Almost one tonne of cocaine linked to Centennial Park arrests

Two men involved in a dramatic arrest in Centennial Park last week have been charged with the supply of almost one tonne of cocaine, carrying an estimated street value of $360 million.
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Aukuso Junior Paulo, 34, from Crows Nest, and Kigi Kamuta, 39, from The Ponds, were two of three men arrested while travelling with two semi-automatic weapons and $650,000 in cash, during a planned police operation in the eastern suburbs park.

A third man, Royce Royal Hura, 27, was also arrested at the scene.

Both Mr Hura and Mr Paulo are former players of the Parramatta Eels rugby league club.

Following their arrest, all three men were charged with possessing an unauthorised pistol, possessing ammunition without holding a licence, knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime and participating in a criminal group.

However, on Monday, strike force investigators laid further charges against Mr Paulo and Mr Kamuta for the supply of 900 kilograms of cocaine.

The “far more serious charge” was apparently news to the lawyer for Mr Paulo, Nick Hanna, who had the intention of applying for bail on behalf of the 34-year-old at Central Local Court on Tuesday.

“On arriving in court, I was informed first by a journalist and then by the prosecution that a new charge had been laid against Mr Paulo,” Mr Hanna told the court, later adding that “not even the DPP were given notice of the charge until Tuesday morning”.

“It is bewildering that this charge was not filed and served on the defence yesterday … my staff and I worked very late preparing the release application.”

Expressing his frustration, Mr Hanna said he was “not in a position to apply for release” and withdrew the application.

Bail was formally refused and Mr Paulo will spend Christmas behind bars, to reappear via audio-visual link on February 20 next year.

As Mr Hura was not charged in relation to the supply of the 900 kilograms of cocaine, his legal representation continued with an application for bail on Tuesday, on grounds that the Crown’s submission was “not a strong case”.

His lawyer Arjun Chhabra??? argued that Mr Hura was merely the driver of one of the two vehicles stopped in Centennial Park and that he did not know the contents of the backpack in the vehicle; which contained two semi-automatic firearms and ammunition and lay at the feet of the co-defendant in the passenger seat.

The $650,000 in cash and a number of encrypted Blackberry devices were located in the second vehicle.

Mr Chhabra told the court of Mr Hura’s extensive family support network, many of whom were in court on Tuesday, and who would put up their own homes as surety if he were released.

However Magistrate John Andrews ultimately found the prosecution had presented a “much stronger case”.

He pointed to detailed police surveillance that indicated conversations and evidence between all three men, including Mr Hura, in relation to the “laundering of money and the possession of firearms in Centennial Park”.

Bail was formally refused, with Mr Hura to also appear in court via audio-visual link on February 20.

Last week’s dramatic arrests, in which non-lethal projectiles were deployed by police in front of a park cafe, were the result of Strike Force Mangowa, a joint State Crime Command and Australian Crime Intelligence Commission investigation into the activities of an organised criminal group in Sydney.

On Tuesday Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Cooke, head of the Organised Crime Squad, said the latest charges would “send a signal to all criminals that they can expect the full scope of the law”.

“We’ll use every law at our disposal to prosecute those criminals and disrupt their operations,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Cooke said he could not speak about the operation in detail, but added that more arrests and charges were anticipated.

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Hunter’s inviting swim spots mask hidden danger

ON WATCH: Lake Macquarie senior lifeguards Alex Marshall and Lucas Samways on patrol at Redhead beach as the mercury soars on Tuesday. Picture: Simone De PeakLIFEGUARDS have warned against “naivety” on Hunter beaches – including from parents who become distracted by their phones rather than watching their children.
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It comes as authorities brace for another killer season on the coast, after five deaths in the past two weeks and another suspected drowning in Sydney on Tuesday.

Lake Macquarie head of lifeguards Paul Stone said recent hot weather, water conditions and risk-taking behaviour provided the perfect storm.

This appears to be reflected in a spike of rescues over the past fortnight, as an unusually high morning tide makes for strong rip currents in the afternoon.

“Come 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when a lot of people venture down to the beaches, therewill be deep holes along the water’s edge in remote locations,” Mr Stone said.

“They look really inviting for a place to swim, but the problem is they are the locations that are most treacherous.”

Crowds flock to Redhead beach on Tuesday. “The key message is don’t underestimate the ocean”. Picture: SImone De Peak

According to Royal Life Saving data, this summer’s official drowning toll stands at 15.

It was 22 at the same time last year.

Lake Macquarie head of lifeguards Paul Stone

Mr Stone said a particular concern was the increasing number of parents on their phones while their kids played in the water.

“We’re experiencing quite a few lost kids these days and I put that down to mum and dad playing on their phones,” he said. “Little kids on the beach, particularly when they’re playing on the water’s edge, can lose track of their parents pretty quickly.”

Mr Stone added: “I think we just get a bit naive. We really don’t promote that safety message until we’ve had a few drownings each year, and unfortunately we’ve already had some.

“The key message is don’t underestimate the ocean.

“Even though it looks really nice and inviting, it’s not necessarily safe, particularly if you’re not a strong swimmer.”

Surf Lifesaving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce urged the public to swim between the flags.

“The holidays are a great time to relax but it is also the time when families are away from home at unfamiliar beaches they may rarely or have never visited,” he said.

“Please talk to lifesavers and lifeguards who are there to help. If you are in any doubt about your own abilities or your ability to keep others safe, please don’t take the risk.”

Former winner Artis prepares for LPGA

WINNER: Rebecca Artis (right) with tournament namesake Jack Newton after claiming the trophy in 2015. Picture: Tim BradshawMore than a decade ago Rebecca Artis was part of the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation.
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In 2015 she became one of the few women to claim the annual pro-am tournament named in his honour.

But this week she returns to the Hunter-based celebrity classic with a new challenge on the horizon having recently qualified for next year’s US LPGA tour.

“I’d been to the final stage of Q-school four other times and hadn’t managed to get through so it was a big relief to finally get the job done,” Artis said.

Artis earned her card in Daytona earlier this month and heads back to America as a full-time player in March after the summer at home, including the Australian Open at Kooyonga from February 15.

“I’m excited. It will be a big year for me,” she said.

“But I always love coming back to play The Jack. I won it a couple of years ago and I came up through the foundation.”

On course at the current Jack and Artis recovered from a five-over front nine, including a triple bogey on the par-three eighth hole, to finish two-over after Tuesday’sopening round at Crowne Hunter Valley.

The 29-year-old, basedon the Gold Coastbut raised in Coonabarabran, sits six shots off the pace with Melbourne’s Tom McLaine(-4) leading the way.

Strathfield assistant professional Sung Park (-3) is one stroke further back while defending champion Matt Stieger and Harrison Russell (-2) are also in the mix for top honours.

Best of the celebritieswent toformer Knights prop Matt Parsons whilejockey Tim Clark and premiership-winningJets striker Joel Griffiths also performed well.

Play continues at Pokolbin on Wednesday.

PHOTOS: Jack Newton Celebrity Classic day one

Boland’s journey of Indigenous discovery

Melbourne Stars cricketer Scott Boland tells how he found out he was Indigenous a year or two ago. South Yarra, Melbourne. Monday December 18th 2017. Photo: Daniel PockettScott Boland’s family always knew there was a piece of the puzzle missing. They knew Boland’s maternal grandfather John Edwards was adopted, but just where he came from was a mystery. That question mark on the family tree was an itch that Boland’s uncle Peter felt needed to be scratched. So he started investigating.
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What he found was surprising. John Edwards, who died in 2000, was Aboriginal, a member of the Gulidjan tribe from the Colac area.

“I didn’t really know what to think at the start,” Boland told Fairfax Media this week ahead of his Melbourne Stars’ Big Bash League opener against Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Wednesday night.

“Since then, I think our family is pretty proud of it.

“We’ve still got a lot to learn about our heritage.

“The more knowledge we gain, the better we are to talk about it together.”

Proud of the discovery, the family has continued to unearth information since finding out about their roots three or four years ago.

Boland was already in his mid-20s when this bit of his past was uncovered. He wanted to embrace his background without being disrespectful. Helping him do that has been Cricket Australia’s Indigenous engagement specialist Paul Stewart.

“We’ve had some really good chats about it; learning a lot more about Indigenous culture and what it means to the Indigenous people,” Boland said.

“I think almost the best thing is we’re role models for the Indigenous community.

“Anything we can do to help and hopefully help the next Indigenous Australian cricketer, we’re obviously happy to do.”

Boland and brother Nick, himself a talented quick who played for Victoria’s Futures League team earlier this season, played together for Australia’s Indigenous team during the off-season, while Nick had already played for Victoria in the national Indigenous championships.

For Scott, the experience was another eye opener as he got to see the strength in Australia’s Indigenous cricket ranks first hand. Particularly impressive were D’Arcy Short, who has become a regular player for Western Australia, and Dane Ugle, who has featured in WA’s Futures League side.

“I didn’t really know what to expect. I was actually surprised about how good some of the players were,” Boland said.

“We played a game against the NPS [National Performance Squad] and absolutely flogged them.

“You could see how much it means to those people to give them opportunities. It was pretty special.

“There are definitely some very talented Indigenous cricketers around the country.”

There was a bonus, too. Scott and Nick, born just two years apart, have always been pretty close, but this Indigenous experience allowed them to play together for the first time in eight or nine years.

They are hoping it’s not the last time either. Next year marks the 150-year anniversary of the famous Aboriginal team cricket tour of England, the first Australian team to do so. To mark the occasion, CA are sending men’s and women’s Indigenous teams back to the UK. Both Boland brothers want to be a part of it, as does Scott’s Victorian teammate Daniel Christian, the captain of the national Indigenous team and one of only three men from Indigenous backgrounds – the others being Boland and Jason Gillespie – to have played for Australia. There are just two women to have done so: Faith Thomas and Ashleigh Gardner, whose star has risen over the past 12 months.

If Scott goes on the tour, there will be a poetic connection given his late grandfather’s tribe is only a few hours away from the home of Johnny Mullagh, the outstanding all-rounder of the 1868 tour.

All that is still a fair way in the distance though. In the short term, Boland is focused on helping the Stars end their BBL drought, with the team yet to claim their maiden title despite making the semi-finals in every year of the competition.

Part of the Stars’ preparation for the tournament was an activity-filled day in Phillip Island, including what Boland said was a hilarious skit night highlighted by Daniel Worrall’s impersonation of Ben Hilfenhaus. “It was probably one of the funniest days I’ve ever had,” Boland said.

“I think it’s good to do things like that before a tournament, I think it really brings everyone together.”

Boland doesn’t think the Stars are burdened by their consistent finals failures, preferring to focus on their consistency in getting there in the first place.

On a personal level, the fast bowler says his body has recovered from a heavy workload in the first half of shield season, much of which was spent bending his back on flat MCG decks. “It’s been good to freshen up and get the body back into the rigours of Twenty20 cricket,” Boland said.

“I think it’s almost underestimated how hard those two hours in the field are, especially for a bowler. Just to get your body back into that mode instead of the 96 overs a day where you’re standing around for a lot of it. Get the constant movement back and all the speed back.”

And he is looking forward to again bowling with veteran John Hastings, who has returned from injury, having also been appointed Stars captain, replacing the retired Dave Hussey.

“Another bowler who can bowl at the front, middle and is really good at the back end,” Boland said.

“They’re a dream to have in any team. I look forward to bowling with [Hastings] at the death.”

Boland is already a role model for the country’s Indigenous cricketers, who CA’s participation numbers show swelled from 24,000 in 2014-15 to 54,000 in 2016-17. But he stands to make a bigger impression if he can return to the international scene after playing 14 one-day internationals and three T20 internationals for Australia last year, having also been called up to Australia’s Test squad two years ago.

While he didn’t set the world on fire when given his chance in 2016, Boland says he’s still in the mix to get back, most likely in the shorter formats. “I had a really good start to the shield season,’ he said.

“You never know what’s around the corner. Whoever the form fast bowlers are in Australian cricket will get an opportunity. Hopefully I’m one of them.”

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

What shops are open on Christmas Eve?

Where will be open over the Christmas period? Read our services guide. Picture: Simone De Peak.This week will be the last before Christmas Day to have garbage collected, as services go into recess over the holidays and resume in some places one day later until Monday, January 1.
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Council offices will close at noon on Friday and reopen on January 2. But while some services around the Hunter take a break over the holidays, local beaches will be patrolled as normal making local breaks the spot to beat the heat expected over the next week.

Scorching summer ahead:Escape the heat at one of the Hunter’s favourite watering holes

Shopping centresCharlestown Square:Open 8am-5pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. Open 8am-6pm, Boxing Day.Westfield Kotara:Open 9am-5pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. Open 8am-6pm, Boxing Day.Marketown:East Open 9am-5pm – West 10am-4pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. East & West Open 10am-4pm, Boxing Day.Stockland Jesmond:Open 9am-4pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. Open 10am-4pm, Boxing Day.Stockland Greenhills:Open 8am-5pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. Open 10am-4pm, Boxing Day.Stockland Wallsend:Open 10am-4pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. Open Boxing Day.Stockland Glendale:Open 9am-530pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. Open 10am-4pm, Boxing Day.NewcastleCouncil Offices: Closed from noon Fri, until Tue, Jan. 2. Garbage collection: None Christmas Day, all services one day later until Mon, Jan 1. Beaches: Normal patrols. Ocean Baths: All open as normal. Pools: All open except Christmas Day. Libraries: All closed from noon Fri, until Tue, Jan. 2 (except Newcastle City & Wallsend which open Thurs, Dec 28 – Sat, Dec 30 as normal). Blackbutt reserve: Open as normal, wildlife exhibits and info kiosk closed Christmas Day. Newcastle Museum: Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Open 10am-5pm all other days. Newcastle Art Gallery: Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Open 10am-5pm all other days. Fort Scratchley Historic Site:Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day, open 10am-4pm other days. Redhead Beach, Newcastle. Photo: Simone De Peak

Lake MacquarieCouncil offices: Closed from noon Fri, until Tue, Jan 2. Works Depot: Closed Fri, until Tue, Jan 2. Garbage collection: None Christmas Day, all services one day later until Mon, Jan 1. Awaba Waste Management Facility: Closed Christmas Day. Beaches: Normal patrols. Pools: All pools closed from 4pm Fri, and Xmas day. Libraries: Charlestown, Swansea and Torontoopen Thursday 28 – Saturday 30 December 2017 between 10am-1pm. All other branches closed form noon Fri, until Tue, Jan. 2. Lake Macquarie Art Gallery:Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day. VVisitor Info Centre: Closed Christmas Day.Read more:Hot summer conditions in the Hunter might not last until Christmas

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

CessnockCouncil Offices: Closed from noon Fri, until Tue, Jan. 2. Garbage collection: None Christmas Day, all services one day later until Mon, Jan 1. Waste Re-use Centre: Closed Christmas Day. Greta Transfer Station: Closed Christmas Day. Pools: Cessnock & Branxton: Closed Christmas Day, Kurri Kurri: Closed Christmas Day, restricted hours other days. Libraries: Closed from noon Fri, until Tue, Jan. 2. Performing Arts Centre: Closed from 2pm Fri, until Mon, Jan. 8. Hunter Valley Visitors Centre: Closed Christmas Day only. Photo: Marina Neil

Port StephensCouncil Offices: Closed from Christmas Day to Tue, Jan. 2. Garbage Collection: Services collected as normal. Salamander Bay Transfer Station: Closed from 2pm Fri, re-open 7am Wed, Dec. 27. Newline Road Waste Facility: Closed Christmas Eve, open 7am-3pm both Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Beaches: Partols as normal. Pools: All closed Christmas Day. Libraries: Closed from 2pm Fri, until Tue, Jan. 2. (Tilligerry closed until Mon, Jan. 15). Visitor Info Centre: Closed Christmas Day. Children’s Services Admin Office: Closed from 4:30pm Fri, until Tue, Jan. 2.Read more: The Hunter’s good and not so good Santa photos

Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson with Harry and Lachlan Milgate at the opening of Stockland Green Hills. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

MaitlandCouncil Offices: Closed from 1pm Fri, until Tue, Jan. 2. Works Depot: Closed from 1pm Fri, until Tue, Jan. 2. Garbage Collection: None Christmas Day, all services one day later.Mt Vincent Road Waste Management Centre: Closed Christmas Day. Pools: Closed from 4pm Sun, re-open 11am Boxing Day. Libraries: Closed from 1pm Sat, until Tue, Jan. 2. Maitland Regional Art Gallery: Closed from 3pm Sun, until 10am Wed, Dec. 27. Visitor Info Centre: Closed Christmas Day. Maitland Gaol: Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Read more: Dry zones named for New Year’s Eve celebrations

ChemistsDocs Megasave Pharmacy (Newcastle West): Open 8am to midnight, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Strachans Pharmacy (New Lambton): Open 8am-9pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. Open 8am-9pm, Boxing Day. Darby Street Pharmacy (Cooks Hill): Open 8am-8pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. Open 8am-8pm, Boxing Day. Chemist Works (Glendale): Open 8am to midnight, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day. Open 10am-4pm, Boxing Day. Tenambit Pharmacy: Open 9am-5pm, Christmas Eve. Open 9am to noon, Christmas Day. Open 9am-1pm, Boxing Day. Myall Pharmacy (Hawks Nest): Open 830am-6pm, Christmas Eve. Open 9am to noon, Christmas Day. Open 830am-6pm, Boxing Day. Myall Pharmacy (Tea Gardens): Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Discount Drug Store (Nelson Bay): Open 9am-2pm, Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day.Medical & EmergencyGP Access: after hours medical services 1300 130 147. Emergency: Ambulance, fire brigade and police as usual on 000. State Emergency Service: 132 500.

10 quirky cricket superstitions

There are many sports stars with noticeable superstitions. You only have to watch Rafael Nadal and his water bottles, towels, jumping … wedgies … to see that. And cricketers are no different. In short, they are a superstitious bunch. Here are 10 of the quirkiest superstitions in cricket.
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No luck Nelson

David Shepherd, officiating his final international match, stands on one leg as England reach 111 runs against Australia at The Oval in 2005. Photo: AP

“Nelson” is the much-feared score of 111 made either by a team or an individual. Multiples of 111 (222, 333, 444, etc) are also viewed with dread. Some say it’s unlucky because 111 resembles three stumps without bails, which obviously equates to a dismissal. Others say it originates from famed British Royal Navy flag officer Admiral Lord Nelson, who supposedly had one eye, one arm and one leg towards the end of his life. The late, great umpire David Shepherd brought the superstition to prominence as he used to always stand on one leg when the score reached 111 in an attempt to counter its supposed sinister powers, much to the delight of fans around the world.

The Devil’s number

In Australia, the number 87 is viewed with as much trepidation as it is 13 runs shy of a century. The number 13 is considered unlucky by many. However, its true origins are wedded to an incident that occurred nearly 90 years ago. In 1929, a 10-year-old Keith Miller was stunned to witness Don Bradman get bowled for 87 in a shield match while playing for New South Wales against Victoria at the MCG. The incident stuck with Miller and as his prominence in Australian cricket grew down the track, so did the myth surrounding the number 87. After World War II it became entrenched in cricketing folklore, although Miller discovered later on that, upon further inspection of the scorecard, Bradman had actually been dismissed for 89 on that infamous day!

Sir Donald Bradman.

Tugga’s lucky red rag

The legendary Australian captain Steve Waugh kept a red rag in his pocket for the majority of his international career. The practice began in 1993 when he used it to wipe away sweat while batting against England in the fourth Ashes Test at Leeds. He went on to hit 157 not out in that innings, so as a result he ensured it remained a fixture of his cricketing get-up for his final 11 years as an Australian cricketer. Waugh once described it as his “security blanket”.

Steve Waugh with the famous red rag in 2003. Photo: Heath Missen

Neil the Neurotic

As far as superstitious cricketers go, South African batsman Neil McKenzie would take some beating for the all-time crown. Some of his most bizarre rituals included ensuring that the toilet seats were always down before he went out to bat, needing to have all the lights in the changing room off before going out to bat (he also had to check it eight times) and taping his bat to the ceiling before the game.

South African batsman Neil McKenzie in 2009. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Stay right where you are, AB!

The first day of the fifth Ashes Test in 1989 is one of the most famous days of the storied England-Australia rivalry. Batting first, the Aussies didn’t lose a wicket and reached stumps at 0-301 with Geoff Marsh (125) and Mark Taylor (141) unbeaten. But it might not have panned out that way if not for the actions of Terry Alderman. Well, the paceman would have you believe that at least. A pensive and padded-up Allan Border, who was due in at second drop, started the day in the dressing room watching Marsh and Taylor punish the dispirited Poms on TV. When he decided he wanted to watch the pair do their damage with his own two eyes, a panicked Alderman quickly intervened and demanded that the skipper stay seated in front of the TV. Not wanting to rock the boat, that’s where AB would stay for the rest of the day and the Aussies ended up winning the match by an innings and 180 runs.

Jaysuriya’s touching display

Former Sri Lankan superstar Sanath Jayasuriya had the tiresome ritual of touching every piece of his batting equipment before facing each ball. Given he faced a grand total of 25,895 deliveries across all three formats, that’s a lot of touching – and that doesn’t even include his domestic career! However, he did average 40.07 and 32.36 at Test and ODI level respectively and smacked a combined total of 42 centuries and 99 half-centuries. So who are we to judge?

Sanath Jayasuriya. Photo: Tim Clayton

Kiss and run-up

Jayasuriya’s slinging countryman Lasith Malinga had arguably an even more peculiar habit of kissing the ball every time before he began his bowling run-up. “I have the greatest respect for the cricket ball,” he once explained.

Sachin’s superstitious satay streak

When the game’s greatest run-scorer Sachin Tendulkar made his second-highest score of 241 not out against Australia in Sydney in January 2004, in what was one of the finest innings of his career, there was a curious subplot to that batting masterclass. It was later revealed that the Little Master, owner of 100 international tons, ate the same food at the same Malaysian restaurant on the same table for three consecutive nights during the match so as not to break the routine that saw him strike a rich vein of form. He also hit 60 not out in that drawn Test.

The Little Master: Sachin Tendulkar. Photo: Cole Bennetts

Double-ton duck delight for Smith

Still on the food theme, Australian skipper Steve Smith never used to eat duck on the eve of a match. An individual score of zero is referred to as a duck, so that superstition is pretty self-explanatory. However, he thoughtlessly consumed the tasty bird prior to the Ashes Test at Lord’s in 2015. In the process, he proved the fallacy of his strict dietary rule as he went on to make his then career-best score of 215 not out. We cannot confirm or deny if he ate duck prior to the Perth Test in which he set a new personal benchmark of 239.

Lucky duck: Aussie captain Steve Smith. Photo: AAP

Lyon’s bad bail habit

The GOAT, aka gun Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon, has a quirky habit of his own. Whenever the New South Welshman comes on to bowl, he feels the need to roll the bails over. Smith sums up everyone’s thoughts perfectly by commenting, “I’ve seen it a couple of times … and I think, what are you doing mate?” Well, he must be doing something right given he is this country’s greatest offie with 283 Test wickets at 31.55.

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

Four Aussie-owned supermaxis in classic

COMANCHE: The 2015 Sydney-Hobart line-honours winner is now owned by Sydney’s Jim Cooney.AUSTRALIA can’t conjure an America’s Cup challenge for love or money – particularly money – but at least we’re now home to the world’s four fastest supermaxis.
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Sydney’s Jim Cooney has just bought the 2015 Sydney-Hobart line-honours victor Comanche from its American owner Jim Clark, adding to fleet that includes former Newcastle-berthed yacht Infotrack (ex-Loyal) and sisterships Wild Oats XI and Black Jack.

Come Boxing Day, all will be on the start line for the Sydney-Hobart classic.

All have won line honours previously and stand an even chance of repeating that success, given favourable conditions.

CLASSIC: Winner of the 1971 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Kialoa II has been restored by brothers Paddy and Keith Broughton. Photo: Rolex, Kurt Arrigo

Black Jack looks the likely winner if winds remain light, having taken bragging rights over Wild Oats XI in last week’s Solas Big Boat Challenge.It’s the lightest of the group and sports a pivoting foil forward that can serve as a trim tab when lifting upwind.

Comanche didn’t contest the Challenge but is now fully crewed and ready to roll. Cooney, who also owns the evergreen Brindabella and the Volvo 70 Maserati, simply found it too difficult to resist the wide-beamed 100-footer’s broad appeal.

“Without a doubt it’s the most modern and fastest supermaxi in the world. It’s a beautiful boat which has been sitting in Australia, ready to race … and too good to pass up.” he said.

“With four supers on the line it promises to be one of the best races in the history of the event. You don’t see that anywhere else in the world.”

Comanche’s track record includes the 24-hour sailing distance record for monohulls and the trans-Atlantic crossing record of 5 days, 14 hours. It won the Fastnet Race in the UK and this year smashed the monohull record in the Transpac race with an average speed of 20 knots.

Turning back the clock will be the classic 73-foot, 45-tonne S&S yawl Kialoa II which was built for American ocean racer Jim Kilroy in 1963 but has been restored by sailing brothers Paddy and Keith Broughton. Highlights included winning the 1971 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 3 days 12 hours 46 minutes – a time that would’ve placed it 68th last year.

There’s a mixture of Australian and British crews aboard for 2017, all sporting terry-toweling hats in a nod to the 70s.Handicap favourites include Matt Allen’s new Botin 52 Ichi Ban, the Botin 80 Beau Geste and the TP52 Quest which is better known as Paul Clitheroe’s Balance.

Turning back, meanwhile, will be the Newcastle TP52 Frantic owned by former Wallaby winger Mick Martin. He has signed up for the double header of the Sydney-Hobart – racing under the South Korean flag as Sonic – then the Pittwater to Paradise race startingJanuary 2. That’s close to 2000 nautical miles of ocean racing and deliveries over 10 days, with a quick refuel at Constitution Dock.

“As soon as the boat gets to Hobart we are banging it back for the Pittwater-Southport race with some of the delivery guys plus back-up crew off the bench,” Martin said, mixing his sporting terminology.He is hoping for a southerly tailwind heading north, saying: “We like heading north, there’s much less paperwork than going south.”

Around 30 boats are listed for The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club event, comprising the 370-mile ocean race then a four-day short course series hosted by the Southport Yacht Club from January 6-9.

It includes the Queensland Yachting Championship, AMS Queensland Championship and Australian Sports Boat Association Queensland Championship.

Fishing for more powerWE’RE all in a rush these days, but none more so than the Victorian fisherman who fitted twin 350hp Mercury Verado outboards to a CamCraft 6.8 runabout that’s good for 65 knots.

Owner Neil Robertson originally ordered an eight-metre hull, which was delayed. So he asked builder Cam Strachan to put them on the 6.8 and immediately thought “this is perfect”.

The mechanic who fitted the motors admitted: “Putting 700hp on a six-metre boat is a bit out of the norm but the outcome is mind-blowing. My phone doesn’t stop ringing now with people asking about adding more power to their boats.”

More affordable rigJUST when you thought you couldn’t afford a high-tech wake-surfing rig, Chaparral Surf has launched a range of H2o bowriders priced under $100k.

The all-new 21 Surf model boasts the wake-shaping technology seen on its more expensive stablemates, including the Malibu Surf Gate system and water ballast. Power is via Volvo Penta’s forward-facing drive, which tucks the propellers out of harm’s way.

“With people all over Australia now surfing behind our boats, the technology has filtered down to our H2o range,” Chaparral Australia’s Scott O’Hare said. “We can offer first-time boat owners an affordable way into one of the world’s fastest growing social sports.”

Anglicans locked out of church in forced sale to meet child sex compensation claims

Anglicans locked out of church in forced sale to meet child sex compensation claims Gathering: St Aidan’s Anglican Church, Black Springs, outside Oberon, on December 3 after parishioners were locked out of the church which is being sold.
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Decision: Former Hunter priest and Bathurst Anglican Bishop Ian Palmer says St Aidan’s church is one of a number of churches that have to be sold to meet child sex abuse compensation claims.

Beauty: The interior of 127-year-old St Aidan’s Church at Black Springs.

Outspoken: Sydney Anglican priest Andrew Sempell supports St Aidan’s parishioners fighting to keep their church.

TweetFacebook Church sold, congregation locked out and Anglicans angry with their bishop. A former Hunter priest is under siege over a church sale. THEY’RE the parishionerslocked out of their church by a bishop who saidthe buildingmust be sold to pay compensation to child sex survivors.

They’re the Christians told they can’t call themselves Anglicans if they gatherand prayoutside the church grounds.

But more than 20 regular parishioners at historic St Aidan’s church at Black Springs, near Oberon, are not taking the decision lying down, after accusing former Hunter priest and Bathurst Anglican Bishop Ian Palmer of “dishonouring the important process set up by the royal commission to support survivors”.

“The diocese is trying to raise $2 million, but selling this church is not going to solve that problem,” said Black Springs parishioner Anne Wilson, who said the 127-year-old tin-clad church on a small block of land was only likely to raise a few tens of thousands of dollars.

A church rectory in Oberon has avoided the property sale, despite being valued at considerably more, Mrs Wilson said.

“It’s very important that the diocese provide redress for child sexual abuse survivors. But if the bishop is serious about it he would sell off the rectory in Oberon because they have no minister there now,” Mrs Wilson said.

In appeals to Oberon Shire Council on Tuesday night and AustralianAnglican Primate Philip Freier, the St Aidan’s congregation argues it’s being sold up for challenging the bishop.

In a letter on November 29 Bishop Palmer said St Aidan’s was one of a number of Bathurst diocese parish churches to be closed and sold in order to meet claims for redress from child sex survivors.

The letter made no mention of forced property sales to help meet the diocese’s $25 million debt after it lost a court case over $40 million in outstanding Commonwealth Bank loans.

Bishop Palmer accused some St Aidan’s parish members of “breaking fellowship” and fostering “disunity and division” within the parish by “speaking badly” of people, including him.

The church locks were changed on November 30, parishioners were warned that entering the property would be an offence, and the monthly service due on December 3 was held in the rain on the church boundary instead.

“We had a small service. We gave thanks for the church and what it had been to us and we prayed for the future,” Mrs Wilson said.

The prayer groups outside the church prompted Bishop Palmer to advise that “using the name ‘Anglican’to describe a gathering that has not been agreed by the parish priest is contrary to the Canons of the Anglican Church of Australia. They have no authority to do this”.

Sydney Anglican priest Andrew Sempell, a former Bathurst priest who challenged Sydney archdiocese over a $1 million contribution to the same sex marriage “No” campaign, supported the St Aidan’s parishioners and said the St Aidan’s church sale “just doesn’t add up”.

The parish was bucking the trend of diminishing Anglican congregations and made a significant contribution to the remote rural community, Mrs Wilson and Father Sempell said.

“I’ve described the demise of the diocese of Bathurst as death by 1000 cuts, by its own hands,” Father Sempell said.

Bishop Palmer, who was at Hunter parishes including New Lambton, Belmont North and Muswellbrook between 1988 and 2005, declined to respond to questions.

“I spent over 15 very happy years in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. Regarding Black Springs, I have no idea why a local matter in Bathurst should be of any interest to people in Newcastle,” Bishop Palmer said.

“The diocese of Bathurst, like other dioceses, has sold and plans to sell a number of properties in order to meet claims for redress from survivors of sexual abuse.”

Excellent: Knights nab $10 million grant for centre

An early artist’s rendering of what a redeveloped Hunter Stadium could look like.THE Newcastle Knightswill climb from “the portaloo to the penthouse” after the state government on Tuesday confirmed funding towards a $20 million centre of excellence at Broadmeadow.
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Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres announced a $10 million grant to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Wests Group as part of a deal struck with the NRL when the organisation took ownership of the Knights in July.

Construction of the state-of-the-art facility, which will be the home base for the entire club,is expected to start in the middle of next year and be completed by November 2019.

“Finally we are going to have a centre of excellence that the entire community will be proud of,” Wests and Knights chief executive Phil Gardner said.

“I don’t think we can overstate how important it is to the region. It is a huge commitment from the Wests Group and a legacy for the town. We don’t think there is a better place for us to invest money.”

The facility, one of five NSW rugby league training centres to receive funding, will include administration offices, a high-performance gym and training area, medical rooms, sports science division,Knights museum and four full-sized playing fields.

“We want to partner with the university around their sports science department, not just for rugby league players but across all elite athletes,” Gardner said.

“It will have a medical facility to cater for our sport and other sports.We are looking at a Knights museum as part of it.It will be a true community facility, a catalyst for the precinct and a great result for rugby league.”

The Knights have lived a pauper’s existence for much of their 30 years.

The club trained on council grounds andused portaloos and shipping containers as change rooms before moving into their current base at Wests Mayfield.

“We have gone from the portalooto the penthouse,” Gardner said.

“At present the club is across a number of venues:the university, Wests Mayfield, Newcastle TAFE and some schools.Everyone will now be at the one place.

“Our goal is to make this the best rugby league centre of excellence.”

Knights coach Nathan Brown said the centre would be play a major role in attracting players to the club as well asdeveloping and retaining local talent.

“These facilities will certainlyhelp local juniors play rugby league and accelerate their development in such a great environment,” Brown said.

The centre of excellence had been earmarked for the site of the Newcastle International Paceway, butGardner said a more likely location was on land at the southern end of McDonald Jones Stadium.

“We have to have that negotiation with Venues NSW,” Gardner said.

“We are looking for four fields at the precinct and will have to juggle that with other users of the facilities.

“We will sit down with Venues NSW and identify the spot which will determine the size and shape of the COEand where the sporting fields will go.

“We want to be going into the 2020 pre-season in thefacility. We will be pragmatic working withVenues NSW on where it is positioned and how it is going to work.”

The centre will be partofa major redevelopmentofBroadmeadow’s District Park as a sporting precinct.

“This will be a major step in bring the precinct up to city class,” Gardner said.

Newcastle were one of five clubs to receive funds for the building, alongside Canterbury, South Sydney, Cronulla and the Roosters.

Newcastle’s $10 million is the largest allocation, outstripping the Rabbitohs’ $8.69 million.

Wall St, commodities kick off Santa rally

Investors flooded into shares on Tuesday, buoyed by new record highs on Wall Street and a broad-based lift in commodity prices.
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The promise of an impending US tax reform plan has sparked a global risk-on sentiment which has kicked off the Santa rally on the ASX.

Both iron ore and oil enjoyed buying support, meaning materials and energy were among the best performing sectors and the positive mood spilled over into the big four banks.

At the close, the S&P/ASX 200 Index was 0.5 per cent higher, or 33 points, to 6071 points, while the All Ordinaries also managed to finish 0.5 per cent higher at 6163 points.

“We could probably call the beginning of the Santa rally, but really the tax push in the US and a bump in metals and mining has given the ASX wings today,” said Romano Sala Tenna, portfolio manager at Katana Asset Management.

The Nasdaq hit another record this week, breaking through 7,000 points which has given fund managers cause to pause.,

“Looking more broadly, there’s no doubt the US market is over-valued, and there’s no doubt that ours is not overvalued,” said Mr Sala Tenna.

“But given we are seeing both economies incrementally improving, we can handle an over-valued equities market in the US. Though there might be some consolidation in US markets early next year in which case that might give the Aussie market a chance to catch up.”

There were solid moves in South32 and Mineral Resources, up 3.1 per cent to $3.37 and 2.3 per cent to $18.74, respectively.

Resources giants BHP and Rio Tinto finished the day up 0.8 per cent to $28.47 and 1.3 per cent to $72.33, respectively.

In other equities news, Carsales南京夜网 shares dropped 3.1 per cent to $14.68 following a downgrade by UBS to a ‘sell’ rating, citing valuation concerns.

Japara Healthcare also tumbled 5.7 per cent to $2 after the company downgraded its profit guidance. FY 2018 EBITDA is now expected to be 5 per cent to 10 per cent lower year-on-year as a result of lower occupancy levels.

Retail Food Group is still sliding; falling another whopping 25 per cent to $1.98 on Tuesday after the company advised of a fall in its FY 2018 first-half statutory net profit after tax.

Elsewhere, Helloworld Travel’s shares enjoyed a 3.3 per cent lift to $4.95 after it announced plans to acquire Magellan Travel for $32 million. Stock Watch: Sirtex Medical

Sirtex Medical shares slipped 0.4 per cent to $15.95 after the liver cancer treatment specialist acknowledged that legal proceedings against it had been filed in the Federal Court by lawyers Maurice Blackburn. The claim for breaches of its continuous disclosure obligations is being funded by litigation funders IMF Bentham who will meet the legal fees of Maurice Blackburn and wear the risk that the claim is unsuccessful. IMF Bentham claims that it has a 91 per cent success rate in claims funded to June 30 2017, with 147 out of 162 cases completed won. The Litigation funding provider’s shares rose 4.1 per cent to $2.81, its highest level since April 2000. Chinese growth

The World Bank on Tuesday raised its forecast for China’s economic growth in 2017 to 6.8 per cent from 6.7 per cent it projected in October, as personal consumption and foreign trade supported growth. But the Washington-based lender kept its forecast for China’s 2018 and 2019 GDP growth unchanged at 6.4 per cent and 6.3 per cent, respectively, due to less accommodative monetary policy and the government’s effort to rein in credit and control leverage. The key downside risks to the forecast are the still rising leverage of the non-financial sector and uncertainty around housing prices. Gold

The price of gold managed to stay firm throughout Tuesday after lifting overnight as uncertainty over US tax legislation weighed on the US dollar. The precious metal was fetching $US1263.23 an ounce on Tuesday afternoon. The US dollar index fell, making bullion denominated in the greenback cheaper for buyers using other currencies, as concerns grew over whether the proposed US tax code overhaul would have a major impact on economic growth. “If (the tax bill) were to pass, we think the gold price would fall lower,” said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist for US Bank Wealth Management. “That has to do with stronger growth, more room for the Fed to normalise interest rates. That should create a headwind for investors.” Iron ore

Iron ore is still enjoying its rise as an environmental cleanup in China tightens the supply of higher-grade material that’s less polluting and allows steelmakers to maximise production. Futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange surged 5.5 per cent, the most in a month and the benchmark price for spot ore with 62 per cent content delivered to Qingdao increased 3.7 per cent to $US74.15 a dry tonne, the highest since September, according to Metal Bulletin. The commodity has rebounded since the start of November. While China’s bid to curb pollution by cutting steel supply this winter is hurting overall consumption of ore, it’s supporting demand for higher-quality material because the variety is more efficient to use. Oil

Oil traded near $US57 a barrel before US data forecast to show crude stockpiles in the world’s biggest consumer fell for a fifth week. Inventories probably lost 3 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey before Energy Information Administration data Wednesday. Nigerian oil workers suspended strike action and agreed to continue talks next month, a union spokesman said, while output from a Libyan field returned to normal after a power outage Saturday, said a person familiar with the matter. Oil has rallied the past three months as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies reduce supply to drain a global glut. The unprecedented cooperation among producers has pushed prices this year to average almost $US51 a barrel, on their way to a second annual advance.

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