Dec
12
  • Jeff McCloy says he still has ‘unfinished business’ on Newcastle City Council

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    WOULD HE RUN AGAIN: Former lord mayor Jeff McCloy says that he’s asked if he’d run for mayor ‘almost every day’, and while it might be unlikely, he hasn’t ruled out a return. Picture: Cole BennettsWOULD Jeff McCloy ever return to local politics?
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    Well, the answer’s complicated.

    Mr McCloy, the larger-than-life personality who dramatically won, and then lost, the city’s lord mayoralty between 2012 and 2014, has remained a highly visible figure in Newcastle’s political scene since he resigned in the heat ofthe Independent Commission Against Corruption’s inquiry into political donations made before the 2011 state election.

    From interventions about the controversial light rail route, to challenging the ICAC in the High Court of , Mr McCloy has lost none of his famously forthright nature.

    But since the conclusion of ICAC’sOperation Spicer investigation, which found Mr McCloy“acted with the intention”of evading laws about thedisclosure of political donations and the ban on donations from property developers, the question being asked in some circles is:would he ever run again?

    The man himselfsays that he’s onlyan outside chance of putting his hand up in September,but don’t rule him outcompletely.

    “Look when I walk down the street in Newcastle or I’m in the company of certain people, or really just anywhere in the community I almost get asked every day,” Mr McCloy told theNewcastle Herald.

    “It’s difficult. I don’t think so, but it’s still this thought that crosses my mind every now and again because there is just so much unfinished business.

    “I’ll leave it there, for now, I think.”

    Watch this space, then.

    If he was ever tempted back onto the public stage though, the well-resourced independent who managed to match the Labor machine at the 2012 electionwould pose a formidable challenge to the established parties.

    The Liberal Party is still undecided about who their candidate might be, and the city’s current Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, has weathered a tough few months of negative publicity over her council expenses.

    Mr McCloy declined to offer a commentary on the council’s direction since his resignation –saying he would “keep those thoughts private” –but did offer what appeared to be aveiled swipe at Cr Nelmes, saying that he “ran into staff from time to time” but that it was “best not to repeat things”.

    Mr McCloy resigned in 2014 after he admitted to giving donations to three Liberal Party candidates who became MPs in the lead up to the 2012 election, famously telling the inquiry that at times he felt “like a walking ATM”.

    Mr McCloy has previouslytried to overturn the ban on developers donating to politicians in the High Court, and unsuccessfully challenged the ICAC’s conduct in the Supreme Court.

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Dec
12
  • OpinionThe Post Office: our crumbling monument to inertia

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    OUTDOOR PERCH: Even the pigeons are fed up with the city’s ‘imploding urinal’.G’DAY whingers.
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    It’s early May and the cold winds of change are blowing through the future jewel-in-the-Asia-Pacific. Gav the NBN weatherman said last Wednesday that it is time to pull out the door sausage and cover up the cracks. I typed “door sausage” straight into the Google machine. I now await the imminent arrival ofA Current Affair and the NSW police.

    I wish the cold winds of change would blow on the Newcastle Post Office. The government’s parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald has provided a $150 000 heritage grant that will go towards “stabilising” the building. Will the gift from NSW taxpayers be repaid if and when its owners – the Awabakal Land Council – manage to flog it off? This whole caper looks more and more like torturous demolition by neglect. A landmark building is now little more than a gaping sore – an imploding urinal that stands as a crumbling monument to inertia, very bad decisions and ongoing buck passing.

    The ALC was put into administration last October after investigations into its governance and financial administration revealed significant problems. ALC boss at the time Richard Green was talking up big overseas investors backing post office redevelopment. Sounded promising. Nothing eventuated.

    Information about the type and scope of allegations against anyone in the ALC have not been revealed nor discussed openly by the government, the opposition or the ALC. It’s certain there was plenty of internal bickering – but that’s par for the course for many organisations – from footy clubs to the UN.Attempts to get a copy of the investigator’s report – under NSW Freedom of Information laws – to then Minister Leslie Williams that resulted in the appointment of an administrator to run the ALC have been refused. Attempts to get a copy of the ALC’s response to the allegations were also refused. The NSW agency responsible, the Department of Education, argued that it is not in the public interest for either report to be made public. An appeal to the Information Commissioner against the agency’s decision to not release the documents resulted in the Commissioner making “no recommendation”.

    One of the reasons given for the refusal to release the reports is that matters relating to alleged fraud, corruption, mismanagement or misappropriation at the ALC may be potentially investigated by the NSW police, ICAC and/or the NSW Ombudsman. Release of the documents could have a prejudicial effect on investigation. Fair enough, but once a decision is made to either charge or not charge persons, that reason for not releasing the documents will dissipate. Prudent document redaction can sort out defamation potentialities if no charges are laid. Remove the door sausage.

    There is no obligation for the ALC to answer inquiries from the media and they have long chosen to engage with the media on their own terms. Media calls and inquiries go unanswered and unreturned. That is their right. Equally, there is no obligation for the media to act as an ALC cheer squad and cover their “announcements” that are self-congratulatory or promise pie-in-the-sky schemes.But given the future of the city’s most iconic building lies chiefly with the ALC, surely the people of Newcastle have some right to know if, when and what sort of shenanigans may have been going on in that organisation.

    Should we hold our collective breath or back the post office’s bulldozing? It’s been 15 bloody years and there’s no end in sight.

    Cold winds indeed.

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Dec
12
  • Robert Dillon: Sporting Declaration

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    UNCERTAINTY: Newcastle Knights skipper Trent Hodkinson is set to play in reserve grade this weekend after being dropped by coach Nathan Brown. Picture: Getty Images AFTER Newcastle’s round-one loss to the Titans on the Gold Coast last season, Sporting Declaration stopped at Jupiters Casino for a beer and a bite to eat.
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    Pretty much the first person I bumped into was Tyrone Roberts, who was out with his new scrumbase partner, Ashley Taylor.

    I’m not sure if they were having a gamblebut what can be said without doubt, with the benefit of hindsight, is the Titans have backed a winner, albeit by default.

    Roberts and Taylor might never have paired up at the Gold Coast, other than for exceptional circumstances.

    In 2015, Gold Coast thought they had signed Daly Cherry-Evans, only for the former Test half to renege on the deal at the 11thhour to re-sign with Manly.

    In the meantime, the Titans lost five-eighth Aidan Sezer, who agreed to join Canberra.

    That left Gold Coast with one half for 2016, rookie Kane Elgey, and as the season progressed, alternative options were few and far between.

    In August they took a punt on 20-year-old Taylor, who was yet to play an NRL game for Brisbane. A week or so later they signed Roberts, whose two-year-deal was partially subsidised by a $200,000 payout from Newcastle.

    The reason Roberts was available was because, even though he had a year to run on his contract, the Knights had recruited Canterbury and NSW Origin halfback Trent Hodkinson to replace him.

    At the time, signing Hodkinson appeared a wise strategic move. But less than halfway into his three-season deal, the club captain is facing an uncertain future after being dumped to reserve grade by coach Nathan Brown.

    Rewind two years and the Knights could surely never have imagined such a scenario unfolding.

    Hodkinson was considered the best halfback in the state and a player capable of alleviating the pressure building onKnights coach Rick Stone.

    Stone’s halves that season were to be Roberts and Jarrod Mullen, but the latter broke a bone in his foot in round 10 and did not play again that season.

    In his absence, Roberts struggled with the responsibility of taking over as primary playmaker. As the losses mounted, Newcastle reached the conclusion that they needed a more consistent andreliable No.7.

    The two on the market were James Maloney and Hodkinson. Maloney eventually switched from the Roosters to Cronulla, helping them win a premiership in his first season.

    Hodkinson joined the Knights, collecting a wooden spoon straight up.

    The planthat he would form a complementary partnership with Mullen remains sadly unfulfilled.

    In theory theyappeared ideally matched.

    Hodkinson is a right-foot kicker, Mullen left-footed. Hodkinson is an organiser, Mullen’s strength was his running game.

    The Knights were happy to invest more than $3 million in the pair over three years, believing they would provide the stability and organisation around which they could build a successful team.

    If only.

    As it panned out, Hodkinson and Mullenplayed only 14 games together, for one win.

    Stone did not even get to coach his star recruit. He was sacked before Hodkinson hadarrived.

    After an injury-plagued 2016, Mullen tested positive to a banned steroid and is now awaiting a suspension that is expected to end his career.

    And whether Hodkinson appears again in Newcastle’s top team is a matter of conjecture.

    The master plan Newcastle officials hatched two years ago has unravalled spectacularly. Yet to suggest that they should have shown more foresight seems, to me, a tad harsh.

    On reflection, it always seemed strange that Canterbury –a club famed for its solidarity –had not foughtharder to retain their NSW Origin halfback.

    Yet the notion that he arrived in Newcastle with a bung knee, which has since worsened, is not evidenced by his career record.

    In the three seasons before he joined the Knights, Hodkinson played in 20, 25 and 19 games for the Bulldogs –the latter cut short by a dislocated wrist –and six Origins.

    Before he was dropped last week, he had played in 30 of a possible 31 games for Newcastle –more than any of his teammates.

    That does not suggest a player who is a lame duck.

    Moreover, if his on-field performances have come under scrutiny, perhaps it could be noted that in the six seasons before he joined Newcastle, only once did Hodkinson’s teams not make the finals.

    It’s a far tougher proposition playing for –statistically at least –the worst team ofthe NRL era.

    All of which must remind Roberts that being off-loaded by Newcastle was the luckiest break of his career.

    He hasplayed in 29 of the Titans’33games since the start of last season, including the qualifying-final loss to Brisbane.

    This season he’s shown his versatility by playing in the halves, off the bench, hooker and fullback.

    The 25-year-old is heading into the best years of his career, and the Titans are reportedly keen to re-sign him.

    If he had his time over, I doubt he would change a thing. Somehow it’s hard to imagine the Knights expressing similar sentiments.

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Jul
13
  • Shark nets: Ballina surfers back in water after confidence-boosting six-month trial

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    Ballina surfers back after net trial Cooper Allen, 17 at the time of shark bite last September, is back in the surf. Photo: Supplied
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    Wounds on Cooper Allen’s leg after being bitten by a shark at Lighthouse Beach in Ballina in September. Photo: Channel 7 via Twitter

    A shark is caught and tagged by DPI staff. Photo: DPI

    A shark is caught and tagged by DPI staff. Photo: DPI

    TweetFacebookFrom above and belowEfforts to reassure the public are multi-pronged. During the NSW summer school holidays alone, helicopters clocked up about 93,000 km between Eden in the state’s south and Tweed Heads.

    The crews spotted 525 potentially dangerous sharks, with about a third of them swimming near bathing areas, prompting 78 water evacuations, DPI said.

    Drone surveillance was also stepped up in the north and other regions such as Redhead, near Lake Macquarie, and Kiama. These devices picked up 46 shark sightings – more than half at Redhead alone – prompting eight evacuations but also a successful rescue of two swimmers swept out to sea at Kiama.

    However, the value of the shark nets remains a sore spot with scientists stating privately that it is impossible to know whether their presence made any significant reduction in shark-bite risk – other than to kill some of the animals they caught.

    A shark is caught and tagged by DPI staff. Photo: DPI

    So far the nets near Ballina have caught six so-called target sharks – whites, bulls or tigers – three of which were released alive after tagging. Another nine “potentially dangerous” sharks were caught, with only one surviving.

    Other by-catch remains an issue, with 172 non-target animals including dolphins snarled in the nets, with 71 dying before crews arrived to release them during their once-daily visits.

    Smart drumlines, which hone in only on target sharks, are viewed as relatively successful, catching 17 sharks with all but one released alive. Two grey nurse sharks were also caught and survived, DPI said.

    For Cooper Allen, though, it’s a case of “what happens, happens”, and he just surfs when the waves are good, net or not.

    Now fully recovered physically – save for a numb region around his thigh – the damage is mostly mental.

    “I’m just always going to be on edge,” he says, adding he tries to keep his legs “in the air” when out on the board. “You’re never going to get it out of your head.”

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Jul
13
  • $1.4 billion regional rail revival for Victorian trains

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    Regionaltrain lines will get a $1.45 billion fundingboost as the Andrews government moves to shore up its support across country Victoria ahead of next year’s state election.
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    With suburban level crossing removals and the Melbourne Metro Rail Project firmly underway, regional transport will be a centrepiece of Tuesday’s state budget – and every rail line will benefit from a revamp.

    The long-awaited cash splash will be unveiled by Premier Daniel Andrews and Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan on Sunday. It includes:

    A $435 million upgrade on the the Gippsland Line, which the government says will improve the reliability of services and createmore than 400 jobs, with aprojectofficeinthe Latrobe Valley.More than $200 million for major upgrades in the Barwon South West region, including $100 million to allow the Warrnambool line to run more services.A $110 million investment into the first stage of a newSurf Coast Rail Project, paving the way for the duplication of tracks between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds and a future line to Torquay.$91 million to run faster and more reliable trains for passengers in Bendigo and Echuca.$39 million for stage 2 of the Ballarat Line Upgrade, to improve services in Ararat and Maryborough.”This is the next stage of our regional rail revival – because regional Victorians deserve public transport they can count on,” Mr Andrews said.

    The $1.45 billion investment will be funded under the federal government’s asset recycling scheme, which gives the states 15 per cent bonuses for selling private assets – in Victoria’s case, the Port of Melbourne.

    But in order for the projects to proceed as planned, the Commonwealth must give Victoria its full entitlement or pave the way for yet another state-federal stoush.

    On the train to Warragul to announce $1.4 billion Regional Rail Revival package, including $435m for Gippsland Line pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/kUNryDvtm0

    — Jacinta Allan (@JacintaAllanMP) April 29, 2017And Labor forgets Western Vic exists yet again. Remember when you vote how little interest Labor has in our region. #thisislabor#springsthttps://t苏州夜场招聘/PQipqsA1iD

    — Emma Kealy MP (@EmmaKealyMP) April 29, 2017

    Also from July, new passenger vehicles will start being charged the same duty rates as used passenger vehicles, rising from $6.40 per $200 of the market value to $8.40 per $200. New cars will therefore become more expensive: for instance, the stamp duty on a Toyota Corolla valued at $23,500 will increase by about $230.

    And from 2019, property valuations will occur annually – a move the opposition says will ensure rates and land tax rates will rise every 12 months.

    Liberal spokesman Michael O’Brien accused Mr Andrews of breaking his pre-election promise not to increase or introduce any new taxes, and warned that the changes would add to cost of living pressures already felt by families.

    “Under Daniel Andrews the only thing rising faster than the crime rate is the tax rate,” he said.

    But Treasurer Tim Pallas disagreed, saying: “These changes are fair and equitable and will help ensure the government continues to deliver the roads, schools, and services that matter to Victorians.”

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Jul
13
  • Super Netball: Vixens VS Lightningphotos

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    Vixens VS Lightning | photos TweetFacebookSuper Netball, round 10: Melbourne Vixens 71(Kumwenda40, Philip 31)d Sunshine Coast Lightning 59(Bassett 41, Wood 18) at Margaret Court Arena.Match MVP:Mwai Kumwenda
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    For all the disquiet surroundingthe entry of privately-owned teams to the newSuper Netball competition, the noise being made by the Melbourne Vixens continues to silence all those who had questioned the readiness of the proud establishment-owned club. After 10 rounds, the Vixens have skipped a game clear. They arepremiership favourites. Go on. Say it loudly.

    The Vixens’ seventh consecutive win came 70-59 in the table-topping clash with the Sunshine Coast Lightning at Margaret Court Arena on Saturday night, their second score of 70 or above reversing the six-goal away result in two. Boasting identical 7-1-1 records, less that one percentage point had separated the two leading teams coming in; Melbourne departs witha two-point buffer that the Giants can close to one on Sunday.

    Coach Simone McKinnis rated the performance the best of her team’s season. “For that consistency across the game, at a high standard, I think that’s as good as we’ve done,” she said. “The quality of play I thought was really good from start to finish. [Against]a really good opponent. I’m really pleased, and just very proud of them.”

    In what the statisticians had billed as the highest-scoring team in the competition against the stingiest on defence, the Vixens started exceptionally well, a 20-goal first quarter both slick and sure. The38-goal first half was their most prolific so far, Lightning coach Noeline Taurua having used nine of her 10 players eight minutes into the second term, but an eight-goal deficit soon after was never cut to less than four for the balance of the game.

    Malawian sensation Mwai Kumwenda finishing with a perfect 40 from 40 shooting record as her partner Tegan Philip nailed 30 of 33 to continue a collaboration without peer in their first season together.

    Liz Watson (26 goal assists) and Kate Moloney again excelled in the midcourt, and circle defenders Jo Weston and Emily Mannix kept Diamonds pair Caitlin Bassett and Steph Wood to a manageable total with the help of Chloe Watson and others exerting pressure from further up the court in a team defensive effort the coach considered much-improved.

    While former Vixens Geva Mentor and Kelsey Browne were wearing their new colours, the off-seasonrecruiting decisions endorsed by McKinnis are looking wiser by the week. Her faith in talented young circle duo of Jo Weston and Emily Mannix is being rewarded, while the shuffled midcourt has lost little for the departure of playmaker Madi Robinson.

    The importance of Kumwenda and Philip has also been criticial to the Vixens’ success, considering the attacking challenges of a 2016 season in which their scoring duties had been split between the inconsistent Karyn Bailey and rookies Alice Teague-Neeld and Emma Ryde after Philip was ruptured her ACL just weeks before the opening round.

    In contrast, the Kumwenda-Philip partnership has thrived since setting the tone on opening night against the Magpies, marvellously accurate while sharing the load and a growing understanding. Philip has never played better, or been more confident on the shot; Kumwenda is the wildcard, her tricks, flair and elevation providing an air of athletic unpredictability that even the likes of Mentor struggle to stop.

    “There’s two shooters there, quality, that can shoot, that are tough, want the ball, want to put it up,” saidMcKinnis, who saidKumwendahad brought fierce competitiveness to the team. “I love that, and you wouldn’t know it, but she gets so nervous before a game and I’m just ‘oh, MJ, you’re just brilliant’. She’s just naturally so competitive, she loves the team, we all love her and it’s just been really special having her in the group.”

    Rarely more so than on Saturday, as finals loom, but are not discussed, amid smiles, big ones, and obvious satisfaction from McKinnis and co. “We’ve spoken in terms of consolidating our position; we spoke before the game, it’s like ‘hey, we’ve won six games in a row, why not seven?’, because the opportunity’s there and we quite enjoy being on top,” shesaid.

    “But in terms of the finals, it’s not that we purposely don’t think about it, we’re just thinking about each game … But they do have that belief and that has been there right from the word go.”

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Jul
13
  • Sydney FC secures thumping win over Perth Glory in A-League semi-final

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    Sydney FC books grand final ticket | Photos Sydney FC celebrate victory after the A-League semi-final at Allianz Stadium. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
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    Rhyan Grant, Brandon O’Neill, Joshua Brillante, Filip Holosko and Alex Brosque of Sydney FC celebrate Joshua Brillante scoring a goal on Saturday night. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Perth players surround referee Peter Green after a video referee decision during the A-League semi-final on Saturday night. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Sydney FC celebrates after Joshua Brillante scored their team’s first goal during the A-League semi-final against Perth Glory at Allianz Stadium. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Andy Keogh (left) and goalkeeper Liam Reddy (right) of the Glory react and Alex Brosque and Jordy Buijs of Sydney FC watch on as referee Peter Green calls for a video referral for a goal decision. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Filip Holosko of Sydney FC celebrates after scoring his team’s third goal during the A-League semi-final against the Perth Glory at Allianz Stadium. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Diego Castro, Joel Chianese, Dino Djulbic and Rostyn Griffiths of the Glory argue with referee Peter Green after a Sydney FC goal. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Bobo of Sydney FC falls as he competes for the ball with Richard Garcia of the Glory. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Danny Vukovic of Sydney FC celebrates after Joshua Brillante scored their team’s first goal on Saturday night. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Perth Glory manager Kenny Lowe has words with Graham Arnold, coach of of Sydney FC, after a video referee decision during the A-League semi-final at Allianz Stadium. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Milos Ninkovic of Sydney FC appeals to the assistant referee after an off-side call during the A-League semifinal match at Allianz Stadium. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Liam Reddy of the Glory fails to save a shot on goal by Bobo of Sydney FC, before the goal was disallowed on Saturday night. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Milos Ninkovic, Bobo, Jordy Buijs and Alex Brosque of Sydney FC argue with referee Peter Green. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Rhyan Grant of Sydney FC and Andy Keogh of the Glory compete for the ball in front of goal. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Jordy Buijs of Sydney FC scores a goal as Glory goalkeeper Luke Reddy watches on at Allianz Stadium. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Andy Keogh of the Glory looks dejected after a missed chance. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Gett.y Images

    Bobo of Sydney FC competes for the ball against Dino Djulbic of the Glory. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Bernie Ibini of Sydney FC competes for the ball against Lucian Goian of the Glory during the match at Allianz Stadium. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Rhyan Grant of Sydney FC and Andy Keogh of the Glory compete for the ball in front of goal. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Filip Holosko of Sydney FC scores his team’s third goal during the A-League semi-final against Perth Glory at Allianz Stadium. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    TweetFacebookMATCH REPORT | All the talking points from tonight’s @ALeague semi-final clash at @AllianzStadium – https://t苏州夜场招聘/QfK1ZcN7Ke#SydneyIsSkyBluepic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/bgazLgwdDB

    — Sydney FC (@SydneyFC) April 29, 2017Take a bow, Joshua Brillante! This is an absolute screamer. 🎥: @FOXFOOTBALL#SYDvPER#ALFinalspic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/WwyugYUtgz

    — Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) April 29, 2017A very happy bunch. #ALFinalspic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/KbYwpiCOBu

    — Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) April 29, 2017

    In the second semi-final, Melbourne Victory will host Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.

    The Victory will start as favourite after finishing the regular season in second position.

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Jul
13
  • Super Rugby: Waratahs run down Reds

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    Tahs run down Reds TweetFacebookDaryl Gibson may not have to vacate his chair for Alan Jones just yet.
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    For the seventh time in a row, the Waratahs have won the interstate clash with the Queensland Reds, this time in an ill-tempered affair at Suncorp Stadium.

    It may well have kick-started their season, at long last.

    Bernard Foley kicked his team to victory. With the Reds smashed 16-5 on the penalty count, Foley (19 points) made them pay, booting four of his six penalties in the second to add to a pair of conversions.

    The Reds scored four tries to two, but they lost Izzy Perese on the stroke of half-time when he was shown a yellow card. Poor discipline would be the flavour of the evening, although the officials were roundly booed off the field by the 18,781-strong crowd.

    Bad sports up north? Not really, because the night had a decent, old-school feel from the start. It was an entertaining match, spiteful at times, before eventually being bogged down by the whistle. The code needed some emotion and finally got some.

    George Smith was immense for the Reds, as was Michael Hooper for the Tahs. After the debacle against the Kings, he needed to lead from the front and did so, producing a number of match-turning plays that proved crucial in the wash-up.

    Karmichael Hunt ended the night limping but was involved in everything. With Israel Folau well contained again, there are more than a few suggesting he should strongly be considered for Wallaby fullback.

    The Waratahs certainly started like they meant business. They won a penalty in almost record time, attacked the Reds line with crisp passing and strong running lines and should have been ahead 3-0 if not for a surprise penalty miss from Foley. It was his only blemish.

    A mistake from Rob Horne would gift the Reds quality ball in an even better spot. Scott Higginbotham would brush off Hooper at the ruck and scoop it inside for Hunt, who was untouched to set up a 7-0 lead.

    The Reds were opening up the Tahs with worrying ease, offloading in the tackle and starting to put NSW on the back foot. The Waratahs needed to find and they did with some spirited attack of their own.

    Passes started sticking and they went 70 metres, side to side, before Nick Phipps lunged at the line and claimed the try as he burrowed through tackles, locking the scores at 7-7 after 20 minutes.

    The Reds sparked back into action as Lukhan Tui thundered over, backing up Hunt who was once again instrumental.

    Quade Cooper’s miss left it at 12-7 but he made up soon after, pouncing on the intercept, running 50 metres then putting the left-foot grubber in for Perese, who finished for the 19-7 lead after 32 minutes.

    A Foley penalty reduced the deficit to nine but the visitors needed more than the occasional penalty to get them back in the mix. Stand up Hooper, who came up with huge plays at both ends to put the Tahs right back in the hunt.

    His turnover on Samu Kerevi might have stopped a try, before he ran a sensational line to score under the posts. And when Perese was given a yellow card on the stroke of half-time for attacking the man in the air, the tide began to turn.

    Queensland’s 19-17 quickly turned into a 20-19 lead for NSW as Foley bagged an early penalty, only for Stephen Moore to score his first try since returning to the Reds (his last was in 2006) when the home side powered over with the rolling maul.

    By now, the penalty count was hugely worry for Queensland, with the tally at 11-4 to NSW as the Waratahs did their utmost to respond. Foley found his range from 40m out to make it 26-23 as the Reds struggled to stay on the right side of the referee.

    Again, Foley would strike. With their 15th penalty of the night, the Tahs playmaker levelled scores at 26 to set up a nail-biting final eight minutes of play. And with their 16th, Foley would nail the coffin shut.

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Jun
13
  • NRL: Cronulla Sharks slide past Wests Tigersphotos

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    Sharks slide past Tigers | photos TweetFacebookThe Aaron Woods boo boys again howled at one of Leichhardt’s favourite sons as the Bulldog-in-waiting – taunted with a banner on the very hill he adores – later limped off to inadvertent cheers and is in serious doubt to feature for the Kangaroos on Friday night.
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    The Tigers’ one-time poster boy trudged up the tunnel with a groin complaint after having his leg wrenched in an awkward first-half tackle, his exit ironically coming to the backdrop of roars as Kevin Naiqama simultaneously dashed over for the Tigers’ first try.

    The Cronulla Sharks have continued their undefeated away run this season with a 22-16 win over the Wests Tigers, though there was early controversy over a disallowed try.

    Woods was described as “a dog” in a sign unfurled on the Wayne Pearce Hill, Parramatta-bound Mitchell Moses described as “slimy” in another and Luke Brooks “a local hero” in a drama-charged loss against Cronulla on Saturday night.

    But the controversy again centred on the Tigers’ skipper Woods – jeered when introduced to the crowd during the warm-up – before he was pinged for a minor infringement on Paul Gallen in the lead-up to a possible James Tedesco try moments before exiting with injury.

    Roosters-bound Tedesco himself wasn’t immune to a spell at the Tigers’ spiritual home, failing to return in the second half after a head injury assessment at half-time.

    It was a glimpse of what the future will be like for the Tigers without their two highest profile stars, Woods expected to confirm he has officially put pen to paper with the Bulldogs in an interview to be aired on Fox League on Sunday afternoon.

    Woods’ potential withdrawal from the Kangaroos side for the Test against New Zealand has given Mal Meninga a mini front-row crisis, given Canberra’s Shannon Boyd – called into the squad for the banned Josh Papalii – was injured in the Raiders’ loss to the Bulldogs earlier on Saturday evening.

    But coach Ivan Cleary would be heartened by the Tigers’ resolve. His under-manned team played with their hearts – if not their heads – in a manic second half which was only settled when Cronulla No.7 Chad Townsend produced a moment of magic with 11 minutes remaining.

    “We had a lot of very brave boys out there tonight playing injured,” Cleary said. “Once we lost a few troops we were under the pump with interchange. There were some really positive signs there [but] unfortunately all that effort and not two points out of it.”

    The normally clinical Sharks again wandered in and out of the game after blasting to an early eight-point lead before Townsend chipped and regathered to put the Sharks ahead for good.

    “That’s what good halves do,” Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said. “He backed himself and it was a smart play.

    “It’s 50-50 for me. I’m not happy with our performance but I’m happy we got the two points. Good footy teams win ugly now and then.”

    Opportunistic Tigers marketers were quick to erect a minibus out the front of Leichhardt with fans encouraged to pose for photos next to a cardboard image of Cleary, who famously told his “big four” they were either on the bus or not when replacing the sacked Jason Taylor.

    Little did Cleary bargain on having a few extra passengers than he hoped for.

    Tony Williams, himself having taken a back seat since arriving at the Sharks from Canterbury, would have done well to ask Brooks and Moses Suli for tickets please as he burst straight through the Tigers’ future to open his Cronulla account and quickly wipe away Moses’ early penalty goal.

    And the Sharks thought they might have found a couple of other passengers on the other fringe when Sosaia Feki crashed over.

    But after two controversial incidents involving Woods, the Tigers responded, thanks to Kevin Naiqama and found the lead when Suli made amends to crash over.

    Moses’ second-half penalty goal stretched their half-time lead to six points, but Cleary would have been fuming when the Tigers stood motionless as a James Maloney bomb rained down into Wade Graham’s waiting hands for Valentine Holmes to level the scores. And for that lapse they were made to pay by Townsend.

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Jun
13
  • NRL: Wounded Canterbury Bulldogs maul Canberra Raidersphotos

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    Wounded Bulldogs maul Raiders | photos TweetFacebookDeparting Bulldog Josh Reynolds is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines in his final season at Canterbury, after suffering a potentially serious hamstring injury in Saturday’s gutsy 16-10 victory over the Canberra Raiders.
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    The inspirational five-eighth, who will leave the club at the end of the season to join the Wests Tigers for four seasons, came from the field late in the first half clutching at the back of his right leg.

    He joined captain James Graham on the sideline, who had been ruled out of the game after failing a head injury assessment stemming from a concussion suffered in the 14th minute.

    Yet Canterbury rallied in a courageous second 40 minutes, overturning a six-point deficit to notch a fifth win of the season, leapfrogging Canberra into the top eight in the process.

    Coach Des Hasler will likely learn Reynolds’ fate by the end of the weekend.

    “For Josh to leave the field it would’ve had to be pretty serious,” Hasler said.

    “That’ll be assessed by the docs though, it’ll be somewhere between a grade one and a grade three.

    “Both sides were fairly wounded, it was a pretty tough game. Obviously we lost a couple early.

    “I was really proud of the way the boys stepped up, none more so than this man beside me [Aiden Tolman] who played 80 minutes. He was inspirational for the boys.”

    The win caps an emotional week for the club after learning Reynolds had opted to join the Tigers – squeezed out of Belmore in order to make room for Aaron Woods who will go the other way, and potentially Warrior Kieran Foran who has been linked strongly with a move to be reunited with Hasler.

    Tolman said losing Reynolds was a massive disappointment for the club.

    “James Graham summed it up throughout the week, he’s a passionate player, he’s an inspirational player,” Tolman said.

    “He’s Canterbury-Bankstown born and bred. It is going to be disappointing him leaving next year, what better way to send him out if we keep performing like that every week.

    “Players move on in this competition year to year. He’s going to be a big loss for us but that’s 2018.

    “All we can control now is moving forward in this season. What better way to perform than for him.”

    Reynolds had started the game strongly, showing all of the competitiveness and determination Tigers fans can look forward to next season.

    He spun the ball out left just five minutes in to help set up the first of Adam Elliott’s two tries, then made a big play in defence moments later, cutting down a rampaging Josh Papalii 10 metres out from Canterbury’s line.

    Papalii had his own point to prove here. Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga this week cut him from his team to play New Zealand next Friday in Canberra, after Papalii pleaded guilty to a drink-driving charge.

    The Raiders are still deliberating over whether or not to slam Papalii with a club-imposed suspension, and the 24-year-old may yet miss the Newcastle clash in two weeks.

    Meninga would’ve been watching closely to see how well Shannon Boyd fared, Papalii’s initial replacement in the Kangaroos side.

    But Boyd suffered a lower leg injury in the first half and could well be forced to join Papalii in the stands.

    “He’s [Boyd] hurt the back of his lower leg, I don’t know, I’ll have to talk to the doctor – hopefully it doesn’t [rule him out of the Test] for Shannon’s sake,” Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.

    “They played better than us and that first part of the second half they had a lot of footy, we had to defend a lot, but that happens in a lot of footy games.

    “You’ve got to be able to control it. We didn’t unfortunately. We were too frantic and panicked a bit, they defended very well and out-toughed us.

    “We’re losing the tight ones at the moment. It’s frustrating.

    “We have high expectations on our footy and I think that’s why you get really let down and disappointed because you have high expectations and when you don’t reach those expectations it’s disappointing. But we’ll turn it around.”

    All three of Canterbury’s tries came down their left edge – Elliott’s double and a determined Josh Morris effort which drew him equal second on the all-time ANZ Stadium try scorers list, alongside Bulldogs legend Hazem El Masri.

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Jun
13
  • Wagga cul-de-sac could be deprived of phone and internet services for three months

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    A WAGGA cul-de-sac could be deprived of phone and internet servicesfor three months afteranother “blunder”by theNational Broadband Network(NBN).
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    Dave Wall is furious at the lack of communication he is receiving from NBN.

    Copper wires deliveringhigh-speed broadband to properties on Quambi Place, Mount Austin have been severed by builders, creating a headache fortechnicians.

    Residentsclaim the infrastructure was installed just centimetres below the ground, making it a “matter of time” before something went wrong.

    Dave Wall is furious at the lack of communication he is receiving from NBN in regards to the repair.

    Mr Wall,who works from home and relies on his high-speed network to make ends meet, claims NBN staffhave constantly contradicted one another during the ordeal.

    He has been forced to hot-spot from his phone for nine days, and was recently told he and his neighbours may face a 12 week wait for internet.

    “It just takes so long to get any proper answers from NBN or get them to do anything at all,” he said.

    “One technician told us it would be a matter of days and the next one said it could take up to three months.

    “The procedure for trying to get any assistance whatsoever through NBN is just abysmal.”

    Mr Wall said he has called NBN three times and they are yet to confirm that the issue has been logged.

    “When we had Telstra looking after the infrastructure it was always fixed timely,” he said.

    The failure is just one in a series of reported NBN shortcomings, driving frustrated residents to breaking point.

    Wagga’s Aydan Heron was also left without a phone or internet connection for almost 11 weeks, despite making multiple complaints.

    Mr Heron claims NBN technicians no-showed an appointment to carry out repairs on damaged copper wiresafter he took a day off work to let them inside the property.

    “The missed appointments are probably the most frustrating thing,” Mr Heron said.

    “You take time off work to be home and you wait for them to come and then they’re a no-show.”

    ANBNspokeswoman said those with problems should call their service provider.

    “This is important because there can often be issues affecting a service that is outside of the network, like equipment, software and how each service provider designs a network,” she said.

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Jun
13
  • How the internet hijacked a story about stolen gold

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    RELATED COVERAGEI saw him before he stole my gold: Webster Street homeownerIt started off as a straight-forward story about stolen gold – then the internet intervened and steered it in a whole new direction.
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    The story of $70,000 in gold bullion being stolen from a home in Ballarat’s Webster Streetwas already enough to draw headlines across .

    After all, here we had a home in Ballarat’s most exclusive street being targetedin broad daylight.

    The thief hit the jackpot when they foundpure gold concealed not in a safe, but a standard household cabinet.

    But it was when the owner of the gold bars revealed her sketch of the thief that the internet took control.

    Dr Rosemary Draper with her sketch of the thief.

    No longer was this story about the gold that was stolen, it had become about the sketch of the thief.

    Dr Rosemary Draper is a psychiatrist by trade.But judging by the sketch alone, an artist she is not.

    And didn’t the internet realise it.

    Within minutes of the sketch hitting The Courier Facebook page, users took it upon themselves to poke a bit of fun at the sketch.

    How the internet hijacked a story about stolen gold TweetFacebookThe Courier, it is impossible to post any story about a crime without a Facebook user posting a photo of the sketch with a caption along the lines of “I saw this bloke lurking at the scene?”

    One man has even taken it upon himself to have the sketch printed on a t-shirt and sold on the popular Ballarat Buy, Swap and Sell page.

    Such was the popularity of the t-shirts they have sold out and the designer plans on donating the money to charity.

    Police say they are still hunting the offender and anybody with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit the Crime Stoppers webpage.

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Jun
13
  • Gas tax review confirms nation faces decade wait for revenue from global giants

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    Decade wait for gas revenue Shell’s Prelude venture. Photo: Supplied
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    Treasurer Scott Morrison has insisted ns are not being shortchanged by the PRRT. Photo: Cameron Spencer

    The Gorgon Gas Project in Western . Photo: Supplied

    TweetFacebookMultinational gas companies will soon sell an annual $50 billion worth of n liquefied natural gas to foreign markets, but the nation will have to wait more than a decade for any revenue boost and some projects will never pay a cent in tax for the resources they extract.

    A report prepared for the Turnbull government into the petroleum resource rent tax has confirmed fears, first revealed by Fairfax Media in 2015, that revenue from offshore gas will continue to flatline until at least 2027.

    The federal government is going to make sure energy giants pay their share of tax with Treasurer Scott Morrison announcing a Parliamentary inquiry. (Vision courtesy ABC News 24)

    Despite that, Treasurer Scott Morrison insisted on Friday that ns were not being shortchanged, but said the government would consider some changes to the system.

    The review of the PRRT by former treasury official Mike Callaghan has acknowledged there are systemic problems and recommended changes to toughen the system for new LNG projects.

    But, in a clear victory for the $200 billion industry, he shied away from urging any major changes for projects already past the investment stage, including Chevron’s giant Gorgon and Wheatstone ventures and Shell’s Prelude project.

    Shell’s Prelude venture. Photo: Supplied

    The Callaghan report was released amid the political wrangling over east coast gas supply and on the same day the Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance grilled LNG bosses in Perth.

    Chevron chief executive Nigel Hearne outlined for the first time when the combined $80 billion Gorgon and Wheatstone projects would start paying company tax and PRRT, claiming there was an “incorrect perception” in the public that the company would not pay its fair share.

    Chevron predicts it will start paying the petroleum resource rent tax some time between 2029 and 2035, he said, and would eventually contribute between $60 billion and $140 billion over a 50-year project lifespan.

    The company – which has paid no company tax for five of the past seven years – would become a top-five taxpayer by the middle of the next decade, he said

    “Don’t judge us by the first few years of the boom; judge us by the life cycle of the project,” he said.

    Mr Callaghan’s report – which recommends the Treasury take months to engage in a “considered, comprehensive and consultative process” over changes – has provided Treasurer Scott Morrison the political cover to retreat from prior signals the government would present a PRRT fix in the May budget.

    When he announced the Callaghan review in November, Mr Morrison said of the PRRT “we think it is a problem”, and set the time frame to allow for budget measures.

    Treasurer Scott Morrison has insisted ns are not being shortchanged by the PRRT. Photo: Cameron Spencer

    But on Friday he said any changes would be considered “outside the current budget”.

    “The report finds the decline in PRRT revenue does not, in itself, indicate the n community is being shortchanged in receiving an equitable return from the development of its resources,” Mr Morrison said.

    The petroleum industry mounted a fierce lobbying effort against changes to the PRRT.

    A month after the review was announced, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s then deputy chief-of-staff, Brad Burke, was hired by Shell, one of the companies that met Mr Callaghan and government ministers.

    Former resources minister Ian Macfarlane, who now heads the Queensland Resources Council, met Mr Callaghan, as did Craig Emerson who helped design the PRRT with economist Ross Garnaut for the Hawke Labor government.

    The PRRT is based on capturing “super profits”, something that concerns tax transparency campaigners because of the ease with which multinational resource companies can move money between jurisdictions.

    Last week, Chevron lost a Federal Court appeal in a profit-shifting case brought against it by the n Tax Office. The court found the company avoided paying $300 million in tax in via steep interest payments on a $2.5 billion inter-company loan made from the low-tax jurisdiction of Delaware in the United States.

    In his 180-page report, Mr Callaghan found the PRRT, which had been designed with oil extraction in mind, worked differently for LNG, which requires larger investments and “much longer periods before they become cash positive”.

    The Gorgon Gas Project in Western . Photo: Supplied

    The “uplift rates” applied to exploration and capital costs – which are carried forward and grow by up to 15 per cent a year – allow companies to write off their investments against positive cash flow when a project starts producing.

    The industry holds a stockpile of $238 billion in tax credits, which some academics believe will shield major companies from paying any PRRT for decades.

    Mr Callaghan confirmed this, saying: “High uplift rates for deductions, combined with periods of subdued oil prices, may mean that deductions compound over the life of a project such that the project may never pay PRRT.”

    Modelling for the review found the sector would pay just $12 billion in PRRT by 2027. In that period, sales to such markets as Japan, South Korea and China could conservatively top $400 billion.

    But Mr Callaghan found much more PRRT would be paid between 2027 and 2050, up to $105 billion in total, or $3.2 billion a year.

    By comparison, Qatar, which is currently the world’s biggest LNG exporter, is forecast to take $26.6 billion through its flat, volume-based royalty in 2021, when it will sell the same amount of LNG as .

    Mr Callaghan did not recommend implementing a royalty as companies had invested under the PRRT system.

    “Any significant increase in the tax on existing petroleum projects may substantially increase perceptions of the fiscal risk associated with investments in and may deter future investment,” he said.

    “Fiscal certainty is an important factor influencing a country’s investment attractiveness.”

    Mr Callaghan split his recommendations in two, saying Treasury should rein in uplift rates applied to new projects, and the outcome could be “substantial changes to the PRRT regime”.

    But for current projects he recommended a list of smaller changes, such as streamlining paperwork with the ATO.

    The Tax Justice Network, which has spearheaded research into the PRRT, said the changes would make it easier for companies to claim deductions and transfer credits between projects.

    “It appears reducing paperwork for multinational corporations has been prioritised over protecting the n community and our shared interest in these resources,” Tax Justice spokesman Jason Ward said.

    “This report and the response from the Treasurer will only increase community concern over the integrity of the PRRT and represents a significant missed opportunity.”

    Mr Callaghan is expected to be called to front the Senate inquiry looking at PRRT.

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