North Melbourne is poised to launch a major play for explosive Tigers star Dustin Martin with a long-term contract offer worth more than $1 million a season in a deal that would tie him to the Kangaroos until at least the end of 2022.
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The North board has given the club the green light to table the offer of between five and six years to the 25-year-old who has told Richmond he will not make a decision on his future until the end of this season.

In an attempted recruiting raid reminiscent of decades past, the North Melbourne Martin offer marks the second audacious bid by the club in recent months following the $9 million nine-year play for young GWS Giant Josh Kelly.

Richmond has accepted it will need to pay Martin $1 million a season to retain him and has offered its star a five-year deal. The North offer will exceed that.

The Kangaroos are hopeful of luring Kelly and Martin to Arden Street next season saying their war chest remains one of the most generous in the competition following the forced retirements last year of Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Nick Dal Santo and Michael Firrito.

Martin’s manager Ralph Carr refused to confirm or deny whether North had yet officially made the offer although it is known he has held specific discussions with the Kangaroos football bosses. “I’m not going to answer that question,” Carr told Fairfax Media. “We will be making our decision at the end of the year and that’s final.”

Carr also angrily denied he had been shopping his No.1 client to rival clubs although he has spoken at the very least with North, the Giants and St Kilda and indicated those clubs should put forward their offers should they wish to remain in the market for Martin, Richmond’s reigning club champion and a Brownlow favourite.

St Kilda is also understood to have shown significant interest in Martin while the Giants have not.

The player manager has held talks with the Kangaroos whose board, now chaired by Ben Buckley, approved the parameters earlier this season for the Martin offer. North’s governance rules dictate that any offer of five years or more or exceeding a specific financial amount must be ratified by the club directors.

Richmond’s football boss Neil Balme said the club was in constant contact with Carr and added he was not aware of specific offers to Martin from rival clubs.

“We accept that this is the way it is and we completely understand it’s Dustin’s right to consider his future,” said Balme.

“We are in this situation due to free agency and we had no say in it but the AFL brought it in and it’s here. I personally don’t think it’s good for footy.”

The Tigers remain steadfast in their belief that Martin will remain at Richmond while the player himself has reportedly communicated to the club through his manager that he has delayed a decision on his future not only due to money but also because his ultimate call will also be based on his view regarding the club’s future.

North, like St Kilda and Carlton, are currently paying well below 100 per cent of the salary cap. That, along with the new pay deal that will inject more than $2 million into each club’s total player payments this year, has opened up the aggressive recruiting blitz.

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If you’ve ever been outshone by a colleague, teammate or sibling, you’ve got that in common with one third of the sniffer dogs trained by the federal police.
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Officers at the National K9 Centre in Majura say a man’s best friend is also the best detector of hidden drugs, money and explosives.

But one in three of the hand-picked Labradors housed in Majura never become fluffy detectives.

AFP canine trainer Jayson Mesman said the selection process was akin to that of sports stars.

“Customs breed between 200 and 400 dogs a year. We only look at about 50 of those and about 70 per cent pass,” he said.

“It’s like athletes, everyone might be pretty fast but you’re going to have your standout players and champions.”

Those who don’t make the cut – or more bluntly, get fired – either return to the border force where they may be offered to other agencies to become detector dogs or get adopted out to members of the public.

So just how hard is it for a dog to become a four-legged Sherlock?

The AFP opened the sniffer dog facility at its Majura complex in 2007. Labradors are sourced from a number of places but mainly the border force, where they are bred and fostered out for about a year.

Many puppies are disqualified before even leaving the border force, as only those of the most sound temperament and intelligence, and with the keenest hunting instincts, are sent to Majura at 14 months old. They then undergo a 13-16-week intensive training course in detecting hidden drugs, cash, firearms, and bombs.

Once (and if) the fluffy agents graduate, they’re assigned a handler and sent to airports, seaports, cargo depots and international mail centres around the country. State and territory police also draw on them for search warrants and events such as music festivals.

But the tests are tough when the stakes are as high as public protection.

Mr Mesman pointed to a whiteboard outside a simulated house, one of three scenarios used for the dogs’ training. The whiteboard listed names of the 14 trainees in the current 13-week course. By week three, two had already been laid off.

One of the biggest challenges for both police and their dogs is the myriad of scents the canines are required to detect. Officers are constantly on the lookout for new drugs on the market and updates in technology, and the dogs must be trained to sniff out each new substance.

“Any trend that is happening, we are either ahead of it or not far behind,” Mr Mesman said.

“If there is a new drug coming in from overseas or domestically as a threat, we are working on that, and I guess that’s the power of the whole of the AFP, because we work across all the different areas to collate that information.”

Dogs are not addicted to drugs, despite what many people think, but to the game of hide-and-seek that underpins their training. They are taught to sit when they recognise the smell of the odour being tested, which had been fermented on a hidden toy. Each stage of the game becomes more difficult as trainers hide drugs among obstacles such as long grass or confusing household items. If the dog walks past a scent, they’re out.

Mr Mesman said the tough standard was why a third of the dogs don’t graduate, and why those who do never rarely it wrong in the real world.

However, the effectiveness of sniffer dogs has been called into question on several occasions, including when NSW figures revealed the proportion of searches where no drugs are found remained stubbornly high.

But handler and Senior Constable Craig Manning said he found that only inexperienced dogs made mistakes – and they were quick to learn from them.

“The dogs are definitely capable of some amazing things, and the more experience they have the better they are,” Mr Manning said.

“With drugs, the best dogs will find smaller amounts where as the majority of dogs will find bigger amounts. But the majority of times they should distinguish what they are and aren’t looking for.”

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The Department of Education is unaware of the number of child sex offenders attending WA schools with the figure potentially in the hundreds, according to children’s court data.
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In documents obtained by WAtoday through freedom of information laws, an urgent meeting attended by several ministers on March 27 revealed “it is likely there are offenders in schools unknown to the school or department administration and therefore no risk management or support is in place”.

Children’s Court of WA data showed 132 children aged between 10 and 17 were charged with sexual offences in 2015-16, with 10 children given custodial sentences for sex assaults that same financial year.

Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, nearly 600 children were charged with sexual assault and related offences, meaning hundreds of convicted children could be attending schools.

The revelation comes after angry parents demanded laws that effectively gag the state government from informing schools and parents about child sex offenders be changed to better protect the broader community.

It followed three separate incidents at two WA schools in recent months where three boys – one a convicted child rapist, and two accused child rapists – had quietly returned to school after their conviction or charges were laid.

One of the boys, 11, had his charges dropped on May 12 after a psychiatric report revealed he was not mentally fit to stand trial.

He had been supervised by two full-time staff at his school until February when parents discovered he had been accused of raping an eight-year-old boy at knife-point in December and forced the department of education’s hand to remove him.

File photo: iStock

Notes from the ministers’ meeting revealed the boy and his family had since been relocated by the Housing Authority after they received vigilante threats from community members.

“Provision of education has involved the student and his siblings being relocated, with the siblings being enrolled in another WA public school and the offender to be provided an education program at an engagement centre, separated from other students and under constant supervision,” it read.

Chaired by education minister Sue Ellery, the meeting also revealed another complex case of a child sex offender never previously reported.

It detailed the difficulty the state government faced to ensure a child’s statutory right to an education was upheld, while still protecting the broader community.

The boy, who was in detention at the time of the meeting, once released would require the location of his education be kept a secret and due to the “level of danger” he would be transferred to and from the education facility by police.

“Emergency planning if the site became known and was approached / entered by a community member” and “safety concerns for staff delivering his educational program” were highlighted during the meeting as highly problematic issues.

The case was described as being extremely resource intensive with the state government noting its capacity to provide the same level of planning for multiple similar cases was “very limited”.

Current laws which protect juvenile offenders’ identities mean a child is able to return to school following a serious sexual assault charge or conviction without an assessment or any clinical intervention.

The omission was deemed inappropriate during the ministers’ meeting, as it meant the risk the student presented to other students was not determined or discussed with teachers.

Alternative schooling options for child sex offenders in WA were described during the meeting as limited, mostly due to the intensive resources required to carry out individual teaching options.

The School of Isolated and Distance Education was touted as an option that would allow child sex offenders to be home-schooled, similar to students who live in remote areas of WA.

However many of the children convicted of sexual crimes do not have suitable supervision at home to carry out this option and instead would likely be required to attend a small specialised engagement centre or undergo individual tuition at a location where there are no other children.

In the instance of the 11-year-old boy who was charged with sexually assaulting an eight-year-old, the Perth Children’s Court had previously ordered he attend school as part of his bail conditions.

Meanwhile another 17-year-old boy who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy who attended the same school was sentenced to a 12 month intensive supervision order in February.

The order required he also attend school.

His victim has been accused of going on to sexually abuse a nine-year-old boy and is due to face court on Tuesday.

Both boys were removed from their school following a public outcry from parents after their offences and alleged offences became publicly known and parents kept their children home in protest.

“Predominantly the offenders (or alleged) have bail conditions that prevent them from having contact with other children except for when in school (where most children are all day),” the minister’s meeting notes revealed.

“Bail conditions applied to school-aged young people can compromise the safety of other children.

“Meeting those conditions in a manner that ensures the safety of other children can impose considerable strain on a school’s resources, most often requiring individual constant supervision.

“With older children, safety of staff is also a potential issue, particularly if the department is prevented from informing them.”

Ms Ellery, who inherited much of the public’s outcry on the school safety issue when she was sworn in as education minister in March, has vowed to improve the management of sex offenders at schools.

“The education department has been working with police, child protection, corrective services, and the attorney general to set up a new notification process,” she said.

“We will release our proposal and key recommendations soon.”

Keep our Communities Safe spokeswoman Georgie Elle said any changes to the notification process would not be enough to protect children from sex offenders.

“Nearly every parent I’ve spoken to feels like none of these people should be in schools,” she said.

“When the minister has a policy in place that says this is to minimise the risk, I guess parents feel like you acknowledge that there’s a risk, remove the risk, you shouldn’t have to manage the risk.

“How do you manage grooming?”

Ms Elle is advocating for alleged and convicted sex offenders to be educated away from the broader school population, claiming principals and teachers often weren’t equipped to deal with the issue.

During the ministers’ meeting, the state government conceded the situation was a catch 22, whereby parents expected to be informed about risks at their child’s school, but privacy and legal implications limited how much information could be shared.

“These issues are most effectively managed if the offender is not placed in a school or similar environment where other children attend,” the meeting notes read.

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The Millner family regard Brickworks and Washington H. Soul Pattinson as family companies and their cross shareholdings in each amount to “ghost equity”, the Federal Court has heard.
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In the first day of the case before Justice Jagot in Sydney, it was suggested that a nil premium merger would unlock $454 million for shareholders of both companies.

Brickworks and Soul Patts, the court was told, also went to great lengths to block the nomination of an independent director, Robert Fraser, to the Soul Patts board in 2011 including attacking the performance of Perpetual’s funds.

Investor Perpetual backed Mr Fraser’s appointment but the nominee was ultimately unsuccessful.

Tony Bannon, SC, representing Perpetual, argued that the cross-shareholding structure was originally devised primarily to thwart a takeover bid. But it also gives the Millner family-led boards effective control in any general meeting, the court heard, at the expense of minority shareholder interests.

“We submit that the maintenance by these boards by use of that cross-shareholding to maintain the cross-shareholding which serves to entrench management’s position is not in the interests of shareholders generally,” Mr Bannon said. ‘Old school connections’

Current Soul Patts chairman Robert Millner is also the chairman of Brickworks; Brickworks and Soul Patts own roughly 40 per cent of each other’s equity.

Mr Millner, who has not sworn an affidavit, enlisted a plant at the Soul Patts AGM of 2011 to “populate the audience with old school connections”, it was heard.

“To suggest that management should not be subjected to the votes of shareholders almost expresses a fear of management if they are exposed to the general will of the meeting they may be removed,” Mr Bannon said.

He continued: “The key reason the cross-shareholding unravelling attempts have been blocked or resisted is the recognition the current board, Millner influenced as they are, will lose control.”

Mr Bannon reflected that the Millners would argue the cross-shareholding has worked well to date, and both companies have prospered. Historically it was akin to a “father knows best mentality”. Recruiting company

In the lead-up to the AGM of December 2, 2011, when Soul Patts shareholders were also asked to vote for the re-election of Michael Millner, David Fairfull and Thomas Millner to the board, the senior Mr Millner asked Bruce Bagley to stand up at the meeting and “say some things about the Fraser motion”.

Mr Millner also asked Mr Bagley to make some remarks about how the best way to find director talent was via a recruiting company. On November 24, Mr Bagley responded: “only too pleased” and “can you let me know the names of one or two recruiting companies you would use?” He also inquired as to whether he should “talk about Tom”, being Thomas Millner.

A public relations firm, Gavin Anderson, provided a media strategy that included closing part of the meeting to cameras so as not to reveal any potentially agitating expressions, Mr Bannon said, and Soul Patts’ insistence on attacking Perpetual’s track record was “playing the man and not the ball”.

But at one stage, there was an indication that Brickworks would vote its proxies in favour of Mr Fraser.

The court was told of an email from Alex Payne, Brickworks’s chief financial officer, responding to an inquiry around whether Brickworks would be voting in support.

“This is very, very confidential. You are correct though,” he is said to have responded.

“As it turns out you’ll see they didn’t vote for,” Mr Bannon said.

In October and November of that year, Perpetual’s then head of equities Matt Williams was communicating with Mr Millner with the intent to convince him to appoint Mr Fraser to improve governance. Public statements

Mr Millner was unmoved, it was argued, and apparently displeased with the public statements made by the fund manager. Mr Williams is expected to appear in court on Wednesday; he now works at Airlie Funds Management. Mr Williams had the support of other shareholders too.

Referring to the composition of the boards of the two companies, “Whether by blood or other connections, the connections with the Millners run deep”, Mr Bannon said.

One means to resolve that would see Brickworks and Soul Patts merge, and the cross-shareholdings cancelled. A nil premium merger would give ownership of the two companies back to the shareholders who are not the cross shareholders, and reduce the shares on issue of the merged company by 30 per cent, it was argued.

The combined assets would be worth $4.25 billion. Of the $454 million estimated to be unlocked, $143 million is attributed to Brickworks shareholders and $311 million to Soul Patts shareholders.

The case continues.

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The dramatic improvement in Joe Daniher’s goalkicking has come on the back of fanatical dedication to honing his skills, including a dawn training session at club headquarters on a day off.
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Daniher’s outstanding past month – during which he has kicked 17 goals in five games – has upped his market value as he prepares to re-sign with the Bombers, a deal expected to follow the finalisation of the new collective bargaining agreement.

The athletic big man’s set shot goalkicking has long been a point of concern, with the issue rearing its head in the Dons’ round six loss to Melbourne, a game in which Daniher kicked 1.6. Following that game, Essendon coach John Worsfold refused to publicly chastise the emerging star, suggesting that Daniher was putting in the work at training to improve his area of weakness, as well as his ruckwork and marking.

In the three games since, Daniher, 23, has kicked a combined 13.2, including 5.0 in a dominant showing against West Coast at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Daniher’s commitment to improving his craft was highlighted by an episode last week, when Bombers players made visits to country Victoria. Despite the day being free of training commitments for players, the Dons have confirmed that Daniher, goal sneak Orazio Fantasia and midfielder Zach Merrett turned up to train at around 7am before the players departed for their visits.

“They came in early because that was the only time to do some extras on that day,” Essendon forwards coach Hayden Skipworth told Fairfax Media.

Skipworth has been working closely with Daniher and said his work ethic could not be questioned, with Daniher, Merrett, Fantasia and captain Dyson Heppell among those who were regularly going above and beyond on the track. However, Skipworth said he was trying to keep Daniher on an even keel.

“He’s working extremely hard on all aspects of his game. His vision long-term is to be a really accurate goalkicker,” Skipworth said.

“He’d do probably three or four goalkicking sessions on top of his normal training throughout the week.

“I’ve just trying to be really consistent with Joey as far as not going over the top. The thing that I’ve been working with him on is just focusing on the processes, not the outcomes. Goalkicking varies from week to week.”

The Bombers and Daniher’s agent Nigel Carmody have remained tight-lipped about contract negotiations, even though there is little doubt Daniher will remain at the club where his father, brother and three uncles all played. Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro told a Bombers podcast last month that new deals for several players – including Daniher, Darcy Parish and David Zaharakis – were likely to be signed only once the new CBA was in place.

There is a feeling in the Daniher camp that a long-term deal of up to five years would provide the forward certainty, but that a shorter-term contract would likely mean more money, especially if his form continues in its current trajectory. Some at Dons have privately acknowledged that Daniher’s recent form spike means they will probably end up paying more for his services.

Another player agent suggested on Monday that Daniher should be hoping for at least $2.6 million over a three-year deal, taking the view that Daniher had added $150,000 a year to his worth with his outstanding football over the past month.

Daniher has kicked 134 goals from 79 games since making his debut in 2013. In 2015 he worked closely with Essendon great Matthew Lloyd on his goalkicking, a partnership that was discontinued.

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Peter Wallace has been ruled out of the State of Origin series opener, clearing the way for fiery Titans hooker Nathan Peats to make his NSW debut in game one.
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Wallace joined an extended NSW squad in Sydney on Monday morning and had scans and extensive medical treatment on an injured groin in a bid to prove his fitness.

Unfortunately for the veteran rake and for the Panthers, he now faces four to six weeks on the sidelines with a grade two adductor tear.

While Wallace will miss out on what would have been his first Origin match since 2009, it has opened the door for Peats to make his maiden Origin appearance ahead of incumbent Robbie Farah.

“He’s a guy that will fight for everything. He’s a guy that I’ve got a huge amount of respect for. I know he’s a professional and I know he prepares well,” Blues coach Laurie Daley said on Monday night.

“And you know what you’re going to get. Peatsy will get through a huge amount of work, he’ll be competitive, and he’ll give you everything he’s got.”

Peats is one of two debutants named in Blues coach Laurie Daley’s team for the clash against Queensland on May 31. Representative Jake Trbojevic also earned a spot on the bench.

Trbojevic made his Test debut for the Kangaroos in last year’s Four Nations tournament, forming a close relationship with fellow Blues forwards David Klemmer and Aaron Woods.

Sunday night’s call-up was a bitter-sweet moment for the Trbojevic family after younger brother Tom missed out on certain selection after picking up separate knee and ankle injuries just over a week ago.

Penrith’s Matt Moylan was called into the squad, which gathered in Sydney on Monday morning, as standby for the injured Josh Dugan.

However, the Cronulla-bound Dugan is expected to get the green light and take his place in the centres alongside Jarryd Hayne.

Hayne will make his return to the Origin arena after a two-year hiatus playing NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and rugby sevens for Fiji.

He is one of just five players – including Brett Morris, Boyd Cordner, Dugan and Woods – who featured in NSW’s rare series triumph under Daley back in 2014.

Hayne’s future will remain a topic of discussion throughout the Origin camp as he weighs up an option in his favour to remain at the Titans next season before deciding by the May 31 deadline, which coincides with the opening Origin game.

Morris, who has 12 Origin games to his name, returns to the Blues fold after missing last year’s series when a knee injury forced him out of most of the 2016 season.

At the start of the season, Morris was resigned to the fact his representative career was likely over, telling Fairfax Media he was comfortable with the likelihood that he wouldn’t wear the sky blue jersey again.

“That’s OK,” he said in February. “I feel I’ve had a pretty good rep career. So if it was to be that I never play rep footy again, I can hack that.”

Boyd Cordner is the new captain of the Blues following the retirement of Paul Gallen, getting the nod ahead of Woods and Josh Jackson.

James Tedesco hasn’t managed to recapture his old form in 2017 but Daley has placed his faith in the Tigers No.1 to do the job after an impressive maiden Origin series last year.

The Roosters-bound fullback will team up with Blake Ferguson and Morris as a back three combination to match up against Queensland’s Darius Boyd, Corey Oates and Dane Gagai.

The much-maligned Mitchell Pearce returns to the Origin arena after an off-field indiscretion cruelled his chances last season.

He will partner former premiership-winning Roosters halves partner James Maloney, who was one of the first players picked in Daley’s team weeks ago.

Woods, who overcame a hamstring injury to make his return for the Wests Tigers last week, has been given the all clear to play, despite just one game under his belt in the past month.

Controversial Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita retains his position in the Blues line-up, and James Tamou is the obvious omission.

Fifita has been called into the starting side alongside Woods, leaving David Klemmer and Trbojevic on the bench as part of a four-man front row rotation.

Jack Bird, who was impressive in his debut series last year, has pipped Matt Moylan for the utility position on the bench.

Moylan, Melbourne Storm prop Jordan McLean and St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin will travel with the team to camp in Kingscliff as part of an extended squad.


1. James Tedesco 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jarryd Hayne 5. Brett Morris 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Aaron Woods 9. Nathan Peats 10. Andrew Fifita 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Boyd Cordner (c) 13. Josh Jackson

14. David Klemmer 15. Wade Graham 16. Jake Trbojevic ???17. Jack Bird

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A man has tested positive to HIV at a Melbourne clinic while participating in a trial of PrEP, an antiretroviral drug credited with preventing the spread of the disease.
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This has sparked fears in the gay community about possible resistance to the medication – particularly after rumours about the strain circulated on social media over the weekend.

However, it is not yet known whether the man has contracted a drug-resistant strain, or if something else is to blame.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication taken daily by HIV negative people, and when taken every day PrEP has been shown to reduce HIV transmission by up to 99 per cent.

Globally, hundreds of thousands of people use PrEP and there have only ever been two confirmed cases of infection with a drug-resistant strain of the virus by someone taking the medication correctly.

Both of these were reported in 2016, one in Toronto and one in New York.

In Amsterdam earlier this year, there was a third case of PrEP failure in a man following the prescribed course, through transmission of a drug-sensitive HIV strain, however this is still being investigated.

There has never been a confirmed case of HIV resistant to PrEP in .

It’s understood just over a week ago, a male patient on the trial tested positive to HIV at a Melbourne clinic.

On Monday, a spokesman at The Alfred confirmed researchers were “reviewing the clinical details of a man who has tested positive to HIV while being a registered participant of the Victorian PrEPX study.”

Another Melbourne man, who also uses the antiretroviral drug, said the case highlighted that there was still a risk with PrEP, even if it was small.

“This is not a silver bullet. It makes the risk real,” the man, who has requested anonymity, said.

But he said would continue to use the medication because it remained “the most persistent way to combat HIV”.

Doherty Institute director and infectious diseases physician, University of Melbourne professor Sharon Lewin said all people who start HIV treatment have a test for their own resistance to the drug before they begin the medication.

She said once researchers at The Alfred have determined whether the man had been correctly and consistently taking PrEP, the HIV virus itself will be analysed for resistance.

“In cases of someone testing HIV positive while taking PrEP, we would first take a detailed history to understand how PrEP is being taken and potential exposures,” she said.

“We would then look at the genetic code of the virus as this can tell us whether it is a drug-resistant strain, or a non-resistant strain. We would also look quite closely at drug levels in blood and the immune response to the virus, when the anti-body test became positive.”

About 3000 Victorians have enrolled in the PrEPX research study, which is examining how PrEP could reduce the rate of new HIV infections in Victoria.

Experts estimate 10 – 15 per cent of gay men in Sydney and Melbourne were using PrEP by the beginning of 2017.

There are up to 600 Victorians on the study’s waiting list.

Professor Lewin said PrEP was extraordinarily effective and there was still an urgent need to expand access to PrEP nationally.

“We closely track circulating strains of drug resistant virus in the community,” she said.

“On average 10 per cent of new diagnoses of HIV in Victoria are with a strain of virus that has evidence of drug resistance.

“I don’t think there is any reason for alarm here. PrEP works and any rare cases of failure need to be investigated fully so we fully understand why this can very rarely happen.”

PrEP is not yet listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, but will be considered in July.

A generic version of the antiretroviral drug, known by the name Truvada, costs about $1200 a month to buy in , but can also be bought on the internet for less than $100.

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Hurricanes make national mark at Tokyo 2020 camp EXPOSURE: Jake Robinson was one of five Hunter Hurricanes juniors that took part in a Water Polo camp called Tokyo 2020 in Canberra this week. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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Matt Humby

Mitch Robinson

Bailey Sheather (far right)

Kate Hughes

TweetFacebook Hunter Hurricanes at Tokyo 2020 campPictures by Max Mason-Hubers, Marina Neil and Jonathan CarrollIt may be another three years away but five Hunter Hurricanes juniors hada taste of the 2020 Olympics in Canberra this week.

The Robinson brothers, Jake and Mitch, Matt Humby, Bailey Sheather and Kate Hughes have just wrapped up a six-dayToward Tokyoidentification camp at the n Institute of Sport.

National senior water polo head coachesElvis Fatovic and Sakis Kehagias oversaw the event, which involved training sessions both in and out of the water before a mini tournament that finished on Monday.

It doubled as selection trials for n junior and youth squads contesting overseas tours and world championships later in 2017.

* AUSTRALIANschoolgirls representative Dakota Thomas will return home to Kilaben Bay with a silver medal from theDigicel Punjas International Secondary School Netball Challenge.

The goal keeper was part of the national under-15 squad that lost Friday’s final 40-28 to Aotearoa Maori in Fiji.

They beat Auckland Samoa 35-31 in the semi.

* ALSOheading overseas on a School Sport tour is Floraville’sKy Willott and Maitland Rams pair Brad Paterson and Wade Harry.

The national under-16 hockey squaddeparted for Europe late last week with warm-up matches scheduled for Belgium and The Netherlands before a four-nation tournament in Germany.

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Darius Boyd. Photo: Getty ImagesDarius Boyd has won the battle for the Maroons fullback spot with returning superstar Billy Slater missing selection completely after the Queensland squad was announced in Brisbane on Monday afternoon.
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In what was undoubtedly the most difficult call for the selection panel and coach Kevin Walters, Slater will be a spectator for game one despite some sparking form since returning to the Storm from a long-term shoulder injury.

Bill Slater. Photo: Getty Images

In his absence, Boyd has put a stranglehold on the fullback jumper and there was no compelling argument for him to be shifted from his favourite position. Slater played some wing early in his career but specialists Dane Gagai and Corey Oates have been preferred on the Queensland flanks.

With retirement on the horizon, Slater may well have played his final Origin but anything can happen during the series and he would be the first called up should injuries force any sort of backline reshuffle.

But as it stands, Boyd’s powerful returns from fullback and ultra-consistent form at all levels of the game made him a lock at the back for the first instalment of the 2017 series.

Meanwhile, Boyd’s Broncos team-mateAnthony Milford is set to make his State of Origin debut with Jonathan Thurston next to no chance of overcoming a shoulder injury. Milford has been named in the starting line-up with Thurston included as 18th man to give himevery opportunity to prove his fitness.

Johnathan Thurston. Photo: Getty Images

“I believe it’s very unlikely that he’ll [Thurston] play but we’ll give him the chance to prove his fitness throughout the week,” Walters said onSky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.

“I don’t think he’ll be fit enough with his shoulder. We’ve got to keep in mind that this is game one of a three-game series.”

Wayne Bennett said he wouldn’t release Milford to Queensland if he was no chance of playing in Origin I.

Should Thurston miss out as expected, a number of Queensland’s leading lights will be missing. Both Matt Scott and Greg Inglis are out with injury, although Cameron Smith seems to be playing as well as ever after he helped steer Melbourne to victory over Souths on Sunday night in Perth.

Justin O’Neill. Photo: Getty Images

Justin O’Neill has been the beneficiary of selection loyalty and had retainedhis place in the centres, while Dylan Napa is one of the new faces in the side as the Rooster gets set to step into the Origin arena.

2017 Queensland State of Origin squad:1. Darius Boyd

2. Corey Oates

3. Will Chambers

4. Justin O’Neill

5. Dane Gagai

6. Anthony Milford

7. Cooper Cronk

8. Dylan Napa

9. Cameron Smith (c)

10. Nate Myles

11. Josh Papalii

12. Matt Gillett

13. Josh McGuire

14. Michael Morgan

15. Sam Thaiday

16. Aidan Guerra

17. Jacob Lillyman

18. Johnathan Thurston

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AFR, GENERIC, OFFICE Businessman walking out of a revolving door — money, business man, commuters, employment, wages, jobs, economy, CBD, city, building, property. Monday 24th November 2003S photo illustration Louie Douvisafrphotos苏州夜总会招聘 AFR, SPECIALX 21948 ***afrphotos苏州夜总会招聘*** Photo: Louie DouvisScott Morrison’s budget projections rely entirely on orthodox economic thinking about what drives wages. Unfortunately that orthodox thinking is demonstrably wrong.
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The textbooks say that, as unemployment falls, the labour market tightens and wages rise. Supply and demand and all that. But it’s not happening.

The fancier version of that story is that we’re enjoying a surge in national income as our resources export volumes rise, a surge that will result in higher profits that labour will subsequently want a share of. But wanting and getting are two very different things.

Last week’s n Bureau of Statistics wages index showed wages growth falling to 1.9 per cent and lower in the private sector. Real wages shrunk despite the economy overall motoring along reasonably well.

It takes a huge leap of faith – or perhaps blind belief in old textbooks – for Morrison to forecast in the face of present experience that wages growth will double in the next four years. It’s more likely that we’ll run into the problem of inflation rising and wages failing to respond.

And it’s not just an n problem. Much of the developed world is suffering weak wages growth . Over the weekend, Bloomberg offered eight possible reasons why wages aren’t picking up despite the US unemployment rate dropping to 4.4 per cent.

The answer to the conundrum for is likely to be a combination of those factors.

Rising underemployment on top of unemployment is an obvious suspect. The increasing casualisation of the workforce, the rise and rise in part-time rather than full-time jobs, eats away at labour’s ability to demand wage rises.

The collapse of organised labour. Over the past quarter century, trade union membership for the individual’s main job has fallen from 40 per cent to 15. In the private sector, 942,000 workers are trade union members in their main job – 10.4 per cent. There are more private contractors now than private sector unionists.

Globalisation – the pressure to be internationally competitive – weighs on wages even when local unemployment is down.

Low inflation expectations become self-fulfilling – since the global financial crisis, workers have become used to wage increases of about the inflation rate and have accepted low inflation. The Fair Work Commission determining minimum wages tends to stick around the inflation rate.

Corporate culture since the GFC has swung towards chief executives and chief financial officers relying on cost cutting or containment to get their bonuses. In a highly competitive business environment, where there’s often little confidence to invest in the business to grow the bottom line, reducing costs has become an important KPI. The boss just says “no” – and gets paid more for saying it.

At the extreme, there are cases such as Coates Hire looking to cut wages by as much as 40 per cent by terminating an existing pay agreement. And that’s despite Coates doing increasingly well from the infrastructure boom taking off on the east coast.

Yet Treasury is sticking with its textbook fairy tale despite the official family’s wage price index forecasts being consistently wrong, as the accompanying Reserve Bank graph shows.

While Treasury and the RBA sip from the same forecasting cup, it seems our central bank is becoming less assured of the Happy Ever After projections.

The May board minutes released last week sounded much more cautious than Treasury:

“Members noted that, although it seemed unlikely that wage growth would slow much further, wage pressures were expected to rise only gradually as the effects of structural adjustment following the mining investment and terms of trade boom, which had weighed on aggregate wage growth, continued to wane.”

A research paper in the RBA’s March bulletin on low wages growth concluded it was difficult to identify if structural changes were driving the wages outcome, but they need to be monitored.

The paper noted that only about 20 per cent of workers have wages determined by awards, with another 10 to 15 per cent indirectly influenced. Wage growth in industries that have a higher prevalence of individual agreements has declined most significantly over recent years.

Individuals did well when the economy was booming, when employers were willing to compete for them, but with the boom days over, so is the average individual’s bargaining power.

And aside from the falling proportion of organised labour, much of the remaining union movement has mellowed. With a few obvious exceptions, unions such as the shoppies seem more interested in maintaining jobs – and union membership – than pushing for wage rises that could threaten employment.

Disruption is heavy upon the land. The great achievement of the internet isn’t the ability to go online and buy a cheap shirt from China, rather it is the empowerment of customers – they can’t be fooled any more. Everything is effectively up for tender, resulting in competitive pressure being a daily reality. That generally means containing costs.

The irony of retailers and cafes pushing for reduced weekend penalty rates is that such employers want to pay their own staff less, but want all other employers to pay their staff more so they can afford to eat in cafes. It could prove a bitter victory for the business lobby to find that pushing for a “more flexible” labour force ends up meaning fewer customers.

The bigger danger for the budget is the possibility of a double whammy. The lack of much faster wages growth means the government won’t get the income tax boost it’s relying on. On top of that, inflation edging higher through energy and housing costs means real wages shrink more, which would flow onto lower consumption growth – unless we blow out our debt levels even further.

RBA board members this month “noted that the ABS would issue revised expenditure weights for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the December quarter 2017 CPI release, which would reflect changes in consumption behaviour over the preceding six years in response to factors including large changes in relative prices”.

In other words, we might find our inflation rate is higher than we thought. If workers can’t win wage increases to at least keep pace with it, the government will have another political fire to put out before the next election.

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