Freed lawyer shocked by focus on her ordeal

Freed lawyer shocked by focus on her ordeal

Happy … Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, left, arrives at the airport in Rome. Detained in Libya… Melinda Taylor with husband, Geoffrey Roberts, and daughter, Yasmina.
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The parents of previously detained lawyer Melinda Taylor, John and Janelle Taylor, are chilling a bottle of champagne to celebrate when they see her daughter’s face via Skype later today.

Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor leaves jail.


Human rights lawyer Melinda Taylor has been “shocked” by the media attention surrounding her almost month-long detention in Libya, telling her parents she had no idea it was getting any coverage.

Ms Taylor has arrived at her home in the Hague to her husband Geoff Roberts and two-year-old daughter Yasmina after being released. Despite a Skype session with her Brisbane-based parents Janelle and John Taylor, she is yet to go into detail about her ordeal.

Ms Taylor, has been held with three International Criminal Court colleagues since she travelled to Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, on June 7 to help prepare the legal defence of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam.

On Skype today, her mother and father talked to Ms Taylor and Mr Roberts about midday.

Both couples popped a bottle of champagne, though Ms Taylor did not talk about her experience of the past three and half weeks.

‘‘She didn’t [tell me about her experience in jail] she was too excited to be back home with her husband and her daughter,’’ Mrs Taylor said.

Mrs Taylor said her daughter did not think anyone would be interested in her ordeal and had no idea of the extent of the media coverage when she was being held.

‘‘She’s well she’s just looking forward to getting back to her normal life,’’ she said.

‘‘She didn’t know the media attention was happening, she had no idea, she had no idea there had been any media attention whatsoever.

‘‘She was hit with the media in Zintan where she was a little bit shocked that anyone was interested.’’

An “ecstatic” Mrs Taylor heard her daughter say “I love you” in the early hours of this morning when she was first freed.

The lawyer was able to reassure her Brisbane-based mother that she was fine in what Mrs Taylor described as an “emotional” phone call.

Mrs Taylor said she spoke to her daughter after the Libyans handed her over to Australian ambassador David Ritchie.

“She didn’t tell me anything about her experience in the jail because she was in the convoy and the phone call was monitored so the only thing she said was she loved us and looked forward to speaking to us and she’s excited to go home,” Mrs Taylor said.

Mrs Taylor has been in constant contact with her daughter’s husband Geoff Roberts over the past few weeks and arranged to talk to her daughter on Skype so Mrs Taylor and her husband could have a proper celebration.

“We’ve got a bottle of champagne here that our other daughters brought over two weeks ago and the whole time Melinda has been in there we said ‘we have to do something to support Melinda so we went off alcohol’,” she said.

“So the bottle of champagne is now in the fridge and [Melinda’s husband] Geoff said he’d Skype us when she gets home at about midday today and that’s when we’ll drink the champagne.”

“…It will be great, I’ll be very happy to see her face.”

Foreign Minister Bob Carr rang Mrs Taylor in the early hours of this morning to tell her that her daughter had been handed over by Libyan officials ending a “harrowing” few weeks for the parents.

“We are now ecstatic that she’s actually been handed over by them because we were excited when we told she was going to be released but we were ecstatic when we got the email last night to say and a phone call from Bob Carr to say the Libyans had handed her over to the ambassadors,” Mrs Taylor said.

She said Melinda did not have plans to come to Australia until December and her parents had decided it was best to wait until then to see her.

“Melinda said ‘look Mum and Dad I would love you to come over’ and we would be on the next plane but we feel maybe Melinda’s life need to go back to being normal so she can get on with her life,” she said.

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Five things we learnt from Super Rugby

Five things we learnt from Super Rugby

The Reds have two winnable home games to finish the season.1. Beware the Reds. The Brumbies will not be the only ones keeping a close eye on Queensland over the next two weeks. They have two winnable games at home and, more importantly, that priceless ability to switch between styles. Dom Shipperley scored a beautiful, long-range try from turnover ball against the Rebels but their work in tight, with the pick-and-drive, has repeatedly been exceptional. They can hurt any side in this competition, home or away. We have been critical of the wilder aspects of Saia Faingaa’s play in the past but he was great on Friday night – as was Adam Wallace-Harrison – while the durability of Will Genia continues to astound. But is the brilliant No.9 ever going to get a break?
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2. Too many Test players can be bad for your health. A month ago the Crusaders were the form team in the competition. Three Tests and three big injuries later – Kieran Read, Dan Carter and Israel Dagg – the All Blacks-laden Cantabrians simply couldn’t match the spark generated by the admirable Hurricanes on Saturday. Kiwis might want to look away at this point – there is an entirely plausible set of results over the next two weeks that would leave the Crusaders outside the top six – and with just one New Zealand side in the finals.

3. The weaker teams provided a softer landing. While most interest focused on teams with a healthy number of Test players backing up, another story emerged. The games involving the Force, Rebels and Cheetahs – who have few internationals and essentially nothing left to play for – were effectively over by half-time. Rust or lack of appetite? Perhaps a touch of both. There was one telling moment in the Rebels game when James O’Connor made a handy break but found himself isolated at the breakdown. The usual suspects – Gareth Delve and Stirling Mortlock – were among the first to arrive to clean out, but the tight five was conspicuous by its absence. The Rebels have now conceded 457 points in 2012 – 10 per cent higher than the next leakiest side.

4. Berrick Barnes might have some voodoo dolls. For there to have been a stampede for his Wallabies No.10 jersey at the weekend, you first would have had to find someone who could walk. James O’Connor did a hamstring, Kurtley Beale looks like he is playing with shrapnel wedged into his ribs and Quade Cooper’s removal at half-time prompted that dreadful word that no supporter wants to hear: “Precautionary”. In that 40 minutes, however, the Reds No.10 looked a lot better than in his previous game and a half. O’Connor’s injury has opened the door for him, too.

5. Aaron Cruden is nipping at Dan Carter’s heels. Carter will start at five-eighth for New Zealand in The Rugby Championship, unless struck by lightning. But for the first time in a long time there is a player who can change the conversation around the All Blacks No.10 jersey. Cruden is shaping as an alternative, not just the preferred boot-cleaner. He played injured against the Highlanders and still got the job done – he’s a tough, increasingly mature navigator who brings a subtle box of tricks when attacking the gainline.

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The ghost ships that creep across the blue

The ghost ships that creep across the blue

Apparitions at dawn, but the asylum seeker arrivals at Christmas Island are real enough.DAWN on this rocky outcrop in the Indian Ocean brought the sight of two near-identical wooden fishing boats, each painted an almost cheery blue, riding a gentle swell hardly 200 metres offshore, right below the Christmas Island township.
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You needed to blink, for only the evening before, there had been only one of these boats, and its cargo of 53 Tamils from Sri Lanka had been unloaded and driven away to detention.

The sun had not yet risen over the island’s steaming jungle and it was difficult to discern if there was life aboard the second craft. I raised a hand and called a ”hullo” and suddenly a forest of arms appeared above deck.

Some time on Sunday night, as Christmas Island slept off its weekend, another 39 Tamils from Sri Lanka – 37 men and two boys – had slipped in from the Indian Ocean. Appearing as if from nowhere, theirs could have been a ghost ship. Plenty of people on this remote island, as it happens, believe in ghosts.

Next month, on August 17, the ethnic Chinese population, descendants of coolies shipped in and worked like slaves, will celebrate the annual Festival of the Hungry Ghost. Food offerings will be made to keep the spirits of ancestors content and disinclined to enter homes, prayers will be offered for those who suffered and died mining phosphate in the hot sun, and the population will stay indoors at night, fearful that at this moment, the gates of hell are open for those who venture out.

Only this week a sober member of the 72-strong contingent of Australian Federal Police on the island swore to colleagues he had seen the apparition of a ”lady in white” floating among the Islamic and Chinese graves bordering a main road out of the island’s township. The other police were amused, but many of the island’s permanent population claim to have had the same experience.

The Tamils, of course, were not ghosts, and neither was their little boat – though for all the interest shown by the locals, inured to the sudden and regular appearance of asylum seeker vessels from far away, they may as well have been. And soon, the 39 men and boys were barged ashore and removed by bus to the big detention centre far out of sight in a remote valley on the island.

At another time in history, their voyage might have been the stuff of adventure stories. They had endured 21 days at sea, travelling – assuming their helmsman had managed a straight course – about 3400 kilometres beyond sight of land, finding their way to a speck of an island 1500 kilometres west of the nearest mainland Australian coast. Food and water must have been in short supply for these hungry ghosts on such a small and crowded boat, but those of us on the island denied access to the detention centre and the asylum seekers themselves cannot know the depivations they may have suffered.

They were mere apparitions in the dawn, waving, insignificant among the 72 boats that have made it to Christmas Island this year and the 5242 passengers they have carried, including the 18 bodies retrieved from two sinkings in the past 10 days that are believed to have claimed about 100 lives.

Meanwhile, as Australia’s federal parliamentarians take their six-week winter break, having reached no agreement about how to dissuade such perilous voyages, there’s not a person on Christmas Island who does not expect each dawn to reveal more ghostly craft below their township.

The navy will tow the wooden boats out to sea and burn them, and steel craft will be sunk, leaving no sign of their coming.There are now 1475 asylum seekers out of sight in detention on the island.

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Tremain set to make Sheffield Shied debut

Tremain set to make Sheffield Shied debut

OH YEAH: Orange’s Chris Tremain (left), with Steve O’Keefe, has been selected in the NSW Sheffield Shield side for this week’s match. Photo: GETTY IMAGESORANGE quick Chris Tremain is preparing to make his first class debut after being named in the New South Wales squad to take on Victoria in the final Sheffield Shield match of 2011-12 at the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
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The Yeoval product is one of three seam bowlers, along side Bathurst quick Trent Copeland and right-arm Randwick-Petersham spearhead Scott Coyte, yesterday named in the 12-man squad to take on the Victorians in a four-day game starting Thursday.

A final 11 will be named on the morning of the match but the early signs point towards Tremain making the cut.

“Obviously the selectors can’t put anything in black and white at the moment, but when I got the call on Monday they said to me there is only three seamers in the 12, come to the ground prepared to play,” Tremain said.

“I’m pretty excited, but I’ll try to keep a level head.

“I’m jumping out of my skin to pull on the blue cap and play for my state.”

His selection in the NSW squad caps off a remarkable rise through the ranks for the former Kinross Wolaroi tearaway.

In solid form for his University of NSW side in the Sydney Grade Cricket competition this summer, Tremain soon made his debut in NSW colours, taking 2-32 against Western Australia in their Ryobi Cup clash at the WACA ground last month.

His 31 scalps at 20.29 this year have obviously made those who count sit up and take notice.

But Tremain knows he can get better.

After taking the wickets of Travis Birt and Luke Ronchi in his first state outing on February 22, Tremain admits to being a little nervous about taking the new ball at a place many believe is the home of fast bowling.

“Obviously at the WACA, I watched the game the other day and it looked like my rhythm was a bit off,” he concedes.

“I have had a problem in the past with front-foot no balls and with it being a free hit in the one-dayers, I looked a bit hesitant.

“If I can get my rhythm right without having to worry about free hits, I’ll be able to go out there and just look to bowl well and keep things tight.”

Tremain, 20, is just one of a number of promising young cricketers being given a shot at the Sheffield Shield level by NSW selectors this summer.

Young batsman Nic Maddinson is another at just 19 years old.

Tremain believes the enthusiasm both he and the likes of Maddinson have brought to the Blues over the back end of the season will propel NSW – set to miss out on both the Shield and one-day finals this year – into a successful 2012-13 campaign.

“Stephen O’Keefe said in the huddle after we won (at the WACA) that it was great to have young blood in the team. He said the team was just going through its paces in the previous couple of games and to get young blood in wanting to play for their state was great,” Tremain said.

NSW BLUES: Stephen O’Keefe (captain), Trent Copeland, Scott Coyte, David Dawson, Phil Hughes, Simon Katich, Usman Khawaja, Nic Maddinson, Peter Nevill, Ben Rohrer, Steven Smith, Chris Tremain.

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Number’s up for graffiti vandals

Number’s up for graffiti vandals

RING THE HOTLINE: Member for Orange Andrew Gee hopes a new graffiti hotline will help clean up the streets of Orange. MEMBER for Orange Andrew Gee says he hopes a new graffiti hotline will not only make it easier to notify authorities of the crime but also hasten its removal from public areas.
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Mr Gee said graffiti was a “blight on community pride” and the new hotline was a step in the right direction.

“Until now there has been no single number to notify authorities about graffiti, which has caused confusion and delays in removal,’’ Mr Gee said.

“[Now] After receiving a report, hotline operators will send the information to the government agency or local council responsible for cleaning it up.”

Mr Gee said graffiti was a particular problem in parks, bus shelters and on roads.

“It’s not exclusive to any suburb although some areas do have more graffiti than others,” he said.

Mr Gee said removing graffiti was very expensive, costing Orange ratepayers thousands of dollars a year.

“It’s not only [costly to] council, but also other organisations such as Housing NSW as well as private homeowners,” he said.

“The cost of graffiti vandalism is spread across the entire community.”

Mr Gee said is was important to remove graffiti as it had a “flow-on effect on the community”.

“If you let it go it can set the tone for a community or a neighbourhood,” he said.

He said anyone who defaces property without permission had no right to call themselves a graffiti artist.

“They might like to think of themselves as artists, but they are really vandals who show no respect for other people’s property,” he said.

The number for the NSW graffiti hotline is 1800 707 125 and callers are able to remain anonymous.

It will operate from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

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Bush, wetlands now on solid ground with zoning

Bush, wetlands now on solid ground with zoning

PROTECTED: Environmentalists Neil Jones, Margaret Weaver, Ian Starr, Ros Valentine, Stephen Nugent and Fiona Hawke at the Ploughmans Wetlands, which has been zoned as a public recreation area. Photo: MARK LOGAN 0302mlploughmans1THE environment and the community have had a win with two prominent stretches of land saved from future development.
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Under Orange’s recently approved Local Environmental Plan (LEP), the Bloomfield bushland is now an environmental conservation zone and Ploughmans Wetlands has been zoned as a public recreation area.

“It’s exceptionally good news, it’s the best outcome we could hope for,” Orange councillor and Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange president Neil Jones said.

“We now have publicly zoned land from Wentworth Estate to Ploughmans Valley, it opens up huge opportunities for walkways and cycleways.”

Under the new zoning all residential and commercial development is banned at the bushlands, while the wetlands can only have recreation or eco-tourist facilities.

Cr Jones said both areas will have enormous benefits for the community and environment.

“It ensures these areas of open space and remnant bushlands will be protected for all time,” he said.

“There were fears the land could be earmarked for commercial and residential development.”

The bushland’s close proximity to the hospital, Bloomfield campus, future Ronald McDonald House and Western Care Lodge will be of ongoing benefit, Cr Jones said, with future walking tracks in the area a possible outlet for patients and visitors.

“There are wonderful opportunities for bushland experiences,” he said.

Cr Jones admits there will be “enormous challenges” to maintain the area including controlling the exotic woody weeds.

He hopes the chief advocates of the area, the Bloomfield Bushland Advancement Group, will be able to form a community based bushland care group including staff from the health campus.

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Clinics bringing cricket to kids all over the world

Clinics bringing cricket to kids all over the world

LIVE AND LEARN: Fabien Leonard and Shane King. Photo: JUDE KEOGHEVERY child has the right to play cricket.
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It’s a simple motto.

And one The Movement Disorder Foundation, with help from both Rotary NSW and the Bradman Foundation, is hoping will resonate the world over.

In place since October 2010, The Movement Disorder Foundation has been running kanga cricket-like cricket clinics, with modified rules, to help children with disabilities around NSW get involved in the game.

And there are already plans to expand the initiative to countries on the sub-continent like India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia as well as New Zealand.

Over 100 children from right across Orange enjoyed the clinics over three sessions at Sir Neville Howse Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday last week in Orange.

Bradman Foundation cricket ambassador Rick McCarthy said he was blown away by the support the clinics have received.

“It really has caught on like wild fire,” McCarthy said.

And McCarthy believes it can only get bigger.

“There has been (a lot of support), but we’d always like more,” he said.

“I believe, there are still a lot of people out there who believe some children can’t play cricket. All you have to do is come down and see the enjoyment these kids are getting out of this to see that’s not the case.

“We’re hoping to spread the word.”

The students practiced their throwing, bowling, batting and catching across a number of drills last week.

And later this year, school children from across the region will converge on Wade Park for what McCarthy calls a “Dream Cricket Day.”

“That’s the idea. The kids will learn more by continuing these clinics at their schools and then at the end of the year, we’ll get Bathurst, Orange, Mudgee or Blayney or Millthorpe, where ever, all together for a dream day,” he said.

The Wade Park Dream Cricket Day will be played on November 1.

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Fardell’s winning training run

Fardell’s winning training run

WINNER: Jane FardellORANGE’S recent cool weather was perfect for one competitor in the Orange Colour City Running Festival yesterday.
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Dubbo’s Jane Fardell took out the women’s half-marathon yesterday as part of her preparation to race overseas.

Fardell (pictured right) stopped the clock in just over one hour and 22 minutes for the 21.1km event, in what was essentially a training run for her.

She will go to Europe later this month to participate in the European Spring Marathon Series.

For this reason alone she was happy with Orange’s cooler conditions.

“I’m pretty glad actually because it will make it easier to acclimatise,” Fardell laughed.

Fardell said she had planned to do a long run on Sunday morning as part of her training and thought the Running Festival would be suitable.

She took out the women’s half-marathon in 2011 and was happy to make it two in a row.

“I felt like having a bit of a hit out but I’ve got a big race coming up in a couple of weeks so I didn’t want to push it too hard,” she said.

Heavy rain during the week meant the half-marathon course had to be changed and Fardell said it provided a solid challenge.

“It was much harder than last year,” she said.

“I know they had to change the course for the weather. They did a good job but the hills were just … yeah. I didn’t see any flat today. It was just up, down, up, down. That made it a bit tougher.”

The second woman to finish the half-marathon was Sarah Mycroft, the Running Festival’s ambassador.

Mycroft was the first woman to run around Australia in 2010 so she had no problems finishing the half-marathon yesterday.

Wendy Walker turned in a strong performance to finish third.

No official times were available due to a technical problem.

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Mercury drops to -6.1°C at Tuggeranong

Mercury drops to -6.1°C at Tuggeranong

‘Out of this World’, a photo sent into to the Canberra Times Readers Winter Photo competition. A prickly seed pod from the Plane Tree encased in ice.Canberra woke to sub-zero temperatures and heavy frosts this morning, in a trend that’s set continue well into next week.
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At 6.46am this morning in Tuggeranong, the mercury dropped to an icy minimum of -6.1°C, well below the July average of -0.1°C.

The weather was a little more balmy at the airport, bottoming out at -5.8°C at 6.40am.

The coldest overnight low we’ve had this year was recorded two weeks ago on Friday June 20 at a chilly -6.3°C.

The lowest temperature on record for July is -10°C, recorded in 1971 on July 11.

Minimum temperatures in Canberra are forecast to remain below zero into next week.

Check out Canberra’s seven day forecast.

The forecast minimum for Canberra tomorrow is -4°C with frost expected and temperatures are forecast to get down to -5°C on Saturday.

But it’s not all bad news according to Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Ryan White, who said afternoon temperatures will be quite the contrast.

“Canberrans will have to be prepared to scrape ice off their windscreens in the mornings… but the afternoons should be extremely pleasant,” he said.

Mr White said the rest of the week will bring clear days and sunny weather, with maximum temperatures of up to 14°C – at least three degrees above the average July maximum.

He said a strong slow-moving high pressure system near the Great Australian Bight is currently directing very light, dry southeasterly winds across Canberra.

These dry winds are primarily the cause of Canberra’s cool evenings, as dry air cools more quickly than air with a greater moisture content leading to a drop in temperature in the evenings.

Mostly sunny weather is predicted for today, with a maximum temperature of 12°C.

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9 tips to make your website sing

9 tips to make your website sing

Short attention span … your site must share a quick and concise message.The first contact most potential customers will have with your business is through your website, so it can’t be tired and old. Here are nine tips on how to refresh your website.
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Your website doesn’t have to be a work of art, but it shouldn’t look too cheap or ugly either. “If it looks cheap then you attract customers wanting cheap; if it looks good you’ll attract a better quality of client,” says Peter Ball, managing director of Exa Web Solutions. “It’s not that hard to get a decent design, it’s probably the easiest part of a website.”


Database errors, links that don’t work, clicking onto pages that won’t take you back to the homepage – these infuriate users mad and drive away potential customers. “It’s more important to get the basic functionality right than to have something really fancy,” says Ball. All sorts of things can cause website errors, so once a week spend five or 10 minutes clicking around your site to make sure all the links work. And if you have a web-based contact form, test it regularly to ensure that you’re still getting those business leads.


Smart phone and tablet use is rocketing, with mobile devices are forecast to comprise10 to 20 per cent of the total web audience this year, so you need to make sure your website will work on mobile devices. “Mobile users expect quick access to the most relevant information, without heavy graphics, animation, or downloads, and it’s relatively straight forwards to setup a mobile-friendly template for your website,” says Mack Nevill, founder and creative director of digital agency Evolution7. “We recommend you identify the most important content in your site and optimise it for mobile, rather than just shoehorning pages of content five levels deep into a mobile interface.”


When someone comes to your site you’ve only got their attention for a very short time so you need to communicate your core message quickly and concisely. “You need to tell the user why you’re better than the next guy and why they need to buy your services or read further,” says Michael Rom, a director of Netstarter. To convert interest into business, you need to follow up with a strong call to action, a prompt to users to call or seek more information.


Write the copy for your website, then halve it and then halve it again, says Rom. And use dot points. “It’s about having clean aesthetics and sufficient use of white space,” he says. “If you can imagine going to a site that’s got a lot of copy, a lot of links and a lot of graphics and everything’s all over the place, it’s very difficult for the user to focus and read the key message.”


The first place a web browsers eyes drift towards is the top right of the screen, so use the space for a call to action, says Mike Larcher, director of web agency Acidgreen. Use a different colour that stands out and a phrase like “call now” or “free quotes” with a button to press. “


When you’re refreshing your website, don’t forget search engine optimisation – making sure your site contains key words about your business that will show up in search engines. SEO has spawned an entire industry, but Larcher says the basics are to ensure the key words for your business appear often on your pages and to be as specific as possible. For instance, just putting “plumber” on your site would mean you’re competing to be noticed by search engines against all of the other plumbers in Australia and Google would be unlikely to give you a listing. More specific words such as “plumber North Shore Sydney” will win you more hits.


If you haven’t got it already, get Google Analytics. This free service from Google offers detailed information on how people use your website – how long they stay and which pages they visit. Louise Gorrie, director of Sydney-based web design agency Digital Finery says small businesses should use the service to find out which phrases people come to the website for after a search. “Make sure you’ve got the content to match and that’s quite an easy win,” she says.


Gorrie says that a rule of thumb in website design is “don’t make the user think”, so ensure that the site is easy to navigate, because if people can’t easily find what they want they’ll go elsewhere. “Show the site to a few people and see how they navigate their way through the pages, because people never use your website like you think they do,” Gorrie says. “Get them to find something specific on the site and see if they can find in and that might give you some ideas to improve the navigation.”

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He could only just see over the dock: boy, 12, accused of $500,000 school arson

He could only just see over the dock: boy, 12, accused of $500,000 school arson

He has just turned 12, been on a bond for less than a month for robbery and is now facing allegations that he was part of a team of boy arsonists who caused more than $500,000 damage to a Hunter institution.
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The child could only just see over the dock at Broadmeadow Children’s Court yesterday when magistrate Bruce Williams granted him strict conditional bail over the St Pius X High School fire because he was so young, the Newcastle Herald reports.

The boy, who is suspended from his own school, was placed back into the custody of his father with a nightly 7pm to 7am curfew slapped on him.

The court heard the boy’s father, the child’s supervising parent, had been struggling to control him.

And the boy has also been warned to stay away from two other boys who police allege were with him at the time the large building was torched on Saturday afternoon.

The boy pleaded not guilty to the charges of destroy property in company by fire and destroy or damage property, claiming one of the other boys had lit the blaze.

Police are yet to lay charges against other suspects, although they have spoken with two boys who were assisting with the investigation.

Mr Williams said the issue of bail was “a serious balancing exercise” and that it was with “some reluctance” that he granted bail because the boy’s ambivalence was of “some concern to me”.

But he noted the boy’s young age meant that, if convicted, he believed “that the resources of the state look at rehabilitation”.

“If it were a 17- or 18-year-old, I would have no hesitation in refusing his bail,” Mr Williams said.

He later told the boy: “I can tell you now, you break the bail conditions and you stay in custody. You break the curfew, you will stay in custody.”

A police facts sheet tendered to court said the boy and two others, also aged 12, had climbed under a fence and broken into the school hall in Adamstown by smashing windows.

One of the other boys had received a severe cut from the windows, with the trio running off shortly after the fire was lit near the vicinity of an open door, the facts sheet said.

The court heard a bloody jumper was found next to the nearby rail line before a woman was stopped at a Park Avenue bus stop and asked for directions to get medical assistance.

Three boys also told a man at a nearby RTA facility that the injured boy had received his injury after a bottle was thrown from a passing car.

“At the time the fire within the school structure spread rapidly and was threatening other structures,” the facts sheet said.

It later read: “The accused young person offered of his own free will admission to his presence at the scene and that a co-accused was responsible for the fire.

“Police as investigators sought to expand this offer of information, a number of questions and answers were made before the accused young person declined to answer.”

The charged boy was put on a nine-month bond for robbery.

He will reappear on July 30.


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Moving the goalposts

Moving the goalposts

Mark Schwarzer, who has offered his Watsons Bay home for rent. 43 Susan Street, Annandale, has been with one family for 114 years.
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40 Pymble Avenue Pymble, which is for sale at more than $1.7 million.

The Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who also plays in the English Premier League with Fulham, has listed his Watsons Bay harbour-front property for rent at $3400 a week. Since March, the property has been on the market with price hopes of more than $12 million, but it hasn’t sold so Schwarzer is looking for a tenant.

Named Boongarre, the two-storey weatherboard house stands on a 1214 sqm Pacific Street block with views across Watsons Bay and the harbour to the city skyline. Schwarzer paid $10.2 million for the property in 2009. But he and his wife Paloma decided to remain in Europe to educate their children, so the property was listed for sale.

Boongarre was the childhood home of the renowned author Christina Stead, and it was owned by the Stead family from 1918-1980.

History in the making

At Annandale in the inner west, a cottage owned by the Blaydon family for 114 years is set for auction next Saturday through Jennifer Aaron. Expected to sell for more than $850,000, the circa 1898 two-bedroom weatherboard stands in a 468 sqm block in Susan Street. In the back garden is an air-raid shelter built during World War II. There is also a garage with an adjoining stable that used to house a horse and carriage.

Headed for the beach

The Channel Nine television sports identity Tim Gilbert and his wife, Josie, snapped up a La Perouse beachside house last week. The couple paid $1,595,000 for a modern four-bedroom residence through McGrath agent Damon Anasta.

Standing opposite the sandy shores of Frenchmans Bay, the property has been on and off the market with $2 million-plus price hopes through various agents since it was listed by the Reid family in October 2010.

Earlier this month, the Gilberts sold their Maroubra home for $1.16 million through Raylean Ellison of Ellison Zulian Property.

Hollywood connection

On the upper north shore, a Pymble house believed to have been rented by the Australian-born Hollywood actor Errol Flynn is for sale at more than $1.7 million through Alex Riley, the sales director of Sachs Real Estate.

Flynn was a friend of the filmmaker Charles Chauvel who lived in the same street, Pymble Avenue. In 1933, Flynn had a starring role in an Australian film, In the Wake of the Bounty, directed by Chauvel.

Set on a 1006 sqm block with a swimming pool, the Californian bungalow was built by the McKewan family who later moved to live at another Pymble Avenue house called The Knoll. Since the mid-1980s, the four-bedroom residence has been owned by the Roufogalis family who have listed it for sale.

Transformed delight

A Rose Bay residence designed by the architect Michael Falk is for sale at more than $2.25 million through Barry Goldman of Raine & Horne Double Bay.

On a 340 sqm block in the Avenue, the three-bedroom semi-detached house is owned by Kim Scheftz, whose South African-born husband, Joel Scheftz, owns the Foam Booth store at the corner of Cleveland and South Dowling streets.

Falk’s design transformed an original circa 1930s semi into a large contemporary two-storey residence with marble and limestone bathrooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen and large living and dining areas that flow onto a covered outdoor dining area and a landscaped garden with a swimming pool.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

New kids on The Block are winners thanks to low reserve prices

New kids on The Block are winners thanks to low reserve prices

The  reserve prices on all four houses from Sunday night’s finale of The Block were ”excessively conservative” and bear little relationship with the current Melbourne property market, property experts say. And even the show’s executive producer, Julian Cress, admitted the reserves were set lower than for an average auction.
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More than 4 million people tuned in to watch the final episode of the renovation show in which each of the four houses sold for well above their reserve, a turnaround from last year’s dismal result when three of the four properties failed to sell.

This year’s winners, Brad and Lara, from Newcastle, pocketed more than $600,000 after their South Melbourne property sold for $1.62 million – $506,000 over the reserve. They also took home the $100,000 winners prize, taking total winnings to $606,000.

Each of the other couples’ houses sold for more than $300,000 over their reserve, which a Channel Nine spokeswoman said was a ”massive result”.

She said the reserves had been set ”in the last couple of weeks” after consulting an independent valuer.

”The reserves reflect sales of other properties in the area and take into account the price we paid for the property and the cost of renovating with the intention as always to maximise what the contestants can win [rather than a return to Nine],” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

But Paul Nugent, a director with Wakelin Property Advisory, who buys and sells property in inner Melbourne, said the reserve prices were more about ensuring a good result and a big audience for the station.

”What was disclosed to the viewers as reserve prices were excessively conservative,” he said. ”But at the same time they had the desired result, which was they encouraged participation.

”The eventual sale prices were what I would have thought were the genuine values of the properties.”

Andrew Wilson, a senior economist for the Fairfax-owned Australian Property Monitors, said even though South Melbourne was one of the property ”hot spots” in the city, rising 15 per cent in the May quarter and 7 per cent since November, all but one of the reserve prices was under the suburb’s median price in May.

The reserve prices did not ”reflect market value on the day and that was proven by the result”, Dr Wilson said.

Mr Cress, The Block’s co-creator and executive producer, last night admitted the reserve prices were deliberately set lower than the normal market so that the contestants would make money.

He said the reserves were based on an off-the-plan valuation done in October before the contestants began work.

This was then adjusted in the months following to take account of fluctuations in the market.

The final reserve was set two weeks before the auction.

Source: Entertainment

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.