Dumped Brumbies chairman Sean Hammond. Photo: Graham TidyThe ACT Brumbies have voted for change following a record financial loss this year, ousting chairman Sean Hammond and replacing him with new board member Rob Kennedy.
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Kennedy, of Canberra accountancy and consultancy firm Synergy, is one of four fresh faces on the Brumbies board after a dramatic night of change at the annual general meeting.

There had been rumblings about a potential leadership challenge before the meeting, given the Brumbies bled a record $1.07 million in financial losses this year.

But Kennedy was a surprise candidate, voted on to the board and then straight into the chairman’s role.

Hammond not only lost the chair but he failed to win back a seat on the board.

Long-serving board members Dick Cordy and interim Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards have stepped aside, their spots taken by Lisa Thorburn, ACT director of IT firm Datacom, and Peter Callaughan, a representative member of junior clubs.

Australian Wallabies forward Scott Fardy will be the new players’ representative, given Stephen Moore has stood down to focus on his first year of captaincy.

The massive shake-up at board level continues a period of instability for the Brumbies.

In the past 15 months, head coaches Jake White and Laurie Fisher have quit.

The Brumbies are also searching for their third chief executive in just over a year. Chief executive of a decade Andrew Fagan left his post to join AFL club the Adelaide Crows, while his replacement Edwards has given notice he will resign early next year.

Meanwhile, the club has relocated to its new facilities at the University of Canberra but is still on the hunt for a major naming rights sponsor to replace UC.

While the players have done their part, making the finals for the past two years, it has been one of the most turbulent periods in Brumbies history off the field.

That has been compounded by this year’s balance sheet. Hammond has previously admitted only about $2 million remains of the $11.375 million from the sale last year of the Brumbies’ Griffith property.

Continued financial losses like they had this year put the club at risk of going broke.

The Brumbies’ losses could have been worse if not for a boost in grants, especially from the government.

According to the annual report, made public on Tuesday night, government grants rose $738,908, or 48.7 per cent, to $2.255 million.

The Brumbies have not explained the boost. But it is understood the majority of the increase relates to a $1 million grant from the ACT government to the club in August for ground works at their new UC base.

Grants from the Australian Rugby Union rose marginally to more than $6.43 million, but this takes into account an increase in the number of Australian Wallabies representative players and their payments.

Match day revenue, made up mostly of ticket sales, dropped 31 per cent, down more than $740,000 to $1.646 million. Sponsorship was also on the slide, down more than $785,000 to $3.96 million.

While membership income remained steady, revenue from merchandise and hospitality at games dropped about 7 per cent.

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Before it won government, the Coalition said it intended to reverse the onus of proof in dumping cases. Photo: Glenn HuntAn announcement by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and his parliamentary secretary Bob Baldwin was overlooked on Monday as Sydney’s hostage horror transfixed the country, but it flags a serious attempt to stop Australia being a dumping ground for foreign companies.
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The August 2013 appointment of Deloitte Access Economics director Dale Seymour to head up the Anti-Dumping Commission and the commission’s shift in March this year from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to Macfarlane’s department gave the commission a “real world” focus on dumping, and the damage it causes. Now, the commission also has tools it can use to short-circuit it.

Before it won government, the Coalition said it intended to reverse the onus of proof in dumping cases. It has discovered that would be a breach of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

What it will do however is instruct the commission to consider imposing provisional duties on imports two months after investigations begin, to look at whether overseas exporters are co-operating with investigations in making the decision, and, if it decides to impose provisional duties, to push them as high as it can without breaching WTO guidelines.

If foreign exporters have not co-operated within 37 days the government and the commission “reserve the right to make decisions on the best available information”. Mr Macfarlane says. The best available information in that situation will be that Australian companies supply..

Grounds for appealing decisions will also be narrowed. Claims decisions should be overturned because they are not “preferable” will no longer be heard.

New staff are also being hired by Mr Macfarlane’s department to assist smaller companies in finding information they need to bring dumping complaints forward, including international trade price data, and a loophole that enables importers to slightly modify a product to get around commission anti-dumping decisions is being closed.

Purists might argue that this is government meddling that prevents Australian consumers from getting the best price, but dumping is a form of predatory pricing. The commission is currently investigating 31 allegations that it is occurring. . Imports of steel from Asian producers that are facing weaker demand and oversupply in their home markets are a key focus.

The commission is also inquiring into the alleged dumping of processed tomato products, and an earlier tomato product case highlighted some of the problems these changes address.

Italian brands dominated imports that cut SPC Ardmona’s share of the Australian processed tomato market from about 75 per cent to 15 per cent between 2007 and 2013.

It was a life-threatening loss of market share for the Shepparton-based Coca-Cola Amatil subsidiary that produced pleas for assistance that were rejected by the Abbott government but answered to the tune of $22 million by the Victorian government in February – just as the Anti-Dumping Commission was concluding that Italian processed tomatoes were being dumped here.

The commission began investigating a dumping complaint by SPC in July last year. It investigated 105 Italian exporters, and 96 of them did not co-operate. It concluded that 103 companies that accounted for 56 per cent of the exports from Italy had engaged in dumping, and imposed duties of between 26 per cent and 5 per cent. The decision was appealed, and finally confirmed in October.

When an investigation finds that 103 companies out of 105 companies have been dumping product into Australia for years and hurting the local competition, the obvious conclusion – that Australia’s anti-dumping barrier is as solid as a Sao biscuit in a rainstorm – is the right one: the government’s tougher rules are welcome.

NAB’S THORBURN KEEPS ROLLING

NAB’s sale of another £1.2 billion ($2.3 billion) of high risk UK commercial real estate debt caps an energetic start by the group’s new CEO, Andrew Thorburn, who took over from Cameron Clyne on August 1.

The UK problem loan book is down to £836 million, from £5.6 billion in October 2012 when it was created by Clyne.

NAB says most of the non-performing loans in the portfolio are out the door, and “largely strong performing loans” are left. They don’t need to be sold, and will no longer be singled out in NAB’s accounts.

NAB releases £127 million of capital with the sale, and a residual £44 million loan loss provision on the UK portfolio now looks excessive: a chunk of it could flow back to the profit line in NAB’s March half result.

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Knox: Can captain Smith keep the dogs barking without vets?Harris: Smith looked like captain material way back in 2008Wu: Shaun Marsh wants end to boom or bust days 
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Just over three years ago, Michael Clarke made an impassioned plea on social media on behalf of Steve Smith.

“Trying to find a date for Steve Smith to take to the AB medal?” Clarke tweeted to more than 80,000 followers. “You can tweet me with your expressions of interest.”

That was late January 2011. Australia had just been chewed up and spat out by the monster that was England in the final two Ashes Tests in Melbourne and Sydney. Smith didn’t quite know it then, but he was about to be scalped and locked out of the Australian team for the next two years.

The shy and unassuming kid from the Sutherland Shire also didn’t quite know it then that he’d meet someone who would turn it all around.

Someone who would make his captain’s role as matchmaker redundant, and also set him on that path that will see Smith replace the injured Clarke as captain for the foreseeable future, starting with the second Test against India starting in Brisbane on Wednesday.

“We met three years ago at a bar during the first season of the Big Bash League,” says Smith of Dani Willis, a law and commerce student at Macquarie University.  “She has been amazing. She’s always there for me when I’m around. She always gives me good advice, and tells me the truth. It’s nice that you have some honest feedback to come home to all the time. She’s been terrific for me over the last few years.

“I try to occasionally learn some law lingo. A few words here and there, which is always interesting. Most of it goes over my head. I’m not quite smart enough for that. But I try my best.”

It’s a common theme emerging in modern sport, with apologies to Cat Stevens: find a girl, settle down, if you want you can marry … go on and win a footy premiership or cement your place in the Australian Test team. Clarke broke it off with Lara Bingle, found Kyly Boldy, won the Ashes. Dave Warner found Candice Falzon and just notched 1000 runs for the year.

Love used to be a battlefield. Now it seems as fundamental to sporting longevity as an ice bath.

Ask Smith if his partner has provided much needed balance in his life and he says this: “She has. It’s nice to have someone to come home to and get the honest truth about all aspects of life.”

Hard truths?

“Occasionally,” he admits. “She watches everything: all the press conferences. She always tells if I’ve done something wrong – and if I’ve done something well. It’s nice.”

For someone admittedly addicted to the game, balance is the reason behind Smith’s renaissance as a cricketer and elevation to the captaincy ahead of veteran Brad Haddin.

Four years ago, Smith was part of the Australian side playing in the Twenty20 World Cup in the Caribbean.

The team was based at a luxurious resort in Barbados, and on a day off the likes of Warner and others could be found on jetskis out in the turquoise ocean, or lazing beside the large pool.

Not Smith. He was in his hotel room, watching every ball being played elsewhere in the tournament.

“I’m a cricket nuffie,” he admitted to the small band of Australian reporters on that tour.

He says now: “I would call myself a cricket nuffie. I love watching cricket. But I’ve found other things in my life.”

Nevertheless, the next captain of the Australian cricket team seemingly doesn’t covet the glossy magazine and red-carpet lifestyle that Clarke has been often unfairly criticised for. You’ll see the 25-year-old in the general admission area at Royal Randwick on raceday, wearing a pair of thongs and a form guide in his back pocket.

He owns a share in four racehorses – three with leading trainer Chris Waller and another with old-school horseman Les Bridge – and calls it a “hobby”.

If he’s not there, you might see him at the Clovelly Hotel in Sydney’s eastern suburbs having a chicken schnitzel and quiet schooner – even if beer conflicts with the high-fat, low-carb diet that sees him as lean as a greyhound these days. “There are a lot of carbs in beer,” he grins. “When I’ve been doing the diet, I’ve had my alcohol consumption pretty low. I’m not a huge drinker.”

By his own admission, Smith wasn’t ready to become Australian cricket’s next big thing. As a leg-spinner taking private lessons from Shane Warne who could also bat, he found himself in the Test, one-day and Twenty20 sides at 21.

“I started too soon,” he says. “As a batsman [in Test cricket], I played too many shots. I didn’t have the patience. I just tried to score a hundred off 50 balls. So I got the opportunity to play state cricket [for NSW]. Try to get some big scores and bat time. That was the best thing for me at that stage.”

He now belongs in the Test side as much as any player, but is he ready to lead? At 25, some have doubts. Others say he’s the right man for the job.

During a match as captain of the Sydney Sixers in their first season, he once put veteran Stuart MacGill firmly back in his box.

MacGill had taken exception to Smith asking him to field at fine leg.

“MacGill said he was sore and he was there to bowl,” former Sixers boss and Test quick Stuart Clark told The Australian this week. “Smithy said, ‘Look mate, I am the captain, you do what I say, now f— off and get down there’.”

Smith barely recalls the incident, but he will offer this: “I’m not afraid to do that. It comes with the job, and everyone understands that. I think he [MacGill] was a little surprised at first. But then he went to the position I had said.”

Now, though, comes a more onerous task: captaining a Test side still jangling with emotion since the death of teammate Phillip Hughes. Smith was in the stands at the SCG that afternoon late last month when Hughes was struck by a bouncer that claimed his life. He wasn’t playing for NSW because of a quad injury.

As he sat on 98 during the first innings of the Adelaide Test, waiting for a long rain delay to end, he looked at the big “408” painted on the outfield.

“I thought if I got two more runs, I thought it would be a nice tribute for my little mate to go over to the 408,” Smith says.

And then he did. Sometimes cricket and life are one and the same.

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Passion: Ben Hornby and Dean Young have taken on bigger coaching roles at the Dragons. Photo: Greg TotmanSt George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has turned to two of the Dragons’ fiercest competitors to help restore pride and passion to the club.
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McGregor has added recently retired playing duo Ben Hornby and Dean Young to his full-time coaching staff as he looks to take the club back to the finals.

It is the first time Hornby or Young have worked full-time with the NRL squad, having both spent their post-playing career days working with St George and Illawarra’s respective under-18 teams before co-coaching St George Illawarra’s under-20s last year.

“Mary [McGregor] knows he can trust us and he knows we have the club running through us,” Hornby said. “We have been here for a long time. We want to see the club do well. We’re young and keen to get involved and improve. All those things played a part.

“[Recent finishes] is not where we want to be sitting. This is not where we belong. We belong further up the table. We are working hard to get ourselves back up there. We’re doing everything in our power to make sure we get back up there.”

They are joined as assistants by experienced mentor Ian Millward. Millward is the club’s skills coach while Young is forward coach.

Hornby – who will coach the under-20s alone this season – is the club’s edge defence coach, which has been an area of pre-season focus.

The Dragons have revamped the way their wingers, centres, halves and back-rowers defend in a bid to stem the flow of points. Tyson Frizell is expected to partner Joel Thompson on a back-row edge despite spending the bulk of his two-year stint at the Dragons in the middle.

“We’ve worked hard on it,” Hornby said. “We’ve come up with a system which we think will work. At the end of the day it’s about blokes making good decisions and getting themselves in good positions.

“Working hard, talking and communicating and putting ourselves in a good position to start with so we can keep ourselves where we want to be.

“We have not settled on a side. Everyone is getting a shot in every position.”

Young has already noticed a different vibe among the playing group.

“That’s improved,” Young said. “There’s no two ways about it. I’ve played in some footy teams who are really close together and teams who are detached. You can’t fake being close. I can see them bonding closer and closer each week.

“The facilities have been pretty poor over the past few years so Mary has done a great job fixing them. It’s made this place a place where people want to drive through the gate and turn up for work every day.”

Young nominated forwards Frizell, Jack de Belin and new recruit Heath L’Estrange as having impressed during pre-season. While Hornby has aspirations to become an NRL coach, Young isn’t as certain.

“The last couple of years of playing I realised I wanted to be a coach,” he said. “I just wasn’t sure what sort of coach I wanted to be. I don’t know if I want to be a head coach, an assistant coach or a specialist coach. I’m working it all out. [When Mary asked me to join the staff] I went away and had a think about it to make sure I felt confident in delivering what Mary wanted and I’m here.

“I played with some of these players so I had to think about that.”

Meanwhile, St George Illawarra have reinstated hooker Craig Garvey on an “adjusted contract”. Garvey was found guilty of an assault in September.

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Webster: How love turned Smith from cricket tragic to Test captainHarris: Smith looked like captain material way back in 2008Wu: Shaun Marsh wants end to boom or bust days 
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As anyone who has looked after someone else’s pet knows, the animal’s most dangerous days are just after the owner has left. Bad things just happen. Steve Smith has presented a brave and confident face as the new Australian captain, which masks some concerns.

Australia’s team for the wonderful Adelaide Test was essentially the same XI that won all five Ashes matches last year, the only difference being Mitchell Marsh replacing George Bailey. But the win, though stirring, has sealed the end of that team’s era. Clarke’s injury rips out a batsman and captain worth two or three players, and Peter Siddle looked to have come to the end of the road. If Adelaide was any guide, not as many will make it to the 2015 Ashes as was previously hoped.

Siddle’s eclipse is more significant than it may appear. The three-man fast-bowling cartel he formed with Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson was the soul of Australia’s resurgence in the past year. Siddle’s personal victory over Kevin Pietersen was the key one-on-one battle in the last Ashes. It was Siddle, before the England Cricket Board, who ended Pietersen’s Test career. Siddle took match-turning Ashes wickets regularly, if discreetly, and when he did not, he created them for others. Australia’s fast bowling was its strength throughout the 10 Ashes Tests, and Siddle was the only Australian bowler of any stripe to play all 10. When he was replaced in South Africa by James Pattinson, a more gifted bowler than Siddle, the chemistry of the bowling attack was thrown out. So although he did not bowl in Adelaide in a manner that deserves re-selection (albeit hampered by illness), Siddle’s absence may be felt in subtle ways, and the selectors could not have left him out without some serious reservations.

With Johnson and Harris lacking match fitness and punch in Adelaide, more focus fell on the support bowling. Nathan Lyon, of course, stepped into the breach. His dynamic performance helped deflect attention from the desultory efforts of Shane Watson, who bowled two overs on Saturday that were barely more energetic than when he had an injured calf. As a bowler and perhaps as an all-rounder, Watson has now been superseded by Mitchell Marsh. He must now earn his place with runs, of which he gave precious little in Adelaide. Who knows? Maybe the key to Watson’s potential as a top-order batsman will be the absence of Clarke? If it is not, Watson’s days are numbered, or they would be for a player who has not been so long a selectors’ pet project.

Clarke’s injury has, through the delicate interdependence of Australia’s parts, bought some time for Watson and Chris Rogers. It is remarkable that Rogers, who has scored four Test centuries in the past year on the most difficult batting wickets – Chester-le-Street, Melbourne, Sydney and Port Elizabeth – should be seen as needing runs more than Watson, who belted hundreds on the two easiest, the Oval and Perth. Both are, nevertheless, under pressure, but strangely find themselves less so because of Clarke’s injury. Smith says he will rely on his senior teammates; he can’t do so if they aren’t there.

Had Clarke missed Tests a year ago, there would be no question that Brad Haddin would replace him as captain. In passing over Haddin for the captaincy, Cricket Australia has implicitly acknowledged the fight he is in to restore his batting confidence. Like strings in a bow, different skills combine to make a whole. Haddin’s catch of Cheteshwar Pujara on Saturday and his stumping of Ishant Sharma, both off Lyon’s bowling, were the highlights of an excellent day’s work behind the stumps. After the Pujara catch, Haddin had a spring back in his step. It would be no surprise if runs follow.

Adelaide was one of the best Tests in recent history, but the game is better for being out of the way. Some Australians looked emotionally drained; the team certainly did not come out with the freight-train intensity of 2013-14. But the emotional barrier was met and surmounted, and towards the end of the match things were getting back to normal. What it leaves is an Australian team with only three or four players who can say they are in form, and its dominant personality gone. The animal is in questionable health. The new owner, or caretaker if that is what he is, will give anything for a good first day in Brisbane.

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