Malkah fined $1200, avoids conviction

James Packer’s former fiancee, model and reality television star Tziporah Malkah, has pleaded guilty to assaulting her ex-partner during an argument about marijuana and a sick cat.
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But Malkah, formerly known as Kate Fischer, will not have a conviction recorded after a South n magistrate took into consideration her good record and early guilty plea.

Malkah, 44, appeared in the Victor Harbor Magistrates Court, south of Adelaide, on Tuesday afternoon to answer to allegations she assaulted her then-partner during an incident in January.

She told reporters outside court she was pleased with the outcome.

“I think I got off fairly,” she said.

“We’ve had a really good outcome today.

“I’d really like to thank you all for coming and for sharing in my joy.”

When asked by a reporter if she had a problem with police, Malkah replied, “I’ve got a problem with you” before getting into a taxi with her lawyer, Michael Kuzilny.

The court heard Malkah was drunk when police were called to the house she shared with Guy Vasey, who she had been in a relationship with for less than a year.

The two had been arguing over marijuana and Malkah had tormented Mr Vasey about his sick cat, threw groceries at him and poured milk over his head.

She then struck the sides of Mr Vasey’s face four to five times in a “cat scratching-like motion” before he left the property to call the police.

When officers arrived, Malkah was loud and abusive, swore and threw herself onto the ground.

She assaulted a policeman as she was lifted into the cage car, and was taken to the station where she continued with “drunken behaviour”.

She was placed in a cell at a different station released after 12 hours in custody.

Malkah pleaded guilty to one count of assault, one count of resisting police, three counts of assaulting a police officer and one count of disorderly behaviour.

Of the three charges relating to assaulting police, Malkah made contact with only one of the officers.

In court, Mr Kuzilny said Malkah was extremely ashamed and embarrassed by the incident, and has since recognised she had an “attitude problem”.

He said she has moved to Sydney, stopped drinking and is working to get her life back on track.

Following the hearing, Mr Kuzilny appeared alongside Malkah and said justice had been done.

“The basic take-home message is good people make mistakes and as long as we learn from them… ,” he said.

Magistrate Brian Nitschke fined Malkah $1200 plus a victims of crime levy and placed her on an 18-month good behaviour bond.

Hospitals on notice about doctor burnout

Stress, burnout, fatigue and the working hours of doctors are in the spotlight at a conference.Hospitals have been put on notice about doctor burnout and told the workplace culture has to change.
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Stress, burnout, fatigue and the working hours of doctors and medical specialists are in the spotlight at the n and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists’ annual scientific meeting of local and international anaesthetists in Sydney.

According to visiting US Professor Karen Domino, half of all US physicians in nearly 30 medical specialties claim to be “burned out”, while about 60 per cent are considering leaving the profession because of the issue.

The figures would be very similar among n doctors, Professor Domino warned.

Hospital doctors aren’t bullet-proof and workplace culture must change, Professor Domino says.

“Many doctors in hospitals are under extreme stress, seeing patients every five minutes,” she said.

“Hospitals and departments need to think about how they can prevent burnout for their staff and think about how they can change the hospital environment to make it less stressful,” she said.

So concerned about the issue of burnout and the high suicide rates among doctors, ANZCA president David Scott revealed on Tuesday he had launched a review of 10-year-old guidelines on fatigue to ensure anaesthetists had adequate rest and effective breaks between shifts.

Professor Scott says the days of doctors working 72 hours straight have gone and he wants to provide medicos with an evidence-based “toolkit” on how to manage fatigue.

“We need to recognise that healthy doctors provide safer medical care,” Professor Scott said.

“Yes we are putting the hospital system on notice because this is important, this is about safe health delivery and the evidence is out there; the tired, stressed, burnt-out doctors deliver less effective health care and their are more adverse outcomes and patient complaints,” he said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

Breaking Bread: Julie Baird, Newcastle Museum director

HAPPY DIRECTOR: Julie Baird wearing a smile and an engagement ring. She is getting married in June. Picture: Marina Neil WHEN you read the words “museum director”, who do you see? Someone in a tweed jacket, perhaps, with leather patches? Someone grey of hair, and conservative of views?
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Well, you should seeJulie Baird.

She may be the keeper of a city’s stories, old ways and traditions, but as Baird strides across the road fromNewcastle Museum, she looks as though she personifies the shock of the new.

Baird’sstreaked hair matchesher boots; both have tones of pink. She is wearing a denim jacket over a red-patterned dress. I can see on alower leg one of her 15 tattoos. On her wedding ring finger is a bright green band. Baird looks like a psychedelic cowgirl. Or the lead singer of a punk rock band. Either would connect to parts of her past, as I’m to learn over lunch.

“I’ve never been afraid of looking how I wanted to,” Baird says, as she settles onto the chair at her local cafe, One Picket Fence.

“The pink hair’s actually a mistake…”

Newcastle Museum director Julie Baird at One Picket Cafe in Newcastle. Picture: Marina Neil

Baird has glaucoma. She’s had poor eyesight since she was a girl. In her late 40s, Bairdhad to contend with frightening news.

“A couple of years ago, I was given a diagnosis that I would completely lose my sight in five years,” she says.

Baird underwent surgery to save her sight, but she was told there was still a chanceshe would go blind. Before the operation, Baird dyed her hair purple, so that if she lost her sight, she would do so colourfully: “It came out the wrong colour!It came out pink!And I went, ‘Ooh, that suits me’.”

Sheloves how the lookturns on its head the stereotype on how bosses should look–“The Minister for the Arts knows me as the one with pink hair” –and it is a celebration of who Julie Baird is.

It is that celebration of identitythat Baird takes to work and helps her shape what she wants the Newcastle Museum to be.

“Our whole reason for being is to answer the question, “Who are we?,” she explains of the museum’s purpose. “We’re all about belonging, we’re all about identity.

“What we really need to say is, ‘We’re going to answer this really simple question’. We can do it in all different ways. But our whole purpose is as storytellers and providing access to the community toanswer, ‘Who are we?’.”

Newcastle Museum director Julie Baird at lunch with Scott Bevan at One Picket Fence cafe. Picture: Marina Neil

JULIE Baird was born in March 1968, virtually with boots on. She grew up on a farm near Camden, outside of Sydney, as the middle child of three girls.

Baird describes her childhood as “an n rural experience, even though my father was an academic [a veterinary medicine professor at the University of Sydney]”.

“I was a weird kid,” she says, explaining how she would build cubby houses out of lantana and create cemeteries, burying dead animals she found around the property.

“I would create worlds a lot, I was a real fantasist.”

When she was nine, the family travelled for a year, going through The Netherlands, Britain and North America. It was, Baird says, “a huge year of awakening”.

She remembers journeyingacross the US in a Greyhound bus, observing all kinds of characters in the other seats. She sawgreat art in museums and boughtpostcardsof her favourite paintings. She still has those postcards.And she distinctly recalls the thrill of seeing an ancient stone exhibit in the British Museum and the disappointment of being prohibited by a row of bollards from getting near it.

“All I wanted to do was to touch this stone and I wasn’t allowed to,” Baird smiles. “So I say the reason I got into museums is I just wanted to get behind bollards.

“But all this kind of stuff, for me as a storyteller and a memory-maker, just goes ‘whoosh’ and soaks into my head.”

The boots worn by the punk rock music fan and museum director Julie Baird. Picture: Marina Neil

Baird’sfamily moved back to Camden for a few years before returning to Canada for her father’s work. Julie was to stay in Canada until she was 29. As a teenager, she lived in acity calledGuelph – “I convinced someone it was Romanian for ‘vomit’; it was Queen Victoria’s maiden name.”

She was mad about punk rock, but Guelph wasn’t exactly on the bands’ touring circuit –until young Juliemade it so.

“If there wasn’t anything happening, then it was no one else’s fault but mine,” she explains. “I wanted to see that music, so I had to put it on. I never thought there was anything odd about that.

“The only way I could get bands to play Guelph was if I fed them, didtheir laundry, let them have a shower, and they could sleep at our house.”

Some of those boys sleeping on the family’s lounge room floor would become famous, such as the members of American band Fugazi and local punk heroes D.O.A.

“I knew everyone across North America who was playing in punk rock bands.”

At university, Baird enrolled in English and drama, with thoughts of being an actor. But after a couple of years, she realised it wasn’t what she wanted to be. She swapped courses and studied medieval history.

“I got to the point whereI realised that really what I was into were stories, and the stories that were contrived and fictional I didn’t actually like, or they weren’t as wild as the real stories in history,” she says.

Julie Baird was busy. She had married while still studying, and by23 was a mother to her first child, Angus, who is now 27.

Baird alsovolunteered at the city’s museum (“It had an awesome chamber pot collection!”). She found her home in the museum; she was a naturalcurator: “I realisedthe way I thought about things, the way I put stories together with objects and words was different.So I took it and ran with it.”

While completing her post-graduate work in museum studies, Baird and her husband Jon had their second child, Bridget (now 23). Their youngest, Owen (18), was born soon after the family moved to in the late 1990s:“So pretty much every four years when my life was sorted, I’d get pregnant and have another baby.”

Newcastle Museum director Julie Baird. Picture: Marina Neil

Baird’s first paid museum job was in an institution next to a prison near Guelph. She worked withhigh-security female inmates, auditing themuseum’s collection, whilewearing a duress alarm.

“One day I was carrying a box and set the duress alarm off. I didn’t know what had happened, but all the women who were with me, inmates, hit the ground, spread-eagled, and guards are pointing weapons at me. And I was, ‘What!?”,” she says. “But I learnt a lot.”

Returning to , Baird and her family lived in Adelaide. Shelanded a job as a curator atthe National Motor Museum and was heavily involved in its redevelopment. It was a goodprimer for thejob in Newcastle, as she would help the museum moveto its Honeysucklelocation. Baird arrived herein 2002, with the plan to stay about five years. Butshe fell in love with the place.

“I guess my first impressions were that Newcastle had the most remarkable people,” she recalls. “That Newcastle had the most remarkable sense of community. It was like a family. People say it’s a big country town. No. It’s a family. So that means you can fight and stuff as well!”

Baird wants Novocastrians to find themselves, and to contributetheir stories, to the museum. It is why her favourite exhibition she hascurated is “Earthquake Then and Now”, which chronicled the disaster through the stories of people photographed in 1989and the course of their lives since then.

So more than provide an answer to “Who are we?’, the museum can proclaim, through its exhibitions and its collection of about 12,500 items, that, “This is us!”

“We’re the place you belong. We’re the place you’re accepted. So many different kinds of people come here, and they’re all one of us. They’re all us.”

Baird believes the museum is more relevant than ever in a city that is undergoing massive change, physically and socially.

“My big line is, ‘How can you see change if you don’t know where you’ve been?’.

“I’m all about change, and change is awesome, but I don’t want Newcastle to lose that sense of self-reliance and creating in a way that might be different.”

Julie Baird in front of an exhibition about the art of Japanese tattoos at Newcastle Museum in 2017. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Baird has embraced change in her own life. In March, herwork title changed from manager to director, after Newcastle City Council reinstated the position. That changemeans a lot to Baird, not just for the acknowledgement of the museum’s role in the city, but for her own future.

Having recently turned 50, and experiencing “The international year of ‘Oh-my- God, what am I doing with my life?’”, Bairdwas considering packing it in, returning to Canada and becoming a “checkout chick”. For the divorced Baird, her heart was on the other side of the Pacific. On avisit to Canada last year, she ran into Jay, who had beena friend when they were teenagers.

“Yeah,” she says, “and we sort of randomly really fell for each other!”

They are getting married in Guelph next month. Jay proposed by buying the jade ringsheis wearing as they walked through a market, and he slipped it on her wedding finger. Since tattoos tellpart of her story, Baird is planning to get her 16thwork of body artto celebrate.

With his fianceein a job she loves, Jay is emigrating here at the end of the year.

Asshe helps Newcastle answer “Who are we?”, Julie Baird is working on the reply to the question we all ask ourselves: Who am I?

“I always think I’m pretty normal, and then people go, ‘No, Julie, you’re not normal!’,” she says.“I think I’m a fighter. I think I’m one of those true believer types. I am a museum person with strong views. I have an unusual way of thinking, which I turn to the benefit of others. I’m a nurturer, and, funnily enough, whenever my job changes, I change. So right now, I feel like a director.”

“What does that mean? Responsible?”

“Yeah!”

“Who would have thought a punk rock promoter would be responsible?”

“Have you ever tried to control an all-ages punk gig!?,” she laughs.

“You have to be SO responsible!”

Newcastle Museum director Julie Baird. Picture: Marina Neil

Newcastle Jets 2018: A-League says quick thinking could have avoided grand final VAR fiasco

‘ONE IN A MILLION’: Fox Sports footage showing Victory players offside before their match-winning goal. The A-League says VAR officials lost access to the Fox feed during a software crash. It will come as cold comfort to Newcastle fans, but the A-League says it will introduce back-up technology to guard against a repeat of the “catastrophic” VAR failure that blighted Saturday’s grand final.
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And A-League boss Greg O’Rourke told the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday that Saturday’s VAR officialshad since conceded they could have sought Fox Sports footage when they lost half their camera angles in a software crash.

“The question you ask about the Fox Sports feed is potentially one of quick thinking,” O’Rourke said.

“In hindsight, they all said we could have left our room and gone to Fox.”

Related coverage: Newcastle grand final not a one-off

O’Rourke said video assistant referee Craig Zetter had access to some camera angles but not the crucial sideline view and Fox feed which showedJames Donachie was clearly offside before heading back across goal for Barbarouses to score the only goal of the decider against Newcastle.

“The video-capture device failed. There’s two in the room. One failed. It’s a catastrophic software failure. It locked,” hesaid.

“When they were there and they were working throughit, it was just like,‘Is that all the cameras you’ve got?’

“Because they had some, they were able to go, ‘Is that all the cameras you’ve got?Well, I don’t have any vision that suggests otherwise.’

“The ones they needed included the Fox broadcast feed and also the sideline.

“Actually, when the live feed came back up, the assistant VAR goes,‘Hold on a second –that looked like it was offside in the replay that I just saw on Fox’,which was after the game had restarted.

“There was nothing they could do about it. Then they called that camera up again and ran the replay once the software had rebooted, and then they determined that it was offside.”

O’Rourke said the FFA had sent a preliminary report about the incident to the International Football AssociationBoard, which oversees the rules of the game.

The technical failure had attracted “global attention” in the lead-up to the World Cup, which will also use VAR technology.

“The first, preliminary report has already been sent to IFAB, so it is a document that people are very, very interested in globally.

“We’re working with IFAB.The Bundesliga, who are also in the VAR world, also want to talk to us.

“There’s no doubt the software crashed. There’s nodoubt in anyone’s mind. The conspiracy theorists would suggest otherwise, but there’s no doubt.

“It’s been 100 per cent confirmed that the software crashed. The conspiracy theorists out there believe – I don’t know what they believe – but it’s just one of these one-in-a-million things that the software crashes.

“People are calling for me to sack myself. I understand the frustration, because I have a high level of frustration that the amount of time and effort and investment and money we’ve put into the system and then on the very biggest day of the year it fails.

“There’s nobody more frustrated about it than me. But in pragmatic terms it’s the same as if anyone’s computer locked up in any office on any day.

Greg O’RourkeHerald to the FFA statement.

The company has an operator in the VAR room at each A-League game to call up camera angles forthe video referee.

O’Rourke said Hawk-Eye had forwarded a crash dump report to its parent company in the UK to try to figure out what went wrong.

“We’ve done our bit. We’ve interviewed all our people. There’s also a video and audio recording of that room, so no one can say this didn’t happen, because it’s all there.

“We can see the reaction of the operator when it crashes.We can hear what he says about it.”

He said Zetter had followed protocol by staying in the VAR room during the drama, but this was one of the issues the league would examine to help prevent another failure.

“They actually stuck to protocol, which effectively is to stay in aclosed room. But now…all those conversations havestarted: should they be able to leavethe room, should there be a back-up server.One of the [things] we will put in place when we continue this VAR system will be to have the broadcast footage wired and sent separately to the VAR room.”

Meanwhile, the Jets have announced physiotherapistJustin Dougherty has leftthe club after six seasons. He is understood to have accepted a position at Melbourne Victory.

Roos AFL gun Waite ready for Tigers clash

Jarrad Waite is North Melbourne’s second highest goal kicker in 2018 with 13 goals in six AFL games.North Melbourne will regain a key weapon in attack for the much-anticipated AFL clash with Richmond, with Jarrad Waite declaring he is right to go after a rest.
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The 35-year-old sat out the Kangaroos’ thrilling two-point win over Sydney at the SCG last week.

Waite admitted to some frustration sitting on his couch alone watching as the surprise packet Roos improved to seventh place with a 4-3 record.

He would have argued against a rest in previous years but has learned the lessons of the past two seasons when he started strongly before succumbing to injury.

“In previous years I’ve probably rested when I’ve been sore, but I think when you’re at that stage it’s too late,” Waite told reporters on Tuesday.

“I’ve been feeling pretty good so it was probably perfect timing.

“I’m not sore yet but I am 35, so managing myself is probably key now.

“In previous years I probably would have played sore and then you end up getting injured.

“Hopefully this will hold me in good stead through this next period until the bye.”

Waite has impressed up forward and on a wing, kicking three goals in each of the past four games he played before he was rested.

He’s so pleased with his form that he isn’t ruling out pushing for a 17th AFL season next year.

North host the reigning premiers at Etihad Stadium on Sunday in what promises to be one of the matches of the round.

Mason Wood starred with four goals in his absence but Waite is confident a three-pronged attack, which includes Coleman Medal leader Ben Brown, can work for the Roos.

The top-of-the-table Tigers will carry the momentum of a five-game winning streak into the encounter, but Waite is quietly confident the North have it in them to continue to confound expectations.

“We’ve played some really good footy this year and a lot of teams have underestimated us,” he said.

“Everyone thought we were not going to win a game for the year.

“But we were quietly confident with the way we were going about it at training.

“We know that the outside perception of what we are about this year hasn’t been the most positive but internally we’re really excited with the way that we’re going.”

Trump signals Mueller cooperation fading

US President Donald Trump has attacked the team in the Russian investigation in a series of tweets.US President Donald Trump is signalling a more confrontational legal strategy against Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, dismissing it as an investigation into a “made up, phony crime”.
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The cooperative approach in dealing with special counsel Mueller’s investigation, as had been advocated by Trump’s legal team for months, appears to have gone by the wayside judging by a series of almost a dozen tweets from Trump.

The tweets also reveal Trump’s anxiety about how the Russia probe could sway voters as they decide whether to keep congressional Republicans in power or force him to face an aggressive Democratic majority.

Trump’s new lawyer, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, has used a string of media appearances to cast the probe as a “totally garbage investigation”.

Giuliani has also questioned whether Trump would be treated fairly by Mueller’s prosecutors if he were to agree to an interview.

No decision has been made on whether Trump will be interviewed, but a person familiar with the situation said the legal team hopes to resolve that by May 17, which marks one year since Mueller’s appointment.

Mueller’s team is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election and possible coordination with Trump associates as well as whether the president obstructed justice. So far, the special counsel’s office has charged 19 people – including four Trump campaign advisers – and three Russian companies.

On Monday, Trump seized on Giuliani’s message, focusing on what he sees as the conflicts of interest on Mueller’s team.

“The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place that actually protects people from injustice…and just wait ’till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!” he wrote.

Trump appeared to be drawing attention to a federal judge’s questioning last week of Mueller’s authority in a case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But it was unclear what legal action Trump was referring to that would touch on “unrevealed” conflicts of interest.

Mueller is a longtime Republican, but some members of his team have made political contributions to Democrats, including to Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the 2016 election.

Mueller could not have barred them from serving on the team based solely on their political contributions. Federal regulations and Justice Department policy prohibit the consideration of political affiliation in hiring and other personnel actions involving career attorneys.

Mueller’s investigation has operated largely in secrecy with the public only getting glimpses into its operation through witnesses who are questioned or when indictments and guilty pleas are publicly unsealed.

It’s unclear when the investigation will conclude, a fact that Trump seized on as he worried that it could affect Republican chances in the November midterm elections.

“Is this Phony Witch Hunt going to go on even longer so it wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections, which is what the Democrats always intended?” Trump tweeted. “Republicans better get tough and smart before it is too late.”

Origin’s plan to double its hydro power at Shoalhaven

A $250 million plan for pumped hydro energy generation near Illawarra could provide baseload renewable power for up to 80,000 homes.
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Origin Energy on Monday revealed more detail on its plans to double its pumped hydro storage power in New South Wales’ Illawarra region to take advantage of rapidly falling renewable energy costs.

t is considering two potential options for expanding its Shoalhaven pumped hydro storage power station, which could power another 80,000 homes, and potentially come online around the same time energy rival AGL plans to shut down the Liddell coal-fired power station.

Origin CEO Frank Calabria wants to double the output of the Shoalhaven hydro power station.

Origin chief executive Frank Calabria said while the government’s electricity reform policy, the National Energy Guarantee, would provide great certainty for renewable projects such as this, Shoalhaven’s expansion would not hinge on it.

“We will test a variety of scenarios for Shoalhaven because we don’t know when the National Energy Guarantee is coming in, we don’t know the timing,” Mr Calabria said.

“We will also test a variety of scenarios including Liddell [leaving the market] and that will be one consideration for what we will look at but the project won’t turn on these.”

The company announced two different potential plans for the expansion of its Shoalhaven facility on Mondayand that it could invest up to $250 million at the cost of around $1 million a megawatt.

235MW of additional pump storage generationUnderground station utilising the entire water head available from the Fitzroy Falls Reservoir

The first, cheaper, expansion option would add around 160 megawatts of additional pump storage capacity by building a new turbine generator and adding another pipe and tunnel to transport more water.

This option would fulfil the original stage two expansion that was planned for the site when the Shoalhaven facility was built in 1977.

During the initial construction, infrastructure was built to accommodate this expansion, however, it was never built and it was not considered economically viable until now, Origin said.

That had changed thanks to the growth of wind and solar power and the need for greater reliable power to support this more intermittent generation.

The second choice would create a new 235-megawatt pumped storage generator by drilling underneath the Bendeela dam, near the Fitzroy Falls, bypassing the existing Kangaroo Valley pumped hydro generator.

Mr Calabria told Fairfax Media the expansion project would have a relatively short construction and approvals time frame because there is already transmission infrastructure to take the power to the grid, avoiding the need for additional paperwork.

The company preferred the second option, building a new underground pumping and power station, which would take Shoalhaven’s total generation capacity up to roughly around 500 megawatts, Origin executive general manager for energy supply and operations Greg Jarvis said.

Origin Energy Frank Calabria, chief executive of Origin Energy (right) and Greg Jarvis, executive general manager, energy supply and operations inspecting the Bendeela power station.

This would make it the second largest pumped hydro storage power station in , roughly equal to CS Energy’s Wivenhoe hydro generation operation in Queensland but still behind Snowy Hydro.

Origin said it had to choose one option or the other as doing both an expansion of the dams and greater capacity which posed environmental and engineering issues.

“We’re trying to work within our existing footprint,” Origin said.

Origin is currently undertaking a $5 million feasibility study and working with the n Renewable Energy Agency on funding for the project.

It is understood that around 100 new construction jobs would be created if the company were to carry out Option B, with a handful of additional fulltime equivalent roles created.

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Rebels rake Charles eyes Wallabies recall

Rebels recruit Nathan Charles is in the frame for Wallabies selection given the low hooker stocks.While he’s craving some sunshine after three successive winters, Melbourne Rebels hooker Nathan Charles is ready and waiting should he be required for Wallabies duty in June.
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Charles arrived at Melbourne as injury cover only a week ago and found himself on the bench for their Super Rugby clash with the Crusaders last Friday.

The 29-year-old is planning a reunion with his Perth-based professional netballer wife Verity in June somewhere hot but will happily put that on hold.

With first-choice Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau playing in the UK and Rebels rising star Jordan Uelese injured, the race for the No.2 jersey for next month’s three-Test series against Ireland is wide open.

Charles could be a bolter to take on the Six Nations champions given his recent European experience.

Charles played four Tests for the Wallabies in 2014 with his Test career stalling after he ripped his pectoral muscle off the bone.

He would love another chance.

“I’ll always put my hand up if I get the opportunity,” he said.

“I was really upset with the way my last international game finished with injury.

“I still feel like I’ve got the ability to perform at that level.”

Charles said his time spent playing for Clermont in France and UK clubs Bath and Wasps had made him a better player.

“In Europe they use set piece as a weapon every opportunity they can and that takes some adjusting to,” he said.

“My knowledge of the game has improved because I have a different perspective and I’ve come back a happier player too.

“I really enjoyed my time on and off the field so all around I’m in a better place.”

While he still harbours Test ambitions, Charles said his priority was helping the Rebels snap their five-game losing streak when they take on the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday.

“I think the boys will bounce back; they’ve got the players and depth,” he said.

“We all know how big a challenge it will be against the Brumbies but also how important it is to win these conference games.

“From the result they had against the Brumbies in the first round I think we can really go there and turn it on.”

Asbestos claimant in tears before court

An asbestos exposure victim seeking almost $6 million in compensation from James Hardie has broken down in tears while talking about what will happen to his sick wife once he’s gone.
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Queenslander Syd Lacey developed terminal mesothelioma during his work with company products while employed as a carpenter in the 1970s and ’80s.

The 73-year-old is suing James Hardie for $5.9 million, most of which his lawyers say will be used to help care for his wife Marion once he can’t and ultimately dies.

On the opening day of the case on Tuesday, Brisbane Supreme Court heard video evidence from the Laceys recorded at their Noosaville home in April.

Mr Lacey, who is undergoing a new medical trial to help treat his disease, described the 24-hour care he provides to his wife who has epilepsy, anxiety and is profoundly deaf.

While reading out diary entries about her seizures, Mr Lacey said over the years she had broken several bones, suffered third-degree burns and cut her face.

“She won’t have a shower unless I’m sitting on a stool in the bathroom,” he said.

“When she says ‘Syd’, I just don’t get there quick enough. That’s why now I’m just there all the time.”

Under cross-examination he broke down in tears at the prospect of what would happen when he was no longer able or present to take care of Mrs Lacey.

“What happens when I go”, he asked. “When I’m here she knows she’s safe.”

Mrs Lacey said her husband helped her with everything from dressing to housework and shopping.

When asked how she raised two children when her husband worked, she said the frequency of the seizures had increased since they were young.

Mrs Lacey also started crying when she spoke about what triggered her anxiety.

“All that’s happening with Syd,” she said.

“The doctor said ‘you’d be lucky to live six months’…who am I going to go to?”

James Hardie, now known as Amaca Pty Ltd, has conceded it is liable for Mr Lacey’s illness.

But in dispute is how much it should pay the couple in damages and for the ongoing care of Mrs Lacey as a result of his reduced life expectancy.

Mr Lacey’s barrister Michael Grant-Taylor QC said Mrs Lacey’s medical problems were at the heart of the compensation claim.

Justice David Boddice asked if it was therefore a case based largely on “moral obligation”.

“There are elements of morality in the obligation of a spouse to extend care and services as appropriate,” Mr Grant-Taylor said.

Maurice Blackburn lawyers, representing Mr Lacey, say if successful the case could set a precedent.

Principal Jonathan Walsh said the retired carpenter was also seeking exemplary damages that recognise James Hardie’s alleged “reckless indifference” in continuing to sell asbestos products it knew could be deadly.