Opal card to replace student bus pass

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Coogee Public School students with the new Opal card to be rolled out next year Photo: Peter RaeThe days of the old school bus pass are over with all students to switch to the Opal card at the start of the next school year.
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More than 420,000 NSW school students from kindergarten to year 12 and TAFE students aged under 18 will be eligible for a new school Opal card next year for free travel on school days between their home and school.

Students from more than 2000 public, Catholic and independent schools across Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, the Hunter, the Illawarra and the Southern Highlands will be able to use the Opal card on trains, buses and ferries.

But they will not be able to use them on Sydney’s light rail and they will still need a separate concession card for weekend travel.

The transport minister, Andrew Constance, and the education minister, Adrian Piccoli, said the move away from the old passes to the Opal card would make it easier for students, particularly those who needed to change modes of transport on their way to school.

Mr Piccoli said the school travel program provided more than $550 million to fund 80 million school trips each year.

“School travel assistance fees students from kindergarten to year 12 to and from home safely and keeps cars off the road at busy peak periods,” Mr Piccoli said.

All infants students over 4½ are eligible for free school travel, while primary students who live more than 1.6km or secondary students who live more than 2km from school can apply for an Opal card.

“To make it easier for families, students who have a paper school pass this year will automatically be issues with an Opal card at their school at the start of term in 2016,” Mr Piccoli said.

Is it OK to cheat on your partner when you travel overseas?

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There comes a time in most people’s lives when they have to admit they’ve seen the movie Road Trip. For me, that time is now.
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Because you mightn’t think of this tale of American college kids trying to recover a misplaced sex tape as being one of much philosophical importance, but it did introduce the world to a concept that matches neatly with today’s blog topic: the “area code rule”. This law, suggested by the intellectual dynamo Sean William Scott, essentially states that if you’re in a different area code to your girlfriend or boyfriend and you cheat on them, it doesn’t count.

(He goes on to say that if you were too wasted to remember then it also doesn’t count, but let’s ignore that for now.)

This rule might sound unrealistic in its plausibility, but you’d be surprised how many travellers seem to follow it. Leaving your home has always meant trying new things, acting in a way you might not around your friends and family, taking risks and having adventures – and that attitude can sometimes result in people not exactly being the model boyfriend or girlfriend to their loving partner.

I remember talking about this with some friends a few years ago, and one of the women in our group said she’d never, ever let a guy she was dating go overseas by himself. “He’d cheat, definitely,” she said. “That’s just what guys do. He’d definitely do it.”

That’s obviously a bit extreme, but it probably has some small basis in truth. However, while it was comforting for my friend to think of this tendency to stray as a purely male domain, in my experience it’s anything but.

I used to work on bus tours of Europe – you know, the kind with lots of fun-seeking Aussies and Kiwis in their late teens and early 20s being carted around the continent’s pubs and clubs (sorry, tourist attractions). At the start of each tour we’d get people up to the front of the bus to introduce themselves, and one of the questions they’d answer was whether they were a “red light”, an “orange light”, or a “green light”.

Green if you’re single, red if you’re in a relationship, orange if you could be swayed in either direction. Time after time you’d see these sweet, sincere passengers get up on the microphone and announce that they were most definitely red lights – then a few days later they’d be emerging from someone else’s tent in the morning trying to remember what they’d done with their clothes. This was guys, and it was girls. Usually more of the latter.

The crew always used to say that the difference between a red light and a green light on those tours was about three beers. Three beers and the freedom of Europe on a holiday, surrounded by strangers out for a good time. It happened. A lot. And most of those sweet, sincere passengers then packed up their bags and headed back to their relationship in , their partners none the wiser.

This pattern of behaviour goes on through the ages, right up to the old cliché of the businessman seeking “comfort” on the lonely road. Travellers have a habit of doing this.

I should point out now – mostly for the benefit of my own lovely and patient girlfriend – that I don’t subscribe to the area code rule. No one could legitimately excuse this stuff just because they’re on the road. But there are plenty of travellers who would like to think they could. Plenty.

It’s so easy to change your mindset when you go overseas. To think that the anonymity provided by travel means that the old rules no longer apply. This can result in all sorts of risk taking, and straying from the boundaries of a relationship seems to be one of them.

You’re meeting new people when you travel, constantly. You’re sharing experiences – sometimes intense, enjoyable experiences, and sometimes just the lonely experience of being on the road away from people you love.

You’re trying new things. You’re getting swept up in the romance of your destination, getting lost in the exoticism of it all, in the feeling that nothing counts and nothing matters.

But of course, it does matter. Unless you subscribe to the area code rule.

Do you think travellers are prone to cheating on their partners?

See also: The dumb questions travellers ask on tour

See also: The best country in the world for food

Email: [email protected]上海龙凤论坛m.au

Instagram: instagram上海龙凤论坛m/bengroundwater

Trick or treat… or notPoll

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All Hallow’s Eve approaches.
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Haven’t you felt it in the air? Surely you’veseen it in the shops.

You can’t swing a witch’s cat without running into Halloween treats, costumes or makeup.

Pre-schools and primary schools have Halloween themed activities, teens and tweens have Halloween parties and pubs and clubs celebrate the occasion with their own events.

There was a time when we’d debate whether Halloween had a place in , but that horse (and its headless rider) have well and truly bolted.

It’s here and it’s here to stay.

Arguments that it’s a piece of cultural Americana don’t cut it. Halloween, which has Celtic and Gaelic roots and a mix of Christian and pagan origins,arrived in America via the UK – where the majority of ’s traditions already come from.

Nor can you argue that ns don’t care for Halloween.

It now rates as the second biggest commercial date on the calendar behind Christmas – outselling Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Easter and Valentine’s Day.

It may have been reinforced and indoctrinated by years of American movies and TV shows, but has embraced Halloween.

Or at least most of it.

The debate that remains relates to the custom of trick or treating.

Travel around regional and rural and it is still very much the exception rather than the rule.

For the most part, people don’t stock up on chocolates and lollies to hand out to the visiting hordes of cutely and grotesquely dressed kids, and not many people join in the door to door procession with their kids.

Those that do trick or treat, both kids and the parents, are left with an awkward anti-climax, feeling like beggars asking for a significant favour as they are greeted (or ignored) by door after door of disinterested residents

Householders, for the most part, feel uncomfortable and equally awkward with nothing to offer the kids, and little interest in changing that situation.

Trick or treating is NOT a widespread custom in .

So the question is, should it be?

Is the casual observance of dress-ups and parties based around Halloween as good as it’s going to get in ?

Is it even safe or wise to suggest taking food from strangers?

Should there be an etiquette where houses register or display a sign to indicate that they are Trick-or-Treat Friendly?

Have your say in our poll – let us know what you think about trick or treating. Will you be going door to door or prepared to hand out lollies this year?

Amnesty details brutal consequences of Tony Abbott’s asylum seeker boat turn-back directive

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Jasmine was one of two boats which asylum seekers claim they were transferred on to by n Border Force after being intercepted and turned back. A few hours after n ships and speedboats stopped escorting the two boats, Jasmine ran out of fuel and passengers had to transfer onto the second boat Kanak by jumping from one boat to the other. This photograph was taken by Amnesty International researchers after Jasmine had been towed to Rote Island by Indonesian officials. Photo: Amnesty InternationalTony Abbott used his first outing on the international speakers’ circuit to urge Europe to moderate its love for its neighbours, and instead to turn back their boats – an action that will “require some force … [and] gnaw at our consciences”.
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Meanwhile, from Indonesia, an Amnesty International report tells us exactly what this use of force looks like.

As has been documented more than once, activities that a succession of n ministers have coyly avoided talking about as “on-water matters”, involve some pretty nasty behaviour.

Amnesty says one infamous turn-back this year involved uniformed n officers boarding an asylum seeker vessel, lying to its occupants, taking them on to n warships and incarcerating them by force, limiting food and medical attention, then paying the crew to take them back to Indonesia with minimal fuel to face significant danger on landing.

Asked about the payment, both Immigration minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop answered “No”. Abbott later virtually, but not actually, contradicted them when he said would close its borders to boat-borne asylum seekers “by hook or by crook”.

The lies, if the Amnesty report is to be believed, have continued. An Operation Sovereign Borders Joint Agency Task Force has told an n Senate committee that the operation was a rescue mission, intended to save lives following a distress call. Amnesty says, on the basis of interviews with asylum seekers and the boat’s crew, that the boat was simply boarded, not rescued.

The questions that hang over this turn-back prompt us to ask what else has happened without our knowledge. The most infamous example of alleged brutality was the “burned hands” boat of January 2014. Can we really believe the navy’s and customs’ denials that anything untoward happened?

The reality is this. We have put a group of highly trained and armed young ns out of sight on the high seas, excused them from various laws and authorised them to use whatever force is necessary to turn desperate people back on a dangerous journey. We have attacked anyone attempting to scrutinise or question their actions; removed any notion of political oversight. That has the potential to encourage illegality and, potentially, brutality.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of “stopping the boats”, what happens as a result probably does not gnaw nearly enough at our conscience.

Rugby World Cup 2015: It’s Michael Cheika vs Steve Hansen in the battle of the one-liners

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RWC Schedule: When is the Rugby World Cup final?Full coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup
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LONDON: Finally, has an answer to Steve Hansen.

For too long, the All Blacks coach has been free to dole out quip after quip from behind the media table, while Wallabies fans have settled for matter of fact or taciturn from their coaches.

Hansen has barely moved his lips, certainly never raised an eyebrow, when the grenades have been thrown. His face cracks into a Joker grin when he allows himself the tell, but that Steve Hansen hasn’t been sighted outside a dressing room since 1987.

And what of the supposed larrikins of the Commonwealth, the self-deprecating Aussies? Missing in action since Jonny Wilkinson wiped the grin off Eddie Jones’s face 12 years ago. That is, until a bloke from Coogee-via-Dublin-and-Paris ambled in.

Thank heavens for Michael Cheika at this World Cup. He’s given crestfallen English scribes something to laugh about on a regular basis at his weekly media love-ins around London.

And though he has refused to use the term “All Blacks” in polite company this week, we think Hansen and Cheika could be a match made in comedy heaven.

Here are their best one-liners from the tournament:

Steve Hansen on whether the referees were going to apply the laws fairly during the World Cup: “Why don’t you give me a shotgun and tell me to shoot myself?”

Michael Cheika on bringing back Kane Douglas from Leinster: “I thought he was going to take an AVO [apprehended violence order] out on me because I kept ringing him up about coming back the minute he left. Then we got to a period where I figured he had finally rejected me fully so I cried for a while and didn’t ring him back and then I had another rough shot at it towards the end.”

Hansen on the relationship between New Zealand and bitter World Cup rivals France: “There has been a great relationship between the two countries for a long, long time and, apart from the Rainbow Warrior, we’ve probably been on the same page most of the time.”

Cheika on Sir Clive Woodward’s remark that were “not the brightest team”: “Mr Woodward is right. I only got 300 out of 500 in my higher school certificate. My mother wasn’t happy with the result I can assure you. She begged me to study harder but somehow I got through.”

Hansen on South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer’s infamous desk-thumping, anthem-belting, gasket-blowing behaviour in the coaches’ box: “If I did that, I would have a heart attack. I don’t know how he hasn’t had one.”

Cheika acknowledges a pack of Japanese reporters at a media conference: “Say hi to Eddie for me!”

Hansen is asked if he has anything else up his sleeve after New Zealand thrash France: “Just my arm.”

Cheika’s reaction to beating World Cup hosts England in the pool stages: No words. Just watch

Identity of teacher on child porn charges suppressed to prevent embarrassment to school

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A man has pleaded guilty to five child pornography offences Photo: FacebookA Sydney judge has suppressed the name of a Catholic primary school teacher who has pleaded guilty to child pornography offences to “limit the embarrassment and distress” of the school.
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In the Downing Centre District Court on Thursday, a 59-year-old man admitted to accessing, transmitting and possessing thousands of images and videos of child abuse material.

The court heard between 2011 and 2014 the man used the internet to download child porn for his “sexual gratification”.

At the time of his arrest in September 2014, the man was a teacher and e-learning co-ordinator at a Catholic primary school in Sydney’s south-west.

Following pleas of guilty to one count of transmitting, one count of accessing and three counts of possessing child abuse material, Judge Chris Craigie made a non-publication order on the man’s name following an application by the Commonwealth DPP.

Judge Craigie said the order was intended “to limit the embarrassment and distress to the students who might be identified by way of the school or schools being identified”.

He said the order is “intended to protect innocent persons” at the school.

There is no suggestion any students from the school were featured in the child abuse material.

Judge Craigie said: “There is no relevant nexus between his occupation and his offences before the court”.

He also suppressed the name of any schools the man had previously taught at.

Character references were tendered, including one from the parish priest at the man’s local church.

Police found “a number of computers with extensive images of young children in various sexual poses” at his home including 1514 images and videos on an external hard drive, 452 images on a USB flash drive and 188 on his MacBook.

Between 23 and 27 September, the man uploaded five or six child pornography images to a website at the request of a person he was chatting to online.

The website was being monitored by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the United States.

NCMEC staff had determined that the material had been uploaded from an Internet Protocol address in and referred the matter to n authorities.

The NSW Police’s Sex Crimes Squad’s Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU) began an investigation to determine who was responsible for uploading the material and raided the man’s Sydney home.

The court heard that the man expects to be sentenced to a jail term. Judge Craigie ordered the man undergo a pre-sentence assessment by Community Corrections.

He will remain on bail until the hearing resumes on December 14.

Melco’s Lawrence Ho says Macau may reverse gambling restrictions on budget woes

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Hopeful: Melco’s Lawrence Ho (second from left) with his wife Sharen Lo, James Packer and his girlfriend Mariah Carey at the opening ceremony for the Studio City casino on Tuesday. Photo: Kin CheungJames Packer’s business partner Lawrence Ho believes the Macau government will wind back policies restricting gambling as the Chinese territory looks to reverse a crippling budget deficit.
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Following a corruption crackdown by Beijing in the past 18 months Macau’s government has hinted at a range of additional measures, such as a smoking ban that could hurt casino operators, including Mr Packer’s Crown Resorts, in the world’s biggest gambling hub.

Yet with gaming revenue falling by more than a third in the past year, the Macau government’s once-booming budget surplus faces slipping to an annual deficit.

Mr Ho, chief executive of Melco Crown Entertainment, said talk of more restrictive policies from the Macau government had started to ease.

“I think even the Macanese government has kicked in their austerity measures and realised that gaming revenue and gaming tax is responsible for 80 per cent of their government budget,” Mr Ho said. “And they might run at a budget deficit next year, which 10 years ago would have been impossible to think of.” Change in attitude

Mr Ho, who with Mr Packer opened Melco’s $4 billion Studio City casino in Macau on Tuesday, said a proposed smoking ban might be reversed.

“I think they are looking at the whole environment quite differently,” he said. “If you asked them on January 1 about the smoking ban, it was no question. Now they are saying, ‘Well, so long as it doesn’t hurt’ … there could be a change in attitude.”

Macau’s market relies heavily on Chinese gamblers, many of whom enjoy a nicotine fix. About 30 per cent of Chinese adults smoke, including 53 per cent of men, data from the World Health Organisation shows.

The Melco chief, son of Macau gaming king Stanley Ho, said the local government was realising the damage quick policy changes could make to the casino industry.

“If you go back to January 1 this year, everyone was still hopeful for a quick recovery and the fact the gaming industry was like this bulletproof industry – the idea you could throw grenades at it and it was going to be fine,” he said. “But I think their attitude has changed throughout this process.”

Gaming revenue fell by 37 per cent in October in Macau, the only Chinese jurisdiction where gambling is legal, as China’s high rollers steered clear of the market as an anti-graft drive hit home. More supportive measures

The dramatic slowdown has spurred talk in recent weeks that more supportive measures will be introduced. In early October Li Gang, director of the Chinese government’s local liaison office in Macau, said Beijing would “support Macau’s economy in all aspects”.

DS Kim, an analyst at JPMorgan, said government support could include tweaking visa rules and processes to encourage more tourist visits.

Melco, 34 per cent owned by Mr Packer’s Crown Resorts, has targeted a mass market offering with Studio City, which it hopes will allow it to sidestep some of the fallout from the drop in VIP revenue, which accounts for less than 10 per cent of Melco’s earnings.

Mr Packer said Macau’s casino market would revive in the next few years.

“There’s a lot of China that hasn’t really been allowed or encouraged to come to Macau,” he said. “This year is painful but with time and patience it is all going to come back – especially on the mass side.”

The reporter travelled to Macau as a guest of Crown Resorts. 

Halo 5: Guardians review

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Your Spartan soldier is much more agile in Halo 5, and levels are laid out differently because of it. Photo: 343 Industries There are always four players in Halo 5’s campaign, which also impacts the levels. For example during a firefight one of the team might mantle up to a high vantage point for sniping while a partner charges through an old vent to flank the enemy from the side. Photo: 343 Industries
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The Prometheans continue to be less interesting enemies than the Covenant or the Flood, but they’ve been given a tune up. Knights now require more strategy to fight and human-like Soldiers have been introduced. Photo: 343 Industries

The world of Halo 5 is gorgeous, just as expected given the jump to Xbox One. Photo: 343 Industries

The Master Chief returns in Halo 5, but he’s a supporting character. Photo: 343 Industries

Vehicular play is as great as ever, and the REQ system in Warzone means you can grab one in multiplayer whenever you can afford it. Photo: 343 Industries

Attacking an enemy-held base in Warzone, which plays out like Halo meets MOBA. Photo: 343 Industries

Grab a power weapon at a REQ station and wreak some havoc. Photo: 343 Industries

After popularising the console shooter and almost single-handedly moving the genre (and the whole of the casual video game space) online, Halo is a game from which, fairly or not, we expect big things.

With Halo 5: Guardians, the series continues to break new ground with smart new gameplay additions, a campaign that all but demands you play with friends online and new modes inspired by the latest in e-sports and multiplayer battle arenas. It’s an impressive, impeccable game, although the continued evolution is sure to be divisive among those who think Halo peaked in 2007. Gameplay

The biggest change to the game in Halo 5 has to do with how your Spartan gets around. You can now climb up ledges that are just a little too high to jump to. You hit extra hard when sprinting; dodge in any direction, even in mid-air; aim down any weapons’ sights; engage thrusters to keep you level while aiming, even if you step off a ledge; thrust down from a height to crush enemies.

The collection of weapons and vehicles featured in Halo 5 is probably the strongest of the entire series, with a mix of rebalanced classics and all new fare. As ever, any opportunity to jump in a Warthog or tank when you’re playing co-operatively with friends is an absolute joy.

Speaking of which, a change specific to the campaign is that the player is never alone. Taking a little inspiration from Destiny, the entire story mode is designed for four players at once (online only, no splitscreen).

New gameplay mechanics sprout from this change as well, for example you can mark and point out enemies or areas for your teammates’ attention, and if you die there’s a chance your friends could come over and revive you just in time. When playing alone you’ll get three AI-controlled teammates, who are great at reviving you and assisting in vehicles but god awful at any more advanced tactics (routing enemies that need to be hit from behind is a recurring pain).

The levels in both campaign and multiplayer are designed differently as a result of all these changes. Though not as sprawling as they were in the past, the arenas of battle are much more vertical and completely filled with hidden paths and alternate routes.

Sections of the campaign even branch off entirely, offering different routes through levels for each team member.

The new direction does come at a price, as the solitary, surprising, open story mode of the original games is now unequivocally gone, and in its place a more directed, linear experience geared toward squad-based tactical combat rather than awe. Hence those hoping for a solo space-faring adventure of the like seen in the original game, Halo 2 or Halo 3 might be disappointed (luckily the campaigns of those games are readily available on Xbox One via Halo: The Master Chief Collection). The story

Disappointingly, the story told in Halo 5’s campaign is not all it’s been cracked up to be.

The game introduces new protagonist Agent Locke, a government attack dog who the pre-launch marketing showed hunting down (and in one case killing) series mainstay the Master Chief, who had apparently gone rogue.

By halfway through Halo 5’s campaign however, it’s clear the game’s telling an entirely different story.

Without spoiling too much, Chief and Locke are barely adversarial, the actions and motivations of each are clear and simple, and Locke himself is functionally the same blank vessel for the player to inhabit as Chief always has been, following orders and being glib.

Meanwhile the game suffers from the same issue as Halo 4, where the massive scope of the narrative universe compared to the limited scope of the actual story being told leads the player to feel mostly inconsequential, and the biggest, most awe-inspiring or world-changing events are visual spectacles only. Some of that space frontier magic of the original trilogy is just missing, and while some of this is doubtless due to the new focus on team-based play it’s still a bit of a let down.

After the halfway mark the story picks up and hits some interesting notes around the alien race know as the Sangheili (or Elites) and the fate of Master Chief’s erstwhile companion Cortana, but in the end the hunt for the Master Chief feels like a delay tactic for the actual story, which kicks off near the end of the game and will presumably continue in Halo 6. Multiplayer

Where the campaign was enjoyable with a tinge of disappointment — and old man “it’s new so I hate it” feelings — multiplayer is all positive, largely because it contains a brand new, modern direction as well as more traditional modes.

“Warzone” injects a touch of the MOBA into the old favourite Big Team Battle, with 24 players on two teams capturing bases while fighting each other and AI-controlled enemies.

It’s a very different flow than shooter fans may be used to, but importantly it provides opportunities for players of all skill levels to contribute in a positive way, and takes the emphasis off hide-and-headshot. Matches can be won either by completing objectives to earn 1000 points or by forcing your way into the enemy’s base, so the game is rarely one-sided.

The most fun aspect of Warzone is the REQ system. Players earn REQ over time and cash it in for weapons and vehicles. Cashing yours in right away for a rocket launcher might help you take a base or complete an objective, but being frugal will net you a tank by the end of the game to crush your way to victory.

It also means experienced players can no longer run directly to the most powerful weapons and vehicles on the map, and gives everyone a chance to be that Banshee-flying badass.

Arena mode is classic Halo as we all know it, a mix of 4v4 modes like capture the flag and Slayer (deathmatch). It’s a great example of fixing something that ain’t broke, although the new Spartan abilities keep things interesting and fresh. Should I get it?

Halo 5 continues the series trajectory to a T. The gameplay mechanics and shooting continue to improve, while the campaign has made its biggest jump yet towards forcing cooperative play. The story has become more narrow and less relevant as a result, which will be a good or bad trade-off depending on your perspective. For multiplayer shooter fans it’s a no-brainer, this is the best Halo’s ever been.

Halo 5 is out now on Xbox One at an RRP of $99.95. It’s classified M.

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Rugby World Cup final 2015: Why the Wallabies can – and can’t – win against the All Blacks

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RWC Schedule: When is the Rugby World Cup final?Full coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup
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Five reasons the Wallabies can win the World Cup final…

1.David Pocock

We realise almost every Wallaby listicle will start with something to do with Pocock but sometimes you just can’t tip away from the favourite.

The breakdown mauler has been beyond superb at the World Cup and might just be the best player in the sport at the moment.

With him firing in the contest, the Wallabies are a chance against any team in the world, including the mighty All Blacks.

2.Cheika’s mad science

Nobody can quite put their finger on what was missing from the Wallabies in their previous incarnations.

Michael Cheika probably can’t either – ‘I wasn’t there’ – as he often points out.

Whatever it was, Cheika has magic fairy dust by the kilogram. His stewardship of the team over the past 12 months has turned them from high school nerds into one of the big men on campus.

Who’s to say he can’t take them all the way on the weekend.

Cheika roll: Wallabies coach has ‘plenty of magic dust’. Photo: Getty Images

3. Nothing to lose

The Wallabies have already over-achieved. Hey, they could have probably hit the French Riviera after knocking out England.

Instead, they enter the final with their rivals the raging favourites and carrying the lofty expectations of a rugby-obsessed nation.

That’s not to say the Wallabies won’t be crushed if they don’t win. It’s just that they go in on the crest of a feel-good wave, rather than with a millstone around their necks.

Did the Wallabies overachieve by knocking out England and Wales? Photo: Getty Images

4. Bernard Foley

If Quade Cooper was Maverick, then Foley is Iceman.

The two playmakers have their various strengths but in Foley the Wallabies have found a clinical finisher who doesn’t blink when the game is on the line.

His final-minute penalty against the Scots was just the vote of confidence he needed to ensure he steps up with swagger if the All Blacks are there for the taking.

Ice-cold: Bernard Foley boots the winning penalty against Scotland at the death. Photo: Getty Images

5. This isn’t Eden Park

A team of Marvel superheroes would struggle to roll the All Blacks in Auckland. But Twickenham is a long way from Eden Park.

Plenty of teams step onto the field against New Zealand already having tasted mental defeat.

The Wallabies could have fallen into that category if it wasn’t for a 27-19 win over the arch-enemy at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Cheika rotated his side for the drubbing in the second leg of the Bledisloe but none of the Wallabies will see the ABs as an unassailable obstacle.

New Zealand’s All Blacks react after their Bledisloe Cup rugby match loss to the Wallabies in Sydney. Photo: Reuters

And five reasons why they can’t…

1. The All Blacks are as good as they appear

Forget, for a moment, the endless hype and in-flight safety videos and the wall-to-wall, infuriating corporate blackout that goes hand-in-hand with New Zealand rugby.

When you strip it back to basics, the All Blacks are as good as their PR machine and then some.

They have only dropped a solitary game in the past year (so have the Wallabies, mind you) and start deserved favourites to win their second RWC in succession. 

Forget the hype, the All Blacks are as good as they appear. Photo: youtube上海龙凤论坛m/airnewzealand

2. Emotional exits

The Kiwis will have no bigger motivation than to send off favourites sons Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Tony Woodcock, Conrad Smith and Keven Mealamu in the finest of style.

The ‘Retiring Six’ have been the very heart and soul of the modern era of All Blacks dominance and you can bet their team-mates will do anything to get them over the line.

Final hurrah: Ma’a Nonu. Photo: Getty Images

3. McCaw-thyisim

If you’ve never been to New Zealand, it’s difficult to explain the popularity of their great flanker.

‘Popularity’ may be selling it a touch short. It’s closer to a cult that has managed to radicalise almost every citizen, who fail to believe their fearless leader can do any wrong.

He has a similar influence on the park and for all of the jibes about him pushing the rules, the AB’s seven remains a masterful leader that can seem to will his team over the line, even if they have a rare off day.

Cult of personality: Richie McCaw. Photo: Mike Hewitt

4. No more nerves

It was fun while it lasted, you know that line about the All Blacks being World Cup chokers. Sure, they’d won the first one but that didn’t count.

Then they spoiled the fun and went and won the last one, before going on to dominate the global game for the next four years.

The bad news for the Wallabies is that plenty of faces from 2011 are going to be back on deck again. They know how to get the job done, while for the Wallabies it’s uncharted waters.

The All Blacks on their way to semi-final defeat against the Wallabies at the 2003 World Cup. Photo: Craig Golding

5. Killer instinct

If the All Blacks are in games, they win games. They looked down and out against the Springboks in The Rugby Championship before finishing over the top of them in Johannesburg, before grinding out the toughest of wins against the same opponents in the semi-final.

They let one slip against the Wallabies in Sydney but given their record and recent form, that might simply be an exception that proves the rule. There’s no better side under pressure in the world.  

Best under pressure: Jesse Kriel is consoled by Sonny Bill Williams at the end of the All Blacks v Springboks semi. Photo: Shaun Botterill

New Zealand holds rates, but warns on currency

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Governor Wheeler: strong currency smothering much-needed inflation.New Zealand’s central bank on Thursday held its official cash rate (OCR) at 2.75 per cent, but cautioned that continued strength in the local currency could force its hand again in coming months.
Shanghai night field

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler said in a statement that solid growth in services and construction had helped offset the impact of weak dairy prices to make a fourth interest rate cut this year unwarranted.

However, he warned that the strength of the New Zealand dollar, a heavily-traded currency given to wild gyrations in times of market unease, could smother much needed imported inflation, at a time when the consumer price index (CPI) was languishing below the 1 per cent to 3 per cent target.

The kiwi responded with an immediate 1 per cent plunge, before settling around US71.14¢, compared with US71.58¢ before the central bank’s decision. The currency is also at a five and a half month high against the n dollar and edging toward parity once again, driven recently by improving dairy prices.

“Annual CPI inflation is expected to return well within the target range by early 2016, as the effects of earlier petrol price falls drop out of the CPI calculation and in response to the fall in the exchange rate since April,” said Mr Wheeler.

“However, the exchange rate has been moving higher since September, which could, if sustained, dampen tradeables sector activity and medium-term inflation.

“This would require a lower interest rate path than would otherwise be the case.

“To ensure that future average CPI inflation settles near the middle of the target range, some further reduction in the OCR seems likely,” Wheeler said.

Thursday’s decision to hold rates was widely expected.

However, results of the latest Bloomberg survey of economists point to another cut, to 2.5 per cent, in December.

“Today’s decision by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to leave interest rates at 2.75 per cent is just a pause in a loosening cycle that we believe will end with rates falling to 2 per cent,” said Capital Economics’ chief economist for and New Zealand Paul Dales.

“And the news that the RBNZ is not happy with the recent strengthening in the New Zealand dollar lends some support to our view that the dollar could yet weaken to US60¢ this year and US55¢ next year,” he said.

New Zealanders are chasing double-digit yields in some stocks as its official cash rates sits at a record low 2.75 per cent.

The global equities rally in October has extended to the land of the long white cloud, sending the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index through the 6000 mark for the first time on Tuesday.

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