Triathlete’s inspiring comeback from crash

Triathlete’s inspiring comeback from crash DETERMINED: Newcastle’s Lauren Parker will compete in her first triathlon since a freak accident left her paralysed from the waist down in April last year. Picture: Simone De Peak
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SUPPORT: Lauren Parker has been training with Paralympic legend Kurt Fearnley. Picture: Simone De Peak

Lauren Parker prepares for a training session at Newcastle Athletics Track on Thursday. Picture: Simone De Peak

TweetFacebookI have trained my whole life and I kind of know nothing else. It’s just a part of me, so it was quite easy getting back into training. It’s actually taken my mind off things and it’s where I’m the most happy.

Lauren Parker

“I didn’t even think that I would be back doing triathlon let alone doing it this quick but there has been a lot of support from the triathlon community, saying they’d love to have me back training and giving me the motivation to get back into it,” she said.

“I’m back to being a newbie again so I don’t know what to expect …but itwill be a good experience and I’ll just go as hard as I can and see what the result is.

“If I qualify then that would be absolutely amazing. If I don’t then it doesn’t matter.”

Training with Fearnley under wheelchair coach Andrew Dawes has been a boost for the determined Parker.

”It’s been so good, he’s such a machine,” she said.

“He does about four laps to my one but he’s really encouraging and really good to train with. He pushes me.”

Her weekly training schedule in the build-up to this race hasbeen four swim sessions, three hand cycle sessions and three racing chair sessions.

Each discipline has come with its own challenges.

“The hand cycle and racing chair are not really long sessions, but in a one-hour sessions it’s pretty hard work,” Parkersaid.

“The racing chair is the most technical but the hand cycle is just really hard on your arms.

“Your arms are in pain the whole time.”

“I haven’t hand cycled after swimming 750mand then theracing chair after the handcycle.”

Read more:

Newcastle triathlete in fight of her life

Six months on Parker set for swim event

The Tonk: Tendulkar junior to grace SCG’s hallowed turf

Sachin Tendulkar has contributed richly to the history of the SCG. It was at the famous venue that, as an 18-year-old, he announced himself to the country with his maiden Test ton on Australian soil. Twelve years later he rained on Steve Waugh’s farewell Test with an unbeaten 241 after shelving his cover drive, and he made 154 not out in the infamous Bollyline Test of 2008.
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On Sunday, nearly six years after his last match at the famous ground, it will be his son’s turn to grace the hallowed turf. Arjun Tendulkar, 18, is lining up for the Cricket Club of India in a Twenty20 match as part of the Spirit of Cricket Global Challenge, a tournament run by SCG Cricket.

There is even talk his father may be making a whirlwind trip from India just to see his son play at the ground, where his name is etched on the honour boards. Tendulkar, you’ll remember, is also the first overseas player to be given an honorary life membership of the SCG.

Unlike his father, Tendulkar junior is a left-arm quick, though he impressed this week with the bat, whacking a quick-fire 40-odd not out at Coogee Oval. Arjun has not hit the professional ranks but last year was picked in an under-19 side by Mumbai for an invitational one-day competition.

The son of a gun was playing at Bradman Oval in Bowral on Thursday and, our operatives tell us, will be in the crowd on Saturday night for the Big Bash League’s Sydney Derby.

The Tendulkar family is fiercely protective of Arjun’s privacy with all interview and photo requests having to go through his father. Pay war protagonists to meet

It was the greatest civil war the game had seen since World Series Cricket and wounds have not fully healed five months after a peace deal was struck in the bitter pay dispute.

An uneasiness remains about how Cricket Australia conducted itself during the standoff, and not just from the players’ side of the fence. There are figures in state land who were also unsatisfied with the approach taken by head office, having seen 230 cricketers around the country left unemployed for more than a month last winter.

However, now that the dust has properly settled, and the Ashes have been run and won, executives and directors on both sides appear to be at least attempting to improve relations.

Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Alistair Nicholson says his organisation’s president, former Australian wicketkeeper Greg Dyer, is expected to meet “a couple of CA board members” this month to discuss ways to avoid such a crisis ever occurring again.

“Now the Ashes is done, that conversation will now happen,” Nicholson told The Tonk.

“I think that the boards have to have some crossover, to at least try to understand some of the good and bad things that came out of it. There hasn’t been a lot of interaction on that with CA up until now.”

This week marks 100 days since the actual five-year memorandum of understanding was signed – there were weeks of to-and-fro following the heads of agreement deal that effectively ended the pay war – and the governing body and the players’ union have restored top-level contact beneath the board level.

“I can’t speak for him, but [CA chief] James [Sutherland] and I have a pretty good professional relationship,” Nicholson said. “And I’m dealing with [CA team performance boss] Pat Howard regularly on things. A couple of board members meeting in January from both sides of the board … I think that’s important.”

The ACA will later this month mark its 20th anniversary. Ashes pitches given thumbs up

There’s been much criticism of the pitches used for this summer’s Tests with many from both the Australian and England camps unhappy. But it seems the International Cricket Council does not share that view, with some of the ratings for this summer’s wickets likely to raise a few eyebrows.

While Australian captain Steve Smith described the Gabba deck as “reasonably disappointing”, the uncharacteristically slow pitch was given the highest possible rating of “very good” by match referee Richie Richardson. Not surprisingly, the Adelaide Oval was also given full points while Perth was judged to be “good”.

The MCG, as we all know, was slammed as “poor” while the SCG is set to be a tick with a grading of “good” or “very good” likely.

The ICC findings are at odds with the widespread view in the Australian game that the country’s pitches have become homogenised. Another son of a gun

Our loyal readers will be aware Usman Qadir, the son of Pakistan leg-spin great Abdul Qadir, has been turning heads in Sydney’s first-grade competition. Well, it seems word has spread well beyond the suburbs.

The 24-year-old leggie this week had a bowl in the nets with the Perth Scorchers. One spy tells us he gave Test opener Cameron Bancroft a bit of trouble. We also hear Perth and Western Australia coach and former Test great Justin Langer is very impressed. Again, watch this space.

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Man, 24, dies after snake bite in backyard

Tragic passing: The 24-year-old was rushed to Tamworth hospital on Wednesday night but died a short time later.A TAMWORTH man has died in hospital after being bitten by a what is believed to be a brown snake.
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The 24-year-old passed away in Tamworth hospital late on Wednesday night, despite the frantic efforts of emergency staff to save him.

It is understoodthe man was bitten by the snake in the backyard of a Cole Rd home in West Tamworth, shortly before 10pmas he tried to move the snake away from a family pet.

He was rushed to Tamworth hospital by family, but passed away within an hour of the bite.

The shock passingwill now be referred to the coroner, who will rule on the official cause of death.

On Thursday, Tamworth police were unable to comment on the matter but said a report was being prepared for the coroner.

A spokesperson for Hunter New England Health declined to comment on any admission and said it was a police matter.

The death of the man has shocked the local community, as well as friends and colleagues, and cameas the New England North West swelteredthrough another day of temperatures above 35 degrees.

WIRES volunteer Jacob McGoldrick, one of the group’s reptile handlers, said he was very saddened to hear of the young man’s death in Tamworth.

Deadly: The Easter brown snake. File photo

The local branch had had about 20 call-outs to snake sightings this warm season.

WIRES volunteer Jacob McGoldrickThe Leader.

Mr McGoldrick said Eastern brown snakes were the most frequently sighted, but red-bellied black snakes and yellow-faced whip snakes were also pretty common.

He said if someone came across a snake, they should stand still until it moves away, call WIRES on 1300 094 737 and, if possible, keep an eye on it.

WIRES volunteer Jacob McGoldrick

“Snakes aren’t out to get us, and the best thing people can do is educate themselves about snakes,”he said.

“They aren’t an aggressive animal, they’re just defensive.”

Mr McGoldrick said that, in the event of a bite, it was important to stay calm, use a compression bandage, stay still and call Triple-0.

It’s believed there havebeen fewer than 40 deaths from snake bitesin Australia since 2000, with the brown snake considered to be one of the deadliest in the country.

Northern Daily Leader

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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Foreign buyers dropping out of property race, data shows

Soaring demand from foreign buyers of local property has dropped significantly in recent months as both Australian and Chinese policy-makers bear down on investor appetite.
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Foreign buyers will account for 18.1 per cent of residential sales in NSW in the three months to March 2018, down from 23.6 per cent in the same period a year ago, the latest ANZ and Property Council quarterly research found.

In Melbourne, foreign buyers are expected to cover 21 per cent of residential property purchases in the first quarter of 2018, compared with 25.2 per cent a year ago, according to the report. Queensland, meanwhile, saw a sharp fall to 13.8 per cent from 20.4 per cent in the same period last year.

Chinese buyers accounted for as much 87 per cent of foreign property investment in NSW between January and June 2017, according to Credit Suisse research, dwarfing activity from buyers originating from any other country.

“The share of property being sold to foreign buyers does look like it has dropped off, especially in the last couple of months,” ANZ senior economist Daniel Gradwell said.

“You can probably attribute that to the stamp duty surcharges across places like NSW and Victoria and additional tightening to regulation and the availability of funding.”

Recent policy changes in NSW now see foreign investors charged 8 per cent of the purchase price in stamp duty, double the previous level, among other changes, while Victoria has introduced a vacancy tax on empty properties.

Chinese policy-makers have also continued to tighten the rules on offshore investing, further dampening demand.

“It’s taken a while for the tighter capital controls in China to flow through but I think we’re starting to see the impact of that now and, combined with the domestic policies, it is starting to squeeze some of that demand out of the market,” Mr Gradwell said.

But experts say the drop in foreign purchases is coming off such a high base that there’s no immediate danger of a substantial shift in market dynamics.

“[Foreign buyers] are still sitting at around 20 per cent of new homes, so still a pretty significant player in the market,” Mr Gradwell added.

“It’s not like they’re falling off a cliff – there’s definitely still demand out there from foreign buyers and, equally, still demand to lend to them from within Australia.”

Weakening demand from Chinese investors is indeed slipping from all-time highs, according to international Chinese property platform Juwai, but the decline is to be expected.

“It seems that many observers think it’s either historic highs or historic lows, but in fact we believe it’s going to be somewhere in between,” senior spokesman Dave Platter told Domain.

“We’ve seen strong inquiries throughout the year ??? lower than 2016, but that’s to be expected because that was the highest year ever recorded – particularly the second half of the year.”

Other states also saw falling foreign demand in the residential space, but less severe in most cases than NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

Foreign buyers accounted for 11.6 per cent of new homes in South Australia, down from 15.6 per cent in the March quarter of 2017, while Western Australia posted 9.1 per cent of purchases as being from foreign buyers, down from 11.4 per cent in the same period last year.

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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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Fifth seed top ranked player in Canberra Challenger semis

The Canberra Challenger Nicolas Jarry Vs Maxime Janvier 2018 8th of January. Maxime Janvier in action. Photo: Dion GeorgopoulosCanberra Challenger fifth seed V??ctor Estrella Burgos is the unlikely highest ranked player heading into the semi-finals after a day of upsets at the Lyneham Tennis Centre on Thursday.
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The 37-year-old from the Dominican Republic progressed after taking down former world No. 18 Florian Mayer in the a battle of the veterans on centre court.

Burgos edged out the 34-year-old in a first set tiebreak before the Mayer blitzed the second set without dropping a game but the German dropped the deciding set 6-3 to crash out of the tournament.

The task doesn’t get any easier for Burgos who now faces seventh seed and former world No. 23 Andreas Seppi in the final four on Friday.

Seppi dispatched third seed Guillermo Garc??a-L??pez in straight sets 6-3 6-4 as the Spaniard struggled to deal with the clinical power of the Italian giant-slayer.

Seppi is once again taking red-hot form into the Australian Open where he has claimed the scalps of Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios in the past three years.

In the other quarterfinal matches it was sixth seed Marton Fucsovics who ended the dream run of French young gun Hugo Grenier with a comfortable 6-4 6-4 win.

The Hungarian will battle Frenchman Maxime Janvier for a spot in the final after his impressive campaign continued with a win over countryman Elliot Benchetrit 6-4 6-2.

In the doubles number one seed Hans Podlipnik-Castillo and Andrei Vasilevski progressed to the final after ousting Geoffrey Blancaneaux and Benchetrit 7-6 6-3.

They’ll face either Zhe Li and Yosuke Watanuki or Jonathan Erlich and Divij Sharan for a place in the decider.

CANBERRA CHALLENGER

Friday: Play begins 11am at Lyneham National Tennis Centre. Free entry.

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Hayes plan has Nomothaj peaking for Magic Millions

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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David Hayes knows history is against him but he also knows what he has got in Snitzel filly Nomothaj heading into Saturday’s Magic Millions Classic at the Gold Coast.

The winner of the Maribyrnong Trial Stakes at her only start in October, Nomothaj arrives at the Magic Millions having beaten favourite Sunlight, and is on the fresh side by design.

“No horse has won it first-up but not many have tried,” Hayes said. “Once we won that race at Flemington, it was the plan to be here for her next start.

“We have designed her program to make sure she can go on into the autumn because she is a high-quality filly that is only going to get better and might step out in trip a bit.

“She tried to throw it away at Flemington by stargazing when she hit the front and we knew she would be better with blinkers, so we had those up our sleeve for the Magic Millions.”

Hayes kept Nomothaj in work at Euroa before completing her Magic Millions preparation at his Randwick stable.

“We took her to Sydney and gave her her first trial without the blinkers just to get her ready for a race simulation in her second trial,” Hayes said.

“When we put the blinkers on her the other day, she just raced away from them. It was as good as having a run and exactly what we thought would happen.”

While Sunlight is the $4 favourite at Ladbrokes, Nomothaj is a $10 chance, even though she had 1-1/4 lengths to spare on her at Flemington.

“I can’t believe the price. I think we should be much closer in the betting to Sunlight. She deserved to be favourite on what she has done since but I think they are forgetting we beat her,” Hayes said.

Meanwhile, Ballarat trainer Matt Cumani is waiting for Anthemoessa to arrive on the Gold Coast for Saturday’s Magic Millions Classic after being bumped off planes from Melbourne for the past couple of days.

“We have been told she will get here on Thursday night with a couple of other horses. It is not ideal,” Cumani said.

Anthemoessa has to be within 200km of the Gold Coast track by noon on Friday or she will be scratched by stewards.

The Magic Millions Classic field were inspected by Racing Queensland vets on Thursday, with Quackerjack and first emergency Paquirri facing a second inspection to prove their fitness on Friday.

Magic Millions Guineas favourite Pierata also will be inspected on Friday after being judged to be short in his action by vets on Thursday. The Greg Hickman-trained three-year-old is a $2.60 favourite and is racing for $500,000 on top of the $1.2 million first prize on Saturday.

“He is ready to go but vets didn’t like something,” Hickman said. “I was a bit nervous because you don’t race for that sort of money every day and this has just made it worse.”

Meanwhile, American Jon Kelly paid a sale-topping $2 million for an I Am Invincible colt out of the Morphettville Guineas winner Tai Tai Tess on Friday, which he described as the standout of the sales.

“It was an easy choice but I didn’t want to pay that much – we were on budget at one point,” Kelly said. “It’s delightful to see a horse with everything, he has a real presence.”

The ultimate racing form guide with free tips, live odds and alerts for all racing.

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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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