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  • Legacy Way named 2015 top project by infrastructure group

    2018 - 08.24

    The eastern portal to the Legacy Way tunnel in Kelvin Grove. Photo: SuppliedBrisbane’s Legacy Way has been named Australia’s most outstanding new infrastructure project of 2015 by a major construction lobby group.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Infrastructure Partnerships Australia named the $1.5 billion tunnel as it’s 2015 “project of the year” on Wednesday night, with the Gold Coast’s Light Rail and Queensland’s Australia Pacific LNG project listed as finalists.

    The other finalist in the category was Sydney’s 11.4 kilometre South West Rail Link.

    An IPA spokeswoman said the award recognised a combination financial, advisory, contractor and government partnership excellence.

    “Legacy Way’s real legacy is that it has permanently changed Australia’s approach to tunnelling projects,” chief executive Brendan Lyon said.

    “Legacy Way has used world-leading tunnelling technologies that are now being applied to other projects across the East Coast, including the North West Rail Link in Sydney.”

    The tunnel, which connects Toowong and Kelvin Grove, was a pet project of former Brisbane lord mayor and Queensland premier Campbell Newman.

    It is set to open by the middle of the year and is being built by a consortium including Brisbane-based BMD, Italian company Ghella and Spanish business Acciona Infrastructure.

    The council predicts 24,000 motorists a day will use the road, however road operators Transurban (formerly Queensland Motorways) have predicted it could be as low as 16,700.

    About 42 per cent of residents in Brisbane’s western suburbs said they were likely to use the tunnel, according to a council-commissioned survey carried out by independent researchers Roy Morgan in 2014.

    Motorists are also yet to find out how high the tolls will be, although Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has said they could be as high as $5.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Tough talk on animal cruelty

    2018 - 08.24

    THE state’s $15 million greyhound industry is set for a major shake-up, with the government set to toughen its own animal cruelty laws.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Animal inspectors will be given the power to search and enter properties to obtain evidence, after a review of animal cruelty provisions within the industry was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

    The review found 486 dogs were destroyed in the 2013-14 racing season, and a further 267 so far this season, with many never having a racing career.

    Racing Minister Jeremy Rockliff said he had already acted on some issues raised in the report, but would now make further amendments to animal cruelty laws before Parliament.

    ‘‘These amendments relate to the powers of animal welfare officers to enter, search and inspect premises and to collect evidence of an offence, and to better define aggravated cruelty,’’ Mr Rockliff said.

    Tasracing chief executive Elliot Forbes said the organisation would this year review the Greyhound Adoption Program, looking at funding and staffing levels.

    ‘‘Tasracing acknowledges that GAP provides an important service to the industry, however, this does not diminish the requirement that owners must take life-long responsibility for their dogs,’’ Dr Forbes said.

    The report said GAP had rehomed 62 dogs last year, and 53 this year.

    It recommended races be programmed specifically for mature-aged and less able dogs to reduce ‘‘wastage’’.

    The report also recommended that incentives to breed be properly balanced with responsible breeding and welfare considerations.

    Under the changes announced yesterday, Racing Services will now be housed within the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment rather than State Growth.

    ‘‘This will ensure Racing Services Tasmania, as the racing regulator, can leverage off the animal welfare and veterinary skills available within DPIPWE to achieve better animal welfare and integrity outcomes,’’ Mr Rockliff said.

    Mr Rockliff said the report would inform the parliamentary inquiry proposed by Denison Greens MHA Cassy O’Connor, which passed the House of Assembly last week.

    The report said no evidence of live baiting was found, but could not rule it out.

    ‘‘For this reason some controls are recommended for training facilities, particularly bullrings, so that there can be additional confidence in the welfare practices in the industry,’’ it said.

    Ms O’Connor said the report was a ‘‘good sign departments were taking the issue seriously’’ but there was a major task ahead.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Snowden may miss Penrith clash

    2018 - 08.24

    Kade SnowdenTHE Knights are bracing for the prospect of losing both starting props for their game against Penrith at Hunter Stadium on Saturday as Kade Snowdenis battling a painful corked thigh.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Korbin Sims will miss home games against the Panthers and Dragons to serve a two-match suspension arising from two grade-one dangerous-throw charges in Newcastle’s 20-18 victory over Gold Coast at Robina on Sunday.

    Korbin Sims

    Snowden, voted players’ player against the Titans, has been named but could not train on Wednesday because of the injury and he instead received treatment.

    Knights coach Rick Stone chose veteran David Fa’alogo to replace Sims and added 23-year-old Paterika Vaivai to the bench for the game against the Panthers.

    Stone could have to dig deeper into the club’s pool of reserves if Snowden cannot participate in training on Friday, but he is confident his pack leader will play.

    NSW and Australian back-rower Beau Scott (ankle), playmaker Jarrod Mullen (neck) and international centre Joey Leilua (hand) are also being monitored by the club’s medical staff, though Mullen and Leilua trained on Wednesday and are considered likely to play.

    ‘‘A couple of those boys had a lighter day,’’ Stone said.

    ‘‘Beau’s ankle is still a bit sore and he was off legs today, and obviously so was Kade Snowden. He’s got a bit of a cork there.

    ‘‘Mullo’s had some scans, and he’s got a few more to have, but I think he’s pretty clear.

    ‘‘He trained without doing contact today, but he looked like he’s moving around all right to play, and BJ’s hand has come down pretty good and he looks like he’s going to be all right.

    ‘‘There’s a few bumps and bruises there but, overall, I think everyone will take their place.’’

    Snowden was a colossus against the Titans, running 21 times for 171metres and making 35 tackles in 59 minutes in the middle.

    In the wins against the Warriors, Cowboys and Titans he has averaged 17 runs for 140metres and 34 tackles in 51 minutes, and tallied four offloads, three tackle breaks and a line break.

    Winger James McManus and his NSW Cup counterpart Chanel Mata’utia did not complete training on Wednesday after accidentally banging heads during a drill and spilling blood.

    Stone was confident McManus would take his place on the left wing but Mata’utia was being checked for a broken nose and is in doubt for the NSW Cup curtain-raiser on Saturday.

    ‘‘When you’re training, particularly in the middle of the week, you’ve got to have some intensity and quality in your session,’’ Stone said.

    ‘‘We had a bit of a collision between James and young Chanel Mata’utia there, and there was a little bit of blood … but at the same time, to train on the edge and play with that sort of intensity and quality, you need to practise like that as well.

    Stone indicated utility Tyler Randell, one of five players named on the bench, could be the player to drop back to NSW Cup after being 18th man for the games against the Cowboys and Titans.

    Randell scored the go-ahead try and kicked a sideline conversion in the first half of Newcastle’s 24-14 victory over the Warriors three weeks ago, but Stone has preferred using skipper Kurt Gidley to give Adam Clydsdale a breather at dummy-half and introducing Sione Mata’utia off the bench to fill in for Gidley at fullback.

    ‘‘He’ll be right in the mix until Friday, until we make a decision on a few of those injured boys, but we probably do need to get him some footy if he doesn’t get a chance to play,’’ Stone said.

    ‘‘Obviously the rotation with Kurt and Sione at fullback, and Kurt and Clydsy at hooker, it’s worked OK for us.

    He said Randell had been patient after playing just one game.

    ‘‘He’s been a travelling reserve all the way up to Townsville and up to the Gold Coast, so he’s itching for some footy, and we’ll sort that out a little bit later in the week.’’

    Homes tarped up after hail

    2018 - 08.24

    THE State Emergency Service (SES) should finish tarping 85 houses around Narrabri today in the wake of Saturday’s supercell storm, described as one of the worst in the state’s history for hail.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Moree Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) officer Michael Glasson said he’d been told by BoM NSW regional director Barry Hanstrum that it was “one of the worst severe storms ever seen in NSW … in terms of large hail”.

    Hail bigger than cricket balls wreaked havoc on summer crops, particularly cotton, in the final stages of development across the North West.

    But reports 30 per cent of the cotton and dryland crops had been destroyed in the lower Namoi were dismissed by Gwydir Valley Cotton Growers’ Association president Sean Boland as “crazy talk”.

    Cotton Seed Distributors extension and development agronomist Rob Eveleigh, at Wee Waa, estimated the damage for farmers at $6 million around the Narrabri area alone.

    “There are 500-600 hectares of cotton with varying degrees of damage within 20km of Narrabri,” Mr Eveleigh said.

    He’d heard reports of “softball-sized hail” from several farmers who said the stones had been equal in size to the largest hail ever recorded in the Narrabri district – 7.5cm in diameter.

    The hail also killed at least two horses and many birds near Narrabri, destroyed farmhouse roofs, sheds, chaser bins, augers and cars, and blew over centre-pivot irrigation equipment as wind gusts reached 76km/h.

    Moree experienced wind gusts of up to 94km/h.

    Hail also smashed cotton crops 35km east of Moree – and, although there was no hail in the town itself, there were callouts to three houses there, SES Namoi region controller Andrew Galvin said.

    At least six houses at Bingara were also smashed by hail, with two requiring SES assistance.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Region’s stars in running

    2018 - 08.24

    THE North West’s top sport stars are in the running to be labelled the best in the region at this weekend’s North Queensland Sport Star Awards.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Mount Isa Athletic Club president and award nominee David Scott and club coach Ken Dickson show off their medals from the 2014 Pan Pacific Masters Games.

    Mount Isa athletes David Scott and young gun Denzil Perkins will head a group of 15 of the region’s best sports stars in line for the awards.

    Scott has enjoyed a standout period in the sport in recent times, with the man known as ‘‘Coach Awesome’’ last year awarded the Athletics North Queensland master athlete of the year for his performances throughout the 2014 season.

    Scott was selected from master athletes from the 34 ANQ clubs, which include an area from Rockhampton in the south, Cairns in the north and out to our very own Mount Isa in the west.

    Scott was one of the main drivers of the success of the Mount Isa Athletics club.

    He was also awarded the 2015 senior sports star of the year award at the Mount Isa Australia Day awards.

    Fellow Mount Isa athlete Denzil Perkins is one of the club’s star sprinters and is a major player in the junior sports star category.

    The 10-year-old recently returned from Tasmania where he competed at the Australian primary schools’ national track and field championships and emerged as the sixth fastest 10-year-old in the nation.

    Cloncurry has three nominees with women’s cricketer Katie McDonald, rodeo guru Colin Ferguson and cyclist and triathlete David Atkinson all nominated for awards.

    The North Queensland Sports Foundation runs the awards, which have reached the 25-year milestone since the first awards night was held in 1991, with world champion triathlete Brad Beven winning the senior award that year.

    The 2015 awards will be held at the Diggers Entertainment Centre in Hughenden, and will be hosted by the Flinders Shire Council in conjunction with the North Queensland Sports Foundation.

    In a total of four categories of awards (senior, junior, athlete with a disability and service to North Queensland sport), the North Queensland Sports Foundation has received a record total of 37 nominations.

    Acting president of the North Queensland Sports Foundation Pat Ernst is delighted with the high standard of nominees that have been received.

    “It is once again very pleasing that we have received a large number of nominees and in a varied range of sporting achievements,” Ernst said.

    The senior winner will receive $2000 and will also go on to represent North Queensland at the state awards in Brisbane later this year in December.

    The winner of the junior and athlete with a disability award will receive $1000.

    The award for Service to North Queensland Sport, which was initiated to honour the unsung hero, the person who tends to be the back bone of their sport, continues to be well supported by a large number of nominees.

    The winner of this category takes home a gift and commemorative jacket with a value in excess of $500.

    The awards this year will be hosted by Emma Cillekens from ABC North West, who will be joined by special guest Petro Civoniceva on March 28 in Hughenden.

    Tickets are $60, which includes pre-dinner drinks, dinner, and the awards show.

    These can be bought from Flinders Shire Council by contacting 47412900.

    Here is a full list of all nominees from the North West:

    Junior

    Lawsen Ford (Flinders Shire) – Swimming, Rugby League, Athletics

    Caleb Henry (Richmond Shire) – Tennis

    Darcy Kersh (Charters Towers Region – Roping

    Clay Malone (McKinlay Shire) – Rugby Union, Team Roping

    Katie McDonald (Cloncurry Shire) – Cricket

    Denzil Perkins (Mount Isa City) – Athletics

    Senior

    Jane Charuba (Flinders Shire) – Swimming

    Colin Ferguson (Cloncurry Shire) – Team Roping

    Craig O’Keeffe (Richmond Shire) – Golf

    David Scott (Mount Isa City) – Athletics

    Athlete With A Disability

    Raymond Abdy (Charter Towers Region) – Athletics

    Sky Isaac (Flinders Shire) – Equestrian

    Service to North Queensland Sport

    Damian Aspinall (Richmond Shire) – Junior Rugby League

    David Atkinson (Cloncurry Shire) – Cycling, Triathlon

    Alison Read (Flinders Shire) – Pony Club, Horse Sports

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Bandits pool talent to down Shooters

    2018 - 07.28

    ROUND 4 in the Mount Isa Pool Association continued last Sunday with five competitive fixtures on showcase.
    Nanjing Night Net

    BOWLING ALLEY BANDITS 10 (Kingsley Ang 2; Anita Lynton 2; Jean Lavictoire 2) DEFEATED BARKLY STR8 SHOOTERS 7 (James Hay 2; Justin Holman 2)

    Barkly Str8 Shooters took their patchy form to Bowling Alley Bandits, who are the surprise packets of the year so far.

    Many were predicting Bandits to win with a landslide display, however, Str8 Shooters came to play.

    It didn’t look good for the Barkly side early being behind 3-1.

    Good wins to Samm Carpenter and Justin Holman showed a return to form for both Str8 Shooters and when James Hay took his seventh singles match, to remain unbeaten on the year, the scores were level.

    Bandits have had one-frame decisions all year but while the tightness of the day may have favoured them, Str8 Shooters had victory on their minds.

    Holman and Hay took two more to edge ahead 5-3 but Jean Lavictoire and Anita Lynton, who were both impressive on the day for Bandits, once again tied proceedings at 5-all.

    Heading into doubles, and similar to all three opening matches for Bandits, scores were 6-all.

    It was the visitors who showed their composure first to take the opening two doubles.

    They, of course, lost their final frame so the record would show, yet another, one-frame win.

    But the positive news was Str8 Shooters had a very good chance to knock off one of the front-runners.

    Holman’s team now travel to the Overlander to take on the last-placed Overlander New Stars in a match that might see their season turn around.

    While Bandits will have their hands full with the undefeated Buffalo Bills at home, in what looks to be another close call.

    IRISH CLUB 303S 14 (Jye Graham 2; Jordan Pickering 2; Shaye Graham 2; John Tuimauga 1; Jason Graham 1) DEFEATED CLUB DEMONS 3

    Irish Club 303s had a down week in the last round but still managed to get the better of Bandits by a frame.

    In a stunning return to form, 303s went to work against a hapless Club Demons side.

    Before Wes Purcell took the first frame for Demons, 303s were ahead 8-nil, and eventually won 14-3.

    While all 303s played exceptionally, Jordan Pickering, Shaye Graham, and Jye Graham were the standouts.

    They have a more difficult assignment next week against Bowling Alley CPR, who has snuck under the radar to claim second spot on the table.

    BOWLING ALLEY CPR 14 (James Cartledge 2; Don Cameron 2; Lester Armstrong 2; Lee Marshall 2) DEFEATED BARKLY MISCUES 3 (Chase Steffensen 2)

    In a very lopsided round 4, Bowling Alley CPR took another large score away from a lesser team, this time Barkly Miscues.

    Despite Chase Steffensen’s best efforts for Miscues, CPR was just too good.

    Lee Marshall and James Cartledge for CPR kept their averages up again taking two singles frames while Don Cameron and Lester Armstrong also played well for the visitors.

    BUFFS JMI 13 (James Ghee 2; Alan Wehrman 2; Anthony Behen 2) DEFEATED OVERLANDER NEW STARS 4 (Scott Megarrity 1)

    Buffs JMI look the real deal in 2015 as they snared another big total against Overlander New Stars, who find themselves in last spot by virtue of the first-round bye.

    JMI proved last round’s loss to Buffalo Bills may have been a minor hitch as they went to town on the New Stars.

    Anthony Behen may have confirmed himself as the best newcomer in the competition after four rounds again after playing aggressively in his two wins while teammates Alan Wehrman and James Ghee also starred.

    New Stars competed well but didn’t have enough in the tank to challenge for the win.

    New Stars will still have hope of rebounding next week when they come up against some old teammates in Barkly Str8 Shooters.

    IRISH CLUB OUTLAWS 14 (Mick Lehtonen 2; Troy Anderson 2; Russell Holdsworth 1) DEFEATED CLUB HUSTLERS 3 (Leanne Aria 1)

    After two wins and a bye for the season, Club Hustlers got wrecked with a quick dose of reality as they failed to compete with first-placed Irish Club Outlaws.

    Too many errors late in frames cost Hustlers but nothing could be taken away from Outlaws who were clinical in closing frames.

    Outlaws got out to a 7-1 lead, then lost two quick frames, but stayed composed to close out the day. Outlaws showed the rest of the league they are the front-runners for the trophy, however, they could relinquish first place with their bye in round 5.

    Whereas Hustlers will look to return to form in the local derby with Club Demons.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Storm whips village, knocks out power

    2018 - 07.28

    A SAVAGE storm smashed the region on Tuesday night, with the State Emergency Service (SES) called out to 11 houses in Gilgai, with reports of high winds and trees down.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Two houses at Caroda, about 40km west of Bingara, also needed tarping, SES Namoi region controller Andrew Galvin said.

    The storm, which also hit Tamworth and surrounds, knocked out the Tamworth rain gauge, Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) officer in charge at Moree, Michael Glasson, said.

    He said wind speeds reached 83km/h in Gunnedah, 78km/h in Narrabri and 70km/h in Tamworth.

    “Over 90km/h is classified as severe,” Mr Glasson said.

    “It mainly affected the southern parts of the slopes and plains – large parts of the tablelands missed out.

    “It was quite heavy in parts (and is) ahead of a low-pressure trough system moving through.

    “We get storms any time of the year, but our severe thunderstorm season goes from the beginning of October to the end of March – so we’re still in the season, but it’s coming to an end.”

    Mr Glasson had not had any reports of hail.

    A lightning strike on Porcupine Ln, Tintinhull, knocked out power to about 2700 households and businesses in Kootingal, Bendemeer, Moonbi, Tintinhull, Limbri, Weabonga and Watsons Creek, as well as part of Daruka and Upper Moore Creek.

    Essential Energy community relations northern manager David Crough said crews responded immediately after the power network sensed the problem and switched itself off for the safety of the public and their property.

    He said all customers had their power restored by 11.54pm.

    “The storms caused the greatest impact to the power network in the Gilgai area, and we dispatched additional crews and equipment to ensure power was restored to those customers as quickly as possible,” Mr Crough said.

    Essential Energy hoped that power would be fully restored to all households and businesses affected by these storms by last night.

    Rain recorded to 9am yester-day: Coonabarabran 39mm, Gunnedah 23.8mm, Narrabri 24.4mm, Tingha and Mullaley 14mm, Barraba 12mm, Nundle 10mm, Moonbi 11mm, Inverell 9mm, Blackville 4mm, Manilla, Quirindi and Woolbrook 2mm, Krui Plains 1mm.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Paradise restored along the Peel

    2018 - 07.28

    IT’S been a case of “paradise lost” for too long, but now a popular recreation area on the Peel River has undergone a long-overdue transformation.
    Nanjing Night Net

    RESERVE RICHES: Tamworth regional councillor Helen Tickle and council waste education officer Angela Dodson take in the view on a new park bench. Photo: Barry Smith 240315BSC03

    The reserve near Paradise Bridge, at the junction of King George V Ave and a closed section of Scott Rd, has been the beneficiary of a $25,000 funding injection.

    It has allowed for the addition of seating, rubbish bins, bollards to limit vehicle access, signage, fencing and lighting.

    The Leader has done several stories on the poor state of the area in the past few years, a number of residents complaining about the rubbish and drug paraphernalia that was often present.

    Tamworth Regional Council waste education officer Angela Dodson said the area had never been a designated reserve, but was frequently used by families, walkers, joggers, cyclists and visitors because of its proximity to the Tamworth CBD and its access to the Peel River.

    Ongoing litter, vandalism and drug problems had tarnished its appeal, though, she said.

    “A solution was to turn the area into an improved recreations area by limiting vehicle access and installing infrastructure to accommodate visitors to the area and providing the aesthetics of the location to foster community ownership of the space,” Ms Dodson said.

    Cr Helen Tickle said it was now a much more attractive space and was a location that had benefitted from Clean Up Australia Day activities in recent times.

    Anti-social behaviour will also be monitored on a more regular basis, with the park now a nominated site for the council’s mobile CCTV equipment.

    The $25,000 in funding was secured by the council through the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Rix proves he is an Ironman

    2018 - 07.28

    CLONCURRY’S latest sporting achievement has come in the shape of local police officer Kit Rix’s completion of the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship held in Melbourne.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Cloncurry police officer Kit Rix did the Curry Cats proud with a sub-10 hour performance at the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship held in Melbourne.

    Last Sunday, the 37-year-old produced a career personal best time of 09:57:04 in his fourth Ironman race ever.

    The Curry Cats Cycling and Triathlon Club member triumphed over the series of long-distance triathlon races consisting of a monster 2.4-mile (3.86km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2km) run, all raced in that order and without a break.

    Rix, who first participated in the Ironman in 2011, described his race as a big success achieving his goal time of sub-10 hours.

    “It’s been something I’ve been working towards,” Rix said.

    “My watch stopped working so I wasn’t sure at the finish line if I made it. Someone told me my time and I thought to myself ‘I can retire now’.”

    Understandably still “a bit sore” from the race, Rix labelled race conditions in Victoria last weekend near to faultless.

    “It was almost a perfect day,” Rix said.

    “In the morning, there was hardly any wind so the water was smooth. It just got a bit hot in the afternoon, which quite a lot of people suffered from.”

    The running leg, which was affected by the hot temperatures later in the day, was deemed by Rix as the weakest sector of his race.

    “The swim and bike went well but the run there I suffered a bit.’’

    The first 20km of the run was good but it all started to go backwards from there.

    A lack of nutrition prior to the race was established by Rix when he paid a visit to the medical tent after the race.

    “In the medical tent after the race I was six kilograms lighter,’’ Rix said.

    ‘‘You’ve just got to learn from your mistakes so next time I’ll eat well before the run.”

    Rix now has sights on the Julia Creek Dirt N Dust in only three weeks but for him, preparation will be rather low-key.

    “I’ll pretty much be doing nothing from now until then [Dirt N Dust].

    ‘‘It takes a while to recover from one of these [Ironman].

    ‘‘I might do a couple of swims, just because it’s not as taxing and then do a couple of easy rides.

    ‘‘But nothing major.”

    The newly formed Cloncurry Cats Cycling and Triathlon now has 36 members and Rix is hoping the club will be reasonably well represented at Julia Creek.

    “We are also trying to get a triathlon program up and running later on in the year.

    ‘‘There is a triathlon in May sometime and five-kilometre fun run on Sunday 12th.”

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    EDITORIAL: Mining in a freemarket

    2018 - 07.28

    Nanjing Night Net

    FREE markets are supposed to be virtuous by definition. The unfettered interaction of supply and demand theoretically leads to a fair market price that meets the needs of buyers and sellers alike.

    But the picture often becomes more complicated, especially when one or two big players achieve market dominance. This is often the way markets mature, perhaps particularly in Australia.

    Is it right, for example, if dominant retailers use their power to crush the profit margins of the businesses that put products on their shop shelves? That’s a free market at work, but most people wouldn’t agree that it’s reasonable.

    What if big airlines dropped fares when a new competitor appeared, then lifted them again when that competitor went broke? Again, a free market in action, but a poor result for consumers.

    What if a big media owner skewed news reporting to favour parties or politicians that made decisions that suited that owner? If that ever happened it would probably not be a good result, despite the ostensibly free market.

    Competition is the key to making free markets virtuous. Insufficiently competitive markets slump into lazy, complacent or voraciously profiteering monopolies and oligopolies, in the worst case becoming perceived as ‘‘too big to fail’’. At this point, market players with dangerously inflated influence can menace the operation of democracy as well as distort economies to further suit their own interests.

    In that context it is interesting to hear embattled Australian iron ore tycoon Andrew Forrest suggest that he and other producers agree to cap production in order to maintain prices and profits.

    His goal is self-preservation. His company, Fortescue, is more vulnerable to the slipping world iron ore price than his giant competitors, notably Rio Tinto, BHP and Vale.

    For months, those giant players have been accused of deliberately ramping up supply in the face of slipping prices in order to seize market share and possibly drive smaller competitors – perhaps including Fortescue – out of business.

    Interestingly, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has seized on Mr Forrest’s remarks, suggesting he may have broken the law against potential cartel behaviour.

    That’s a fair point, but Mr Forrest insists there’s a bigger picture for Australia. He has accused his giant competitors of ‘‘smashing the revenues of their host nation’’ and their shareholders in pursuit of ‘‘market share at any cost’’.

    Is this, perhaps, a case where a ‘‘free market’’ in the iron ore sector may be producing poor results for all but the dominant suppliers?

    Mr Forrest has a vested interest in believing that to be so, but that doesn’t mean he is necessarily wrong.