Monthly Archives: December 2018

Zullo rejects Asian offers to remain with Sydney FC

A better pay-day in Asia wasn’t enough to lure Michael Zullo away from Sydney FC after the defender rejected offers from abroad to sign a new contract with the Sky Blues.
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The lean back four of Sydney FC is one step closer to remaining together for next season after the Sky Blues retained the services of left back Zullo for an additional two seasons. The former Australian international was coming off contract at the end of the season but sealed his future with the club after signing a contract extension on Thursday afternoon that will keep him at Moore Park until May, 2020.

The 29-year-old has enjoyed a return to form and fitness since joining Sydney FC in 2016 and began attracting a flurry of offers from rival clubs and foreign teams to sign for next season on the back of his performances and success with the Sky Blues. Some clubs from South East Asia guaranteed him a higher salary than what he is on at Sydney FC while bigger teams in East Asia dangled the carrot of playing in higher-quality leagues. However, Zullo says he wasn’t prepared ot sacrifice his satisfaction, fitness and performances by moving from Sydney.

“I didn’t really want to get into looking at stuff in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, it’s not for me at this stage of my career. There were some interested opportunities in Japan and Korea but you have to take everything into account and Sydney was what was right for me,” Zullo said.

With player welfare in many Asian league’s not at the standard of Sydney FC who have the best injury record in the A-League, Zullo was hesitant to put himself at risk of poor physical management like that he experienced while in the Netherlands.

“I don’t begrudge someone who makes that decision because everyone is in a different situation and circumstance. My fitness is paramount, playing in a successful team and enjoying my football – they’re the three most important things for me,” he said. “It would have taken something really, really exceptional to draw me away from Sydney at this stage of my career. I still think we still have a lot more to achieve here. We have the A-League still to finish and the Champions League. If we are successful with our goals then we will be the most successful team in A-League history.”

While Sydney FC are Zullo’s fourth club in the A-League, it’s one where he’s felt a strong sense of obligation to remain at the Sky Blues. Rivals Western Sydney Wanderers were among those interested in signing Zullo as a free agent however he says he wasn’t interested in moving across town.

“Modern-day football, I think circumstances come up where you have to move around, that’s what happens. But when you come to a stage where you’re happy, you’re performing well, they’re treating you well and they’ve put faith in you, I think a time comes where you have to repay that faith,” Zullo said. “It’s not going to be life changing to move clubs in the A-League. If a club wants to keep you, you’ve been successful and they’ve done right by you, then you shouldn’t do the wrong thing by them.”

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold had no hesitations offering Zullo a renewed offer, making him the first player to renew their deal this season.

“Michael is one of the integral cogs in our defensive unit and it’s pleasing to have him on board for another two seasons,” Arnold said.”He’s a fantastic player to work with and his presence within the playing group only brings out positives.”

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Blue Suede Express makes its debut at this year’s Parkes Elvis Festival

Excited Elvis impersonators sang as one at Central Station on Thursday morning, singing at the top of their lungs as they danced their way through the station for what is being described as the “Southern hemisphere’s biggest and best tribute to the King”.
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And making its debut on Thursday morning was this year’s new train service, the Blue Suede Express, accompanied by the eye-catching Elvis Express train as it made its merry way to the annual Parkes Elvis Festival.

The two trains departed at about 9.30am on the seven-hour, 365km trip.

Brody Finlay checks his appearance in the window reflection before boarding the train to Parkes for the Elvis Festival. Photo: Kate Geraghty

“I’ve been an Elvis fan for many years now and it grows on you when you attend Parkes Elvis Festivals,” said Parkes Mayor Ken Keith, dressed in a re-creation of Presley’s blue pinwheel suit.

Since its inception 26 years ago, the five-day event attracts more than 25,000 die-hard Elvis Presley fanatics, promising a “whole lot of non-stop entertainment” as they celebrate this year’s festival theme: Elvis’ famous ’68 Comeback Special.

This 50-year musical milestone marked Presley’s television appearance in a rare “unplugged styled-performance that re-launched his comeback into music”.

READ MORE:Elvis (Express) hasleft the building

According to one of the festival’s youngest impersonators, Botany resident Brody Finlay, this will be his “first Elvis train experience” ever.

“When I was three years old I got handed the movie King Creole and I never turned back from there,” said the now 21-year-old.

For Edmund Koh, travelling all the way from Singapore was worth it.

“For me, Elvis is always alive,” he said.

Tourism Minister Adam Marshall said more than 25,000 revellers are expected to pack the rural town, but there is also the money, honey, with a forecast $14 million pumped into the local economy.

“It’s the largest celebration of the King globally and it’s right here in NSW,” he said.

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Tamper-resistant oxycodone fails to curb opioid epidemic

Tamper-resistant oxycodone tablets have not made a dent in Australia’s dangerous dependence on prescription opioids, a major study shows.
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The findings are a stark reminder that injecting users are not the main game when it comes to combating Australia’s burgeoning opioid misuse. Pain and drug experts say inappropriate prescribing is at the heart of Australia’s addiction to the painkillers.

The tamper-resistant formulations were introduced in Australia in April 2014 in response to growing concerns people were crushing and dissolving the tablets to snort or inject the potent opioid.

The tablets contain a polymer, making them hard and plastic-like, as well as a hydrogelling agent. The tablets can’t be crushed into a fine powder, and rather than dissolving in water, they form a thick gel.

Tamper-resistant oxycodone has had no effect on the rates of opioid use, admissions to hospital and overdoses at a population level, found the five-year National Opioid Medication Abuse Deterrent (NOMAD) study published on Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The NOMAD study found people who injected drugs were less likely to tamper with the deterrent tablets and did not appear to switch to other opioids, such as heroin.

But the tamper-resistant tablets did not slow the unrelenting rise in opioid misuse in Australia, and there was no change in the rates of opioid-related harm including hospital admissions, emergency department presentations or ambulance call-outs for overdoses. Data on fatal overdoses was not available.

There had been no drop in the sales of higher-strength controlled-release oxycodone and an increase in lower-strength formulations at a population level since the new formulations were introduced, reported the authors, led by researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

The most thorough evaluation on the issue to date analysed Australian opioid sales and health datasets, annual surveys of people who inject drugs, and a cohort of more than 600 people who reported tampering with opioids in NSW, South Australia and Tasmania before and after the introduction of the tamper-resistant tablets.

Briony Larance is the lead author of an international study. Photo: Nick Moir

The findings were unsurprising to opioid misuse experts, considering most opioid users take them orally and don’t have a history of drug use.

While the tamper-resistant oxycodone did have significant impact among the group of people who inject drugs, who are exposed to significant opioid-related harm, this group accounted for a “tiny minority” of Australia’s opioid-using population, lead author and NDARC researcher Briony Larance said.

An estimated 93,000 people injected drugs in Australia in 2014, compared with 2.9 million who were prescribed an opioid.

About 20,000 doses are prescribed for every 1 million people in Australia every year, the latest data shows.

Australia ranks eighth among the world’s top 30 users of prescription opiates and pharmaceutical opioids were responsible for more than 70 per cent of opioid overdose deaths in Australia.

A multifaceted, population-wide strategy was needed to combat inappropriate and over-prescribing of opioids, Dr Larance said.

People who misused opioids needed access holistic chronic pain management, evidence-based long-term opioid treatment, and harm-reduction strategies, she said. Crackdown on codeine and opioid misuse

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said there was clear evidence of significant misuse of codeine in Australia, with almost half a million people incorrectly using painkillers containing codeine.

“It is a very real and increasing problem,” Professor Murphy said.

The federal government has taken steps to curb Australia’s opioid dependence rates, including up-scheduling low-dose codeine products.

From February 1, medicines containing even low doses of codeine will no longer be available without a prescription, bringing Australia in step with 26 other countries.

“This decision is about saving lives,” Professor Murphy said.

The move has prompted some members of the public to stockpile the drugs, but Professor Murphy said the best medical advice and research showed codeine was no better for pain than any other over-the-counter medicine.

“There are numerous studies that show that codeine is not the miracle pain relief drug that people think it is and there is compelling evidence of harm caused by overuse and abuse of over-the-counter codeine-containing medicines.

“Stockpiling over-the-counter codeine is simply a waste of time,” he said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced an additional $16 million towards the roll-out of a national real time prescription monitoring system to directly address preventable deaths from misuse of these drugs.

A spokesperson from the department of health said the states and territories were working towards having a real-time prescription monitoring solution by the end of 2018.

Pain specialist at St Vincent’s Clinic Milton Cohen said inappropriate prescribing was the primary driver of opioid misuse.

“Chronic non-cancer pain is a complex situation and doctors have got to look at psychological and social issues. If all they are doing is prescribing medication then we are going to run into trouble,” Professor Milton said.

Chairman of Scriptwise and the AMA Council of General Practice Richard Kidd said improving education among the public and clinicians needed to be at the centre of any strategy.

Patients seeking a prescription for low-dose codeine present “an opportunity for GPs to offer much better alternatives to help manage their pain”, Dr Kidd said.

“There are a significant number of people who end up with dependency issues because they haven’t understood that codeine withdrawal creates some pain and headaches and other side effects.

“People then take more codeine, not realising they are not treating primary pain problems but secondary withdrawal problems.”

The up-scheduling of codeine has been vigorously supported by the Australian Medical Association, the RACGP and Rural Doctors, the Consumer Health Forum, Pain Australia, the National Prescribing Service Medicinewise, and hospital pharmacists.

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Violet Crumble back in Australian hands after Nestle deal

A fourth-generation family owned confectionery business is bringing the iconic Violet Crumble chocolate bar back into Australian hands after striking a deal with Swiss food giant Nestl??.
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Adelaide-based Robern Menz will buy the Violet Crumble brand and its associated intellectual property, plant and equipment for an undisclosed sum.

It already produces more than 100 products including Menz FruChocs, Crown Mints and JeliChocs at its Adelaide factory, which will begin manufacturing Violet Crumbles in the coming months.

Robern Menz is as old as the chocolate bar itself. The Robern business traces its origins back to 1908, when Walter Sims opened his first grocery store in Unley, an inner-southern suburb of Adelaide.

English migrant Abel Hoadley is credited with inventing the Violet Crumble a few years later at his confectionery works in Melbourne. His Hoadley’s Chocolates business was bought in 1972 by the UK’s Rowntree Company, which was in turn acquired by Nestl?? in 1989.

In an interesting twist, in 1985, Robern bought a honeycomb plant from Hoadley’s and set up a manufacturing plant in Stepney, South Australia. In 1992, Robern bought Menz Confectionery from Arnott’s biscuits and renamed the company Robern Menz.

Robern Menz chief executive Phil Sims, a great-grandson of Walter, on Thursday said the company was excited to buy “what is undoubtedly one of Australia’s great brands”.

“As the new gatekeeper of Violet Crumble, we are aware of the responsibility that comes along with owning a brand so highly regarded in the Australian market place,” he said.

“We are fiercely passionate about Australian brands and with a significant honeycomb business of our own, the opportunity was too good to pass on. With our expertise, we can ensure that Violet Crumble is produced with no change to the recipe, and with the same passion and affinity Australians have had towards the brand since 1913.”

Robern Menz, which will invest $4 million in 2018 on a factory refit and extension and new warehousing facilities, expects the deal to create up to 30 jobs.

Nestl?? general manager, confectionery, Martin Brown said the company was delighted that the history and tradition of Violet Crumble would continue under local ownership.

“I want to recognise the passion of generations of confectioners who have made Violet Crumble in our Nestl?? Campbellfield factory. We remain committed to manufacturing our other loved brands, such as KitKat, Milkybar, Allens and Soothers here in Australia,” he said.

Mr Sims said Robern Menz had had a relationship with Nestl?? over the years “on confidential projects”, so at the start of last year when Nestle asked if it was interested in acquiring the Violet Crumble brand, it jumped at the chance.

???”I think it’s great for Australia that we’ve been able to hold onto an iconic Australian brand. It enables us to go to a new level from a national perspective, having a brand like Violet Crumble that’s really up there with Vegemite and other iconic Australian foods. It’s an exciting future,” he told Fairfax.

Robern Menz plans to look at ways to further develop the product for both Australian and overseas markets, including bringing back “nostalgic” formats that were no longer available.

“Clearly there’s a demand to bring back some old favourites,” Mr Sims said.???

“We already have a very significant honeycomb business ourselves. Violet Crumble is a similar food form. The recipe is very different, but we have very strong skills in this area. [Violet Crumble] is a very good fit for us … We will continue to work on the expansion of both of them.”

The purchase price has not been disclosed but the company was aided by a $750,000 state government Future Jobs Fund grant and a $900,000 loan from the Investment Attraction Agency.

Violet Crumble is the second well-known food brand to return to Australian ownership after dairy company Bega clinched a $469 million deal last year to buy Vegemite from US food giant Mondelez.

with AAP

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Diamonds captain Bassett says teammates will be heartbroken

Australian Netball Diamonds players with the new federal sports minister Bridget McKenzie and Australia sports commission CEO Kate Palmer. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos Australian Netball Diamonds. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos
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Australian Netball Diamonds. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

Australian captain Caitlin Bassett admits some of her Diamonds teammates will be left “heartbroken” when their Commonwealth Games squad is announced early next month.

The Australian side are simulating their Games schedule across a four-day camp at the AIS which began on Thursday, as they look to defend gold on the Gold Coast in April.

The Diamonds are preparing for a quad series against New Zealand, England and South Africa from January 20-28 and will fly to London at the conclusion of the camp on Sunday.

Bassett is expecting a gruelling three days of internal matchplay as players battle for a spot on the plane and a potential Commonwealth Games berth, with the Gold Coast squad to be announced shortly after the tour.

“It’s going to be tough and I’m glad I’m not a selector because there will be girls who are heartbroken,” Bassett said.

“I’ve been there myself, sitting in a room when my name wasn’t read out but it was fuel to make me work even harder the next year.

“We want to have the best of the best fighting each other for position and there is no doubt the matchplay over the next three days is going to be hotly contested.

“It’s really tough and sometimes you can be really hard on yourself, with the training camps and playing against each other all the time we know each other’s games inside out.

“We’re friends off the court but enemies on the court… Sharni Layton and I have played against each other for 10 years and you can get frustrated at times but that’s the best way to have it because you’re only going to get better by being challenged.”

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said her squad is anything but set as competition for spots heats up.

“We can’t wait for next couple of weeks in England and South Africa but we’ve just got this little camp to get through first which is going to provide a great challenge for this group as we head into that competition phase and our final selection,” Alexander said.

“It’s a massive decision to make for myself and the selectors, we certainly don’t take this selection lightly, it’s going to be very, very tough on all of these athletes.

“At the end of the day the 12 very best will represent our country but there are going to be at least nine that miss out.

“That’s the reality of our sport but the strength of our sport because we’ve got a million participants who play in this country and we reflect that community.”

Alexander confirmed former captain Laura Geitz is in contention for a Commonwealth Games spot after she was invited to join the Diamonds as a training partner in Canberra.

It marks her return to training with the national team after giving birth to her first child Barney last February and is the 30-year-old’s first involvement with the Australian squad since May 2016.

“At this stage Laura just wants to see how she goes, it’s been a while since Laura has been in this environment and we want to support her,” Alexander said.

“In own words are she said ‘I want to help the team be prepared to go away on this series’ and that just encapsulates her team-first attitude.

“If it works out that things present themselves and she performs very well then we’ll talk about that later.”

Bassett echoed her coach and said it was fantastic to her have Geitz back in the fold.

“We really missed her and she’s got Barney here with her as well which makes our team more like a family,” Bassett said.

“To have her experience and leadership back in the team is invaluable and to have her back out on court is great – I’m looking forward to doing battle with her.”

Australian Diamonds: Caitlin Bassett, April Brandley, Courtney Bruce, Paige Hadley, Emily Mannix, Kate Moloney, Susan Pettitt, Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson, Caitlin Thwaites, Gretel Tippett, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Stephanie Wood.

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