Satirical comedy Hinterland sparks deja vuKen Longworth

DARK COMEDY: Joshua Hilton, one of two actors who are playing the role of Henry in Hinterland.

AUSTRALIAN playwright Matt Cameron’s concern in the early 2000s that prime minister John Howard was ignoring the needs of the people led him to write a satirical comedy, Hinterland, that had a working-class man banished to a hidden place for voicing opinions that weren’t to the government’s liking.

While Cameron set the play in the 1950s, the situations it shows have present-day audiences laughing because they reflect the way that people see governments acting now, ignoring promises they made in election campaigns.

Lindsay Street Players, a company that includes adult actors who trained with Young People’s Theatre Newcastle and senior current members of YPT, is staging Hinterland for a season at Young People’s Theatre’s Hamilton venue June 1-9.

Another Matt Cameron play, Ruby Moon, is on the HSC drama reading list, and reading that led to one of YPT’s members looking at Cameron’s other works, and presenting a scene from Hinterland while attending the company’s director training course. The engrossing nature of that scene led to Lindsay Street Players deciding to stage the whole play. Patrick Campbell, a high school drama teacher familiar with Matt Cameron’s works, is directing the dark comedy.

The story initially focuses on a husband and wife, Henry and Olive Quealy, who have a typical family home. Henry is a travelling salesman who moves from door-to-door selling doors and Olive initially saw him as the man of her dreams. Life for Henry, though, is a bit of a nightmare. Power failures keep affecting their home and he gives those whose homes he goes to his opinions on what the government is doing.

His comments lead to a government minister, Winsome Snell, and her volatile security superintendent, Frank Gruel, raiding the Quealy house and sentencing Henry to permanent detention in a dark world behind a door that has mysteriously appeared. But the move leads to Henry becoming more confident and perceptive and prepared to battle the political team.

The play, which includesreferences to the ‘Cumbersome report’, a study the government commissioned from an official called Cumberson and then rejected because it was very critical of its decisions, has two casts. James Chapman and Josh Hilton alternate as Henry, Micaela Phillips and Jasmine Phipps as Olive, Cassie Hamilton and Kate Wooden as Winsome, and James Hilton and Sam Lewis as Gruel.

Performances:Fridays June 1 and 8, 7pm, Saturdays June 2 and 9,2pm and 7pm, Sunday, June 3, 2pm, and Wednesday, June 6, 7pm. Tickets for opening night (including supper) are $23, and $19 for other performances. Bookings: ypt成都模特佳丽招聘.au.

Theatre ReviewsAnnie: KIDSHigh Street Productions, at St Phillip’s Theatre, WaratahEnds SaturdayTHIS is a delightful inaugural production for new company High Street Productions, with the 27 young cast members making the classic story of an orphan girl searching while the Christmas guest of a New York millionaire for the parents she believes to be still alive a very enjoyable 50 minutes.

Director Michael Cooper and his staging team keep the action moving briskly, making good use of the set-changing moments to focus on characters ranging from poorly garbed orphans to elegant business people. The songs, including Tomorrow, Easy Street, and You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile, lose none of their swinging charm in a shorter context. The cruel orphanage operator, Miss Hannigan, likewise retains a darkly funny side.

The Venetian TwinsSt Francis Xavier’s College, at the Civic Playhouse, NewcastleEnded May 5IT has been more than 20 years since this musical adaptation by Maitland-born writer Nick Enright and composer Terence Clarke of the title classic Italian comedy has been staged in Newcastle, and it was good to see a high school team staging it amusingly.

The long separated twins are written to be played by one actor, with each twin being confused and adeptly manipulative when approached by men and women who thought they were the other. But director Patrick Campbell adeptly had them played by different actors, each with white colour on a different side of the face. It was an amusing show, though in this shortened version most of the songs were reduced to background music.

Eels lose Pritchard for Bulldogs clash

Kaysa Pritchard will miss the Eels’ NRL match against Canterbury due to a groin injury.Embattled Parramatta have been dealt a blow ahead of their bottom-of-the-table clash against Canterbury after losing hooker Kaysa Pritchard for at least one week with a groin injury.

Co-captain Tim Mannah could also be out for up to a month after suffering a suspected fractured eye socket from their two-point loss to Cronulla last week.

Pritchard’s injury is likely to result in an NRL recall for Cameron King, while utility Will Smith could also spend more minutes at dummy-half against the Bulldogs.

“He’s just found some form, too. He’s just been that bit of energy for us as well. He’s been going good for us,” Smith said of Pritchard on Tuesday.

Second-rower Kenny Edwards backed King and Smith to step up in Pritchard’s absence.

“He’s had a couple of good games in a row, Kaysa. It’s tough to lose my little mate, but Kingy’s been playing well. He’s man of the match the last two weeks in reserve grade.

“If he comes in, we know he can do the job.”

The Eels have also spent the early part of the week rallying around star halfback Mitchell Moses, who cut a dejected figure after missing a conversion that would’ve sent Saturday’s game into golden point.

“We were quick to let him know that it wasn’t just him. Obviously he did miss the kick at the end but he shouldn’t have been in that situation from the get-go,” fullback Bevan French said.

“He did put a blame of himself but we were quick to let him know that it just wasn’t him.”

Edwards expected Moses to bounce back from the disappointment against the Bulldogs, who are equal with the Eels on four points but sit one spot above them on the ladder in 15th position.

“He would’ve felt the whole world was on his shoulders through that kick. But like we explained to him, we lost the game a long time before that. I think he’ll be right,” Edwards said of Moses.

“It’s just something that happens and we’ll move on from that.”

No answers for Maitland on education infrastructure

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.Maitland is one of the country’s fastest growing cities yetwhen it comes to educationinfrastructureisbeing left behind.

A dirt floor in a students’toilet, a two-year wait for playground equipment, excessive use of demountables, overflowing classrooms and a failure to committo build new schools, has left Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison incensed.

Fairfax Media contacted Mrs Aitchison for comment this week, after attempts to learn of any governmentplans for anew school in Maitland failed.

Mrs Aitchison has approachedEducation Minister Rob Stokes about the issuebut has beenrepeatedly given the brush off.She then resorted to searching throughGovernment Information (Public Access) which usually costsaround $30, however the schoolsearch was going to cost$1560.

“I spoke to Infrastructure and Education in December and confirmedthat they had triedto buy land at Gillieston Heights, however the Catholic Church beat them to it,” Mr Aitchison said.“The government’s eye istotally off the ball. Ithasn’tbuilt a new school inMaitland since the election. Thelast new additional school built was by Labor at Ashtonfield in 2007,”she said.

NSW Education’s media unit gave little away about plans forMaitland:“A capital works project is being planned for Rutherford Public School andwill include new permanent classrooms and upgraded core facilities. The design of the new areas will incorporate future-focused learning strategies that support the needs of students and their community, and provide a learning-centric approach to education,” a spokesperson said.

There was no response to our questionabout costing, nor about plans for a new school:“We can’t add anything to the response about future projects, which are usually announced in State budgets.”

Mrs Aitchison saideducation infrastructureis shrouded in secrecy.“Maitland peopleneed to know that planning is underway andsome sort of groundwork is being done. This has hit a political level andstudentsare suffering.”

There was much fanfare last year withnewsRutherford Public School would share in $4.2billion promised to NSW schools for upgrade and redevelopment works.

Last year the Department of Education has projected the Hunter will see the biggest student population growth to 2031 outside of Sydney, equivalent to an increase of 5950 primary school enrolments and 4350 high school enrolments.

The NSW Auditor General’sPlanning for school infrastructurereport said there had been “chronic under-investment in NSW government school infrastructure and deficiencies in asset planning” over the past decade.

“Students are working fromdemountables, some holding class in theircomputer rooms so other students don’t have access to IT facilities,” Mrs Aitchison said.“Justrecentlythe dirt floor in theboys’ toilets at Gillieston School was replacedwhich beggars belief.

“That same schoolonly just had itsplayground reinstated, something they lost in the 2015superstorm.The government needs to have an honest consultation with the community about what they are going to do about schools in Maitland, not leave it to the Catholic system orprivate providers to do it for them.”

Brumbies eye Rebels to keep season alive

Rory Arnold is acutely aware how important it is for the Brumbies to beat Melbourne on Saturday.The Brumbies haven’t given up hope of playing Super Rugby finals but know winning this Saturday’s clash with the Melbourne Rebels is key.

Currently fourth in the n conference, the Brumbies’ finals hopes hang by a thread and a second loss to the Rebels this season will pretty much end any chances of a sixth straight trip to the play-offs.

Brumbies lock Rory Arnold said he team was aware of what was at stake.

“It’s a big game for both teams because we’ve both lost a few on the trot so it’s must win for us,” Arnold said on Tuesday.

“We’ve got a tour to South Africa after this and it’s never easy to win there.”

Arnold said that despite falling to a 21-8 loss against the competition pace-setting Crusaders in their last outing, his team’s performance had given them confidence they could keep their season alive.

The Brumbies had a great start and plenty of chances in the second half but failed to capitalise.

“The Crusaders are top of the log and we stuck it right to them and probably should have won if we managed that last 20 minutes a bit better,” he said.

“We’ve been in games all year and competed with some of the better teams so there’s still belief we can go deep into the competition.”

As well as Super Rugby seasons at stake, players from both teams can make a claim for a Wallabies jersey for next month’s Test series against Ireland with a strong showing at Canberra Stadium.

One position where there’s plenty of heat is second row, with Brumbies locks Arnold, Blake Enever and Sam Carter duelling with Rebels duo Adam Coleman and Matt Philip.

Arnold said it was the perfect stage to show Wallabies coach Michael Cheika what they had to offer.

“There’s battles everywhere and it’s a good chance for players to put their hands up for higher honours,” he said.

Arnold said the team felt fresh coming off the bye and thought he was starting to find some form after a string of injuries.

“It’s good to get some good minutes under my belt so hopefully I can stay injury free and keep building,” he said.

Vic union helpful, not threat, lawyer says

A construction union official accused of blackmailing Boral executives was being helpful when he warned the company of possible industrial action, a court has been told.

The CFMEU’s Victorian secretary John Setka and assistant secretary Shaun Reardon faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday as they fight charges of blackmailing two Boral managers during a meeting in 2013.

It’s alleged the union pair made unwarranted demands of executives Paul Dalton and Peter Head at North Melbourne’s Auction Rooms cafe on April 23, 2013.

At the time the CFMEU was waging an industrial campaign in Melbourne against construction company Grocon, which Boral supplied with concrete.

Mr Dalton made a 35-page statement to police in April 2015 about his interactions with Setka and Reardon.

Counsel for Reardon, Neil Clelland QC, said the statement differs to notes Mr Dalton made shortly after he spoke or met with the union officials.

The court has been told Setka rang Mr Dalton in September 2012 to say industrial action against Grocon might affect Boral.

“He says ‘this is just a heads up that Boral is going to run into some trouble with this Grocon stuff, it’s nothing personal’,” Mr Clelland said.

He said Setka told Mr Dalton that Grocon trucks were being turned around and Boral should avoid using Grocon trucks to transport Boral supplies.

“Far from being a threat, it was actually a helpful communication to you so that if you send Boral badged trucks, they wouldn’t be turned around,” the barrister said.

“I don’t think it was being helpful,” Mr Dalton said.

The executive said he believed Setka was “trying to throw his weight around”.

But Mr Dalton conceded his notes do not characterise his conversation with Setka as being of a threatening nature.

“Instead someone has construed – either you or someone on your behalf – the form of the message, which is not borne out by the notes at all,” Mr Clelland said.

Mr Dalton’s notes are different to the statements he gave to police and a royal commission, Mr Clelland added.

“That’s a very different message and a very different sentiment, might I suggest, from that which you have relayed in both your police statement and your statement to the trade unions royal commission,” Mr Clelland said.

He went on to suggest a barrister acting for Boral had decided to accuse the union of blackmail.

“Was he the creative mind that came up with the idea that you could construe the meeting at Auction Rooms as blackmail?” Mr Clelland asked.

Setka and Reardon were charged in 2015 after an investigation by a joint Victorian and federal police unit following a referral by the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

The hearing continues.

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.

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.

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?

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?”


“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.

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.