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Cyclists warned about blocking

BALLARAT – Australian road cycling championships boss John Craven has warned against ”blocking” tactics in the weekend’s bumper races, warning riders face disqualification.
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Technically, the men’s and women’s elite road races at the national titles are individual events and collusion is banned.

But road racing is essentially a team sport and the new Australian GreenEDGE squad will have a massive presence in today’s 102 kilometre race for women and the men’s elite 162km race tomorrow.

There will be much smaller teams outside the men’s GreenEDGE team and the women’s GreenEDGE-AIS squad and riders will clearly form alliances in a bid to combat the new ”super team”.

GreenEDGE will have 16 entries in the men’s elite field of about 150.

GreenEDGE’s presence adds an intriguing new element and Craven predicts the men’s event will be one of the best road races in Australian cycling history.

”It’s the responsibility of the chief commissaire and his deputies to make sure the race is run fairly and with integrity,” race director Craven said.

`”Any unfair tactics, such as blocking, will, I am sure, be dealt with severely.”

Craven said it was practically impossible to stop riders working with each other, regardless of whether they were wearing the same jersey.

”It’s more than a grey area – in a lot of cases, it’s an unidentifiable area,” he said.

But some of Australia’s top commissaires, including chief judge Peter Tomlinson, will be in charge of the weekend’s road races and Craven strongly backed their ability to officiate properly.

The biggest potential concern for Craven is blocking, where riders impede opponents who are trying to chase down a break.

”I have absolute confidence in the commissaire’s panel to deal with any situation as it arises and they will do it with commonsense and integrity,” he said.

New GreenEDGE recruit Alexis Rhodes will defend her national road race title today, two days after winning her fourth national criterium championship.

It was her first race since surgery last July, but she blasted away from the field for an outstanding solo win.

”Obviously there’s a bit of form there,” she said.

”Defending champion, everyone is going to be watching me and I did show my cards on Thursday, which wasn’t really part of the plan.

”The good thing is, while I may or may not win it, I have some pretty good teammates.”

The men’s under-23 122.4km road race will start at 9.30am today, followed by the women’s event from 1.30pm.

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Thief targets cancer charity

Deborah De Williams and dog Molly with Running Pink collection buckets similar to those that were stolen. Picture: SCOTT GELSTONBREAST cancer survivor Deborah De Williams is outraged that a woman has stolen funds raised for people dealing with breast cancer.
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Ms De Williams dispatched 10 donation tins to Launceston businesses late last year to raise funds for her charity, Running Pink.

However, when she went to collect the tins, she found many had already been taken by a woman posing to assist the charity.

Ms De Williams said the woman – described as middle-aged, medium height and with dark hair – had flashed a driver’s licence to shop assistants and pretended she was friends with Ms De Williams before taking off with the tins and money.

It is estimated the four stolen tins contained more than $1500 in total.

“What upsets me the most is that she’s a female taking from other women,” Ms De Williams said.

All funds raised through Running Pink are donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation to assist with its research and survivor programs.

For Ms De Williams, the theft is disheartening as she knows what it’s like to deal with the life-threatening disease after being diagnosed with it in 2006.

She said the funds were vital to help people who had gone through the disease and to assist in research.

“Running Pink is about helping women gain back self-esteem and self-confidence and giving them inspiration to go forward after breast cancer,” she said.

“I’m a survivor so I know what it’s like. It’s something that changes your life. It’s very personal and dramatic. You’re never the same.”

She said it was hurtful that a woman would stoop to such a low level.

“I want to see this woman who has taken the money from the other women and say to her, I hope you never get breast cancer, because it’s a terrible disease that affects your physical and emotional well-being for a very long time.”

Ms De Williams has reported the theft to the police.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Launceston CIB on 6336 3915 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Kade in pole position for All Stars selection

Kade Snowden is the Knights’ top pick so far for the All Stars match. – Picture by Simone De PeakKNIGHTS ‘‘big three’’ Kurt Gidley, Aku Uate and Darius Boyd are unavailable for the NRL All Stars game in February, leaving former NSW and Australian prop Kade Snowden as the club’s most popular player in the final days of preliminary voting.
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Gidley represented the Knights in the first two All Stars games. He was voted in by the public for the inaugural match in 2010 and was one of coach Wayne Bennett’s two selections this year.

Uate was voted in as the Knights’ representative this year and, as a NSW and Australian player and two-time Dally M winger of the year, would have been a runaway pick for the game against the Indigenous All Stars at Skilled Park on February 4 if available.

But the Fijian-born flyer underwent minor surgery on his knee late last month and he and Gidley, who had clean-up operations on his ankle and knee in October which ruled him out of the Four Nations tour, are yet to begin full pre-season training.

Boyd, who like Uate represented Australia in the Four Nations tournament in the United Kingdom last month, was excused from summer conditioning with his new Newcastle teammates until they returned from their Christmas break on January 2.

Gidley suffered a knee injury when tackled by former Knights teammate Cory Paterson in the inaugural All Stars game and missed the first five rounds of the NRL season.

Snowden and former Queensland forward Neville Costigan are leading the Newcastle voting, ahead of Chris Houston, Junior Sa’u, Jarrod Mullen and Wes Naiqama.

Former Knights captain Danny Buderus, who has recently been added to the voting list, could make a late surge this week to challenge Snowden and Costigan as the club’s two forwards.

If there is no change to the current order by midnight Friday, Snowden and Costigan (forwards) and Sa’u and Mullen (backs) will be the four Newcastle players on the final short list of 64.

A Belmont North junior who captained the Knights to an SGBall (under-18) premiership and Jersey Flegg (under-20) grand final, Snowden has rejoined the Knights after spending the past four seasons at Cronulla, from where he represented NSW and Australia.

The 24-year-old former Australian Schoolboys skipper must still prove he has overcome a bulging disc in his neck. If he struggles with contact drills at training next month he may have surgery which could delay his start to next season.

Online stage-one voting at www.nrl南京夜网.au/allstars closes at 11.59pm on Friday, and the top two forwards and backs from each club will form a final short list of 64 players.

Bennett, who took the reins at the Knights three weeks ago and is preparing for his third game as NRL All Stars coach, will then classify them into positions for final selections.

Stage-two voting will be held from December 27 until January 18, allowing the public to choose one player from each club. Those 16 will join New Zealand Test captain Benji Marshall, who will lead the NRL All Stars, interim Australian captain Cameron Smith, and two ‘‘coach’s picks’’ in the final 20-man squad.

The Knights do not have an Indigenous All Stars representative.

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Call for Mubarak to hang

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is facing trial for the death of protesters.CAIRO – Prosecutors have called for Hosni Mubarak to be hanged, saying he bears full responsibility for the killing of protesters during the uprising against him, in a courtroom moment unthinkable only a year ago when Egypt’s longtime leader held unquestioned power.
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The demand for the death penalty at the 83-year-old former president’s trial played to the widespread resentment of Mr Mubarak among Egyptians who hoped that punishment for his oppressive rule would be fruit of the Arab Spring.

Still, some of the activists who helped topple him are sceptical the sentence would ever be carried out, if he is convicted.

A conviction would be followed by a possibly lengthy appeals process that the ailing Mr Mubarak’s lawyer would likely draw out, and Egypt’s new rulers – the military – have the power to veto a death sentence.

Mr Mubarak has been brought to every hearing since his trial began on August 3 on a hospital gurney, wheeled into the courtroom cage where defendants are held, alongside his two sons, former security chief and six top police commanders.

Yesterday, prosecutor Mustafa Khater gave a passionate speech demanding the death penalty for Mr Mubarak, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and four of the police commanders.

They are charged with complicity in the deaths of some 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising that led to Mr Mubarak’s fall on February 11.

“Retribution is the solution. Any fair judge must issue a death sentence for these defendants,” said Mr Khater, one of five prosecutors in the case.

“We feel the spirits of the martyrs flying over this hall of sacred justice, and those who lost their sight by the bullets of the defendants are stumbling around it to reach the judge and demand fair retribution from those who attacked them,” he said.

“The nation and the people are awaiting a word of justice and righteousness.”

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Green turning focus to improved putting

HIT AND MISS: Nathan Green in action during the Australian Masters at Victoria Golf Club.NATHAN Green will reassess his putting style for next year’s US PGA Tour after his form on the greens cost him a chance of winning the Australian Masters on Sunday at the Victoria Golf Club.
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The Toronto touring professional was equal third at nine under par, four shots behind 54-hole leader Geoff Ogilvy and two adrift of eventual winner Ian Poulter, going into the final round.

But eight bogeys on Sunday ruined his winning chances and he finished equal ninth with a five-under total of 279 – 10 shots behind Poulter.

‘‘I still finished top 10 but I felt going into the last round that if I played the way I had been I was a chance, but it depended on what the top guys did and Ian had an unbelievable round,’’ Green said.

‘‘The first two rounds I was doing it pretty cruisy and hitting them solid.

‘‘I had seven or eight three-putts for the week, which isn’t good, but I gave myself opportunities and my attitude was good until the last seven or eight holes when I ran out of steam.’’

It is the high number of three-putts which is Green’s main concern heading into the Christmas break.

This season Green has switched mid-tournament between a normal and cross-handed putting grip, and he did so again at the Masters.

‘‘I putt decent cross-handed, so if I feel a bit nervous I can change and it doesn’t affect me a great deal,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d prefer to putt normal handed, but sometimes it doesn’t feel too solid. I’m going to have a look over the next couple of weeks before I head back to work out what method or what I’m going to use.

‘‘I’ll have to persist with what I’m doing or try something different.’’

The cross-handed grip allows your shoulders to line up square with the target, but has an uncomfortable feel.

Green has always used a short putter but said he was open to trialling a belly putter or a long putter, which Australian Adam Scott has switched to with success.

Today Green will line up at Cypress Lakes for the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic.

His celebrity partner at the annual social charity event will be Channel Nine sports presenter Tim Gilbert.

‘‘It’s a bit of wind down and I’ve only played at one tournament in Australia this year so I haven’t really caught up with many of the people there,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s like a Christmas party for golfers.

‘‘I came through the Jack Newton Junior Golf program, so it’s always something I’m happy to come back for.’’

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Newcastle striker Jeremy Brockieready for graveyard shift on familiar turf

LETHAL: Jeremy Brockie celebrates his goal against Sydney FC.THERE may be a degree of apprehension among his Newcastle Jets teammates, but Jeremy Brockie will walk without fear into the graveyard on Friday night.
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In their past seven visits to Wellington’s vast, intimidating Westpac Stadium, the Jets have returned empty-handed each time.

Seven games, seven defeats.

Goals for: one.

Goals against: 18.

It would be enough to give even battle-hardened veterans insomnia before they so much as board their trans-Tasman flight.

But Brockie is exuding all the enthusiasm of a kid told he can open his Christmas presents two days early.

Not only is the passionate New Zealander heading back to his native soil, but also he will do so in perhaps the form of his life.

Now 24, Brockie burst on the scene when he was a teenager with the now defunct New Zealand Knights, scoring four goals in nine starts during the inaugural A-League campaign.

But the footballing gods seemed intent on making an outstanding youngster pay his dues.

By the time this season kicked off, Brockie had pinballed around among Auckland, Sydney FC, North Queensland and finally Newcastle, playing in only 47 A-League games along the way.

A succession of injuries, including a broken ankle and broken foot, threatened to cruel a promising career.

All the while, Brockie never lost faith.

And finally it seems his fortunes have turned. Having played in only 14 of Newcastle’s 30 games in 2010-11, this season his attendance record is 100per cent – 11 out of 11.

Along the way he has scored four goals, including a cracking volley in Newcastle’s 2-1 loss to Sydney FC on Saturday.

Brockie rated his strike against Sydney as ‘‘definitely one of my best’’ but was disappointed it did not earn his team three competition points.

‘‘It took a long time to come down from space, but it just hit the sweet spot on my foot, and as soon as I connected with it I knew it was going to be flying,’’ he said.

It took a split-second, but Brockie said his dazzling goal was hours in the making.

‘‘It’s great to be feeling in this shape,’’ he said.

‘‘I worked really hard in the pre-season to prepare myself to make sure I wasn’t going to break down, and I’m getting some rewards at the moment.’’

Not that the 24-game New Zealand international – the only Jet to have appeared at last year’s World Cup – is about to rest on his laurels.

Finding a level of consistency is his main focus.

‘‘I haven’t been performing in away games as well as home games, but that’s the same for the whole team,’’ he said.

‘‘But in terms of goals and getting into goal-scoring opportunities, I’m pretty happy with how that’s going.

‘‘Hopefully I can keep adding to the tally and help the team move up the ladder.’’

Jets coach Gary van Egmond is also eager to see fewer peaks and troughs in Brockie’s form line.

‘‘He’s getting better,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘For me, he still drifts in and out of games a little bit too much.

‘‘He scored a wonderful goal, and he’s been doing that for us, scoring goals that perhaps not many people can do.

‘‘But he has to become more effective over the whole of the 90minutes, not just on one piece of magic.’’

There would be no better place for Brockie to prove he can be a week in, week out contributor than in the New Zealand capital, which is just across the Cook Strait from his home town, Nelson.

Having represented his country at the ground they call the Cake Tin, Brockie is one of the few Newcastle players with fond memories of the venue, which is perhaps most famous for its inhospitable weather and natives.

‘‘You never know what you’re going to get in Wellington,’’ he said.

‘‘One day it can be raining and windy and a horrible place to play, and on another day there’s not a cloud in the sky and the sun’s shining … [but] Wellington always has good, passionate supporters, especially after our achievements at last year’s World Cup.’’

The loyalty of Wellingtonians, however, extends only so far.

Last season Brockie was heckled as a ‘‘traitor’’ during the pre-match warm-up, a comment he typically accepted with a wry smile.

‘‘I think that’s all just fun and games. I look at the positives, and if they’re winding me up I suppose that shows they respect me as a player,’’ he said.

On Friday there will at least be some friendly faces in the crowd.

‘‘I’ve got a few relatives in Wellington,’’ Brockie said. ‘‘My brother is coming over from Perth to stay on for Christmas.

‘‘My dad and his partner are coming across from Nelson, as well.

‘‘Obviously we’ve got Christmas Day and Boxing Day off as well, so I’ll manage to spend a bit of time back home after the game with the family.

‘‘I’ll have Christmas back over there for the first time in about five years, so I’m looking forward to that.’’

As for one day making himself at home in Wellington, the self-proclaimed ‘‘proud Kiwi’’, who is off contract this season, said it was not a subject he had considered.

‘‘I’ve never really thought about it, to be honest,’’ Brockie said.

‘‘I’m happy here in Newcastle but football’s a funny game.

‘‘Anything can happen at any time, but I don’t even know if they’d be interested in having me.’’

If Brockie keeps scoring goals like his screamer against Sydney, Wellington may have to join the queue.

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Renewed pressure on Thomson

Labor MHR Craig Thomson is under investigation for misuse of a union credit card.CANBERRA – The federal coalition has stepped up pressure on a government agency to conclude a two-year investigation into the alleged misuse of a union credit card by Labor MP Craig Thomson.
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Fair Work Australia said in December it expected its investigation into the Health Services Union, which Mr Thomson headed from 2002 to 2007, to continue into the new year despite being at an advanced stage.

The New South Wales federal MP faces allegations his HSU credit card was used to pay for prostitutes and make cash withdrawals, which is the focus of police investigations in Victoria.

The workplace watchdog started looking at the allegations in April 2009, but a formal investigation did not start until March 2010.

Former industrial registrar Doug Williams, the public servant who began the investigation, criticised its longevity on Thursday.

“Over two years, in the overall scheme of things, is unaccountably protracted,” Mr Williams said.

“I would have been exceedingly reticent to allow proceedings to drag on.”

Mr Williams’ comments were fresh ammunition for the coalition, who renewed its calls for an urgent end to the investigation.

“Mr Williams’ unprecedented intervention is very serious,” opposition workplace relations spokesman Eric Abetz said.

“When you have the former industrial registrar saying he wouldn’t allow this investigation to go on for as long as it has, you know that something is amiss.

“Fair Work Australia must prioritise and finalise their investigation.”

Senator Abetz said the issue would be a focus at Senate estimates in February.

“Members of the Health Services Union are entitled to answers and the public are entitled to know the outcome of the investigation into somebody that is allowing the Gillard government to limp on,” he said.

His resignation from parliament would put pressure on the Labor minority government, but would not lead to its fall.

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Anti-social behaviour on probation

UNPRECEDENTED: Superintendent John Gralton with the 25 new probationary constables hitting the streets yesterday. – Picture by Max Mason-HubersNEWCASTLE police have warned anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated over the holiday period with 25 new probationary constables hitting the streets yesterday.
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Superintendent John Gralton said the intake was a record for the Newcastle local area command and would help to keep drunk and disorderly behaviour to a minimum over Christmas.

Newcastle’s CBD has five establishments on the state’s most-violent hotels list, including three categorised as level-one, which is the highest based on the number of assaults.

‘‘It is absolutely unprecedented for Newcastle LAC to get that many probationary constables,’’ Superintendent Gralton said. ‘‘Northern Region was given 183 in the allocation from the academy with a recognition that country policing needs a boost at the moment.

‘‘The message needs to be ‘if you are out and about on the street at Christmas time enjoy yourself, but we will not tolerate any anti-social behaviour’. If you are walking down the street we want you to feel safe and as soon as somebody commits an offence they are going to have to deal with the consequences.’’

MJ Finnegans was listed as the region’s most violent venue, ahead of Fannys and the Cambridge Hotel while King Street Hotel and Maitland’s Belmore Hotel were level-two listings.

‘‘It’s coming into our busy period when we have a lot of anti-social behaviour around the licensed premises in the CBD we really need extra support on the street,’’ Superintendent Gralton said.

‘‘We’re trying to send a strong message to the community that if the police turn up there are going to be consequences and we will be taking action to try to reduce that anti-social behaviour in the city.

Superintendent Gralton said Newcastle’s command had significantly reduced the number of police on sick leave over the past six months.

He was also looking forward to the arrival of another six officers on transfers and four or five sergeants that had been recruited.

‘‘That means about 35 extra cops for Newcastle coming in December and January,’’ he said.

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Decoding the longevity of Hawking

Stephen HawkingBRITISH scientist Stephen Hawking has decoded some of the most puzzling mysteries of the universe but he has left one mystery unsolved: how he has managed to survive so long with such a crippling disease.
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The physicist and cosmologist was diagnosed with motor neurone disease when he was a 21-year-old student at Cambridge University. Most people die within a few years of the diagnosis, but tomorrow Hawking will turn 70.

“I don’t know of anyone who’s survived this long,” said Ammar Al-Chalabi, director of the Motor Neurone Disease Care and Research Centre at King’s College London. He does not treat Hawking and described his longevity as “extraordinary”.

“It is unusual for (motor neurone disease) patients to survive for decades, but not unheard of,” said Rup Tandan, a neurology professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

Hawking first gained attention with his 1988 book A Brief History of Time, a simplified overview of the universe. It sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. His subsequent theories have revolutionised modern understanding of concepts such as black holes and the Big Bang theory of how the universe began.

To mark his birthday, Cambridge University is holding a public symposium on “The State of the Universe”, featuring talks from 27 leading scientists, including Hawking.

For 30 years, he held a mathematics post at the university previously held by Sir Isaac Newton. Hawking retired from that position in 2009 and is now director of research at the university’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.

Hawking achieved all that despite being nearly entirely paralysed and in a wheelchair since 1970. He has round-the-clock care and communicates only by twitching his right cheek, relying on a computer and voice synthesiser to speak. It can take up to 10 minutes for Hawking to formulate a single sentence.

Motor neurone disease attacks cells that control the muscles. Only about 10 per cent of patients live longer than a decade, and life expectancy generally ranges from two to five years.

Mr Al-Chalabi and colleagues are analysing a DNA sample from Hawking, along with those of other patients, to see if there is something rare about his disease or any genetic mutations that could explain his long survival and if that information could be used to help others.

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NEWSMAKERS OF 2011

Ricky Ponting Michelle O’Byrne
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Bob Brown

Nick McKim

Darrel Baldock

Princess Mary

John Kirwan

Terry Martin

Matthew Goss

The Examiner has picked the top 50 newsmakers in Tasmania in 2011 …

Click here to view The Examiner’s top 50 newsmakers in 2011

THE TOP 10

1 – LARA GIDDINGS: When Ms Giddings took over as Premier of Tasmania from David Bartlett in January, she couldn’t possibly have imagined how badly 2011 was going to turn out.

She kept Treasury and oversaw a horror budget, saw her Education Minister defeated in the Legislative Council elections and ended the year answering questions about a rumoured leadership challenge from Franklin MHA David O’Byrne.

2 – BOB BROWN: The leader of the Australian Greens seemed to be wielding nearly as much power as the Prime Minister as he used his party’s balance of power in the Federal Parliament to push the environmental lobby position on key issues such as the carbon tax and alternative energy.

3 – TERRY MARTIN: The former politician finally faced court over child sex charges and received a 10-month suspended jail sentence for having sex with a 12-year-old girl prostituted by her mother and a family friend. Justice David Porter said Martin’s hypersexuality was an illness that had to be treated as a mitigating factor in considering his sentence.

4 – RICKY PONTING: After relinquishing the Australian captaincy at the beginning of the year, the Launceston-born cricketer found himself fending off calls to retire altogether from international cricket. As Australia’s most prolific run-scorer, Ponting said he was determined to bat on.

5 – MICHELLE O’BYRNE: Not many people were surprised when Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne said she was worried that the state’s hospitals wouldn’t meet their budget targets. In October she fronted 1500 angry health workers in Launceston concerned about their jobs in the face of a $100 million budget reduction at the LGH.

6 – MATTHEW GOSS: The Launceston cyclist capped an outstanding 2011 by winning the Tasmanian athlete of the year award in December. His victory in the Milan-San Remo classic was just one highlight of 2011 as he set his sights on representing Australia in London at the Olympic Games.

7 – NICK McKIM: With responsibility for education and the prison service, the Greens cabinet minister in the Labor government certainly had his hands full in 2011. There was the unsuccessful plan to close 20 Tasmanian schools in the state budget and a few problems at Risdon Prison, including cells that couldn’t hold prisoners and a hostage situation.

8 – DARREL BALDOCK: He remains the St Kilda Football Club’s only premiership captain and his death in February was a time of sadness as well as celebration for the life of a man who continued to achieve after his illustrious football career. His state funeral at Latrobe was attended by 5000 people from all sections of the community.

9 – PRINCESS MARY: The Crown Princess of Denmark started the year by giving birth to twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine and then dealing with the worldwide interest in her growing family. She spent the latter part of the year relaxing with family and friends in Hobart.

10 – JOHN KIRWAN: Faced with making savings of about $100 million a year, the Launceston General Hospital chief executive told a University of Tasmania graduation ceremony that he’d never seen health services reduced the way they were being cut in Tasmania. He described the situation as a fundamental shift and not a short-term adjustment.

Click here to see who else made The Examiner’s top 50 newsmakers in 2011

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