at next month’s  Cameron Handicap after he made it four on end at Randwick on Saturday.”My heart was pounding before the start of the race like it never has before,” he said. “It’s hard to win one in town let alone four in a row.” Mum’s the word for Calliope 

Godolphin will consider the future of Calliope after she was once again scratched at the barriers before the Silver Shadow Stakes. The filly has twice been banned because of her barrier manners on raceday and twice failed to get passed at the trials from those bans because of poor behaviour. “We will get her home and have a discussion but she is likely to become a mum,” Godolphin trainer John O’Shea said. If she was to race on stewards indicated Calliope would have to trial on a number of occasion before being allowed back to the races. Legend guns down favourite

Will to win: Southern Legend runs down Haptic to win the last at Randwick. Photo: Bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛

Southern Legend lived up to a series of good barrier trials as he gunned down favourite Haptic to take the final race  at Randwick on Saturday. Tim Clark came with a well-timed charge and will wait to find out where trainer Les Bridge takes the four-year-old next.  “He’s a good animal. I felt the only thing that would get him beat today was fitness and he’d had enough close to the line but he’s got a great will to win,” Clark said. “They ran quick and when they’re running such quick time up front it’s hard to make ground, his sectionals would be pretty fast. A really good effort, he’s a good horse.”

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Hugh Bowman continues association with the family after Winx’s successful return

Run to the Rose: El Divino. Photo: bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Fresh from a first-up win on Winx, Hugh Bowman will join the next generation of the family when he rides El Divino in Saturday’s Run To The Rose at Rosehill as a lead-in to next month’s Golden Rose.
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Winx did what was expected in the Warwick Stakes. She is now fully mature and ready for a big preparation aimed at the Cox Plate. Bowman said the Street Cry mare’s 10th consecutive win was impressive and left him feeling it was the fastest she had been with him in the saddle.

“She’s stronger and more powerful,” he said. “She was so relaxed going to the barriers and it is just good to be part of it.”

Black Caviar used to drag good horses along with her and Winx did the same thing to take group 1 gallopers out of their comfort zone, while still on the bridle before a little squeeze from Bowman took her advantage to 3¼ lengths on the line.

Like Black Caviar with All Too Hard, Winx has a younger sibling emerging behind her, which could become a stallion if things go right in the next couple of weeks.

El Divino, a son of Snitzel, is unbeaten in two starts and well in the market for the Golden Rose, which is the group 1 Widden Stud was looking for when they took a share in the colt.

Bowman has been booked for Saturday and the Golden Rose for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained El Divino and a raceday gallop at Randwick on Saturday gave him confidence about what is to come in the spring.

Bowman has ridden the colt in both his barrier trials this time in. El Divino cleared out with Capitalist in the first barrier trial but the second one, a third to Southern Legend, didn’t tell Bowman much about him. Saturday’s test was the one in which the champion jockey got what he wanted from the colt.

“I have only been on him the three times and that last trial was inconclusive because he couldn’t get happy on the track,” Bowman said. “The first trial was good but he gave me the feel I wanted in that gallop [on Saturday].

“He is very powerful and between the 600 and 300. As he got into the work he felt very strong. We will find out more about him on Saturday but he is nice ride.”

The Run To The Rose will give the strongest form reference for the Golden Rose as Godolphin use it as the starting point of the spring for Astern, Telperion, Impending and Tessera.

Impending has been at the top of betting for the Rose after impressing at recent barrier trials and Brenton Avdulla will ride, with Godolphin’s retained jockey James McDonald taking the mount on Astern.

Jason Collet gets the sit on Telperion, which was fourth in the Golden Slipper and runner-up in the Sires Produce Stakes, while Kathy O’Hara will ride Tessera.

“With due respect to the horses we have already seen, I think this is the race which will tell you the most about the Rose,” Godolphin trainer John O’Shea said. “There are a lot of good ones coming out to play.”

San Domenico Stakes winner Star Turn and Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Mediterranean, an eye-catching Rosebud runner-up, will be among the entries for Saturday’s group 2 over 1200m, with Tommy Berry and Blake Shinn respectively to ride them.

Divine Prophet and Omei Sword share top billing in Golden Rose betting at $7 with Ladbrokes after their commanding victories in the Up And Coming Stakes and Silver Shadow Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

 Golden Rose market

$7 Divine Prophet, Omei Sword

$8 Impending

$9 Star Turn, Yankee Rose

$11 El Divino, Mediterranean

$13 Derryn, Telperion

$15 Good Standing.

Others $17 and better

Market courtesy Ladbrokes

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Winx gets the crowd rolling in late for her show

Crowd favourite: Jockey Hugh Bowman on Winx at Randwick on Saturday. Photo: bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Winx is box office gold and if she keeps putting a show like she did in Saturday’s Warwick Stakes, punters should turn out in record numbers at Randwick in the next month.
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The Australian Turf Club took a crowd figure at 3pm on Saturday but by 3.40pm when Winx jumped into action it went up by more than 700 as people arrived late to see the star attraction.

“The crowd was up more than 25 per cent but we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of people that came in late,” ATC media manager Brett Devine said. “We put a lot of work into the day and I think a horse like her attracts people to track to see her in person.”

The theatre of the horse was full as Winx and the Warwick Stakes field paraded, with many capturing pictures of the now imposing mare.

Winx didn’t disappoint on the track, winning as expected, but it was the manner of her performance – sitting outside the leader Rebel Dane and dominating that was awesome. The margin was big and could have been bigger.

Chris Waller wants Winx to stay in Sydney until October, so there will be a couple more opportunities to see her. She will be back at Randwick for the Chelmsford Stakes on September 3 and for the George Main Stakes on September 17.

Winx’s mum Vegas Showgirl completed a big day for the family when she gave birth to a Snitzel filly, a sister to El Divino, on Saturday night.

McDonald enjoys captain’s run

Champion jockey James McDonald might live in Australia but he is still an All Black. Like most Kiwis, McDonald longed to wear the black jumper but when you’re just over 50kg that isn’t going to happen. He got the next best thing leading into the Bledisloe Cup match on Saturday night being invited to the All Blacks captain’s run. “It was something that was good to be a part of,” McDonald said. He, along with Jason Collett and Chris Waller, were all at ANZ Stadium for the mauling of the Wallabies.

Strong lead into spring

There were plenty of blackbookers to come from Randwick on Saturday but the final race where Southern Legend overpowered Haptic late could be the strongest lead into the spring.

Haptic was the only one of the leaders to hold on in the fiercely run 1000m, but Southern Legend would not be denied. He ran a faster last 600m than Winx, which clocked a remarkable 32.68, as he charged to victory.

Master trainer Les Bridge will have fun plotting a path with the four-year-old, which is only going to get better over more ground.

Haptic will be better at 1200m and can be followed for profit. Three-year-olds Divine Prophet and Omei Sword were there for all to see with powerful returns.

Fewer options for stayers

Trainers have been left struggling to find options to prepare their staying three-year-olds for the Spring Champion Stakes on October 8 after the Newcastle Spring Stakes dropped to 1300m. Horses need racing to excel over longer trips and the problem for trainers comes before the 1800m Gloaming Stakes on September 24. The Spring Stakes can’t be run at 1600m because of the Beaumont track restrictions in trip, which leaves  the only  stepping stone beyond 1400m restricted to three-year-olds in September, a benchmark 67 over 1550m at Canterbury in the metropolitan area.  Expect the better staying three-year-old prospects to be taking on older horses in coming weeks. It is problem that needs to be fixed.

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How a Brisbane schoolgirl became a drug addict, then made her way back

Slowly, step by step, brick by brick Maree is getting her daughter Jenna back after a decade of drug dependence. Photo: SuppliedShe first used drugs to dull the pain from a ruptured disc in her back. The doctors prescribed oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller that she would come to know it by its multiple street names, hillbilly heroin, Oxy or simply O.
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She was 15 and attending one of Brisbane’s prestigious all-girls schools. Oxycodone is similar to heroin and for Jenna Roberts, the sweetness of the ocycodone’s melodies not only lifted her, took away the pain but also made her feel whole, kept the loneliness at bay. They were sweet songs. Like those of the mythical Sirens, the muses of the lower world, whose songs lured those passing to their death.

In the next decade the songs were the same: I can make you feel alright; I can make you feel complete; I can make you feel nothing and everything. But the song did more than that. It almost took her family; destroyed her relationships; took her friends, her lovers; left her broke; took her smile and almost her life.

Her mate O not only made chronic pain bearable, but in a place where designer names defined you, opened the door to the joys of the party-drug world. A bit of weed on top of the pain killers; a bit of low-level dealing (“the day girls had the money and I had the contacts. I just skimmed a bit off the top. They had no idea”); it filled the loneliness void.

“When the girls were putting on their graduation dresses I couldn’t wait to bolt to the front gate and meet my dealer,” Jenna says.  And then it was drug city party time. Even at university, studying law, there was time to feed a growing habit. Drugs to get you going in the morning, keep you going all day and drugs to paaarrrtty.  Another back operation, a steady supply of prescriptions for her good mate, oxycodone. As well, there was a social cocktail of marijuana, booze, ecstasy, speed. By then she had developed an addict’s skill at deception – lifted from the doctor shopping handbook. But doctor shopping is time-intensive; you needed a different doctor; in a different suburb and someone’s Medicare card. Far easier to move to another drug.

Her mother, Maree, a professional senior bureaucrat, now says she had her suspicions for some time that there was more than pain and prescription meds to Jenna’s behaviour but, “I guess looking back I didn’t want to believe it. No one wants to believe it of their child.” There were plausible reasons for her increasingly erratic behaviour.

For the daughter, the journey through addiction to the end – recognising that she had become a full-blown, heroin injecting, ice addict took almost a decade. The needle and prostitution were the lines in the sand, places for junkies.  But not her. Junkies inhabit a world of back alleys, of dirty houses, scabs, of bent spoons and dirty needles. Junkies use heroin and inject. A junkie has arrived at their destination when their faithfulness to the drug is stronger, more powerful than anything, any family, any bond. A junkie has no guilt, no shame, no morality.

In her world, in her mind, Jenna wasn’t a junkie – just someone who could stop when she wanted. But she couldn’t and she didn’t. She had crashed out of university and spent a couple of years living in Brisbane, not doing much aside from maturing her drug habit. Eventually, having alienated or pushed away friends, she moved in with her parents, now living in the comfortable central coast suburb of Terrigal in New South Wales.

“By that stage my addiction was a disaster. I went from maybe having a day or two being not being able to use a substance to doing things to myself and to other people that I can’t ever take back. I was very violent,” she said.

For Maree it was to become repeating behaviour. “For years we had always welcomed Jenna back home, no matter what she had done (or not done). We paid the price for her actions, tears after blow-ups, paying her fines, feeding her, clothing her and protecting her from the consequences of her actions wasn’t changing her behaviour. She was coming home less and less frequently and then only using our home as a place to regather her strength, resources and commitment to dive back into the underworld of drugs.

“It seemed inevitable that she would come to grief sooner rather than later and all my attempts to stop that happening had failed. Begging and pleading, crying and promising, doctors, counsellors, friends. She would go missing for days at a time. If David (my husband) didn’t know where Jenna was, he trawled the streets until he found some evidence that she was alive and brought her home and put her back together, When Jenna stole from us, abused us or trashed our house he would tell her we loved her and one day things would be good again,” Maree says.

It finally came to a head. Maree was taking anti-depressants just to get through the day. “Jenna could reduce me to tears with one of her outrages and leave me feeling worthless. David and I were in counselling. Jenna’s addiction and her behaviour at home was driving us apart. At yet another counselling session I made it clear that I couldn’t go on like this. I felt as though I couldn’t make anyone happy – not even myself. I admitted my failure as a parent and as a wife. I felt I had been a better mother to my stepchildren than I had been to my biological child and blamed my genetics for bearing a child with these problems. I was in abject misery about walking away from both my daughter and my husband but I just couldn’t conceive any other option,” she says.

So together Maree and David decided to cut the safety net. “We had decided that the only option was to ban her from the house. It was a hugely painful decision. The fears and dark horrors swirled around us. The ‘what ifs’ seemed to have devils horns. She stormed off and we went into that place where a phone call from a private number was terrifying. A police car in the street made me feel violently ill,” she says.

A bit earlier she had been confronted by her brother on the suburban lawn at Christmas. “We know what you are – you are a junkie.” It wasn’t judgmental, just matter of fact and a signal that she wasn’t fooling anyone any more. She had crossed the lines – moving on from stealing from her parents and siblings, to injecting and prostitution. Being thrown out of home sent her onto the streets, sleeping rough, back to an abusive, toxic relationship, swapping sex for somewhere to sleep, for drugs.

Some can describe the time of their first injection, the veins bulging, inserting the needle, blood rushing before slowly  pushing in the plunger and the overwhelming hit. Not Jenna. “I don’t remember the timing of when I first injected. It happened with an acquaintance. I remember I was quite desperate at the time so it just kind of happened. It wasn’t some huge event or anything. I just needed my fix and that is how I got it,” she says.

But severe addiction and life on the streets took its toll. Her weight crashed to about 40 kilos. “I tried to overdose myself and when I woke up I was devastated that I couldn’t even kill myself. I felt worthless. I remember hating the daylight. I never wanted to go out in it. I loved the night. You could hide in the night. There were less people around and I felt much safer. There was a 24-hour Kmart near where I was living, it was the only shop I would go to. For a long time in the end, all I ate was tinned corn. It was the only thing I could stomach. I lived on canned corn and Coca-Cola,” she says.

Eventually she contacted her parents. “I begged them to come home for a meal and once I got in that door I said to my parents, ‘You can’t kick me out,’ and they said, ‘Yeah, we can, we’ll just call the police.’ At that stage I said, ‘I’ll do whatever, I’ll do whatever,’ and mum said, ‘You need to go to rehab,’ and I said ‘OK.’ So mum started dialling numbers and putting the phone up to my ear because she said, ‘I don’t want you to ever turn around and say I made you do this.’

“By the time I got to detox I couldn’t read a line in a book. If friends hadn’t fallen away, I had done my best to push them. I didn’t want anyone around who might call me on my behaviour and I didn’t want to bring anyone down with me either.

It took 45 days in a 30-day program.

“Rehab was everything that you see in the movies, the sweating, wetting the bed, that all happened for me. There were days when I thought death would have been a kind option for me. Then my brother, the one who had called me out, visited with his newborn son. ‘Look what you are missing out on.’ It was a trigger, a motivator to deal with the demons. I call my little nephew my recovery baby,” she says.

She stuck rehab out. After that there were constant Narcotics Anonymous meetings and a growing understanding of residual mental health issues that come from frying your brain for a decade. Then there were four or five “refresher sessions” – some pre-emptive moves before she reached crisis point, spun out of control again. There is a constant battle with depression and feelings of immense guilt. “I still have a couple of friends left from pre-drugs but not many at all. I damaged most things I came into contact with, especially people,” she says.

Now she is five years clean and working in the mental health, drug and alcohol field. It’s exhausting, fighting to get better every day, dealing with mental health issues every day. It can be hard resisting the call of the Sirens. Family helps. They gathered around Jenna and helped her on her way back. And it’s been one step at a time; better health, a job, friends and a new relationship. Now she is working to make up for the lost decade.

It’s been a tough decade with more disappointments than achievements but slowly, step by step, brick by brick Maree is getting her daughter back. There is the fear that something will happen, that it will all get too much and Jenna will slide back to using again.

“Its hard to reconcile the girl I know now with the lost soul before. Nothing will ever be the same. But I am grateful we have the chance to repair this relationship,” she says.

If you or somebody you know is distressed phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

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Doctors warn over diagnosis apps amid Ada launch

Doctors are worried about diagnosis apps. Photo: Benjamin TorodeIt is marketed as being “smarter than human doctors” and the “world’s most accurate health diagnosis service”.
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It is a medical app on your smartphone that invites you to put in a list of symptoms to find the most likely explanation. According to the company that created Ada, the app includes 10,000 symptoms and diseases and was developed by 100 doctors, making it more knowledgeable than any human brain.

But for all its promises, leading Australian GPs are urging consumers to be wary of it and other apps that make similar claims. Both the Australian Medical Association and Royal Australian College of GPs said they were concerned about the accuracy of the Ada system, and its potential to either falsely reassure people about their health or alarm them unnecessarily.

Despite a booming market for health apps, including ones that aim to diagnose, research suggests they may not be as reliable as they appear.

Nathan Pinskier, chairman of the College of GPs’ e-health and technology committee, said while many doctors were starting to use apps to support their clinical decision making and were directing patients towards some for their own health needs, research on such apps showed they were not always accurate and could be dangerous.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in this space,” the GP said. “It’s fair to say that clinicians can’t remember everything and you do need access to support tools. The question is, how standardised are those support tools and if you enter the same information into different products will you end up with similar outcomes and guidance? The evidence says no at the moment.”

Last year, three studies published in BMC Medicine found that health apps designed to help people calculate insulin dosages, educate them about asthma and perform other important functions were methodologically weak. The researchers also found that many apps lacked reliable privacy and security settings, with one sharing personally identifying data about users that should have been kept anonymous.

President of the College of GPs Frank Jones said that while he did not mind people Googling their symptoms before seeing a GP, he was concerned about the accuracy of an app that suggested it could diagnose people. He said users risked misinterpreting their symptoms without a physical examination while using the app.

Ada looks set to connect users with doctors for a consultation after their symptoms have been run through its system, but a recent study highlighted another risk with this: seeing a GP who does not know the patient and their medical history.

The study of more than 1700 Dutch people aged over 60 found that those who had multiple GPs over 17 years were more likely to die during the study period than those who had one GP. Dr Jones said the research published in the British Journal of General Practice highlighted the potential benefits of continuity of care.

While Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration says any medical device that makes a diagnosis should be listed on its register of therapeutic goods, a search of that database does not show Ada on it.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Ada said she could not answer questions about this because the company’s chief executive was based overseas and was unavailable.

However, the terms and conditions on the app say it is not providing medical advice or diagnosing health conditions, and that it is up to users to decide whether they contact a health professional to seek medical advice after using it. The app says it will not share or sell a user’s data and cannot guarantee it will be error free.

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Calls for over-65s to be screened for condition that causes deadliest strokes

Heart pacemakers are used to treat arrhythmias. Photo: Peter Dazeley Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat and it can cause ischaemic stroke.
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The iECG: an iPhone app developed by the University of Sydney provides a cheap and accurate method of detecting heart rhythm problems.

Some people with atrial fibrillation use a pacemaker. Photo: Guy Magowan

A patient is fitted with a pacemaker. Photo: Rohan Thomson

An international consortium of cardiologists is calling for regular screening of all people aged over 65 for irregular heart rhythms, which are linked to one in three strokes in Australia.

A chaotic heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation, can be effectively treated with oral anticoagulants such as Warfarin, but many patients are unaware that they have the condition or fail to take the appropriate medicine.

Left untreated, the seemingly benign condition can lead to an ischaemic stroke that is usually more catastrophic and frequently fatal than strokes from other causes.

Heart Research Institute cardiologist Ben Freedman argued in The Lancet on Friday for the routine testing of people aged over 65, ahead of a consensus statement that will be nutted out by 100 global heart experts at the ESC Congress in Rome next week.

The article called for doctors to adopt a default position of prescribing anticoagulants to all patients with atrial fibrillation unless they were identified as “truly low risk”.

There are 50,000 strokes a year in Australia and the authors estimate that by screening 75 per cent of people over 65 and getting 80 per cent of people with atrial fibrillation onto medication, 250 strokes would be prevented annually.

“We recognise that this is a really important way to prevent stroke,” Professor Freedman said.

“Atrial fibrillation is something many people have not heard of, and yet it’s very common. One-third of strokes are caused by atrial fibrillation.”

One study indicated that in more than a quarter of strokes related to atrial fibrillation, the patient did not previously know they had the condition.

But Professor Freedman said that even among patients who knew they had atrial fibrillation, many did not take their medication or discontinued it because they were concerned about the possible side-effects of the anticoagulants, which include internal bleeding.

“People are a bit scared of taking anticoagulants and doctors are a bit scared of prescribing them because they don’t like causing bleeding,” Dr Freedman said.

“But the benefits outweigh the risk.”

The consensus statement will be drawn up by the stroke prevention group AF-SCREEN International Collaboration, which was co-founded by Dr Freedman and has 100 members from 30 different countries.

Dr Freedman declared conflicts of interest including research grants from several pharmaceutical companies that make anticoagulants.

Mary MacKillop Institute for Heart Research director Simon Stewart, who does not have any affiliations with pharmaceutical companies, said he supported calls to screen people over 65 because atrial fibrillation was common, easy to detect and potentially deadly.

The condition affects one in 10 people over 65 and one in five people over 80.

But it would encourage over-servicing by those who had a commercial interest in detecting and treating the condition, he said.

“I’m not putting it down, but you widen the spectrum of a diagnosis and you widen the treatment,” Professor Stewart said.

“There are new oral anticoagulants on the market compared to the ones that are cheap.

“I actually regard the cardiologists and the drug companies as bad as each other for over-servicing and there’s probably going to be a shark frenzy of electrophysiologists selling devices.”

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HIV prevention drug Truvada won’t be subsidised in Australia

The drug Truvada will not be subsidised in Australia Photo: Jeff ChiuAn expensive breakthrough drug that prevents people from getting HIV won’t be funded by taxpayers in Australia this year, the nation’s drug funding panel has ruled.
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Truvada, a once-daily pill shown to be highly effective at preventing HIV in people at risk of getting the virus, costs about $1200 a month to buy in Australia. It can also be bought on the internet and imported into Australia for less than $100.

HIV advocates and groups say the drug is so popular among men having sex with men that it has the potential to halve the number of HIV transmissions in Australia within a year if it was made more affordable.

The antiretroviral drug, which is being used as a strategy known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)”, was approved for use in Australia in May.

But late on Friday the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee announced it had rejected a proposal for it to be subsidised on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the PBAC understood “this is an important new prevention medication for HIV”, but decided the price set by the drug’s sponsor, Gilead Sciences, was too high and a proposal to limit subsidy to a small subset of the “at risk” group was not feasible.

“In its deliberations the PBAC indicated a substantial price reduction would be needed to make Truvada available for PrEP for the whole ‘at risk’ population, but noted that Truvada for PrEP could represent value for money in the broader population at a substantially lower price,” the spokeswoman said.

“There are medicines and vaccines subsidised on the PBS or the National Immunisation Program for prevention purposes but these are purchased from the pharmaceutical companies at a much lower cost.”

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations chief executive Darryl O’Donnell​ said the decision would limit access to an effective prevention tool while people were “needlessly getting HIV”. He called on Gilead to “urgently submit a new application for Truvada and do whatever it takes to ensure the next submission is successful.”

Victorian AIDS Council chief Officer Simon Ruth said that while at-risk people could access the drug through major trials in Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland, those living in other states may be excluded by price.

“If you’re anywhere else in Australia you have to import yourself and that can be incredibly difficult and not cost effective,” he said.

Mr Ruth said Gilead Sciences could resubmit an application for public funding as soon as November with a possible further decision from the committee in March.

AFAO president Bridget Haire said their modelling found wide access to the drug would halve the estimated 1200 new infections that occur each year in Australia.

“This drug is our best hope of Australia meeting its targets to dramatically reduce HIV infections,” she said.

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Still a strong case for keeping privatisation in the reform tool kit

Governments try to make privatisation more politically appealing by promising to spend funds on capital projects. Photo: Darren Pateman Despite recent concerns raised by the head of Australia’s competition watchdog, privatisation remains a viable reform option.
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Even though it has been firmly established as a modern economic reform mainstay, the notion of privatisation remains a controversial one among the public at large.

There are vested interests that will disparate privatisation as a matter of course, regardless of its successes, but when a longstanding, self‑avowed proponent of privatisation starts raising doubts it makes sense to take notice.

Speaking at an economics forum in Melbourne a few weeks ago Rod Sims, former Hawke government adviser and reappointed head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said, “I’m now almost at the point of opposing privatisation”.

The reasons for Sims’ growing scepticism about privatisation policy are two‑fold.

The first concern is that governments transferring ownership of assets to the private sector seem to be doing so with revenue‑raising as a primary objective, and this becomes more apparent when governments are gripped by a budgetary crisis.

Referring to the case of recent sales of port infrastructure by the NSW state government, Sims remarked: “I just think governments are more explicitly now privatising to maximise the proceeds.”

In the past federal and state governments have used the sales proceeds from privatisation to reduce public sector debt, and more recently have tried to make privatisation politically appealing by promising to spend funds from asset sales for recurrent or capital purposes.

Paying off debt is better than frittering funds on potentially low‑value spending but the bottom line, from a classical liberal perspective, is that the bounty of sales revenues a government collects from privatisation ought to be a secondary concern.

The application of sales proceeds by federal and state governments during the 1990s and early 2000s to reduce the burden of public sector debt was welcome at the time. But the broader “political economy” problem of governmental overspending was unaddressed.

If politicians lack the discipline to control spending, as budgetary developments in recent years attest, then the sale of public sector assets today could perversely help to financially validate the excessive expenditures of the past.

Putting these considerations together, the promise of privatisation revenue is no substitute for sound public sector financial management practices.

There are far more compelling reasons to privatise than fundraising, so in relation to the revenue question there is merit in the argument posed by the national competition policy regulator.

The second major issue that Sims raised in his Melbourne talk related to the implications of privatisation for competition, not only from the perspective of rivals competing with the owners of the privatised asset but for downstream industries and final consumers.

Ever since privatisation became a part of the policy reformer’s toolkit, it has been stressed that a privatised entity as part of a highly competitive environment, with numerous sellers already in place, is preferable.

At the very least there should be contestability pressures, or a credible threat of competitive entry into the industry by potential rivals, if a situation of converting a public monopoly into a private one is to be avoided.

In addition, a government preferably should not pursue any contractual arrangement that crimps competition, such as giving the buyer of privatised infrastructure a right of first refusal over future facilities located nearby, even if that potentially loses some privatisation sales revenue.

If a competitive environment cannot be ensured prior to privatisation, including through the structural separation of the privatised entity into its contestable versus monopolistic activities, it is recommended some form of regulated price oversight is needed to ameliorate the risk of monopolistic pricing.

Where privatised entities exist in sufficiently competitive markets governments have tended to relax price controls, whereas for private monopolies a regime of price monitoring, or even determinations of allowable price increases, have been implemented across Australia.

There is often a regulatory clamour for more prescriptive controls on prices charged by privatised entities and this can be fuelled by mischievous claims that privatisation, as opposed to government policies or changing market conditions, is responsible for price increases.

But there are risks surrounding more prescriptive price controls upon privatised entities, given the potential for regulatory action to deter new investment.

There seems little doubt that economic regulators would see additional pricing powers over privatised entities as highly desirable, but any potential changes must be scrutinised, with relative costs and benefits weighed judiciously.

The contrarian attitude assumed by Sims aside, it is helpful to reacquaint ourselves with the reasons why privatisation has become commonplace in Australia, Western Europe, North America and even in former and current communist countries.

Government-owned entities are forced to adhere to political imperatives, such as providing sub‑cost services to favoured constituencies, while being insulated from the direct effects of competition and the threat of bankruptcy or takeover.

Such circumstances are prone to lead to wastage as government entities generally operate less productively than their private sector peers.

Although cases surrounding post‑privatisation performance will vary several academic surveys, such as those undertaken by Bill Megginson, show an improved performance of privatised entities by way of efficiency gains and service reliability.

Sims has opened up a good debate about ensuring the political motives underpinning privatisation are sound, but his statements don’t contravene the reality that governments tend to be poor allocators of capital.

There are still plenty of Australian government assets, in communications, human services, infrastructure, property and utility sectors, whose ownership could be divested.

Governments should investigate alternative ways to truly give assets back to the people where circumstances permit, such as transferring assets to community groups or gifting shares to Australians.

In an economic climate where we should want to operate assets and resources less wastefully, privatisation should definitely be seen as a plus.

Mikayla Novak is a senior researcher with the Institute of Public Affairs (梧桐夜网ipa.org419论坛).

Twitter: @NovakMikayla

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

Dutton’s new gambit ‘another form of torture’

Illustration: Jim Pavlidis Peter Dutton says the Manus Island detainees will never come to Australia.
Nanjing Night Net

Peter Dutton is taking his war on people smuggling to a new level, one that defies logic and basic decency and appears to be more about establishing his big-C conservative credentials than protecting the nation’s borders.

Not content with contradicting his Prime Minister and declaring there is no third country option for the refugees stranded on Manus Island, Dutton now insists that any refugees who are granted PNG citizenship will never be allowed to travel to Australia.

The news came not at a media conference or in a press release after the proposition had been endorsed by the cabinet or Coalition party room, but in response to a text message from a listener during a radio interview with the very supportive Ray Hadley on Thursday.

The listener’s question was simple enough: if “these people” at some point in the future were granted a PNG passport, would they then be able to travel to “our country”?

No, came the answer. “That would be the case in any arrangement that we enter into,” Dutton explained.

“There likely would be a change to some law which we would need Labor to support, and we’ll wait and see whether they do support that, but I’ve made it clear that, even if people are granted citizenship elsewhere, they’re not then coming to Australia.”

Listeners were not told that those who have already spent three years in detention on Manus have to be in PNG for eight years before they can even apply for citizenship, or that many of them have brothers, sisters, wives, children and cousins in Australia.

Nor were they told how denying certified refugees with valid passports and no criminal records entry to Australia – surely the most basic right of freedom of movement – could conceivably encourage the people smuggling trade.

Nor were they told that citizens of other countries have no ability to lodge protection claims concerning persecution in their country of origin if they visit Australia.

In some cases, it was a mere quirk of fate that meant that some family members arrived before, and others after, Kevin Rudd declared before the 2013 election: “As of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia.”

For those on Manus with family in Australia, the daily queuing for meals in the detention centre is the most painful reminder of separation, because meal-time used to be family time.

After Dutton’s remarks, I spoke to two asylum seekers at the detention centre with family in Australia and the response was sadly predictable. This was, said 24-year old Ben, who has cousins in Melbourne, another form of the mental torture the asylum seekers have endured to for the last three years.

The refugees on Manus and Nauru did not, of course, get a vote in the July 2 election, but they stand to lose the most from Malcolm Turnbull’s wafer-thin victory.

Had Labor won, Bill Shorten vowed to put his immigration minister on the first plane to Geneva to enlist the UNHCR in finding resettlement countries, whilst retaining turnbacks and offshore processing.

Had Turnbull scored an emphatic victory that enhanced his authority, he gave the distinct impression that ending the misery of those on Nauru and Manus would be a priority. That, at least, was my conclusion when he told Four Corners’ Sarah Ferguson that finding “alternative places for them to settle” would be “easier” after the election.

Almost two months on, this does not appear to be the case. Rather, Dutton gives every indication that little effort is being made to find third countries with established resettlement programs; that first-world resettlement options like the US, Canada and New Zealand are off limits; and that the options for those on Manus are to go home (even if they are refugees) or settle in PNG.

The Immigration Minister appears to be driven by twin convictions: one, that the slightest hint of compassion will be viewed as a sign of weakness that will embolden the people smugglers and lead to deaths at sea; and two, that public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side.

Rather than increase pressure on the government to find a solution for those who have been left in limbo, the leaking of the “Nauru files” to Guardian Australia appears only to have hardened his resolve.

In one interview this week, he insisted he was not going to be “defamed” by the likes of the Guardian or the ABC, and said flatly there was “no third country option for people out of Manus at this point in time”.

In another, he defamed those who have been found to have a well-founded fear of persecution if they return to their country, telling 7.30’s Leigh Sales: “I think the situation is that people have paid people smugglers for a migration outcome.”

Implicit in his refusal to bend is what amounts to a vote of no-confidence in the ability of Operation Sovereign Borders and the ADF to repel any attempt to restart the smuggling trade through turnbacks, co-operation with Indonesia and the policy that new arrivals will be processed offshore and not resettled in Australia.

What we do not know is how much effort Turnbull is devoting to finding an outcome, and whether Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is engaged in talking to counterparts in developed and developing countries with resettlement programs.

One likelihood is that Malaysia, the country that was spurned as part of any response not once, but twice, by the Coalition purely to extract partisan political advantage, is part of any such endeavour.

What we do know is that PNG has neither the will nor the capacity to resettle anything like the 850 souls who are still living in the detention centre it has committed to close after it was deemed unconstitutional by PNG’s highest court in April.

What we also know is that the mental state of those on Manus and Nauru continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate, and that there will be more tragic consequences if no solution is found.

It isn’t the conditions on Nauru or Manus that are the biggest problem, or the level of care the asylum seekers are afforded, or the tensions within the refugee populations and with the wider communities. It is that people can only survive for so long without any hope before they are broken.

This is the reality that only Turnbull has the power to address, with or without the support of his ambitious Immigration Minister.

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

Malcolm Turnbull’s chance to return the shine to his leadership

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s first major post-election speech on the economy was disrupted by protesters, side-tracking his key messages. Photo: Andrew Meares Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says China faces ”strong reputational costs” if it refuses to abide by the UN ruling. Photo: Tony McDonough
Nanjing Night Net

Malcolm Turnbull is a man under pressure.

With the first anniversary of his prime ministership fast approaching, a too-close-for-comfort election victory, a rampant opposition and beset by political problems ranging from the census debacle, Australia’s offshore processing regime and party room disquiet over the Racial Discrimination Act and superannuation changes – Turnbull made his first move to kick start public debate over budget repair this week.

But his first major post-election speech on the economy was promptly disrupted by protesters, side-tracking the key message.

In just over a week, the 45th Parliament will finally convene and Turnbull needs a circuit breaker to elevate him above the cut and thrust of politics, restore some of the prime ministerial sheen that he has so rapidly lost and allow him to get on the front foot.

He might be about to find it – thousands of kilometres from Canberra.

September summit season is about to begin and Turnbull and his deputy, Julie Bishop, are set to criss-cross the globe to attend the East Asia and G20 summits in Laos and China, before heading to the United Nations General Assembly for the annual leaders’ week of meetings.

Her schedule in the coming months will also take in 2+2 meetings with the foreign affairs and defence ministers of Britain, Germany, Japan, Indonesia, a MIKTA meeting with Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey and many more bilateral meetings with Australian allies.

Bishop – easily one of the government’s most able and erudite performers – and her department are about to begin one of the most significant reviews of Australia’s foreign policy framework in more than a decade.

Not since 2003 has the Australian government produced a foreign affairs white paper.

Free trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea were a glimmer in the government’s eye.

“No country in Asia will supplant Japan’s importance to Australia’s prosperity for at least another decade”, it predicted, though China’s growing importance was “the single most important trend in the region”.

Indonesian stability, deeper engagement with ASEAN nations, the threat of Islamic terrorism and the US alliance were all prominent.

Advancing the National Interest, published on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, gazed into the crystal ball and identified some of the geo-strategic challenges Australia would face (and was certainly more value than the Asia-focused 1997 white paper, which was published on the eve of the Asian Financial Crisis and rapidly dated).

Oddly, the Rudd, Gillard and Abbott governments never produced foreign affairs white papers – though all three commissioned Defence white papers, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet produced the Asian Century white paper for Gillard.

But planning for the new white paper, which flew under the radar during the election campaign – the Coalition promised to develop a “contemporary and comprehensive foreign policy strategy within 12 months of the election” – is well under way.

Bishop tells Fairfax Media it will establish a “philosophical framework to guide Australia’s engagement, regardless of international events” and will be one of the first tasks set for the new secretary of her department, Frances Adamson.

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To that end, both Bishop and Turnbull should – during the coming month of summits and bilaterals – “pull key regional partners aside and say where does [court ruling] leave us, can we start a conversation about a new plan for the future?”

“It’s time to lift the conversations to a strategic level, to say what does this mean? Essentially we now have an unequivocal international law ruling that China has categorically rejected and we have a situation in which south-east Asian solidarity has splintered.”

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s executive director Peter Jennings says summit season will give Turnbull and Bishop a chance to “touch base with friends … and think through, collectively, how to deal with China, which is emerging as a very different China to 15 years ago”.

“The South China Sea is a symptom of a bigger issue. The only way to deal with China is to have a clear sense of our strategic interest and to argue for them in the face of potentially loud and aggressive diplomacy. We, as a country, need to develop the confidence to do that,” he says.

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Malcolm Turnbull will be hoping his meetings with world leaders will restore some of his diminished political standing – just as it did for Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott – ahead of what will be bare knuckle, year-ending fights to pass the budget and election promises such as the restoration of the construction watchdog.

For Julie Bishop, the coming round of diplomacy may produce less obvious political benefits in the short term.

But for Australia it could prove to be, in the medium term, potentially of far greater import.

James Massola is chief political reporter. Peter Hartcher will return next week.

Follow James Massola on Facebook.

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