Former GG urges compassion for refugees

Former governor-general Sir William Deane is urging Australians to reflect on their family’s migrant journeys to Australia to better understand the plight of asylum seekers.

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In Canberra on Tuesday Sir William launched a collection of essays by not-for-profit think tank Australia21 that calls for an overhaul of mandatory and offshore immigration detention of asylum seekers and a more compassionate public debate.

He reflected on his great-grandfather’s family voyage to Australia in 1851 on a wooden sailing ship from Europe.

“They sought asylum on this side of the world from the devastation of the great famine,” Sir William said.

“We Australians should have understanding and compassion to the actions of those who subject themselves and their families to serious risk of disaster at sea to escape from violence or terror or unbearable hardship.”

Sir William said most Australians would see asylum seekers of the 19th century as people bravely seeking better lives for themselves and families.

He said Australia must acknowledge that other countries were facing much larger refugees numbers, particularly Lebanon, which was accommodating 800,000 people escaping Syria’s civil war.

He quoted parts of a recent report by the United Nation’s refugee arm into the mistreatment of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island.

“One cannot but fear that at least some of the findings, particularly those relating to children in detention … are justified,” he said.

“If they are, the United Nation’s reports diminish our country’s hard-won and long-justified international reputation as an upholder of human rights and dignity.”

Essay contributor and former refugee Widyan Al Ubudy told reporters the Australian public should see asylum seekers not as “queue jumpers” but as human beings.

“These so-called illegals have faces, families, hopes and aspirations just like you and I,” she said.

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Tomi Juric slated for Wanderers comeback

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic will have a near fully-stocked armoury of players at his disposal for Monday’s clash with Central Coast, as strike weapon Tomi Juric prepares to return from injury.

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The 22-year-old has missed the Wanderers’ past five A-League matches after injuring his knee in last month’s win over Melbourne Heart.

But the electric forward, who scored three goals in the season’s opening five rounds, re-joined his teammates for three training sessions this week.

And that has Popovic smiling.

“Once he gets this week in, if all is well and the medical department clears him, then he has a good chance to be available,” Popovic said on Tuesday.

“We want him back, of course we want him back – we want all our players available.

“But when he’s ready, that’s when he’ll be back.”

The Wanderers have been without several star players due to injury in recent weeks, including the likes of marquee man Shinji Ono, Youssouf Hersi and Brendon Santalab.

However Popovic is hopeful all – except midfielder Shannon Cole – will be available for Monday’s home game at Pirtek Stadium, partly thanks to the 10-day turnaround from last weekend’s victory over Newcastle.

“(It’s) great news,” he said.

“Shannon’s the only one that will be a doubt, but the rest are all training today and with a longer week that actually gives us a good opportunity to see whether the players have been out if they can be made available.”

But the lengthy break has last round’s winning goalscorer Mark Bridge less than happy.

“To be honest I hate it,” the veteran said.

“I wish it was only a couple of days in between games.

“But that’s football and I’m sure the coach has got a plan to keep us refreshed during this period.”

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Sydney taxi fare freeze recommended

A proposed freeze on Sydney taxi fares will mean a pay cut for drivers and ignores soaring prices for LPG, the NSW Taxi Council says.

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The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) proposed a freeze on Sydney taxi fares for 2014/15 in a draft report released on Tuesday.

It also recommended issuing 190 new annual taxi licences.

IPART says cost is the main reason people don’t catch taxis, and the recommendations, if adopted, would make cabs more affordable and easier to find.

But NSW Taxi Council chief executive Roy Wakelin-King said IPART had ignored market realities, such as the 20 per cent hike in LPG.

At the same time, the council released research that shows the industry contributes $1.15 billion each year to the NSW economy, and provides 17,500 full-time equivalent jobs.

Mr Wakelin-King said IPART had dudded the taxi industry, recommending drivers get 3.5 per cent lower wages next year, and “flooding the market” with new licences.

“There is a significant oversupply of taxis for most of the year and those involved in the industry are battling to earn reasonable incomes,” he said.

He said IPART’s recommendations would force people away from the industry, which would be bad for customers.

The report prepared for the taxi council by Deloitte Access Economics found the industry delivered up to $20 million in annual revenue to the NSW government.

IPART had considered lowering fares from July 2014, but decided freezing fares struck a better balance for drivers and the public.

IPART recommends that maximum fares for urban areas including Newcastle, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast continue to be the same as fares in Sydney.

Submissions on the draft report close on January 31.

IPART provides its final report in February 2014, with Transport for NSW to decide on the number of licences to be released by the end of March.

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Angry Pellegrini questions impartiality of referee

City fell behind in their last-16 first-leg clash when Eriksson awarded a penalty to the visitors in the 53rd minute for a foul by Martin Demichelis on fellow Argentine Lionel Messi that appeared to take place outside the area.

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To compound the punishment, Demichelis was sent off, leaving City to play the rest of the match down to 10-men, with Messi firing home from the spot and Dani Alves adding a second goal in stoppage time.

Chilean Pellegrini, who normally keeps his own counsel, was highly critical of the Swedish official, who has held a FIFA badge for 12 years and has now refereed 22 Champions League and 87 UEFA matches in total.

Pellegrini, who risks a severe sanction from European soccer’s governing body, told a news conference: “I spoke to him (Eriksson) at the end and told him he should be very happy because he decided the match.

“Barcelona had no chance to score until the penalty against Demichelis.

“The referee was not impartial. He did not have any control of the game. I think it was not a good idea to have a referee from Sweden in such an important match.

“He did not call for a foul on (Jesus) Navas before the penalty. On the penalty, the foul was made outside the box, but more importantly we were building up the play.

“The first mistake was not giving a foul against Navas and then deciding it was a penalty when it was not a penalty.

“But it was not the only thing, he made mistakes from the beginning. It is very difficult to analyse the game because of that.”

Asked why it was relevant that the referee was Swedish, Pellegrini replied: “More important football is played in Europe than in Sweden so a big game with two important teams – that kind of game needs a referee with more experience.”

Pellegrini was also angry that Eriksson had been chosen for Tuesday’s match after he had previously dismissed two Barcelona penalty claims in the 2012 Champions League quarter-final against AC Milan at the San Siro.

“I think it’s a mistake to nominate a referee who has mistakes against Barcelona to have the same referee here,” he told Sky Sports. “I say once again he (the referee) decided the game.”

(Writing by Toby Davis in London, Editing by Ken Ferris)

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Manus detainees need to be processed quickly and given certainty

By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

 

Scott Morrison has been unable to guarantee that there will be no more issues on Manus Island.

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(AAP/Alan Porritt)

For the Abbott government, Manus is a literal and political nightmare, as immigration minister Scott Morrison admitted he was unable to guarantee that there wouldn’t be further disturbances.

Other countries, with much more serious pressures from asylum seekers, might wonder how Australia’s outsourced “PNG solution” has come to this. But there was an inevitability about it when detainees live in distressing conditions with no clarity about their future.

Morrison’s answer – that they should not have got on boats – is beside the point.

Following the second consecutive night of violence, this one with a fatality, Tony Abbott spoke with his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Peter O’Neill.

No doubt to his considerable relief, Abbott received assurances that PNG remains committed to the Manus detention centre and to resettling in that country asylum seekers found to be refugees. If PNG tried to go back on its deal, the Australian government would have more trouble.

In the wake of the violence, Abbott also called a meeting in Canberra of cabinet’s national security committee and the government put 100 security personnel on standby.

At morning and evening news conferences, Immigration minister Scott Morrison looked a little shaken but retained some of his usual defiance. Tensions had been there, he said; such a situation had been anticipated, security had recently been strengthened.

People would seek to tear detention centres down; they would make wild allegations, Morrison said. He highlighted that “despite what is a terrible tragedy, the centre stands, the centre operates and the centre was operating first thing this morning.” Breakfast had been served.

The whole thing was cast as another front in the government’s border security war.

Manus Island detention centre. (AAP/Department of Immigration and Citizenship)

So far, a lot of detail is missing about what happened on Monday night. The Iranian died from head injuries but Morrison could not say how or where they were inflicted. Shots were fired by the PNG police, but the circumstances aren’t known. Nor is there any information about how another asylum seeker was shot in the buttocks. Morrison rejected unverified claims that outsiders had attacked the centre and the asylum seekers, but could not be sure people from outside hadn’t gone in.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR visited Manus in October and its report paints a graphic picture of the harsh physical conditions and the detainees’ mood, including their fears about safety following a clash between PNG police and military outside the centre.

The report said bluntly that the PNG practice of detaining all asylum seekers at the closed centre “on a mandatory and open-ended basis, without an individualised assessment as to the necessity, reasonableness and proportionality of the purpose of such detention, amounts to arbitrary detention that is inconsistent with international law”.

It also pointed out that Australia’s responsibilities under international instruments to which it is party “remain engaged and cannot be extinguished by the physical transfer of asylum seekers to PNG”.

The UNHCR made one very key point among many findings and recommendations – and this would surely seem to go to the nub of what the Australian government should be doing.

“UNHCR’s view is that reasonable and appropriate time frames should be implemented and communicated to asylum seekers. This is integral not only for a fair and efficient asylum system, but also for the psycho-social well-being of asylum seekers.”

Uncertainty can be deeply debilitating for people in quite ordinary circumstances, let alone for those who have often been through traumatic experiences and are now locked up in bad conditions.

Setting, in conjunction with PNG, timetables for processing the more than 1300 people on Manus would not be a softening of policy (which the government is determined to avoid at all costs). It would the humane, decent and competent way to proceed.

The processing is done by PNG with Australian mentoring. Somehow Australia has to find a way to have it done more expeditiously. So far, not one person has been found to be a refugee, and Morrison did not think anyone at all had been fully processed.

Asked whether he had a date or a time in his mind for having Manus empty, Morrison said he was “not about to make any sort of speculative forecasts”.

The boats appear to have stopped, with no arrivals for two months. This gives the opportunity to tackle the Manus issue, because it would not be exacerbated by new arrivals. The qualification is that Morrison is threatening to send more people there from Christmas Island.

Forcing the pace of processing would be a start to dealing with the Manus problem, although it would then bring other difficulties including repatriating reluctant people whose claims failed.

The government is determined, as part of its deterrent, to insist that those found to be refugees must be settled in PNG and PNG only. This is something the UNHCR is “very concerned by”. It said in its report that from its nearly 30 years of firsthand experience in the country “it is clear that sustainable integration of non-Melanesian refugees in the socio-economic and cultural life of PNG will raise formidable challenges and protection concerns”.

For people granted asylum on the basis of a genuine fear of persecution in their home country to then need protection from the citizens of their new one would be a cruel twist indeed.

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Ferguson plays himself on Modern Family

Jesse Tyler Ferguson says being gay lawyer Mitch Pritchett in Modern Family is one of the easiest roles he’s taken on because he’s basically playing himself.

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Ferguson and the rest of the Modern Family cast are in Australia to shoot an episode of the hugely popular Network Ten series, in Sydney and on the Great Barrier Reef.

Ferguson said he was initially called to audition for Mitch’s emotionally over-the-top partner Cam Tucker, who is played by the “openly straight” Eric Streetstone.

However, once he was cast as Mitch there was little else to do for the role except turn up on the set each morning and just be himself in the mockumentary-style sitcom.

“Fortunately for me, Mitch is very close to who I am,” Ferguson told AAP.

“When I auditioned for the role, I basically read it for myself and it’s the easiest job I have ever had to do.

“I haven’t had do a lot of research for the role.”

Ferguson says it did take some convincing for the producers to allow him to audition for Mitch after they had him earmarked as Cam on the series, which returns on Monday at 7.30pm.

Mitch’s character was more appealing to Ferguson because it was less flamboyant and, in many ways, a less stereotypical gay role than Cam’s.

To make the producers come around to his way of thinking, Ferguson auditioned for Cam in the same manner the producers were looking to cast Mitch’s character. The ploy worked.

“I read Cameron as I was reading Mitchell because they refused to see me as Mitchell and then they said `you’d be a better Mitchell than Cam’,” Ferguson said.

There was another side of the character Ferguson wanted to explore – the fact it meant being a son and a brother as well.

“I liked the challenge of not just playing Mitchell and being a partner, but a son, and a brother, and I like playing people who are serious and finding that a challenge,” he said.

Ferguson has used his role on the sitcom to fight for marriage equality across the US by selling a designer collection of bow ties under business of Tie The Knot.

Ferguson married his partner Justin Mikita last July in New York and they channel the proceeds from Tie The Knot towards various organisations championing the cause of gay and lesbian rights in the US.

* Modern Family season five returns at 7.30pm on Monday, February 24 on Network Ten

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Cuba makes Hemingway trove available to US

Cuba has released to US researchers copies of more than 2000 documents related to Ernest Hemingway, media reported in Havana, the American literary giant’s home during the 1940s and 1950s.

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“More than 2000 documents held at the Finca Vigia Museum in Havana are now available for the first time for researchers in the United States after having been digitised and sent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum,” the Cuba Contemporanea magazine wrote on its website.

Now a museum, Finca Vigia, which means “lookout house” is located in the town of San Francisco de Paula just outside Havana. It was Hemingway’s home during much of his more than two-decade-long residence in Cuba.

Among the treasures now accessible to US scholars at the Kennedy Library in Boston is the 1954 telegram from the Nobel Prize Committee in Sweden informing Hemingway that he had just been awarded its prestigious literature prize.

A statement from the Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts said the trove of documents, which had never seen outside of Cuba, includes letters, passports, telegrams, household accounts, bar bills and recipes.

“We are pleased to make available to researchers copies of these materials that provide a unique glimpse into the everyday life of Ernest Hemingway,” said Tom Putnam, Director of the Kennedy Library.

“For a literary figure who is often portrayed as larger than life, this trove of personal ephemera serves to humanise the man and to understand the writer.”

Officials said it is the second large document release from the Finca Vigia. A first huge tranche of 3000 digitised images was donated to the Kennedy Library in 2008.

Hemingway, who took his own life in 1961 at the age of 61 after returning to the United States, wrote some of his most famous works in Cuba, including For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea.

He was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his mastery of the art of narrative … and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.”

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Barcelona, PSG take huge step in CL

Four-time winners Barcelona and French champions Paris Saint-Germain took huge strides towards the Champions League last eight on Tuesday as they both won away from home in their last-16, first-leg ties.

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Barcelona prevailed 2-0 over Manchester City but scoring both their goals, a penalty by Lionel Messi and a late goal by Dani Alves, only after Argentinian defender Martin Demichelis was sent off eight minutes into the second half.

PSG, who were eliminated by Barcelona in the quarter-finals last season, thumped German outfit Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 in Germany but, unlike Barcelona, took the match by the scruff of the neck early on and led 3-0 at halftime with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring two of them.

The City and Barcelona clash turned in the 53rd minute when Demichelis brought down Messi, with replays suggesting the foul happened just outside the penalty area.

However, Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson thought otherwise and not only awarded the penalty but also sent off Demichelis.

City did not wilt and had their chances to pull level but instead were hit by a sucker punch at the end as the always dangerous Alves nipped in to slot home a sweetly-taken goal.

Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas said it had been an important statement by his side in light of some remarks, especially by former Real Madrid and now Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who had said they were the worst Barcelona team of “many years”.

“Some people have been doing a lot of talking, nothing new there with one of them, and hopefully this will make them shut up for a few days,” he said.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini blamed Eriksson for tilting the game in Barcelona’s favour.

“Before the penalty there was the foul on (Jesus) Navas, when he (Eriksson) was three metres from the player, so he saw it without any problem,” Pellegrini said.

“From the beginning I felt that the referee was not impartial to both teams. The penalty on Martin Demichelis was not a penalty – it was outside the box.”

While that match remained tight until the end, the other game was over as a contest by halftime as PSG overwhelmed the German side.

Blaise Matuidi scored the opener and Ibrahimovic struck, the second of his goals was a scorching effort from outside the box.

The hosts’ chances of at least getting a goal back decreased markedly when Bosnian international defender Emir Spahic – who had been responsible for conceding the penalty that Ibrahimovic scored for his first goal – was sent off for a second bookable offence.

“We had a good start and when you are one goal up, it’s easier, it gives you space,” said Ibrahimovic.

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Leishman sets sights on Scott and Day

Australia’s No.

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3 Marc Leishman has set his sights on joining countrymen Adam Scott and Jason Day among world golf’s elite.

At 65th in the world Leishman has ground to make up on world No.2 Scott and No.11 Day, but the 30-year-old Victorian isn’t content to stay in their shadows.

He has earmarked the next few months as his chance to break inside the world top 50 for the first time and doesn’t intend to settle for that.

It begins with his debut at the WGC-Match Play Championship in Arizona this week where he faces world No.8 Sergio Garcia first up.

“I feel like I am playing well enough to knock on Jason’s (Day) door and give him a run for his money and on my day I know I can compete with both of those guys (Scott and Day),” Leishman said.

“It is certainly an opportune time for me to make a move in the rankings.

“If you can go deep in this tournament you can make a significant jump and then it runs into more tournaments like Bay Hill and the Masters where I’ve played well before.”

A former US PGA Tour rookie of the year and a one-time winner on the tour in 2012, Leishman led last year’s Masters after the opening round before finishing tied fourth behind winner Scott.

He also played clutch golf as a captain’s pick his Presidents Cup debut.

But Leishman’s confidence shouldn’t be mistaken as arrogance.

“I know I still have to play good golf,” he said.

“Nothing is just given to you out here, I know that, and I intend to keep working hard so everything comes together.

“Adam and Jason have played a lot more consistently then me in the last few years and have earned their place and the respect that comes with it.

“Consistency is something I need to improve on but it is definitely a goal of mine to firstly break into the top 50 and then start looking at the top 20 and top 10 after that.

“I have shown I can mix it with the best and play well in big tournaments so it is just a matter of continuing to do that and still play well in the other events.

“I have to consistently keep my finger on the button.”

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Burberry show was crazy: Suki Waterhouse

Model Suki Waterhouse says walking in the Burberry Prorsum show was crazy, exciting and nerve wracking.

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The British model has fast become one of the hottest names in the industry and has had a busy week walking in various runway shows for London Fashion Week.

On Monday, the 22-year-old took to the catwalk for Burberry.

“(It’s) crazy, really exciting and nerve-wracking. I kind of want to do it again now,” Waterhouse gushed to British magazine Grazia backstage.

Waterhouse said it was a dream come true.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but it was always what I wanted to do from the start.”

Walking alongside Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn, Waterhouse and the rest of the models sported monogrammed ponchos for the finale of the show.

Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey showcased a more relaxed bohemian take on the Autumn/Winter 14 trends.

Suki didn’t have time to let nerves set in ahead of the presentation as she only heard she’d be walking at the last minute.

“I didn’t find out until really recently, you don’t always know. So there wasn’t much time to prepare.

“It’s all so calm backstage. I love everyone here. I love Christopher Bailey … I love all the hair and make-up people. Because it’s such a high standard everyone’s very relaxed,” Waterhouse said.

The show drew in an A-lost front row, including the model’s boyfriend Bradley Cooper.

Harry Styles also took in the new trends, as did former bond girl Naomie Harris.

The audience were treated to live music from Paloma Faith to accompany the new collection.

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Bail for man who ‘threatened’ NSW parly

A disgruntled former taxi driver who allegedly threatened to blow up himself and NSW Parliament House has been granted bail.

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Abdula Ganiji, 58, sparked a dramatic two-hour stand-off with riot police last December after parking outside state parliament with two fuel containers in his car.

Ganiji then allegedly called ‘Triple 0’ and said “there’s a bomb in the car and I’m going to blow this house”.

The siege put the government building into lockdown, with NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell holed up inside.

In granting Ganiji bail in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Justice Peter Hidden said that psychological assessments revealed the former cabbie was unlikely to harm others.

The court was told Ganiji had become obsessed with the injustice of losing his job as a taxi driver in Wollongong in 1999.

He has since written repeatedly to state MPs and had held a hunger strike outside parliament for eight days in 2012.

Quoting a psychiatrist’s report, Justice Hidden said Ganiji had “strong thoughts of dying of a hunger strike or dying of burning himself in front of Parliament House”.

He noted that Ganiji’s psychiatrist of more than 10 years believed the former taxi driver had a strong moral code and was “unlikely to ever be able to harm anyone”.

Appearing on video link from Bathurst Prison, Ganiji remained expressionless throughout proceedings.

He has been charged with offences including threatening sabotage, possessing an explosive device to damage property, and threatening to destroy or damage property.

Ganiji has been placed under strict bail conditions, including not going to Sydney’s CBD without adult accompaniment.

He is also not able to approach any member of parliament but he is still allowed to write to them.

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Prof raises alarm over cancer ‘cure’ hype

One of Australia’s most respected medical specialists has raised the alarm about hyped-up promises of genetic cures for cancer and other diseases.

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The hype has the potential to do more harm than good, says Dr Robyn Ward, Director of Cancer Services at Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the University of NSW.

People with serious illnesses are reading and being told on TV that their their genetic information is going to revolutionise their care.

However, the last time cancer treatment was truly transformed was in the late 1990s with the leukaemia drug Glivec.

But treatments like Glivec and Herceptin for breast cancer did not arrive as sudden breakthroughs.

Developments that improve the prospects of cancer patients typically involve small steps and rigorous research over many years.

A decade of promises about personalised cancer medicine has not come to fruition, says Prof Ward in an editorial in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

“With Glivec, people thought that because you had that one transformational change to one rare disease, the same model would apply to the majority of other cancers,” she told AAP.

“But that has not proved to be the case.

“Sometimes there are commercial interests behind the hype.”

A particular concern is the touting of over-priced new treatments to patients before rigorous trials expected for all new medications are completed.

So far there had been real but small benefits for some patients, Prof Ward said.

“But it’s not about a cure. It’s about prolonging life, and mostly only by months.”

The over-hyping of treatments put a lot of pressure on doctors and could cause dismay for patients and families.

“People come along with the expectation that you have a magic bullet in your back pocket.

“We can end up replacing proven treatments with something that is shiny and new when the old thing would have done a much better job.”

Another concern was misleading information about the value of sequencing a person’s DNA.

“There is important research going on, but it will take time before the information from gene sequencing is useful to patients.”

She said this concern was backed by the US Food and Drug Administration, which had ordered the personalised genetics company 23andMe to stop marketing a $US99 ($A110) DNA test to the public.

Doctors wanted progress, she said.

“But we want to be confident we are advising patients on the basis of good evidence.”

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Half-year profit triples for Ebos

Ebos Group says its first-half profit has more than tripled after acquiring Australian drug wholesaler and distributor Symbion.

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Profit was $NZ49.9 million ($A46.36 million) in the six months to December 31, up from about $NZ15 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Sales jumped to $NZ3 billion from $NZ755 million.

Ebos had forecast a profit of $NZ48.7m on sales of $NZ3.17b at its annual meeting in October.

Last year’s $NZ1.1b purchase of Symbion was a game-changer for Ebos, more than tripling annual revenue in a deal that gave Symbion’s owner, Zuellig Group, a cornerstone 40 per cent stake in the New Zealand business and adding to the Hong Kong-based group’s 30 stake in chemist chain PharmacyBrands.

The company has grown to include medical products distribution, pet products and now pharmaceuticals with 19 acquisitions in 12 years.

Ebos Chairman Rick Christie will retire at the company’s annual meeting in October after 10 years in the role and will be replaced by the company’s chief executive Mark Waller. In turn, Mr Waller will be replaced by Symbian CEO Patrick Davies.

Ebos chief financial officer Dennis Doherty, who held off retiring pending the Symbion purchase, will be replaced by Symbion’s CFO John Cullity.

Ebos will pay a first-half dividend of 20.5 NZ cents a share.

The company operates as two main divisions, healthcare and animal care. In the first half, revenue from healthcare soared to $NZ2.8b from $NZ673m a year earlier, reflecting revenue from Symbion, while profit climbed to $NZ52.2m from $NZ12.8m.

Animal care, made up of the Procter & Gamble pet care, Eukanuba and IAMS pet food, and the Vitapet grocery brands acquired with the 2011 acquisition of Masterpet Group for $NZ105m plus debt, lifted sales to $NZ177m from $NZ81m and profit rose to $NZ9.5m from $NZ6.4m.

The company said it assessed “a number of acquisition opportunities” in the first half though none had met its shareholder returns criteria.

With the addition of Symbion, Ebos got $NZA2.09b of its revenue across the Tasman, while New Zealand sales accounted for $NZ649.6m.

Profit from Australia was $NZA41.7m and from New Zealand was $NZ14.8m.

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