‘Guess this is what it has come to’

Cronulla Sharks star and former Raider Todd Carney, left, and current Raiders star Blake Ferguson, right, with a fan at Clovelly Hotel on Saturday night. Canberra Raiders interim coach Andrew Dunemann. Photo: Melissa Adams

Canberra Raiders star Blake Ferguson has used Twitter to defend suggestions he was fit to take on Manly on Sunday, insisting he never passed a fitness test to play.

Interim Canberra coach Andrew Dunemann revealed after the Sea Eagles match Ferguson was fit to play, a strong indication his injury status wasn’t the reason he was overlooked.

Ferguson was a no-show for the 36-22 loss at Canberra Stadium. He was photographed with former Raiders bad boy and Cronulla Sharks star Todd Carney at Sydney’s Clovelly Hotel on Saturday night.

‘‘Just so all you raiders fans understand! I never passed a fitness test on my hip flexor, that’s why I never played!’’ Ferguson said on Twitter this morning.

‘‘Didn’t know going out to dinner with mates was such a big problem! Guess this is what it has come to :(.’’

Raiders chief executive Don Furner indicated he intends to discuss the issue with Ferguson when he returns to Canberra on Monday.

Ferguson is meeting with his lawyer Adam Houda this morning in Sydney in preparation for his defence of an indecent assault charge to be heard in Waverley Court on September 3.

Canberra fans have taken to social media to question why Ferguson wasn’t at the game to support his teammates. Fellow injured stars including skipper Terry Campese and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs were at Canberra Stadium watching on.

The former NSW Origin star’s presence at Sydney nightspots on match eve adds further weight to the belief he wants out of the Raiders.

Ferguson’s two year deal he signed in May includes a clause where he can walk should David Furner not be coach.

Furner was sacked last Tuesday, with his unequivocal support of the wayward centre believed to be a major reason why he’s lost the backing of the players.

Ferguson’s former side Cronulla are favourites to sign him, with Fairfax Media revealing last Friday Sharks skipper Paul Gallen had phoned him while he was training with Tony Mundine.

Canberra must win its final two matches to have any chance of making finals, but it remains unclear if Dunemann will select Ferguson again this season.

”He had a prior commitment, and he let us know that. Everyone loves Fergo, but we all know that he needs to get off the field right as well as on the field,’’ Dunemann said after the game.

”I wasn’t informed [that he could not be selected],” Dunemann said. ”That was the decision that was made.”

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MasterChef recap: Finals week

Samira.It’s finals week, and we are tantalisingly close to finding out who will go on to write a bestselling cookbook, and who will have to make do with an obscure show on the Lifestyle Channel.

Tonight’s episode begins in the MasterChef house, where Christina has donned her Dick Tracy’s-girlfriend outfit, and Rishi informs us that we’re in finals week. “How exciting’s that?” he asks, fortunately never finding out what the audience’s answer would be.

Today we are to have a mystery box challenge, the winner of which will gain “an enormous advantage”, according to Gary; bearing in mind that an enormous advantage, in MasterChef terms, usually means you’re about to get eliminated.

In the mystery boxes is a bunch of food, which is pretty novel. George announces that at the start of the competition the contestants were asked what they would be if they were an ingredient. So it’s going to be one of those really annoying days. The ingredients they chose are in their mystery boxes. Rishi chose chilli, for example, because he says he is “red-hot”, and chilli is a famously deluded ingredient. Emma chose coffee beans because they are inarticulate, and so forth. The rest of the ingredients are based on what the judges think of the contestants. They think Christina is like onions, because when you peel away her layers she makes everyone cry. They think Lynton is like kangaroo because he keeps children in a pouch. They think Rishi is like prawns because prawns tend to act very superior to other people. Et cetera.

They begin cooking. The judges discuss the contestants. Matt opines that it is all about momentum, a blatantly inaccurate statement.

George asks Lynton what he’s making. Lynton tells him, producing a crash of percussion on the soundtrack, indicating that Lynton is making a terrible mistake. Gary and George ruthlessly undermine Lynton’s confidence because they are jealous of how handsome he is.

Christina takes the opportunity to explain the rules of the challenge to us. For god’s sake stop patronising us, Christina. She is making a ganache which is a chocolate thing or something I guess. Meanwhile Emma is making kangaroo with about twenty different things made out of kale. This could cost her if the judges find out that “kale” isn’t a real thing.

At Rishi’s bench, George and Gary arrive to crush his dreams. They investigate his mayonnaise, if you know what I mean. Something is not right. “This is a disaster,” whines Rishi like a big fat drama queen. It’s just mayonnaise, you know?

Lynton wants to push himself to prove that he’s worthy of being in finals week. Yet doesn’t he know he is already worthy of being in our hearts? He’ll do better than Samira anyway, Little Miss Runny Puree, who has lived up to the nickname I just gave her by making her puree too runny.

George yells something but I’ve tuned him out by now so I don’t know what it was.

Matt goes to Christina’s bench to tell another lie about momentum and point out to her that she must be insane to think she can make her chocolate tart thingy in the time available. He adopts his best “oh you poor idiot, you’re dead and you don’t even know it” face, but at least Christina has a plan: Rishi doesn’t even know what he’s doing as he throws out his mayonnaise and flings his prawns about and just generally has an aneurysm.

With four minutes to go Emma has only cooked one piece of kangaroo and has a blender full of what appears to be the waste product of an extremely sick baby. Meanwhile Samira has grabbed her prawns, so to speak. The tip of one of them is undercooked, but Samira doesn’t mind: she considers it OK to come the raw prawn if it’s just the tip.

Time is up. “This is pretty much what I pictured in my head at the start,” says Lynton, looking down at a plate filled with a sad indictment of his limited imagination.

Judging time, and Gary tells the contestants how much fun it is to cook with ingredients that represent the contestants, tastefully glossing over the fact that it is actually really stupid. Samira is up first, serving a bowl of prawns floating in snot, and the judges immediately gasp in horror, as the faces of those they’ve wronged float in the soup. Also there’s a raw prawn in there, which Samira knew about but thought it was OK because she doesn’t understand how food works.

Rishi is next, with delicious chilli prawns. He really IS red-hot! But so boring we move on within seconds. Lynton steps up and is also pretty dull, but when Christina arrives, you can tell just by the string section that something dramatic is about to happen. Her dish is tasty, but also very simple – but then again, they were supposed to be representing themselves so I think she fulfilled the brief.

Emma, on the other hand, has presented a “cracking dish”, according to Matt. He likes how she has presented “all the different sides of kale”, and I can only assume he’s cruelly mocking Emma, because kale has no different sides and really it shouldn’t be food at all.

Gary notes that the challenge divided the contestants into two groups: the ones who did really well and those who didn’t. His insight is astounding. Anyway Emma wins which was pretty obvious, and because she won she gets to choose the protein for the next challenge, which will determine who will get an advantage for the elimination: which is, as expected, not “an enormous advantage” at all, but a very minor advantage, that five minutes into the next challenge will clearly be not one at all.

George reveals the options: barramundi, which provides a chance for Samira to reminisce about how she was really stupid once; beef, duck and squid.

“Emma, you have a huge advantage,” Matt lies. “There’s a lot riding on this,” Emma also lies. Matt explains how minor and unimportant this advantage is, and Emma picks barramundi, because she has lots of ideas about fish, which is a bit weird.

Off they rush into the kitchen, to stare at delicious Western Star butter, available at your local Coles. Emma gazes at the butter for ages, trying to see into the butter’s heart, and ponders her foolishness in having ideas about fish – none of the things she wanted are there. Maybe she could just stuff her barramundi with delicious Western Star butter?

“Let’s hope you’re not the fish out of water!” cries Gary, who is quite simply the worst kind of person.

Christina, having learnt her lesson, has chosen not to make her barramundi into a chocolate tart. A wise decision, or has she flown too close to the sun this time? Judging by the colour of her dress, yes.

George tells Samira her barramundi must be crispy-skinned. Samira nods and smiles. George doesn’t like her smiling. “Focus!” he snarls, furious at the appearance of happiness in his presence. Samira explains in detail her activities regarding purees and radishes. “I sound so fancy, don’t I?” she giggles, apparently having smoked some powerful substances earlier.

The judges congregate to pretend that barramundi is interesting in some way. Meanwhile Emma has found that her beurre blanc isn’t really beurre blanc: she has failed to do justice to the delicious Western Star butter, which is both high-quality and affordable. Gary tells her she needs more delicious Western Star butter.

Lynton is worried about his fish: it seems listless and depressed. He tests his fish with his knife: it’s touch and go. Lynton calls a vet.

“I can’t believe it, it’s just around the corner!” George yelps in the mistaken belief anyone wants to hear his voice ever again. With a few minutes to go Samira is putting her skewer into the fish and touching it to her lip, a special technique George taught her for when she wants to look a bit of a prat.

Over at Emma’s bench everything is going wrong, but Emma is still smiling as she says something or other that I didn’t catch. Lynton is far less happy, as his barramundi remains downcast, but that’s quickly forgotten as Emma attempts to self-immolate.

The fire doused, time is up, and Emma suddenly realised she’s forgotten it’s an invention test. Her dish isn’t inventive. Conversely, Samira’s IS inventive, but looks weird and horrible. Swings and roundabouts.

Rishi knows his dish isn’t inventive enough either: he serves his crispy-skinned barramundi tagine and the judges think it’s wonderful. But Matt notes its lack of originality and makes clear to Rishi that the cruel and arbitrary nature of fate could see him crash.

Up steps Emma with her barramundi in a yellow puddle, for which she apologises. Fortunately the fish and the puddle are fine, but again, she has been boring and safe, this time with her cooking.

Up steps Samira, whose to-camera cutaways are becoming more and more drunkenly manic. She hopes her fish is cooked, as does the conductor of the MasterChef orchestra. We know she’s done OK though, as the portentous strings give way to bubbly plinking and her dish turns out beautifully.

Lynton’s turn. Lynton wants to win MasterChef 2013, but cannily identifies the crucial issue as to whether he can cook well or not. He smiles at the judges, which for most people would be enough to have him awarded the prize then and there, but these are hard, loveless men, and he will be judged not on his wonderfulness, but on his barramundi. Which is overcooked. NO. NO. NOT LYNTON.

Lynton is kicking himself, and the absurd, surrealist nature of the show is brought into sharp relief as we see a grown man devastated beyond reason by an overcooked fish. Is this what we have become, society?

Last is Christina, who has cooked, in George’s words, “bacon, barramundi, mushroom, BANG!” indicating his desire to shoot her. “Boom boom, you’ve shook the room,” says Matt, sadly misjudging the public’s thirst for downbeat George Calombaris impersonations.

The best dishes were Christina and Samira, who are called forward fairly pointlessly, as it is immediately announced that Samira was the best, thus explaining why in all the cutaways in this episode she had been acting like a puppy on cocaine.

And so Samira gains what is sure to be an extremely small advantage in tomorrow’s elimination, which will be conducted under the watchful and expert eye of some bald dude. Can’t wait!

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Greens won’t let Abbott repeal carbon price, Christine Milne says

Hangout with Christine MilneFederal Election 2013 coverageHave your say on YourViewElection Live with Stephanie Peatling

Greens leader Christine Milne says Kevin Rudd “seems to have amnesia” for saying at the weekend that Labor did not have a mandate to introduce a carbon tax.

Calling the Prime Minister a “flip flopper” on environmental matters, Senator Milne said Mr Rudd must have forgotten the mandate Labor received from the public to introduce a price on carbon.

Senator Milne also rejected suggestions that an Abbott government, if elected, would have a mandate to repeal the emissions trading scheme.

“We are living in a climate emergency,” Senator Milne said during an Election Hangout question-and-answer session, broadcast live on Fairfax websites.

The Greens leader was confident that if her party held the balance of power in the Senate after the election it could “shame Labor in opposition into holding the line” against Tony Abbott’s attempts to repeal the ETS.

Monday’s Newspoll survey shows the Greens primary vote is 9 per cent – down nearly three percentage points since the 2010 election.

Despite these disappointing polling numbers, Senator Milne insisted her party would not only hold all its seats this election, but would pick up a senate seat in Victoria with candidate Janet Rice.

Senator Milne said she had been out in the community and sensed “real excitement” about her party’s policies, particularly in Melbourne where she had spent time with a group of artists.

Senator Milne was criticised during the Hangout for demanding Australia cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero, yet ruling out nuclear power, one of the few credible methods of reaching this target.

“We don’t need nuclear,” Senator Milne said. “It’s too slow, too expensive, too dangerous”.

“We can go to 100 per cent renewable … I am persuaded we can do this in Australia without nuclear”.

Senator Milne was also asked whether she believed Australia needed to do anything to restrict the flow of asylum-seeker boats, given her party’s policies did nothing to deter people smugglers.

“You have to accept that deterrence does not work,” Senator Milne said.

“Let’s accept that we can never be as cruel as the countries from which [the asylum seekers] are running”.

There was no “solution” to stop the boats, she added.

“This is not something that’s going to end in the short term; it’s going to be with us for the whole century”.

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Lundy’s numbers claim in spotlight

Fact Checker: Will the Coalition cut 20,000 public service jobs?

Canberra Liberals are accusing Labor Senator Kate Lundy of telling ‘‘lies’’ after a Fairfax Media analysis said she had made a false claim about the Coalition’s policy on public service jobs.

The development came as Employment Minister Bill  Shorten blitzed the ACT,  where Labor has a firm hold on the two lower house seats and one Senate spot, while the Greens are attempting to end the Liberals’ hold on the second Senate position.

A fact analysis was conducted on Senator Lundy’s Twitter claim  on  Friday that the “Libs have confirmed” a cut of 20,000 jobs.

PolitiFact says while the figure has been used by Liberal MPs, it finds the claim the Liberal Party has “confirmed they will cut 20,000 jobs” to be false. The Coalition’s policy is to reduce the public service by 12,000 over three years by natural attrition.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has said  12,000 was a ‘‘starting point’’. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said at his campaign launch on Sunday:  ‘‘We don’t need 20,000 more public servants now than in 2007.’’

On Monday, ACT Liberal Senate candidate Zed Seselja said:  “Senator Lundy has tried to shift focus away from her own broken promises on job cuts by spreading lies about the Coalition’s policy.’’

The analysis showed the Coalition policy was clear and Labor’s claims were not backed by facts, he said. “Senator Lundy needs to be honest with Canberrans about the public service job cuts made under her party’s government, rather than trying to hide behind lies about the Coalition plans,” he said.

Mr Seselja counter-claimed that under the Labor,  ‘‘over 10,000 jobs have been cut, or promised to be cut, over the outgoing years’’, including through voluntary and involuntary redundancies.

Senator Lundy’s spokeswoman told Politifact: ‘‘There is always a reference to the 20,000 figure.  Why would they be referencing it if they weren’t considering it?’’

The Community and Public Sector Union has previously estimated the Labor government’s decision to increase the efficiency dividend from 1.25per cent to 2.25per cent would cost up to 5000 jobs.

The union walked away from Labor’s election campaign three weeks ago, saying the decision to increase the efficiency dividend was ‘‘awful’’.

After its temporary break, the union returned on Friday with modelling it says shows an Abbott government could cost the ACT and southern NSW the loss of 8400 public service jobs. The projections are much more conservative than those the union took to the 2010 election when it predicted 30,000 local job losses under an Abbott-led government, a forecast branded by local conservative politicians as ‘‘union thuggery’’.

The union has agreed with Mr Shorten to work to limit the impact of the efficiency dividend to 2000 jobs.

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Exercising power: why corporations are making you sweat

Jump to it: Research has shown a direct link between the health of an employee and their performance in the workplace. Photo: Rob HomerCorporations are encouraging employees to work their bodies before the grey matter, but does exercise actually make people better leaders?

There’s evidence that suggests it does. Today’s working conditions are more demanding and competitive than ever before with corporations constantly looking for ways to get more from employees and enhance their bottom line.

Research shows there is a direct link between the health of an employee and their performance in the workplace. Workplace stress costs the Australian economy more than $10 billion a year, healthy employees are three times more productive than unhealthy employees and unhealthy employees take nine times more sick leave.

And while marathon training and predawn workouts aren’t explicitly part of a senior manager’s job description, leadership experts and executive recruiters say that participating in sporting corporate culture can accelerate your career.

Specialist recruitment agency and corporate sponsor of the Nissan Triathlon, Michael Page’s managing director Matthew Cook explains: “Joining an organised sporting event or wellbeing program provides workers with the chance to engage with peers and management in an environment outside the office where everyone is equal. This is an opportunity to share ideas, form impressions and present as a well-rounded, team-oriented candidate for promotion.”

Law firm Herbert Smith Freehills’ head of banking practice Erin Wakelin believes physical health should be encouraged and prioritised by leaders. While many corporations assist through fundraising and sponsorship for charity sporting events, Wakelin has been the driving force behind a number of initiatives, including group exercise sessions and pregnancy yoga.

“A firm is the people in it and if you have healthy people you’re more likely to have a healthy culture … I don’t mean that in the sense of everyone being health nuts, I mean that in the sense of everyone being happier, vital and energetic,” she says.

Wakelin has invested in corporate health programs run by Greg Stark, founder and director of Better Being, a team of university qualified exercise professionals whose corporate clients also include ANZ, Red Balloon, Merivale and high-level executives from Macquarie Bank and Nokia.

“We approach the training the same way we would train professional sportsmen, which is my industry background,” explains Stark whose career history includes working with the South Sydney Rabbitohs and training retired Socceroo goalkeeper Mark Bosnich.

“Corporate executives tend to be high achievers so the same principles apply. While it’s crucial not to burn out an athlete’s body, our training approach is to guard against mental burnout, while providing workout and nutritional advice that fits around our client’s corporate lifestyle.”

Here Stark shares Better Being’s Busy Corporate Exercise Program. He explains: “Australians spend on average 9.5 hours sitting everyday (which is more time than you do sleeping). Sitting is the new smoking for our generation, so get moving. Take the stairs, walk the long way to the bathroom, fill up a jug of water, every little bit counts.”

To alleviate stiffness and tightness caused by tissues fusing from extended periods of sitting – a regular office worker complaint – complete the following moves at moderate tempo for 30 seconds each every 2-3 hours.

The Merv: stand with feet shoulder width apart raise your arms above your head and lean to one side pushing your hips in the opposite direction and repeat leaning the other way.

The Washing Machine: with feet shoulder width apart, hold your arms at chest height and rotate side to side using your whole body.

The Swinging Gate: stand on one leg with the other knee bent at 90 degrees, with the bent leg in air drive the knee in a big semi-circle around the body just as though a gate that is closing and opening.

The Warrior: take a long stride with front knee bent back leg straight and on the toe, rest hands on your hips and push your pelvis forward and back, for that extra stretch you can reach the hands above the head. Change legs and repeat.

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