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


    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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  • OpinionThe Post Office: our crumbling monument to inertia


    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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  • Robert Dillon: Sporting Declaration


    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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  • Eagles take honours in Western Derby against Fremantle Dockers


    West Coast wins derby | Photos Griffin Logue of the Dockers is tackled by Mark LeCras of the Eagles. Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images
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    Nat Fyfe of the Dockers is tackled by Elliot Yeo of the Eagles during the round six AFL match against the West Coast Eagles Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Michael Johnson of the Dockers sets for a mark against Luke Shuey of the Eagles. Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

    The West Coast Eagles shower Kurt Mutimer with sports drink as they sing the team song. Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Josh Kennedy of the Eagles celebrates a goal during the round six AFL match against the Fremantle Dockers at Domain Stadium. Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

    Ethan Hughes and Joel Hamling of the Dockers contest a mark against Nathan Vardy of the Eagles. Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

    Shannon Hurn of the Eagles looks to handball while being tackled by Bradley Hill of the Dockers. Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

    Jonathan Giles of the Eagles tries to hand pass the ball under pressure from Griffin Logue and Ed Langdon of the Dockers. Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Griffin Logue of the Dockers tries to keep the ball in play. Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

    The Dockers leave the field after the teams defeat during the round six AFL match at Domain Stadium. Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Ethan Hughes of the Dockers tries to keep the ball in play during the round six AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at Domain Stadium. Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Jonathan Giles of the Eagles tries to hand pass the ball under pressure from Ed Langdon of the Dockers. Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Connor Blakely of the Dockers looks to pass the ball during the round six AFL match. Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Matt Priddis of the Eagles celebrates after scoring a goal during the round six AFL match at Domain Stadium. Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

    David Mundy and Nat Fyfe of the Dockers look on during the Ross Glendinning medal presentation. Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

    TweetFacebookJosh Kennedy collects the Ross Glendinning Medal!Josh (7 votes) edged McGovern (6 votes) and Yeo (5 votes) to take his second Rosco! pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/d1DyGULZw2

    — West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) April 29, 2017Back on the winner’s list!MATCH REPORT: https://t苏州夜场招聘/3s148RcBLPpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/yubBy2L6Gx

    — West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) April 29, 2017

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  • Obelisk Systems named as one of 12 exceptional start-ups to feature at CeBIT China


    Opportunity: Obelisk Systems CEO Andreas Antoniades looking at flight grade circuit boards in 2016. Picture: Jonathan CarrollA Maitland tech company has been named one of 12 of the state’s most ground-breaking start-ups chosen to exhibit at the CeBIT conference in Sydney later this month.
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    Obelisk Systems is among 12 companies set to be part of The StartUp Zone at the event, from May 23 to 25.

    Obelisk was chosen after success with its StarLAB project, a comprehensive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education program, and the custom solutions it’s developing for the n space industry, to make experiments easier.

    Deputy Premier and Small Business Minister John Barilaro said CeBIT , Asia Pacific’s largest business technology event, would showcase the best technology innovations from across the state.

    “The NSW Government is very pleased to be the official partner of CeBIT 2017, which is the country’s leading business technology event bringing together established industry leaders through to the latest start-ups,” he said.

    “NSW is ’s ICT and start-up capital and home to 41 per centof the nation’s start-up founders and 42 per centof its support network.

    “CeBIT will be a great opportunity to promote the best and brightest of our industry as well as Jobs for NSW’s support for the start-up sector.”

    More than 15,000 people are expected to attend across three days of CeBIT .

    The event will feature more than350 exhibitors, 13 zones, over 170 speakers and eight conferences on topics from big data and analytics to cloud and mobility, as well asstrategic panel discussions on the future of business and ICT.

    The NSW Government will showcase 12 of the state’s most exciting start-up businesses in The StartUp Zone at CeBIT.

    Harvey Stockbridge, the managing director of Hannover Fairs –an organiserof CeBIT –said NSW attracted, supported and accelerated pioneering start-up companies that have been transforming a range of sectors, from finance, healthcare and education to transport.

    “CeBIT provides a prominent launchpad for accelerating start-ups to learn from leaders in the industry, showcase their innovations and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs,” he said.

    The inclusion of Obelisk Systems in the major event comes after the company won a National Broadband Network grant earlier this year –funding that was only allocated to nine companies across .

    The company was formed by Maitland manAndreas Antoniades and a band of graduates from the University of Newcastle.

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  • Four kids in car during police chase


    POLICE have arrested two men after separate pursuits at Port Stephens and on the mid-north coast over the weekend, including one in which the driver was allegedly drunk and led police on a chase for more than 28 kilometreswith four kids in the car.
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    Highway patrol police say they detected a Holden Commodore traveling at 119km/h on the Pacific Highway at Coopernook about 2.20pm on Saturday.

    They gave chase, following the man for more than 28 kilometres before police made the decision to terminate the pursuit at Harrington due to concerns about the Commodore’s dangerous driving.Police kept searching for the driverand, after further inquiries, stopped a man, 40, who was riding a bicycle on Crowdy Bay Road at Crowdy Bay about 3.15pm on Saturday.Police say the man admitted to driving the Commodore earlier that day.

    He was breath-tested and returned a positive reading, police say.The man was taken to Taree police station where he was charged with police pursuit, speeding and mid-range drink driving.

    The man was granted conditional bail to appear in Taree Local Court on May 31.

    Police claimthere were four children –aged between two and eight – in the carat the time of the pursuit as well as the man’s wife.

    A few hours later, police were patrolling on Nelson Bay Road at Williamtown when they spotted a man,wanted on arrest warrants, in a Ford Falcon.

    After losing sight of the vehicle, police saw it again on Cabbage Tree Road, Tomago, and launched apursuit.

    The chase sped along the Pacific Highway and New England Highway, before police terminated the pursuit on John Renshaw Drive atBeresfield.

    The car was later found abandoned on Queens Wharf Road at Morpeth.

    The NSW Police Dog Unit was called in to help search the area and a man, 27, was later found in a nearby farm shed.He was taken to Raymond Terrace police station and then to John Hunter Hospital to be treated for a cut to his arm.

    The man remains under police guard at hospital. Police say charges are expected to be laid.Meanwhile, a man, 46, was arrested in Nelson Bay on Saturday night after police allegedly found a large plastic resealable bag of ice.

    The manwas taken to Raymond Terrace police station where he was charged with supplying a prohibited drug and breaching his bail.

    The man appeared in Newcastle Bail Court on Sunday and was refused bail.

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  • Newcastle triathlete Lauren Parker given one per cent chance of ever walking again


    Newcastle triathlete in fight of life after freak training accident Lauren Parker competes at the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
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    TweetFacebook Lauren ParkerJUST two weeks ago, triathlete Lauren Parker felt at the peak of her powers. She was training for 35 hours a week and had her eye on a place on the podium at theIronman Triathlon in Port Macquarie next weekend.

    But now, the 28-year-old just wants to be able to walk again following a freak accident on a routine early morning ride.

    The Fletchertriathlete has had no feeling from the waist down since she crashed into a guard rail while travelling about 45km/h during the training session near Raymond Terrace on April 18.

    She sustained broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken scapula, broken pelvis and a broken back and has been given a oneper cent chance of walking again.

    “We were about 40 kilometres into the ride apparently, because I don’t remember this andI was told by my training partner that we were just riding along as normal and my front and rear tyre both burst at the same time,” Parker said.

    “This does not happen.It’s a freak accident.It never happens.”

    Parker does not remember much about the accident.

    “All I can remember is laying on the road on my back, a lady holding my neck, who had stopped in a car alongside the road, and I was in so much pain,” she said.

    “I couldn’t breathe, I thought I was dying. I couldn’t breathe because I had a punctured lung …I was in that much pain.”

    Parker wasrushed to John Hunter Hospital where she had emergency back surgery to restore bloodflow through her spinal cord.

    When she woke up she was told she had a one per cent chance of walking again.

    “I feel like I’ve lost my whole life,” a shattered Parker told theNewcastle Herald.

    But the brave Novocastrian was trying to stay positive and was determined to defy the odds.

    “I know I want todo everything I can to be able to walk,” she said.

    The reality of what has happened was still sinking in for Parker, who recorded a second placing atthe2015 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

    “I just keep hoping it’s a dream but it’s not,” she said.

    “My whole life is being active … my life is just filled up with being fit and healthy and active and I just can’t do that any more. I feel like I’ve lost everything that’s about me, which is the hardest thing.

    “And my only dream is to be able to even just walk again. I don’t care about running, just being able to walk again.”

    Parker said police at the scene could find no trace of why her tyres both blew.

    “The police arrived before the ambulance and the police and my two training partners were all just looking at the ground, trying to figure out what had punctured my tyres, but there was absolutely nothing on the ground,” she said.

    “They even looked at my tyres and there was nothing in them, they had just burst.It was a brand new bike with brand new tyres, so it’s such a terrible, freak accident.”

    Parker was flown toRoyal North Shore Spinal Cord Injury Unitfive days after her surgery and will spend three months there before being moved to a specialist spinal centre in Ryde, where she could spend up to 12 months in rehabilitation.

    “I’ve started my rehab physio sessions, I’ve had two this week,” she said on Saturday. “At the moment, I’m not doing a lot because of my broken ribs and shoulder.”

    She had no feeling from her naval down and felt “quite dizzy” when she got into the wheelchair after laying down for two weeks.

    “I go to gym and do some light weights on my arms, some pulleys, just to get rotation in my arms and keep that rotation,” Parker said.

    “The other day they got me out the chair in the gym and they sat me up and they told me they were going to take their hands away from me and I had to balance myself sitting up and I was able to do that for seven seconds.

    “It’s quite hard because I have no feeling from my belly button down, so it feels like I have no balance. They’ve said if I keep doing that I’ll be able to increase seven seconds to eventually one minute and so on. But that’s just the start.”

    Parker is already researching options for the future, including travelling to the United States wherestem cell therapy is being used “on patients like me”.

    Her mum Anne has been by her bedside since the accident and has taken time off work indefinitely.

    They havebeen overwhelmed by an outpouring of support from the community and by friendssettingup a gofundme page (www.gofundme苏州夜总会招聘/wearewithyouloz) to help with medical costs.

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  • Kangaroos hold off gallant Gold Coast Suns at Etihad Stadium


    North Melbourne notches up victory | Photos Jack Ziebell and Nathan Hrovat of the Kangaroos celebrate at the final siren and winning the round six AFL match against the Gold Coast Suns. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images
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    Ed Vickers-Willis (left) Marley Williams, Jy Simpkin and Nathan Hrovat of the Kangaroos celebrate their first win with the club. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Marley Williams of the North Melbourne Kangaroos celebrates a goal during the round six AFL match at Etihad Stadium. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Ben Brown of the Kangaroos competes for the ball during the round six AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Gold Coast Suns. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Nathan Hrovat of the Kangaroos celebrates his first win with the club. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Gary Ablett of the Suns marks the ball over Lachlan Hansen of the Kangaroos. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Luke McDonald of the Kangaroos (right) celebrates a goal next to Jamie MacMillan. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Todd Goldstein of the Kangaroos kisses one of his daughters after the round six AFL at Etihad Stadium. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Ben Brown of the Kangaroos is congratulated by Kayne Turner after kicking a goal on Saturday night. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Jack Ziebell of the Kangaroos (left) and Nathan Hrovat celebrate the win after the final siren. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Gary Ablett of the Suns is tackled with the ball by Marley Williams of the Kangaroos, which resulted in a free kick and a goal. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Gary Ablett of the Suns runs with the ball during the round six AFL match against the North Melbourne Kangaroos. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Ben Brown of the Kangaroos celebrates after kicking a goal as Gary Ablett of the Suns looks on. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Ben Brown of the Kangaroos celebrates after kicking a goal on Saturday night. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Sam Gibson of the Kangaroos is tackled by Jarrod Harbrow of the Suns. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Jack Bowes of the Suns runs with the ball away from Lachlan Hansen of the Kangaroos. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Ben Cunnington of the Kangaroos runs out for his 150th game. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Marley Williams of the Kangaroos celebrate his first win with the club with former player Aaron Edwards. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Kangaroos coach Brad Scott speaks to his team during a quarter-time break during the round six AFL match against the Gold Coast Suns. Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images

    Jack Leslie of the Suns marks the ball against Mason Wood of the Kangaroos. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Gary Ablett of the Suns celebrates a goal with Touk Miller of the Suns (left) on Saturday night. Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    TweetFacebookVICTORY! #AFLNorthSuns#BeAShinbonerpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/xsSDlAXjFx

    — North Melbourne (@NMFCOfficial) April 29, 2017Six of the best from @bdbrown50 📹 pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/0DBHbH9M0T

    — North Melbourne (@NMFCOfficial) April 29, 2017

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


    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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  • $1.4 billion regional rail revival for Victorian trains


    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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  • Super Netball: Vixens VS Lightningphotos


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


    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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  • Super Rugby: Waratahs run down Reds


    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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