Police find dead body in back seat of car at Lambton BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy
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BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

TweetFacebook Police at the scenePictures: Simon McCarthyPOLICE who pulled over a car in Lambton found a body lying in the back seat.

The car was pulled over about 3.15am on Griffiths Road and was driven by a 52-year-old man.

On closer inspection, police found another man’s body in the back seat of the Toyota Camry.

The driver was arrestedat the scene and taken to Waratah police station where he was under questioning.

Investigations are continuing.

A crime scene was establishedon Griffiths Road, with two of three east-bound lanes closed as police investigated.

The road was reopened shortly before 10am.

The car was towed away from the scene.


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Drug overdose theory in Newcastle car death BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy
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BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

BODY: Police at the scene on Griffiths Road. Picture: Simon McCarthy

TweetFacebook Police at the scenePictures: Simon McCarthyItis still a few hours before dawn when twopolice officers first see the silver Toyota Camry “being driven erratically” straight past Waratah police station.

They pull out of the station’s driveway and tail the car onto nearby Griffiths Road, in the Newcastle suburb of Lambton, before they turn on their lights and sirens and the Camry is calmly pulled over without incident.

Inside is the driver, 52-year-old Rodney Clarke, a former Taree man who has never held a licence and is wanted on warrants.

But it is the dark figure behind Mr Clarke that attracts the attention of the officers.

Lying motionless across the back seat is another 52-year-old former Taree man, who they are told is sleeping.

But he is cold and not breathing and is quickly pronounced dead at the scene.

Police set up a crime scene after finding the body of a man in the back seat of a car in Newcastle. Photo: Simon McCarthy

Mr Clarke is arrested and taken back to Waratah police station for questioning as a crime scene is established on the side of the busy arterial road about eight kilometres from the Newcastle central business district.

It is 3.15am and detectives are called in as a significant investigation is launched into the bizarre circumstances surrounding the man’s death.

There are no visible marks on the man’s body but the homicide squad is informed.

Within hours, and as forensic police continue to scour the scene for clues, it emerges the dead man may have succumbed to a drug overdose.

Detectives are told the man, a known heroin user, had taken a hit early on Sunday night before telling his friend he was going to sleep it off in the Camry.

They are still investigating how long the car remained at Hamilton railway station before Mr Clarke is alleged to have got back behind the wheel and began driving around several suburbs looking for somewhere to buy food.

Police are told he still believed his friend was sleeping the heroin off when the officers pulled him over.

Police closed of Griffiths Road in Newcastle after finding the body. Photo: Simon McCarthy

An autopsy is planned for Tuesday morning to confirm a cause of death, however police believe the man may have been dead for more than three hours before the vehicle stop.

Mr Clarke has not been charged over the apparent non-suspicious death, but he was refused bail for the outstanding warrants.

He faced Newcastle Local Court for allegedly failing to comply with reporting obligations (he was on bail to report to Waratah police station), having custody of a knife in a public place, assaulting police in the execution of their duty, resisting arrest and failing to appear in court.

Mr Clarke pleaded guilty to never holding a licence and was formally refused bail to reappear on Thursday.

Detectives are now preparing a report into the death for the coroner.

Newcastle Herald

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UPDATE 4.30pm:Three men charged after police allegedly found them in possession of more than 18kg of cannabis are Vietnamese nationals who are unlawfully in , according to court documents.
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The Anh Hoang and Hoai Nam Nguyen, both 22, and Cuong Van Nguyen, 33, faced Newcastle local court on Tuesday after their arrest on Monday night.

None of the three men applied for bail –and it was formally refused.

According to court documents, Mr Hoang and the younger Mr Nguyen listed Teralba Road, Adamstown, as their home address, while the older Mr Nguyen was listed as living at Beaumont Street, Hamilton.

Each of the trio was charged with possessing a prohibited drug and supply of a prohibited drug, after police allegedly found 18.8kg of cannabis in the vehicle they were travelling in during a stop atGlebe Road, Adamstown, on Monday.

Bail determination documents noted that all three men were illegally in , and were “liable for immigration detention”.

The bail determination for the older Mr Nguyen noted that he was “an extreme flight risk”.

They will face court again, via audio-visual link, on November 16.

EARLIERPolice have charged three men with drug possession after allegedly finding 18 kilogramsof cannabis in a vehicle they were travelling in.

About 6pm on Monday officers from Newcastle were patrolling on Glebe Road, Adamstown, when they noticed a vehicle carrying three men.

Officers pulled the vehicle over and breath tested the driver who provided a negative result.

The vehicle was searched and officers allegedlylocated 18 kilogramsof cannabis.

The three men, one aged 33 and two aged 22, were arrested and taken to Newcastle Police Station where they were charged with possess prohibited drug (deemed supply).

They were bail refused and will appear in Newcastle Local Court on Tuesday.

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In the midst of a brutal campaign, it is tempting to wonder: where are the better angels of our nature?
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On Monday, Q&A provided the answer: those angels have taken up residence with the public figure whose profile requires her to call on them more often than most.

“Right now she is finding and firing with her most potent voice”: Magda Szubanski on Q&A. Photo: ABC

Magda Szubanski has been many things in public life. But right now she is finding and firing with her most potent voice, in a campaign that can seem so unnecessary and even cruel that to maintain decorum in the midst of the maelstrom appears a demand on discipline beyond the reach of many.

But not for Magda.

There she was again on Monday, dealing with the slings and arrows – the slights against her and the sleights of hand by those on the other side – with grace and calm. She marshalled facts with feeling, letting nothing slide and laying everything out, including the personal experience that drives her but which she never allows to emerge as fury.

She was tested from the git-go, with a question that went right to the “both sides are nasty” plane of false equivalence. The question: “Why can’t I have a right to my view without being branded as a hater or a bigot?”

You want to see those better angels at work? Here they were.

“You totally do and I wouldn’t brand you as a homophobe,” Szubanski began, admitting that at a time when she was “unresolved and probably not comfortable with myself, I might have voted no, too”.

But, she gently reminded him: “There’s been viciousness on the extremes of either side??? I think we have to try and establish and expand the moderate live-and-let-live middle ground really.”

Szubanski’s fellow panellists on this marriage equality edition were two churchmen – Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies, a No advocate, and the prominent Catholic advocate for a Yes vote Frank Brennan – and Karina Okotel, friendly face of the No campaign and vice-president of the federal Liberal Party.

Okotel is a challenge in this debate: an all-smiling and apparent voice of reasonableness adept at speaking out of both sides of her mouth like the lawyer she is. Szubanski was there to catch the words whichever side they flew from. It was not always easy, as when Okotel tied herself in knots on her position on gay couples raising children, dire warnings about which are a key plank of the No campaign.

Tony Jones to Okotel: “I’ll quickly bring you up on something. You’re perfectly happy for children to be brought up with same-sex parents? That’s no problem?”

Okotel: “Why not? There are good parents who???”

Szubanski, like the rest of us, was confused.

Szubanski: “You say the problem with marriage is it will lead to problems with children. That vulnerable children are threatened??? that’s what you’ve said. That that’s a consequence.”

Okotel: “That’s very different to parenting and being raised by same-sex parents.”

At which the audience could be heard guffawing, with Szubanski confining herself to a look of bafflement.

Okotel reinforced whatever it was her point was: “Absolutely.”

Szubanski: “I don’t understand it.”

Okotel: “I might need more than a minute to explain this.”

Szubanski: “I’m not that stupid.”

It was an issue that wouldn’t go away, as Jones returned to it again in an effort to make Okotel make sense. It was a losing battle.

Jones: “Just to confirm then??? you actually have no problem whatsoever with gay people bringing up children?

Okotel: “No. I don’t have any issue with gay people parenting.”

Jones: “Only if they’re married?”

Okotel: “No. I don’t think that homosexual people should be married because when you???”

Jones: “But is the problem with them bringing up children only when they’re married?”

Okotel: “I don’t understand.”

Jones: “Is it a problem of them bringing up children when they’re married?”

Okotel: “Sorry, I don’t understand your question.”

Jones: “So there’s no problem with people getting married if they’re gay and bringing up children as far as you’re concerned?”

Okotel: “I suppose why I don’t understand your question is people bring up children all the time who are not married, whether they be straight or married.”

Jones: “I’m confirming that’s your view?”

Okotel: “I don’t have an issue with people parenting in a relationship or unmarried relationship, straight or whatever, as long as they’re good parents.”

Dear Karina. You might want to explain that – whatever it was – to Lyle Shelton.

But let’s give the last word to Magda, who delivered perhaps the most emotional punch of the night in taking on Anglican Glenn Davies on the role of the church.

Szubanski once more showed her rare skill at marrying the personal and the political.

“I accept the church will never marry me. That grieves me in ways you will never know. I’m the one in my family, when I buried my parents I organised every detail of the masses, I wrote the orders of service, I put the pall over my mother’s coffin,” she said.

“Now I accept the Catholic Church will never marry me, but you won’t even let me marry outside the church??? Why should you have the right to tell me or any other person, straight or gay, what they do in the civil domain?”

Davies: “I don’t think the views expressed have been telling anyone what to believe. I won’t tell you that either, OK? That’s not my job.”

Szubanski, summoning those better angels, restrained herself.

It was enough to retort: “You paid a million dollars to fund the No campaign.”

Amen and goodnight, bishop.

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The Nationals are set to lose the north coast seat of Lismore at the next NSW election, polling suggests, compounding the party’s loss of neighbouring Ballina to the Greens in 2015.
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A ReachTel poll shows the Nationals primary vote at 32.8 per cent, Labor on 23.9 per cent and the Greens on 22 per cent. One Nation is on 6.8 per cent, others on 5.6 per cent and nine per cent are undecided.

The Nationals primary vote is significantly lower than the 42.4 per cent secured by current MP Thomas George at the 2015 election.

Mr George, who is retiring at the 2019 election narrowly held on in Lismore two years ago against the Greens, leaving the seat one of the most marginal in NSW on just 0.2 per cent.

On a two-party preferred basis, the poll has Labor leading the Nationals by 57 per cent to 43 per cent, based on preferences stated by the 753 residents surveyed earlier this month.

The Nationals are conducting a community preselection – which involves inviting local non-party members to participate – to choose a candidate for Lismore.

Labor and the Greens intend to preselect their candidates early next year.

The polling was commissioned by the Nature Conservation Council.

Voters were also asked if the NSW government is doing enough to act on climate change, to which 60.2 per cent responded it was not. Only 28.6 per cent said yes and 11.1 per cent are undecided.

Sixty-seven per cent said they were more likely to vote for a political party that increases solar and wind power and reduces reliance on coal, with 17.8 per cent saying less likely and 15.2 per cent stating it wouldn’t change their vote.

Among Nationals voters, 40.5 per cent said they would be more likely to vote for a party with those policies, with 33.6 per cent saying less likely and 25.9 per cent saying it would make no difference.

Nature Conservation Council chief executive Kate Smolski said that if the Nationals want to retain Lismore “they should put forward a candidate who’ll put climate change high on the agenda and push the rapid shift to renewables”.

“People are crying out for [Premier Gladys] Berejiklian to lead on this issue – including conservative voters – but she still doesn’t have a plan,” she said.

Ms Smolski said the Climate Change Fund Strategic Plan for 2017-2022 was promised for mid-year “and now is months overdue”.

“The government has a commitment to make the state carbon neutral by 2050 but has no plans to replace the state’s coal-burners with renewable energy. Without an action plan it’s just a pipe dream.”

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generic ernst & young, ernst and young, ey, Sydney, Friday 30th october 2015, photo: Ryan StuartAt least $74 million has been spent on marketing, lawyers and consultants for the privatisation of NSW electricity network businesses in what the state opposition has criticised as a “feeding frenzy” for the big end of town.
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Treasury figures confirm that the biggest winner from the transactions was consultancy Ernst and Young, which reaped $24.5 million for providing financial, accounting and tax advice to the government.

Ernst and Young wrote the report used by the then Baird government to bolster its argument for partially privatising the NSW electricity network.

The report concluded that customers have paid lower charges in Victoria and South after privatisation.

Investment bank UBS was also a beneficiary, pocketing $13.9 million for financial advice.

The bank found itself at the centre of a political storm during the 2015 state election campaign over a report on the government’s power privatisation plans headlined “Bad for the budget, good for the state”.

The figures also show law firm Allens earned more than $20 million for legal advice, while public relations and lobbying firm Newgate earned over $900,000.

The costs are related to the government’s 99-year lease of all of high voltage transmission firm Transgrid and 50.1 per cent of distributors Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy for net proceeds of about $17 billion.

Total costs are expected to increase further as NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said finalisation of the transactions are due at the end of this year after which further payments will be disclosed.

Answers to questions on notice at a budget estimates hearing also reveal that in 2015 the then government controlled Ausgrid and Endeavour and state-owned Essential Energy spent $7.2 million taking the n Energy Regulator to court.

They successfully challenged its determination that slashed how much they can charge customers.

Labor energy spokesman Adam Searle said the transactions “created a feeding frenzy for big end of town consultants, bankers and public relations operatives”.

“The $75 million it has spent so far is roughly a third of the rebates it is paying out to households struggling to pay their higher electricity bills,” he said.

Mr Searle described as “a scandal” the cost of the court challenge “to keep electricity prices high”.

But Mr Perrottet said Labor had “no credibility” on the issue.

“It’s well publicised that Labor regrets its failure to sell the poles and wires, along with everything else they failed to deliver,” he said.

Mr Perrottet said the transactions “allowed us to invest $20 billion in infrastructure the state was crying out for, including Sydney Metro, Parramatta Light Rail and Sydney Opera House, but its broader value to the NSW economy is priceless.”

A Treasury spokesman said the decision to take court action “was a matter for the businesses and not the NSW Government”.

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12.10.17-A much needed Rain front moves through Cronulla from the South of Sydney today.Picture John VeageThe chances of a wetter-than-average summer for eastern are increasing, with the Bureau of Meteorology set to declare a La Nina weather pattern is likely to take hold in the Pacific.
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The bureau’s shift from neutral conditions to a “La Nina watch” will be formally stated in Tuesday’s fortnightly update, Rob Webb, the head of the bureau’s national forecast services, told Senate estimates on Monday.

Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction services at BOM, told Fairfax Media the declaration of a “watch” indicated at least a 50 per cent chance of a La Nina, although shy of the 70 per cent level that would prompt the declaration of an event as virtually certain.

“We’re not quite up to the 70 per cent yet,” Dr Watkins said.

Even so, the shift towards conditions favouring wetter conditions has become more evident in recent weeks.

During La Nina years, the easterly trade winds across the equatorial Pacific strengthen, shifting rainfall westwards to places such as northern and eastern , and Indonesia.

Lately, unusual cooling of waters off South America – a signal for the La Nina’s formation – had become clearer. That pattern typically shifts ‘s outlook “to the wet side of our cycle”, Mr Webb said.

In the most recent assessment of conditions in the Pacific, the bureau also noted the areas of unusually warm waters east of Papua New Guinea. (See map below).

Dr Watkins said La Ninas are usually evident from autumn or winter, unlike this year: “It’s quite unusual to be so late in the year.”

While La Ninas can bring heavy rain and floods to eastern , the “seasonal outlooks are not as roaring wet as they were in 2010”, Dr Watkins said. The back-to-back La Ninas of 2010-11 and 2011-12 included major flooding in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Indeed, Indian Ocean conditions, another driver of ‘s climate, “have, if anything, been unfavourable for rainfall” over , he said.

The bureau’s nod to a likely La Nina follows similar calls by other international agencies, such by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA earlier this month rated the chances of a La Nina as a 55-65 per cent chance during the southern spring or summer.

Fire authorities are hoping a tilt towards a La Nina will bring extra rain to take the edge off a potentially severe bushfire season.

Mr Webb told Senate estimates, eastern had had “an incredibly dry winter…[with] deep drying of the soils”.

“Any rain that falls will drain away, and as those temperatures heat up, we are concerned [about] a busy fire season over most parts,” he said.

While Sydney just had its best rainfall in about four months, the best chance for follow-up falls will be 3-10 millimetres on Thursday, the bureau said.

The mercury, though, will start to climb, with Sunday and Monday likely to see Sydney reaching 32 degrees, or 10 degrees above the October average.

La Ninas, while bringing above-average rain to northern parts of the country, can also trigger more cyclones in ‘s region. For now, though, the bureau’s forecast is for a typical season.

One other impact of La Nina years, though, tends to be a moderation of global surface temperatures as the Pacific takes up more of the atmospheric heat.

So far this year global temperatures are running at about the second equal-warmest on record for the January-September period – marginally ahead of 2015 and behind only 2016. (See NOAA chart below.)

According to NOAA, this year will almost certainly be the third warmest on record behind only the two previous years, based on data that goes back to the 1880s.

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Sydney is running a “population deficit” with the rest of the country, new census figures show.
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The figures for population movement released on Monday show that although Sydney benefited from an enormous inflow of migrants (399,620) in five years leading up to the census, it lost population to every region of the country.

Sydney sent 27,670 locals to Melbourne, many more than the 19,100 Melbourne residents who moved to Sydney.

It sent 21,480 locals to Brisbane, many more than the 15,570 Brisbane residents who moved to Sydney.

It sent 27,670 to regional Queensland, many more than the 19,100 regional Queenslanders who moved to Sydney, and 10,200 to Perth, many more than the 8660 Perth residents who returned to Sydney.

The exodus was particularly pronounced in regional NSW, which benefited from an outflow of 105,060 Sydneysiders, easily surpassing the flow of 62,470 moving from regional NSW to the city.

The picture painted by the Bureau of Statistics is of a city that has become the primary destination for immigrants who displace locals who move to other parts of and other parts of the state.

The census shows a similar phenomenon in Melbourne, which in the five years leading up to the census gained residents from overseas and every region of but one. That region was rural and regional Victoria, which gained 76,210 ex-Melburnians, easily exceeding the 59,220 who moved to Melbourne.

So great were the outflows from Sydney and Melbourne to the rest of NSW and Victoria that those regions became two of the fastest growing in the nation, gaining a net 17,570 and 28,720 new arrivals from the rest of the country.

The other regions to grow at the expense of the rest of the country were Greater Brisbane (25,440), regional Queensland (14,620), Greater Melbourne (10,670) and Greater Perth (5910).

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The regions to lose locals to the rest of were Greater Sydney (77,590), Adelaide (9470), regional Western (5480) and regional South (3060).

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One in four of the nation’s professionals – including lawyers, doctors, accountants and engineers – now works in Sydney after their numbers in the city swelled by a third during the past decade.
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The latest figures from the 2016 census, which focus on employment, education and internal migration, show a bigger share of Sydneysiders work full-time and hold a bachelors level qualification or higher than the national average. But the city has a smaller share of tradesman and labourers than the rest of the nation.

The new census figures, released on Monday, revealed a nationwide surge in workers who provide personal services. Since the last census in 2011 the number of domestic cleaners has jumped 130 per cent while the tally of fitness instructors was up by 27 per cent and beauty therapists by 25 per cent.

Sydney’s professional ranks have grown by a third in the past decade, the 2016 census shows. Photo: Rob Homer

But Sydney’s workforce is dominated by professionals and managers with four in 10 of the city’s workers in those two broad employment categories.

The number of Sydney-based professionals has climbed by 145,000 during the past decade to almost 600,000. They now make up 26.3 per cent of the city’s workforce, up from 23.8 in 2006. Nationally, the census counted 2.3 million professionals, or 22.2 per cent of workers.

Macquarie University demographer Associate Professor Nick Parr said the growth in professionals has been driven by the expansion of higher education student numbers and the high rate of skilled migration.

The census data, released on Monday, showed women now make up 55.4 per cent of professionals nationally, up from 53.9 per cent in 2011.

“The predominance of females in these occupations reflects the greater numbers of females among university graduates over recent decades,” Dr Parr said.

“The retirement of more male-dominated cohorts, Baby Boomer cohorts out of the professional occupations is also contributing to the rising share of females in these occupations.”

The retirement of more male-dominated Baby Boomer generation managers has also helped lift the share of female managers from 35.4 per cent in 2011 to 37 per cent in 2016.

The share of Sydneysiders with a bachelors degree level qualification or higher has reached 28.3 per cent, more than six percentage points above the national average.

The healthcare and social assistance sector was the biggest employer in both NSW and . It now provides one in eight of the state’s jobs. Nationally, almost 80 per cent of the 1.35 million people employed in the healthcare and social assistance sector are women.

Occupations traditionally dominated by women including health care and education grew strongly between 2011 and 2016 but there were big declines in some traditionally male-dominated industries including manufacturing (-24.3 per cent) and wholesale trade (-23.8 per cent).

In Sydney, the share of technicians and trades workers has edged lower over the past decade to 11.7 per cent and is well below the national average of 13.5 per cent. Sydney also has a smaller proportion of labourers (7.5 per cent) than the national average of 9.5 per cent.

When it comes to commuting, Sydneysiders are much more likely to catch public transport to work than those in other capital cities. Even so, the majority of Sydney employees still brave the traffic and drive to their workplace.

Nationally, the number of child carers rose by almost 30 per cent between 2011 and 2016 and the number of early childhood teachers rose 48 per cent in that period.

Dr Parr said a “substantial increase in the number of births between 2006 and 2011” had contributed to those increases along with rising rates of participation in the labour force by mothers.

The ageing of the population is also having an effect on the way ns work with a 22.2 per cent increase in the number of aged and disabled carers between 2011 and 2016).

The most common individual occupational category for men and women remained “sales assistant”.

The latest figures followed the initial release of 2016 census data in June.

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Republic;Sydney;980807;Photo;Robert Pearce;SMH NEWS;story;Tony Stephens.The Republican movement celebrated it’s seveth birthday with a cake in it’s Park St offices.Pic Shows;Malcolm Turnbull blows out the candles, watched by [left] Wendy Machin and Neville Wran.It’s our Prime Minister’s birthday today. In a spirit of charity, we should wish him many happy returns. We must acknowledge, though, that, at the moment, he’s not in a sweet spot politically. He never will be.
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To thrive in the job, a prime minister must be a canny politician. Yet Malcolm Turnbull, even though he has held the office for more than two years, has only ever exhibited a limited mastery of the art and craft of politics.

Evidence of Turnbull’s fitful strike rate as a political performer can be drawn from past decades as well as more recent events.

Back in 1999, a masterful John Howard easily outfoxed Turnbull’s badly organised republican campaign. In an eerie near-reprise 18 years on, the poorly plotted same-sex marriage postal survey looks like being carried partly because Turnbull is running dead on the issue.

The tricky politics of energy policy undid Turnbull’s first stint as Liberal leader in 2009 and this issue is equally problematic for him eight years on. Highlighting the need for reliable energy was meant to embarrass Bill Shorten but has instead further emboldened Tony Abbott.

Abbott has every right to be cranky with Turnbull. Knifing Abbott in 2015 has led to endless complications. Abbott won a thumping victory in 2013. Three years later, it was Turnbull who called on an interminable double-dissolution election that ended in near defeat for the Coalition and produced an even more interesting Senate.

Turnbull twice tripped himself up when, in the early 1980s, he first sought to become a member of parliament – any parliament, in fact.

In 1981, a vacancy in the federal seat of Wentworth triggered a by-election. The Liberals needed to preselect a candidate. Turnbull ran, buoyed by his connection with media mogul Kerry Packer, for whom Turnbull had worked as a journalist.

Quite a few of the preselectors, though, were offended by Turnbull’s association with Packer, who was then seen as a friend of NSW Labor premier Neville Wran. Turnbull did not have the agility to brush the animus aside. He lost the preselection ballot.

In 1983, Turnbull settled for a tilt at being preselected for the safe Liberal seat of Mosman in the NSW state parliament. He ran his usual, unfocused campaign. His biographer, Paddy Manning, quotes Liberal Party notable Nick Greiner’s comment that Turnbull was “arguably petulant” when dealing with individual party members in Mosman. He lost again.

Turnbull was no good at retail politics but had many splendid qualities nonetheless. There was self-belief and a work ethic. He had married well. He was, to use words applied to him by Paul Keating, utterly fearless and brilliant.

Blessed with these attributes, Turnbull enjoyed worldly success after he switched from party politics in 1983 to focus on law and investment banking. He made heaps of money. He became richer than any one sitting in Federal Parliament.

Federal parliamentarians usually need to retire from electoral politics if they wish to truly beef up their material assets through consultancy or lobbying. With Turnbull, the exact opposite happened. He enriched himself before rather than after parliamentary life.

In the late 1990s, Turnbull began to use his own money in a bid to do good and buy affection along the way. Hence his involvement in the republic push.

In 2000, Turnbull again lacked the numbers when the Liberals held another preselection vote in Wentworth.

Three years later, though, he won a bitter preselection contest in the same seat. He now had the resources to barnstorm his way to victory. In retaliation, many local Liberals voted for his ousted predecessor, Peter King, who ran as an independent.

Turnbull invested more than $600,000 of his own money to become member for Wentworth with a reduced Liberal majority. This was a foretaste of the 2016 federal election campaign, which saw the Prime Minister reportedly donate more than $1.75 million as he sought re-election.

So we have a pattern whereby much money is spent to produce mediocre results. Something is wrong here.

Success outside politics propelled Malcolm Turnbull into The Lodge even though he lacks basic qualities needed to sustain success as a prime minister. He is very rich precisely because he is no good at politics. There is, as a result, a fearful asymmetry at the heart of n government.

On this day of all days, we wish Turnbull a happy and speedy retirement from politics, as well as a very happy birthday.

Stephen Holt is a Canberra writer. [email protected]

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