From: Biniam Tekle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Jan 12 2009 - 12:05:46 EST
Bets off for Aussie of Year
BY RACHEL BROWNE AND DENIS GREGORY
11/01/2009 1:00:01 AM
MAJOR agencies suspended betting for the Australian of the Year amid
speculation the winner's name has leaked.
Indigenous leader Mick Dodson had overtaken the early favourite, retired
cricket great Glenn McGrath, on Thursday when two agencies, Centrebet and
Sportingbet Australia, suspended trading in response to suspicious betting
Centrebet resumed taking bets on Friday but Sportingbet will continue a
suspension of betting until this week.
"We are going to keep it down for the next couple of days as a precaution,"
trading floor manager Bill Richmond said yesterday. "We have a suspicion
that a couple of people might know who it is and there might have been a
leak, so we're playing it safe at this stage."
The eight candidates for the title are: Professor Dodson (ACT), McGrath
(NSW), musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (NT), reconciliation advocate
Ivan Copley (SA), conservationist and former television presenter Peter
Cundall (TAS), Eritrean refugee and academic Dr Berhan Ahmed (VIC), aged and
disabled care advocate Dr Penny Flett (WA) and Bronwyn Sheehan (QLD), who
promotes literacy programs for poor children.
The winner is judged by the National Australia Day Council selection panel
and will be announced on Australia Day. No one from the council was
available for comment yesterday.
When Sportingbet Australia suspended betting on Thursday night, Professor
Dodson was the favourite at $2.25, followed by McGrath at $2.50 - a big
change from December 31, when McGrath was at $2.10 and Professor Dodson was
Centrebet marketing executive Wade Martin also reported strong betting on
Centrebet suspended betting on Thursday but put its market back up on
Friday. Mr Martin would not rule out suspending betting again.
"We will be leaving the market up over the weekend but it would not surprise
me if we followed suit because it's a situation which can get very touchy,"
he said. Yesterday Centrebet had Professor Dodson paying $1.55 and McGrath
paying $3. Professor Dodson, an indigenous academic and co-chairman of
Reconciliation Australia, has been a key player in improving Aboriginal
rights for decades.
His brother and fellow indigenous rights campaigner Patrick Dodson has been
nominated for the Senior Australian of the Year award.
If McGrath wins, he will join Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor and Allan Border as
winners from cricket's ranks.
If he misses out, he can take consolation from the fact that the people of
his home town, Narromine, hope to raise up to $90,000 to erect a life-sized
statue of him, though the money is proving hard to come by.
McGrath said: "I'm honoured the people at Narromine have even thought I'm
worthy enough to have a statue made of me."
Sportingbet Australia chief executive Michael Sullivan said both McGrath,
whose wife Jane died of cancer last year, and Professor Dodson were worthy
"You couldn't help but admire McGrath as a cricketer," he said. "The way
he's dealt with personal tragedy and continued to raise funds for breast
cancer is inspiring.
"Dodson and Copley have an outstanding record in bettering conditions for
indigenous Australians, while Yunupingu is an example of triumph over
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