IF ANY defence needs be made of the AFL’s manhood, the opening acts of the 1989 grand final are exhibit A.As the ball is bounced Geelong defender Mark Yeates runs from the wing and canons into Hawthorn star Dermott Brereton, who is moving unaware and unprotected towards the centre circle. Brereton is left lying on his back with his right leg twitching involuntarily. Slowly he rises. On his haunches, he vomits. He trots gingerly to the forward pocket feeling the effects of broken ribs and a bruised kidney. The crowd of almost 95,000 is at fever pitch.A few minutes later, a high ball floats into the Hawthorn forward line. Without hesitation Brereton backs into the unknown and takes the mark. His goal is one of the most inspirational in the game’s history. The Hawks would win by those six points.Twenty years later, as the AFL enters a potentially pulsating finals series, Brereton’s moment of raw courage raises a dilemma. Is it example or anachronism?Not the mark but the circumstances that make it lore. Without Yeates’s brutal hit, Brereton’s deed would not be elevated. Can you have the glory without the blood and guts? Such honour without such savagery?The argument was re-opened in spectacular fashion on Saturday when Essendon’s Matthew Lloyd ran from outside the square to collect Hawthorn’s Brad Sewell. Unlike Brereton, Sewell did not rise. He spent the rest of the match nursing a fractured cheekbone and eye socket. Lloyd was yesterday offered a four-game suspension by the match review panel.But if Lloyd played the role of Yeates in Saturday’s drama, his action was more reminiscent of vintage Brereton. The Hawthorn hardman was infamous for coming from outside the square to pick off unprotected opposition ball winners, which was why he was targeted by the Cats. It was kill or be killed.The AFL has worked assiduously to expunge such law of the jungle from its books. The hard hits on soft targets that thrill the crowd, but not necessarily the stereotypical ”concerned mother” who has been courted and seduced by an image-conscious enterprise. The AFL has undoubtedly gone a step too far in punishing even those, such as Hawthorn star Lance ”Buddy” Franklin, who make accidental contact to the head from bumps that are otherwise deemed legitimate. However, its intent can not be faulted. Despite the bleating of the neanderthal fringe that the game has been ”sanitised”, the sheer speed and the size of its combatants guarantee a gruelling examination of courage. The premeditated hit on an unprotected player now appeals only to the lowest common denominator.Even two decades ago, Yeates’s attack on Brereton was decried as cowardly. It was years before the co-conspirators spoke openly about it. And then only in embarrassed mumbles.Almost as breathtaking as Lloyd’s hit on Sewell was the hypocrisy of Hawthorn’s reaction. Defender Campbell Brown called Lloyd a sniper and vowed revenge. Coach Alastair Clarkson, architect of the Hawks’ so-called ”unsociable football” – read borderline thuggery – abused Lloyd and his teammates as they left the ground.Both the act and the postscript were crude, thoughtless, primitive. And also undeniably compelling. Thrilling to the crowd of 77,278 who rose when Sewell went down and the opposing players tangled. Thrilling to fans accustomed to anodyne comments from media-schooled players when Brown unloaded on Lloyd.It was reminiscent of that day of thuggery, chaos and heroism in 1989 that is fondly recalled even by those Hawks who celebrated the premiership in a hospital.But then, if you put Christians v Lions back on the bill you could fill the Coliseum. Sometimes civilised law-making protects people from their own worst instincts. The type that would not elevate Australian football but keep it trapped in the sporting dark ages.
THOUSANDS of overseas students marched in Sydney and Melbourne yesterday before curious CBD workers, riot police and an international television audience.Indian and Chinese media followed the marches across Australia, airing the grievances international students have over safety, accommodation, visas, shonky institutions and travel concessions.NSW and Victoria are the only states to deny international students concession fares on public transport.About 400 protesters marched through central Sydney to rally outside Parliament, coinciding with a visit to India by the Education Minister, Julia Gillard, and the first public hearings of the Senate inquiry into international student welfare.More than 100 police monitored the rally, including 30 members of the public order and riot squad and the mounted police, ensuring the wild protests in Melbourne two months ago were not repeated.A student campaigner, Hardeep Kaur, urged the Federal Government to ”wake up now”.”Enough is enough â?¦ Take action now and make a difference. There is a huge industry at risk and many jobs and lives are at stake,” she told the rally.David Barrow, president of the National Union of Students, said the federal and state governments had taken some steps to allay concerns but more needed to be done.”After a decade of neglect, local and international students rally together to demand justice,” he said.International students told a Senate inquiry yesterday that public transport concessions were needed to help save them from violent attacks.The Federation of Indian Students of Australia said frustrations continued over discrimination, racially motivated violence and a lack of integration programs.The inquiry into the welfare of Australia’s international students follows widespread concern over a string of violent attacks on Indian students in Sydney and Melbourne.The Australian Greens referred the issue to the Education, Employment and Workplace References Committee.A Greens senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, who is on the committee, said many issues needed to be examined, including visa conditions and benchmarks for education and support services. She supported the calls for a national concession card.The inquiry also heard how just 34 of about 600 students of the collapsed Sterling College in Sydney had transferred to other institutions. There were particular concerns for about 300 community welfare students who faced deportation because Sydney’s sole equivalent course was already full.
THE key players behind Canberra’s bid to win a place in the A-League next season say they are ready to claim the coveted 12th expansion licence after the unexpected collapse of a strong western Sydney contender this week.The capital has a golden opportunity to present its credentials as a region hungry for domestic football when the Central Coast Mariners play Perth Glory at Canberra Stadium tonight, the first of two matches the Gosford-based club has agreed to take to the city.Should a crowd of more than 10,000 come out, it would send a compelling message to Football Federation Australia that Canberra could support a team of its own. Conversely, a poor showing could cause the game’s governing body to think twice about committing itself to an ACT club for next year’s competition.Bid leader Ivan Slavich believes tonight’s crowd could have a major impact on the thinking of FFA’s board when they finally decide on who should be granted the licence.”Having had the Socceroos here in March, we’re delighted to be hosting what is effectively the first proper A-League match in Canberra but hopefully by no means the last,” Slavich said yesterday.”There’s a fair bit of excitement about the game and a lot of people talking about it even though people have procrastinated a little in deciding whether they’ll come. But we’re hoping for a good crowd.”I guess there’s mixed feelings because people here want their own team and are looking forward to getting an answer on that but I think this is the best chance for Canberrans to show they want a team. We’ve been plugging it on TV, radio, in the press and with our 2000 foundation members, all encouraging them to go.”Controversial businessman Joe Meissner withdrew his leading western Sydney bid on Wednesday citing ”personal reasons”. However, while it was well known the FFA had grown increasingly uncomfortable about certain aspects of his bid, it remains unclear if this contributed to his decision.Two other bids from the region – one a well-developed plan headed by former Marconi player Richie Williams and another claiming the involvement of Socceroo Lucas Neill – remain in the running but both are still searching for investors to provide more start-up capital.However, while the bid from Canberra does not meet all of the monetary hurdles just yet, it does boast the undeniable fillip of being supported by the ACT Government, which has committed $2.5 million to the cause.”In our approach with our bid we’ve presented what we have, not what might be there and we’ve put forward that openly and honestly,” Slavich said. ”Our bid is not at 100 per cent but we’ve ticked a lot of the boxes.”I think the FFA would like to see a bit more upfront financial support from us but we’re certainly very close to what they want. I think the general consensus is that western Sydney is the area the FFA are interested in expanding into primarily because there’s a large population base and that could help boost the value of the broadcasting rights.”But we have a large population and an extensive catchment, and the point I’d like to make is in Sydney FC, that area already has a team. We’re a whole new region with a lot of potential.”Meanwhile, Football NSW’s plan to develop top-class players for the 2022 World Cup has drawn praise from FFA technical director Han Berger, who yesterday described the program as ”setting the example of what we want to do in other states”.Known as ”Project 22”, the plan has drawn criticism from some quarters – most notably former Socceroo Craig Foster – with regards to plans for coaching appointments.However, Berger said the FFA would ”certainly have an input” into who was selected for important posts.
Melbourne 1 Newcastle 1 NEWCASTLE Jets foundation player Labinot Haliti was re-signed by Newcastle amid little fanfare last week, and he has already paid dividends after nodding home a late equaliser against Melbourne Victory last night.The Jets travelled to Etihad Stadium knowing a win would take them to the top of the table but they would be delighted to escape the southern capital with a point after Archie Thompson’s 42nd-minute header looked to have secured the result.The visitors didn’t deserve a win, and were probably lucky to come away with a draw after Melbourne had more than enough chances to close out the game.Victory controlled the tempo for most of the match, and looked comfortable with their 1-0 lead for much of the second half.With three minutes left to play, Tarek Elrich sprinted down the right flank and managed to get by Matthew Kemp – in perhaps his only mistake of the match – to deliver a pinpoint cross to the unmarked Haliti, who powered a header downwards past keeper Glen Moss, who got a hand to the ball.Haliti immediately ripped off his shirt and ran to the small contingent of Newcastle fans.The Jets went into the match on a high after their shock win over Gold Coast United at home the week before. Melbourne, still burning from their 2-1 loss against Perth Glory, were clearly on a mission to recover lost face in front of the 15,168 who turned up.Melbourne were without Danny Allsopp – the striker reportedly falling out with club management over a collapsed move to Qatar. Melbourne officials claimed he had a hamstring injury but there is an outside chance he might have played his last game for his hometown club.Still, with Archie Thompson and Ney Fabiano up front, Victory could hardly be taken lightly, and from the opening whistle Melbourne played the game on their terms.However, they lost midfielder Billy Celeski early on after he landed awkwardly and injured his knee.Victory were temporarily down to 10 men when goalkeeper Glen Moss collected skipper Roddy Vargas while attempting to punch the ball clear. Vargas eventually returned to the field sporting a wrap-around bandage.Despite their problems, Melbourne were well in charge and Jets’ coach Branko Culina switched to a 4-2-3-1 system, which worked to a degree.Three minutes before half-time, Leigh Broxham took a free kick from wide on the right, and Archie Thompson escaped the attentions of Matt Thompson to clip a fine, looping header into the bottom left corner.Melbourne could have doubled their advantage shortly after the break but couldn’t quite put the finishing touch on the match, something they would later come to regret when Culina brought on Donny De Groot and Labinot Haliti for their season debuts. For a coach who is rapidly rebuilding his reputation as one of the best minds in the local game, it was a masterstroke.Despite being happy to grab a draw, Culina said after the match that it was a ”poor” game.”You can’t be too disappointed. You’ve got to be honest, we didn’t play well and only played well in patches in the second half,” Culina said.”We were very much undermanned for this game and we had a short turnaround for this game of four days compared to Melbourne’s six.” Melbourne Victory 1 (Archie Thompson 42m) drew Newcastle Jets 1 (Labinot Hailiti 86m).
THERE was no evidence that the Melbourne terrorist Shane Kent had abandoned the cause of violent jihad, a Supreme Court judge has found.Justice Bernard Bongiorno yesterday sentenced Kent, 32, to five years’ jail after he pleaded guilty to being a member of a Melbourne terrorist cell between July 2004 and November 2005, and contributing to an internet video glorifying martyrs.Kent was sentenced to a minimum of three years and nine months’ jail. He will be eligible for parole within nine months because he has already served three years of detention.A jury failed to reach a verdict on whether Kent was a member of the cell when he and 11 others, seven of whom were found guilty of terrorism offences, stood trial last year. Kent’s guilty plea came as he was about to face a retrial.He also pleaded guilty to recklessly making a document (the propaganda video) connected with a terrorist act. Justice Bongiorno said Kent was ”a committed jihadi” whose dedication to the Melbourne terrorist cell was revealed in tape-recorded conversations. In one, he complained that oppression by authorities made it difficult to advance the Islamic cause by violence in Australia.Kent also went along with a suggestion that the group carry out a terrorist act in Australia before a federal election. ”The inference being that the group … should put pressure on the government to achieve [its] aims, one of which was the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Justice Bongiorno said.He said Kent’s military training at al-Qaeda’s al-Farooq camp brought to the Melbourne terrorist cell ”many skills which would be of use to it in the carrying out of its terrorist activities”. Police seized ”a considerable electronic library” from Kent, he said, which included videos of hostages being beheaded.Justice Bongiorno said Kent’s help to create images for an introduction to the video Such are the Messengers Tested had potential to advance the cause of violent jihad. It featured images of the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and a speech by its former Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, calling on Muslims to join the jihad against Americans, Jews, Christians and other ”enemies” of Islam.Justice Bongiorno said he did not accept that Kent’s capacity to make sound decisions was compromised because he had depression at the time, finding that his offending was not impulsive and occurred over a considerable period. He said there was no evidence that Kent was remorseful, despite making such comments to psychiatrists.”There is no doubt that Kent is sorry for having got himself into the situation in which he is facing a jail sentence. However, whatever his feeling in this respect I am not prepared to accept … that he has abandoned the cause of violent jihad,” Justice Bongiorno said.
EVEN before they had heard the news of rugby league’s latest off-field scandal yesterday, Swans players had been spoken with about their behaviour during their traditional Mad Monday celebrations.Having finished their season prematurely without a finals appearance for the first time in seven seasons, the Swans donned their fancy-dress outfits, and embarked on a day of drinking and unwinding after a long season, at an inner-city hotel. The event at the pub was strictly for players and football staff.But leadership group member Luke Ablett said the players were well aware of their responsibilities and would also be on the lookout for each other.When quizzed if the incident involving Sydney Roosters utility Setaimata Sa would make them even more wary of their behaviour, Ablett admitted: ”That’s the first I’ve heard of it.””Even from when I started, eight or nine years ago, up until now, the day [Mad Monday] is a lot more controlled,” Ablett said. ”There is a lot more scrutiny on the way players behave these days.”We have spoken as a group about making sure – if you see anyone who looks like they might be getting out of control – to make sure you pull them in, or put them in a cab and send them home.”So there’s a few things we’ve put in place as a playing group to make sure no one gets in any of those situations. I think everyone understands the level of scrutiny we’re all under these days and tries to do the right thing.”The Swans are a club which prides itself on its culture and responsible behaviour in the community, and while there have been countless NRL incidents in this city, and also several instances of AFL players behaving badly in Melbourne and other cities, the Swans have for some time been complete cleanskins when it comes to off-field incidents.The behaviour might not have been outlandish but the outfits yesterday were.There were the Super Mario brothers, a Frenchman or two, Santa Claus, Jesse White looked to be doing an impersonation of Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show wearing black, skin-tight compression pants and top, and long sleeve gloves, while Jarrad McVeigh, complete with mullet, might be wanting to play for the Western Sydney Bogans. Can there be glory without the blood and guts? – Page 31
Jarryd Hayne is answering the prayers of the Eels faithful as he flourishes under the guidance of the big coach upstairs, Greg Prichard reports. You have to have faith at Parramatta. Coach Daniel Anderson’s faith in his own methods, when the Eels were drowning in losses midway through the season. The players’ faith in the coach, when they accepted without question his decision to give star player Brett Finch the option to leave the club. Everybody’s faith in the ability of superstar Jarryd Hayne to keep producing. And Hayne’s faith in God.Hayne, whose stunning form over the last few months has led to suggestions he might just be the greatest player ever, has no doubt the faith he discovered late last year has taken him to the next level as a player. ”That’s a certainty,” Hayne told the Herald . ”I think the way I’m playing is a reflection of going to church and putting a lot of faith in God.”I think, if it [his surge in form] had happened in the last couple of years, it would have went to my head and I would’ve thought I was a bit of a rock star and got carried away, but now I just worry about next week. I’ve got to put another big game in next week, and that’s all I focus on.”Hayne’s religious awakening came during his time in camp with the Fijian team at last year’s World Cup. He had not enjoyed the best of seasons in the NRL. The biggest headlines he got were for being shot at in a late-night incident at Kings Cross, which obviously rattled him.This year he has taken his game to a level that has stunned onlookers. Hayne is still only 21, but has developed an unshakeable belief in his ability. It appears he is capable of doing anything on the field, but he believes he will only be the footballer he wants to be if he stays true to his faith.”Believing in God, and knowing that it’s not just me out there, it’s part of him and part of the people I’m sharing myself with, keeps my feet on the ground,” he says. ”It makes me realise that I do have a gift, and that I should go out there and show what I can do, and not abuse it, because I’m only human and it’s not going to last forever.”Hayne began attending the Hillsong Church at the invitation of one of its regulars, George Dansey. It has clearly had a calming effect on him, and he regularly meets with other young churchgoers to discuss life. The star fullback is what you might call a rookie Christian.”The people at Hillsong have got a good connect group,” Hayne says. ”Every second Tuesday we come in and share our stories and, yeah, just chill. A group of guys and girls, you know, couples and singles, it’s good. We sit back and talk about life and how God has affected your life.”I’m not a full Christian yet, and that’s why I haven’t talked too much about it so far. I’ve been slowly getting there, ever since the World Cup. I’m only taking baby steps, sort of week by week.”As is standard at most footy clubs, if anyone gets carried away with themselves at Parramatta, they are soon brought back down to earth. That is the job of the older players, such as Nathan Hindmarsh. It’s all part of the process where young players like Hayne are concerned.”’Hindy’ doesn’t say too much, he usually puts his head down and his bum up,” Hayne says. ”But if you get a bit big-headed around here, he’s one of those guys who’ll put shit on you, and that’s good. I think that, as a bunch of mates, we’re all getting on really well, and that’s showing on the field. I’ve got to give credit to my teammates, because without what they do I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Penrith had a lot of opportunities to score against us last week, but our forwards kept showing up. Those things don’t get seen as much as the things I do, but they’re just as important.”Second-rower Hindmarsh, who will miss tonight’s huge game against St George Illawarra at WIN Jubilee Oval because of a toe injury, said there was much less need to give Hayne the treatment these days.”He’s a year older and a year wiser,” Hindmarsh says. ”He’s not the keenest of trainers, but even his training has improved. Once the next pre-season rolls around, we’ll get a better feel for exactly how much it’s improved, but he’s getting better. The thing about Jarryd is that he just loves to play. He doesn’t want to train. He’s a natural athlete. He picks up any kind of ball and he looks natural. Training is the boring part of it for someone like ‘Haynesy’.”Hayne says his teammates know he’s heading in the right direction with his new approach.”They realise I’ve matured and I’m not that sort of airhead that I used to be,” he said. ”And that I’m just playing good footy.”
AN ACCUSED Balkans war criminal wanted for prosecution by Croatian authorities is set to be released from a Sydney jail tomorrow after winning an appeal against his extradition.Dragan Vasiljkovic, 54, now known as Daniel Snedden, allegedly committed war crimes while leading a Serb paramilitary unit in Croatia in the early 1990s.The Republic of Croatia has sought to extradite the Belgrade-born Australian citizen, who moved to Australia as a teenager and returned to his homeland when conflict broke out.Known during the war as Captain Dragan, he allegedly ordered a military attack on civilians and was in command when Croatian prisoners were abused, resulting in deaths.Mr Snedden has been in custody since Australian Federal Police arrested him in January 2006. But in Sydney yesterday the full bench of the Federal Court ordered his release, finding there was ”a substantial or real chance of prejudice” if he were sent to Croatia to face the allegations.There were grounds for believing he may be punished or imprisoned by reason of his ”nationality or political opinions”, Justices Geoffrey Flick, Neil McKerracher and Annabelle Bennett said. Evidence supported his claim that he would be detained for longer than a Croatian counterpart, they said.Mr Snedden has not been charged and denies the accusations. After a magistrate ruled in 2007 that he was eligible for surrender to Croatia, he took his case to the Federal Court, arguing his status as a ”prominent Serbian political and military figure in the conflict with Croatian forces” and ”Croatian animosity” towards him would prevent a fair trial.In February the court dismissed his claims and ruled he should be extradited. Mr Snedden challenged that decision, and yesterday the full bench of the Federal Court allowed his appeal, finding he had a valid objection to extradition.Mr Snedden has been held in Sydney’s Parklea prison. The judges stayed his release until 3pm tomorrow, giving lawyers acting for the Croatian authorities time to consider mounting a High Court appeal.A spokeswoman for the Croatian Embassy declined to comment yesterday, saying ”the process is not finished yet”.Ultimately it could be the NSW Supreme Court that rules on the truth of what Mr Snedden allegedly did during the war.In separate proceedings, Mr Snedden is suing Nationwide News for defamation over an article in The Australian detailing his alleged wartime activities. A jury found the article conveyed defamatory meanings including that he condoned the rape of women and girls and was a ”death squad” commander. Lawyers for the publisher called evidence from witnesses who alleged in the Supreme Court that they were raped and tortured under Captain Dragan’s command.Judgment in the defamation case is still pending.
SYDNEY FC defender Sebastian Ryall is finally available for selection this week after seeing out his four-match A-League suspension, and the club is confident he’ll emerge from the ordeal without any lingering mental scars.The 20-year-old was charged in May with engaging in a sexual act with a 13-year-old girl following an alleged incident in January last year, leading Football Federation Australia to ban Ryall from playing in the A-League until September 3 and from international duties until the outcome of his case is determined. He is due to appear in court again next month.Charged by the FFA with bringing the game into disrepute, Ryall has not played a single game with Sydney FC since joining the club from Melbourne Victory in pre-season. However, the club has offered extensive character references for his appeal against the suspension, which was subsequently turned down by a independent disciplinary committee a fortnight ago.Ryall won’t be able to represent Australia at the under-20 World Cup in Egypt this month. ”He’s been through quite a lot these past few months, this kid,” Sydney FC chief executive Stefan Kamasz said.Kamasz said he expected that coach Vitezslav Lavicka would be keen to include Ryall in the senior squad in the near future and tipped he could feature in this Saturday’s clash against high-flying Gold Coast United.”I think he’s very excited that he can get back to playing because he’s been training really well with us. I think you’ll find that as soon as he’s available to play, he’ll be in the squad,” Kamasz said. ”I don’t know if he’ll be in the team straight away … He lacks match practice because he’s not been allowed to play in any friendlies but as soon as the coach thinks he’s ready, I’m sure he’ll put him in the squad.”¦ Adelaide United have condemned defender Robert Cornthwaite for his conduct in the early hours of Sunday morning which led to him being charged with basic assault and withholding information from police.Reds coach Aurelio Vidmar yesterday expressed his disappointment with the 23-year-old, who is alleged to have been engaged in an altercation with security at a city nightclub.The club is yet to decide on what action it will take against the player but is aware the FFA could take further action.
ANXIETY is growing within federal Labor that the circus the State Government has become could hurt the Rudd Government in up to five seats at the next federal election.As the Rees Government used its numbers late yesterday to block an Opposition no-confidence motion to force an early election, senior party operatives confirmed there was now ”a risk” some voters could take out their frustrations on federal Labor.Kevin Rudd is due to go to the polls by the end of next year whereas NSW has four-year, fixed terms, and there will not be a state election until March, 2011.While the overwhelming majority of voters have traditionally differentiated between state and federal government, the party believes the NSW situation is so bad the Liberals need only to target voters in a few seats and tell them to use the federal election to ”send a message” to the State Government to create an upset.The five most marginal seats in NSW are Robertson, held by John Della Bosca’s wife, Belinda Neal, as well as Bennelong, Page, Eden-Monaro and Dobell.”There’s a risk there, said one party operative. ”There’s a risk for federal Labor in some of its key target seats.”A senior Liberal official said the NSW Government was so on the nose among voters internal polling showed Labor generally was being damaged in NSW.Whether this would hurt Labor federally next year depended on whether the State Government was still imploding, he said. ”Is it damaging the Labor brand generally? The answer is ‘yes’.””If it’s like this come federal election time, there is the potential for some effect.”The Liberals will test-run distaste for the State Government at the Bradfield federal byelection. Even though Labor is not contesting the seat, which has been vacated by Brendan Nelson, anger at State Government planning decisions in the north shore electorate is high and the Liberals will tap into this to maximise its vote.A Labor strategist said one saving grace for federal ALP was voters had basically abandoned the State Government in December 2007, less than a year after re-electing it.”The polling then showed the public had decided they wanted to get rid of us,” he said.Scandals like Mr Della Bosca’s resignation were barely registering any more. Support for the State Government was so low every swinging voter had deserted the Government and only hard-core Labor voters remained.”These are the sort of voters who would support us even if Humphrey B Bear was the leader,” he said.”It can’t get any worse for the state Labor Government.”Federal Labor holds eight more seats than the Coalition and despite being comfortably ahead in the polls is taking nothing for granted.The chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Heather Ridout, has worked closely with the Rudd Government on policy development but said business had no time for the Rees Government. ”Business needs a stable and productive government and this Government is shambolic and completely lacks credibility,” she said.The federal shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, who previously declined approaches from the business community to return to Sydney and head up the state Opposition, called for an early election yesterday after describing the Government as a cancer.”It’s like a cancer at the moment, an unstoppable cancer and they don’t want to take their chemotherapy,” he said.”There really needs to be public pressure on Nathan Rees to do what’s in the best interests of the state, rather than the Labor Party.”A year ago this Sunday, Brendan Nelson, in the last few days of his leadership, said the NSW Liberal Party would explore constitutional options for forcing an early election.Speaking from Cambodia yesterday, Dr Nelson told the Herald the work was never carried out but he said it was time for a bi-partisan campaign led by high-profile individuals and experts to pressure the Government to fall on its sword and call an election.