Independent senator John Madigan has suggested that HECS debts should be frozen for five years for primary caregivers. Photo: Alex EllinghausenA key crossbench senator has raised a five-year freeze on student debts for mothers who have graduated from university as a bargaining chip in negotiations over the government’s proposed higher education changes.
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Education Minister Christopher Pyne is continuing to negotiate with the Senate crossbenchers in the hope of striking a deal on his reform package, which includes allowing universities to charge as much as they want for a degree.

A Fairfax Media Ipsos poll, conducted between Thursday and Saturday last week, found 64 per cent of voters oppose deregulating university fees.

Independent Victorian Senator John Madigan, whose vote on the reforms could be crucial, said: “I’m concerned about the effects of higher HECS debts on women who graduate and have children.

“I’ve suggested that HECS debts should be frozen for five years for primary caregivers. Debts continuing to accrue interest while people are out of the workforce will have a nobbling effect on families with young children.”

Mr Madigan welcomed signals from Mr Pyne that he will abandon plans to peg student debts to the long-term government bond rate, rather than inflation, but said the government should go further.

Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon praised Mr Madigan’s proposal as the type of “lateral thinking” that will be needed to strike a deal on university reform.

Senators Madigan and Xenophon told Fairfax Media they have serious concerns about fee deregulation but intense lobbying from the university sector has convinced them the current funding system is unsustainable. With Labor and the Greens opposed to fee deregulation, the government will need the support of six of the eight Senate crossbenchers to pass its reforms.

“Universities have been hit by funding cuts from both sides. They are starved of cash and need to be more viable,” Senator Xenophon said.

“I can see why they want fee deregulation but I am wary of unintended consequences.

“I don’t want to see the Americanisation of our universities where people are reluctant to take on lots of debt.”

Asked about negotiations with Mr Pyne, Senator Xenophon said: “He is as frustrating and enigmatic as he was when I lectured him at the University of South Australia 25 years ago.”

Senator Xenophon said the government had gone about reform in an “awful” way by announcing a complicated set of reforms in the May budget.

Senator Madigan said: “I’m very reticent on fee deregulation at this point of time. I don’t want to see families saddled with debts that will be higher than Ayers Rock to climb over.

“What the government is putting forward I wouldn’t accept – there would need to be a lot more safeguards put in place for me to consider supporting it.”

Mr Madigan, from Ballarat, said he was particularly concerned about the impact of the government’s policies on regional universities.

But he acknowledged that “no legislation is perfect” and he is open to a package that “ticks most of the boxes”.

“There is no doubt that something has to be done but it has to be done in a considered manner,” he said.

A spokesman for Mr Pyne said the package “represents essential reform that will expand opportunity for students and ensure our universities are sustainable and competitive internationally into the future.

As the Government has indicated on many occasions, this will inevitably involve negotiations with the cross benches as the Coalition does not have a majority in the Senate.”

Mr Pyne said on the weekend he was prepared to negotiate into the new year to strike a deal on higher education reform.

“Timelines can always be shifted and I’m not going to be hidebound by timing schedules,” Mr Pyne said. “What I want is an outcome for students and universities. That is a more important result than [meeting] timelines and schedules.”

Clive Palmer and Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie have said the party will oppose fee deregulation. But previous PUP backflips on climate policy, financial planning laws and the mining tax have fuelled government hopes that the party could do a deal on higher education.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Senator Xenophon lectured Mr Pyne at the University of Adelaide 25 years ago. The lectures were in fact at what is now known as the University of South Australia.

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Hello again: Prince Edward leaves the Prince Edward Yacht Club in Point Piper, Sydney, on Monday afternoon after a luncheon. Photo: DIMEX
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Hello again: Prince Edward leaves the Prince Edward Yacht Club in Point Piper, Sydney, on Monday afternoon after a luncheon. Photo: DIMEX

Hello again: Prince Edward leaves the Prince Edward Yacht Club in Point Piper, Sydney, on Monday afternoon after a luncheon. Photo: DIMEX

He might not have the star clout of his nephew the Duke of Cambridge and his glamorous wife, Catherine, but His Royal Highness Prince Edward’s arrival in Sydney marks the beginning of a five-day tour during which  he will meet more than 1000 young people and 1200 volunteers  throughout the country.

The Earl of Wessex is in NSW to commemorate more than 50 years of the Duke of Edinburgh Award in Australia. Flying the flag for his 93-year-old father, Prince Philip, the earl met Premier Mike Baird on Monday, after visiting the Prince Edward Yacht Club at Point Piper. An afternoon reception at Parliament House was also attended by  Minister for Sport and Recreation Stuart Ayres.

On Tuesday, he will visit the Art Gallery of NSW before meeting Duke of Edinburgh Award participants from eight inner west schools at Ashfield Boys High School. About 22,000 young Australians are enrolled on the scheme, the largest youth development program in the world.

A trivia event at the Powerhouse Museum rounds off the Sydney leg of the prince’s tour, which takes him on to Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.

The Queen’s youngest child is not accompanied on the trip, the second by the British royal household to Australia this year, by his wife Sophie the Countess of Wessex, or their children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.

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Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all RacingFull coverage: Melbourne Cup 2014Melbourne Cup sweep
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Bookmakers across the country have vowed to take on Admire Rakti as punters rallied behind the Japanese star, which could still relinquish Melbourne Cup favouritism to Lloyd Williams’ Fawkner.

Tomoyuki Umeda’s Caulfield Cup hero brought to life an otherwise pedestrian call of the card at the traditional Cup eve bash on Monday after $6.50 was bet about the top pick.

Most odds-makers are expecting him to be a similar quote by jump time, while support for Cox Plate runner-up Fawkner is gathering momentum.

This year’s Melbourne Cup appears to be one of the most open in recent memory.

“Admire Rakti is our worst result, but there has been a massive move for Fawkner in the last 24 hours and the money is coming from the right places,” Ladbrokes’ Paul Di Cioccio said. “Fawkner is still $8, but if the money keeps coming he could be favourite.”

The Fawkner following had one big-time supporter at the call of the card, Sean Bartholomew knocking back a wager to win $1 million on the Australian-bred grey.

Bartholomew eventually accepted a smaller investment to win $250,000 at odds of $9.

While there was money for Willing Foe, suggesting some believe Godolphin can break its Cup curse, punters patiently waited for Admire Rakti to be the last of the 24 runners shopped.

Mark Sampieri was knocked off his stand after offering luxurious odds before he passed the baton to Warren Woodcock, who also could not keep pace writing tickets.

Robbie Waterhouse was next to hold the call, accepting the largest single bet of the day when one punter had $50,000 on Admire Rakti at $6.

Quizzed on whether he thought Admire Rakti would be so well backed, Waterhouse said: “No, I didn’t actually. I’m happy to bet against him and I was surprised he was so well supported.

“The other surprising thing about the call is it was nearly all cash. I would think [Admire Rakti’s] price will still be around $6 on race day.”

It is a similar quote to what other online bookmakers are prepared to offer, BetEasy’s Matt Tripp suggesting they will band together to take on Admire Rakti.

BetEasy took a wager of $40,000 on the seven-year-old, which is attempting to set a modern day weight-carrying record in the Cup and also become the first horse to complete the Caulfield-Melbourne cups double since 2001.

“I think I will bet around the $6 or $6.50 mark [until jump time] and I reckon the bookmakers will all want to take him on,” Tripp said. “I think the money will come for Fawkner and Signoff and there’s been good money for Protectionist so far.”

Sportingbet’s Andrew Brown said despite continued interest in Admire Rakti he would not be surprised if one of several horses started favourite by jump time.

“It will just depend which one the money comes for,” he said. “At the moment our losers are Fawkner, Admire Rakti, Lucia Valentina and Signoff, but it’s that sort of race.”

Added Glenn Munsie of Tab南京夜网.au: “For us overall Admire Rakti is a million-dollar loser, especially after the Caulfield Cup. The doubles are just killing us. There have been a couple of good pushes in the last couple of days, particularly Who Shot Thebarman and Fawkner.”

There were few other fireworks inside the Crown Palladium for the call of the card.

Tom Waterhouse snapped up the $31 about Willing Foe, asking bookmaker Anthony Doughty to risk a $500,000 payout. Doughty eventually stood to part with $250,000 to Waterhouse.

The best-supported outsider was Seismos, one wager a $2000 by $1500 each-way bet on Marco Botti’s import at $101. A couple of $1000 each-way bets were also taken before his price was wound into $81.

There were nibbles for some of Chris Waller’s long shots, including a single bet to win $151,000 on Opinion ($71) and another to win $100,000 on Who Shot Thebarman.

Darren Weir’s Lexus Stakes winner Signoff was friendless at $7.

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

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Alex Burkard in action against the Sydney Blue Sox. Photo: SMP ImagesIt took two games of the new Australian Baseball League season for reigning champion Perth to find its stride.
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But when it did, it was awesome to watch.

After losing 4-9 to the Sydney Blue Sox on Friday night and 3-7 in the first game of Saturday’s double-header, the Heat kicked into gear.

It leveled the series 2-2 with a 5-0 shutout on Saturday night and then a blistering 20-9 victory on Sunday.

The strength of the Heat’s defence was at full force in game 4 as Tim Kennelly enjoyed five hits and batted in four runs, while Luke Hughes batted in five runs from his three hits and .

Jordan McDonald, the 22-year-old Perth boy returning home from a stint at college in the US, was the surprise packet though.

He batted at an impressive average of 0.553 for the opening series to lead all Heat hitters over the weekend. McDonald batted in two runs in each of Friday and Saturday’s losses and then another in Sunday’s slugfest.

He enjoyed eight hits from his 15 at bats over the four games.

The Blue Sox threatened to claim the series on Sunday, after taking a 5-0 lead at the top of the second innings courtesy of a Tyler Bortnick grand slam off Tom Bailey. Baily didn’t make it to the mound for the third inning.

However, Matt Kennelly and McDonald both also hit home runs for Perth in the second inning to keep the hosts in the contest. The contest that was blown apart by the champs when they piled on 12 runs between the sixth and seventh innings.

Alex Burkard, backing up from two innings pitched on Friday night, picked up the win on Sunday for the Heat after the Blue Sox failed to score from him in four innings pitched.

It wasn’t the greatest weekend for Perth’s starting pitchers though.

Shawn Sanford pitched for 4.0 innings on Friday night, giving up eight runs; Cameron Lamb had six runs scored off him in the the two innings to start the first game on Saturday; and Baily gave up six runs in 2.1 innings on Sunday.

Sanford also took to the mound in Sunday’s win and had another three runs scored from his 1.2 innings pitched.

In Saturday’s second game, Brian Baker gave up just two hits and no runs in the first three innings before being replaced on the mound by Scott Mitchinson, who picked up the win with 22 strikes from 30 pitches thrown.

Perth heads to Adelaide this week to tackle the Bite, which lost the last two games of its away series to the Brisbane Bandits, but still tied 2-2 over the season’s opening round.  Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Competing at the Triathlon Australia National Duathlon Championships in Adelaide on October 19, two Sheldon Triathlon Club athletes were crowned national champions.
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Sheldon College year 11 student Joanne Miller dominated the field to win the National 16 to 19 Years Championship, while elite triathlete Annelise Jefferies claimed the Elite Under 23 Oceania Championship, in so doing clinching second place in the Elite Oceania Open Age Women’s category.

Both athletes are trained by internationally renowned coach Chris Lang at the Triathlon Australia State Performance Centre based at Sheldon College.

The Sheldon Triathlon Club caters for Sheldon College students through the only Triathlon Australia School of Excellence program in the country.

The club also caters for elite adult triathletes and for community age-group triathletes wishing to access first class coaching.

Anyone interested in joining the Sheldon Triathlon Club is encouraged to email [email protected]南京夜网.

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Tigers player Greg Moller clebrfates scoring 200 in the First grade match against Sangate/Redcliffe at the weekend. It has been a big week in the media for Redlands Cricket. With Ryan LeLoux and Marnus Labuschagne being selected to play in the Queensland Bulls Sheffield team to play against South Australia, the club received widespread coverage, along with Courier Mail and Redland City Bulletin articles on our UK import Adam Ball and other features.
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Add some further mentions on Fox Sports and everyone wants to know about Redlands.

Redlands’ 1st grade wicketkeeper James Peirson played in the Cricket Australia XI match against South Africa in Canberra on Sunday.

To add to the limelight, in the latest two-day games against Sandgate/Redcliffe, where all Redlands teams batted on day one, Redlands batsmen enjoyed their time at the crease.

1st grade players Greg Moller 233 not out and Sam Heazlett 110, put on a 257-run partnership. Greg and Sam batted the house down in hot and windy conditions at Sandgate and those who witnessed their batting display spoke highly of their achievements.

The Redlands showtime continued at Wellington Point with 2nd grade player Liam Hope-Shackley hitting a superb 124 not out, which included 16 off the first over with the second new ball.

The remaining grades were also among the runs on day one, particularly the 6th grade number 1 team who put on 8/344, with Ben Dwyer and Ethan MacNamara top scoring with 66 runs each.

Tigers player Greg Moller clebrfates scoring 200 in the First grade match against Sangate/Redcliffe at the weekend.

Then young gun Liam Smith scored a century in the Under 17 Taverners game on Sunday against Ipswich/Logan. Congratulations to Liam and team mate Zach Addison, who have been selected in the Under 17 Metro teams to play next Sunday in games against North Queensland and South Queensland.

The club’s new net complex will be officially opened on Saturday, November 8 at 10am.

Each weekend three grade teams play at the club’s grounds at Birkdale Road, Wellington. Spectators are welcome and full canteen facilities are available.

Scores from the latest round:

1st grade: Redlands 2/421 (G Moller 233*, S Hazlett 110, S Moss 66) vs Sandgate/Redcliffe 0/19.

2nd grade: Redlands 370 (L Hope-Shackley 124*, M Miers 60, C French 59, L Kelly 47) vs Sandgate/Redcliffe.

3rd grade: Redlands 141 (P Bonney 38, M Drennan 34) vs Sandgate/Redcliffe 2/79.

4th grade: Redlands 9/289 (K Stuart 61, B Lavender 58, B Weeks 43, D Grey 39) vs Sandgate/Redcliffe.

5th grade: Redlands 2/81 vs Sandgate/Redcliffe 119 (B James 3/26, A Ward 3/30, J Richards 3/24).

6th grade (1): Redlands 8/344 dec (B Dwyer 66, E MacNamara 66, S Butters 53, M Dwyer 51,D Cassell 39) vs Sandgate/Redcliffe 0/6.

6th grade (2): Redlands 158 (M Davis 53, J Lau 44) vs Uni 1/34.

Taverners: Redlands 5/165 (L Smith 100) vs Ipswich/Logan.

Shane Watson Cup: Redlands 10/192 def Wynnum 9/158.

Ray Weier Cup: Redlands 5/303 def Wynnum 4/296.

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MILDURA’S face of racing, Gemma Lehmann, is excited to be the official ambassador on the biggest day of racing at the Sandilong track.
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Ambassador: Gemma Lehmann relaxes this week ahead of her role as the face of racing at today’s Mildura Melbourne Cup Day meeting at Sandilong Park. Picture: John Anderson

Gemma, 18, who has been juggling her VCE final exams with her racing ambassador role, said she’s kept up with her studies and her photo shoots over the past few weeks “without any hassles”.

“It’s been an honour to be asked to take on the role of racing ambassador to promote the local racing industry,” Gemma said.

“I’ve always loved the fashions on the field, and the different style and colour that each year brings.

“This year I’m looking forward to seeing the floral designs and the pastel colours that have been so popular.”

The dictionary definition of “ambassador” is “an official messenger on a special mission”, and young Gemma is perfect for the role.

“I believe my mission is really to promote Mildura Melbourne Cup Day as the biggest social event on Mildura’s racing calendar,” Gemma said.

“On Cup day I’ll be greeting gold marquee racegoers as well as assisting with the fashions on the field judging before the big race.

“Being trackside at Sandilong Park on Melbourne Cup Day today is what my role is all about.

“I’ll be dressed by Q Central and my hair and make-up will be by Cascade.

“My fascinator has been designed by 21 year-old Kirsty Schilling, an up-and-coming milliner who has been designing and making her pieces since she was 14.”

Gemma describes herself as a “country girl”, having spent her early years in Birchip in north central Victoria, before her Mum Kylie, Dad, Owen and older brother Jordan moved to settle in Mildura in 2000.

Although she loves horses, the closest she’s been to the horse racing industry is having a great grandfather who was a racetrack bookmaker.

“My first experience with thoroughbred racing was when my Pop took me to the Wycheproof races and asked me to select a horse number for him to place a bet on.

“My favourite number is 11, and as it happened, it won the race and my piggy bank was a lot healthier.”

Gemma said she hasn’t ever had a bet on a horse race and thinks today may be the time to have her first “flutter”.

“I might test my luck on a race before the cup is run at 3pm, and then have a small wager on the big race.

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Tuesday’s Sunraysia Daily 04/11/2014.To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here

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Rural Fire Service crews from Bishops Bridge and East Maitland working on scrub in the Hunter Economic Zone in Pelaw Main . Picture: Ryan OslandDETECTIVES have been called in to investigate the Swan Bay fire which burnt out more than 1000 hectares of bush after initial investigations suggested it was the work of an arsonist.
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On Saturday when the general public was warned of extreme temperatures and flame-fanning winds, fire crews were called to battle the blaze which continued to burn within containment lines on Tuesday.

Port Stephens police now believe they are hunting a firebug and have asked for the public’s help in identifying anyone who may have been in the vicinity of the fire.

However, fire crews believe they have an even bigger threat on their hands following the constant storms which have swept across parts of the Hunter in the past fortnight.

A lightning strike is suspected of having sparked the bushfire which threatened houses at Pelaw Main on Sunday after ripping through about 300 hectares of dry scrub.

And the weekend storms are also believed responsible for at least another 10 blazes which are burning in rugged terrain west of Cessnock.

Lower Hunter RFS zone manager Superintendent Jayson McKellar said fuel loads in parts of the region had dried out significantly and the prevalent of the ‘‘dry storms’’ had not played into firefighters hands.

‘‘We have had a lightning strikes reported and there has not been a lot of rain to go with them,’’ Superintendent McKellar said.

‘‘The place is definitely drying out, we need another good soaking.’’

There were more than 20 fires still burning across the greater Hunter on Monday, however none were out of control or threatening property.

Conditions were suiting firefighters as they contained and allowed the blazes to burn within the boundaries.

Teen injured by train ‘inspirational’ | Photos Brody Burgess attends the Spooktacular Halloween event held in his honour with family Kalia, Renee, Kimble and Mason Burgess. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN
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Julia Hawkins and Tammy Williams-Greer. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

Mandy Lucus, Kelly Sellings, Fiona Dunning, Samual Hale, Brenton Gowman, Emma Bailey, Kim Burgess and Mason Burgess. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

Jack Bradford, Dallas Bradford, Tracey Piggott and Colin Cuffe. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

Ian and Donella Hall. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

Kalia Burgess, Julia Hawkins and Emily Greer. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

Jo Tyrer, Greg Tyrer, Kerrie Powell and Kim Burgess. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

Jane Burgess and Brian Taylor. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

Dallas Bradford and Brody Burgess. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

Brody Burgess and Mason Burgess. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

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Patrick Haddock, of Devonport, is a paper tole artist who has won first and second prize in two categories at the Royal Hobart Show.
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AFTER Devonport’s Patrick Haddock had a quadruple bypass five years ago he developed a love for a craft that won him four awards at the Royal Hobart Show last month.

The enthusiastic paper tole artist went to the show and came back with both first and second places in the open paper tole section and the same places in feathering and furring section.

Paper tole art, which involves adding dimensions to pictures using paper layers, requires patience, concentration and an eye for detail, he said.

“You’re trying to create a picture and make it as real and life like as you can.”

His passion for paper tole began when his heart operation stopped him doing leatherwork.

He took up the new hobby so he wasn’t watching TV all day, and learnt from Paper Tole World’s Toni McCarthy in Queensland.

“It’s very time-consuming,” he said.

“It could take me up to 100 hours to do one picture.”

He takes between 60 and 80 hours on average to complete a piece, although often he stops to talk to anyone interested in his pictures while he works at the Axeman’s Hall of Fame.

“Time’s irrelevant when you do something you enjoy. It’s a hobby,” he said.

He moved to Tasmania four years ago and began to do paper tole in the North-West, joining the Axeman’s Hall of Fame as a maker three years ago.

When adding layers to a picture, he will use a scalpel, shaping tools and scissors for its fine work.

Some of the details he creates are tiny.

“I’ve cut an ant out of paper and put it on a branch,” he said.

While making leaves, he will layer them but also add small veins to make them realistic.

“If you come [to the hall] you can see how it stands out.

“It is very detailed [work]. Extremely so.”

In one picture of two kookaburras, which won him second prize in the Royal Hobart Show’s feathering and furring paper tole section, he cut each of the birds’ feathers individually and attached them to the work.

He won first prize in that section for a picture of ostriches.

Mr Haddock mentioned one reason he does this work.

“It’s the look on people’s faces when they see the end result.

“They don’t believe I’ve done it with paper. You . . . have to show them it’s paper,” he said.

Axeman’s Hall of Fame owner-manager Peter Maloney said paper tole artists had come in to learn from Mr Haddock.

“He’s one of the makers you could put up with the top end,” he said.

“That’s the quality he is. It is A-grade work.”

Mr Haddock teaches paper tole at the Axeman’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday and Wednesday between 9am and 2pm.

He also works on his paper tole pieces on market days at the hall on Thursday and Sunday.

For more information contact the hall on 6426 2099.

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Exams kicked off for year 12 students on Monday morning in what can be a daunting three weeks Photo: Julia Baird Exams kicked off for year 12 students on Monday morning in what can be a daunting three weeks Photo: Julia Baird
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Exams kicked off for year 12 students on Monday morning in what can be a daunting three weeks Photo: Julia Baird

Exams kicked off for year 12 students on Monday morning in what can be a daunting three weeks Photo: Julia Baird

Year 12 students began the most important three weeks of their school lives on Monday, with the 2014 Year 12 Western Australian Certificate of Education written exams beginning on Monday morning.

Over the next 21 days, 10,660 students across WA will take at least one exam with the vast majority, 9,363, sitting at least four exams.

For most Year 12 students it is now a familiar drill after mid-year practice exams – 10 minutes reading time, and then three hours to complete the exams.

While the total number of students taking exams, compared to previous years, is roughly half due to the introduction of the half-cohort in 2001, the oldest person sitting an exam this year is 60, taking a mathematics exam, while the youngest, at just 14 years old, is set to take a French exam.

School Curriculum and Standards Authority chief executive Allan Blagaich says that whilst most students taking exams over the next three weeks would sit the exams, get the score and head into university, it was important that students remember the exams are not the be-all and the end-all.

“The exams are usually the summation of two year’s work, but the point that I like to stress is that it should never be seen as the be-all and end-all, there are many opportunities,” he said.

“Give it your very best shot, but know that there are many ways to get to where you want to get…I’ve spoken to a lot of kids that are getting into university through alternative pathways, bridging courses, TAFE, a whole range of options, and knowing that you have these options to fall back on really takes the pressure off.”

He did stress however, that at this late stage, students shouldn’t be sitting down and “doing the books”, but that a balanced approach should be taken.

“Teachers are pretty phenomenal at getting kids prepared for these examinations, they do a fine job.

“Go back through and take a balanced approach. There needs to be a good mixture between revising what you’ve learnt and going through your notes, taking a break, getting some leisure time and getting some physical activity in there as well

“Watching your health is important and I can’t stress enough the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, as hard as that may be at this stage.”

Physics and Animal Production exams kicked of the three-week period on Monday morning, while the final exams will be Materials Design and Technology at 2pm on November 21. Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Delhi: Three factions of the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for a powerful suicide-bomb attack that killed 55 people and injured 200 on the Pakistani side of the Wagah crossing with India, exacerbating tensions along the partly contested border that has seen several deadly skirmishes in recent weeks.
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The suicide bomber, who was in his early 20s and was carrying about five kilograms of explosives inside a jacket, managed to pass through four security checkpoints before detonating the bomb just after 6pm on Sunday outside a restaurant near the iconic border crossing.

Hundreds of people visit the Wagah border crossing near the Pakistani city of Lahore every day to witness the flags of both India and Pakistan being lowered just before sunset.

“I was sitting in my office near the border when I heard the blast. I rushed to the scene and saw scattered bodies, injured men, women and children and smashed cars,” a Pakistani intelligence source told the Reuters news agency.

“He detonated his explosives when people gathered near the gate. Up to five kilograms of explosives and ball bearings were used,” said Pakistani Police Inspector General Mushtaq Sukhera.  “A large number of people were returning after watching the Pakistani Rangers flag ceremony at Wagah border when a suicide bomber blew himself up near one of the exit gates.”

Pakistani Rangers officer Tahir Khan said the parade venue was about 600 metres ahead of the blast site.

“The suicide bomber detonated the bomb away from the parade venue because of strict checking,” Mr Khan said. “If the blast had occurred closer to the border gate, the devastation would have been far greater.”

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Shuja Khanzada said the bomber had been waiting for people to gather following the conclusion of the flag-lowering ceremony.

“His target was to get close to soldiers at the border but he was unable to cross the last checkpoint,” Mr Khanzada said.

“We received scores of bodies, including 17 women and children,” said one official from the nearby Ghurki Hospital. While three Pakistani Rangers were killed, it appeared that the rest of the victims were civilians.

Many people returning from the flag-lowering ceremony on the Indian side of the border felt the blast, with Indian security forces swiftly evacuating the area to avoid the possibility of a stampede.

Two of the three factions of the al-Qaeda affiliated Tehreek-e-Taliban who claimed responsibility for the attack said it was in retaliation for a Pakistani military operation in North Waziristan in June that killed over 1200 Taliban insurgents.

The third faction said the attack was to avenge the killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike last year.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both condemned the attack. Indian intelligence had recently issued warnings about an imminent suicide attack targeting the evening flag ceremony, placing its border troops on high alert.

Pakistani security forces had also been concerned about the increased threat level, erecting new defensive structures close to the Wagah border crossing.

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Fashion on deck: Aroha Moyler and Jamie Lee Werner pose with hats they made on Pacific Pearl. Big ocean delights: Pacific Pearl.
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Cruise Director Eli and Senior Maitre’d Dessi compare horses on board Carnival Spirit.

Fashion on deck: Aroha Moyler and Jamie Lee Werner pose with hats they made on Pacific Pearl.

Big ocean delights: Pacific Pearl.

Cruise Director Eli and Senior Maitre’d Dessi compare horses on board Carnival Spirit.

Fashion on deck: Aroha Moyler and Jamie Lee Werner pose with hats they made on Pacific Pearl.

Big ocean delights: Pacific Pearl.

Cruise Director Eli and Senior Maitre’d Dessi compare horses on board Carnival Spirit.

Cruising punters may not back a winner at the Melbourne Cup this year but many will go home with a souvenir photo of themselves with the 1999 winner’s Cup, while a few lucky passengers had the chance to cradle and even kiss the famed chalice as they sipped champagne aboard P&O’s Pacific Jewel.

A Melbourne Cup cruise is certainly a relaxing and stylish way to arrive at Flemington; this year 6000 passengers boarded three ships in Sydney – Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl and Carnival Spirit – and headed south to the race that stops a nation.

Passengers onboard the ‘Jewel’ were treated to a ‘rags to riches’ tale by Wendy Green, owner of the 1999 Cup winner Rogan Josh, who grew up in Western Australia, worked as a school teacher for disadvantaged kids in Darwin and bought the horse for just $7500 from her brother who was trying to hide his asserts during a costly divorce settlement.

A true raconteur Ms Green had the crowd enthralled as she told of her trip across the Nullarbor with her beloved horse, her first meeting with the ‘King’ – training Bart Cummings – and how a psychic from Darwin’s Mindil Beach Markets Markets gave her tips on finding the perfect hair-stylists and make-up artists in Melbourne.

During the Hats & High Tea event in the ship’s elegant Salt Grill restaurant Ms Green let punters embrace her Cup, while she also read tarot cards for a few lucky folk who were keen to hear their fortunes.

Oh, and she’s tipped number 8 today (the favourite Admire Rakti), with Fawkner her selection to take out second place.

(I think I’d better heed her words, as Ms Green knows her horseflesh!)

Similar racing events took place on board Pacific Pearl where legendary Melbourne Cup jockeys Wayne Harris and Malcolm Johnston were sharing their stories.

Jewel and Pearl cruised out of Sydney Harbour on Saturday afternoon and tied up stern-to-stern at Melbourne’s Station Pier; the third ship Carnival Spirit sailed out on Monday to arrive bright and early at 5am on Tuesday November 4.

P&O Cruises has been visiting the Melbourne Cup since 1969, when Orcades III made the trip to Port Phillip Bay, however this year the company sent its first trifecta of ships, with 2000 passengers aboard each vessel. The sold-out cruises has prompted Carnival Corporation, which owns both P&O and Carnival Cruises Lines, to send four ships to the race next year.

The cruise company says its 6000 passengers  this year represents about 10 per cent of the total number of interstate visitors attending the Cup (and about 5 per cent of all punters at Flemington.

Around 100,000 people go to the Cup every year, about 50,000 from Melbourne itself, the Carnival Corp’s three ships represent 10 per cent of all interstate punters, and about 5 per cent of all people attending the Cup.

All passengers aboard the three ships received race tickets as part of their fare and this year the cruise line added the option of buying entry into a VIP area, the P&O Cruises Lawn, at around $400 a head.

The trio of ships were appropriately decorated with racing bunting and screened racing movies (The Cup and Sea Biscuit), while the onboard shops were doing a brisk trade in Cup pins and discounted handbags and jewellery for those wanting to snap up last minute accessories.

With Jewel and Pearl arriving in Melbourne on Monday morning, passengers had a full day to explore the city and soak up the pre-race atmosphere. Several women said they were going downtown to have their hair done as the Jewel’s hairdressing salon was well and truly booked out!

Wardrobe tips were dispensed by leading milliner Kim Fletcher, who had plenty of feathers at the ready for her fascinator-making workshop held in the Dome disco. Ladies could buy the standard or premium fascinator making kit and try their hand at creating a stylish head-piece and then don their creations in the MYER Fashions of the Deck parade and best-dressed competition.

Carnival Australia is obviously onto a good thing with these fun six-night Cup cruises.

As Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry puts it: “Australians love cruising and sports and by combining the two, we know we’re backing a winner – that’s why we’re sending a record quaddie of ships next year, including all three P&O ships.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.