Monthly Archives: December 2018

Straight six: talking points ahead of the Boxing Day Test


The best that can be said about Australia’s batting on the final day is that they got there in the end, though victory papered over more than a few cracks. They were teetering at 6-247 in the first innings before being saved by the tail and made hard work of the run chase. Senior men Shane Watson and Brad Haddin are down on form while question marks remain over Shaun Marsh’s credentials at Test level. A lot rests on Steve Smith and David Warner.


So long as Mitchell Johnson is fit and firing, Australia will back themselves to get out of many a hole. That’s how well he has played in the past year. The left-arm speedster is the most feared fast bowler in the world. He intimidates batsmen and, more importantly, gets them out. With Ryan Harris nearing the end and Peter Siddle down on form, it will be vital Johnson’s golden run continues so that youngsters like Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc are not burdened with too much too soon.


Australia’s 45th Test captain could not have been more impressive in his debut match in charge. He made runs when needed, generally pulled the right rein in the field, not to mention his classic catch at slip, and always kept his cool, even when his bowlers wilted in the heat on day one. The Australian team will enter a period of transition in the coming years as the likes of Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Ryan Harris near the end, but at this stage it appears they need not worry about the man who will lead them through this phase.


It seems peculiar that the future of the wicketkeeper is in question after a game where he equals an Australian record for most dismissals in a Test innings. But the reality is glovemen these days are picked as much for their batting as their keeping, and Brad Haddin’s recent numbers are not pretty. The veteran, however, is still gloving them well and he remains a key figure behind the scenes at a time of uncertainty. That will buy him time though a big score in the next fortnight will be all it takes to get him to the West Indies and a fifth Ashes campaign.


The 25-year-old Queenslander has been mentioned in dispatches as a future Test player for a few seasons and is in arguably career-best form. He has opened for the Bulls this season but started his career as a middle-order player. How he makes the leap to Test level could hinge on whether he is given a soft landing. He can ask Alex Doolan, Rob Quiney and Usman Khawaja how hard it was to make their debuts at first drop. Perhaps they could have made more of their opportunities had they been blooded at No.6.


While the 2-0 scoreline in favour of Australia should come as no surprise heading into Boxing Day, India has been extremely competitive in both matches. This bodes well for the biggest two Tests on the calendar though the Indians made a bright start in England before capitulating in the final three matches. The positive for India is most of their batsmen are in form, which has not usually been the case on tours to Australia. If one or two can cash in big time and their fast bowlers click, an upset is not out of the question in Melbourne.

Kevin Muscat rues referee’s errors as Melbourne Victory lose to City in derby controversy

When things are not going your way you can’t take a trick.

Melbourne Victory has now taken only one point from its past two games with controversial refereeing decisions costing the team at least three points, its coach Kevin Muscat believes.

In the wake of Victory’s last-gasp loss to Melbourne City in Saturday night’s derby the second season boss has vowed to ensure his team are the hungriest and most committed side in the competition, promising his players that there will be no let up in the three week A-League break while the Asian Cup takes place in January.

Victory was on the wrong end of two dubious decisions in its round 10 A-League game against Sydney that resulted in the Sky Blues getting two goals in a 3-3 thriller at Etihad on December 13.

On Saturday night they were also the victims of another contentious call, when Fahid Ben Khallfallah’s 72nd minute “goal”, which would have put them one up in a keenly contested derby against City, was ruled out for offside.

Muscat still doesn’t understand that call, and remains at a loss to explain why Melbourne City played out most of the second second half with 10 men after the clash between City’s midfielder Jacob Melling and Victory skipper Leigh Broxham, who was felled by a flailing elbow to the face from the former.

Referee Kris Griffiths Jones showed Melling a yellow card, but most neutrals believed the City man should have been sent off, especially given the treatment Victory’s Socceroo international Mark Milligan received after a similar incident in the match against Sydney.

On that occasion the referee took no action, but Milligan was outed by the match review panel for three weeks as a result of a probe in the days following the game.

When Erik Paartalu popped up at the other end to score a 90th-minute winner for City it only added to Muscat’s frustrations.

“I have just seen the referee’s report and it states he booked him [Melling] for a reckless elbow,” he said when asked about the clash with Broxham. “They are not my words, that’s what on the report,” Muscat declared after the game, mindful that any criticism of the official was likely to generate a fine or a censure from the FFA.

He was also bemused by the decision to rule out his side’s goal.

“I don’t know who the offside has been given against. If it’s against Bes [Besart Berisha] in the box he’s not offside.

“If its against Fahid who taps the ball in ultimately, when Bes makes contact with the ball, Fahid is outside the six-yard box, Bes is inside the six-yard box, so he can’t be offside either. And there was no flag that came up before that.

“Last week we copped a goal that was offside [Marc Janko’s opening equaliser for Sydney]. That went against us but it was allowed.

“Last week we cop a decision where the ball was out by half a yard and they score their third goal [the ball appeared to be out of play before Sydney delivered the cross that allowed Shane Smeltz to score to put the Sky Blues 3-2 up in that match]. That went against us.

“Things aren’t going for us, but we have to be better and not rely on anyone else’s decisions.”

The defeat ends Victory’s 10-match unbeaten streak and leaves them trailing runaway league leaders Perth Glory by six points.

Muscat’s men must now regroup and host the Newcastle Jets on Saturday night before entertaining the Glory on January 2.

After that there will be no easing down, despite the fact that the next match isn’t until Australia Day eve in Perth.

“What I concern myself about is commitment. This group made a commitment on first day of pre-season to give us and each other everything,” he said.

“We are not going to go away [during the Asian Cup break]. We are going to  train and work hard. We will have some time off but not much; we will work through and work hard. We have got a lot to work on so we will use that time during the break.”

Hunter Housing crisis hurting singles too

DOING IT TOUGH: Vicki Jordan has been couch surfing for more than two years, is on the public housing waiting list, cant afford to rent.Picture: JONATHAN CARROLLA SHORTAGE of single bedroom homes is exacerbating the Hunter’s 10-plus year public housing waiting list, and denying the region’s most vulnerable people access to the system.

State government figures show that 60per cent of those living in social housing are single people without children.

But an ageing base of properties built when public housing was geared towards larger families is causing longer than necessary waiting lists that are choking the system and failing to serve the region’s demographics.

Across the Hunter one bedroom housing makes up 51per cent of the assets owned by the Department of Family and Community Services. In Newcastle, that figure drops to only 37per cent of its 4552 public housing properties.

In Raymond Terrace, one of the region’s most disadvantaged socio-economic areas, only 11per cent of the 744 public housing properties in the town are one bedroom.

Vicki Jordan, a single woman living in Raymond Terrace, is a victim of the undersupply.

Two and a half years ago she moved from Cessnock after a relationship breakdown.

She lost her casual job as a cleaner before Christmas in 2013 after she broke her arm, and has not been able to find work since.

Unable to afford private rentals on her single-person centrelink payment, Ms Jordan has been forced to rely on charity from family and friends, sleeping on couches and spare beds.

She said the constant stress of looking for private rentals and trying to get into public housing had left her mentally drained.

‘‘I feel like I’m going insane,’’ she said.

‘‘I write letters to housing, visit real estates, bounce around everywhere and nothing works.’’

Rental figures accurate to September showed the median price of a one bedroom home in Port Stephens was $205, a year-on-year increase of about 5per cent.

Ms Jordan said if she paid $205 a week in rent it would leave her with $100 to spend on food, bills and petrol.

If she were able to access public housing her rent would equate to about $76, but across Port Stephens wait times for one bedroom homes are listed as 10-plus years.

Adopted as a child, Ms Jordan says she’s only made contact with her family in the last few years. They all live in Raymond Terrace, and she said the thought of leaving ‘‘is terrifying’’.

‘‘I’d be by myself again, and I don’t really want to have to do that,’’ she said.

She also says she feels discriminated against and ‘‘judged’’ by private rental companies because she’s unemployed.

‘‘I wish I could tell the people there that they could be in my shoes one day too, there are a lot of people going through this sort of thing,’’ she said.

The Newcastle Herald previously revealed there are currently more than 4500 applicants on the Hunter’s growing public housing waiting list, and estimates of as many as 15,000 in the region suffering severe housing stress.

Much of the criticism of the system is aimed at investment in housing stock – since 2012 the department of family and community services has sold some 170 public housing properties in the Hunter New England district while only building 130 new dwellings.

All proceeds of sales are reinvested back into the portfolio, as required by the Housing Act 2001.

In 2014-15, Family and Community Services will invest $612 million in new building and maintenance of the public housing portfolio, a 23per cent increase on 2013-14.

THEATRE REVIEW: A Christmas Tale

CAPTIVATING: Curtain call of The Grainery Theatre Company performers of A Christmas Tale at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. A CHRISTMAS TALE

Presented by: The Grainery Theatre Co

Venue: Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle

Season: Ended Saturday

THIS production was indeed a Christmas tale that was enriching and enjoyable, and made good use of an appropriate venue, Christ Church Cathedral.

The staging team from Grainery Theatre gave a contemporary edge to the timeless tale of the birth of Christ by setting the events in a cathedral in a fictional country run by a totalitarian regime.

The work they expanded, A Christmas Tale, has a troupe of travelling players telling through song and in celebratory manner the events leading to the birth.

That 30-minute work, by American writers Aaron Reynolds and Greg Ferguson, is generally staged as a concert piece.

Grainery directors Sue Irwin and Theo Rule opened the story with members of a congregation decorating a cathedral for Christmas celebrations.

Their activity was interrupted by the arrival of a troop of soldiers led by a contemptuous general who replaced the festive adornments with stark banners bearing the regime’s insignia.

While the general and his wife, an architect who had been appointed to convert the cathedral to a museum, bickered over the nature of the building’s transformation, a team of Christmas tree salespeople arrived and began to explain the significance of Christmas to the sceptical military man. The songs from the original A Christmas Tale were then presented, with the cynical general and his wife sitting in chairs at the foot of the stage, and the reactions of both during the songs revealing their gradually changing moods.

At the 70-minute story’s end, the pair returned to the stage and offered their responses to what they had seen.

Needless to say, the general, though still prickly, admitted he had been moved by the performances. And he allowed the Christmas decorations to be restored.

Sue Irwin and Theo Rule ensured the behaviour of the characters, including the cathedral’s bishop (played by Rule) and the general, often had the audience smiling and laughing.

The new songs added, including Jingle Bells Rock, fitted well alongside Joy to the World and the original’s other numbers, and showed the variety of songs that have been inspired by Christmas. The more than 35 performers wore mostly colourful costumes in their various roles, with the 18th and 19th centuries-style garb contrasting with the stark military uniforms of the soldiers.

The offstage band provided good accompaniment and the choreography was lively. And while most of the action took place on a well-decorated stage, the cathedral setting reinforced the building’s place as one of Newcastle’s finest.

Melbourne City’s Jacob Melling may still face ban for elbow to Leigh Broxham’s face

Melbourne City midfielder Jacob Melling might appear to have dodged a bullet when shown only a yellow card after throwing an elbow into the face of Melbourne Victory midfielder Leigh Broxham on Saturday night, but he could still be brought to account for an act the referee dubbed reckless in his match report, the sort of foul authorities worldwide are desperate to stamp out.

In normal circumstances the FFA’s match review panel would not look at the incident again, deeming it to have been adjudicated upon during the match.

There are extraordinary situations, however, where the panel can examine an incident and decide a player does have a case to answer even if the referee has administered a sanction during the game.

It is loath to do so on most occasions as it could be construed as undermining the match official, but if it feels that the referee made a serious error in only giving the City teenager a yellow card then it does have the power to look at the footage and cite the player.

Given that Victory skipper Mark Milligan was cited for throwing an elbow in the face of Sydney midfielder Terry Antonis and banned for three games last week, the panel might feel that what is sauce for the Victory goose may also be sauce for the City gander on this occasion.

In Milligan’s case no card was handed out during the game and play restarted with a dropped ball after Antonis was treated. Review panel officials were able to say that the referee (on that occasion Peter Green) missed the incident and their intervention was warranted.

It would be more controversial for them to take action this time, but it is also arguable that Saturday night’s referee made a serious error in not taking stronger action against Melling, 19, a combative character who has been an important contributor to City’s mini-revival in recent games.

Fisher & Paykel’s fine print, too fine, leads to $200,000 fine

Fisher and Paykel has been slapped with a $400,000 fine. The Australian Competiton and Consumer Commission commenced action against Fisher & Paykel in the Federal Court in late 2013.

Whitegoods and appliance company Fisher & Paykel has been fined $200,000 for telling customers they needed to buy an extended warranty to protect their product against repair costs, while putting the truth in fine print.

Warranty provider Domestic & General, who issued the extended warranty on behalf of Fisher & Paykal, was also fined $200,000.

The Australian Competiton and Consumer Commission commenced action against Fisher & Paykel and Domestic & General in the Federal Court in late 2013 over the warranty documents accompanying dishwasher sales.

Under Australian consumer law, consumers may be entitled to a repair, replacement or refund on a product beyond the time period covered by the manufacturer’s warranty if the product suffered “major failure” or is not of “acceptable quality”.

However, the ACCC alleged that Domestic & General sent out 48,214 letters to purchasers of a dishwasher that had a two-year warranty. The letter stated that “your dishwasher is now a year old, which means you have 12 months remaining – after that your appliance won’t be protected against repair costs. Fisher & Paykel can help.”

The letter then offered, for a fee, an extended two-year warranty on top of the original warranty.

Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney said in his judgment, released on Friday, that Fisher & Paykel conceded that the statement was “false and misleading and the making of it was conduct that was misleading and deceptive”.

The misleading statement was “prominent” in that it was displayed in the main text of the letter on the front page, he ruled.

Even though the relevant part of Australian consumer law was mentioned in the letter, said Justice Wigney, it was “in relatively fine print on the reverse side of the letter”.

The fine print included the statement that “you are entitled to a replacement or refund for a major failure and compensation for any other reasonably forseeable loss or damage. You are also entitled to have the goods repaired or replaced if the goods fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure.”

The court heard that 1326 consumers purchased extended warranties, paying between $100 and $220.

After proceedings against Fisher & Paykel and Domestic & General began in the Federal Court, all of these consumers were contacted and “unconditionally offered a full refund” on the extended warranty, said Justice Wigney.

Only 107 consumers did so. It is “unclear why so few consumers claimed a refund,” said Justice Wigney.

Fisher & Paykel and Domestic & General were also ordered to pay $15,000 in costs.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission began a national awareness campaign on extended warranties in 2012.

“While extended warranties may offer protection over and above that provided by the Australian Consumer Law, they do not replace the underlying consumer guarantees,” according to the ACCC.

Australian grandmother on drug ice charges in Malaysia: Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto may be victim of a military romance scam

Maria Pinto Exposto. Photo: Facebook Deceived: Tracee Douglas believed she was engaged to US soldier “Robert Sigfrid”, but was instead being wooed by a Nigerian scammer. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Bangkok: An Australian grandmother facing execution on drugs charges in Malaysia could be the victim of a military romance scam that has entrapped thousands of people.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 51, has told how her supposed fiance  – a US soldier serving in Afghanistan she met on-line – asked her to carry a bag containing documents relating to his retirement on a flight from Hangzhou to Kuala Lumpur.

She says the bag was handed to her by an unknown person at the last minute when she left for Hangzhou airport in a taxi.

But under a scam the US army warns has become an “epidemic”, fraudsters use the fake or stolen identities of soldiers serving overseas to promise “true love” before duping their unsuspecting victims in a number of different scams.

The Good Weekend reported last month on American soldiers who have become unwitting stooges for West African online scammers, using their images to lure Western women looking for love.

Queensland woman Tracee Douglas lost $80,000 to a man claiming to be an Afghanistan-based US marine who contacted her on a dating site.

A photo and profile of the well-built, tattooed military man and motor-bike enthusiast appeared a match made in heaven for 49 year-old Ms Douglas, a former teacher and beautician.

Ms Douglas has set-up a Facebook page that has 400 members who track, trick and bait fraudsters.

Mrs Pinto Exposto is facing execution by hanging after being charged with carrying a bag containing 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamines, the drug known as “ice.”

Dozens of Australian women have been targeted in sophisticated scams where they think they have fallen in love with soldiers when in fact they are being set-up by perpetrators who break their hearts, victims groups, police and consumer advocate agencies say.

Investigators say Malaysia, where Mrs Pinto Exposto arrived on December 7, has become an epicentre for online-based crimes perpetrated mostly by Africans using false identities, US officials say.

Mrs Pinto Exposto’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told Fairfax Media he believes she is innocent and the “pretty bizarre” circumstances that led to her arrest need to be fully investigated.

“She is a woman with strong credentials. She has not wavered in her story,” he said.

The arrest of Mrs Pinto Exposto, a former social worker in East Timor, has shocked her family and friends in Sydney where they say she was a devoted and loving mother of four.

She has told her lawyers she was surprised when the drugs were found sewn into a secret compartment in the bag, telling them she had “never seen drugs in her life.”

Mrs Pinto Exposto and her husband had separated and were intending to divorce, according to lawyers, before she travelled to Hangzhou without telling key family members.

Defence lawyers have signalled they will argue that Mrs Pinto Exposto’s willingness to put her bags through a security scanner at a Kuala Lumpur airport exit channel without being asked by Customs officials indicates she had no prior knowledge of the presence of any drugs.

She was booked on a connecting flight to Melbourne and could have stayed in the airport’s transit areas without having to pass through the security check-point.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warns that scammers targeting Australians will go to “great lengths to gain your interest and trust, such as sharing personal information and even sending you gifts.”

“Scammers may take months to build what seems like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come,” the commission says on its website.

The commission warns of dozens of scams including those involving dating and romance, identity theft, get-rich investments, money transfer, jobs and employment.

Fraudsters often personalise scams to fit the profile of their victims.

Cyber-crime investigators suspect that people duped in romance scams are increasingly being used as drugs mules but most of the crimes never become public.

A Sydney investigator told Fairfax Media that if Mrs Pinto Exposto has been set-up in a military romance scam she “probably will still not realise she has been scammed by her fiance as she will still be in love with him and will not be able to separate the truth from the illusion even if she did suspect her lover.”

Often scammers use fake webcams, voice changing programs and photographs of other people to build a false identity and then prowl the internet for victims.

Victims of military romance scams are usually unsuspecting women aged 35 to 50, many of whom are lonely and vulnerable who think their loved one is serving in a combat zone.

Air Marshall Mark Binskin, the 54 year-old married head of the Australian Defence Force, had his identity stolen by fraudsters trying to scam money out of a German woman which prompted a Defence Force investigation in June.

In Malaysia, where Mrs Pinto Exposto will be hanged if found guilty of possessing more than 50 grams of methamphetamines, the US embassy warns that scams there are more sophisticated than most well known Nigeria-based operations.

Tim Scherer, consul general of the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur, told Reuters that complaints about scams make up 80 per cent of inquiries to duty officers at the mission, with dozens of new cases reported every week.

Citizens of Australia, Canada and Europe have also been targeted, he said.

“It can really transform their lives in a very terrible way.”

One typical scam is for middle-aged woman to be targeted on dating or Christian websites by fraudsters claiming to be a Western man who then gets into legal or business difficulties in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

The US Army Criminal Investigation Command has told US serviceman that although the US has set-up numerous task force organisations to “deal with this growing epidemic” the people committing the crimes are using untraceable e-mail addresses, routing through numerous countries and utilizing cyber cafes which maintain no accountability of use.

“The ability of law enforcement to identify these perpetrators and close down their operations is very limited,” it says.

NSW government to fund three trials of medical cannabis

Under cultivation: A cannabis growing operation.The NSW government expects to find out in the next few weeks if it will be able to import cannabis to be used in three medical trials, or if it will have to grow the marijuana itself.

Children with severe epilepsy, adults with terminal illness and people with nausea induced by chemotherapy will be the subjects of the three trials, announced on Sunday by Premier Mike Baird and Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

“Ultimately what this is about, it’s about compassion,” Mr Baird said. “It’s about trying to make a difference to individuals, their families and friends in incredibly difficult circumstances.”

The trial for children with severe epilepsy, who do not respond to traditional medical approaches, will be first to start, Ms Skinner said. It will be conducted by doctors at the Randwick and Westmead childrens hospitals, while the government will also set up a Medical Cannabis Expert Panel under the state’s Chief Medical Officer, Kerry Chant.

“For a long time this issue has been discussed, but what we have today is NSW marching forward,” Mr Baird said on Sunday, announcing that the government would spend $9 million on the three trials.

To procure the cannabis for the trials, the government will first attempt to negotiate an import arrangement with the federal government.

“We’re asking for that to be done as quickly as possible,” Mr Baird said.

“If we need to deal with the supply ourselves, we are ready to go in relation to that, but we need to decide whether it can be imported. I expect that, in coming weeks, to be resolved.”

The policy was immediately welcomed by the NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association.

“This will allow sick people access to medicine that is being tested and examined for efficacy – potentially improving their lives in the short-term and providing evidence to help the wider population in the longer term,” AMA NSW president Saxon Smith said.

“I’m glad the government is broadening its approach to the trials, allowing for more than just treatment of terminal illness,” Dr Smith said.

“The move into paediatric epilepsy is a welcome one, as research on short and long-term side-effects is especially important in any medicine given to children.”

The NSW government is also instructing police not to charge adults with terminal illness who use marijuana, or their carers.

But Labor’s Adam Searle said the government should move faster in providing pain relief for the terminally ill.

“We have passed the time for trials; the science is in, and we know that people are already running the risk of arrest by using cannabis for pain relief. People suffering from terminal illnesses need more pain relief options now, not in a few years.”

Hundreds of people are expected to be included in the three trials.

“I have been absolutely clear this is not about the use of crude cannabis which does have serious potential ill-health effects,” Ms Skinner said. “This is about looking derivatives of cannabis that can be useful in treating these conditions.”

Canberra Capitals overcome injuries to keep WNBL finals hopes alive

Kristen Veal played through injury to help Canberra’s finals quest. Photo: Jay CronanCanberra Capitals point guard Kristen Veal has revealed she played through severe knee pain during Friday’s win in Adelaide to help keep the club’s finals hopes alive.

But she insisted her shorthanded teammates deserve more praise for Saturday’s win in Perth that she rated one of the gutsiest she’s seen.

Returning from a three-week layoff after surgery, Veal pulled up sore in her 350th WNBL game in Adelaide, forcing her to miss Saturday’s 83-70 win over West Coast.

Lauren Jackson also didn’t play after making her much-awaited comeback against the Lightning, the club easing her back slowly after nearly a year out.

Jackson scored 13 points in 15 minutes off the bench, and had an important impact in the final quarter with the game on the line.

Starter Hanna Zavecz also played just 10 minutes against West Coast after injuring her ankle early, but Canberra overcame those obstacles to improve to 6-7 and remain in the playoff hunt.

“It was probably the most pain I’ve played in,” Veal said.

“We knew how important these two games were; we were treating them like finals. Basically if we didn’t win both you could count us out, we’d struggle to get back in the mix. 

“Lauren coming back helped; we know how to play with each other. It felt like it was just us two out there at times.”

Zavecz looks likely to be sidelined for a month, ruling her out of Canberra’s next game against league leaders Townsville on January 2.

Veal admitted it was likely Jackson would bypass that match and focus on the January 4 home game against finals rival Dandenong, with the club wary of playing her twice in three days.

The Capitals boast one of the league’s most talented rosters, but injuries have prevented them playing their best line-up all season.

“If Lauren comes up [for Townsville], great, but I can’t see it happening,” Veal said. “We really need to beat those teams around us, or we won’t play in the finals.”

Veal praised her teammates for stepping up against West Coast, with Carly Wilson (18 points), Stephanie Talbot (18 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists) and Michelle Cosier (10 points) easing the pressure on skipper Abby Bishop (18 points, seven assists, nine rebounds).

“I’ve never cheered so much in my career [at the West Coast game]. Everyone just stepped up,” Veal said.

“They had a good game plan against Abby but she changed things up and it was everyone else’s contribution which was the difference. Abby started hitting a few three balls, and opened it up that way.”


Friday: Canberra Capitals 73 (Abby Bishop 33, Lauren Jackson 13, Carly Wilson 11) bt Adelaide Lightning 70 (Carley Mijovic 13) at Adelaide Arena.

Saturday: Canberra Capitals 83 (Abby Bishop 18, Stephanie Talbot 18, Carly Wilson 18) bt West Coast Waves 70 (Sarah Graham 17, Deanna Smith 12) at WA Basketball Centre.

How our male CEOs will help fight bias against women at work

Male chief executives are being recruited in Victoria to accelerate the “glacial” rate of change ctowards gender equality.

Kate Jenkins, the state’s equal opportunity and human rights commissioner, is gathering 10-15 male executives, who will be charged with finding ways of improving the position of women.

“The idea behind it is for men – influential men in powerful positions – to identify what they can do to make change,” Ms Jenkins said.

“It might be looking at getting more women in non-traditional roles. It might be looking at what we can do in education to change the course of our kids as they’re going through. It might be about gender violence in workplaces as a broader issue. It’s for them to decide.”

Ms Jenkins detailed her plans for the Victorian Males Champion for Change group in an interview with Fairfax Media to mark her first year heading the commission. A similar group was established federally in 2010, which Ms Jenkins said wasdominated by Sydney-based chief executives.

Ms Jenkins said Victoria had equally strong leaders, and she was recruiting from companies with a national and international profile. Membership of the group will be revealed when it is finalised.

The rate of change towards gender equality had been glacial, she said. She acknowledged the important role played by many men.

But often, men would observe how much change had occurred, she said. “As a woman, if I’m getting paid 18 per cent less than a man doing exactly the same job, no, that hasn’t changed. Not enough for me,” she said.

“There has been societal change, but I think the standard is to get to equality, not simply closer to it.”

The establishment of the male chief executives group is part of a push by Ms Jenkins to encourage a cultural shift in the community. While Victoria has had equality and discrimination laws since 1977, they had not brought about the change that was expected, she said. “It’s cultural change and social change that you need.”

The commission has also been asked by Victoria Police to conduct an independent review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour, in the force.

The review, led by Ms Jenkins, follows what Chief Commissioner Ken Lay has described as  “grubby” and “shameless conduct” by male officers revealed in at least 20 internal sexual harassment investigations over the past three years.

Sexual harassment of women still rates as one of the top issues raised in inquiries to the commission, with 540 made in 2013-14.

Ms Jenkins said many incidents remained invisible. And when complaints were made to the commission, they often involved base, primitive behaviour. “When they come to us they are really eyebrow-raising,” she said.

There has been almost a 25 per cent increase in inquiries by the public to the commission over the past year. The commission believes that is partly explained by cutbacks in other areas of government, and people looking for an official point of contact.