Mafia history of Gino and Mark Stocco’s alleged victim Rosario Cimone revealed

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Mark and Gino Stocco, who were captured on a property where Rosario Cimone’s body was also located. Photo: NSW Police Gino Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Mark Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Mark Stocco at Dubbo police station on Wednesday. Photo: Nine News

Body of Rosario Cimone found on remote property​How the Stoccos evaded police​The tip-off that led to the final hide-outWill o’ the wisps in Kelly Gang country

The long-awaited capture of father and son fugitives Gino and Mark Stocco has taken another bizarre twist as links have emerged between their alleged victim and the Italian Mafia, long-term cannabis cultivation and a fatal electrocution last year.

The pair, who had been on the run for eight years, were charged on Thursday morning with the murder of Italian-born farm caretaker Rosario Cimone, 68, on October 7.

They did not appear in Dubbo Local Court on Thursday and magistrate Andrew Eckhold ordered they remain behind bars until their case returns on January 20.

Mr Cimone’s decomposed body was discovered in a shallow grave at Pinevale, a remote property near Dunedoo, in central western NSW, just hours after police captured the Stoccos in a dramatic, covert operation on Wednesday morning.

The elusive pair had worked on the extremely isolated property with Mr Cimone, who was reported missing to Green Valley police by his daughters, Maria and Vicenza, on October 8.

When a white ute, similar to the one allegedly stolen by the Stoccos, was spotted in bushland behind the property on Tuesday, police had their “final pieces of the jigsaw” and descended on the 385-hectare spot.

Fairfax Media can reveal Mr Cimone, from Green Valley, was a cannabis cultivator with a string of past convictions and a long history with the Calabrian Mafia in .

His son, Phillip, 35, was also convicted in 2013 of cultivating more than 1000 cannabis plants on a remote property near Bundarra, in the northern tablelands,

Rosario, known as Ross to his friends, was charged with cultivating substantial cannabis crops in the early 1980s, charged with the sale of cannabis in the mid-1980s and convicted in 2003 of a $30-million cannabis operation at a property in Nimmitabel, in far southern NSW.

He was sentenced to four years in prison for growing 14,000 cannabis plants and possessing unauthorised firearms.

He was one of a group of prisoners to be given early release, in exchange for bribes, under the corrupt 1980s prison boss, Rex Jackson.

One of his seven co-accused in the Nimmitabel drug gang, Mario Cataldo, 58, was killed in October last year when he was electrocuted by an illegal hydroponic set-up in Bringelly, on the western outskirts of Sydney.

He lay dead in a shed for two days, and his body was eventually found when his family called an ambulance because they had not heard from him.

Former friend, Giuseppe Mammone, said Mr Cimone was “a nice man” who used to own a butcher’s shop in Edensor Park in the 80s and loved going to the Marconi Club when he was in Green Valley. 

Former assistant police commissioner Clive Small, who is writing a book on the Calabrian Mafia in , said Mr Cimone played a “mid-level” role.

He had been working in the Dunedoo area in recent months but it is not known whether drugs were being grown on the rugged, isolated property, described by locals as a “perfect hideout”.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, told Fairfax Media that she had made calls to CrimeStoppers in recent years to report suspicious people working on the property, that had no farms.

It’s not known whether the Stoccos had direct involvement but Mr Small said they would most likely have been considered too unreliable by the Mafia.

They were erratic, conspiratorial characters who were known to move frequently, barely staying on farms for more than a few weeks.

“When [the Mafia] are recruiting people to be pickers or cultivators … or crop sitters, that is, people who might go there to plant the crops under supervision with others and just sit there and make sure no one steals it, they tend, generally, to deal with people they have had experience with in the past or whose families they know.”

He said the Mafia was well and truly alive in and had a violent but little-known history.

“There are probably a number of reasons why they’ve been able to get away with it,” he said. “If you deny it’s existence, then you don’t have to do anything about it.”

In addition to murder, Gino, 57, and Mark, 36, are each charged with 17 NSW offences, including shooting with intent to murder, dishonestly obtaining property by deception, police pursuit and discharging a firearm with intent to resist arrest.

Wanted for a string of property and violent offences in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, the men became the focus of a large-scale manhunt after police were shot at during a high speed pursuit near Wagga Wagga on October 16.

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Baby Bjay abuse warning email delay

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Bjay Johnstone’s grandmother Hellen Dykstra arrives at the inquest on Thursday.AN EMAIL telling the Health Department baby Bjay Johnstone was being abused sat in departmental inboxes for more than a day before reaching Child Protection in the North-West.

By then, the Railton baby had received further injuries and was in hospital, an inquest into his death heard on Thursday morning.

Bjay’s grandmother, Hellen Dykstra, told the inquest, in Devonport, she sent the email via the department’s website on the morning of November 1, 2012.

Crown counsel Paul Turner said Ms Dykstra sent the email at 9.57am, and it reported concern about Bjay and injuries he had, including a black eye and bruising.

Ms Dykstra at 10.44am that morning posted on Facebook: ” … I have a funny feeling about today.”

”Something is going to happen.”

She confirmed to Mr Turner that meant she expected something to happen in relation to the email.

Mr Turner established the email was sent to the department’s general inquiries inbox, and that Ms Dykstra had not used the section where child abuse could be reported directly to Child Protection by email, or used the emergency and notification phone numbers on the website.

When Mr Turner said nothing happened because she did not use the other methods listed on the department’s website, Ms Dykstra said: ”I wondered why they never responded.”

She went on to give evidence she and Bjay’s mother, Fleur Atkin, took the boy to hospital on the afternoon of the next day after they noticed a problem with his eyes.

Mr Turner said the email was forwarded to Child, Youth and Family Services early in the afternoon of the day after it was sent by Ms Dykstra.

Late that afternoon, Mr Turner said, it was forwarded to Child Protection in the North-West.

Bjay died from his injuries, aged 45 days.

Ms Dykstra had given evidence Bjay’s father, Simon Johnstone, would hurt him.

Earlier in the inquest, she labelled Mr Johnstone a baby killer.

Baby drought as China’s fertility rate falls to 10-year low

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is effectively in the middle of a baby drought. The fertility rate has dropped to 1.8. Photo: ABS

The average number of babies n women are havinghas fallen to the lowest level in 10 years –the level it was when the federal government introduced a baby bonus to boost population growth.

The national fertility rate has dropped to 1.8 children per woman, down from 1.88 children last year.

“This rate has been declining since 2008, though not reaching the low recorded in 2001,” said AJ Lanyon, the regional director atthen Bureau of Statistics.

Altogether, 299,700 births were registered in in 2014, down from 308,100 in 2013.

The country’sfertility rate started increasing in 2002 and sat at two children per woman from 2007 to 2010,coinciding with the peak of the mining boom.

However, it has all been downhill since 2010,despite the introductionof government-funded paid parental leave in early 2011.

Demographer Peter McDonald said it was “impossible” to know ifthe baby bonus, child care rebate and tax rebates introduced after the 2004 election caused the spike. He believes it wasdue to women in their 30s deciding not to delay having children any longer. The recent decline was because those women had finished having their children.

The extra government support”may have helped people in making their decision to go ahead with the first birth”, Professor McDonald said.A rate of 1.8 was normal for and not a cause for concern, he added.

Meanwhile, a 9.3 per cent decline in births in NSW has been attributed to a clerical lag, with the state’s birth rate expected to return to normal. This means the national rate couldactually be around 1.85, according to Professor McDonald.

Overall, women aged between 30 and 34 were the most fertile, recording 120 babies per 1000. They were followed by women aged 25 to 29, with 95 babies per 1000.

Teenagers and women over 40 now have roughlythe same fertility rate -12.9babies and 14.4 babies per 1000 women respectively. This is a historical low for teen pregnancies, which fellfrom a peak of 55 babies per 1000 girls in 1971.

For the first time the ABS mappedbirth rates andfound families in city centres have a much lower birth rates than outer suburbs, where the rate exceedstwo children.

Piers Greville with son Lucien Greville-Mac. Photo: Luis Ascui

Artists Piers Greville and his wife Bridget Mac still live close to Melbourne’s CBD and are anexample of families choosing to haveone child.

Lucien Greville-Mac was born in early 2012 when the national fertility rate was at 1.9, just slightly higher than it is now.The couple were living in Berlinbut returned home when Lucien was born. Mr Greville saysthey are content with one child and he has”a feeling that there is enough people in the world without [us] contributing to a population explosion”.

“We thought one child might allow us some of the lifestyle we hadbefore having a child,” Mr Greville explains.

It also gives them a chance to concentrate on raising one person, rather than being stretched by two. Friends with multiple childrentell him that two children were harder than one.

Asked whether Lucien might miss having siblings, Mr Greville says they try hard to socialise with other families as often as possible.

Victoria Derby 2015: Tarzino the one, but play at your peril

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There are few straighter shooters in racing than Mick Price. In an era of inflated stud deals and constant self-promotion, the racing hyperbole is usually at its peak at this time of year when the tyres of would-be champions are at their most inflated.

If Price’s horse is going like a busted, he won’t mince words. Going well? You will get the vibe in his down-to-earth way, too. And there can be little doubt Victoria Derby favourite Tarzino is doing just that. It may not have been a $3 million race, but there was an eye to a bigger fish to fry when Craig Newitt snagged the colt back to last from a horror draw in The Vase last week.

An extra 50 metres and the horse wins after running a slashing third. An extra 500m of the gruelling Derby trip? You wouldn’t think it would a pose a problem. That is usually what sifting through a Derby field is generally like, one big head scratcher. Rough results are common and the horse thought most likely is often found in reverse down the unforgiving Flemington straight the second time of asking.

On Saturday Tarzino should start the shortest priced Derby top pick in 13 years and barring any awful luck will hold most hard earned. But at $2.40 in a race for early spring three-year-olds, the money should stay in the pocket. Use him as a roving banker in all trifectas.

Finding an obvious danger is difficult. West n Kia Ora Koutou ($8) is a compelling case. A month between runs is a worry, what is not was his last start beating of older horses, albeit moderate, over 2200m rather than the traditional Melbourne lead-ups of a mile-and-a-quarter. Lizard Island ($12) has the class factor and should be in all exotics and the Derby always produces a horse that has moderate form, but will stick all day. Palace Tycoon ($41) might be it and should be thrown in as the other option.

The rest of the best card in n racing has much more betting appeal. You can throw a blanket over a vintage Mackinnon Stakes field. It looks a mighty difficult equation to solve.

The country’s best colt Exosphere should win the Coolmore Stud Stakes at long odds on, but the last of the four group 1s in the Myer Classic should have value shoppers salivating.

Stay With Me is a top class filly with no weight on her back and Royal Descent has class on her side despite being eased out of the Caulfield Cup, but Solicit is the value play.

Set for this race second up, where she performs at her best, the $19 in an even field looks juicy. Granted, the mile and group 1 level have always tested, but the days of the breeding barn beckoning are over and the older legs still have the zest for racing and quite possibly the yearning for this trip.

The Lexus Stakes? The noises from the Godolphin camp suggest Elhaame is a very bright prospect. Saeed bin Suroor wouldn’t bring him all this way if he didn’t think he would be competitive in a Melbourne Cup, let alone the race’s last chance saloon. The $7.50 will do.

* Odds supplied by Ladbrokes


Flemington (Saturday)

Race 3: Disposition $4.20

Race 5: Elhaame $7.50

Race 8: Solicit $19

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Seven announces dating show ‘Kiss Bang Love’ where people snog their way to love

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Seven have announced their new dating show Kiss Bang Love, where contestants will kiss – and potentially sleep with – suitors on national TV. Photo: Supplied Sam Frost and Sasha Mielczarek in the finale of The Bachelorette, one of the biggest ratings hits of 2015. Photo: Ten

Farmer Wants a Wife will be back on Nine in 2016, starring former Married at First Sight farmer Lachlan McAleer. Photo: Supplied

Bachelorette Sam Frost tipped to join 2DayFM Bachelorette fans unleash fury over spoilerSeven Network unveils its show highlights for 2016

Would you watch a television show where contestants kiss and fornicate their way to love? Channel Seven certainly hopes so.

Following the huge success of Ten’s Bachelor and Bachelorette, Seven are jumping on the dating show bandwagon with a daring new program where people attempt to kiss, and sleep, their way to the perfect mate.

From the creators of Married at First Sight, the show crudely dubbed Kiss Bang Love will match 10 single ns with 15 potential suitors – translating to a lot of on-screen action.

Surprisingly, there is scientific merit behind the “provocative” new show which smacks of a strange blend of Bachelorette and Jersey Shore and was unveiled last week Channel Seven detailed plans for 2016.

According to the production company behind Kiss Bang Love, the average person kisses 15 people and has two one night stands before falling in love.

But how to make that into a program?

Over each episode, one blindfolded contestant will kiss 15 potential suitors. Most will be strangers, some will be acquaintances, and some may even be former lovers.

The top five suitors will get a second kiss, without the blindfold. From there, two people will be selected to spend a night in a luxury hotel with the contestant.

After the one-night stands, the contestant then has to choose a final suitor to take on a romantic holiday.

Forget awkward group date encounters à la The Bachelor – Kiss Bang Love promises to skip the dates and go straight to the making out.

Channel Seven is currently casting for the program – to be filmed in early 2016 – touting it as “a show designed to help single girls and guys find their perfect partner – in a very unique way”.

“Kissing is a powerful tool in our search for the right mate – but can it find love? This is your chance to find out.”

Reality dating programs are emerging as the zeitgeist of n television, with The Bachelorette emerging as one of the biggest ratings hits of 2015.

The Farmer Wants a Wife will return to Nine later this year, while Married at First Sight, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette return in 2016.

Randwick’s Highway Handicap brings Steven Cummins to town with first city runner

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Life is a highway: Samantha Clenton pilots Bulls ‘n’ Bears to victory in last week’s instalment of the Highway Handicap series at Randwick. Photo: bradleyphotos杭州龙凤论坛m.auWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing Follow our Derby Day tips to find a winner

Perhaps the best advertisement for a young trainer is to take on a problematic horse and show you can get results with them. Steven Cummins could not have asked for a better start.

Lion Of Africa was the first horse in his stable when stewards stamped his training papers and he didn’t end up making it to the racetrack until he was a five-year-old.

“When I picked him up he had sesamoiditis so he was turned out to the paddock for 12 months when we got him and it was just a matter of nursing him back,” the Moruya-based Cummins said. “But he’s as good as gold now and he’s had a couple of small injuries in the paddock.

“He went through a couple of fences twice. It was just a matter of nursing him and getting him through, but he’s good and solid now.”

The results tend to suggest that. Lion Of Africa has been racing for less than a year, but has already been placed seven times from just 12 starts, including a first-up win at Nowra this campaign.

It was enough to convince the former John Marzol pupil, whose partner also works as a vet down on the South Coast helping tend to the team of six, to bring Lion Of Africa to Rosehill to become his first metropolitan runner in the Highway Handicap on Saturday.

“He’s definitely taught me a lot,” Cummins said. “For the right horses I would take more on, but you’ve just got to find the right ones.

“Short-term I’m just aiming at these races in the next six to eight weeks and we’ll see how he measures up. Last prep he was getting to the front early and not putting them away, but [apprentice] Josh [Cartwright] rode him that little bit quieter the other day and his work between the 300 and the 100 was really good.

“He coasted to the line a little bit and he needs to keep stepping up, but if he does we’ll reassess down the line.”

Cartwright will again have his work cut out from barrier 14 in the Highway Handicap, where Greg Bennett’s Invienna, a runner-up in the inaugural staging of the race, will launch from barrier six.

“Josh is a good rider and he’s in good form,” Cummins said. “He knows the horse well and I spoke to him earlier [on Wednesday] and I said, ‘I don’t mind where we possie up, just make sure we’ve got cover’. The horse needs further anyway and if I’m two or three off the fence it’s not going to affect him.”

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Tim Southee laid low as New Zealand bowlers hammered in tour match

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Off early: Tim Southee. Photo: Hagen HopkinsNew Zealand’s preparations for the first Test hit a sizeable speed hump on Thursday, and that was before Aaron Finch and Ryan Carters plundered their attack to all parts of Blacktown International Sportspark.

This was supposed to be Tim Southee’s first big hit out in but the Black Caps swing man delivered just three overs before leaving the field.

A New Zealand spokesman said Southee was suffering from a tummy bug. Though it will not have any impact on his availability for the first Test it is far from the ideal preparation for such an important bowler. Southee has played just one first-class game since May and will need to get plenty of overs under his belt on Saturday or risk heading to Brisbane in need of a gallop. But the Kiwis are confident that will not be the case.

In the absence of Southee and Trent Boult, who was rested, the Black Caps attack failed to take a wicket as Finch and Carters batted all day to take the Cricket XI to 0-376 at stumps on the first day.

Finch finished the day unbeaten on 214, his maiden first-class double century, while Carters was on 156.

The Black Caps’ impotence with the ball will raise questions about the depth of their bowling ranks and give confidence that they can prosper so long as they can negotiate the dangers of their leading strike weapons. Short of getting time on their legs, as the Blacks Caps put it, they gained very little.

For starters, the flat and lifeless wicket could not be any more different to the fast and bouncy conditions that will greet them at the Gabba, rendering this match as close to a waste of time for them.

The only positive for the tourists was they were able to give Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell and spinner Mark Craig the overs they needed though part-timers were required so they were not overtaxed. Even Brendon McCullum, who started his career as a wicketkeeper, rolled his arm over.

For Finch, this was just the tonic ‘s World Cup-winning opener needed after being surprisingly overlooked for Victoria’s shield team following a lean Matador Cup.

Although an experienced player on the international stage in the limited-overs formats, Finch is yet to make his mark in the red-ball game. But innings like this will give him confidence it’s a matter of when not if.

“To play games in a row in one format is pretty crucial and I suppose when you’re chopping and changing formats it can be hard and it does disturb your rhythm a bit,” Finch said. “At the same time I’m a professional cricketer that should be able to adjust a bit better than that.”

Chris Waller among big spenders at Tattersalls Horses in Training Sale

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Big spender: Cox Plate-winning trainer Chris Waller was active at the Tattersalls horses-in-training sale. Photo: Tertius PickardWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all RacingFollow our Derby Day tips to find a winner

n buyers came to the fore at the first two sessions of the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training sale in England earlier this week with the three top-priced gallopers all destined for careers in Sydney and Melbourne.

The top-priced lot on the opening day was Prospector purchased by Grant Pritchard-Gordon, who declared the winner of three races was bound, but wouldn’t confirm the identity of his client.

Pritchard-Gordon made the opening bid of 240,000 guineas for Prospector, which was to prove a winning move. The agent revealed he had adopted this sale-ring tactic successfully in the past.

The colt was initially purchased by Coolmore for £1.4 million ($3 million) as a yearling. He is a half-brother to one of their successful shuttle stallions Mastercraftsman.

“Prospector has a profile of a very nice staying horse who should be suited to racing in .” Pritchard-Gordon said.

Chris Waller’s bloodstock agent Guy Mulcaster bought three horses on day one but had to settle as the under bidder on the second-highest lot, Red Galileo.

Ed Dunlop ended up paying 155,000 guineas for Red Galileo who is Dubai bound, with the Mulcaster-Waller duo ending up with three tried stayers.

They bought Obsidian (Street Cry), a two-time winner for 60,000 guineas; Estikhraaj (Dansili) for 30,000 guineas, the winner of one race with two placings during his three-year-old career. Prescience (Kyllachy) cost 22,000 guineas after placing on four occasions this year in Britain.

On Tuesday Louis Le Metayer’s Astute Bloodstock signed for the day’s top lot at 230,000 guineas for Pilote D’Essai (Oasis Dream), the winner of three mile races in France from his six overall starts.

Astute bought the horse on behalf of Melbourne-based clients and said at this stage a trainer had not been decided. The horse was a late addition to the Tattersall’s sales having been prepared by Andre Fabre.

The Waller-Mulcaster duo struck with Lot 661 – McCreery (Big Bad Bob) – which has had just four starts for two wins earlier this year and one placing.

Mulcaster said: “We really wanted McCreery. The biggest attraction was his form and he looks a very progressive type. We went to 200,000 guineas for the three-year-old and Chris should be able to syndicate him after last Saturday’s Cox Plate success.”

Mulcaster also bought another on day two, paying just 16,000 guineas for Lord Major (Lawman), which has been placed twice for Ed Dunlop.

The biggest spend for the Waller-Mulcaster team was at the third session with four buys for a total of 272,000 guineas. This gave them new additions for 600,000 guineas, averaging out at 66,667 guineas.

They bought Richard Of Yorke (Oasis Dream) for 120,000 guineas, Hipparchus (Champs Elysees) for 100,000 guineas, Scooter (Mizzen Mast) for 30,000 guineas and Quick Defence (First Defence) for 22,000 guineas.

Waller began his assault at the Tattersall’s sales back in 2006 and he has prepared a huge number of winners including group 1 performers My Kingdom of Fife, Moriarty, Foreteller and Opinion.

It’s obviously 12 months to the 2016 Melbourne Cup but won’t it be remarkable if one of Waller’s nine buys graduates to the race that stops a nation.

Hoofnote: There were two-high priced colts sold on the third day, with Convergence fetching the top price of 420,000 guineas. He will head to Qatar, while Rembrandt Van Rijn is off to the 2016 Dubai carnival after changing hands for 400,000 guineas.

Darley lifts US stallion fees

Darley has announced their 2016 stallion fees for their US base, Jonabell Stud in Kentucky, with Medaglia d’Oro having his covering costs raised from $US125,000 ($176,000) to $150,000.

The sire of 14 group 1 performers stood the 2015 n season at their Aberdeen base for $110,000 (inc GST) as a result of his two-year-old Vancouver winning this year’s Golden Slipper Stakes.

Other shuttle stallions from Darley include Bernardini, which rises from $US85,000 to $US100,000 with Hard Spun and Street Sense both rising from $US35,000 to $US50,000, while Animal Kingdom remains at $US35,000.

Coolmore stallion Uncle Mo took the honours for being the busiest stallion in Kentucky in the 2015 breeding season with 221 coverings. Other Coolmore shuttle sires currently serving in are also prominent with Declaration Of War (192) and Verrazano (183) coming in seventh and ninth respectively.

Winx boost for Street Cry

The 2015-16 n stallions premiership took a new look with Winx’s record-breaking Cox Plate win last Saturday catapulting her sire Street Cry to a lead of close to $1 million over hot favourite Fastnet Rock.

It was quite intriguing to see the new top 10 including four stallions that are either deceased or infertile, with Street Cry having passed away at Darley’s n farm in September last year.

Encosta De Lago (third) was retired on December 31 due to fertility issues at the Jerry’s Plains Coolmore Stud, while High Chaparral (eighth) was euthanised at Coolmore’s Irish base on December 21.

The remaining stallion is Northern Meteor (10th) who died on July 30, 2013 at Widden Stud, now the home of his best son Zoustar, which stands alternative seasons at the latter farm and also Woodside Park in Victoria.

Street Cry’s winning total is $3,858,674 and he had a lead of $993,379 over Fastnet Rock after racing last Saturday. The latter, however, has a commanding lead in the number of individual winners with 66 successful to comfortably lead Not A Single Doubt.

The other top-19 stallions currently are Holy Roman Emperor (fourth), Lonhro (fifth), Redoute’s Choice (sixth), Sebring (seventh) and Exceed and Excel (ninth).

No doubt the stallions premiership will have many more changes during the next eight days with the huge prizemoney on offer at the four Flemington meetings.

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Guess what – banks make money

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Banks are in the business of making money, and if they don’t, we should be worried. Photo: Paul Rovere Banks are in the business of making money, and if they don’t, we should be worried. Photo: Paul Rovere

Banks are in the business of making money, and if they don’t, we should be worried. Photo: Paul Rovere

Banks are in the business of making money, and if they don’t, we should be worried. Photo: Paul Rovere


We want cheap houses, cheap credit, a strong economy – oh and bank profits make us feel a bit sick.

If the above sentence seems like a reasonable proposition, I’ve got news,   It’s not. You’re being manipulated.

It’s not really your fault. It takes an economist to understand these things sometimes, and we can’t all be economists. Most of us wouldn’t want to be anyway.

But the situation isn’t helped when, for the sake of populism, consumers are simply told they are being rooted rather than trusted with the complex truth.

ANZ has just announced a record $7.2 billion profit. The announcement follows NAB’s $6.7 billion announced Wednesday, also a record and a 20 per cent increase on last year.

Investors like it when banks book record profits, but it’s not a great political look when they are, at the same time, being caned for making mortgages more expensive.

Following NAB’s announcement, consumer advocate CHOICE raged  on this point. The group rightly pointed to competition as the means to lower prices, but missed the mark by saying NAB was “increasing profits and consumer costs at the same time”.

Maybe. Probably. We don’t know yet. What we do know for sure is that not a penny of the money made from increasing rates last week found its way into a profit figure calculated from books that were closed on September 30.

We’ll have to wait six months, when the bank gives its next results presentation, to see how it has fared in the context of this increase. That goes for ANZ as well.

At any rate, the 20 per cent figure is a little misleading.

The number that’s a lot more relevant to the things people get angry about is a lot smaller: 1.85 per cent.

That was the bank’s net interest margin – the difference between what it costs to make a loan and what they get to charge for things like mortgages. As Malcolm Maiden has explained, the slice has become a lot thinner over the past 10 years.

But here’s a truth: banks make money. That’s what they do. Often they make a lot of money. When they don’t, it’s generally a bad thing because it means there is probably not much going on in the economy.

Last week’s rate rises were also met by the predictable “warnings” from treasurer Scott Morrison, who said he wouldn’t give the banks “a leave pass”.

“The government didn’t make you do it,” Mr Morrison said. He followed this with the admission that it was a “good thing” to have strong banks and “they are in a position to actually pass these costs on”.

You can’t have it both ways. If you know a particular action is going to have a particular effect, and you do it anyway, you’ve got to wear a bit of the responsibility.

The banks say the increases were the result of a letter sent to the banks last December by the n Prudential Regulatory Authority, in which the regulator limited the amount of money on the banks’ books that they could lend to property investors.

If people want something, and you make that thing less available, its price increases. It’s the most basic economics out there.

And it’s not as if the banking sector has become massively more competitive since December, so much so that the banks’ ability to pass costs on to customers has been dramatically lessened.

Mr Morrison knows this. If he didn’t, he’d be in big trouble as Treasurer. There are economic concepts you’d want him to know well that are a lot more complex than these.

Otherwise, how could we trust him to navigate the country through another financial crisis, if there is one?

The last time that happened, it put into stark relief that mortgage rates just aren’t tied to the Reserve Bank the way they used to be.

That means the RBA’s cash rate isn’t such an effective throttle on the economy. The whole argument about “out of cycle” rate movements has been obsolete since at least 2008.

Mr Morrison’s comments are a marginal improvement on the mock outrage then-treasurer Wayne Swan and his predecessor Peter Costello gave voice to when the banks raised rates – or even threatened to do so – during the crisis. They are marginally better because he followed them with: “I think what I have to focus on is what are the things I can change and what are the things I can do something about”.

Good idea. The best change we can hope for is a bit more honesty all around.

Danny O’Brien chases a group 1 bonus with Miss Rose De Lago in the Myer Classic

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Danny O’Brien has fulfilled his brief with West n mare Miss Rose De Lago but believes there could be a group 1 bonus coming in the Myer Classic at Flemington on Saturday.

Owner Barry McRostie sent Miss Rose De Lago to O’Brien in the winter with the instructions to get her rating up, so the daughter of Encosta De Lago could return home for its group 1 carnival.

It seemed ambitious but in reality, she was more than up to the task.

The talented mare had four wins from 16 starts when she arrived in Melbourne for a winter campaign. She was immediately a winner at Caulfield in May and four starts later she stretched out to 1800m to win again at the Heath. That earned her a shot at the spring.

“She is a beautiful type of a mare, big and strong and we were just hoping she could win a couple of races over winter, which she did,” O’Brien said.

“The long-range dream was the Railway Stakes back in the west. Barry wanted to get her rating up to put her in a position to get into that.

“She has probably surprised us in that she has gone past just doing that and got to the Myer [Classic] with a very good chance.”

Miss Rose De Lago, a natural front-runner, caught the eye after a short break when she sat three-deep and looked the winner in the Let’s Elope Stakes before being swamped late and running fourth, only a half length from Amicus.

She returned to Caulfield and stepped to a mile last time and powered her way to comprehensive win making all the running.

“She is certainly better at a mile. Over the shorter trip they are a bit sharp for her at the end,” O’Brien said. “As we got her out in trip in the winter she got better and I think she showed how effective she is at a mile last time.

“Over the mile she can get them out of their [comfort] zones and really make them chase. She is a big, strong thing and runs a really strong mile and I think she will run 2000m one day. That is a real advantage in a race like this.”

Miss Rose De Lago has drawn perfectly in gate two and should roll straight to the front in the Myer.

O’Brien’s instructions to rider Opie Bosson will be to let her roll, particularly with favourite Stay With Me and Azkadellia, an $8 hope, having the pattern of getting back.

“If she sits up a bit they can outsprint her, so there will be no loafing on Saturday. She is going to get rolling from the 800m and test them all out,” O’Brien said. “The favourite is going to have [to be] a bloody good filly to give her a start and a beating.”

Win or lose on Saturday, Miss Rose De Lago has earnt a trip for the Railway Stakes and the Kingston Town Stakes and with a touch of luck by the end of next month she could be a group 1 winner.

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