Archives - June, 2019



13 Jun 19

Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in The Empire Strikes BackThe Force Awakens. Photo: Lucasfilm
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The original stars: Billy Dee Williams and Harrison Ford as Lando Clarissian and Han Solo.

Director Chris Miller has announced the start of filming on Disney’s Han Solo movie with a joke.

The director, who is making the Star Wars spin-off with fellow 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie director Phil Lord, has posted a pic of the clapperboard with the caption “Han First Shot”. Han First Shot pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/KReR6rgKFT— Chris Miller (@chrizmillr) January 30, 2017

It’s a reference to the old Star Wars debate about whether Solo shot first in the original movie – director George Lucas upset some purists when he changed a scene in a special edition to show the captain of the Millennium Falcon shooting Greedo after being fired at.

The tweet suggests Miller and Lord are bringing their sense of humour to a movie, which the clapperboard suggests is called Red Cup. A witty take on a brand of plastic cup in the United States called Solo, it’s clearly a temporary title that allowed the movie to attract less attention during scripting, planning and pre-production. No doubt there’ll be splashy announcement of the real title down the track.

It has previously been known just as Untitled Star Wars Han Solo Anthology Film.

Shooting in England, the movie centres on Solo’s “early scoundrel days” before he emerged as the charismatic smuggler with a price on his head who joins forces with Luke and Leia to battle the Empire in Episode IV.

Miller’s comic cheekiness gives heart for fans that Solo will be the irascible, wise-cracking rogue that everyone loved in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Alden Ehrenreich will play the younger Solo with Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Woody Harrelson as Solo’s mentor and Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones in an undisclosed role.

Chewbacca, Solo’s loyal buddy and co-pilot, will also appear, with speculation that Finnish basketballer Joonas Suotamo will take over from 72-year-old Star Wars veteran Peter Mayhew for at least the most physically-demanding scenes inside the furry suit. Han. First Shot. @chrizmillr love it. @starwarspic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/O0uBP0O3Py— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) January 30, 2017


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13 Jun 19

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: why isn’t he setting a better example? Photo: Rick Rycroft/AP Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Illustration: Dionne Gain

How moving it was to watch Malcolm Turnbull presenting the n of the Year awards last week. What impressive people they were. Made me proud to be an Aussie.

I can’t help liking Turnbull. At a show like that he’s all we could hope for in a Prime Minister. He looked the part and spoke it well. He was completely at ease, someone we can be proud to have represent us to the world.

In his introduction he said all the right things. The “extraordinary finalists” for the various awards – Young n, Senior n, Local Hero and n of the Year – “light the way for us – shining examples of our best selves”.

“Generous and compassionate, selfless, never daunted by seemingly impossible odds, brilliant, curious, entrepreneurial, innovative, building bridges to reinforce the mutual respect which secures our harmony and diversity.

“They include First ns and those who have dedicated their lives to working with them” – such as the wonderful Sister Anne Gardiner, who’s spent her life serving the Tiwi people on Bathurst Island.

“They include migrants and refugees who have fled horrors barely imaginable …

“Yet, however much we celebrate the remarkable, peaceful and diverse nation that we have built together, we always strive to be better. Our ns of the Year have always shown us how …

“Respect for women, respect for each other, in all our magnificent diversity, is the foundation on which our harmonious society depends, is the platform which enables every n to realise their full potential.”

And yet I confess that in the days since that proud night I’ve suffered a bad hangover. It seems our One Day of the Year has moved from April 25 to January 26.

We celebrate these “shining examples of our best selves” for one night and day before we revert to being far from our best selves for the rest of the year. We hunt up a handful of people who remain “selfless” so we don’t feel so bad about the self-seeking lives the rest of us lead?

Far from retaining a strong sense of community, of helping each other and working for the greater good, we live in an era of every person for themselves, where the material almost always gets priority over the social, where our ambitions centre on personal advancement rather than making the world a better place.

If our politicians – of both stripes – are so keen for us to be “generous and compassionate” as well as “respectful” and part of a “harmonious society” why aren’t they setting a better example?

What’s generous and compassionate about sending social security recipients bills for “debts” owed to Centrelink that you haven’t checked properly, then making them prove they don’t owe that much with payslips and other documents from past years that you hadn’t warned them to retain?

What’s “respectful” about treating invalids, the aged, and young workers down on their luck in such a way? What’s n about denying point blank there’s any problem with what you’re doing?

Why when you’ve gone out of your way to honour the place of First ns do you, the very next day, curtly brush aside their request that the white majority run to the huge inconvenience and expense of changing the date of Day? Respect, eh?

Do we honour the work of the Sister Annes because they salve our consciences? Thank God they’re willing to put themselves out, because the rest of us ain’t.

Some of us – including many in Turnbull’s own electorate – are the children or grandchildren of “refugees who have fled horrors barely imaginable”.

Much worse, apparently, than the way we’ve been treating refugees on Nauru and Manus Island.

Turnbull is right to say we’ve built a highly successful multicultural society.

Lately it’s been fraying at the edges, however, with intolerance of people with unfamiliar religious practices – women’s head coverings; halal – fears that all Muslims are terrorists, fears we’re being overrun by Asians, and downward envy of government help for disadvantaged Indigenous people.

But it’s not just that our political leaders fail to set an example, it’s that too often they seek partisan advantage from our moral weaknesses. Rather than seeking to calm our fear of foreigners they compete to pander to them. Let’s protect ourselves from the resurgent One Nation by aping their rhetoric, even their policies.

As for respect being “the platform which enables every n to realise their full potential” it’s sentimental claptrap – especially coming from a government that seems to have set its face against funding the nation’s schools on the basis of student need rather than established privilege.

It’s schools and pre-schools that should be “the platform which enables every n to realise their full potential”.

The most worrying message we got from the latest bad news on NAPLAN and PISA testing of students is the wide gap between our best and worst students and the large minority of kids the system is failing.

As Peter Goss, of the Grattan Institute, has demonstrated, we can go most of the way to needs-based funding quickly and without extra spending, provided we’re prepared to shift funding from the less-needy to the more-needy.

But that would require Turnbull to exhibit the undaunted, entrepreneurial and bridge-building character traits he so admires in others.

Ross Gittins is the Herald’s economics editor.


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13 Jun 19

Kris Smith, the newest I’m a Celebrity arrival. Photo: Channel Ten The full cast of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here 2017, minus intruders Kris Smith and Tziporah Malkah Photo: Ten
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Ambassador-ing for Myer. Photo: Myer

Had Channel Ten formed Kris Smith out of clay, they couldn’t have found a more perfect contestant for I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!

He’s familiar to the readers of gossip mags, largely because he was married to Dannii Minogue. (By my estimate, Woman’s Day and New Idea have announced a combined 486 pregnancies between Dannii and Kylie. In fact, Kris and Dannii have one son, Ethan.)

He’s been in the crosshairs of the Daily Mail, after he missed a couple of gym sessions in 2015. (This resulted in paparazzi photos of him “showing off” his “fuller figure” while trying to sunbathe with his girlfriend.)

He played rugby league in England until injury forced his retirement, then became a model.

Now he’s a department store “ambassador” and his TV resume includes The Daily Edition, Celebrity Come Dine With Me, Football Superstar, a co-hosting stint on ‘s Next Top Model and a spot on Can of Worms.

Wait, Kris who?

If you’ve never heard of Smith, you’re among a legion of Tweeps who posting about “so-called celebrities” in the “wilds” of South Africa.

As I wrote last year, this is exactly what Ten wants. They bait us with a few “I can’t quite place them” faces, driving smart-arse Facebook posts, allowing them to flaunt their “social media metrics” to advertisers.

This can only be to Smith’s advantage.

Shock jock Steve Price is more famous/notorious. But this could leave him more vulnerable in the viewer voting stages.

Collingwood fans could help Dane Swan through to the final rounds – if Collingwood haters don’t knock him out first.

Having a lower profile in itself does not guarantee success on a reality show. If such a contestant swans in with airs and graces, Aussie viewers will swiftly evict them.

But Smith is a thoroughly decent chap; affable and lovely. Of his ex-wife, he says: “She is an incredible woman, always has been. I’ve always thought that from day one and I still think that now.”

Naturally, Channel Ten will think up creative and often ludicrous ways to make him take off his shirt. This will not harm his chances at all.

And just look at the list of previous winners from the UK version of the show. Apart from the year that Margaret Thatcher’s daughter won (seriously), all leap-frogged bigger names to claim victory.

Kris Smith?

He could be on our screens for a while yet.


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13 Jun 19

New local government minister Gabrielle Upton will have her work cut out for her managing the government’s council merger policy. With mounting legal bills and court dates imminent, councils are calling on the new premier to soon decide whether her government will proceed with pending amalgamations.
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At least six Sydney councils are due in court within the next month as they continue legal challenges to the mergers, with the bill footed by ratepayers surpassing $200,000 at most councils.

Woollahra Council, which has so far spent $850,000 on legal appeals, is expected to have a special leave application to the High Court heard in mid February.

But Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s promise to “listen to the community” has been viewed by some councils as a sliver of hope that the policy will be abandoned.

So too has the appointment of Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton to the local government ministry. Ms Upton once lent her voice to Woollahra Council’s anti-merger campaign.

On Tuesday, Ms Upton confirmed she, too, would consult with communities on the issue.

“It is early days but Premier Berejiklian has indicated that she wants to look closely at the issue. And on my part there is some learning and listening to do. Councils should be about local communities and serving their best interests. They deserve the best possible services and infrastructure.”

Within days of Ms Berejiklian’s swearing-in as the 45th premier of NSW, Woollahra mayor Toni Zeltzer​ wrote to the new premier requesting a meeting for a “fair and open hearing”.

Alluding to the declaration by Nationals leader John Barilaro that local government mergers in the bush would not be pursued, Cr Zeltzer called on the premier for equity of treatment.

“I wholeheartedly agree that any policy decision you make on the future of the proposed council amalgamations should be applied unilaterally,” Cr Zeltzer said in her letter last week.

The retirement of North Shore MP Jillian Skinner has raised the prospect of another by-election backlash akin to the coalition’ shock defeat in last year’s Orange by-election, where council mergers were regarded as a major factor.

The North Shore electorate incorporates parts of three council districts which are fighting the mergers – Mosman, North Sydney and Lane Cove.

Mosman mayor Peter Abelson​ said the government could expect the anti-merger voice to be heard “loud and clear” at the by-election, which may be held before the council’s Supreme Court appeal in April.

“There’s no doubt that if there were a by-election without this being sorted out there would be a very strong protest vote against the Liberals.”

North Sydney’s high-profile former independent mayor, Genia McAffrey, said she had been encouraged to run in the by-election by anti-merger campaigners, but would not contest the seat.

In Hunters Hill, where barristers for the council are preparing to return to court on February 22, mayor Richard Quinn called on government to end the uncertainty.

“It’s one of the fundamental issues Minister Upton is going to have to deal with. And I would hope she does deal with it first,” he said.

“The longer the government takes to resolve this, money is being spent by both the council and the government. It’s in all of our interests that it gets resolved asap.”

In October 2015, Ms Upton told an anti-merger rally in Double Bay she did not support the merging of Woollahra Council, but later reversed this stance in favour of the government’s position.


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13 Jun 19

Outdoor events on the Opera House forecourt such as last year’s Crowded House concert have angered nearby residents. Photo: Mark Metcalfe Opera House chief executive Louise Herron Photo: Rob Homer
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A marquee erected outside the Opera House for Day festivities. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Opera House management have been criticised for violating the vision of the building’s architect Jorn Utzon. Photo: Jessica Hromas

The City of Sydney has joined the growing chorus of disapproval about plans to create a new function centre at the Sydney Opera House and convert a ballet rehearsal room into a kitchen.

Graham Jahn​, the council’s head of planning, development and transport, said the Opera House’s building plans would have an “unacceptable heritage impact”.

“It is in direct contradiction with Jorn Utzon’svision for the Opera House,” he said in the council’s submission objecting to the proposal.

The plans are part of the Opera House’s renewal program and include removing a marquee and building a larger function space on the northern broadwalk of the Opera House that will require the partial removal of curved walls and the permanent loss of the original restaurant.

“This is a loss to the community and to the significance of the place,” Jahn said.

He also said the function centre was a “clear violation” of Utzon’s design principles, which caution against introducing additional functions into the building beyond its original purpose.

The Opera House also wants to convert the ballet rehearsal room located beneath the Joan Sutherland Theatre into a kitchen for the function centre.

A temporary rehearsal room would be provided 150 metres away.

Jahn warns this proposal would also have an “adverse heritage impact”.

“Worse, it prioritises the function centre use over … the performing arts,” he said.

The new rehearsal room would be “remote” from performers’ dressing room and other facilities, Jahn added.

He described the relocation of the ballet rehearsal room as “unacceptable” given the Opera House’s world heritage listing and incompatible with its status as a world class performing arts centre.

Jahn also said the Opera House had “understated” the heritage impacts of moving the rehearsal room.

The City of Sydney’s concerns add to mounting criticism of Opera House management.

A proposal for sleepovers was described as “crass commercial exploitation” that would affect the reputation of the Opera House.

The staging of outdoor events such as last week’s Day concert has drawn the anger of residents of the nearby Toaster building.

Jorn Utzon’s architect son Jan has also expressed concern about outdoor events and “intrusive structures” erected on the forecourt of the Opera House.

Jahn’s submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, which is assessing the Opera House’s building plans, argues that Utzon’s intention that people could move freely around the building has been eroded over the years.

He also warns of a risk the Opera House’s “significance will be diminished by an accumulation of adverse impacts” caused by its various building plans under the renewal program, which received $202 million from the NSW government.

The Heritage Council of NSW’s Katrina Stankowski​ also criticised the relocation of the ballet rehearsal room, and noted the Opera House’s heritage consultant had not endorsed some of the proposed building works.

She said the removal of two walls that are significant structural elements of the Opera House’s podium would have an “unacceptable impact”.

The harshest criticism of the proposal came from a Kirribilli resident who said they could not use their lounge room or bedroom because of the noise of functions and events at the Opera House.

“This is already an extremely uncomfortable situation for me, and the Opera House’s request to assault my senses from a greater number of venues and with what will probably be greater frequency seems to me to be highly unfair,” the resident, whose name was redacted, said.

The resident also expressed concern about the building plans affecting Utzon’s architecture.

“To have that magnificent building’s lines ruined by vulgar commerciality would surely have Utzon turning in his grave,” the resident said. “While this is not the primary basis of my objection, I do believe that the City would be a lot better served by not further bastardizing such an iconic symbol.”

The Opera House will be given an opportunity to respond to submissions, with final approval of the project in the hands of the Planning Minister.

Opera House spokeswoman Jessica Gooch said there had been limited objections to the building plans given the number of people affected.

She said the Opera House’s eminent architects panel and conservation council supported the new function centre.

“The Opera House considers that it has addressed several of the City’s key concerns,” she said.


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