SBS goes back to a ratings hit

Hamid Sultani, an Afghan refugee living in Dandenong, has a chat with Angry Anderson on Go Back to Where You Came From.Verdict: The danger is palpable in an inspired Go Back

The second series of SBS TV’s ground-breaking refugee documentary/reality series Go Back To Where You Came From drew a solid 752,000 viewers nationally last night.

The result slotted Go Back To Where You Came From into 10th place on the overnight rankings.

In real terms it is an outstanding result. SBS’s audience footprint is considerably smaller than either the ABC’s, or that of its commercial rivals.

To command such a large slice of the audience is a major win for them. Previously only shows such as the hit UK motoring show Top Gear delivered similar audiences to SBS.

The first series, which was screened last year, was watched by 524,000 people on its first night and ranked 23rd for the night. It then built to 569,000 and 600,000 for its second and third nights.

This year SBS will screen two more programs, tonight and Thursday night, and conclude the series on Friday night with a cast reunion and televised debate.

The series takes six Australians on a “reverse” refugee journey. That is, they begin in Australia and back-track to some of the world’s most volatile places in an attempt to shine a light on why refugees undertake dangerous journeys across the world.

The first series featured six everyday Australians.

The second series features six celebrities: former government minister Peter Reith, comedian Catherine Deveney, singer Angry Anderson, former ombudsman Allan Asher, model Imogen Bailey and former “shock jock” broadcaster Michael Smith.

In last night’s first episode the group was split and sent to Kabul in Afghanistan and Mogadishu in Somalia.

The big result for SBS did particular damage to Ten, at least in perception terms. Go Back To Where You Came From out-rated every show on Ten last night.

In pure ratings terms such comparisons are not always sound – they’re a little like comparing apples and oranges – but it does serve to illustrate the particular ratings pressures on Ten at the moment.

Because of Go Back’s strong performance, SBS’s share was only a few percentage points behind Ten last night. That will no doubt set tongues wagging.

Inclusive of digital channels that gap widens to about five per cent.

Ten’s musical theatre talent show I Will Survive sank to 364,000 viewers nationally, an unsustainable figure given the cost of the show and the expectations of the advertisers who have signed on to back it.

Seven was denied a clean sweep of the top five, but won the night overall with a convincing margin: a 33.5 per cent share, compared to Nine’s 23.8 per cent.

Top 10 shows last night

1 The X Factor (7) 1.58 million2 Seven News (7) 1.19 million3 Winners & Losers (7) 1.18 million4 Today Tonight (7) 1.088 million5 Nine News (9) 1.080 million6 Big Brother (9) 1.064 million7 Home & Away (7) 1.062 million8 A Current Affair (9) 1.03 million9 ABC News (ABC) 1.02 million10 Go Back To Where You Came From (SBS) 752,000

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Ford hints end nigh for its car making

“We believe you can have research and development without manufacturing” … Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano.FORD has given the strongest hint yet it’s considering a life in Australia without manufacturing. In a frank admission, the president of Ford Australia, Bob Graziano, said manufacturing was no longer critical to the Australian operation’s survival.

”We believe you can have research and development without manufacturing. It clearly helps to have manufacturing and we’re very fortunate in that we have manufacturing, research and development and a stunning test facility,” he said yesterday.

His comments are a strong indication that Ford is preparing to ditch manufacturing in Australia once its commitments to the federal and Victorian governments are over.

In January, Ford and the two governments announced a $103 million deal to retain manufacturing of the Falcon and Territory models until the end of 2016.

Ford spokeswoman Sinead Phipps told ABC radio that Mr Graziano was not implying that the company was planning to shut down manufacturing in Australia.

“There was no hint implied in any way shape or form,” she said.

Ms Phipps said the Ford president was taking about “manufacturing in terms of the context of the design process”.

She said that Ford was currently investigating “what comes after” 2016 for manufacturing in Australia.

With sales of the Falcon appearing to be in a terminal slump, and many predicting its decline before the natural end of the current generation in 2016, Ford has turned the spotlight on its ability to design and engineer vehicles for the global stage.

Mr Graziano says the company’s design and engineering operation is one of only three centres of excellence for Ford, along with headquarters in Detroit and Cologne.

Ford says the number of design staff at the Broadmeadows facility in Victoria has almost tripled in the past 18 months. Mr Graziano said the increase, coupled with technological upgrades, has placed the organisation in a strong position to develop cars for the world.

”Australia is one of only 13 countries in the world that can design and manufacture a vehicle from the ground up,” he said.

”The automotive industry is also the largest R&D contributor in the Australian manufacturing sector. Our ability to work on global vehicle programs is a critical part of this.

”We are also perfectly positioned to be involved with the next two automotive powerhouses – India and China.”

Mr Graziano was speaking at the opening of a new virtual reality design studio in Broadmeadows that allows designers to sit in a virtual car years before it is built.

He said the 1000-strong design and engineering workforce was evidence that Ford was not just a manufacturing concern.

Ford sales year-to-date are down by 5 per cent in a market that is up 10 per cent. Most of that decline can be laid at the feet of the Falcon – sales of the big Aussie sedan are down by almost 30 per cent this year.

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Caramelised classics

Wondrous complexity … salted butter caramels.According to the Larousse Gastronomique, caramel is simply melted sugar browned by heating. Technically, it is that simple.

However, to explain the wondrous complexities of caramel, food scientist Harold McGee is more forthcoming: ”Start with pure table sugar, a single kind of molecule, colourless, odourless and simply sweet. Add heat and you create caramel: many hundreds of new molecules, brown colour, rich aroma, sweet, tart and bitter.”

There are two basic ways to make caramel: the dry method, when sugar is heated until it reaches melting point and starts to brown; and the wet method, when sugar is dissolved in water, then brought to the boil until it starts to brown.

Dissolving the sugar first is easier for less-experienced cooks, but either way, caramel must be constantly watched as once it starts to brown, it can easily burn. Have a bowl of cold water ready to cool the pan down, as this will stop it cooking further.

I prefer the dry method, as it is quick and the caramel can be stirred all the time. With the wet method, once the sugar has dissolved and started to boil, it should not be stirred, as this can encourage crystals to form.

A clean pastry brush dipped in water is also needed to brush down the sides of the pot, to prevent crystals forming.

Whichever method you choose, there are plenty of wonderful recipes to make use of caramel. Here are three of my favourites.Salted butter caramels

These caramels can be made with any type of sugar and butter, although the flavour is better with quality ingredients.

375g raw castor sugar 250g good-quality salted butter, diced and chilled, plus extra for greasing 5 tbsp creme fraiche Sea salt flakes to garnish

Grease and line a 20-centimetre square slice tin with baking paper. In a heavy-based saucepan, place the sugar over a medium heat. Cook to quite a dark caramel. Turn the heat down low and carefully add the butter, a few cubes at a time, making sure it is all incorporated before adding more. Stir in creme fraiche and continue to cook until thickened (118C on a digital or sugar thermometer). Pour into tray and sprinkle over salt flakes. Allow to cool, then refrigerate until set. Cut into squares to serve.Caramelised pork belly

Inspired by MasterChef contestant Alvin Quah’s recipe, the caramel sauce for the pork belly is flavoured by the Chinese master stock.

Chinese master stock

6L water 3 cloves garlic, sliced 1 knob ginger, sliced 1 handful green onion ends 1 cinnamon stick 2 star anise 375ml light soy sauce 375ml shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine) 75g chinese rock sugar


1 kg pork belly 2 eschalots, finely sliced 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar 300g brown sugar 1 tbsp fish sauce 2 tbsp lime juice Handful fresh coriander leaves 1 long red chilli, deseeded and sliced 1 tbsp black sesame seeds

For master stock, place all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Taste stock for balance of flavours and adjust as required. Add pork belly to master stock and gently simmer for one hour. Remove and set aside to cool. Soak eschalots in vinegar.

Heat brown sugar in deep-sided frying pan, stir and cook over medium heat until caramelised. Add one cup master stock, fish sauce and lime juice. Cook over high heat until reduced and thickened. Cut pork belly into slices and add to sauce. Mix together the coriander leaves, eschalots and chilli. Place slices of caramelised pork neatly on a plate, garnish with salad and sprinkle over sesame seeds.

Serves 4


To store master stock, allow it to cool. Strain through a fine sieve and refrigerate until needed. Once cooled, strained and refrigerated, master stock can be used again and again. Replenish the stock with fresh garlic, ginger, green onions and aromatics each time you use it and the flavour will continue to intensify. This stock can also be frozen.Caramel bananas with dulce de leche ice-cream

My childhood treat of caramel bananas gets a makeover, with the addition of a super-easy ice-cream and the bitter crunch of praline. Can you ever have too much caramel?


4 over-ripe bananas 1 cup dulce de leche*


3/4 cup caster sugar 1/2 cup almonds


60g butter 1/2 cup brown sugar 4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut in thick slices on an angle

For ice-cream, blend bananas in a food processor until smooth. Add dulce de leche and blend. Pour into a plastic container and place in freezer for four hours until firm. For praline, line a baking tray with baking paper. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over high heat. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar, allowing it to melt before adding more. As it melts, stir with a wooden spoon to ensure it doesn’t burn. Keep adding the sugar and stirring until it is a dark golden-brown colour. Quickly add the almonds and pour the mixture onto the tray.

Allow to cool, then break into large chunks and place in a food processor. Pulse until roughly crushed. For bananas, melt butter in a pan over medium heat, add brown sugar and stir. Cook for five minutes or so, stirring, until caramel forms. Add sliced banana and continue to cook until banana is soft and golden. Remove from heat. Serve bananas drizzled with any extra caramel from the pan. Add a scoop of ice-cream and sprinkle with praline.

Serves 4


To make dulce de leche, place unopened tin of condensed milk in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for two hours, topping up with extra water to keep the tin covered. Remove and allow to cool.Follow Cuisine on Twitter

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Chef settles on books deal

Celebrity chef and Sydney breakfast czar Bill Granger has settled a lawsuit against his former publisher over two unauthorised cookbooks.

Granger, who built his fortune on scrambled eggs and ricotta hotcakes, sued Murdoch Books in May after the publication of Best of Bill: The Ultimate Collection of Bill Granger’s Recipes and Bill Cooks for Kids.

Granger owns restaurants in Sydney and Japan and last year opened an eatery in London’s Notting Hill.

The Federal Court heard the chef and the publisher had worked together to produce a series of successful cookbooks, including Bill’s Food and Simply Bill. But after the relationship ended, Murdoch published two cookbooks under the Granger banner with a compilation of recipes from previous books.

Granger sued for copyright infringement and misleading and deceptive conduct.

He sought damages, an account of profits, acknowledgement of misleading conduct and a public apology.

Granger also demanded the publisher hand over copies of the books.

But in a judgement published last week, the Federal Court heard the two parties had since reached an agreement.

Murdoch Books will pay Granger an undisclosed sum of money.

They will also pay the chef and his companies 18.5 per cent of revenue from the two printed cookbooks from publication until September 4.

Granger will also get 25 per cent of payments from sales of the e-books.

Murdoch has already agreed to pay Granger more than $60,000, which will be deducted from the payouts.

Justice Anna Katzmann took note of the agreement between Granger and the publishing house.

She dismissed the proceedings but ordered that Granger could return to court if Murdoch Books failed to comply with the agreement. Natasha Rudra

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Thodey has rivals reeling in his wake

Telstra’s chief executive David Thodey won his board’s backing to launch an attack on his competitors three weeks ago, and yesterday he launched a missile. His chief operations officer, Brendon Riley, announced that the telco would be deploying special funding to accelerate the rollout of its new ultra-fast 4G wireless coverage from 40 per cent of the population to about 66 per cent over the next 10 months.

Coverage in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth will more than double. In Melbourne, for example, Telstra has already rolled 4G out as far east as Hawthorn East and Camberwell, fairly densely populated suburbs about nine kilometres from the central business district.

Coverage will now be extended as far east as Ringwood, 23 kilometres out. Middle western suburbs of Melbourne will be added to create a footprint on that side of the CBD that stretches unbroken to Werribee, and coverage in the north will extend 22 kilometres out to Epping, embracing a fast-growing part of the city.

In Sydney the initial 4G rollout ringed the harbour, and covered the eastern suburbs, suburbs as far south as Botany and Banksia, and others as far north as Chatswood. The new

footprint will extend as far as 29 kilometres west to Greystanes, west of Parramatta, as far as Hornsby in the north, and as far as Kogarah in the south.

More than 1000 new 4G base stations will be installed to underpin the expansion, and by the time it has done that work Telstra will have a huge lead on a mobile platform that is destined to dominate the mobile telco market.

Thodey has secured a special capital expenditure budget of about $400 million for the assault, which is occurring before its competitors have launched competing 4G services. Optus and Vodafone are still at the trial stage.

How Telstra got to this position is something for its competitors to analyse, but they appear to have misread what Telstra was doing last year, when it trialled a 4G service on 1800 megahertz spectrum in the first half, and then, in September, launched it in capital city central business districts and 30 regional and metropolitan centres.

Vodafone was focused on fixing coverage problems with its own 3G network at the time. Optus appears to have regarded the 1800 spectrum launch as a preview of the real battle, which would begin when 700 MHz spectrum was freed up by the shutdown of analog TV.

Optus was right – to a point. The 700 MHz spectrum is going to be needed to fully convert the Australian market to 4G. It will be auctioned off by the federal government next April, but won’t be available until after analog broadcasting ends at the end of 2013, and might go live as late as 2015.

By launching early on spectrum that became available as its old 2G mobile service wound down, Telstra has secured first-mover advantage. It has sold more than 340,000 4G mobile devices including 160,000 4G smartphones since it launched the service a year ago, and by June next year will have built 2000 1800 MHz base stations that can be adapted to offer 700 MHz when the spectrum is available. The group is aggressively advertising its 4G offer at a time when it has the market to itself.

The new 4G service isn’t going to be a replacement for the land-based national broadband network. Like all shared mobile networks, it will become congested if enough users crowd on, and it will not download data-hungry services such as large screen video as quickly as land-based fibre. The rule that mobile is best suited to devices that can be carried in the hand will still apply in a 4G world.

The new service is, however, significantly faster than 3G, and in voice communications, it is crystal clear. Telstra is achieving 14 per cent traffic growth a month in 4G, and is now going to double its coverage in its key urban markets. It has a lead it may never relinquish.

Carbon cost

The government’s decision to abandon plans to impose a $15 floor price for its carbon trading scheme between 2015 and 2018 and link to Europe’s carbon trading regime from 2015, but also cut the percentage of credits that can be imported to cover local emissions from 50 per cent to 12.5 per cent, doesn’t fix the big problem with carbon trading.

The international carbon trading system is broken. Europe’s carbon trading regime is meant to be the switching mechanism, but European carbon prices are so low the switch is inoperative.

Carbon credits are like options over shares. They have a strike price, and if the carbon price is above it, they are in the money, and capable of being cashed in by project financiers who have earned credits by investing in low-carbon projects. Europe’s carbon price is well below the strike price, however, undermining the economics of future projects, and stranding existing ones.

Regardless of what Australia does, a global trading system will not develop until Europe’s carbon price recovers. It will take an artificial contraction in the supply of credits to achieve that, and European Union meetings set for September 7 and September 17 will frame the odds on that happening any time soon.

The Maiden family owns Telstra shares.

[email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训.au

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Breaking the cycle

2011 Stulwalk Boston, photo by neonsighs (Flickr).He was the neighborhood grandfather figure. Semi-retired, he sat on his front verandah which overlooked a manicured garden, and called out to us as we rode by. One by one we all ended up going to his home after school as he pottered about, preparing for his wife’s return home from work each day.

He was someone to talk to who would occasionally give us treats or let us play with his old phones or dogs. He would make a great show of asking about our day while complaining about all the children who swarmed him.

If the garage door was open, we were allowed in. If the garage door was closed, we knew to stay away. If I was inside the house when the garage door was closed, it meant another thing. Mostly, that I was being sexually assaulted or, as the neighborhood grandfather called it, tickling.

I knew it was wrong. At the age of seven, I started walking a different way home from school so I could avoid him. Often he’d find me, or I’d get busted coming back from the milk bar. He would take me inside. My defence mechanism was to fake-sleep. I fake-slept my way through my childhood.

At school, policemen would come to tell our class stories about girls being abducted by strangers with puppies and said the bad men did “terrible things”. They wouldn’t explain what the terrible things were, just that they were “terrible”. My mind tried to imagine what those terrible things were, each more surreal than the last. But the neighborhood grandfather called it tickling and everyone else seemed to love tickling so maybe it wasn’t terrible. And he wasn’t a stranger. Everyone else seemed to like him. I didn’t know I could say no.

One sweltering summer, I eavesdropped on my parents talking about how someone they knew was raped when out on a date but couldn’t go to the police. The phrase “lie back and enjoy it” was used. Though I’m sure I missed whatever nuance was present, their conversation indicated to me there was no point in telling anyone.  It’s something that happens to unlucky people but protection just wasn’t always available. Sometimes, it’s just your lot in life, I thought. At the age of seven, I had assumed that I wasn’t worthy of protection.

Upon moving to a new school and with the neighborhood grandfather’s wife now retired, I was relatively safe after approximately four years of abuse. Sometimes he’d wait for me by his garage and pull me in, trying to reach up my school uniform. I’d stand impassively, listening to him tell me things as he moved about, unsure what was happening but sure of how I was expected to behave. Other times, he’d grab me by the ears and violently force his skull against mine, less a kiss than an act of possessive brutality.

It wasn’t “forcible rape” or “legitimate rape” as recently described in the news. I didn’t understand these nuances as a child, but I understood enough from what I heard said around me to think that no one would really care about what had happened to me. This wasn’t the sort of thing they had on the news or what I could hear from hiding under chairs at dinner parties. Maybe there was a nuance I missed, but I felt like a half victim; all of the sadness but none of the validation or protection.

When I eventually told my family, it didn’t go well. So when it happened again I didn’t tell them. Nor the next time. I tried to tell but the words just wouldn’t work. I stammered, I underplayed and I ended up saying nothing. When I did, I didn’t receive the support or soft validation I wanted, so I screamed at them intermittently for years, blinded with melodramatic pain.

In later years, I attended a rape trial which proved to be more traumatic than any of the abuse I ever suffered. I saw a bloated defence team mock and shame a mother because they couldn’t consciously do that in front of a jury to the juvenile victim. I saw the QC’s assistant visibly and acidly scoff every time the mother answered a question. I wept for the billable derision a mother faced, trying to defend her daughter.

But maybe there was a nuance I missed.

I have held off writing about this for as long as possible because I don’t want to upset my family. I can see that my own family has learned more than they should have to, blighted as they are with devastating experience. My parents are good people, with whom I have a strong relationship now, who simply didn’t know better. I can see they are trying. They’re nice, good, loving people. They were brought up in a different society to me, a society that will agitate and change even more as my own daughter grows.

Sexual attacks are an attack on families. They are an attack on society and our legally protected right to be free from assault. They attack a person’s ability to grow, bond and feel the protection that immediate families can provide.

Unfortunately, lack of knowledge about sexual assault can actually exacerbate the pain already felt by the victim. Though they may not mean to, others can make mistakes, can’t provide support or say things which can alienate the victim further. It may be because they don’t know better, it may be because it’s easier to blame someone else than accept the senseless and cruel violence that is sexual assault. Outmoded beliefs or myths about sexual assault perpetuate the cycle of shaming and abuse. We need to start breaking these cycles.

Protection is not granted because of the clothes we wear, how much we’ve had to drink, how we may have danced in a club, if we’re allowed outside to play or any other factor presented as defence. Protection is granted for every single member of society because society works best when we are treated the same without exception. A person told to ‘lie back and enjoy it’, ‘you shouldn’t drink so much’, ‘you shouldn’t have lead them on’ or that they are ‘strays’ or ‘dressed like peadophile/rape bait’ is being told they don’t have the same rights as the criminal who attacked them.

I refuse to let my daughter, nieces or nephews feel like their safety in the world is dependent on nuances. I dream better for them, better than a world where rape cases are called “sex scandals” or where victim’s alcohol levels and dance styles are recounted as implied mitigating factors. I don’t want that for them and I don’t want it for anyone’s children growing up in today’s society.

I’ll be attending Slutwalk 2012 in Melbourne this year. Again, I will attend with my daughter, and this time I’ll be speaking there about the importance of families making a stand, breaking the cycle and saying no more victim blaming.

Walk with me.

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Noise annoys during late night Woolies construction

CIMECO, the designer and builder of Margaret River’s Woolworths shopping complex, has apologised for breaching construction permit conditions and annoying residents with after-hours lights and noise on Friday, August 10.

Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council received four complaints after the second major concrete pour on site ran five hours over a 7pm curfew.

Council environmental health staff are investigating the complaints and whether Cimeco may have exceeded permissible noise levels.

Acting manager in environmental health, Paul Hudson, said the council had asked the Department of Environment and Conservation’s noise branch and local police to help with the investigation.

“It has not yet been confirmed if the assigned noise levels were exceeded (that) Friday evening as noise monitoring was not being undertaken on that particular night. In addition, no shire noise authorised officers or police directly observed the noise … in order to make a subjective assessment of the reasonableness of the noise being emitted,” Mr Hudson said.

“However, due to the number and consistence of the complaints, the shire believes there is reasonable likelihood that the acceptable noise levels were exceeded and the light overspill may have been of additional nuisance value to surrounding residents.”

He said council officers had contacted Cimeco about the complaints and scheduled a meeting with company executives and site supervisor Murray Morgan.

“After this meeting it will be decided if there is reasonable likelihood that the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 was breached and, if so, consider if enforcement action is appropriate,” Mr Hudson said.

“The management of noisy activities and compliance with the (noise regulations) for the rest of the build will also be discussed at the meeting.

“If the construction company wishes to do noisy construction work out of hours in the future they are required to submit a noise management plan to the satisfaction of the Shire chief executive officer.”

Cimeco has a permit allowing construction work 7am-7pm Monday-Saturday.

Mr Hudson said if it wanted to work outside those hours it needed to submit a noise management plan, at least seven days before work starts, which details why work has to be done out of hours, types of activity which could be noisy, noise level predictions, noise and vibration control measures and monitoring, and complaint response.

It also has to advise surrounding residents at least 24 hours before, he said.

Glenys Buchholz of Vintages Accommodation, just up Willmott Ave from the construction site, was one of the people who complained to council.

“They (Cimeco) showed a total disrespect for other people in the area. They had floodlighting and generators running until midnight,” Mrs Buchholz said.

“They didn’t warn anyone they were going to do that and they didn’t apply for a permit like they should have.

“We were full and we had people asking us when the noise was going to stop.”

Mrs Buchholz said she tried to phone Mr Morgan but was unable to get through initially.

“When he did answer, he just said ‘the job had to be done’,” she said.

Cimeco’s Bunbury branch manager Warren Sizer said he had already apologised to Mrs Buchholz and was “deeply apologetic” to anyone else affected by the noise or lights.

He said batching of concrete for the pour was “a little slower than we would have liked” and a cold evening temperature slowed the concrete setting.

“We have a permit that allows us to work 7-7 six days and that’s what we intend doing in future,” Mr Sizer said.

He said after some early problems with ground works at the site, construction was now expected to remain on track.

The shopping complex is due to be completed by Easter next year, he said.

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Assange should face the music

Julian Assange.Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is not well served by some of his supporters.

When he appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been holed up for the past two months to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning about allegations of sexual assault, he wisely said nothing about those claims – but some of his friends did.

George Galloway, the British member of parliament who founded the Respect Party, shares Mr Assange’s suspicion that the whole affair was a “set-up” to get him to Sweden, from which he would be extradited to the United States to face trial for “espionage” for placing a quarter-million US diplomatic cables on the internet.

That was what Mr Assange talked about on the balcony last Sunday – but Mr Galloway could not resist the opportunity to talk about sex.

Mr Galloway never misses a chance to put himself in the public eye, so he released a podcast on Monday saying that Mr Assange was only guilty of “bad sexual etiquette”. Thanks, George. The last thing Mr Assange needed was for public attention to be distracted from his claim that the US was plotting to seize and jail him, and diverted instead to the details of the alleged sexual assaults.

Some of those details are indeed peculiar. Each of the two Swedish women said she had consensual sex with Mr Assange, but was asleep or “half-asleep” when he initiated sex again.

The real issue in both cases was apparently his failure to use a condom on the second occasion, but neither woman claimed rape. Indeed, one of them threw a party in Mr Assange’s honour the following evening, and asked him to stay in her room again afterwards.

Worried about the condom issue, they subsequently asked him to take an STD test, and went to the police when he refused. The Swedish police issued an arrest warrant for him on August 20, 2010, but one of Stockholm’s chief prosecutors, Eva Finne, cancelled it the following day, saying: “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.”

Ten days passed before her decision was overturned by another chief prosecutor, who issued a European arrest warrant for Mr Assange (who was in London by then) demanding that he be sent to Sweden for questioning. The British police arrested him in February, 2011, and he spent the next 16 months on bail, fighting extradition. When his last appeal was denied in June, he jumped bail and took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy.

But why doesn’t he just answer the Swedish police’s questions? They haven’t even charged him with anything at this point. His answer is that he’d be happy to talk to them in London, but that if he goes to Sweden the United States will lay charges against him (it hasn’t done so yet) and demand his extradition. Even if he is never charged with rape or some lesser offence by Sweden, he would then face decades in an American jail.

So is there really an American plot to whisk Mr Assange away and lock him up for good?

The remarkable absence of a US indictment and a subsequent demand for extradition after all this time suggests Washington knows there would be no point. So there probably isn’t a US plot to grab Mr Assange.

There probably wasn’t a rape either, but that’s for the Swedish courts to decide. Mr Assange should just allow them to get on with it.

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.

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Surely Bulli Hospital could take some load

In a recent letter to the Mercury, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Board’s chairman, Clinical Professor Denis King, and its chief executive, Susan Browbank, attempted to ease the fears of northern suburbs residents by declaring that Bulli Hospital would not close.

The letter, written after a day of action and a sustained campaign from the Save Bulli ED support group, declared the health district was seeking funding for a redevelopment of the hospital to include an expanded aged-care service and a new palliative-care service.

It wasn’t the answer residents wanted.

Health authorities have said the number of patients visiting Bulli’s emergency department is too low to sustain full-time medical staffing and diagnostic capability.

That may be so, but surely at a time when Wollongong’s emergency department is bursting at the seams, an enhanced Bulli department could be made sustainable by taking some of the caseload off Wollongong’s already stressed staff.

We understand that Wollongong is and must remain the major trauma centre, but there are many cases that could easily be handled at Bulli without patients having to sit and wait for many hours.

To her credit, the health district’s director of southern operations, planning and performance, Michelle Noort, has agreed to include the Bulli lobby in deliberations that will help shape the future of the emergency department.

It will now be up to the lobby to convince the health district that it has a legitimate case for an expanded service.

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Richard Tognetti’s surfing score

ACO artistic director Richard Tognetti combined his love of music and surfing in creating the score for Storm Surfers 3D. Picture: EDWARD SLOANEThe sound of surf is music to Richard Tognetti’s ears.

Most would recognise Tognetti as the Wollongong-bred violinist, conductor, composer and Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) artistic director, but inside the artistic genius also lies a passionate surfer.

‘‘Surfing is incomparable to anything else on the planet,’’ Tognetti says.

The latest project in which Tognetti combines his passions for music and surfing is the Storm Surfers 3D movie, for which he and Michael Yezerski composed the music score.

It’s not the first time Tognetti, who is recognised as a National Living Treasure, has been involved in writing music linked to surfing.

The 2008 film Musica Surfica was Tognetti’s first exploration of the connection between the ocean, surfing and music, and it won awards in the United States, Brazil, South Africa and France.

Then there is The Glide, in which ocean photography and footage by Jon Frank is matched with the ACO’s live performance.

The ocean theme emerges again in The Reef, for which a group of surfers, musicians, and a camera crew travelled the rugged surf coast of Western Australia creating music and shooting footage for a multimedia concert.

But back to Storm Surfers 3D, which started screening across Australia earlier this month.

Two-time world surfing champion Tom Carroll and big wave pioneer Ross Clarke-Jones, with the help of a surf-forecasting guru who tracks giant oceanic storms, journey the seas to hunt down and ride the biggest and most dangerous waves in Australia.

Shipsterns Bluff, off Tasmania, and Turtle Dove Shoal, off Western Australia, are some of the locations that are featured in this spectacular documentary.

Tognetti says the soundtrack of electric violin, drawing on elements of rock music, was used to match the intensity of the surfing.

‘‘What we were trying to get out was the drama and the vast, overwhelming landscape of the open ocean swell,’’ Tognetti says.

‘‘Most surf films are close-ups of surfers doing tricks on well-known waves whereas with this you’re getting into the psychology of surfing.

‘‘It’s about the search [for waves] and then when everything falls into place – the elation. It’s the elation and the deflation, the search and the horror [Carroll survived two ‘‘hideous wipe-outs].’’

Tognetti, whose credits include the soundtrack to Master and Commander, developed his passion for surfing in Wollongong and he lists his favourite spots as Windang Island and Sandon Point.

‘‘The northern point breaks of Wollongong are the best,’’ he says.

Surfing, for Tognetti, is about the connection with the environment, as well as the challenge of taking on the conditions.

‘‘For me, it’s like an investigation, I’ve always had to pick up rocks and see what’s underneath.’’

Storm Surfers 3D screens at Greater Union Wollongong today and Greater Union Shellharbour tomorrow.

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