All My Friends: celebrating the songs and voice of Gregg Allman

GREGG Allman is one of rock’s most acclaimed and beloved icons, both as leader of the legendary Allman Brothers Band and for his superb solo recordings.
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This new double CD and single DVD set serves as the perfect tribute to the man and his songs.

Recorded live on January 10 this year at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, it features a multi-generational assortment of musicians from the worlds of rock, blues and country performing a swag of Allman staples.

Notable guest performers include Eric Church, Trace Adkins, Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Zac Brown and Brantley Gilbert.

Also included is performances by Taj Mahal and Gregg’s one time former roommate Jackson Browne.

While each interpretation is masterful in delivery an obvious standout of the set is the current Allman Brothers Band lineup – with Gregg singing – running through Dreams and a scorching rendition of Whipping Post.

The album will be available locally on May 2 through Rounder Records.

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Rubbish provokes outrage

Filthy: Hamilton Road residents are sick of rubbish lining their street.FAIRFIELD residents are outraged with the amount of rubbish they say is regularly dumped on their street.
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Hamilton Road resident Andrew Nicholson said the most recent pile of rubbish had been on the footpath for more than a week before the council came to remove it.

He said this was a regular occurrence.

“To make matters worse, there seems to be a broken sewerage pipe, which leaks waste across the footpath and into the roadside gutter,” Mr Nicholson said.

“This is utterly unacceptable and a danger to human health. Why do people on Hamilton Road have to put up with constant barricades of rubbish or push their children in strollers into oncoming traffic to try and escape an open sewer leaking across the council footpath?”

A Fairfield council spokeswoman said action had been taken.

“The council has dealt with the sewer overflow issue and an emergency order was issued last Friday to the managing agent to have the lines repaired in the coming days,” she said. “The occupier made arrangements last Thursday with waste enforcement to have the rubbish removed off the footpath.”

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Coca-Cola Amatil plays down ratings downgrades

Soft drink bottler Coca-Cola Amatil has played down the impact of credit rating downgrades by ratings agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in the wake of Friday’s shock profit warning.
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CCA says the credit downgrades will have no impact on its interest costs or ability to refinance debt in the short to medium term.

The ratings agencies cut their credit ratings or downgraded the credit outlook for CCA after the bottler shocked investors on Friday by warning that June-half earnings were expected to fall by 15 per cent.

Moody’s long term A3 rating has been maintained, but the outlook has changed from stable to negative. Standard & Poor’s reduced its long-term rating from A- to BBB+ but affirmed CCA’s short-term rating at A-2.

CCA said on Tuesday it has maintained an investment grade credit rating with both agencies and the changes to its credit rating are not expected to have any short to medium term impact on the company.

CCA has pre-funded maturing debt for approximately two years. All of the debt maturing in 2014 and 2015 has already been refinanced with cash held on term deposits at margins above associated borrowing costs.

According to CCA’s annual report, the bottler had $3.1 billion of interest-bearing debt at the end of 2013 but cash on hand and short term deposits totalling $1.4 billion.

The report also showed that former chief executive Terry Davis, who stepped down in March, took a 53 per cent pay cut last year after CCA’s underlying earnings fell 10 per cent.

Mr Davis’s base pay rose from $2.3 million to $2.7 million, but he received no short term bonus (vs $2.42 million in 2012) and superannuation benefits on short term incentives fell from $947,562 to $338,351.

In addition, long term incentives were reversed by $99,282 (vs long term incentives worth $1.14 million in 2012) after performance hurdles were not achieved.

Mr Davis’s total remuneration fell from $7.9 million to $3.7 million.

None of CCA’s senior management team, with the exception of NZ managing director Barry O’Connell, received their short term bonus.

CCA’s new chief executive, Alison Watkins, has launched a broad-based strategic review and flagged a “step-change” in CCA’s fixed costs and productivity in the wake of the profit decline.

CCA has been unable to recover higher costs in Australia because of aggressive pricing in supermarkets and weaker sales in the higher-margin route trade.

Earnings in Indonesia are also expected to fall this year because of increased competition from new rivals such as Big Cola, rising labour and fuel costs and currency depreciation.

Broker CIMB says CCA could cut costs by more than $100 million a year by culling excess stock keeping units or SKUs, closing bottling plants and reducing its merchandise field force.

Brokers such as Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley believe CCA needs to cut prices to better compete against Schweppes, which bottles Pepsi, and come up with new products to satisfy changing consumer tastes.

Standard & Poor’s says CCA’s operating expertise should enable it to arrest the volume and earnings decline in its Australian business in the next two years.

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Bondi’s Tea Garden for sale at $40m

On the market … the Tea Gardens Hotel in Bondi. Photo: Tamara VoninskiThe popular Tea Gardens pub at Bondi Junction is on the market with a price tag of about $40 million.
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It comes amid a flurry of pub deals, most recently being the sales of the Bellevue in Woollahra by the John Singleton-backed Riversdale Group, the Beach Palace Hotel in Coogee, worth about $30 million, by Justin Hemmes of Merivale and the Evening Star in Surry Hills.

The Tea Gardens selling agent, Andrew Jolliffe of Ray White Hotels Australia, said it was rare for a freehold asset of this magnitude, position, heritage and earnings capacity to come onto the market.

The seller is an interstate investment group who has owned the asset for the past seven years, which is a typical investment cycle time frame.

‘‘This is undoubtedly a blue chip freehold hotel asset and its close proximity to Westfield’s and Myer’s flagship stores in Bondi, as well as the respective train and bus station interchanges nearby, meaning the level of passing trade and local pedestrian and car activity is staggering,’’ Mr Jolliffe said.

It is set over two levels with in excess of 800 square metres of land including, outdoor areas, a highly sought after balcony, large kitchen operation and 30 gaming machines.

‘‘The latest quarterly Top 200 gaming rankings highlight the hotel’s sizeable jump from 121 in September 2013 to 88 in the state of NSW for the December 2013 quarter,’’ Mr Jolloffe said.

‘‘The annual profit delivered regularly by the Tea Gardens puts it firmly in the A-Grade asset class, irrespective of category, and means that it enjoys similar status to the Coogee Bay Hotel, the Golden Sheaf in Double Bay, the Newport Arms and the recently traded Steyne in Manly and Watsons Bay hotels.’’

Mr Jolliffe expects interest to come from many sources, including experienced long term hoteliers who have been active in the market in the past two years, as well as several sophisticated and well funded investment groups who have also been quietly amassing an enviable suite of high performance and strategic hotel assets.

‘‘Assets like the Tea Gardens are iconic for a reason. The barriers to entry for competitors in such a highly developed area are high, the number of hotels in the broader area is comparatively low to others, and the sheer volume of people in and around the hotel is the very reason assets of this grade are seldom traded.’’

Elsewhere, the management of the Riversdale Group has undergone a restructure, as it prepares to go public later this year.

The co-founder and chief executive of Riversdale, Paddy Coughlan has moved to a new role to focus on boosting the portfolio, through new acquisitions and will work with the backers, Mr Singelton, ex head of Qantas Geoff Dixon and investment advisor Mark Carnegie to create new areas of investment and growth for the group.

Riversdale co-founder Rod ‘‘Ned’’ Kelly will work from Brisbane, where two pubs there now generate about 40 per cent of the business.

The Australian Pub Fund, which owns the hotels and will look to float, will look for a new chief executive to oversee the corporate arm of the business.

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NBN Co spending big to fight off cherry-picking telcos

“This is not just a TPG response plan. This is our plan to bring forward those revenues and also at the same time make it clear that we will respond to competitive threats.” Photo: Daniel MunozNBN Co is set to ramp up its spending to fight would be competitors such as TPG Telecom in an effort to shore up its profitability which it claims is under threat.
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The strategy is part of NBN Co’s response to TPG Telecom’s plan to connect lucrative urban apartment-dwellers with a rival fibre to the basement network.

NBN Co will speed up the launch of its fibre to the premise and basement services for apartments and office blocks to stop TPG from locking customers and building owners into exclusive contracts.

TPG’s share price fell 26¢ on Tuesday to $5.69 per share.

NBN Co’s chief customer officer John Simon is in charge of the project and said the government-funded project had to act quickly to stop TPG and other telcos from destroying its business case.

“If TPG can do it then why can’t six or seven other players do it?” he asked. “Then all of a sudden what you find is the more commercial or lucrative sectors of the market get picked off and you end up with a swiss cheese network.

“This is not just a TPG response plan. This is our plan to bring forward those revenues and also at the same time make it clear that we will respond to competitive threats.”

Mr Simon said NBN Co would not slowdown its construction in regional and rural areas, instead it would ramp up building in metropolitan areas.

TPG’s planned network depends on a legal exception that lets networks built before 2010 to be extended by up to 1 kilometre giving them access to apartment and office buildings. Telstra, SingTel-Optus and Vocus Communications have said they would be interested in using the same loophole to deploy similar networks in competition with NBN Co if TPG is allowed to do so.

Mr Simon said the Federal Government’s latest statement of expectations was partly the catalyst for the new and aggressive plan.

While senior telco industry executives have expressed concerns that NBN Co is using taxpayer funds to shut down potentially competitive markets, Mr Simon said his priority was to keep the company profitable.

“In the absence of a clear statement about any regulatory position we have no choice but to protect the integrity of the plan NBN has and also remembering we have 43 other RSPs that are our customers…and if we didn’t do anything then effectively we’re diminishing our relevance,” he said. “It is taxpayer funded and that’s why it’s important we protect that investment and get the right return for the taxpayers.

“We have no other choice but to make sure we deliver services to these key market segments and also respond to competitive moves.”

TPG declined to comment.

TPG Telecom’s rivals have welcomed NBN Co’s move to tackle the company head on with a ramped up broadband construction rollout.

Perth-based service provider iiNet supported NBN Co’s latest push to take on TPG. Its head of regulatory affairs Steve Dalby said he was worried about TPG being both a supplier of services and competitor against his company in the telecommunications market.

“We have clarity on how we can deliver services to our customers over the NBN whatever the technology platform is but in terms of TPG we don’t have a relationship there,” he said. “So from our perspective we back NBN Co and say ‘get on with it’.

“TPG is a competitor and has a potential conflict of interest about being a supplier and competitor .. and its mandate is to act in the interests of shareholders [but] NBN Co’s mandate is to provide wholesale access to retail service providers.”

But Mr Dalby said the Federal Government had to bear some of the blame for NBN Co being forced to tackle TPG because it had not locked in its NBN plan.

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Alice in Wonderland festival decision due at Cessnock

ADVENTURE: Sydney residents are expected to attend.A MUSIC festival that aims to create an “Alice in Wonderland experience” in the Hunter Valley will go before Cessnock councillors on Wednesday.
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Council staff recommended approval for the festival, which is planned for a May weekend on land at Cedars Mount View resort.

The plan has attracted controversy, with residents in the area divided on its merits.

Festival co-organiser Matt Weir said the focus had been on “residents who are opposed to our event”.

“We feel that there hasn’t been enough focus on the positives that the event could bring to the area,” Mr Weir said.

“There are quite a few residents in the direct vicinity and surrounding area who are looking forward to the festival.

“This is an event that would never usually be in an area like Mount View and I believe they think this is a good thing.”

The festival planned to attract 1500 people, with about 500 vehicles expected from Sydney, along with trucks, 27 portable toilets and 20 showers.

Opponents said the area had a narrow and winding gravel mountain road, which could not handle festival traffic.

They were concerned about noise pollution affecting residents, pets, livestock and native fauna.

Millfield resident Bruce Parkin said some opponents “can’t see past the end of their driveway and sacrifice one or two nights of the year for the benefit of the community at large”.

“There are many local businesses who will do well out of this event, including wineries and holiday cottages,” Mr Parkin said.

A council report said the event was “not incompatible with the existing rural character of the site and surrounding land”.

“The proposal has been modified during the assessment process to ensure the intensity of the festival will not compromise rural land uses of the site or the surrounding area,” the report said.

Oscar Pistorius trial: contradictions mount as athlete faces fifth day of cross-examination

BlogGood morning from Pretoria, where we are in readiness for day 23 of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.The Blade Runner has arrived in court. 
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Walking the gauntlet – Oscar Pistorius arrives for day 23 of his murder trial #OscarTrialpic.twitter南京夜网/xH8ZGhqTRR— Tom Steinfort (@tomsteinfort) April 15, 2014

As ever, much talk this morning about how much longer state prosecutor Gerrie Nel’s cross-examination can go on. Today is the fifth day he has questioned Pistorius – quite a long time by any court standards, I would have thought. But Mr Nel once cross-examined a police chief accused of fraud for eight days, so suppose anything is possible!

As he concluded yesterday, Mr Nel told the court he would this morning embark on a series of questions about “the toilet”. We finished about five minutes early because the prosecutor said he did not wish to start and then have to repeat them in the morning.

So that’s where we’ll resume, I suppose.

Judge Masipa arriving now…

Mr Nel is making an application to adjourn the case later this week for a slightly extended period because the prosecutors need to turn their attention to the rest of their case load. He says the case has gone way over the expected period and says his junior counsel has a matter she must attend in court in next week.

He says he will today conclude his cross-examination, and asks the case resume on May 5.

Pistorius’ lawyer Barry Roux does not object to the adjournment, and he says the defence case will wrap within a couple of weeks after thatn.

Judge Masipa says she wants to think about it, and will give decision tomorrow.

Mr Nel resumes his cross examination with a good point: “on your version, the deceased must have opened the bathroom window.”

Pistorius agrees: “yes, before she went to the toilet.”

Nel goes on: if his version is true, Reeva would have had to have time to “void her bladder” AND get dressed BEFORE shutting the door.

Pistorius: That’s correct.

It’s a point we haven’t yet heard: the prosecution says there is simply enough time for Reeva to open window in the bathroom, go to the toilet, close and lock the door before Pistorius entered with his gun on his version of events.

Compelling argument – Pistorius doesn’t agree.

Nel suggests, & #Pistorius agrees, that Reeva would have peed with the toilet door open- only closing & locking it as he advanced with gun— Jerome Starkey (@jeromestarkey) April 15, 2014

Nel again compares previous versions, reading parts of Pistorius’ bail application affidavit, and points to differences in versions. There’s no mention of “wood moving” sound.

Q: WHy would you fire when you heard the magazine rack?

A: I didn’t have time to interpret that.

Q: Why would you fire at the magazine rack?

A: I thought it was the door opening … it could only have been the magazine rack in retrospect.

Q: You see, that’s your problem Mr Pistorius – you are thinking of the version, you’re not answering the question.

A: It’s not true my lady.

Q: It’s getting more and more improbable and you’re tailoring as you go.

A: It’s not true, my lady.

#OscarPistorius Nel pointing out if he didnt hear noise of door opening but it was mag rack instead, why was he so scared he had to shoot?— Alex Crawford (@AlexCrawfordSky) April 15, 2014

Nel returns to the jeans, says the fact they are inside out would indicate Ms Steenkamp took them off quickly.

Pistorius now says Reeva was already in her pyjamas when he arrived home, so he doesn’t know why the jeans were on the floor.

Nel: It’s because of what happened int hat room. You had an argument she wanted to leave … that’s the only reason they would be in that state”.

Pistorius says not.

Nel seems to be mopping up a few final details here – zipping from one piece of #OscarPistorius evidence to another.— andrew harding (@BBCAndrewH) April 15, 2014

Interestingly, June Steenkamp is not in court today. Wonder if that’s because she’s been tipped off about a dramatic/graphic climax, like the way Nel started his questioning?

Pistorius: I was screaming. I remember one of the shots hit the frame of the door, it shocked my hands.

Nel asks why if he was doing everything possible to get into the door once he believed he had shot Reeva, why he didn’t put his gun down?

Pistorius: I don’t know, my lady.

He says he was “crying out more desperate”, crying out “Reeva, Reeva”.

#OscarPistorius: I placed the gun on the carpet as I ran into the bathroom with a cricket bat. Nel: so you shoulder charged door with gun— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) April 15, 2014

Nel wants Pistorius to do another demonstration of how he struck the door with the cricket bat.

He has asked cricket-bat-door-expert Colonel Vermeulen to assist, by putting the bat first in the position in the door HE claims it was struck at, and gets Pistorius to hold the bat’s handle in that position.

OP asked to move back and do it again and accidentally bangs the door slightly. #Pistorius— lucy thornton (@lucethornton) April 15, 2014

Pistorius now describes what happened when he broke the door, reaching inside and getting key from the floor.

“I ripped off a bigger panel (of the door) and tried to get in.”

Nel says it’s “important” he explains Ms Steenkamp’s position when he first got into the cubicle.

“She was (pause) sitting on the floor to the right of the toilet..(cries) with her right arm on top of toilet bowl…”

He is crying as he looks at a photograph of the blood-soaked toilet cubicle.

Points at the screen, where there’s “a lot of blood on the seat”.

Pistorius closes his eyes as computer operator scrolls through the pictures. His sister Aimee is in tears watching her brother’s testimony.

Pistorius says the rack wasn’t where it is depicted in the picture – recalls it being to the far right of the picture. That’s another fresh detail we haven’t heard before.

Crying openly now but still composed, as he describes how he “crouched over” his girlfriend, checked to see if she was breathing or had a pulse. Didn’t think she did so pulled her onto him in a bid to try and get her out.

Then he heard her breathing so “I tried to get her up and out of the toilet.” He struggled, as he was on his stumps.

“I placed her halfway between the toilet and the bathroom and tried to pick her up but couldn’t.”

He then saw her phone, tried to use it to call for help but it had a passcode on it so couldn’t get into it, so ran to the bedroom to get his phone.

We now move onto the phones.

Pistorius says it’s possible he put the phone where it is, partially under towel, so the cover came off. But says he can’t be sure because police have moved things and “tampered” with the scene.

The iconic close-up image of the gun, blood, phone and bathmat appears on screen again. #OscarPistorius— andrew harding (@BBCAndrewH) April 15, 2014

Nel says now that he’s found Reeva, would he not have been screaming his loudest, his most upset?

“I don’t understand what the purpose of screaming is,” says he was overcome with sadness at what had happened.

Says when he screamed it was the “state of panic, the not knowing … I wouldn’t have screamed out”.

Nel: “You would expect you then to scream at Reeva. Talk to her.”

Pistorius: “No, I was broken, I was overcome with sadness.”

#OscarPistorius Nel: so you were running up and down screaming but when you saw her you didn’t scream? Oscar: No.— Gia Nicolaides (@GiaNicolaides) April 15, 2014

Pistorius says he carried her downstairs and when he got there he was met by estate manager Stander and her daughter, who said “Ozzy put her down”. He says he beseeched them to help take Reeva to hospital.

Pistorius says he “talked to her … crying ‘Baby please hold on.’ I was talking to her all the time….Reeva..I was praying for her.”

The athlete says he doesn’t remember a lot of what happened immediately afterward.

Nel asking about him telling security ‘everything is fine’, says it was a “mistake” to phone him. That’s how prosecution explains that when the security guard Baba phoned back, Pistorius told him “everything is fine”.

Pistorius rejects the assessment, says it “doesn’t make sense”.

Nel says everything from the time Pistorius picked Ms Steenkamp up and carried her downstairs, is not in dispute. It’s what happens prior to that, that doesn’t add up.”

The prosecutor returns to a picture showing the the magazine rack leg in a pool of blood – it doesn’t appear that it moved, he submits.

“That’s correct, my lady”, Pistorius replies.

Mr Nel says he’s getting lots of notes from his legal team and asks for five minutes to confer with them.

Suspect he’s getting close to the end of his examination in chief. As is often the case as cross-examination concludes, expect there to be a big finish.

Nel will likely put the whole state case to him in graphic detail – making it sound as compelling as possible – and highlight the implausibility of Pistorius’ version.

Mr Nel resumes: “What I’m going to try and show you is there isn’t any blood on the magazine rack and the rack hasn’t moved.”

He reminds Pistorius that his own legal team’s pathologist/expert says the marks on Ms Steenkmap’s back were caused by the magazine rack – not, as the state alleges, by the ricocheting bullet from the shot that missed her.

But you testified that the rack was in the far right of the cubicle – two separate versions,” Mr Nel submits.

Pistorius disagrees – when Reeva fell she might have bumped and moved the rack.

#Pistorius Nel claims blood smears on magazine rack means her head must have hit it.— NickiGoulding_CNN (@NickiGoulding) April 15, 2014

Photo close-up shows that there is indeed blood on the magazine rack. The one leg in the pool of blood shows no movement.

Pistorius dogmatically says the rack wasn’t there, because that’s where Reeva was.

We return to the fact that Pistorius said he had himself to blame for taking Reeva’s live.

Q: Who should we blame for the fact that you shot her? Who should we blame? Should we blame Reeva?

A: No my lady.

Q: She never told you she was going to the toilet, we could blame it on her?

A: No my lady.

Q: Should we blame the government? You must blame somebody.

A: I thought there was someone coming out of the toilet to attack me.

Q: I’m putting to you that there were only two people in the house that night. You killed Reeva and you’re the only person who can give a version of what happened that night. Do you agree?

A: I do, my lady.

Q: I’m putting to you Mr P that it’s so improbable it cannot be possibly true.

A: It is true my lady.

Q: Reeva ate within three hours of you having shot her dead.

A: It’s not true my lady… I can’t possibly believe she has eaten.

Mr Nel is now putting together the whole state’s case, I think he is almost finished.

Q: “You shot four shots through that door, while knowing she was standing behind that door.

A: It’s not true my lady.

Q: you know because she was talking.

A: It’s not true.

Q: She locked herself in the toilet, you armed yourself with the “sole purpose of shooting her dead” and that’s when you did it.

A: It’s not true.

Q: Afterwards you were overcome by what you had done.

A: That’s true…

Q: Because you intended to kil her.

A: That’s not true.

And after four days of cross-examination, Mr Nel sits down.

Extraordinary: #Pistorius psychologist on the relatives bench clapped her hands in silent applause applause when Nel ended his x-examination— Jerome Starkey (@jeromestarkey) April 15, 2014

Mr Roux asks for a short adjournment, Judge Masipa wraps it into morning tea break.

As she has done almost every time there is a break in proceedings, Pistorius’ sister Aimee rushes to her brother’s side to hug him.

Standing in the courtroom, Pistorius can talk to his lawyers for the first time in almost a week. Might be quite an awkward conversation, given how many times he blamed them for missteps during his cross-examination.

He is also warmly embraced by his uncle Arnold. Lots of back-slapping and support. They have avoided him – in court, at least – for much of the past week.

While under cross-examination, no witness is allowed to confer with the counsel.

Update on June Steenkamp – apparently she is sick today, that’s why she is not at court.

Mr Roux has had meetings with his client and team, and will begin his re-examination shortly.

Rules of re-examination are quite strict – he cannot introduce any new material, can only revisit things already said.

Not saying Barry Roux has a temper, but if I were #OscarPistorius I’d be begging for protective custody before he takes me to his chambers.— Phillip de Wet (@phillipdewet) April 15, 2014

Mr Roux resumes. He will be trying to clarify a number of issues.

Roux asks about Pistorius’ claim his gun fired accidentally.

Pistorius: The situation as a whole, it wasn’t meant to be.

Roux: But you pulled the trigger?

Pistrious: I pulled the trigger.

#OscarPistorius Tells Roux what he was thinking, feeling as he stood in front of door. Told Nel he wasn’t thinking at all— Gerald Imray (@GeraldImrayAP) April 15, 2014

Nel has objected to leading questions as Roux tries to resurrect the defence of “self-defence” by showing Pistorius was not acting involuntarily.

Now see a picture of the jeans, and the duvet, as taken by the crime scene photographer. Pistorius says in one photograph the jeans are inside out, in another they’re not.

Roux scrolling quickly through issues raised in cross-examination.

Regarding his bail affidavit, he says he made it without access to any of the statement’s in the state’s case. Mentions Hilton Botha, the disgraced original officer in charge as a reminder about the claims of a dodgy police investigation.

Mr Roux now tenders the Valentine’s Day card Reeva left for Pistorius the night before she was killed.

The athlete struggles with his emotions again as he says the envelope had “Ozzy” written on the front.

Inside, Ms Steenkamp had written: “I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you.”

Pistorius: She signed her name and put some kisses.

Roux has now finished his re-examination. Incredibly brief.

Just two quick questions from one of Judge Masipa’s assessors:

Q: Could Reeva Steenkamp activate and reactivate the alarm?

Pistorius: I’m not sure if she knew how to … but she could if she had the remote.

Q: Was the light in the toilet working or not?

A: It wasn’t working my lady.

Extraordinarily, Pistorius’ evidence has now finished.

He makes his way back to his seat in the dock, where he is once again approached by family members including sister Aimee.

He blows his nose and gathers in a huddle with defence.

Mr Roux requests half an hour to get the paperwork he needs to call next witness; says was caught off guard and thought he wouldn’t need to do that until lunchtime.Back underway. Mr Roux calls Roger Dixon, former forensic geologist with South African Police Service, is now on the witness stand.He was used to be Col Vermeulen’s boss.

He is running through his resume…

#OscarPistorius is sitting back in his usual seat, like a relay runner who has no further control over this particular race.— andrew harding (@BBCAndrewH) April 15, 2014

Dixon says he was asked to examine the lighting in Pistorius’ bedroom. Says to test the level of darkness he closed curtain, turned all lights off.

He says with all lights off includ electronic equipment, you could see nothing at all in bedroom “not even hand in front of face”.

He says the morning of the shooting was a “moonless night”.

Dixon tells the court he went back to house last night.

With the curtain closed, two tiny light-switch lights, CD player on, moon in sky. Still was very dark in Pistorius’ room.

He says the CD player gives off just a little bit of light. With your back to it, you wouldn’t see anything.

Also confirms the toilet light was not working.

Dixon also says he went to the home belonging to the home belonging to neighbours Dr Johan Stipp.

Says a new building now obscures view from Stipp’s house to Pistorius’.

A night time photo is shown of Stipps small bedroom balcony from street at night.

Defence is looking to challenge neighbor Dr. Stipp’s evidence with this expert, Dixon.

#oscarpistorius The Defence is trying to discredit the Stipps’ evidence about what they saw that night.— Laurel Irving (@laurelirving7) April 15, 2014

Dixon points out if your eyes were exposed to light, like closing the curtains, the would take time to readjust to darkness.

He says if toilet door is open, light from the bathroom enter cubicle and light can be seen from both windows.

Series of photos addressing Johan Stipp’s evidence: he saw dim light in the loo window. Dixon shows loo door had to be open. #OscarPistorius— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) April 15, 2014

Dixon now turns to the toilet door, and the blows to it.

He says there were only three blows to door with cricket bat: upper right hand corner damaged by bat.

Dixon says he took a duplicate door from another room in the house and “did tests in which we hit the door as well as fired bullets through it in order to replicate the effects that would arise when it is hit, damaged, abused in the fashion which is evidence on the door.”

“I hit the door with the cricket bat … it takes a lot of force to break that door.”

Mr Roux says he is going to play the sound recorded by this demonstration. As they get it ready, Pistorius leans forward and puts fingers in his ears.

Ahhh, technical difficulties. Can’t make it work. “I’ll come back to it,” says Roux.

They all want the two week adjournment, so he’s mindful not to waste any court time.

Dixon says they did the bullet tests on a shooting range at night to try to replicate conditions.

One recording station was at 60m, other at 120m.

Brief moment of levity as the assistant’s computer blares another noise.

OP head down, hands holding his head as we hear tests of sounds of shots.— Sarah Carter (@sarzss) April 15, 2014

The court is played the sounds, and must be said they sound remarkably similar.

#OscarPistorius’ team has released this image of the Valentine’s Day card Reeva left for him #[email protected]南京夜网/2LPNmAF9OP— Lisa Davies (@lisazdavies) April 15, 2014

Most reporters are in agreement – while we are no experts, we would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two.

Dixon agrees with evidence of state’s expert Vermeulen on this point: the cricket bat hit door AFTER gunshots.

On an analysis of the door, Dixon says white fibres found there are consistent with this fibre is the white socks worn over Pistorius’ prosthesis.

We take the lunch break.

Fair to say the evidence following Pistorius’ testimony is dull by comparison. Very crucial though, and defence will hammering away at the forensic details.

We resume with Dixon, the defence’s expert on all things door/noise.

We return to the white tufts – Dixon says they are unlikely to have ended up there with a mere “stumbling” into it as the state’s witness Vermeulen asserted.

He also says the varnish on the soles ofthe prosthesis must mean he kicked door very hard.

#Pistorius looks close to complete exhaustion today.— NickiGoulding_CNN (@NickiGoulding) April 15, 2014

Dixon says all marks on the door are similar and share same features, all “in my interpretation, cricket bat marks”.

Now onto image of cricket bat “tip” with a blood smear and blood spots on it.

The defence forensic expert says the blow from the cricket bat would have made the tiles come off the wall.

#oscartrial Dixon makes point door was extremely strong one. OP must have hit it with some incredible force to have smashed thro in 3 blows— Alex Crawford (@AlexCrawfordSky) April 15, 2014

Dixon adds that he couldn’t hit the door hard enough with the cricket bat to make the marks Pistorius did.

Expert explaining angle of bullets and the splinters of the wood after bullets went through door.

Dixon: “Looking at the bullet exit hole – the splinters are larger on the left as opposed to the right of the holes.

“Most unprofessional” – that’s how Dixon has described police walking through crime scene.

He goes on to explain how to minimise compromising the scene – something the Pistorius investigators did not do.

Dixon: One of the shot prints is over a bullet hole – whatever evidence was there has been compromised.

He is talking about the prints found on the door after it was in a police chief’s office for a week.

So true:

Vibe in court so different. Quieter, more sedate without Nel’s flamboyant, dogged prosecuting style taking centre stage. #OscarPistorius— Robyn Curnow (@RobynCurnowCNN) April 15, 2014

Pistorius has put his hands over his ears again and is bending forward – as details of wood splinters are talked about.

Dixon suggests Reeva must have been within 20cm of the door when Pistorius shot her, judging by the arm splinters around wounds. State claims she fell back almost a metre.

The pictures we’ve seen on other days, of the bullet wounds on Reeva’s back, are back up on the screen. Defence says they were caused by magazine rack, but state’s pathologist says by ricocheting from bullet that did not strike her.

Pistorius has his head down, hands over eyes and thumbs in ears.

Dixon: my interpretation of the that they came from when Reeva feel against a hard object, like the magazine rack @eNCAnews— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) April 15, 2014

Mr Roux hands Pistorius a photograph he does not wish to show on the screens “for obvious reasons”. It is a rather graphic photo of Ms Steenkamp, showing her wounds.

Well, even on day 23, we see something we haven’t yet.

The magazine rack has been brought into the court, and passed over to the witness. It now sits atop the desk in the witness box, three metres from the toilet door, still centre stage in court.

Roux brings up police ballistic expert Captain Mangena’s evidence. They want to discredit that.

He says Ms Steenkmap was sitting on the rack for the last two shots.

On Captain Mangena’s evidence that Ms Steenkamp was sitting on the magazine rack, witness says: “I can’t see it happening.”

Mr Dixon says the size of bullet core retrieved from the toilet bowl itself is “inconsistent with having come from one of the bullets that went into the body”.

Dixon is trying to account for all the “bits and pieces” of bullet fragments to back up his theory that marks on RS back from magazine rack.— andrew harding (@BBCAndrewH) April 15, 2014

As it is now 3pm, we adjourn. Another extraordinary day, and tomorrow is day 24.

Back at 9.30am, when Judge Masipa will either grant or reject application by both parties to adjourn on Thursday for two weeks.

That would mean case resumes on May 5.

Pistorius looks utterly exhausted as he hugs his sister and brother closely, before going to talk with his lawyers.

Eyes are sunken in his head and he looks sweaty and tired. No doubt the past few days have been extremely difficult.

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Labor senator Louise Pratt ‘ashamed’ of factional deal after West Australian election disaster

Penny Wong weighs in Labor debate on policy and reform
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West Australian senator Louise Pratt has broken her silence about the “disastrous” Senate election and declared she is “ashamed” of the factional deal that will cause her to lose her seat to Labor colleague Joe Bullock.

In an admission that it will be almost impossible for her to sneak past Liberal candidate Linda Reynolds with about 5 per cent of votes left to count, Senator Pratt launched an extensive attack on Mr Bullock and sections of the West Australian branch of the party.

Speaking exclusively to Fairfax Media, Senator Pratt said the party was facing “a disastrous result that goes to the heart of the need for reform of the Labor Party”.

She lashed the factional deal between the Right-aligned Shop, Distributive and Allied workers union and the Left-aligned United Voice union that forced her out.

Under the deal, Senator Pratt was pushed down to No.2 on the Senate ticket and Mr Bullock installed as No.1 in exchange for Mr Bullock backing former United Voice secretary Dave Kelly for the state seat of Bassendean.

“The SDA is a large voting bloc in the ALP and they consistently use this bloc to preselect members of Parliament who are anti-marriage equality and anti-choice,” she said.

“I’m ashamed that a factional power grab was privileged over principles held by an overwhelming number of party members in Western Australia.”

Ms Pratt welcomed Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s plan for sweeping reforms of the Labor Party that would empower rank and file members, rein in powerbrokers’ influence over candidates and lead to fewer factional bosses  – like Mr Bullock – being preselected for the Senate.

Mr Shorten plans to call for changes to Senate preselection rules that would broaden the talent pool from which Labor chooses its senators.

Senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese told ABC radio on Wednesday that the party needed more rank-and-file participation to prevent the kind of factional deals that were seen in WA.

Mr Albanese, who narrowly missed out on the Labor leadership despite winning a majority of votes among rank-and-file members, backed moves to give the party’s membership a greater say in preselections.

“I think one of the things that we do need to examine is a way in which we make sure that we increase participation in the Labor Party in a way that ensures that you can’t just have a small number of people making the decisions,” he said.

“I think certainly there’s a need for a rank-and-file component.”

Senator Pratt’s departure would be a ‘‘big loss’’ for Labor, he said.

‘‘She was a very good senator. She will remain one until June and I just hope to see her back in some capacity,’’ he said.

“Louise Pratt is very highly regarded in Western Australia and I think it is a very poor result for the Labor Party that we appear to only have returned one senator out of six.”

Senator Pratt declined to be drawn on the need for direct intervention in the WA branch by the national office of the party.

“There is a deep need for reform, however it is delivered,” she said. “I’ll be watching and waiting on that front.”

There is a growing school of thought among some members of the ALP’s 21-member national executive committee that intervention may be needed in the WA branch.

Labor’s campaign in the west was rocked in the final days before the vote when it emerged Mr Bullock gave a speech last year ridiculing Senator Pratt’s sexuality, saying he did not always vote Labor and describing some members of his own party as “mad”.

The current United Voice WA state secretary, Carolyn Smith, has called for Mr Bullock to resign after the result. Labor has won just 21.7 per cent of the vote at this stage.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said that, with about 5 per cent of the vote left to count, “I can’t see how she can get elected from here”.

“Louise Pratt has been falling farther behind ever since they started counting postal votes,” he said. “Liberal votes are well up on postals, the Greens vote is way down.”

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Sharni Layton balances her roles with Australian Diamonds and NSW Swifts

Sharni Layton says she is finally injury free.After getting her one injury a year out of the way, NSW Swifts defender Sharni Layton is balancing her team’s ANZ Championship aspirations with helping the Australian Diamonds win Commonwealth Games gold. Layton is one of four Swifts players in the 18-strong Diamonds squad alongside teammates Kimberlee Green, Canberra-born Susan Pratley and Caitlin Thwaites for a selection camp at the AIS from May 5-7. Before then, the Swifts will play the inaugural ANZ Championship match in Canberra, when they take on New Zealand side Southern Steel in a historic Anzac Day encounter at the AIS Arena. Layton had two stints at the AIS, in 2007 and 2009, in a career in which she has borne the brunt of her physical play. A fractured thumb this year that forced her to miss two games is the latest chapter to an injury history that includes a dislocated elbow, a slipped disc in her back, shoulder surgery and ruptured ligaments in her ankles. “I generally go on one a year, so hopefully I’ve got it out of the way,” Layton said. “That’s just how I like to play just because I wouldn’t be the player I am if I pulled out on balls and things like that. “It just comes with me being a bit unco-ordinated, unfortunately.” The 26-year-old Melbourne native is in her first season at the Swifts after playing a key role with defending champions Adelaide Thunderbirds for the past four years. She is relishing the challenge of making her mark on a new team but faces the unusual situation of going into camp with the national squad next month while the domestic season is still in progress. “It’s quite strange this year because it’s never been during the season before, so it’s really bizarre being a part of the Swifts working towards a premiership and at the same time having this in the background,” Layton said. “I’ve always believed if you put your best performances as a team you give yourself the best chance to make that. “Although the Commonwealth Games is in my sights, it’s the premiership that is closer.” The third-placed Swifts will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s 56-50 loss to the top of the table Melbourne Vixens when they take on the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane on Sunday. After that, their next challenge is in Canberra on Anzac Day, a game Layton is looking forward to, having been a regular for the Collingwood and Essendon AFL blockbusters. “It’s amazing to be at the MCG and it’s a really moving experience,” Layton said. “To be able to play my own sport on Anzac Day and to remember the men and women who have served this country is really special.” The Diamonds are eager to end the run of arch rivals New Zealand and claim their first Commonwealth Games gold medal since Manchester in 2002. Australian coach Lisa Alexander will trim her squad from 18 to 12 following next month’s camp in Canberra. ANZ Championship: NSW Swifts v Southern Steel at the AIS Arena on Anzac Day. Game starts at 1.48pm with doors open from 1pm. Tickets from www.ticketek南京夜网.au
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Jesse Wagstaff backs Canberra NBL bid, but keen to stay with Perth after win

Wildcats forward Jesse Wagstaff with the NBL trophy.The confetti has barely settled after another NBL championship, but Perth Wildcats forward Jesse Wagstaff says he wouldn’t rule out ending his career back home should Canberra be readmitted to the league in 2015-16.  A syndicate led by former Canberra Cannons player and coach Cal Bruton met with NBL officials in Sydney on Tuesday.  Bruton also had breakfast with NBL hierachy in Perth, before handing out the championship rings to Wagstaff and the Wildcats after their decisive game three win over Adelaide on Sunday.  Canberra product Wagstaff, 27, is one of many Wildcats now off contract, and he is keen to stay at a club where he’s featured in two championships and four grand finals in five seasons.  “I’m off contract now but we haven’t even discussed it yet, it’s all a bit too soon,” he said.  “There’s probably six or seven guys off contract and I’d love to stay.” Wagstaff played a sole game for SEABL’s Canberra Gunners before moving to Perth, but didn’t completely rule out playing for the city again.
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Asked if he would consider eventually playing for the Cannons should their bid to re-enter the league be successful Wagstaff said: “I would.”

“I always call Canberra home, and I love the city, a Canberra team would be phenomenal,” he said.

“I remember back in the day going to ‘The Palace’ as the AIS and watching them, they got good crowds and the basketball community there is supportive and quite large.”

Perth regularly attracts 10,000-plus crowds at its new stadium, but most other clubs are struggling to attract fans.

The NBL wants to expand from eight teams to 12 in 2015-16. While unsure if it was viable, he said it would give the league a massive boost.

“It’s widely touted basketball has huge participation rates across the country, if we can translate that to bums on seats, that’s the challenge,” he said.

“Obviously Brisbane is huge and to not have a team there is pretty disappointing, I’m sure people behind the scenes are working pretty hard to get it up and running.

“There’s talk of a few teams coming in, if they could get that up and running it would be huge for the league, and basketball in general.” Wagstaff said the pain of consecutive grand final losses to New Zealand made this year’s triumph all the more sweeter.  “My first year [2009-10] I won one, and being young I kind of thought it would happen every year,” he said.  “This one is definitely sweeter on the back of two losses in the grand finals.” He said he felt for fellow Canberran and Adelaide star Anthony Petrie, who again fell short of a maiden NBL championship ring.  The pair played alongside each other for Belconnen Ramblers as youngsters.   “I was in that situation the last two years and I know what it’s like to work eight months and fall just short,” he said.  “He was a legend in those Belconnen Rambers days, that was probably 15 years ago and I was half my weight.”  

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Wests Tigers pack aim to make Darcy Lussick’s Easter a nightmare

Powerful Wests Tigers forwards Keith Galloway and Martin Taupau warned the pack that had bullied the likes of Manly’s Jason King, the Burgess brothers from Souths and North Queensland’s Test props Matt Scott and James Tamou they planned to make Easter Monday miserable for Parramatta enforcer Darcy Lussick.
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Lussick, who will return to action after a four-week suspension for his swinging arm on Sydney Roosters forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, was viewed by the Wests Tigers duo as an opponent they needed to stop and Galloway even invited him to bring his aggression to ANZ Stadium.

“If it’s on, it’s on,” Galloway said when Lussick’s ability to dominate opposing packs was raised by the media on Tuesday. “It’s a physical game, there’s blokes like that in every club and we just have to match that – and take it to him.”

Taupau, who admitted he’d watched a lot of Parramatta on television this season to watch their forwards, did not blink when quizzed what he expected from Lussick.

“Not much  …  just run the ball,” he said. “We’re a pretty good defensive team, I reckon. We’ll just wait for them to run at us and we’ll dominate their ruck.”

Lussick, 24, said he was well aware the Tigers pack – boosted by Galloway, Taupau, James Gavet, Adam Blair and Aaron Woods – had talked themselves up this year but he duly noted that they’d so far delivered on their word.

“They’re confident, I guess that’s one thing they are,” Lussick said. “The thing is they’re talking a big game but they’re also taking it onto the field, so you can’t knock them for that.”

“It’s a test for our forward pack and I guess some of us should take it as a personal test as well. [They] probably have some of the form forwards in the competition.”

Taupau said while Wests might be regarded as a team unafraid to back themselves, he stressed they were not arrogant.

“If you talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk, and that’s what we’ve been doing,” he said. “You don’t want to get over-confident; there’s a big difference between confident and cocky. I think we’re being confident and we’re backing it up.”

Lussick, a former Manly forward, conceded while the Waerea-Hargreaves tackle was a result of poor technique, he had no intention to tone down his full-bore approach.

“I worked on my technique the last four weeks,” he said. “I’ve had plenty of time to work on it but I’m not really going to change too much.”

While Parramatta and Wests Tigers have defied the pre-season expectations of many experts by flying high on the premiership ladder, Lussick made it clear that the Eels were just as tight-knit a unit during last year’s wooden spoon season.

“It’s always good winning games,” he said. “We had a long year last year but the main thing is we all stuck together, we all got through it. But it’s a nice change to be winning.”

Taupau said the Tigers were not a team waiting for the bubble to burst.

“I think we can keep improving, that’s what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We don’t really think about when the next loss is going to happen – we’re just thinking about the positives and how to get better.

“At the start of the year everyone wrote us off, both clubs, but I think we’ve used that as motivation and come away with four wins,” he said.

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Video referees to count down final seconds in bid to avoid Melbourne Storm late try repeat

Video referees will be forced to count down the final seconds of each half as the NRL looks to revamp its communications process to avoid any repeat of Melbourne’s after-the-siren try on Monday night.
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Referees’ boss Tony Archer announced the new measure and is pushing for it to be in place before this week’s round after he admitted his referees had incorrectly allowed play to continue only for Melbourne to score a match-winning try against St George Illawarra.

Archer said referee Matt Cecchin had erred by the smallest of margins when Storm winger Young Tonumaipea played the ball after the siren. Tonumaipea would end up scoring the try to help Melbourne to a dramatic 28-24 win.

While Archer said he was “disappointed” the call was wrong, he has kept Cecchin in the top grade this weekend.

“The siren and the play the ball were all but simultaneous,” Archer said. “But, technically, the siren sounded a split second before the Melbourne player heeled the ball. So, in that sense, the referees call was wrong and the final play should not have proceeded.

“We were only able to work this out by going through the final moments of the game frame by frame, so you can appreciate how difficult it would be for a referee to make a call with so much to consider with that degree of accuracy out in the middle.”

Because the ball had not been played, the referee was unable to check with the video referee about the decision. Archer said he would consider altering this limitation, too, but his first priority was the video referee counting down the final moments – up to 10 seconds – of each half into the ear of the on-field officials.

“We are implanting a countdown process as a first point,” Archer said. “We are working on mechanisms for the timekeeper and the video ref to count down the time to alleviate the problem in the future.

“I have spoke to [Dragons coach] Steve Price and indicated that we got the decision wrong and that it was a very difficult decision in live time. He understood the enormity of the decision and where I was coming from.”

While the Fox Sports clock showed the 80th minute had expired well before the final play, the NRL-appointed timekeeper uses an independent watch. The NRL is also exploring ways to synchronise the official time clock and that used by the television stations.

Archer agreed there was insufficient evidence to rule Josh Dugan was in front of the kicker leading to Trent Merrin’s try for the Dragons.

“I was comfortable with the process,” Archer said. “The touch judge called the chasers onside, the video referees ruled that as the ball was kicked Dugan’s foot was above the line.

“I am comfortable that there was insufficient evidence to overturn the decision.”

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Coach John Longmire urges Swans to roll up sleeves

Sydney coach John Longmire faces several big decisions before the round-five clash with Fremantle – including whether to rush Kurt Tippett into the side.
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But he said even the most inspired tactical and strategic decisions would count for nothing without Swans players ”putting the overalls on” and working harder.

Tippett will play this week after recovering from knee tendonitis, either in the reserves or seniors. Weighing on the minds of the coaching staff will be the fact the key forward was able to slot into the side successfully after missing nearly the first three months of last season. However, balancing that will be advice from medical and conditioning staff, who might suggest Tippett be eased in more slowly.

”We’ll make those decisions based on what’s good for the team, but also what’s good for Kurt,” Longmire said. ”We can’t let where we sit as far as our win-loss [goes] influence those decisions.”

It would be tempting to look for easy fixes. But there are none, the coach said.

Amid the fallout from the dismal loss to North Melbourne – the Swans’ third loss in an alarming opening month of the season – Longmire hit back at suggestions the inclusion of two ruckmen in the wet was a tactical error. He conceded the coaching staff was always looking to ”do things better” but listed numerous areas in which most of the playing list was ”not up to scratch”, including contested football, clearance rates, tackles inside the forward 50 metres and overall consistency.

”Last year we played three wet games here at the SCG with two ruckmen and won all three,” he said, responding to questions over playing Tom Derickx in soggy conditions.

”What can happen in the wet is you can get a lot of stoppages and actually two ruckmen is pretty useful. We’ve done it in the past and it worked for us and that’s why we did it on the weekend.

”It gets highlighted, obviously, when it doesn’t work – and it didn’t work out on the weekend. There is no denying that.”

However, he added, regardless of who was wearing the guernsey, with the same poor effort the result wouldn’t have changed.

”That’s the challenge for us, no matter who plays or what the structure is, we need to make sure we work hard. We need to work harder at all the things we pride ourselves on as a football team,” he said.

”Those things we pride ourselves on we haven’t been good at. We take responsibility for that and we need to take responsibility for fixing it.”

Longmire said there was still a ”lot of faith” in the senior players who were struggling for form but floated the idea of changes against the Dockers when he names his team on Thursday.

”That’s the balance, I guess – how long do we stick with them and give another week or two weeks or three weeks and hope their form turns around? Or at what time do you need to make those decisions?

”If we think on the weekend that we’ll go with a different structure, then that’s what we’ll do. We’ll certainly take the responsibility to make those decisions when we need to. But it’s always a collective. Whether it’s coaches or players, it’s never one or the other. It’s about how we can get better as a group. That’s what our review focuses on every week. Whether we’re sitting at the top of the ladder or trying to find some form, that’s what we’ll continue to focus on as a group of coaches and players. There’s no easy solution to it other than working really hard and getting the decisions right on and off the field.”

Longmire said Fremantle would serve as a good example to the Swans this week, having been thrashed by Hawthorn only to bounce back with a 53-point win over Essendon.

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