Archive for: ‘February 2019’

Benching Burgess a mistake: Tuqiri

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

Former teammate Lote Tuqiri believes Sam Burgess has been harshly treated and is hoping the Wallabies don’t feel the backlash in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup blockbuster at Twickenham.

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Burgess has been dropped to the England bench for the must-win pool match after being savaged by the British media in the wake of the hosts’ 28-25 loss to Wales.

Tuqiri’s opinion, though, is well qualified and the dual international hopes Burgess doesn’t have the last laugh at Australia’s expense.

Burgess will be taking on the Wallabies on the anniversary weekend that he and Tuqiri starred in South Sydney’s drought-breaking NRL grand final triumph over Canterbury last year.

Tuqiri also featured in an Australia v England World Cup showstopper in his first year after switching codes from league to union when he started on the wing for the Wallabies in the 2003 final in Sydney.

And the 67-Test Wallaby is adamant Burgess should be starting in the latest instalment of England’s great sporting rivalry with Australia.

“He’s been hard done by, 100 per cent. I think it was a mistake Sammy being relegated to the bench,” Tuqiri told AAP on Friday.

“I thought when he came on against Fiji (in England’s tournament opener) he swayed the game his team’s way.

“Last week he was let down by the players who came on late who didn’t close the game out and he’s been hammered by the English press and ex-players.

“But he’s an easy target. It’s a tough one on Sammy.”

England led Fiji 18-8 before scoring two tries after Burgess’s injection with 20 minutes to go in a 35-11 bonus-point win.

After starting Burgess at inside centre against Wales, England led 25-18 before he was replaced by George Ford with 11 minutes remaining in the three-point defeat that has left the tournament hosts’ Cup hopes hanging by a thread.

Tuqiri says it will be intriguing to see how England coach Stuart Lancaster uses the 196cm, 116kg Burgess against Australia, who are starting the 178cm, 85kg Matt Giteau at inside centre.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Tuqiri said.

“Australia play a smart type of game whereas England play a bash-and-barge style and that’s what Sammy’s very good at.”

While the jury is still out on Burgess, Tuqiri believes the 26-year-old has made a strong transition in his first season in the 15-man code.

“I think he’s done really well,” he said.

“I’m not surprised that he’s made it, but I thought he might have played in the back row.

“To make the transition from the forwards (in rugby league) to No.12 is a lot more difficult.

“But we all know he’s an athlete.”

VW to give Aust govt car info next week

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

Volkswagen customers in Australia should find out next week whether their cars will be recalled as part of the emissions-cheating scandal that has rocked the German car maker.

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Volkswagen and Audi officials met with the federal government and the consumer watchdog on Friday, promising to update them on whether Australians have been sold cars fitted with so-called defeat devices to cheat emissions testing.

“VW and Audi have committed to update the public on Australian-sold vehicles as more detailed information is provided from their global headquarters,” Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects Paul Fletcher said in a statement.

“The government expects this information to be provided next week.”

That is not soon enough for law firm Maurice Blackburn, which is set to start work on the class action it promised would follow if Volkswagen did not come clean on Friday.

Class actions principal Damian Scattini said he will now talk to colleagues in the United States, where Volkswagen faces a possible $US18 billion ($A25.6 billion) fine and criminal charges after the discovery that 482,000 of its diesel cars there were emitting up to 40 times more toxic fumes than permitted.

“We’ll go about getting the information another way,” said Mr Scattini, who said he could make a freedom of information request to prise the full facts from Volkswagen.

Close to 400 Australian consumers have already contacted the law firm.

Mr Scattini said consumers were concerned at the resale value of vehicles, the effect repairs could have on engines’ longevity, and the environmental impact.

He added that motorists could even be voiding their insurance by driving a car with an illegal modification.

Volkswagen, which has lost about 40 per cent of its share value since the scandal broke, has said it will repair 11 million vehicles. It said this week that affected customers would be contacted “within days” but Australians are still in the dark.

Volkswagen sold more than 200,000 new cars in Australia between the start of 2012 and the end of August this year, according to PPB Advisory. That’s one in 20 of all new cars.

Since the start of 2012, 30 per cent of new vehicles across all manufacturers are diesel.

Mr Scattini said it is inconceivable that VW doesn’t have all the relevant information.

“Germans are good record keepers. If you wanted to find a part for a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, they’d have a way of finding that for you very quickly,” Mr Scattini said.

“I can’t believe for a moment they don’t know what’s happening here. If they did not have those engines in Australia, they would very quickly say `we don’t have those here and it’s not a problem’.”

The ACCC has demanded Volkswagen hand over all marketing material to see if it misled or deceived buyers and could issue fines of up to $1.1 million per breach of consumer law.

“They could be for each vehicle, or for the advertising medium, there are various ways to come at it,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said on Thursday.

“There’s no doubt that the penalties could be significant.”

Hermione’s opinion and the philosopher’s tone

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

This week, two popular actors have made unfortunate noises with their celebrated mouths.

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Emma Watson, known chiefly as Hermione from the Harry Potter franchise, reportedly said that “some of the best feminists are men” and Matt Damon, known chiefly as MATT DAMON, reportedly said that homosexual persons should not feel necessarily inclined to report their homosexuality to a large audience.

To discuss the moral veracity of either of these statements is pointless and so, for two primary reasons, I really shan’t. First, every Internet Outrage enthusiast has already held forth with an opinion on each claim and the world is in no further need of analysis. Second, we are talking about Matt Damon and Emma Watson.

I understand that these are attractive, popular people, considered by many as the glossy face of liberalism. And that any statement they make beyond acceptable margins is felt by their liberal fans as a duplicitous knife in the heart.

Fans of the dramatic arts should thank whatever genetic trick produces such marvellously empty and beautiful creatures.

I also understand that a world that elevates agreeable-looking actors to the post of its moral guardianship has gone completely barking mad.

In news that, surely, should shock no sentient blob, actors aren’t terribly bright. They never have been, they never will be and fans of the dramatic arts should thank whatever genetic trick it is that produces such marvellously empty and beautiful creatures.

While it is true that there are some entertainers who seem capable of writing their names in the sand without spell-check, these persons are the exception. The general rule is that those who are gifted of great charisma and physical charm are otherwise lacking in powers of analysis. Actors, in particular, are often vacant of thought or internal complexity. This makes room inside them to contain the complexity of the others they depict. Emptiness is a great asset in the performing arts.

Even if it were not so – and even in the case that all entertainers were required to pass a basic course in moral philosophy before publicising their films on the Ellen show – this peculiar and fabulous breed of people would still not be entitled to the respect we now routinely accord them.

In an ideal world, where there was no division of labour, we could, all of us – including pretty actors – perform the occasional role of moral philosopher. As things are, though, actors act and entertainers entertain. That we expect them to fulfil any function beyond this is not, largely, their doing.

Of course, we can lay a little blame at the self-important feet of Bono or of Russell Brand for promoting the idea that entertainers have some function other than to entertain. Otherwise, we must face the fact that the disappointment and outrage we direct at celebrities when they say the “wrong” thing is largely our fault.

We can lay a little blame at the self-important feet of Bono or of Russell Brand for promoting the idea that entertainers have some function other than to entertain.

Let’s say that you are the sort of person whose thoughts are largely occupied with morality and social justice. Good on you. This is a noble pursuit and I am, for one, very glad that you expend your intellectual energies on the matter of ethics. I encourage you to explore this difficult territory in either an amateur or a professional context and I believe these efforts, when rigorously applied, may provide some positive echoes in history.

But I also believe that when you spend your time fretting about what Hermione or Jason Bourne has to say, or you deliver screeds about the “ethics” of Game of Thrones, or you either venerate or chide football players, or commentators, for their perceived morality, that you have wasted your time and your thought.

There is a popular view that good ideas come from the top of popular culture. I have come to believe that this perception of trickle-down ethics is as false, if not falsifiable, as trickle-down wealth. Just as those wealthy in assets seize their fortune from those at the bottom, those wealthy in moral influence do the same.

The ideas, offensive or not, are always taken from the masses. They cannot be given back. And so to accuse celebrities of influencing us badly, or to celebrate them for influencing us, well, makes no sense of which to speak.  Honestly, they’re just repeating some stuff they heard elsewhere and their wealth – or indeed their poverty – of ideas is illusory.

If we want to refine our ideas, whatever they are, there are those living and dead whose work it is to help us do just that. Despite the fact of a world that has no clear use for moral and political philosophers, they continue to exist. These people are not necessarily good-looking and they are not, in general, famous. But they are not empty and it is to their currently valueless capital we must, unfortunately, turn, if we really want to make sense of the world.

Of course, you could keep looking to Emma and Matt for moral leadership. But I am pretty sure you are going to be disappointed.  

Helen Razer is a writer and broadcaster, and publisher of the blog Bad Hostess.

 

Dog basher to be studied by doctor: court

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

A Queensland man who violently killed a dog last year will be examined by a forensic psychiatrist prior to being sentenced for the worst category of animal cruelty offences.

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Preston Arapere Barton-Cootes, 23, on Friday pleaded guilty to two counts of serious animal cruelty and three counts of wilful damage, including of police property, in the Brisbane District Court.

In October 2014, police found the blood of two small dogs throughout a house at Kallangur in Brisbane’s north.

One had been bashed to death and the other had been injured after being stuffed in a plastic bag and swung around.

Jennifer O’Brien, for the Crown, told the court a psychologist’s report tendered by the defence team found “underlying patterns” made it difficult to predict whether Barton-Cootes would offend in the future.

A “thorough neuropsychological investigation” could shed more light on the problems of the defendant, according to the report.

Barton-Cootes’ defence lawyer, Rob Glenday, objected to further testing but Judge Anthony Rafter said the existing report did not reflect a true and accurate picture of the circumstances.

“This is as bad a case as you could imagine,” he said.

“He violently killed one domestic pet and also injured another pet – that’s not even mentioning the destruction of property.

“A person who would do all of that has real problems.”

Judge Rafter said further testing had merit both for the sake of the community and for the benefit of the defendant, who was on probation at the time of the incident and also has a history of assaults on people, including police officers.

The maximum penalty for the serious animal cruelty offence, which was only created in August 2014, is seven years behind bars.

The matter will return to court on October 29.

Inked-up protest slams SA anti-bikie laws

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

A vocal, inked-up group of protesters have taken to the steps of parliament house in Adelaide, slamming proposed laws to ban bikies from owning tattoo parlours.

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More than 100 protesters, including tattoo artists, held signs reading “art is not a crime” as they shouted “wake up Australia” and “save our tattoos” on Friday.

It comes in response to legislation introduced to parliament in September that seeks to ban members of motorcycle clubs and their close associates from operating tattoo parlours.

“Goodness gracious, this is the worst legislation I’ve seen,” said Mark Aldridge, a former independent election candidate and speaker at the protest.

“We are not criminals here today. The tattooists of this state have every right to tattoo.”

Mr Aldridge said the laws would cost jobs in the tattooing industry.

“There’s not a lot of money in art these days but in this particular art form people can make a living – there’s no valid reason to take this away.”

But Attorney-General John Rau said the legislation would only affect people who had a direct link to organised crime, or were closely associated with someone who did.

“Those people in this particular industry who have no connection with organised crime are going to be left completely untouched by it,” he said on Friday.

Mr Rau said the state police commissioner also had the power to lift a ban on gang-associated people owning a tattoo parlour if they could demonstrate good reason.

“It’s interesting that all of the people complaining about it so far appear to either be current or past members of these declared criminal groups,” he said.

Harvey Norman cancels sales after glitch gave customers huge discounts

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

A New Zealand consumer rights watchdog says retailer Harvey Norman should cut its losses and honour sales after a major website glitch meant hundreds of customers walked away with deals too good to be true.

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What was promoted as “New Zealand’s Biggest Retail Sale” turned out to be a bit bigger than the retailer was hoping, when an error on its website pricing saw items worth thousands of dollars selling for less than $A100.

Customers took to Facebook on Wednesday to post about buying lounge suites for as little as $NZ103 and dining sets for $NZ150.

But after having the prices up incorrectly for more than eight hours, the company sent 327 customers a message saying the whole thing had been an error.

“Unfortunately this morning between 0.01am and 8.00am there was an error with the Furniture department pricing. We apologise for this genuine error and wish to advise that a customer service person will be in contact with you shortly to discuss your purchase,” the email read.

Left red-faced, the company offered some clients a $NZ100 apology voucher in exchange for refunding the orders.

But Consumer NZ chief Sue Chetwin said the company should honour the sales, saying it would do better to turn the affair into a positive PR story.

“We’re getting disaffected people calling us now and calling for advice … If I was Harvey Norman I would give those people what they thought they paid for and get on with it,” she said.

“Depending on what position people are in, we are saying you might be able to do better than that [$100].”

She said it was arguable companies could make mistakes in contract law which would void the sales, but that it was probably not worth it for the retailer to litigate the issue, given the scale of its loss.

Harvey Norman has declined to comment.

I’m at 100 per cent for GF: Gunston

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

Hawthorn played a will-he or won’t-he game with forward Jack Gunston in the lead-up to Saturday’s grand final but the man himself says he’s known he would be playing all week.

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Both Gunston and Ryan Schoenmakers revealed on Friday they had known of their inclusion in the grand final 22 for several days.

Gunston, 23, dismissed any speculation he would be going into the match underdone.

“It’s 100 per cent, absolutely 100 per cent,” he said at the grand final parade.

“I wasn’t close to missing at all, I was ready to go from Monday once I started running.

“I don’t know if there’s an injury deep down there but I’m good to go.”

No Hawk has kicked as many goals as Gunston this season, who played every home and away game before injuring his ankle in the club’s qualifying final loss to West Coast.

The last-quarter injury suffered in Perth looked to be the unfortunate exclamation point on the Hawks’ 32-point loss, with speculation his injury would rule him out until next season.

After sitting out two finals wins, Gunston has been given the nod by Hawthorn’s medical team to take his place in the grand final, much to his relief.

While Gunston is looking for his third-straight flag on Saturday, Schoenmakers will be playing for his first.

The South Australian was a grand final loser in 2012 against Sydney, missing the 2013 decider after a serious knee injury suffered early in the season.

After missing last year win over the Swans, he gets another chance at premiership glory against West Coast.

He said there “weren’t any nerves, only excitement” after the benefit of being told earlier in the week.

“I just wanted to ease my mind I suppose and not make it such a big deal so I could prepare for the game,” he said.

Coach Alastair Clarkson said he was delighted to be able to hand Schoenmakers a return to the biggest stage in football, in his preferred position.

“(In past seasons) we needed to use Schoey in (defence) and he battled manfully, but he was undersized compared to some of the monsters he had to come up against,” he said.

“It’s probably the first time in his career at Hawthorn that we’ve been able to play him in the position that he was drafted at, and that was at centre half-forward.

“Over the course of the year, he’s played (forward) very consistently for us.”

Schoenmakers said win or loss, his teammates would ensure Billy Hartung – who is the unlucky omission for the grand final – knew he was valued at Waverley.

“I’m sure everyone has got around him at some stage, it’s heartbreaking but there’s a story like that every year and we know as a team he’s been a great contributor, fantastic.”

Union tale of misappropriation and deceit

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

The activities of three now-disgraced former Health Services Union bosses provide a “sorry history of misappropriation and deceit”, according to a damning assessment tendered to the royal commission into trade union corruption.

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Senior management operated with “a sense of complete entitlement”, said counsel assisting the commission, which recommended on Friday that commissioner Dyson Heydon make findings against former HSU officials Kathy Jackson and Craig Thomson.

The submission from counsel assisting recommended Mr Heydon make findings that reflect that Ms Jackson and Mr Thomson, both of whom served as the union’s national secretary, and former national president Michael Williamson had been “personally responsible” for the misappropriation of more than $2.4 million of HSU money.

The submission also notes Victoria Police, operating independently but in support of the commission, is undertaking a criminal investigation into Ms Jackson’s activities while at the union.

The submission from counsel assisting will be used to inform Mr Heydon’s final report, to be published by December 31.

The HSU has undergone many difficulties and tribulations in recent years, counsel assisting said, most of them centring on the actions of the three disgraced officials.

All three have faced allegations of misappropriation of union funds that have been the subject of criminal and civil investigations and proceedings.

Williamson, who is now in jail, was accused of defrauding the HSU and Unions NSW through the provision of false invoices to the amount of $938,000, the submission notes.

In the case of Mr Thomson, the submission said allegations had resulted in criminal charges concerning misuse of HSU funds for personal expenses, for which he was convicted of counts with a total value of $24,000, reduced to $5650 on appeal.

Ms Jackson has faced civil proceedings in which she was ordered to pay compensation to the HSU of more than $1.4 million.

“It is further submitted in overview that this sorry history of misappropriation and deceit was facilitated by a culture then pervasive at the HSU, in which senior management operated with a sense of complete entitlement in respect of the use of members’ money and at the same time without being subject to proper control or supervision,” the submission states.

Mr Thomson’s “wrongdoing” fell into two categories: causing the HSU to pay for personal expenses; and causing the HSU to pay for, and to deploy its resources in aid of, his campaign for election to the federal Central Coast seat of Dobell.

“The manner in which Craig Thomson caused the HSU to contribute funds and resources towards his ultimate success at the 2007 federal election is not cured by any suggestion that the HSU might have been pleased at that outcome,” counsel assisting said.

Mr Thomson acted in a way that benefited his own ambitions rather than some broader political object of the HSU, and caused the union to avoid any proper disclosure of the manner in which members’ funds were deployed for political purposes, counsel said.

“The effect of this was not only to expose the union to penalties for breaches of the disclosure laws outlined above, it contained an assumption that what was good for Craig Thomson was good for the members of the HSU,” counsel said.

The affected parties have until October 16 to respond to the submission.

Come on, daylight saving, and rescue me

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

The clocks are due to go forward in most states.

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I know this, not because I am a farmer, but because our four-year-old son’s morning invasions of the parental bed have recently broken the 6am barrier.

I shouldn’t complain. He used to wake up as early as 11pm or 12am and jump into our bed — or, more often, call out for us. After terse debate over whose it turn it was this time, testy negotiations in the dark (“You go — I’ll let you lie-in on Sunday.” “Fat chance, it’s my turn for a lie-in on Sunday anyway — get moving!”), one of us would go to his room, where we’d find the boy, stricken with terror by some toy that was lurking on his shelf and throwing malevolent shadows across the wall.

Or at least pretending to be stricken, so we’d take him into our bed. Generally, we’d be too exhausted or wary of waking his sister to argue and he’d get his way. As thanks, I’d spend much of the ensuing night being jabbed in the testicles by an elbow or a knee.

He shook that habit six months or so ago, therefore we don’t begrudge him the dawn raids.

Bedtime. Time in bed. Sleep itself. This aspect of life, perhaps more than any other, gets crapped up when you become a parent.

You know it’s going to be rough, of course. When you’re expecting your first child, everyone helpfully advises you to get your sleep while you can, smirking at the prospect of your torment.

You’ll end up going for the odd 3am drive, wailing infant in the back, hoping a couple of turns around the block might do the trick, maniacally humming “hush little baby don’t you cry”.

The newborn is likely to be in your room for easy access to the relentless feeding sessions. Many of the wee, small hours will be spent “settling” your baby, rocking a bassinet back and forth while croaking a lullaby, pacing your bedroom with the baby slung over your shoulder, tenderly patting its back on every 15th step, say, while silently begging it, tears streaming down your drawn face, for the love of God, to just go back to sleep.

You’ll end up going for the odd 3am drive, wailing infant in the back, in the hope that a couple of turns around the block might do the trick, maniacally humming “hush little baby don’t you cry”, eyes wild with desperation in the rear-view mirror.

Unless you’re the kind of bastard whose baby “sleeps through” from day one.

Both of our children were light sleepers as babies, waking several times a night. “Controlled crying”, the current default system of sleep management that requires you to let your child cry, systematically reducing the amount of time you spend comforting them, never worked for us. We could never stick to the rules; they were too damn tiring.

I favoured the “sitting in the dark beside the cot” method, reassuring them I was there and then, after five or 10 minutes, very, very slowly getting up from my chair and very, very quietly and carefully creeping out of the room. Often, I’d get busted at the doorway, then tearful recriminations would ensue and I’d be back at square one.

By the time they were two, both of our children had devised lengthy and circuitous bedtime rituals, involving a negotiable number of stories, a non-negotiable sequence of songs (“Puff the Magic Dragon” was a favourite, the devastating lyric of which is emblazoned forever on my limbic system), numerous visits to the toilet (of questionable authenticity), plus an unspecified period of sitting with them in the dark — something they’d learned to expect from me in particular.

Before long, they’ll be teenagers and we won’t be bothered by their sleeping, but who they’re sleeping with.

Now they’re six and four, bedtime is something that’s gotten easier. We don’t have to sing anymore. Our daughter’s slept through since she was three (which seems like only yesterday), barring one or two frankly terrifying night terror incidents. During these, she’s inconsolable, eyes wide open, stricken with fear, stiff as a board but shaking all over, and screaming at some apparition to “stop it, PLEASE!” to just “get AWAY!”.

We’re talking a borderline excorcism-worthy performance. We’d eventually calm her down and she’d have forgotten it all by the morning.

Generally, though, we can catch a solid seven hours sleep these days. Now that the boy doesn’t come to us at night, some semblance of a sex life comeback for his mother and me could even be on the cards. The walls are paper-thin in this place, which could become an issue down the track.

Yes, time is moving fast. Before long, they’ll be teenagers and we won’t be bothered by their sleeping, but who they’re sleeping with. Come to think of it, we definitely have to do something about those walls.

No, we don’t begrudge our son jumping into our bed for a morning cuddle, even when it’s before 6am for another week. He clambers in between us, wraps himself around each of us in turn and tells us that he loves us. Just before he kicks me in the nuts.

The clocks will soon go forward. These are times we won’t get back.

Daniel Chick does not lie: Brereton

16/02/2019 Posted by admin

Hawthorn legend Dermott Brereton has backed Daniel Chick’s honesty in the wake of his explosive allegations about West Coast’s drug culture during the mid-2000s.

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Brereton said he had a deep friendship with Chick and believed he spoke out about illicit and prescription drug use at the Eagles to rid himself of a burden.

“I know Daniel’s a really honest character and when he gets on a roll he tends to tell the truth,” Brereton told SEN radio.

“He needs to expunge himself of the burden, the weight of the knowledge he’s been carrying in his mind.

“I wish it didn’t happen but I understand why it did come out.”

Brereton said there was no one from Hawthorn, where Chick played 149 games before switching to West Coast, who would say a bad word about him.

“Daniel Chick, I’ve never known to tell one lie,” Brereton said.

Daniel Kerr, 2006 Norm Smith Medallist Andrew Embley and fellow former Eagle Karl Langdon all blasted Chick for his allegations.

Brereton said some people in Western Australia unfairly blamed Chick for fallen star Ben Cousins’ drug addiction.

“They want to create and paint a boogeyman that actually brought this trouble on – that wasn’t Daniel Chick,” Brereton said.

Brereton said Chick had admitted to him that he was “no angel”, but he had tried to protect Cousins.

Chick told News Corp that he and former premiership teammates Cousins and Kerr took massive doses of asthma drug prednisone and the use of cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine was widespread throughout the squad.

Brereton said Chick felt he was encouraged to play through damaging bouts of asthma, a disease which killed Chick’s brother.

“I’ve seen the pictures of his throat and honestly it’s like somebody put his throat in the vice and started hitting it, squeezing the vice and hammering it,” Brereton said.

“I think there’s a duty of care there for people who were his employers to look after and assist him.”

“This is Daniel’s feelings – he’s left footy and footy has sucked him dry.”