Western Bulldogs good, but could be better, says coach

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The scoreboard showed a thrashing, but Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge saw room for improvement after his team’s 72-point win over Brisbane on Saturday night.

Lions’ coach Justin Leppitsch could not even bring himself to speak to his players after they allowed the Dogs to kick nine goals in the final quarter at Etihad Stadium.

Adding to Brisbane’s woes, youngster Nick Robertson left the stadium with a fracture, thought to be in his shoulder, and will miss games as a result.

The Bulldogs have been criticised for fading towards the end of some matches this year, so Beveridge said it was good to finish on a strong note.

“We’re probably on a 50/50 finish base at the moment as far as our last quarters go,” he said. “To have the players respond like they did, it’s a real feather in their caps.”

Beveridge said the players should be satisfied with the win, but added that they gave away possession too many times.

It was a convincing win, but did not always feel that way, he said.

“It wasn’t until halfway through that last quarter that we felt the margin was where it should have been, but we still let them in and they kicked a couple of goals,” he said. “We want to be fussy because we want to be better.”

Forward Jake Stringer booted five, but that was not enough to win Beveridge’s full endorsement.

“He played OK today, he’s a brilliant footballer and we want a combination of his brilliance and a reliable component of his game with what we do as a team,” he said.

“Tonight we saw his brilliance, doesn’t mean he had the exact balance we need … but he’s growing all the time as a young player.”

Midfielder Jack Macrae had come back a better player after a stint in the VFL, his coach said.

Ruckman Will Minson — who has been trying to cement his place in the team — was subbed off, but Beveridge said he was not dissatisfied with his performance.

“We wanted to inject some run at that point, it was nothing to do with anything else but that.”

Leppitsch was measured as usual, but indicated the level of his anger, or disappointment, when he revealed he had not spoken to the group after the match.

“Sometimes these things are best left for Monday or Tuesday in review, because you don’t want to be shooting from the hip if you don’t have your evidence,” he said.

Leppitsch said the way the Lions fell apart in the last quarter showed a lack of leadership by his senior players.

He did not know how many games Robertson would miss, but said he would be out “a while”.

“I’d probably prefer to focus on the things we can control, there were plenty of things we could have (done) tonight,” Leppitsch said. “We got so close to doing it and playing how we wanted to play and then fell apart.”  The Age SportThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Woman in serious condition after being hit by ute in Surry Hills

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A woman was seriously injured on Saturday night after she was hit by a ute as she got out of a taxi in Surry Hills.

The 20-year-old woman got out of an eastbound taxi on Cleveland Street at the intersection of South Dowling Street about 8pm.

The woman got out of the taxi on the roadway when it stopped at traffic lights, and attempted to cross to the kerb when she was struck by a Mitsubishi ute travelling behind the taxi, police said.

The woman was thrown onto the road and sustained arm and abdominal injuries.

Police from Surry Hills Local Area Command and NSW Ambulance Paramedics attended the scene.

The injured woman was taken by ambulance to St Vincent’s Hospital where she remains in a serious condition.

The male driver of the Mitsubishi utility was breath tested, and returned a negative result.

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Men bash driver in Dubbo then steal his car

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Police are seeking public assistance as they investigate the assault of a man in Dubbo whose car was then stolen.POLICE are investigating the assault of a man at Dubbo whose car was then stolen.

Investigators were told a 32-year-old man drove three men to a house at Alcheringa Street about 10.40pm Saturday.

On arrival, two of the men assaulted the driver before stealing his wallet and mobile phone.

They left in his car; described possibly as a white Holden Statesman, NSW partial registration BET***.

Emergency services were contacted and the man was treated by paramedics at the scene.

He taken by ambulance to Dubbo Hospital with cuts and bruising to his face and a possible broken jaw.

Officers from Orana Local Area Command attended and commenced investigations.

As inquiries continue, police would like to speak with any witnesses who may have seen anything suspicious in the area at the time.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to the incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page.

They have reminded people information provided would be treated in the strictest of confidence.

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Who are you? Depends on what your friends say

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A question of identity: the case of Rachel Dolezal, who has chosen to live as a black woman, highlights the issue of personal politics in a world of weakening traditional values.Who we are isn’t black or white, in the sense of being one thing or another. Whatever her motivations or mental state, when US woman Rachel Dolezal says she identifies with – and chose to live as – a black woman, she is less an aberration and more a hotly confused example of the human condition in the 21st century.

We are all, to some extent, caught between the personal aspect of identity – who we believe and feel ourselves to be – and how we are perceived and accepted by others. In a faster-paced culture of too many choices, a weakening of traditional values, a world-sized array of influences via the internet, and a workplace that is less interested in what you have achieved than in how flexible you can be, the question of who you really are is a vexing one.

This analysis comes from Professor Anthony Elliott, director of the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia. He believes that the anything-goes thinking that was fostered by postmodernism has drilled “all the way down into the fabric of our identities”.

Hence, whatever you can hold on to in terms of belief can be like a lifebuoy. The problem is, if you’re not accepted for how you see yourself – a black woman trapped in a pale freckled body; a glamorous woman in the shape of a male Olympic champion – then you’re sunk.

Andrew Jakubowicz, sociology professor at the University of Technology, Sydney, subscribes to philosopher George Herbert Mead’s “interactive” model of identity in which society – especially those close or important to us – is the prime shaper of who we are.

This model, Jakubowicz says, “suggests to me that authenticity is best thought of as a political relationship between the individual and the social context of their lives, requiring ultimately the authority of significant others”.

Without that authority or approval, you’re not really who you think you are – or at least not effectively. “Identity, or rather the performance of identity,” says Jakubowicz, “is likely to reflect the power people have over their lives.”

It can also be measured in what the particular stories we tell about ourselves deliver in terms of our self-worth. “Identity is cognitive, emotional, and formative in that it generates the maps we use to chart our way – and as it is the consequence of interaction, is partly under our control and partly in control of us.”

Professor Martha Augoustinos, a social psychologist with the University of Adelaide, says because identification with a group is such a strong motivation in human psychology, Dolezal identifying with black people, at a personal level, has some legitimacy. “It’s hard to dispute or undermine that personal identification,” she says.

But if the group rejects you and doesn’t include you in the membership “that will cause problems in having your identity legitimated. And that might account for the lengths she went to in changing physical appearance.”

All of which might have been OK if Dolezal had been honest about her past. “Where she is morally accountable is in lying about her parentage,” Augoustinos says.

A persistent question in the Dolezal saga is why would a white woman want to identify as black in the first place?

Farida Fozdar is an associate professor of anthropology and sociology at the University of Western Australia. The Dolezal situation, she says, is complex.

“It reminds us of the US’s one-drop rule, which for so long meant that anyone with one drop of African-American blood was classified as African American,” she says.

“Since then, we’ve become much more constructivist about it, to the point that ethnic identity is seen as being about self-identification. But no one ever thought that meant that a white person with no black heritage, but black friends and family, can claim to be black. We’ve had the idea of ‘passing’ for a long time, but it has always meant people of black heritage ‘passing’ as white, in order to improve their life chances. So this is an interesting counterpoint.”

Dr Linda Barclay is a philosopher at Monash University. She has sympathy for Dolezal’s comparison of her own situation with that of transgender people. “Society increasingly accepts that someone is ‘really’ a woman on the basis that they identify as a woman, even though they have a body that is socially deemed to make them a man.

“So why won’t we accept that Dolezal is black, on the basis that she identifies as black, even though she has biological characteristics that we deem to make her white?”

It’s argued that Dolezal has no authority as a black person because she hasn’t experienced “the kind of discrimination and oppression that is still routine for black people … Part of what many blacks experience is a credibility problem: that when they say how things are, people don’t believe them. So it is especially galling when someone (like Dolezal) speaks on their behalf.”

However, Barclay notes that our formative experiences are hardly uniformly determined by our sex and race. “Women do not all share the same formative experiences any more than men do. Nor do black people in the US. And we know that Dolezal’s upbringing was racially diverse, growing up as she did with black siblings.

“Given she is apparently very close to at least one of her brothers, and clearly has a dreadful relationship with her parents, is it really so extraordinary that she might feel some profound identification with blacks? There are many people whose biology and life story do not offer any simple answer to the question of their sex or race.”

According to social identity theory, when we identify with one group, we are essentially rejecting and even denigrating other groups. University of Melbourne philosopher Tamas Pataki speculates that “from the psychological perspective my sense of Dolezal is that she more likely was reacting against her parents than positively identifying with the adopted siblings, as some suggest”.

Dr Pataki adds: “There are people – perhaps most people – whose personal identity is weak or diffuse and need to assume a false identity or identify powerfully with a group to maintain their self-esteem.”

Pataki says this need for a powerful status-conferring group identity seems to have intensified, or perhaps just become more salient as the world has become more confusing and challenging. He writes: “To find a group identity or several such identities, to be an Aussie, a Carlton follower, a White, a Muslim, a Jew, to ‘be one of us’ … is now a kind of quest or passion, whereas in the past some of these things may have been background certainties.”

Dr Nicholas Hookway from the University of Tasmania says that “the leitmotif of contemporary sociology is that identity has become a sort of do-it-yourself project that we now make, sculpt and remake as the traditional anchors of the past – class, gender, religion, community – weaken. Identity has supposedly become fluid and fractured as we lose the narrative building blocks of the past such as secure employment and enduring relationships.”

A push-back can be found in the “culture of authenticity” that contests this purported fragmentation. “We see it most powerfully articulated in the ideal of being true to yourself, which has become a central guiding principle of our times.

“The pursuit of an authentic ethical self not only pushes back against identity fluidity and the compulsion towards reinvention, but also critiques the prevailing postmodern idea that there is no ‘real’ or ‘core’ self.”

But that idea isn’t new. As Dr Monima Chadha, a Monash University philosopher notes: “In asking the question why people create a false self, we are assuming that there is a true self underlying every narrative we tell ourselves. The Buddhists reject such a true self. But there is question about what makes our narratives authentic or legitimate.”

It’s here that Chadha is at one with the social scientists: “A deluded inauthentic identity is one which has few, if any, convergences with stories that others tell about us.”

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Origin star Michael Jennings arrested

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Best on ground: Michael Jennings celebrates the opening try for NSW on Wednesday. Photo: Getty ImagesNSW Origin star Michael Jennings has been arrested and charged following an incident in Parramatta. 

Jennings was charged with offensive behaviour and hindering police.

It is understood Michael was with younger brother Robert, 19, at the time.

Fairfax Media understands Robert was not drinking but Michael was.

Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan said the club was investigating.

“We were made aware of an incident this morning,” Canavan said. “We have made contact with the player and his manager and have passed it on to the NRL’s integrity unit.”

Canavan said “no decision” had been made regarding Jennings’, 27, availability for Monday’s game against St George Illawarra.

The incident comes just 48 hours after Jennings starred for the Blues – winning man of the match and scoring the opening try for NSW.

Police confirmed the incident took place about 2.30am on Saturday. They werepatrolling a car park at Erby Place when they “saw a man kicking a boom gate”.

“As they walked up to him another man approached the officers allegedly in an aggressive manner,” a police statement said.

“The man, aged 27, was arrested and taken to Parramatta Police Station was issued with a field court attendance notice for hindering police and offensive behaviour, to appear at Parramatta Local Court on Monday July 20.

“The other man, aged 19, allegedly kicked the boom gate and was later issued with a criminal infringement notice for offensive behaviour.”

Men bash driver in Dubbo then steal his car

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Police are seeking public assistance as they investigate the assault of a man in Dubbo whose car was then stolen.Police are investigating the assault of a man at Dubbo whose car was then stolen.

Investigators were told a 32-year-old man drove three men to a house at Alcheringa Street about10.40pm Saturday.

On arrival, two of the men assaulted the driverbefore stealing his wallet and mobilephone.

They left in his car; described possibly as a white Holden Statesman, NSW partial registration BET***.

Emergency services were contacted and the man was treated by paramedics at the scene.

He taken by ambulance to Dubbo Hospital with cuts and bruising to his face and a possible broken jaw.

Officers from Orana Local Area Command attended and commenced investigations.

As inquiries continue, police would like to speak with any witnesses who may have seen anything suspicious in the area at the time.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to the incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page:https://nsw.crimestoppers南京夜网419论坛/

They have reminded people information provided would be treated in the strictest of confidence.

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your Android mobile needlessly mining your personal data

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apped: Researchers found a quarter of Android apps have malicious connected trackers. Photo: Glenn HuntOne in four apps on an Android mobile phone is loaded with an excessive number of un-related “trackers” that are funnelling valuable personal information to third parties.

Popular games apps My Talking Tom and Swamp Attack in the Google Play store are among the worst apps, each loaded with more than 20 “connected trackers”, a study by Australian IT research agency NICTA shows. In contrast, the top 100 paid apps had on average 1.3 trackers each.

“There is some element of the app trying to deceive the user, doing something more than its declared function,” said author Aruna Seneviratne, NICTA’s research leader in mobiles.

“The trackers are leaking a huge range of data like contacts and your browser history to third parties so they can build a picture of you.”

The Google Play market holds more than a million apps and has seen more than 50 billion downloads to date. Cyber safety experts have long criticised Google for its lax security regime in comparison to Apple’s app store.

Professor Seneviratne said the big number of free flashlight apps showed many developers were creating ones loaded with trackers that can collect location data, photos and call logs.

A separate 2014 study found the top 10 flashlight apps in Google Play were all spying on users. They should also average 72k in size, but some were found to be 50 times larger.

“I can write a flashlight app and give it away free and get information. In the malicious case, you can use it to do other things, finding out your exact location,” he said.

The study found the top 100 paids apps had on average 1.3 trackers each, whereas the top 100 free ones carried 3.7.

“There’s this belief paid apps are safe. But whether free or paid, the same type of information is being extracted by external parties, ad agencies, analytics agencies.”

Nigel Phair from the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra said smartphone users need to know free, especially in the app market, was never free.

“The reason an app is free is because they monetise who you are and what you do, whether it’s in-app advertising or seeking your address book,” he said.

“Identifying data that is geo-located is roughly four time more valuable to advertisers,” he said.

Mr Phair also said Google Play was a “completely unvetted” whereas the Apple App store was a “walled garden”.

Professor Seneviratne, whose study was accepted for presentation at this year’s International World Wide Web Conference in Florence, Italy, also criticised Google’s reactive stance in dealing with problem apps.

A Google spokesperson said its 2014 research showed fewer than 1 per cent of Android devices had a “potentially harmful app” installed.

He said more than a billion devices were “protected” with Google Play, which conducts 200 million security scans of devices each day.

“We are committed to providing a secure experience. Verify Apps, for instance, is a Google Play service that scans applications downloaded from third-party sites and flags any that look like they might be malicious,” he said.

“This technology is built directly into Google Play, and if an app is flagged we automatically remove it so you don’t have to worry about downloading bad apps from Google Play.”

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment.

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Daniel Morcombe’s father fears for William Tyrrell: ‘It is looking very grim’

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Poignant date: Missing toddler William Tyrrell would be four on Friday. Photo: Supplied Bruce and Denise Morcombe now visit schools to educate youngsters to recognise danger. Photo: Chris Hyde

The father of murdered Queensland teenager Daniel Morcombe​ fears William Tyrrell, who would be four on Friday, won’t be found alive.

Speaking ahead of the poignant date Bruce Morcombe, father of 13-year-old Daniel, who was abducted and murdered on the Sunshine Coast in 2003, said family members would be at different stages of acceptance of William’s fate and that special dates such as birthdays would be “incredibly upsetting”.

Mr Morcombe said some in the family would be still hoping William is alive, some might be thinking that, with every day passing, that is less likely and some would believe that the search was now for William’s remains.

“This can cause some families to fracture,” he said

“Everyone is hopeful but logic suggests statistically, as the months go by, he is not coming home. We strongly want a good news story to come out of this. We have been there and genuinely hope he will be found alive. I am sure the police are working incredibly hard to find the answers but with no sightings and no physical evidence, it is looking very grim for sure. Miracles do happen. Let’s hope there’s one here.”

Mr Morcombe said that, 12 days after Daniel, a twin, disappeared, he faced with his wife, Denise, trying to celebrate [twin brother] Bradley’s birthday.

“There was one cake when there should have been two,” he said.

“There are all these milestones. You just don’t forget. The 100-days anniversary or the 12-month anniversary are incredibly tough. We tried to be positive and tried to reactivate the investigation by appealing to the public for more information.”

Mr Morcombe was speaking the day after lawyers for Brett Peter Cowan, who was found guilty of the abduction and murder of Daniel, lodged an application for leave to appeal against his conviction.

In a separate development on Friday, whitegoods repairman Bill Spedding, repeatedly questioned over the disappearance of William Tyrrell, and named as a person of interest, was granted bail on charges of historical child sex offences.

Mr Spedding, 63, was arrested in April and charged with unrelated child abuse offences and at a previous hearing his lawyer, Robert Hoyles, told the courtroom his client would deny the charges “until his final breath”.

Mr Morcombe​ and his wife, who have set up the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, tirelessly visit schools to get across their message to youngsters to recognise danger, react by getting themselves to a safe place and then reporting it.

He said that they had taken their message to Herons Creek Public School, just five kilometres from where Daniel disappeared from his grandmother’s home in September, 12 months previously.

He also said that the family, from his experience, would be likely to be receiving distracting information from psychics.

“Personally, we found it quite distressing, a fair amount of it was bizarre and offbeat. I don’t place any amount of faith in psychic information. On our taskforce, it was an incredible distraction. They would say there’s a shed or a water tank … we had dozens or hundreds of leads and logic suggests that William’s case is similar to Daniel’s,” Mr Morcombe said.

“You can’t ignore them just in case it is a disguised confession, someone trying to get it off their chest and that they really do know something.”

From his experience there would be mountains of information coming in from the community including timelines of where people were at the time and vehicles of interest.

“An important role is capturing data from CCTV at local service stations and ATMs, which may be incredibly useful when the noose is drawn more tightly around a person of interest; it can perhaps break an alibi,” Mr Morcombe said. “If they can prove a vehicle was at a particular place, that sort of information can solve a case.”

In a message to the Tyrrell family, he added: “Remain positive, that’s all you can do. The police will be working hard; they want to solve it as well. They, I am sure, go to work not filling in the hours; they go to work to find the answers.”

NSW Police declined to comment on the progress of the investigation.

Free education resources for schools can be downloaded from the Daniel Morcombe Foundation website.

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Does Australia’s steel industry have a future?

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Aerial picture of the Port Kembla steelworks in 1997. Picture: KYLIE PICKETTBlueScope leak confirms threat to close steelworksBlueScope denies Port Kembla closure, says large-scale cost-cutting necessaryDeath by 1000 cuts? BlueScope reviews Port Kembla operationsBlueScope threat ‘goes to the heart of Wollongong’s identity”A bombshell for the Illawarra’The city of Wollongong can feel it. The whispers throughout the city are growing louder.Whispers that theone remaining blast furnace still operating at BlueScope Steel’s the massive Port Kembla steelworksis close to being shut down.

The sprawling symbol of heavy industry, unionismand blue collar workhas dominated NSW’s Illawarra region for almost 100 years, and for some the cloud overits futurehails the beginning of the end for Australia’ssteel industry.

Australian Workers’ Union branch secretary Wayne Philips remembers the shock when BlueScopeclosed the site’sNo. 6 blast furnace in 2011.

“That was a terrible day. It was panic stations. A lot of people went into early retirement. It takes a toll on you personally. There’s nothing worse than having someone sitting in the chair [in front of you]and being emotionally and physically a wreck because they don’t have a future,” he says.

Philips started work at Port Kembla in 1979 but lost his job amid the heavy restructuring in the early 1980s. He thenwent to work for the AWU.

The union, which covers some 95 per cent of the “wages”employees at Port Kembla (as opposed to workers on contracts),is currently locked in enterprise bargaining talks with BlueScope.

Philips has played the game of wage negotiations many times,and while he thinks the company is using the threat of closure as a “bargaining chip”, he believesthe threat is real.

“This round of negotiations, the word I would use to describe it is ‘bizarre’,” Philips says.

“We are hearing too many things. They are making too many preparations to get out. People are extremely worried and there’s nothing for them to go to if it does close.”

When the No. 6 furnace was mothballed four years ago, 1000 direct jobs were lost.

Today BlueScope employs 3500 people at Port Kembla, a far cry from theglory days in the 1980s, when the four different train stations on the massive site took 22,000 workers to the steel works every day.

If the remaining No. 5 blast furnace was mothballed, up to 2000 direct jobs would be lost and thousands more contractors who depend on the site would be out of work.

University of Wollongong economics lecturer Martin O’Brien did two surveys of workers who lost their jobs in the 2011 shutdown, one six months after the closure and another 12 months after the first survey.

The profile of the average person taking redundancy was a 54-year-old malewith just over 30 years of experience working at BlueScope.

Only 38 per cent were re-employed within six months, but some 50 per cent had found other work after 18 months.

However, Dr O’Brien says things were “very grim” for older workers and those from non-English speaking backgrounds.

“Unfortunately, those made unemployed in declining industries do not tend to possess the necessary skills for employment in growing service sectors, nor do they possess a high level of geographic mobility,” he says.

Dr O’Brien forsees arange of problems ifPort Kembla were to go through another downsizing ora complete shutdown.

First, the mining boom that absorbed lost jobs during the 2011-12 redundancies is all but over in 2015, andunemployment in theIllawarra is more than 8 per cent.

Second, the cash that was thrown around to support jobs in the region under the Gillard Labor government, such as through the $30 millionIllawarra Regional Innovation and Investment Fund, is unlikely to be forthcoming a second time.

The AWU’s Wayne Philips says the majority of Port Kembla workers are over 40 years of age, and he worries the town will not bounce back like Newcastle did when BHP Steel closed up in that town 15 years ago.

“If you’re over 45 it is bloody tough to get a job. Wollongong is a steel town. We’re not like Newcastle, we can’t absorb the impact into other industries. Not everyone can open a coffee shop or go to university,” he says.

As a global steelglutweighsonprices,Australia’s two steel makers, Arrium and BlueScope, are underpressure to boostreturns from sub-scale businesses plaguedby high energy and labor costs.

This week Arrium, formerly known as OneSteel, announced a blowout in its debt to as much as $1.85 billion and a $320 million write-down against its iron ore mining operations. The company has a market value of just $425 million.

BlueScope last week denied reports itis considering closing its remaining blast furnace at Port Kembla, but the steel makersaid that its “costs of manufacturing steel are too high” and the company is”seeking a game-changing approach that will significantly reduce costs”.

Some view BlueScope’s comments astough talk to deal with a difficult union. Others argue it is the first step in preparing the public for large-scale job losses.

BlueScope and Arrium are struggling. Shares in the two companieshave plummeted 82 per cent and 43per cent, respectively, in the past yearand investors are demanding a focus on shareholder value.

Activist investment firm Sandon is one investorpushing BlueScope to improve shareholder returnsby closing the blast furnace andimporting slab.

The slab could then be usedfor the domestic manufacture ofhigher-marginpainted and coated products such as Colorbond and Zincalume that can be made competitively in Australia.

NSW liberal MP Gareth Ward, parliamentary secretary to Premier Mike Baird and member for the Illawarra, says that steel making is importantfor hisregion, but it is also a matter ofnational interest.

“All levels of government need to support steel making. I don’t think it is acceptable, from a defence capability point of view, for Australia not to produce steel,” he says.

“I am never a fan of subsidies. But you can’t just build a blast furnace overnight if there is a conflict. I am an economic rationalist, but I also believe in the need to defend our own country and that means being able to produce steel.”

Ward’s parents met at the Port Kembla steelworks in 1972. He says there is a similar story for many familiesin the Illawarra.

Port Kembla, which produced its first steel in 1928,is thenation’s biggest steel plant, with capacity to make 2.6 million tonnes of raw steel every year.

Iron ore from Western Australia, and coking coalbrought in fromSouth 32’s mines just a stone’s throw from Wollongong, arefed into the huge No. 5 blast furnace to make theliquid iron that isfedinto the slab caster.

Red hot slab, radiating heat, rolls continuouslyout of the casterand isleft in the open for days, allowing itto coolbeforeit isfashioned into rolled coil and plate products.

The vast open spaces of the industrial site, a symbol of the blue-collar manufacturing that has slowly left Australian shores, are almost devoid of workers, who nowadays operate the highly automated facilityfrom the safety of control rooms.

As uncertainty washes over Port Kembla, there is a feeling the real decision about its future will made in Canberra.

The Abbott government’sdecision to stop subsidising the car making industry has fuelled concerns the economic dries in the Coalition have no appetite to support steel.

Federal Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane, says the government believes traditional industries can survive and prosper beside the industries of the future.

“Maximising competitiveness is a priority for all companies operating in a global market, and the Australian government is working to ensure the economic framework is in place to maximise investment and innovation in Australian industry,” he says.

“There is no doubt the steel industry is an important contributor to the national economy and is particularly important to the Illawarra.”

Debate about the future of Port Kembla is, in part, a tale of the broad shifts in both the Australian and the global economies.

China’s rapid urbanisation over the past decade drove a boom in steel-intensive infrastructure investment.

The surgein demand for steel-making raw materials, iron ore and coalgifted Australia a once-in-a-generation mining boom.

But the spike in commodity prices put a rocket under the Australian dollar, decimating the competitiveness ofBlueScope and Arrium against imports, at the same time they werepaying very high prices for raw materials.

“It is a sad situation, where I see both of our steel companies really struggling and it goes to the challenge we have in Australia to be internationally competitive,” Dr Bob Every, chairman ofWesfarmers and Boral says.

“We’ve come out of the other end of a resources cycle where we’ve got high wages, high energy costsand industrial relations that, unfortunately, have gone back about 15 years.”

Every was the president of BHP Steel before the mining giant demerged both OneSteeland BlueScope, after which hewas chief executive of OneSteel until May 2005.

“I’m not a protectionist, but frankly,I’d be very sad if we didn’t have a steel industry,” Every says.

“As I reflect onthe demerger [from BHP] that took place in 2000, once you took the steel companies away from being in the same company as iron ore and coal, we gave those companies a strategic weakness.”

China itself rushed tobuild steel plantsto supply its own frantic construction of railroads and skyscraper during the boom years, and it now produces half of the world’s steel.

As China’s economy has slowed, iron ore and coal prices have dropped and the Australian dollar has eased significantly against the US dollar.

But the mass of new steel plantshas led to a new problem: excess global supply and depressed steel prices.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates there will bea 6.5 million tonne surplus ofsteelexports in 2015.

While Wollongong contemplates the loss of Port Kembla, the future is also uncertain for the nation’s other blast furnace, Arrium’s Whyalla steel works in South Australia.

Arrium, which produces 1.2 million tonnes of raw steel a year at Whyalla,is scrambling to repay its debts amid weak steel prices and as the collapse in iron ore prices hammers its mining business.

There is a view that Arrium has only kept Whyalla running because it cannot afford tomothballthe facility.

“All assets have a finite life and need to be replenished at some point,”Arrium chief executive Andrew Roberts says.

“A blast furnace has an average life of 25 years. The last time we did a major refit was in 2004, so in essence, the asset life is through to 2024. That is 10 years away and as we go forward we will have to review it.”

Mr Roberts says it is important for Australia that it has two strong steel companies, butArriumneeds to continue to cut costs in its steel division if it is to remain viable.

A big part of the problem is the fact that Australia’s demand for steel is insufficient to absorb its own production.

BlueScope makes money on steel dispatched domestically, but it loses in the order of $100 million a year exporting 500,000 tonnes of surplus commodity steel.

“There are huge economies of scale in industries such asiron and steel and we just don’t have a sufficient domestic market,” University of Wollongong professor Simon Ville says.

“Labour costs and the costs of production are too high. We are in the ironic situation where we export the raw material and import the finished product.”

The impending end tolocal car manufacturing will further hit localdemand from 2017.

The need for greater domestic steel use will be a key focus for the AWU. The unionintends to launch a campaign asking the Australian government to commit to using 40 per cent Australian steel in all of its construction projects.

“The Americans have guaranteed use of American steel on US government projects. That [in Australia] would save the industry,” the AWU’s Philips says.

While everyone agrees that losing the Port Kembla works would be a huge blow for the Illawarra,there are some who believe its importance has diminished.

Wollongong Lord mayor Gordon Bradbury says that the days when the steel industrysupported the entire “food chain” of businesses in the Illawarra are gone.

“To lose 3500 jobs would be dramatic. For me and for many it is an iconic part of the Illawarra, but it is not the be-all and end-all of Wollongong these days,” he says.

“BlueScope is facing challenges to continue to produce raw steel. It is well understood we are vulnerable to market forces. [But] there are opportunities with the diverse role of the port, the universityand the coal sector.”

About 205,000 people live in Wollongong and another 65,000 in neighbouring Shellharbour.

In many respects, the University of Wollongong represents the beacon of hope for the city.

UoW now has some 27,000 students in Australia andin 2011 the universityestimatedits total contribution to gross domestic product was $1.12 billion.

Some already like to think of Wollongong as a university town, not a steel town.

In partnership with BlueScope and other steel industry players, UoW’s steel research hub is already trying to find the products of the future that Australia can make competitively.

“We all know that manufacturing has to change in this country and the steel hub is a prime research tool to make that happen,”Professor Judy Raper says.

Raper says she is optimistic about the future, but if worst comes to worst and Port Kembla is shuttered, she believes UoW has a key role to play in the adjustment.

“If you look at the long-term unemployed cycle, it is those with educationwho get out of it,” she says.

Best European pictures from June 20pictures, photos

Nanjing Night Net

Best European pictures from June 20 | pictures, photos UEFA Under21 European Championship 2015. People:Jan Kliment. Picture: Getty Images

Protesters set fire to placards in central London during a demonstration against austerity and spending cuts on June 20, 2015 in London, England. Thousands of people gathered to march from the City of London to Westminster, where they listened to addresses from singer Charlotte Church and comedian Russell Brand as well as Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Gold medalists Russia celebrate with the medals won during the Women’s Water Polo gold medal match between Russia and Spain on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Water Polo Arena on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images for BEGOC)

Spectators shelter from the rain as a dark rain cloud makes its way over centre court during the men’s singles semi-final match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Viktor Troicki of Serbia during day six of the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club on June 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives off the track after locking up during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 20, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

A historical re-enactor playing the role of the Duke of Wellington takes part in the first part of a large scale re-enactment of the battle of Waterloo, to mark it’s bicentenary on June 19, 2015 in Waterloo, Belgium. Around 5000 historical re-enactors will amass over two evenings to re-enact the two stages of the battle in front of around 200,000 spectators from around the world. The first evening will see the ‘French Attack’, followed tomorrow by the ‘The Allied Counter attack’. The events will mark the battle of 1815 which saw the overthrow of Napoleon Bonaparte and the restoration of Louis XVIII to the French throne. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Daniel Ros Gomez of Spain (blue) and Ivan Konrad Trajkovic of Slovenia (red) compete in the Men’s +80kg Taekwondo bronze medal final during day seven of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Crystal Hall on June 19, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images for BEGOC)

Taylor Swift performs during ‘The 1989 World Tour’ night 1 at Lanxess Arena on June 19, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images for TAS)

Sergio Garcia of Spain stands on the 16th green during the second round of the 115th U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay on June 19, 2015 in University Place, Washington. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

New Zealand batsman Tim Southee dives to make his ground as Jonny Bairstow breaks the stumps during the 5th Royal London One day international between England and New Zealand at Emirates Durham ICG on June 20, 2015 in Chester-le-Street, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Lisa Top of Netherlands competes in the Women’s Vault final on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at the National Gymnastics Arena on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images for BEGOC)

Charlotte Church attends an Anti Austerity demonstration at Bank Of England on June 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images)

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