Tulip Top Gardens will re-open this year, but no decision has been made about this year’s Floriade location. Picture: Jess Barraclough
Coach-loads of visitors are already booked into the popular Canberra region attraction Tulip Top Gardens which is due to re-open in spring after being closed last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The family-run gardens just off the Federal Highway over the border at Sutton will be celebrating its 25th year of operation when it re-opens from September 11 to October 10.
Co-owner Pat Rhodin said they would be guided by NSW Health but so far it was all systems go. “At this stage, it’s reasonably back to normal,” she said.
2020 was the first time the gardens, which feature 1000 blossom trees, had not been opened to the public.
This week’s announcement by Tulip Top comes as a final decision has yet to be made about what format Canberra’s festival of spring, Floriade, will take this year.
Floriade did not take place as a big event in Commonwealth Park last year due to the ACT government’s concerns about the coronavirus risk, with plantings spread throughout the city in Floriade: Reimagined.
An ACT government spokesperson said on Wednesday that a decision about whether Floriade would go ahead in Commonwealth Park had not yet been taken. But last year’s Floriade Community program – in which 300,000 bulbs were distributed to more than 90 community groups which planted and maintained them through spring – would be repeated in 2021.
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“Events ACT is taking learnings from our delivery of the Enlighten Festival and working through options for events scheduled later this year. This process also includes involvement from the Office of the Chief Health Officer, to ensure events are delivered in line with public health directions,” the spokesperson said.
“A final decision has not yet been made about Floriade 2021 event dates and format. The Floriade Community program will continue in 2021, however the scale of the event in Commonwealth Park will be determined in coming months.”
No decision has been made on whether Floriade will return to Commonwealth Park this year. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Pat Rhodin, meanwhile, said while she was disappointed Tulip Top couldn’t open last year, the summer rain had been very welcome as they undertook their plantings for this spring. There had been lots of inquiries with coaches and other large groups already booked in.
“We’re looking to it,” she said.
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Update: At the end of 2018 Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle hired Scott Johnson to rein in Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
Now Rugby Australia’s new CEO Andy Marinos, who was coached by Johnson at Wales, must decide whether or not to keep the well-travelled figure as director of rugby.
It can be revealed that Johnson’s contract with RA runs out at year’s end.
Johnson wants to continue in the role.
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But it comes at a price.
RA, in a desperate attempt to rein in Cheika ahead of the last World Cup, paid Scotland Rugby up to $150,000 in compensation to get their man out of the final months of his contract.
One source described it as a ludicrous decision to pay Scotland out for Johnson’s services.
On top of that, Johnson is getting paid an estimated $400,000.
Various sources had indicated the DOR was on a contract worth as much as $700k, but it’s understood that figure was too high.
Both Johnson and Wallabies coach Dave Rennie are believed to be in contracts that add up to Cheika’s $1.2 million contract, which was signed following Australia’s 2015 World Cup final result by then CEO Bill Pulver.
Even still, Johnson’s price is a hefty price for a cash-strapped union.
But, according to one former Wallabies coach, the role of director of rugby, a “conduit” between the Wallabies and the states, as well as the pathways to the club system and under-20s, is important.
The issue is RA has a number of figures within their organisation which overlap.
Under Johnson sits Rennie, but in the operation side of the business is Adrian Thompson (national head of talent management), Nick Taylor (contracting manager), Ben Whitaker (high performance, professional services), James Selby (community) and Chris Webb (Wallabies manager).
All the while, Marinos, unlike his predecessor, has experience in a number of those positions having served in roles for the South African Rugby Union where he worked as GM for Commercial and Marketing as well as Springboks team manager, manager of South Africa National Teams and Acting Managing Director and Board Member.
Johnson is a mysterious figure.
Everywhere he’s gone his legacy has been tarnished by the fact his record as an interim head coach is a poor one.
When a void needed to be filled at Wales, he stepped up for a short time.
Ditto in Scotland.
But his role as DOR has gone well beyond head coaching.
Yet, the 58-year-old has found a niche role where he does very little hands on coaching and so the issue of accountability inevitably arises.
Johnson is considered a good, though odd guy, and a big thinker.
He throws up contrary views around tactics.
It’s understood former Wallabies coach John Connolly thought of him as a capable assistant coach having been thrust into the job following Eddie Jones’ sacking.
He watches training sessions at national and provincial level from the sidelines, rarely getting hands on with anyone.
Nor has the fact the vast majority of the Wallabies coaching structure, including Johnson and Rennie, living almost 1,000 kilometres north of Rugby Australia’s headquarters at Moore Park gone down well with anyone.
Since moving on as Wallabies coach, Cheika has said he should have resigned as soon as Johnson was appointed.
But it’s understood he was so desperate to coach the Wallabies through to the World Cup that he agreed for Johnson to come on board.
Varying sources say Johnson tried to keep at arm’s length from Cheika, acknowledging the Wallabies was his team and ultimately, as his selections against Wales showed in their crucial World Cup pool match, he got his way.
While Johnson’s appointment was a patch job to try and rein Cheika in, his role goes beyond the Wallabies and selection.
Asked whether he wants to remain in the role beyond 2021, Johnson said he did.
“My preference is [to stay],” Johnson told foxsports.com.au.
“I travel around the world but I stay at places for a long time too. I just leave when I can’t add to it.
“Australian rugby’s been good to me. It’s giving me great opportunities in life for a young bloke from Parramatta that’s lived around the world. It’s been an honour to be in my job. And if people want me to stay, I would look at it favourably because the job’s not finished.
“My view is the job’s not finished that I came back to do. The job’s not finished and I’d like to finish the job.”
Pressed on when he thinks the job will be complete, Johnson didn’t mince his words.
“When we’re number one in the world and we’ve got winning teams. It’s pretty simple,” he said.
At the heart of his job is getting the alignment of the pathways through.
As he says, “when we’ve got alignment from top to bottom, that’s when we’re at our best place.”
Johnson has seen the Queensland Reds as his baby since returning to Australia.
He swooped in on Tim Walsh’s efforts to bring James O’Connor back to Australia with the Olympics, which were scheduled for 2020, as the avenue for his return.
Walsh got Cheika on board too, which would see him eligible for selection at the 2019 World Cup. But Johnson believed if O’Connor was to play for the Wallabies he had to play Super Rugby.
O’Connor has been a revelation for the Reds since.
Johnson also believes he’s played a crucial role in securing Australia’s best young talent from the relatively successful Junior Wallabies side that lost in the under-20s World Cup final.
In truth, Reds General Manager Sam Cordingley deserves much of the credit.
But the re-emergence of the Reds after almost a decade of inept results might show Johnson’s influence rubbing off.
Ensuring the Waratahs don’t take as long in their rebuild will be, if he’s given the time, Johnson’s true test.
After all, Australian rugby needs wins and they don’t have any loose change to waste.
More than 2 million residents across Greater Brisbane are holding their breath as they wait to hear if the region’s three-day lockdown will end as planned at 5:00pm or if Easter holiday celebrations will be thrown into disarray.
Health authorities will decide this morning whether to ease restrictions in time for the holiday season.
Queensland recorded two cases of community transmission on Wednesday, down from six local infections on Monday.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the fact all cases had been linked was “encouraging” and she had her “fingers crossed” that the lockdown would not be extended over Easter.
“If we see very good testing rates across Queensland again, and we don’t see any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“If it’s encouraging news … we will be lifting the hotspot for Greater Brisbane.”
She said Queensland had recorded “probably our highest” testing numbers yet, with more than 33,000 people screened in the last reporting period.
Like many residents across Greater Brisbane, Donna Maher is hoping for good news this morning.
She was supposed to travel to Fraser Island with her two young sons today, but those plans have been put on ice.
“I’m half packed but then, not completely – I figured I’d just do what I can,” Ms Maher said.
“I think all Queenslanders are really ready for the Easter break, so crossing fingers for all of us that we do get to go away.
“The boys love surfing so we’ll be able to hopefully catch a few waves.”
The lockdown has been devastating for the state’s tourism industry, with operators experiencing mass cancellations this week from interstate and south-east Queensland travellers.
The Byron Bay Bluesfest, which was due to open today, has been called off after a local COVID-19 infection was detected.
The case has been traced to the Byron Beach Hotel, which an infected visitor from Brisbane attended last week.
Churches across Greater Brisbane have been scrambling to put contingency plans in place in case traditional Easter services cannot go ahead.
Brisbane Anglican Archbishop Phillip Aspinall said he was hopeful restrictions would be lifted in time for the important holy season.
“There is a sense of strength and joy that comes from being together to be able to celebrate Easter,” Archbishop Aspinall said.
“Plan B is that we can’t go to church, or only very few people can, in which case we would live stream our services from the cathedral and other parish churches.”
Easter services were locked down last year, forcing Archbishop Aspinall to preach alone in Brisbane’s St John’s Cathedral.
Several large sporting events due to be held in Brisbane are also up in the air, including the Australian Youth Water Polo Championships and Swimming Australia’s national age championships.
“We will provide further updates once more information is available, with relevant government advice and the health and safety of athletes, coaches, officials and staff paramount in any decision making,” a Swimming Australia spokeswoman said.
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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Thursday morning that the shutdown would end at midday ahead of the Easter long weekend.It was due to expire at 5pm but Ms Palaszczuk brought this forward due to all local cases in the past 48 hours being linked to a known infection.“That is good news for Queensland and Easter is good to go,” she told reporters.A number of new restrictions will come into effect from midday on Thursday, including the enforcement of wearing masks in public until April 15.“All Queenslanders will be required to carry a mask when they leave their home,” Ms Palaszczuk said.NSW has recorded no new infections other than a case diagnosed on Tuesday.The case was recorded after 8pm on Tuesday and was included in Thursday’s announcement.The infectious person attended the same venue as a hen’s party in Byron Bay where positive cases in Queensland were recorded.UPDATED NEW VENUE ALERTSA gym and a pub in Byron Bay are the latest venues to be rocked by COVID-19 as the Queensland cluster continues to spread. The advice comes after Health Minister Brad Hazzard signed a public health order cancelling the planned Bluesfest over the Easter period.NSW Health authorities late on Wednesday urged anyone who attended the Surfit Gym in Lennox Head on March 28 between 6-11am to get tested and self-isolate until they receive further advice from NSW Health after it was visited by a confirmed case of COVID-19.Anyone who attended the Park Hotel/Model in Suffolk Park on the same date between 1-2pm is also urged to follow the same advice. LATEST NSW VENUE ALERTS ISSUED WED, 9PMPeople who visited the Pro Shop in East Ballina between 2.25-2.35 are considered close contacts and must immediately test and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.Meanwhile, anyone who attended the venues below at the times listed is considered a casual contact and must get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is received. RESTRICTIONS IN PLACEThe following rules apply to the local government areas of Tweed Shire Council, Ballina Shire Council, Byron Shire Council and Lismore City Council:• Mask wearing is compulsory on public transport, in retail stores, and in all public indoor settings• the one person per 4 square metre rule applies at all public indoor settings including hospitality venues • the number of household visitors is capped at 30, including at holiday rental properties• patrons cannot eat or drink standing up, dance or sing at non-residential premisesThese restrictions will remain in place until 11:59pm on Monday 5 April, when the community will be updated.NAT – Stay Informed – Social Media
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Tabcorp chairman Steven Gregg says a sale of its wagering arm hinges just as much on clearing regulatory hurdles and getting the racing industry onside as it does on bidders lifting their offers
The ASX-listed gambling group on Monday formally rejected a $3 billion offer from the British owner of rival outfit Ladbrokes for its wagering and media division, deeming it too low.
US private equity group Apollo was also reportedly in pursuit of Tabcorp’s wagering business, while the Murdoch family’s Fox Corporation has also explored making an offer as it prepares to launch its own FoxBet brand in Australia.
However Tabcorp, valued at $10 billion, said it would now run a three-month strategic review that could open the door to either selling the wagering division or hiving it off from its booming lotteries division in a demerger.
Mr Gregg, who took over as chair from Paula Dwyer in January, said he was “very happy” for suitors to come back with higher bids. Market sources say Tabcorp wants at least $3.5 billion for the wagering arm but the review would have to fully assess how difficult a sale would be.
“Its just as much about… deal certainty as it is value,” he said. “At the moment value is well under what it is worth, but also we need to get comfortable with completion risk.”
Hurdles to a sale would include the Australian Competition and Consumer Comission (ACCC) objecting to Ladbrokes’ owner Entain buying the Australian wagering market’s biggest player, Mr Gregg said. Meanwhile, any new owner would also need the blessing of state-based racing bodies that licence TAB’s monopoly retail operations.
“Everything is overcomable – it’s just a matter of time and money and disruption,” he said. “If we go down a path of selling the company, which would take 12 months to do, you want to be very clear that you’re going to sell the company at the price you agreed.”
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Brisbane City Council has voted to formally put the city forward as host of the 2032 Olympic bid after a closed meeting with confidential briefings from those deeply involved in early planning for the event, with a final decision expected to be as close as July.
Only Greens Gabba ward councillor Jonathan Sri voted against the motion after the eight-hour session, for which all had to sign confidentiality agreements. The chamber rung with applause as the meeting was again called to a close.
The council’s vote to sign on as host city will form part of the formal bid for the games, to be presented to the International Olympic Committee next month, after the proposal spanning south-east Queensland was installed as the preferred candidate by the IOC last month.
An online survey has also been opened by the council until April 20 for a new “City Centre Interim Action Plan” to build on the 2014 City Centre Master Plan amid the CBD’s sluggish COVID-19 pandemic recovery and forward focus on the major sporting event.
Media and the public were allowed to sit in only the start of the special meeting on Tuesday morning — the first held by council since deliberations on Clem7 tunnel proposals in 2007 — before it was closed for presentations by AOC president John Coates, also vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, and Paralympics Australia president Jock O’Callaghan.
Statements and presentations were also given by Queensland’s Tourism Industry Development and Innovation and Sports Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and his federal counterpart Richard Colbeck. Representatives of consultants EKS and law firm Clayton Utz also addressed the chamber.
Lord mayor Adrian Schrinner was among those who gave a presentation as chair of the bid leadership group formed by the state and federal governments, south-east Queensland Council of Mayors and AOC.
Independent Tennyson ward councillor Nicole Johnston called for Cr Schrinner to declare a conflict of interest at the meeting — deemed unneccessary by chair Andrew Wines — as a result of this and his position on the SEQ Council of Mayors, which has also been advocating for the Games.
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A Victorian Aboriginal corporation says it is confident the land deal underpinning its $34 million settlement with the state government will be reinstated, after the Federal Court ordered it be set aside.
The Taungurung people’s 20,210-square-kilometre Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) stretches across the central Victorian towns of Kilmore, Seymour and Alexandra, and up to Euroa and the Ovens Valley tourist town of Bright.
The agreement, which was formally registered by the National Native Title Tribunal in April last year, formed part of the Taungurung Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation’s 2018 traditional owner settlement with the Victorian government.
The $34 million settlement included joint management of several national parks and funds to generate economic opportunities.
The traditional owner settlement process was set up by the Victorian government in 2010 as an alternative means of recognising Aboriginal peoples’ connection to country to the federal native title process.
Last month, the Federal Court found the native title tribunal had failed to adequately consider detailed points raised by objectors to the Taungurung ILUA when it registered the agreement last year.
The objectors behind the Federal Court action argue the ILUA, which precludes future native title claims over the land it covers, interferes with their sovereign rights as Dhudhuroa, Waywurru and Ngurai Illum Wurrung people.
On Friday, Justice Debra Mortimer ruled that the ILUA should be set aside and the tribunal must consider the application for its registration afresh.
Justice Mortimer also ordered that the Victorian government and the Taungurung corporation, who were the main respondents in the case, pay the legal fees of the applicants.
Taungurung Land and Waters Council CEO Matt Burns said the corporation was “very confident” the ILUA would be reinstated by the native title tribunal.
“In the long run, this additional scrutiny will only reinforce the strength of the process that we went through to get to what is hopefully a soon-to-be Taungurung Indigenous Land Use Agreement registration,” he said.
Mr Burns said despite the ILUA being set aside, the Taungurung people’s traditional owner settlement with the Victorian government, which acts “in concert” with the ILUA, could continue.
A Victorian government spokesperson said the Taungurung traditional owner settlement remained in place despite the court’s ruling on the ILUA.
“The Victorian government remains committed to empowering Aboriginal communities in the pursuit of self-determination and land justice – and this settlement was a positive step forward for the Taungurung people,” the spokesperson said.
“As outstanding matters remain before the Court, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
Dhudhuroa Waywurru Nations Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Gary Murray, who was one of the applicants in the Federal Court case, said the objectors planned to continue with a separate Supreme Court challenge to the traditional owner settlement.
The Supreme Court case had been on hold while the Federal Court assessed the validity of the ILUA.
“We’re in for the long haul,” Mr Murray said.
Mr Murray also expressed concern about the use of ILUAs in agreements struck under the Victorian Traditional Owner Settlement Act, where ILUAs are not required.
He said he believed a lot of groups may be opposed to entering into traditional owner settlements with the state if they involve effectively signing away their ability to assert native title rights over the same land in the future.
“That’s a big issue, because an ILUA, is designed to permanently extinguish our native title rights forever and to stop any future generations, unborn generations, from coming back and doing another native title claim,” he said.
“And that’s pretty repugnant to us and that’s starting to get carriage in our discussions across the state.”
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Tom Elliott says Victoria has a big call to make, once international borders re-open.
“We have a decision to make, as a city, as a state,” the 3AW Drive host said on Friday.
“Do we want to go back, once international borders reopen, to the annual increases in population of 120,000, 130,000, 140,000 people.
“Or do we want to continue to press pause?”
Tom Elliott said returning to “normal” would again put pressure on Victoria’s roads, hospitals and education systems.
Click PLAY below to hear more on 3AW
Australia’s population actually fell for the first time since records began 40 years ago during the September quarter.
The nation’s population fell by 4200 people.
Phil Browning, Demography Director at the ABS, spoke about the data with Tom Elliott.
Click PLAY below to hear more on 3AW
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She was also convicted of attempting to murder another partner who survived being shot in the head in 1993, also in Queensland.
While investigating that case, police delved deeper into the disappearance of Mr Gottgens three years earlier.
Byers, who is now in her 70s, was transferred to a South Australian prison in 2009.
She has applied for a judicial review in the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn a Parole Board decision last year to refuse her latest application for release.
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Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says referee Michael Oliver “made a wrong decision” in awarding the penalty from which Arsenal scored the winner in their 2-1 victory at the Emirates.
MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham
Watch highlights from Sunday’s Premier League games on Match of the Day 2 from 22:30 GMT on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app.
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