Diamonds beat Silver Ferns in race for young Giant

Australia have won back one of their most promising netball talents from the clutches of the New Zealand Silver Ferns, ensuring Jamie-Lee Price’s international future will forever be with the Diamonds.

When the Giants midcourt star was selected in Australia’s World Youth Cup team this week to represent her country in July in Botswana, it formally severed her Silver Ferns link.

Just last year she had been part of New Zealand’s under-21s squad, and on the radar of the Silver Ferns. Fortunately for Australian netball, she was never picked to represent New Zealand.

Price’s convoluted rise to Australian representation is strangely entwined in the NRL.

She’s the daughter of Steve Price, the Canterbury, Queensland and Australian great, who moved to the New Zealand Warriors for the start of the 2005 season when his daughter was still in primary school.

Soon enough Price showed significant aptitude on the netball court, and she was just 17 years old when she made her ANZ Championship debut for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.

It was there she met coach Julie Fitzgerald, and following her to the Giants for the inaugural Super Netball season meant foregoing any plans of representing the Silver Ferns. She was simply told she wouldn’t be considered for selection if she wasn’t playing in New Zealand.

Tearing herself away from decade-long friends was difficult, but her move back to Sydney crystalised what she’d always believed – that Australia was where her heart belonged.

“Originally I always wanted to play for Australia because I am Australian, I was born here, all my family lived here,” Price said.

“Then I guess once I started getting to know all the Silver Fern girls, I did support them. At one stage I did want to play for them but my heart was always with Australia I guess.

“It’s definitely really exciting that I’ve made the under-21s team to Botswana. It’s like one step closer to my ultimate goal.”

The rest of Price’s family have also now moved back from New Zealand, and live on the Sunshine Coast.

But before she can allow her thoughts to turn to Botswana, more pressing matters await the wing defence, namely a desperate Queensland Firebirds outfit on Friday night.

With two rounds left the Giants can firm up their hold on the minor premiership, while Queensland must win their last two matches, and hope the Magpies lose both of theirs, to qualify for the top four.

The Giants come into Friday’s game off a season-defining win over the previously ladder-leading Melbourne Vixens, and Price said her side was determined to stampede towards the finals with every scrap of momentum possible.

“The Firebirds, they’re a really tough team,” Price said.

“This whole competition is tough, there’s no easy game so you’ve always got to be on your A-game. The Firebirds will definitely be coming out hard and so will we because we don’t want to lose either.

“I’m really enjoying the club. All the girls are really cool. I guess we’re just having a lot of fun and that’s probably the main thing.”

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

Broadspectrum saga leaves a lasting legacy

THERE is no doubt that the University of Newcastle is one of the Hunter’s most significant, substantial and essential assets, and an institution of which the region, the state and Australia can be justifiably proud.

For more than five decades the university has educated, fostered and nurtured extraordinary talent, broken new groundand blazed a trail in research areas which have had impacts across the globe.

The university is right to argue, as it has with its recent rebranding project, that it needs to promote its achievements and ambitions to ensure it develops even more. A spokeswoman described the university as a “quiet achiever” that had to celebrate its success.The “The World Needs New” project, launched on Monday, should have been the first day of that celebration.

Instead the university was faced with problems from the past andquestions from staff and students about the future.

The National Tertiary Education Union criticised the launch in the context of a restructure it says could see 170 of the more than 1700 professional staff facing redundancy. The National Union of Students supported staff and questioned the impact of cuts on standards.

The university responded by saying it had to respond to seismic shifts in the tertiary sector across Australia, including an end to the period when government funding followed the demand for university places.

All sides in this argument have good reasonto put their cases passionately and forcefully. Given this is a clash of ideas, ideals and, in some respects, ideologies, within a university context, we would expect nothingless. But there is another element that must be recognised, and that is trust.

This week theuniversity confirmed it will end its extremely controversial $88 million, five year contract with Broadspectrum –formerly known as Transfield –after only two years. That is a good thing.

The university has to accept its associationwith the company running Australia’s detention centres caused enormous reputational damage, and shocked and outragedmany staff,students, former students and community leaders. For many it was a moral issue requiring consistent, long term activism.

And so to this week.

The University of Newcastle needs to rebuild the trust it lost through the Broadspectrum episode. That will take acknowledgement and open communication.

Issue: 38,495.

Revealed: the high-fee private schools to win big under Gonski changes

Perth College Perth 060517 AFR pic by Erin Jonasson. Perth College the private Girls School in Mt.Lawley. First use AFR please. Girls in the school grounds with folders, pencil cases, notes and books, senior and Junior private school education. winter uniform, cost of education, generic hold for files. SPECIALX 00051350 Photo: Erin JonassonFederal funding for some of Sydney and Melbourne’s most prestigious private schools – which charge fees up to $34,000 a year – will soar over the next decade under the Turnbull government’s “Gonski 2.0” changes, while others will have their funding slashed.

The Catholic school sector argues the funding increases for high-fee schools show the federal government’s school funding formula is faulty and disadvantages their schools, which tend to charge relatively low fees.

While much attention has focused on the 350 private schools that will have their funding slowed over the next decade, some high-fee independent schools will receive significant funding increases because they are currently underfunded according to the Gonski formula.

For example the King’s School in North Parramatta, which charges $34,323 a year for senior students, will receive a total funding increase of $19.3 million funding increase over the next decade.

Per student funding for King’s will rise from $4527 this year to $6849 in 2027, a 50 per cent increase over the decade.

The government has committed to funding all non-government schools at 80 per cent of their needs-based funding entitlement.

King’s currently receives 77 per cent of its federal entitlement – well below overfunded schools such as Loreto Kirribilli and St Aloysius’ College in Milsons Point that will have their funding cut.

King’s headmaster Tim Hawkes praised the government for implementing a funding model that was “sector blind, transparent and consistently applied”.

“The sweetheart deals done in the past have created a funding landscape that lacks fairness,” he said.

“For example, the wealth of independent schools in the ACT was assessed by government as being greater than that of King’s, yet a sweetheart deal has resulted in them being funded at a significantly higher level.”

Newington College in Stanmore and Santa Sabina College in Strathfield, which charge fees of $32,000 and $22,000 respectively, will also receive funding increases of $19 million over the next decade.

They will receive similar per student funding as Catholic high schools such as Gilroy Catholic College in Castle Hill and St Leo’s College in Wahroonga which have the same socioeconomic profile but charge much lower fees.

Gilroy charges $2977 a year in fees while St Leo’s charges parents $6797 a year.

Funding for Melbourne’s Caulfield Grammar School, which charges fees of $29,355 for senior students, will grow by $34.8 million in total over the next decade.

Per student funding will rise from $4658 this year to $6864 in 2027.

Wesley College in the city centre and Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Burwood, which charge fees of $30,000 a year, will receive total funding increases of $22 million and $18 million over the decade.

Presentation College, a Catholic high school in Windsor, is assigned the same “capacity to contribute” score as PLC but charges $10,000 a year per student.

National Catholic Education Commission acting executive director Danielle Cronin said the government’s socioeconomic status model did not accurately measure parents’ ability to contribute to the cost of their child’s education and was leading to “perverse outcomes”.

“It seems implausible that for schools of the same SES, one is charging $27,000 per student per year and is, for Commonwealth funding purposes, treated similarly to schools that charge fees of $3000 to $5000 annually,” she said.

“By underestimating how much high-income families can contribute, while overestimating how much lower-income families can contribute, Catholic education contends that SES scores disadvantage Catholic schools serving lower- and middle-income families.

“It falsely assumes a homogeneous population with each parent having the same capacity to pay.”

The Gonski review noted that the SES model was susceptible to a “potentially large degree of inaccuracy” and should be replaced with a more accurate measure, she said.

The Catholic sector is furious with the government for stripping it of the right to fund schools on a system-wide basis and believes private schools have received a better deal.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the funding data showed the government was distributing funding in a “fair, consistent and needs-based way”.

“We remain committed to delivering a reform that doesn’t involve special deals with states or provide advantage to one non-government sector at the expense of another,” he said.

He said the SES model, first introduced in 2001, had “been refined, expanded and broadly accepted as a credible way to measure capacity to contribute and is embedded in these reforms to ensure parents continue to be supported to choose what is best for their family”.

A spokesman for the independent schools sector said it supported the use of the SES model and that the data is now quite “fine grained”.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Catholic and private schools enrol a similar proportion of students across all income brackets, he said.

Shelford Girls’ Grammar principal Polly Flanagan said government funding helped pay for new engineering and forensic science courses, teacher salaries, and specialised drug and alcohol sessions for senior students.

The private school in Brighton, which charges $22,145 in senior school fees, received $4306 in government funding this year per student. This will rise to $10,203 in 2027.

“We don’t go spending it on swimming pools,” Ms Flanagan said. “We don’t bank the money, we use it and we need it for day-to-day costs.

“If we didn’t have government funding, we would price parents out of the market.”

Simon Gipson, principal at St Michael’s Grammar School which will receive $5198 government funding per student in 2027 (an increase from $3460 this year), said the funding enabled the school to keep fees under control.

The school currently charges $30,168 for year 12 students.

“The reality is that if fees become unsustainable for a significant number of families, then that will precipitate a move into the government sector, and the cost to government would increase.”

Federal funding for Catholic systemic schools will grow by 3.5 per cent a year per student over the next decade compared to 4.1 per cent for private schools and 5.1 per cent for public schools according to the government.

High-fee private school winners in Melbourne under Gonski 2.0

Caulfield Grammar SchoolSES Score: 117Senior school fees: $29,355Per student funding 2017: $4658Per student funding 2027: $6864Total 10-year increase: $34.8 million

Wesley College, MelbourneSES Score: 120Senior school fees: $29,720Per student funding 2017: $3842Per student funding 2027: $5282Total 10-year increase: $22.1 million

Presbyterian Ladies’ College, BurwoodSES Score: 115Senior school fees: $29,924Per student funding 2017: $4872Per student funding 2027: $7390Total 10-year increase: $17.9 million

Methodist Ladies College, KewSES Score: 123Senior school fees: $29,700Per student funding 2017: $3148Per student funding 2027: $4435Total 10-year increase: $13.1 million

Scotch College, HawthornSES Score: 123Senior school fees: $30,528Per student funding 2017: $2904Per student funding 2027: $4309Total 10-year increase: $13.6 million

High-fee private school winners in Sydney under Gonski 2.0

The King’s School, ParramattaCurrent share of Schooling Resource Standard: 77%Senior school fees: $34,323Per student funding 2017: $4527Per student funding 2027: $7278Total 10-year increase: $19.3 million

Santa Sabina College, StrathfieldCurrent share of Schooling Resource Standard: 69%Senior school fees: $21,975Per student funding 2017: $5048Per student funding 2027: $8148Total 10-year increase: $19.1 million

Newington College, Stanmore Current share of Schooling Resource Standard: 75%Senior school fees: $31,662Per student funding 2017: $4178Per student funding 2027: $5948Total 10-year increase: $18.9 million

Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga Current share of Schooling Resource Standard: 78%Senior school fees: $30,600Per student funding 2017: $2300Per student funding 2027: $3228Total 10-year increase: $13.1 million

Sydney Church of England Grammar School, North SydneyCurrent share of Schooling Resource Standard: 76%Senior school fees: $29,940Per student funding 2017: $2029Per student funding 2027: $3423Total 10-year increase: $11.5 million

– with Timna Jacks

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In the eye of the storm, Donald Trump has good reason to worry

Washington: It’s 2.20pm and there’s virtually no change in the political stories that have been headlining The Washington Post and The New York Times websites since late yesterday.
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In a city in which the Trump tempest whips up a daily torrent of news, it’s like we’re in the eye of the storm.

On this Thursday, that tempest has been stalled by a sensational announcement late on Wednesday that took even the President by surprise – his own Justice Department had decided the only way forward in the messy saga of his Russia connections was the rare appointment of a special counsel, effectively an independent investigation, with unimpeachable leadership.

Under an administration that leaks like a sieve, the considerable work that preceded the announcement by Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein was kept under tight wraps. There’s been no indication yet that Rosenstein even consulted Jeff Sessions, his boss and Trump’s attorney-general and confidant, who earlier in this crisis was obliged to recuse himself from the Russia fandango because of his own “truthiness” challenges.

But in selecting the near-sainted former FBI director Robert Mueller for the task, Rosenstein redeemed himself. Just a week earlier he was pilloried as the author of a document which, for a while, Americans were told was the justification for Trump’s controversial decision to sack James Comey, the FBI director who had been in charge of the sprawling Russia investigation.

It’s no surprise that Trump was stabbing at his Twitter keyboard over breakfast on Thursday. Without evidence, he bemoaned the failure to appoint a special counsel to investigate “all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration”. With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!??? Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!??? Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Document loans to family and friends to protect cash and relationships

Lending to family members and friends can seem like a good idea at the time. But if there’s a misunderstanding about the terms of the loan there can be breakdowns in relationships with those whom you care most about.
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It seems there are a lot more informal loans between family members and friends than is usually appreciated. Research by the Commonwealth Bank released in 2012 estimates Australians borrow $1.6 billion a month from family and friends.

The Commonwealth Bank’s numbers showed that from among informal lenders, the “Bank of Mum” firmly tops the list as the preferred source of funds. Children are more likely to ask their mums than their dads for a loan.

Most of these loans are undocumented, which increases the likelihood of disagreements and breakdowns in close relationships. Life lessons

Phil Hopper has borrowed money from his parents to use for his business, which brands fleets of cars, trucks and trailers with signage. He’s also lent money to his children over the years.

In the past he has used a spreadsheet to keep track, which he admits can be a little “ad hoc”.

The 44-year-old Sydneysider is now using a new online tool called Credi, which turns informal agreements into manageable and formal ones that are stored online.

He receives reminders that repayments are due. Credi helps keep track of the loan and if there is ever disagreement over the amount of interest or other terms of the loan, the agreement is readily available to both parties.

“I could get a loan contract together with a lawyer for a healthy fee, but the real value to me is that I can go to one spot and find it all there,” Hopper says.

With Credi, which is believed to be the first product of its type, lenders and borrowers negotiate the terms of the loan, agree and sign it electronically.

There is a legally binding record of loan agreements and repayments. Reminders are sent to the borrower that repayment is due and the lender is notified when the repayment has been made.

Credi is free to the public for loans under $10 million and will stay free, other than for advanced options that may be offered in the future.

Tim Dean, the founder of Credi, says parents are sometimes happy to give money but want to structure it as a loan to give their children some life lessons.

“We want to educate them about money and meeting their obligations but we probably want to let them off [repayments of the loan] after they have shown you that they are taking their financial responsibilities seriously,” Dean says. “That’s what happens with my kids.”

With Credi, lenders can choose to send a notification to the borrower to forgive the remaining debt. Formal documents

People often don’t formalise their agreements or they email or call to communicate their wishes, which can lead to misunderstandings.

At best, many people simply download a loan template document that they pass between themselves, but documentation is often not understood or properly completed.

Ian Macleod, from RP Emery & Associates, a publisher of legal documents, says lending to family and friends is risky without proper documentation.

“The reality is most people enter into these loan arrangements on a hug and a handshake, but the terms and conditions are often unspoken or inferred,” Macleod says.

“A verbal contract is binding on the parties, but without a written agreement the parties will find it difficult to prove the terms of that contract.”

Laura Menschik???, a financial planner and director of WLM Financial Services, says if it is parents lending money to their children it is important that the loan be noted with their estate planning documents to avoid any disputes with siblings over who gets what if the parent should die before the loan is repaid.

Michael Harris, a senior associate, commercial litigation at Slater and Gordon, says if it is a loan and not a gift it definitely should be documented.

“Otherwise, if there’s a dispute, the borrower will sometimes say it was a gift,” he says.

Harris knows of cases where a loan was made by a parent to an adult child and their partner to help buy a property. The couple splits up, the house is sold and the partner takes half of the proceeds of the sale of the house, leaving the lender’s son or daughter to repay the debt.

Harris says that’s why it’s important for the lender to have some security over the property.

“The security on the loan can be just as important as the documentation,” he says.

For real estate, an interest called a “caveat” can be lodged with the lands and titles office of the state or territory in which the real estate is located. The caveat alerts a potential buyer of the property that someone else has an interest in the property.

However, that can only happen if the loan agreement contains a clause that specifically allows the lender to lodge a caveat over the property. Business lending

Menschik says it is particularly important to document financial agreements when the loan is for a business purpose.

“That’s especially for larger loans and even more so when the loan is for someone to start a new enterprise, such as a business or purchasing a vehicle to earn income, for example.”

Menschik says the risks of lending for a business are much greater than lending to someone to put a deposit on a house.

“I have seen parents made almost bankrupt because they wanted to help their children and their children’s businesses have failed,” Menschik says. “When lending for a business there is usually no collateral and while property can go down in value at least there is collateral.”

Like with caveats over property, lenders can register a “chargeable interest” over an item of property, such as a motor vehicle, whether for business or personal use. That is an obligation, restriction or condition on the sale of the good.

An interest in a motor vehicle, for example, can be registered on the Australian Government’s Personal Property Securities Register and noted in the loan agreement.

Harris says if the loan is to help a friend or family member with a business start-up, the loan agreement could specify that the lender receives equity in the business rather than cash, for example. Risks for guarantor

If a lender is not willing to give a loan to a person, it may ask for a guarantor.

Parents and friends should think carefully before guaranteeing a loan, WLM Financial Services financial planner and director Laura Menschik??? says.

It really means that you are a co-borrower. And, if the person for whom you are guarantor does not keep up their repayments the lender may come calling on the guarantor to repay the loan.

There can also be implications for the guarantor’s credit record if something goes wrong, making it harder, or perhaps impossible, for the guarantor to obtain credit.

Menschik says it is better to only guarantee a part of the mortgage, up to a certain amount, where the guarantor would be able come up with the cash if required.

However, that is likely to be difficult for most parents given the size of the deposit needed for Sydney and Melbourne properties.

A recent survey of parents, conducted on behalf of Stockspot, finds less than one in three families could afford to lend or give more than $30,000 towards their children’s first home.

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

Change as good as a holiday for Sneddon

AT the start of pre-season, Zac Sneddon hoped tobe celebrating a Weston victory as well as his 21stbirthday this Sunday before heading off to the US in July.
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FRESH START: Former Bear Zac Sneddon, right, in action for Valentine against Edgeworth in their 1-0 loss last week. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

And while his stint atSanta Barbara City College in California is still on the cards, Sneddon is instead hoping to enjoy a Weston defeat come Sunday after Valentine’s match with the Bears at Cahill on Saturday in round 11.

The 2014 Northern NSW National Premier League rookie of the year switched to Valentine, where his father, Stephen, is techincal directorand lifelong family friend Darren Sills is coach, during pre-season training.

Sneddon has helped Phoenix exceed expectations to sit fourth on 16 points, just four off the lead.Sills said Sneddon has been one of his side’s best this season.

“He’s been an absolute revelation in that he was a holding midfielder we’ve put in defence,and as a central defender, he’s been superb,” Sills said. “He’s extremely quick over the first 10-15 metres and he’s a good, aggressive defender.”

Sneddon, who filled in at centre-back last season at the Bears, said“it was just time for me to have a bit of a change” butadmitted one factor in his move was the departure of several stalwarts from Weston.

“It was hard, especially since I came into first grade with players like Nathan Morris, Robbie Turnbull,Rob Macbeth and Gaz McDermott, and without those older heads around, it does change the atmosphere a bit,” he said. “It was tough when I turned up to pre-season and there was only a handful of us left, but that’s football. Things change. I’m just enjoying my football again, which obviously helps, but I just feel like I fit in.”

Sneddon, though, will not be around for the last third of the season. The high school PE and geography teaching student was in Sydney on Friday organising his visa ahead of the six-month stintplaying andstudying in the US. He plans to return to Valentine next season.

“Darren knew that from the start, and the position we’re in, it makes it hard to leave, but it’s once in a lifetime so I thought I’d snatch it up and have a go,” he said.

In the meantime, Sneddon is hoping to helpValentine continue theirbright run in 2017.

“Darren’s done really well with the squad,” he said.

“He’s brought players into roles that he needed, and he’s picked the right players in those spots.

“I think our biggest asset is that we’re not a team of superstars, we all just work for each other, and that’s instilled by Darren. That’s his philosophy.”

Weston, who lost 3-2 in the Cupto Maitland,are ninthon seven points and coming off their first win of the season, 3-0 over Charlestown.

Sneddon was not expecting an easy time against Steve Piggott’s side.

“Any side under Piggo is always a good side. You can never write them off,” he said.

“I’ve seen it firsthand. They’ve got a lot of good young blokes, especially from the Central Coast, which I think has helped them because people don’t know as much about them.

“All the players they brought in are quality and we won’t be taking them lightly. They are a dangerous squad.”

Sills, too, was wary but said hisside needed to beat Weston and Charlestown in the next fortnight.

“We can’t slip up and these are the games we were slipping up in last year,” said Sills, who was an assistant to Piggott at Weston in 2014.

“For us to be a top-four side, we need to be beating teams below us on the table.

“In saying that, Weston have improved out of sight in the last two weeks and I knew that would be the case.

“Like us last year, it was going to them to time to gel, and I heard they were pretty unlucky not to get draw on Wednesday night.

“I spenta lot of time with Piggo and I know he’ll have them firing this weekend.”

Sneddon was rested from Valentine’s 4-2 FFA Cup win over Newcastle Suns on Wednesday night. Sills said striker Jalon Brown (ankle) was in doubt for the Weston clash andAlex Tserepas (ankle) was out.

Also Saturday, Lambton Jaffas play Jets Youth. On Sunday, Adamstown host Maitland, Lake Macquarie welcome Edgeworthand Broadmdeadow take on Hamilton at Magic Park.

All games start 2.30pm.

‘One older lady collapsed’: A tourist’s view of Sydney

This photo posted in Facebook in May shows a crowd of people at Katoomba Station waiting for a train on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Facebook/Geoff BennettStanding by the doors of the train carriage as it rattles away from Strathfield Station, Kylie Fearnley places a firm hand on the stroller containing her three-year-old son Taylor.
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It is Sunday morning – hardly peak time – yet it is already standing room only as the train heads towards Parramatta and the Blue Mountains.

Ms Fearnley regularly travels on the train on Sunday and said it was “next to impossible” to find a seat.

“We’re jammed in like sardines or I have to stand up,” she said. “I mean, we’re heading into the western suburbs of Sydney, not into the Bronx.”

Tourism operators in the Blue Mountains have also expressed concern about overcrowded trains.

“If something is not done about it, sooner rather than later, it will potentially have a negative effect on tourism because the word will spread,” said Jason Cronshaw, the managing director of Fantastic Aussie Tours, which operates the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus.

Besides the packed carriages, Ms Fearnley also said the toilets were “absolutely disgraceful”.

“I have actually gotten off the train to go to the bathroom and caught another train,” she said. “But then you lose time.”

Ms Fearnley said she would not let her son use the toilets: “I’ve changed him standing up on the train but that is a whole different problem. You never know who’s looking.”

Some passengers on the Blue Mountains line will stand for an hour or more – jostling for space in the train’s narrow aisles and stairs with luggage, prams and bicycles – to reach popular tourist destinations such as Leura and Katoomba.

The situation is even worse in the afternoon as passengers fill four-carriage trains that sometimes run only once an hour back to Sydney’s Central Station.

Most passengers seem resigned to the packed carriages, but some tourists express displeasure at having to stand.

“It’s quite sad when you think about it,” Ms Fearnley said. “I mean we should be showing some pride in what we have.”

Overcrowding on weekend train services to western Sydney and the Blue Mountains appears to be a growing problem.

“One older lady, forced to stand up all the way to the Mountains, collapsed in the vestibule,” Christopher Webber wrote on the Facebook Cityfail group in May.

“Forcing people to stand for long journeys presents obvious safety issues. It doesn’t need to happen, and it shouldn’t happen,” said Bob Nanva, the national secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.

Mr Nanva, who lives in Faulconbridge, said he saw overcrowding on the Blue Mountains line every weekend.

“When we’re trying to sell the Blue Mountains as a global tourist destination, this sort of service is not just disappointing, it’s embarrassing,” he said. “We have people travelling to a world heritage tourism asset on a third world rail service.”

The Labor MP for Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle, said weekend trains to the Blue Mountains were “chronically overcrowded”, with passengers standing for many hours or sitting in the aisles.

“Every weekend, train passengers are crammed in like sardines on four carriage trains on the Blue Mountains line,” she said on Facebook. “Matters were made even worse during the recent school holidays and Easter with huge crowds on platforms and terrible conditions for passengers inside packed trains.”

Ms Doyle told the NSW Parliament last year some passengers had to stand for the distance between Blackheath or Katoomba and Penrith.

“Not only does this reflect poorly upon our public transport system for international and interstate visitors but also it drives local residents insane,” she said.

She said overcrowding could be solved by running six- or eight-carriage trains on weekends, but the NSW government did not want to pay for additional staff.

A Transport for NSW spokesman said: “We know that our customers’ needs are changing and acknowledge that more services on weekends are needed to meet demand into the future.”

He also said the government was spending $1.5 billion to urgently increase capacity. New trains are expected on the Blue Mountains line from 2019.

“Transport for NSW regularly reviews Opal data to see where a boost in services is needed.”

Other public transport to tourist destinations, such as ferries to Manly and buses to Bondi, also experience increased patronage outside of the weekday peak times.

Standing on the stairs on the 9:18 train from Central to the Blue Mountains last weekend. Photo: Michele Mossop

Mr Cronshaw said his customers had complained about the overcrowded trains – other tourism operators, including cafe and restaurant owners heard similar complaints.

He said the overcrowding was particularly bad during the April school holidays: “Over Easter they actually denied people from boarding on the train because it was so full.”

“It’s a regular occurrence unfortunately,” said Eric Sward, the manager of The Mountain Heritage hotel in Katoomba. “The problem is obviously during the peak times mainly on the way up and on the way back and on the weekends.”

Mr Sward said the overcrowding on trains could affect tourism to the Blue Mountains.

“It will over time if it continues,” he said. “If it becomes common knowledge that ‘Don’t catch a train because you’ll be standing up for two hours’ then obviously people won’t use it.”

Tourism & Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond said: “There is no question that there are currently overcrowding issues on public transport routes to some of our world famous tourist destinations, such as the Blue Mountains.

“This is due to a number of factors, such as a significant rise in annual visitor numbers and the introduction of the $2.50 Sunday Opal cap, which has seen more Sydneysiders and visitors venture out to places like the Blue Mountains on the weekend.”

Ms Osmond said increased patronage on trains was good news: “However, we don’t want the Blue Mountains transport line to become a victim of its own success and become a deterrent to visitors or detract from the experience of those who make the trip.”

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Haydar jailed for murder of wife in jealous rage

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 21: Haydar Haydar is escorted to a prision truck at King Street Court on February 21, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media) Photo: Daniel MunozA man who murdered his wife front in of their youngest daughter stood in the dock and shouted “I adore you my daughters, I love you so much” after being sentenced to at least 18 years in jail. 96NormalfalsefalseEN-GBX-NONEX-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-priority:99;mso-style-parent:””;mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}96NormalfalsefalseEN-GBX-NONEX-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-priority:99;mso-style-parent:””;mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}
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96NormalfalsefalseEN-GBX-NONEX-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-priority:99;mso-style-parent:””;mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Melissa McCarthy’s outtakes just as funny as SNL sketches

We now know why Melissa McCarthy is such a hit on Saturday Night Live.

SNL has released a blooper reel from the comedian’s recent visit to downtown New York, proving she is hilarious regardless of whether or not she’s inside the NBC studios.

The video, which brings together several outtakes, shows McCarthy dressed as White House spokesman Sean Spicer. She motors through the streets of New York, dodging traffic on her motorised podium.

“C’mon!” she shouts, waving her hand and yelling at several bystanders to get out of her way. “Trump! Where are you? I know this is where you really live!”

The outtakes are spliced together from a recent SNL skit. In it, McCarthy’s character hit the streets of New York in an attempt to find Donald Trump and confront him about rumours he’s planning on giving the job of press secretary to a Fox News journalist.

At one point, McCarthy breaks character to acknowledge the large crowds that have gathered to watch her and take photos. Some even shout from the footpath in the hope of catching her attention.

“The good thing is nobody knows we’re shooting,” she joked. “I mean, this has definitely stayed under cover.”

Spicey’s attempts to find Trump are unsuccessful. However, McCarthy – never failing to take Spicer’s infamous glare off her face – remains determined.

“I just need a couple minutes in a bush to get it together,” she said.

Audiences have been lapping up McCarthy’s Spicer impression ever since she debuted it back in February.

Since then, SNL has enjoyed a healthy ratings boost (kickstarted by Alec Baldwin’s Trump impression last year).

The show’s most recent episode, for example, featured a kiss between McCarthy and Baldwin and was the program’s most-watched May telecast in the past seven years.

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Trump’s Russia conversation ‘within expectations’

Foreign minister Julie Bishop speaking at the opening of the Kimberley Process in Perth on Monday May 1, 2017.?? Photo: SuppliedPresident Donald Trump’s now-famous White House conversation with Russian officials was within the norms of an international leader’s meeting, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Friday, as she defended the under-siege US administration.

Speaking outside the United Nations headquarters in New York, Ms Bishop said Australia had a “very high level of confidence” in its strategic alliance with the US after President Trump revealed sensitive information, sourced from an intelligence-sharing ally, to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

“Australia is a significant intelligence partner of the United States and we have a very close working relationship with them, and the conversations that the President has had are, to our understanding, within the type of conversations that one would expect leaders to hold,” Ms Bishop said.

“I believe that the US administration is governing appropriately for the people of this country. Our interest, of course, lies in ensuring that the United States remains a strong and powerful nation.”

Mr Trump defended his actions as his “absolute right” but has come under attack from figures across the political spectrum, with senior Republican congressman John McCain calling the reports “deeply disturbing” and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin accusing the President of being “dangerous” and “reckless”.

The US and Australia are members of the high-level “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing network, which also includes Britain, Canada and New Zealand. The intelligence Mr Trump disclosed to the Russians reportedly came from the Israeli government.

As the US continues to grapple with the ramifications of suspected Russian interference in last year’s election – and allegations of inappropriate collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign – Ms Bishop met with American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and other administration officials.

She also spoke with Henry Kissinger, former president Richard Nixon’s secretary of state and a confidant to President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Thursday, Mr Trump described himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” after the Department of Justice appointed a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian figures in the lead up to his November defeat of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Former US national security adviser Michael Flynn and other advisers to Mr Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the presidential race, current and former US officials familiar with the exchanges have told Reuters.

Ms Bishop is in New York to push Australia’s case for a coveted seat on the UN’s Human Rights Council.

She rejected any suggestion that Australia’s strict and well-known asylum seeker policy was having a “negative” effect on the campaign.

“It has been raised in the context of what Australia is doing to protect its borders and stem the flow of people smuggling, human trafficking. It is raised in that context. But certainly not in the context for our bid for a seat on the Human Rights Council.”

The Foreign Minister said “Australia is seen as a principled and pragmatic advocate for human rights”.

Ms Bishop also defended her criticisms of the former Rudd government’s campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council, accusing the former prime minister of using foreign aid money to buy votes.

“I wasn’t critical of the principle of seeking to play our role at the United Nations. I was critical of the way he went about it,” she said.

“And the use of our aid budget to buy votes was not a practice that I supported nor do I support it now.”

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Football’s lost years in Tasmania

Chris Fagan, Rodney Eade and Brendon BoltonThe magnitude of what the AFL lost when it turned its back on Tasmania some two decades ago was not lost on anyone among the 500 who attended Wednesday night’s celebration of Tasmanian Football.

In fact anyone lucky enough to move from Lou Richards’ state funeral earlier in the day to the unique Tasmanian football function at the other end of town ended their day emotionally drenched not so much with sadness but melancholy – nostalgia for a football time that somehow disappeared from within our grasp when we weren’t concentrating.

Chris Fagan, the Queenstown boy who became a hall of famer in his home state and now Brisbane Lions coach, captured the so-called “elephant in the room” when he declared there was a “higher purpose” facing head office. That higher purpose said Fagan was not about marketing or economics.

“I’m talking about heritage and culture and legacy,” said Fagan, a panellist at the function alongside fellow Tasmanians Rodney Eade and Brendon Bolton. “The AFL won’t be truly complete until there is a Tasmanian team. They [the AFL] would do a magnificent thing if they were to have a Tasmanian team.” Peter Hudson presented the narrative, Alastair Lynch the interviews which featured Nick Riewoldt and his equally passionate Tasmanian cousin Jack, a keynote speech by Matthew Richardson, who lovingly described a football pathway journeying along north-west Tasmania that he fears is no longer available to children from his home state.

Jackson Thurlow of the Cats. Picture: Getty Images

Geelong’s Jackson Thurlow represented the increasingly rare example of a young Tasmanian footballer in the AFL, while the Robert Shaw-coached state team including Scott Clayton, Graham Wright, Simon Atkins and the Gale brothers thatdefeated Victoria took the stage.

Triple Brownlow medallist Ian Stewart, a rare public performer moved to speech by what he witnessed, declared his ongoing embarrassment whenever he is compared to the “greatest footballer I’ve seen” Darrel Baldock –whose grandchildren attended the function. Of the three living Tasmanian Australian Football Hall of Fame legends only Royce Hart failed to show.

But none of the above compared with the montage of ovals across the state from Penguin to Sandy Bay, football ovals by rivers and along the coast and nestling into historic building and featuring empty club rooms –ovals where, according to the Tasmanian Football Foundation’s James Henderson, football is no longer played.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan

If ever the message was to resonate it was on Wednesdaynight. AFL chief Gillon McLachlan, two other league commissioners, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman and four other AFL executives along with the presidents of Hawthorn and North Melbourne all attended.

McLachlan restated his supportfor a single Tasmanian team, a view he has to date failed to act upon. The sight of all those historic grounds lying empty when the Sydney and GWS reserves struggle to find grounds to play on could not have been lost on the game’s decision-makers. Still this was not a night of recriminations or finger-pointing; more celebration and hope.

“My view has been a single united Tasmanian team and I’ve been very public about that,” said McLachlan, urging Tasmanians not to give up on their dream of a stand-alone team before entering the Crown function.

“…The biggest challenge to a single model is the two incumbents with long-term deals and we respect those. There is no easy solution other than just working towards a prosperous football state and working with all the stakeholders.” The problem being that those AFL club stakeholders being Hawthorn and North Melbourne –particularly Hawthorn who first went to Tasmania 16 years ago –have proved significantly more interested in taking money out of the state than putting football in.

How else do you explain the fact that no Tasmanian player wasdrafted last year? The beautiful but stark and empty ovals –some no longer in existence? The fact that the Hawks did not even bother to apply for a women’s licence the first time around or engage with the state in a united push?

McLachlan’s task in part involves negotiating the Hawks out of Tasmania –which will come at a price –unless that club is prepared to play football across the state. Or convince the Kangaroos with their new multicultural Tasmanian academy to do the same.

Again, where North is concerned, it’s all largely about the money.

Should the new deal at Etihad Stadium prove as generous as the Docklands home clubs had hoped, there is no chance the Kangaroos will play more than three home games in Tasmania. Should they prove successful in enlisting the help of that state in gaining a women’s licence, the state government should insist upon naming the club the Tasmanian Kangaroos.

More preferable altogether would be a stand-alone Tasmanian women’s team. And, as impossible as it seems now, an AFL men’s team. The irony was that two of the three Tasmanian-bred coaches who appeared on stage in Eade and Fagan coach the AFL’s two biggest problem children.

Andrew Demetriou

And as Andrew Demetriousaid recently, if the Gold Coast will only ever be a modest football club why not consider Tasmania and the potential membership of tens of thousands of expats as a fall-back position should the AFL’s clout and that of the Suns’ new CEO Mark Evans fail to ignite the competition’s 17th club?

Still, as one elder statesman of the Tasmanian cause pointed out last night, the baton has been handed over. Perhaps the passion shared by a group including the Riewoldts, Richo and the significant clout of the Tasmanian Football Foundation, combined with McLachlan’s stated philosophy, will finally shift the game’s thinking.

And the view that the game cannot grow without a game each week in southern Queensland might not prove the deal breaker it was a decade ago. That perhaps ploughing millions of dollars into a small and financially struggling state bursting with football heritage and passion and creating its own AFL side could actually succeed.

Certainly the prospect of a Tasmanian team in the AFL does not seem as unthinkable as a national women’s league televised in prime time and actually winning its time slot did even five years ago.

Get started with Hudson

BREAK THE RENT CYCLE: Hudson Homes helps qualified first-home buyers like the Robinson family at Gillieston Heights get started with just three easy steps and an initial payment of $5000.If you’re a first-home buyer wondering how to get into the market, Hudson Homes can help with a free information session on their Help Me Get Started Program at East Maitland on May 31.

Hudson Home’sHelp Me Get Startedprogram assists qualified first home buyers bust out of the rent cycle with just a $5000 initial payment.

Theirinitiative brings together three of the most important elements required for first home ownership: the finance, the land and the home.

Hudson will put you in touch with a selectednetwork of professional financiers who can tailor a package that best suits your needs and budget.

They’ll help you find the right block of land in the nicest housing estates. And they will put you in touch with a house design and inclusion package that’s right for you.

Marcelli Firlej and his wife are first home buyers who got started with Hudson.

“My wife visited Kotara Shopping Centre in 2015 and saw the Hudson stand advertising ‘Build your house for $5000’,” Marcelli recalls.

“My wife said, ‘I have $5000, build my home for me.’ A consultant came out to where we were living at the time, we played ping pong and that’s how it started.”

Hudson consultants organised finance, a selection of land choices and home designs.

Building started in April 2015 and the Firlejs moved in by Christmas that year.

“I would recommend anyone having trouble getting started as a first home buyer to use Hudson Homes,” Marcelli said.

Daniel Harrison built on the Central Coast and was also full of praise.

“I don’t think we would have got in the market if we tried to do it ourselves,” he said.

“Other builders wouldn’t work with us, Hudson did and that takes a huge stress off –the way they manage the process and guide you through.

“It’s been a great experience and we’re definitely not complaining about the equity we now have in the bank.”

Nehemia Kamanda was another first home buyer who was wondering how he was going to get a “fresh home”.

“They assisted us from beginning to end, and the result was good, especially on the financial aspects,” Nehemia said.

“I was wondering, ‘Where am I going to get 10 per cent for deposit?’Hudson Homes said they could help and they did. They took my initial $5000 and tailored my finance to suit my needs.”

Register at helpmegetstarted南京夜网419论坛 for the Information session on Wednesday, May 31. It will take place from 6.30pm for 7pm start at the corner of New England Highway and Banks Street, East Maitland.

Or for more information, call 1800 246 600 to discuss, or visit梧桐夜网hudsonhomes南京夜网419论坛.

Why you might be seeing more mice in your home this winter

MOUSE activity is on the rise, with farmers reporting higher numbers of the rodents and pest controllersexperiencing an increase in rodent-related calls.

CSIRO research officer Steve Henry said an “exceptional” cropping season and a good spring last yearhad seen mice begin to breed early, and continue breeding throughout summer and autumn.

The high yields of the cropshad left plenty of stubble too, providing shelter for the rodents.

The CSIRO’s latest mouse monitoring report from March said mouse abundance was increasing across the state.

Mr Henry said mouse numbers had been higher than expected, but were “patchy”, with numbers high in some areas and low in others.

The Wimmera and Mallee regions are the most affected, but reports of mouse activity have been made in central Victoria.

Mr Henry said farmers were being advised that they might findmicein paddocks at a number that would cause economic damage: 200 mice or more per hectare

He advised farmers to check paddocks on foot for mouse activityand if they thought they had a problem, they probably did.

Farmers can check for mouse activity reports and make their own at theMouse Alert website.

John Pay, from Go Pest Bendigo, said rodent activityhad grown both in rural areas and within Bendigo itself.

To prevent mice setting up home in houses, Mr Pay advised people to clean up food scraps, look at where pets were fed because their food might attract pests, and be mindful of their environment in general.

He said those who found mice in their home could engage a pest controller or purchase their own bait, but warned these had to be used very carefully as they could prove fatal for pets if misused or used carelessly.

Mr Henry said the continued growth of mouse numbers would depend on the upcoming cropping season and the weather in winter, which would establish the base numbers from which mice would breed in spring.