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Kris and Kristy Lees launch 2016 spring carnival for Newcastle Jockey Clubphotos, video

by admin on 04/12/2018

Team Lees take centre stage TweetFacebookWho wins a race between horse and car? #FlakeTheBachelor#[email protected][email protected]@newcastleheraldpic.twitter杭州m/Y7MyRmBzBD
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— Josh Callinan (@joshuacallinan) September 1, 2016

Lees’ pairSense Of Occasion and Singing, which finished one-two at Rosehill on the weekend, will strive for Newcastle Cup (2200 metres) successin a fortnight.

The Cameron Handicap (1350m) and Tibbie Stakes (1350m) are the othergroup 3 races on Friday the 16th.Ladies day follows on Saturday the 17th.

In the meantime Lees is focused on clinching the $160,000 listedWyong Cup (2100m) with Slow Pace and Olympic Academy on Friday (4.35pm). Slow Pace has Cessnock jockey Robert Thompson on board recentlyback from injury while Olympic Academytook out the Taree Cup on August 21.

“Both of them are a chance of progressing to the Newcastle Cup as well,” Lees said. “It is a traditional lead up race.”

Down in Sydney on Saturday and Lees’Randwick Guineaschampion Le Romain will be the top weight in the $175,000 group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) after a first-up second at the same course last month.

“He has a very consistent record, but it is a really good race with five or six genuine chances,” Lees said.

“Hopefully the fence is alright, drawn barrier one, if races fair think he’ll be right in the race.

“Happy Clapperis the horse I probably have the most respect for in the race.He has run second in a Doncaster, third in the Queen Elizabeth and is very effective first up so will probably be the one to beat.”

The warm-up event for Le Romain will beAustralian track star Winx, hoping to continue a 10-race winning streak in the $250,000 group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m).

“I’m glad I’m not taking her on to be honest,” Lees said.

“Happy to watch.”

Lees’ other Group 1 star Lucia Valentina trials on the Central Coast this Tuesday before targeting the Underwood Stakes atCaulfield on September 24in preparation for aCox Plate charge at Moonee Valley on October 22.

TRACKSIDE: Hunter racing couple Kristy and Kris Lees help launch Newcastle Jockey Club’s spring carnival with Flake at Broadmeadow on Thursday. Picture: Simone De Peak

Returning tothe Newcastle Cup and Lees said it was a title he would like to collect.

“Any feature race is hard to win, but it’s arace which has eluded most Newcastle trainers,” Lees said.

“Ican’t tell you the last trainer to win it.

“We’ve had five placings in the last 10 years or so, but certainly going with a couple of chances anyway.

“Singing has also been nominated for the Caulfield Cup next month, but there’s a long way to go yet.”

Lees’ wife Kristy, who has been to countless meetings,will judge the NJC fashions on the field for ladies day as part of her ambassador role.

“It’s very exciting and I’m honoured to do this job,” she said.

“I think I’ve got the background and I’m looking forward to it.”

Knights playmaker Jarrod Mullen is also an ambassador for the spring carnival.

Jockey Hugh Bowman believes Winx is now the finished product

by admin on 04/12/2018

Cruise control: Hugh Bowman and Winx romp home in the Warwick Stakes. Photo: bradleyphotos杭州m.auChris Waller is once again preparing for the longest couple of minutes of the week, when Winx heads out for Saturday’s Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick.
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Winx has become a champion for the premier trainer but jockey Hugh Bowman believes the best is still to come from the Street Cry five-year-old.

Even though she has won her past 10 races, including five group 1s, Winx has improved with every preparation.

At a Melbourne Cup function on Monday, Bowman labelled her physically immature when she broke the track record in the Cox Plate and said she is still improving, which is remarkable given her five group 1 wins, including a Doncaster Mile victory.

“She was a stronger animal in the autumn and she is stronger now,” Bowman said. “She is a mature mare now. In fact, she was quite immature when she won the Cox Plate.

“In my humble opinion, I think she is a better horse now and I think she’s moving better this preparation than she was last preparation.

“She has strengthened up. Her attitude has developed as well. She is a very focused individual, which I like, and she feels like the finished product.”

Bowman admitted it is hard not to become caught up in the hype surrounding Winx, but it is that time on the way to the barriers where she helps him.

“I was nervous going into the race and there is an element of excitement and anticipation to say the least,” said Bowman of her return in the Warwick Stakes.

“She gives you the ability to relax when you go out on her the way she feels.

“Once I had the mare comfortable [in the race] it was really all over from the 1000-metre mark. What was impressive was she was able to sit up on the pace and be so relaxed and calm.

“I don’t think that is something she would have been able to have done in previous preparations. To me it just shows that next step of maturity.”

Waller described what it is like to have the best mare in the world going out on the track.

“You just try to keep yourself busy during the day because it is a normal race day, but before she races it is the longest two or three minutes of the day,” Waller said.

“For the first half of the race she is like any other horse and I am just waiting for that final 200 metres, like everyone else, to see her under pressure and that acceleration.

“I’m just desperate to see that last 200 metres and see her forge clear and to have an uninterrupted path in the race.

“And hoping there aren’t too many challengers, and most time there aren’t too many.”

Waller will supply five of Winx’s seven rivals in the mile on Saturday and they are on their way to staying events later in the spring.

“It is part of their preparations and think that horses like Storm The Stars and Spiritjim, which are in their second preparation over here, are ready to take another step as they return,” he said.

Waller is starting to get the feeling that Peter Moody had when Black Caviar went through her unbeaten career, but he pointed to one difference between the pair.

“The difference between Winx and Black Caviar is that she has been beaten,” Waller said. “We have tasted defeat with Winx, although it has been a very long time since it happened. We know the feeling and it hurts.

“We have to be mindful that day will come again and we’re enjoying her for what she is and that is an exceptional horse.”

Westfield Kotara hosts inaugural Hunter Harvest in October

by admin on 04/12/2018

LOCAL: Little Bone Broth Co is featuring at pop-up events at Westfield Kotara.
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SOME of the Hunter’s bestcreative makers and specialistproducerswill feature atWestfield Kotara’s Rooftop venue in the coming weeks.

On September 24a pop-up market,Providore J’adore,will give localartists, artisans and creators a chance to sell their authentic, locally designedand beautifully made wareson The Rooftop.

There will be handmade and unique jewellery from The Strutt Sisters, CherryCherry Boom and Jackie Smallcombe Jewellery, bespoke fashion and leather goodsfrom Vous Clothing, Hide and Seeker and I & Mine, and homewares andgifts from makers such as Colour Clouds by Leah, Pottery Ali, Where Things HappenStudio, Concrete Crush and Ritual Object.

Hunter-based businessesImbibe Water Kefir and Little Bone Broth Co will be offering samplesand you will be able to enjoya live art installation by Bridie Watts as well as a bespoke macrame demonstration by the talented MimConcepts.

At the second event, Hunter Harveston October 22, food and wine producers will begiving Westfield customers ataste of what’s on offer this spring in the Hunter Valley.

Twentyof the Hunter’s premium wineries will feature at Hunter Harvest. Some of the names already lockedin includeMargan Wines, Brokenwood,Keith Tulloch Wines, Meerea Park, Tulloch, Drayton’s Family Wines, Hungerford Hilland Pepper Tree Wines.

Many of the wineries, local food producers and chefs from the Hunter Valley will beoffering seasonal tastings and samples as well as foodandwinematching workshops and live cookingdemonstrations.

Westfield Kotara marketing manager Lillias Foster says she is passionate about using TheRooftop to host events that celebrate all the Hunter has to offer.

“We have much to be proud of when it comes to creativity and produce in the Hunterand it is wonderful to have the space to hold bespoke events such as ProvidoreJ’adore and Hunter Harvest at Westfield.

“It is great to be able tobring that relaxed market-vibe to The Rooftop, giving customers the opportunity toshop, relax, eat and chat to local producers and creatives all in the one place.”

More details to come in the Herald.

Christie Dawes will arrive at the Rio Paralympics in career-best formvideo

by admin on 04/12/2018

POSTCARD: Christie Dawes at home near Merewether Beach on Thursday’s picture-perfect start to spring before heading to Rio for her sixth Paralympic Games. Picture: Marina Neil.Christie Dawes has been there and done it all before but the 36-year-old from Merewetherwillarrive in Rio this Sunday in career-best form.
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On the verge of her sixth Paralympic Games, the wheelchair racer has claimed two prestigious national distance titles, broken long-standing course records andhit newperformance markers.

Or as fellow Newcastle-based athlete, training partner and Australian team captain Kurt Fearnley put it –“she is flying”.

Final countdown to #Rio2016 with Christie Dawes from Merewether @[email protected]@newcastleheraldpic.twitter杭州m/8Nv8kfUEES

— Josh Callinan (@joshuacallinan) September 1, 2016

“At the Gold Coast Marathon she smashed the Aussie record of Louise Sauvageby almosteightminutes and then she won the City2Surf in record time as well,” Fearnley said.

“I’ve neverseen Christie push the way she is.”

This sudden surge of confidence, afterdisappointing showings at Boston and London marathons in April,has come about since changing her race position slightly.

Simply lifting her feet and shifting her weight forward, Dawes hasnoticedthe difference and significantly improvedboth her average and top speeds by almost two kilometres an hour.

“I’m able to hang with the pack for longer and itjust makes me more relaxed,” she said.

“I’m pushing well, I’m fit, I’mhealthy and confident about my position. Out of everything, it’s what I’m least worried about.

“NowIknow Ihave done every single thing I can to give myself the best chance of doing well. I can’t ask for anything more than that.”

Dawes will contest four events on her first visit to South America, starting on the track with the women’s1500 and 5000 metre T54 events between September 12 and 15, alongside thewomen’s4x400m T53-54 relay. The main aim of the one-time primary school teacherremains the women’s T54 marathon on the 11thand final day of competition (September 18).

And while medals aren’t at the forefront of her mind, a gold would give Dawes a full set after silver in Beijing (4x100m relay) and bronze in London (5000m).

“The marathon is definitely my main focus, but I feel like I’m agood shot at making finals in both the 1500 and 5000,” she said.

“Idon’t really like thinkingin terms of medals. It doesn’t sit well with me and Idon’t like getting my confidence up. There’s along way to go before getting that shot, so good preparation is all I need at the moment.”

Next week the mother of five-year-old Charliearrives in the village andrejoins coach and husband Andrew as well as Fearnley and Rheed McCraken, who have been training in Florida.

ANALYSIS: Move in position on Games mission

PREVIOUS: Christie Dawes seals selection for sixth Paralympics

Barking dogs are a menace

by admin on 04/12/2018

Have you ever had thefeeling that you want to throttle your neighbour?
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Surely the most common reason for such a heinous, uncivil thought is barking dogs.

Picture this: It’s the weekend. After a long, hard week at work, you find a few spare moments to sit in the garden. It’s a blue sky. The sun is shining. A cold beer is at hand. Or perhaps a cup of tea. There’s no lawnmowers to be heard. The tradesmen who’d been making a racket through the week have mercifully departed.

The kids of the neighbourhood are out playing sport. Or maybe they’re trapped in digital mania. Wherever they are, they can’t be heard screaming, whining or crying.It’s quiet. But just as you sit down in your reclining chair, it starts.

It could be the yap-yap next door. Or the beastly, guttural roar of the German shepherd over the back. It might be the dogs cruelly locked in cages across the road, whosemain purpose seems to be pumping out puppies for profit.

It’s enough to drive you back inside.But then sometimes the piercing sound of a barking dog travels through walls.Sometimes it penetrates skulls, sending people barking mad.

Have you ever noticed that cacophony of barks that sometimes occurs in the neighbourhood? It’s like a barking chorus. It’s like the dogs have joined together in a loud and obnoxious conversation about what they’ve just had to eat or who’s the toughest.

Then there’s the jealous bark. This never fails to happen when an owner walks adog past other dogs perennially stuck behind fences.

The odd barkfest is a pain in the backside, but it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes dogs bark.It’snuisance barkingthat can test the patience of the most zen-like humans.That is, dogs that bark often.

What’s going on with the owners of these dogs? They seem to be letting the dogs bark. Aren’t they bothered themselves by the barking? Or have they become immune to it –like those people who live near railway lines?

They might yell “shut up Spot” or “Fido, stop it” every now and then. Funnily enough, this doesn’t seem to have much effect.Perhaps these people tried to stop their dog barking, buthad no luck. So they just gave up.

Some councils have stated that barking dogs create more disputes between neighbours than any other issue, and result in a large number of complaints to council every year.

In February this year, a dispute about barking dogs led to a man being shot in the chest in Victoria.In 2005, a barking dog was poisoned to death in San Jose, California. The owner received a note on her gate, which said: “Your dog was barking. If you don’t do something about it, I will”.

Like I said, barking dogs make people mad.So why do dogs bark?

For instance, Newcastle council’s website says: “Barking is simply one way dogs communicate and can mean anything from playfulness to danger”.

The council says some reasons for dogs barking are: Being chained to a fixed point and not having enough room to move around; being deliberately or unintentionally provoked by people or other roaming animals; not being properly trained; being lonely, sick, hungry or generally neglected and not getting enough exercise.

Now there’s an idea. How about taking your dog for a walk every day?

Fox turning King Arthur into NYC police drama, no joke

by admin on 04/12/2018

Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Not a cop show set in Manhattan Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s King Arthur fighting the Black Kinight: Also not a cop drama set in New York City. Photo: Supplied
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Fox is re-imagining the King Arthur legend as a police procedural drama set in New York City, and no, that that’s not a joke.

Camelot features a graffiti artist named Art who is impelled to team up with his best friend, Lance, and his former partner Gwen, “an idealistic cop” after “an ancient magic reawakens in modern-day Manhattan”.

Art must do this “in order to realise his destiny and fight back against the evil forces that threaten the city”.

The Hollywood Reporter said the series, written and co-executive produced by Dan Frey and Ru Sommer, also features Gail Berman and Joe Earley of The Jackal Group as executive producers,

Of all the Arthurian adaptations, and there have been many, King Arthur meets cop drama might just be the most audacious/bonkers.

It probably trumps Transformers: The Last Knight, director Michael Bay’s fifth Transformers film, which is expected to pit King Arthur against Autobots and Decepticons, and is released in 2017.

And Guy Ritchie’s upcoming King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which marries the style of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels with mud-covered sixth century Britain.

But maybe not Mr Merlin, a short-lived and daggily fabulous 1980s sitcom featuring Merlin as a modern-day mechanic who has a dog called Arthur and a new apprentice called Zac who pulls a magical crowbar out of concrete.

Then there is Monty Python and the Holy Grail which may be the best King Arthur depiction of all.

Camelot’s twisting of the classic legend in modern Manhattan offers thrilling plot point musing.

Will Art, fresh from spraying his tag on the NYC subway, pull a magic hot dog from a sidewalk hot dog stand?

Will Gwen have a round table in her apartment that everyone likes sitting around to have serious discussions?

And where is Merlin? Is he a wise-cracking police chief with an against-the-system beard habit? Or a hooded hip-hop artist who only speaks via messages printed on his sneakers?

In other bold TV adaptation news, Fox is also developing Houdini & Doyle, a drama featuring the famous magician Harry Houdini teaming up with famous author Arthur Conan Doyle to help Scotland Yard investigate crime.

So Camelot, Law & Order: Special Medieval Unit, might not be all that ridiculous.

Warning: don’t post photos of your tickets on social media

by admin on 04/12/2018

Cheaper tickets are selling on Gumtree. Photo: GumtreeAs the AFL and NRL finals seasons approach, Ticketmaster has issued a reminder to excited social media users not to post full images of their tickets online.
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“In recent times, there has been an increase in fraudulent behaviour whereby people browse the internet and social media sites looking for ticket barcodes that can be copied and resold”, the ticket-seller warned in a blog post.

“It is unfortunate that a simple and innocent Facebook post can lead to major problems, but in the interest of protecting live event fans we need to send a strong message about online safety”.

The warning comes as tickets to next week’s AFL match between West Coast and the Western Bulldogs have begun to appear on online auction sites. Tickets to the sold-out game have appeared on Ticketmaster’s official resale site at inflated prices, in one case for almost six times the original value, making the tickets on eBay and Gumtree all the more attractive.

Although copied tickets recreated from an image of a barcode would be unlikely to hold up to close scrutiny, it’s conceivable that one could be sold and allow its holder entry to the event, meaning the original purchaser would be denied.

AFL General Manager Darren Birch said fans that did not buy their tickets through official channels were taking a risk, even if the ticket turned out to be genuine.

“If they do not purchase their tickets through an official agent then there is no guarantee that they will get what they pay for or that they will get entry to the game,” Birch said.

“Where the tickets can be identified they will be cancelled in accordance with the standard terms and conditions for entry into an AFL game.”

The dangers of posting pictures of barcodes on social media was demonstrated late last year when a punter at the Melbourne Cup backed a 100-to-1 shot, won, and posted a picture of herself with the ticket on Facebook.

By the time she took her ticket to the TAB 15 minutes later, someone she was friends with on Facebook had apparently used her photo to claim her $825 winnings from an automated machine.

Ticketmaster suggests that, if you must share pictures of your tickets on social media, you at least cover up or edit out the barcode.

Newcastle’s clash with Dragons a trial for captain’s review systempoll

by admin on 04/12/2018

NEWCASTLE’S dead-rubber game against St George Illawarra at Kogarah Oval on Saturday will becomea historic occasionin which a“captain’s challenge” system will be trialledin the NRL for the first time.
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POINT OF CONTENTION: Knights skipper Trent Hodkinson and referee Gavin Badger debate a decision earlier in the season. Picture: Getty Images

Neither the Knights, who are distant wooden spooners, nor the Dragons can make the finals, so NRL officials decided it was an opportune time to experiment.

If it receives widespread approval, the NRL will consider introducing it for all games next season.

Similar referral processes have been used in international cricket, tennis and hockey for years.

Under the experimentalrules, each captain will be allowed to challenge refereeing decisions relatingto tries only.

The referees will be required to make a decision on the field, and it will be reviewed by the bunker only if a challenge is made.

Each team will be allowed one challenge per half, which isretained if it is upheld upon review.

Hence, until a challenge is overruled, a captain theoretically has unlimited opportunities to query try-scoring decisions.An additional challenge will be allowed for each team in the final fiveminutes of the game and in golden-point extra time.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said his club welcomed the chance to be involved in the test case, adding optimistically: “We don’t plan on conceding any tries this weekend, so hopefully we won’t need any reviews.’’

The referees in charge of handling the landmark trial will beHenry Perenara andMatt Noyen.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg insisted no decision had been made with regards to introducing the system for the long term.

“If it’s successful, we will look at it to maybe put into the game next year,” Greenberg said.

“I’m not saying it’s definitely coming through but we’re very hopeful of the concept …the bunker gives us the opportunity to trial the captain’s challenge with state-of-the-art technology to help determine whether a try has been scored.

“We will assess the trial to determine if there is scope to use the captain’s challenge more widely in the future.”

The initiative will be also used duringthe National Youth Competition (under-20) play-offs.

“We trialled this in the 20s for a number of years but we didn’t have the technology to support it,” Greenberg said.

“Now we have the technology to use.We’ve been working on this quietly for a couple of months and we’re ready to trial it.’’

In Saturday’s game, the video-review bunker will continue to be used for 40/20 rulings, goal-line drop-outs and 20-metre restarts, reportable foul play, double knock-on rulings and to determine which team touched the ball last before going over the touchline.

Rebels invade Parliament House, no one notices

by admin on 04/12/2018

Weapons of mass distraction: They came armed – or perhaps eared – only with headphones.It’s a philosophical puzzler for the Age of Terror, the cyber-equivalent of a tree falling in the woods. If a group of eco-warriors lays siege to Parliament House but no one notices, did it really happen?
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It’s not an abstract question. It actually did happen – or did not, depending on your philosophical position – on Wednesday, as the guests at a “listening party” for the soundtrack of the controversial play Kill Climate Deniers descended on the national seat of power, right under the noses of heavily armed security staff, who either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

It was a stealth attack – so stealthy, in fact, that the organisers, playwright David Finnigan and musician Reuben Ingall, don’t know the exact size of their invading force.

“We don’t know how many were there,” says Finnigan. “All we could see were lots of people moving through the building with headphones on. Six of them joined us at the end for a cup of tea, but we’ve heard there were lots of others there too.”

The audio assault is the latest manifestation of a project that has been raising the hackles of conservatives since late 2014, when the ACT government granted almost $19,000 to the Aspen Island Theatre Company to develop the play about an attack by 96 armed eco-terrorists during a Fleetwood Mac concert in Parliament House, and the valiant resistance led by a female Environment Minister, who eventually sees them off.

The project has spawned an e-book, a live music event, a film script and, now, an album and a surreptitious listening party.

“Once we decided it didn’t have to be a stage play in the traditional sense the options began opening up,” says Finnigan. “The next step is an album of remixes.”

But the one thing it hasn’t yet spawned is an actual theatrical production. “I’d love to see it done as a play one day,” he adds wistfully.

The project – or, rather, ArtsACT’s funding of it – was first attacked by Canberra-based writer Don Aitkin on his blog in September 2014, before being picked up (almost inevitably) by Andrew Bolt the following week. (Aitkin later softened his line after learning more about the play.)

“If I were thug enough to write a play with the title Kill Climate Scientists would I get a grant,” Bolt thundered and wondered. “Would the ABC rush to present my defence?”

In an irony sure to delight him, Bolt’s words have now been appropriated as the spoken text of one of the early-’90s techno-flavoured tracks on the album.

Take that, you: Reuben Ingall stares down John Howard in Parliament House.

The outrage over the play eventually spread as far as the UK outpost of right-wing media outlet Breitbart, where the 700-plus comments on a piece railing against it included the likes of this:

“The good news is that these pussies are afraid of guns. When that day of reckoning finally comes it will be like shooting fish in a barrel.”

And this:

“Are you prepared though, to kill them before they kill us? I certainly am, and I’m devoid of remorse for doing so.”

Righteous indignation indeed.

The funny thing is, Finnigan insists the eco-terrorists are the bad guys in his work, which he describes as “a light-hearted, fun, Die Hard-esque action story” that also seeks to ask some big questions.

“What happens when the two-party political system that runs on polls and the 24-hour news cycle comes up against something as big as climate change? The tools just don’t seem fit to deal with the problem. There’s comedy in that, but there are also real questions we need to ask about what happens when there’s a need for change but a system that can’t deliver it.”

David Finnigan at the Parliament House listening party on Wednesday.

In case you’re wondering, they did get legal advice before launching their “assault” on Parliament House. After all, when there are burly staff with machineguns on the doors, you don’t want to take unnecessary risks.

“This is not in any way a protest, or a threat of any kind, but it was always going to be read as a provocation by some people,” says Finnigan.

“I think the AFP, to their credit, is aware of what is a real threat and what is not.”

Unlike, he might have added, some in the commentariat.

Follow Karl Quinn on facebook at karlquinnjournalist or on twitter @karlkwin

Why Mike Baird should not be offering himself as donations bait

by admin on 04/12/2018

Premier Mike Baird speaks to the media following release of the Operation Spicer report. Photo: Edwina PicklesWhen Premier Mike Baird faced the media following the tabling of the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s Operation Spicer report into Liberal party fundraising, one of his most important responses went largely unnoticed.
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Baird apologised on behalf of the NSW Liberal party for the findings that nine of his former colleagues had sought to evade political donations laws during the campaign to win the 2011 election.

But it was his call for further reform of political donations laws that deserved more attention.

In an effort to show he was taking the findings very seriously, Baird nominated real time, online disclosure of donations as an issue the government was working on “and close to bringing in a timetable to implement”.

The idea has a lot of merit. Instead of waiting for more than a year to learn who has donated to a political party, donations that are accepted would immediately be made public.

In non-election years this would be particularly important for the party in power, given the capacity for timely donations to influence access to government and its decision-making.

But it would be just as crucial for opposition parties in the lead up to a poll.

In its final report in December 2014, the expert panel on political donations chaired by Kerry Schott commissioned by Baird recommended the government introduce such a system “as soon as possible”.

Yet 20 months later, we are still working with what the expert panel called “an archaic paper-based disclosure system”.

The government is focused on getting a real time disclosure system in place in time for the 2019 NSW poll. But Baird, of all people, should realise why this is an unacceptable delay.

A week ago the NSW Liberal party state director Chris Stone fired off invitations to what promises to be a lavish fundraising lunch at the Westin Hotel at Martin Place.

The star attractions are Baird and Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian, but the lunch will also feature a host of cabinet ministers.

Seats are priced at a relatively modest $375 per head, but invitees are urged to inquire about “premium seating with ministers” – presumably at a significantly greater cost.

The message is clear: a larger donation can buy access to the Premier and senior ministers. The more you bid the more likely you are to get within earshot of the minister of your choice.

Baird has been busy as a donations drawcard. On August 5 he was billed as the star attraction at a fundraiser organised by Drummoyne MP John Sidoti.

Again, the standard ticket price was just $100 each on a table of 12.

But the invitation states: “Limited tickets available for ministerial tables @ $3000 per table. Premier’s Table $1000 per person.”

While all of this has and will be conducted within the existing donations laws, how much was earned and who paid will not be public information for more than a year, likely at the end of 2017.

Perhaps due to a federal election also falling due in 2019, the NSW Liberals are ramping up their state-based fundraising well ahead of time.

Viewed in this light, the delay in ushering in a real time disclosure system takes on a more sinister shade.

It’s not just the Liberals; Labor is at it as well ahead of the September 10 local government elections.

An August 22 fundraiser for Labor’s candidate to become mayor of Fairfield, Del Bennett, advertised tickets priced at $950 each.

This is strategically priced just below the $1000 threshold for mandatory public disclosure. The attendance of opposition leader Luke Foley was advertised as a drawcard.

It gives the strong impression that Labor is offering donors the opportunity to remain anonymous while still currying favour with a potential mayor.

Foley should have had nothing to do with it, given he is trying to convince the electorate he is more serious about donations reform than Baird.

Foley has committed to NSW Labor introducing its own system for real time disclosure of political donations in 2017, which he has said would make it the first Australian political party to do so.

If we are to believe his apology over Spicer is genuine, Baird needs to beat him to it and make it happen now.