Pressure on China’s leaders to cut pollution from coal is likely to intensify – potentially hurting Australia’s exports – with new research showing Beijing’s air quality will get worse with climate change.
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The Chinese capital’s ring of mountains to the west and north naturally traps pollution, especially in winter.

But a warming world is projected to increase the frequency of the most severe pollution events by half, according to research published on Tuesday in the Nature Climate Change journal.

The duration of events similar to the “Airpocalypse” of January 2013 – when pollution levels soared to beyond 20 times the level recommended by the World Health Organisation – will rise by 80 per cent, the study found.

Using 14 climate models, the research predicted a more stagnant air mass over northern Asia and a reduced land-sea temperature difference during winter, leading to weaker north-westerly winds, said Wenju Cai, a senior CSIRO scientist and lead author of the paper.

“If the air becomes stable, the air pollution cannot rise up and the wind is not there so it cannot be taken away,” Dr Cai said. “Then it becomes a serious problem.”

While the pollution had been getting worse in recent years, there was not enough data to determine how much climate change had already had an impact, he said.

Even so, the expected pattern may already be playing out. These include northerly winds often failing to reach Beijing and sometimes being replaced by southerlies that dragged in heavy industry pollutants from cities to the south that cloaked the capital, he said.

The chart below shows PM2.5 particulate levels compared with recommended levels of 25, and the 150 marker that triggers “severe pollution” warnings. Australia rarely reached a level of 25, Dr Cai said.

The research projections suggest the Chinese government will have to do a lot more if emissions cuts already planned are to make a difference in Beijing and many of the nation’s northern cities.

The municipal region this week closed the last of its coal-fired power stations and has forced other big polluters out of the capital in a bid to quell growing public concerns about pollution.

China imports about 10 per cent of the coal it burns, with Australia among the suppliers. A drop in coal consumption in China could affect Australia’s other markets, particularly if China resumes exports.

“Cutting coal would be quite effective – it cuts both particulates and greenhouse gases,” Dr Cai said.

The research indicated China had an incentive to encourage emissions cuts beyond its borders, he added: “Solving Beijing’s air pollution problems requires everywhere and everyone around the world.”

Teng Fei, an associate professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing who specialises in energy and the environment, said the government’s policy to replace coal with gas-fired power in Beijing itself was now complete. More distant provinces also provided electricity from renewables, coal and other sources.

“Most people expect coal consumption will stabilise [in China] in coming years, but whether it will reduce … we’re not too sure,” Professor Teng said.

He is doubtful, too, that China will use its global clout to nudge nations to do more to reduce greenhouse gases than they have committed to as part of the Paris climate agreement.

The 2015 accord, which came into effect last year, relies on a voluntary “bottom-up approach based on commitments by each nation”, said Professor Teng, who served on China’s negotiating team.

“China will not force other countries to do it,” he said.

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The head of the competition watchdog, Rod Sims, is fighting union claims he broke the public service code of conduct by publicly endorsing Colin Barnett’s $11 billion power privatisation plan just four days before West Australians went to the polls this month.
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Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd has received an official complaint against Mr Sims, the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, alleging he breached his responsibility to remain “apolitical” during the WA election.

During the final week of the WA campaign, Mr Sims’ comments in favour of the Liberal Party’s planned sell-off of Western Power were splashed across the front page of the state’s only daily newspaper, The West Australian.

“If Western Power was privatised, that would lower power prices because the new owner would be more efficient,” Mr Sims told the newspaper. “The new owner would not be allowed to just increase prices.”

Mr Sims had agreed to an interview to talk about the release of an ACCC report on airport monitoring but was posed questions on the red-hot privatisation debate, Fairfax Media has learned.

An ACCC spokeswoman said he had “paraphrased” previous comments he had made about Western Power as far back as October last year.

In its complaint, the Electrical Trades Union alleged Mr Sims had contravened rules around public servants remaining above the political fray but also revealed its annoyance that his intervention overshadowed a union-sponsored report that backed Labor leader Mark McGowan’s anti-privatisation push.

“[Mr Sims’] comments coincided with the release of economic modelling that showed that the Barnett government had overstated the budgetary benefits of the privatisation of Western Power,” ETU secretary Allen Hicks complained in his complaint letter to Mr Lloyd.

“These comments had the effect of neutralising the impact of the report’s release and ensuring that the day’s coverage favoured the incumbent coalition on a vote-changing issue only days before the state election.”

The union is comparing Mr Sims’ intervention to the complaint upheld against NBN chairman Ziggy Switkowski, who was accused of breaking caretaker conventions in a forthright opinion piece published by Fairfax Media during the last federal election, in which he defended calling in the police against leakers.

A spokeswoman for Mr Lloyd confirmed the complaint had been received.

“The Commission does not comment on the status of allegations or investigations,” she said.

Mr Sims has been locked in a rolling battle with the ETU and the Australian Services Union since January when they used audio of a speech given by Mr Sims to back the anti-privatisation case in radio advertisements.

The ads featured Mr Sims saying: “When you meet people in the street and they say I don’t want privatisation because it boosts prices and you dismiss them; no no, they’re right. Recent examples suggest they’re right.”

But he claimed to have been taken “right out of context” because he was talking about port sales, like the Port of Newcastle, not electricity assets where prices remain under the control of regulators.

“Mr Sims views on privatisation are well known and had been discussed in relation to Western Power as early as October 2016,” an ACCC spokeswoman said.

“His comments published on March 6 were made during an interview with the West Australian on another topic: an annual ACCC report on airport monitoring. Mr Sims was asked a question about his previous comments made regarding Western Power and he paraphrased what he had previously said.”

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Home doctors fear the axe is about to fall on Medicare-funded, after-hours visits to millions of Australian households each year, resulting in after-hours patients being pushed towards already stretched hospital emergency departments.
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The National Association for Medical Deputising Services is so concerned about the signals emanating from Health Minister Greg Hunt and his departmental bureaucrats, it has commissioned polling to gauge the popularity of the home visits – which have their own Medical Benefits Schedule numbers.

Television advertising is scheduled to start from this week.

It says the polling conducted on behalf of the organisation has found 74 per cent of Australians would view a reduced home-visits program as a violation of Mr Turnbull’s no-cuts-to-Medicare pledge.

The issue is caught up in complex medico-political positioning. One suggestion is that the government will move to truncate the service by requiring that all visits be conducted by a GP – rather than a trainee emergency doctor, as happens at present.

Competitor doctors’ organisations, which could stand to benefit from a reconfiguration, share the government’s concerns that the service has allowed too many call-outs to be classified as “emergency” visits, triggering a much higher MBS payment than doctors would receive from the standard attendance fee.

The doctors who undertake the home visits through the small hours of the night and morning, assert that reductions would result in patients having to attend hospital emergency departments, thus causing cost-shifting and increased risk.

NAMDS President Dr Spiro Doukakis said: “Doctor home visits are an essential Medicare service and are relied on by two million Australian families – especially carers of people with disability, the elderly and young children.

“Since 2005, the percentage of unnecessary emergency department visits (lower acuity category 4 and 5 GP-type presentations) have reduced from 54 per cent to 47 per cent.”

Health industry sources confirmed the review currently being led by former Australian Medical Association boss Steve Hambleton, is likely to recommend changes to the program amid concerns within the government that the scheme is being “rorted”.

Mr Hunt said his commitment to after-hours medical access was “rock-solid”.

“But we also have a commitment to ensuring that every service provided is genuine and that every doctor is up to scratch,” he said.

“I am concerned about reports that some doctors are claiming to be providing urgent services when they’re not urgent at all.”

“The advice from the AMA and the RACGP is that some of these junior doctors and corporate firms are claiming for items which are not genuinely urgent.”

But Dr Doukakis argued it was actually saving money.

“Whereas the growth in emergency department presentations for genuine emergency issues have grown by an average 26 per cent over the past five years, growth in non-emergencies has basically stopped at 3 per cent off a base of 19 per cent per annum prior to 2011. That shows this is good health policy and its doing its job of easing pressure on hospitals.

“The savings to the health system were calculated by Deloitte Access Economics at $724 million (net savings) over four years. Of course, the savings are to the benefit of state health budgets.”

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High-flying executives at the Australian Public Service Commission would be distressed if details of their salaries, each running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, were made public, the commission says.
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The APSC is the the government’s federal workplace enforcer, responsible for policing the Coalition’s hardline policy on pay and conditions that have seen more than 90,000 Commonwealth worker face an effective wage freeze since 2013.

It also publishes an annual remuneration survey of the 155,000 strong Australian Public Service, a snapshot of who is earning what in the federal bureaucracy.

But in response to a Freedom of Information request from a member of the public, the Commission says details of the salaries of its own nine “senior executive service” public servants are off-limits.

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Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd’s band of senior executives have had two pay rises, along with the agency’s rank-and-file, since November 2015.

A “band 3” executive would have seen their wages topped up by $12,600 during that period.

Further down the pay scale, a band 1 executive, at the top of their band, has seen their wage grow by nearly $9000-a-year.

But that is all the detail that will be forthcoming, if the commission gets its way, with the FOI request, for executive pay slips and group certificates to be made public, running into a polite but firm refusal.

“Disclosure would breach the privacy of individuals and would cause stress on the individuals,” the commission’s FOI decision maker Clare Page wrote to the applicant.

“Disclosure would reveal the individuals’ remuneration to the public.

“None of the relevant individuals has consented to the disclosure of the documents.”

Ms Page, whose own salary details would be disclosed if the FOI application was successful, conceded that it may be in the public interest to release the documents, but only to a “certain degree”.

“In my opinion, disclosure of the relevant documents would advance, to a certain degree, the public interest in government transparency and integrity,” she wrote.

But Ms Page, commission’s group manager, also claimed her agency’s ability to haggle over wages with new recruits to its executive ranks would be harmed if the going rate for an SES at the commission became common knowledge.

“The disclosure of information about remuneration paid to each of the APSC’s SES employees could reasonably be expected to undermine the APSC’s negotiating position with current and future SES employees,” she wrote.

“The public disclosure of this information would fundamentally alter the APSC’s relative bargaining position.”

Mr Lloyd’s salary package, of about $680,000 a year, is public along with that of departmental secretaries and some agency heads.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted Clare Page of the APSC as writing “Disclosure would breach the privacy of individuals and cause distress on the individual. The correct quote is “Disclosure would breach the privacy of individuals and would cause stress on the individuals.”

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???As it happened, scoreboard
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???RANCHI: Australia have passed a searching examination of their mettle by overcoming India’s spin masters on Ranchi’s so-called craters of doom to secure a backs-to-the-wall draw in the third Test.

The visitors appeared destined for a morale-sapping defeat when Steve Smith’s off stump was sent cartwheeling before lunch but the maligned Shaun Marsh and newcomer Peter Handscomb saved the day.

Australia were comprehensively outplayed in the second half of the match but displayed a level of resilience seldom seen by the men in baggy green in this part of the world. Impressively, they accomplished the mission without a major rearguard from Smith.

Playing for draws has not been the Australian way. The last time they overcame a significant first-innings deficit for a stalemate in Asia was in 2011 when the late Phillip Hughes and Michael Clarke scored centuries in Galle to keep Sri Lanka at bay.

Australia lost just four wickets on the final day on a pitch that was far from unplayable despite the ominous signs late on the fourth day.

Ravindra Jadeja captured 4-54 from 44 pressure-packed overs but could not produce enough of the magic balls that sent alarm through the Australian dressing room on Sunday night.

There was a late twist when Marsh and Glenn Maxwell departed in quick succession with Australia leading by only 38 with a minimum of seven overs remaining but India had run out of time to conjure a miracle. Australia were 6-204, leading by 52, when the match was called off with two overs left.

India had their opportunity to finish off Australia but lacked the knockout blow. They will be ruing Karun Nair’s dropped chance off Handscomb when he was on six. It was difficult but one they could not afford to squander on a surprisingly benign fifth-day track against an opponent up for the fight.

There will now be renewed confidence in the Australian camp they can retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy when this stirring series reaches its climax in the foothills of the Himalayas in Dharamsala.

That the series is locked at 1-1 with one to play is a feather in the caps of the Australians, whom many believed were staring at another humiliating whitewash in India.

Few would have given them any chance of escaping such a dire situation 24 hours ago but Smith’s inexperienced team showed character beyond their years.

For that they can thank Marsh and Handscomb, two men at opposite ends of their international careers but still proving their worth at the highest level.

The pair added 124 for the fifth wicket but more important was the 374 balls they took out of the game. First they had to tame a rampant Indian team that had their tails up after rolling Matt Renshaw and Smith in the space of four balls.

They were also brave enough to attack anything loose, which was vital in erasing the deficit and preventing Virat Kohli from suffocating them with a ring of fielders in close.

They also overcame a testing period of reverse swing as well as the constant danger of the rough, which was more concerning to the left-handed Marsh.

“You try not to think about it too much, you play the ball,” Marsh said of the rough.

The Western Australian’s 53 should go a long way to ending his reputation as one of the underachievers in Australian cricket. Marsh, who is in the finest phase of his career, batted for nearly four hours in a performance up there with any of his Test centuries.

Marsh narrowly survived a stumping chance on 38 in the first over after tea but was otherwise stout in defence.

His partner, Handscomb, made a seamless transition to Test cricket during the home summer however this tour had thus far been punctuated with starts but nothing of substance.

That changed here after a 261-minute long display of defiance. It will not go down as his prettiest knock but was arguably more important than any of his efforts against the hapless Pakistan.

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Aaron Mooy has received a ringing endorsement as the English football season nears its conclusion, being named in the Championship’s best XI for 2016-17.
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On loan from Premier League giants Manchester City, the former A-League star has been a shining light for Huddersfield Town, who currently sit third on the ladder – just ahead of bitter rivals Leeds United. Mooy is joined in the team by Leeds’ striker and New Zealand international Chris Wood, who is currently the division’s top scorer with 24.

Mooy’s manager David Wagner was named the best boss of the year, and his teammate Tommy Smith was also included at fullback. There were also four players from Brighton and Hove Albion, two from Newcastle United and Leeds, and one from Fulham.

After returning to Australia from Scotland’s St Mirren to become one of the Western Sydney Wanderers’ inaugural signings in 2012, the 26-year-old then moved to Melbourne City two years later and became one of the A-League’s most exciting attacking threats.

Grabbing 18 goals from midfield across two campaigns, he formed a potent partnership with Uruguayan??? striker Bruno Fornaroli in the 2015-16 season, where the two were heavily involved as City broke the record for the most goals ever scored by a club in a single year.

That form was enough to make his bosses at City Football Group sit up and take notice – he was transferred to the English giants from their Australian sister club before the season started, and subsequently loaned out to Huddersfield, who may well be playing in the Premier League for the first time ever in the 2017-18 season. #EFLAwards: The @FootballManager Team of the Season for the @SkyBetChamp ???? pic.twitter南京夜网/WsxMT723b7??? Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) March 20, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Brumbies training on Monday afternoon Photo: Rohan ThomsonRod Macqueen was coaching what were supposed to be the also-rans – a team of Canberra locals and interstate rejects.
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Within two years he had taken the ACT Brumbies to a grand final, and the club “will always hold a very special place” in the heart of it’s first ever coach.

Upon the foundation of the Super 12 in 1996, he connection the Brumbies made with Canberra was almost instant.

Further to the point, the pathway it opened up was also responsible for much of the Wallabies’ success in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

Macqueen says culling the Brumbies would have huge ramifications for ACT rugby, an outcome that long-time administrator Geoff Larkham says would make the local game “wither and die”.

“It’s become in a lot of ways part of Canberra tradition,” Macqueen said.

“I think the fact that we had a lot of homegrown players there too [when the competition started], it gave them a great opportunity to go on to bigger things.

“In our first two years our sole objective was to see how many players we could get into the Wallabies, and it gave a lot of opportunities to those locals that wouldn’t have had those opportunities before.

“Players like Rod Kafer, George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, they all benefited from that.”

Macqueen says it would be “extremely disappointing” if the Brumbies are axed as SANZAAR considers a Super Rugby overhaul that could see three teams chopped from the competition.

One Australian and two South African teams are expected to be cut and ongoing speculation has the Brumbies in the firing line.

It is all despite the Brumbies sitting on top of the Australian conference following a record ninth consecutive derby win.

Macqueen says it is “pretty hard to argue” with on-field results, highlighting the club’s two championships – more than any other Australian franchise – as further proof of why the Brumbies should have a Super Rugby presence.

“I think at the start when the Brumbies came around and they were saying we couldn’t afford to have another side, and within a couple of years the Brumbies were supplying the majority of the Wallabies,” Macqueen said.

“Things go around and you’re always going to be questioning those things, but I think it’s in the best interests of Australian rugby to have as many players playing at the top level as we can.???”

At this stage it remains speculation – the Australian Rugby Union might not lay a finger on the Brumbies.

If Macqueen has it his way, the ARU won’t touch any of the nation’s existing clubs.

“My personal thoughts on it are that I would hope that we don’t drop any team, because I think we can sustain five teams,” Macqueen said.

“I think the competition itself is too big, but having said that it’s hard to speculate but you’d certainly hope the Brumbies wouldn’t be affected.”

Macqueen hasn’t had much official involvement in rugby since his coaching stint at the Melbourne Rebels ended in 2011, and admits he is unaware of the politics going on behind the Super Rugby scenes.

But he, just like many others, is getting frustrated with discussions being drawn out which has allowed speculation to grow.

“Obviously we’re in negotiations with other countries so that makes it hard, but it would be nice to think for the sake of the clubs that it’s resolved as soon as possible,” Macqueen said.

“I’m like everyone else, waiting to see the result and hoping that no team gets dropped.”

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In the most shocking Married at First Sight twist yet, Vanessa has married her father. Granted, he looked like Andy, he talked like Andy, and he was a great lump of good-natured oafishness like Andy. But any fool could see she was really getting hitched to her old man.
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Back in Melbourne to see her father as the couples took an enforced leave of absence from each other, Vanessa ran through her issues with her soon-to-be-again-(maybe) husband.

“He’s really introverted and I’m really extroverted” and a million other words spilled out of her mouth while her Pops, who bears a passing resemblance to Sigmund Freud, nodded his head sagely

“You’re the same,” she went on. “You’re a man of few words. You just have no expression some times. Why?”

Vanessa talks things over with Sigmund. Er, her father.

In a cutaway interview, Sigmund offered his diagnosis. “Girls seem to seek out someone that is similar to their father,” he said, stroking his beard and inviting the cameraman to lie on the couch.

Not that Andy was off the hook as far as parental psycho-sexual disorders are concerned. As his parents came to offer their thoughts on his intended, it was pretty clear where he’d learnt the habit of keeping shtum while in the presence of a loquacious and opinionated woman.

Mum Colleen noted that Vanessa had issues with his shyness “most probably because you couldn’t get a word in”. She observed that Vanessa “does like to hold the floor at times”. She added that “she’s a very domineering lady”. Hmmm.

Andy conceded he’s not exactly a powerhouse in the social stakes – “I can’t be at 100 per cent all the time”, he said, failing to note that even 30 per cent might be an ambitious target – which Mum painted as a positive.

“That’s just your nature,” she said. “You’re a listener.”

Mother Colleen rolls her eyes as father Terry says he thinks Vanessa is a catch.

Father Terry was all for the match, despite Colleen’s theatrical eye rolls, and had some words of wisdom for his son.

“My advice to you, Andy, for a long-standing marriage – always have the last two words: ‘Yes dear’.” Tish-boom.

The only two words Andy was really interested in hearing from Vanessa were I and do. But boy, did she make him wait. She’s such a master of the cliffhanger the script department at Home & Away ought to snap her up straight away.

On a wooden deck on a deserted Gold Coast beach, Andy told Vanessa all the reasons she was right for him, and then Vanessa told Andy all the reasons he was wrong for her – introvert, yada yada – before putting him out of his misery with the most welcome “however” he’d heard in his 30 years on this planet. Will Vanessa take a chance on Andy? #9Marriedpic.twitter南京夜网/019FSwOikm??? MarriedAtFirstSight (@MarriedAU) March 20, 2017

She went first, noting that while they were at the (metaphorical) altar for a second time, this occasion was different “because at least now I know your name”.

She wouldn’t change a thing from the eight weeks of the experiment, she said. “And I want to stay with you and keep our relationship going further into the future.”

If the producers had let him, Simon probably would have said “ditto” and stripped naked there and then.

“I have grown to truly care for you, and I can’t imagine going back to my old life the way it was,” he said, and since we’ve seen a few glimpses of that life we know how he feels. “You are the best wife I could have hoped for and with all my heart I hope to continue this relationship well into the future.”

Alene and Simon say I do. Again.

And with that they raced off in search of connubial bliss.

So that’s two down, with four renewal-of-vows ceremonies to come, presumably spread over two more nights.

You can’t help wonder if that might be longer than some of these ersatz marriages will last.

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

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Ranchi: Australia have passed a searching examination of their mettle by overcoming India’s spin masters on Ranchi’s so called craters of doom to secure a backs to the wall draw in the third Test.
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The visitors appeared destined for a morale-sapping defeat when Steve Smith’s off stump was sent cart wheeling before lunch but the maligned Shaun Marsh and newcomer Peter Handscomb saved the day.

Australia were comprehensively outplayed in the second half of the match but displayed a level of resilience seldom seen by the men in baggy green in this part of the world. Impressively, they accomplished the mission without a major rearguard from Smith.

Playing for draws has not been the Australian way. The last time they overcame a significant first-innings deficit for a stalemate was in 2011 when the late Phillip Hughes and Michael Clarke scored centuries in Galle to keep Sri Lanka at bay.

Australia lost just four wickets on the final day on a pitch which was far from unplayable despite the ominous signs late on the fourth day.

Ravindra Jadeja captured 4-54 from 44 pressure-packed overs but could not produce enough of the magic balls that sent alarm through the Australian dressing room on Sunday night.

There was a late twist when Marsh and Glenn Maxwell departed in quick succession with Australia leading by only 38 with a minimum of seven overs remaining but India had run out of time to conjure a miracle. Australia were 6/204, leading by 52, when the match was called off with two overs left.

India had their opportunity to finish off Australia but lacked the knockout blow. They will be ruing Karun Nair’s dropped chance off Handscomb when he was on six. It was difficult but one they could not afford to squander on a surprisingly benign fifth day track against an opponent up for the fight.

There will now be renewed confidence in the Australian camp they can retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy when this stirring reaches its climax in the foothills of the Himalayas in Dharamsala.

That the series is locked at 1-1 with one to play is a feather in the caps of the Australians, whom many believed were staring at another humiliating whitewash in India.

Few would have given them any chance of escaping such a dire situation 24 hours ago but Smith’s inexperienced team showed character beyond their years.

For that they can thank Marsh and Handscomb, two men at opposite ends of their international careers but still proving their worth at the highest level.

The pair added 124 for the fifth wicket but more important was the 374 balls they took out of the game. First they had to tame a rampant Indian team which had their tails up after rolling Matt Renshaw and Smith in the space of four balls.

They were also brave enough to attack anything loose, which was vital in erasing the deficit and preventing Virat Kohli from suffocating them with a ring of fielders in close.

They also overcame a testing period of reverse swing as well as the constant danger of the rough, which was more concerning to the left-handed Marsh.

The West Australian’s 53 should go a long way to ending his reputation as one of the underachievers in Australian cricket. Marsh, who is in the finest phase of his career, batted for nearly four hours in a performance up there with any of his Test centuries.

Marsh narrowly survived a stumping chance on 38 in the first over after tea but was otherwise stout in defence.

His partner, Handscomb, made a seamless transition to Test cricket during the home summer however this tour had thus far been punctuated with starts nothing of substance.

That changed here after a 261-minute long display of defiance. It will not go down as his prettiest knock but was arguably more important than any of his efforts against the hapless Pakistan.

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Paying millions for a house that needs a bulldozerDemolitions raise key questions about heritagePreserving grand old dames: Stick to style
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Former premier Ted Baillieu has failed in a last-ditch bid to prevent the demolition of half a Hawthorn duplex, which will make way for a three-storey house.

The City of Boroondara retrospectively slapped a heritage overlay across the Calvin Street property, which, despite Mr Baillieu’s personal intervention in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal case, was demolished in accordance with a building permit.

The circa 1935 duplex was held up as an unusual example of interwar architecture in Hawthorn’s Creswick Estate precinct, which led the council to refuse the permit for owners Joanne and Michael O’Byrne to build a three-storey house. It argued that removing half of the duplex’s pyramid-shaped roof would “make a mockery” of what was left behind.

The council rejected the O’Byrnes’ proposal despite its own planning officers suggesting it be approved.

The O’Byrnes’ property is joined to that of their neighbours, Don and Denise Wray, by a central wall. The council argued that the proposal for the four-bedroom, three-living area house was unacceptable despite it largely being the same height, and appearing from the street as though it was one level.

The council subsequently introduced a heritage overlay over the estate – but is still waiting for planning minister Richard Wynne to approve the amendment to its local planning laws.

Mr Baillieu appeared in January at the tribunal in an attempt to prevent the demolition continuing until Mr Wynne approved the heritage changes or the VCAT case was determined. But presiding member Laurie Hewet found he had no grounds to do so because Mr Baillieu had not submitted an application for an enforcement order.

Mr Hewet on Friday overturned the council’s decision to refuse the O’Byrnes’ three-storey house, saying the design was contemporary, and not an historic replica, respected the footprint of its neighbours, and would be seen from the front to be a single storey. He said this meant the design was appropriate given the council’s heritage policy.

The council further argued against the new development because it appeared “aberrant and incongruent where presently [prior to demolition] there is a harmonious relationship”.

But Mr Hewet found that the council’s own policies in heritage overlay areas encouraged proposed developments be respectful of the scale and form of existing houses. “Good contemporary design is encouraged and the replication of historic forms and detailing is discouraged,” he said.

Mr Hewet also rejected the council’s claim that the neighbours, particularly the Wrays, would lose exposure to daylight, face visual bulk and be seen from above.

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