April 8, 2019

Comments Off on Ask Noel: How safe is super?

Ask Noel: How safe is super?

Are superannuation savings more protected from outside influences such as a global financial crisis than say a pension fund? I am 60 years old, working full time with about $400,000 in super. In the GFC I lost about 20 per cent of the paper value of my super. Is there any way of preventing that loss by shifting super to a pension fund before the predicted downturn. And, would my money be protected from fluctuations in a pension fund?


Superannuation is not an asset class like property or shares but merely a vehicle which lets you hold assets in a concessionally taxed environment. Therefore, at least in theory, it should not matter whether you are in accumulation mode or pension mode – the outcome would depend entirely on the asset mix you have chosen. It is true that some pension funds automatically opt for a more conservative asset mix unless the member chooses otherwise. I think your best course of action is to discuss your asset allocation with your adviser and agree on a mix which suits your goals and your risk profile.

My wife and I have family, including grandchildren, in New Zealand. Last year we bought a small house there so we can spend time grandparenting. We are Australian citizens and residents for tax purposes, and we own our own apartment in Sydney. If we sell our NZ home will that trigger capital gains tax in Australia?

As you are Australian residents for tax purposes, any capital gain on assets sold overseas will need to be included in your assessable income in Australia.

I read with great interest your article on women’s super and thought you should highlight another barrier unique to married women who have followed tradition and changed their names. I have used two different ‘‘find my super’’ services – one I paid $90 – and both came back that I had no missing/inactive super. Having at least six accounts that had not been used for at least six years I was surprised and frustrated. It was later revealed to me that as I had changed my name when I got married and these accounts were in my maiden name they had not been found in the search. I was wondering if the Tax Office data match you mentioned would be able to overcome this barrier that many Australian women are facing.

I’m pleased to report that progress is being made in this vital area. An ATO spokesperson tells me that the Tax Office has now achieved a high level of data matching across the superannuation industry. As a result, it is now able to data match the vast majority of records provided by super funds to individuals and display their super accounts and ATO Online which is available through myGov. The ATO Online service also displays separately any super that has been paid to the ATO as unclaimed monies on an individual’s behalf. ATO Online is a free service available to all individuals through their myGov account. Even though the ATO has a sophisticated data matching system to match up personal information provided by super funds to the personal information they hold, in a small number of cases they are not able to do so as a super fund has not reported their super account details to them. It is important to ensure your super fund has your tax file number – you can check to see if they have your TFN by looking at the statements they send you.

When a mortgaged principal home is rented can the interest on the loan during the time the home is rented be claimed as a tax deduction?

It’s a general principle that for the interest on a loan to be tax deductible the purpose of that loan must be to buy an income producing asset. But a loan can change character – once your residence is available for rent the interest, and other outgoings such as rates insurance and maintenance become tax-deductible.

I refer to your recent article about claiming a tax deduction for personal contributions to super. I am looking at contributing to my super through salary sacrifice and wasn’t aware of the personal contribution option. Is there any financial benefit from doing fortnightly salary sacrifice or a lump sum personal contribution at the end of the financial year.

If you make the contributions by fortnightly salary sacrifice you would be taking advantage of the strategy of dollar cost averaging, and also have the benefit of automatic payments. If you chose to invest in one lump sum, it is possible that financial circumstances could prevent you making a contribution when you wished to do it. My advice would be do it by salary sacrifice – it’s then automatic.

Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance.


April 8, 2019

Comments Off on Knights at home and much more in your weekend planner

Knights at home and much more in your weekend planner

Main Event: Fresh from their nail-biting win over Parramatta last week, the Newcastle Knights host the Gold Coast Titans at 3pm Saturday in an attempt to record back-to-back victories for the first time since April.


SATURDAYEvolving Wetlands 9.30am to 1.30pm, Hunter Wetlands, Shortland. The past springs to life in an interactive exhibition showcasing a unique collection of dinosaur fossils and replicas with a focus on the wetlands environment. Final day of the exhibition.

Harry to Hunter Valley 6pm to 9pm, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, Lovedale.The wizarding world meets wine country this winter at the magic-themed cocktail party.

National Rugby League 3pm, McDonald Jones Stadium, Broadmeadow. Newcastle Knights vs Gold Coast Titans.

Orchestra Nova 2pm, Saturday & Sunday, Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre, Warners Bay.The Hunter’s longest-running community orchestra performsmusic by Mozart and selections from Berlioz (Les Troyens), Offenbach (La Belle Helene) and Purcell (Dido and Aenaes).

Raise Love Charity Ball 6.30pm to 12am, Wests NEX, Newcastle. Dress up in your best black tie formal wear and help raise money for sick children at the Ronald McDonald House. Hosted by NBN weatherman Gavin Morris.

SeaSide Singers – 10th Anniversary Concert 2pm, Soldiers Point Bowling Club.

Snow Time in the Garden 9.30am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday, Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin. This weekend is your final chance to visit thewinter wonderland and its frosty activities for children of all ages.Glide on thegiant ice skating rink, swoosh down theice toboggan orexperience a 9D snow adventure.

SUNDAYAustralian Ice Hockey League 4pm, Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, Warners Bay. Newcastle North Stars vs Sydney Bears.

Hope For Halle 10am to 5pm, Shinnies Hotel, Boolaroo. A charityjoy ride on anything with two wheels starting from Cameron Park service station and ending at Shinnies Hotel wherethere will be a barbecue, live band, raffles and best bike awards. All funds raised go towards four-year-old Halle Lambert who suffers from a rare chromosomal disorder.

Winery Running Festival 6.30am to 11am, The Vintage Golf Resort, Pokolbin.Main races are a marathon, half marathon,10km,6km and2km kids marathon.

SAVE THE DATEThe smell of freshly-ground coffee beans, rich melted chocolate and decadent dishes descend on Maitland mall on August 11 and 12.

The Aroma Coffee and Chocolate Festival is one of the tastiest events onthe calendar andthe perfect way to shrug of the winter chill. Itfeaturesexpert chocolatiers, talented baristas and the best of theregion’s winemakers.

MARKETSHandmade in the Hunter Markets Saturday, 9am to 3pm,Kevin Sobels Wines, corner ofBroke and Halls Rd, Pokolbin.

Hope Sunday Markets Sunday, 9.30am to 2.30pm, Hope Estate, Pokolbin.

Hunt and Gather Markets Saturday, 9am to 2pm, Foreshore Park, Newcastle East.

Hunter Street Organic Food MarketSaturday & Sunday, 10am to 3pm, Hunter Street Mall.

Newcastle City Farmers MarketSunday, 7am to 1pm, Newcastle Showgrounds, Broadmeadow.

Newcastle Flower Markets Saturday, 9.30am to 12pm, Sandgate.

Singleton Farmers & Craft Markets Saturday, 8am to 1pm, Singleton Showground.

The Rectory Markets Sunday, 9am to 2pm,The Rectory, 48 Sturgeon St, Raymond Terrace.

Hunter Valley Gardens: It’s your last chance this weekend to chill out at the Hunter Valley Gardens’ Snow Time in the Garden. Try building a snowman or ice skating or even slide down the mega toboggan ride.

ART & CULTUREArt Systems Wickham Between, ends July 29.

Wollombi Sculpture in the VineyardsThis free public exhibition is open 10am to 5pm, seven days a week. Sculptures will be displayed in the village of Wollombi and Stonehurst Cedar Creek, Wollombi Wines, Wollombi Village Vineyard, Undercliff Winery and Noyce Brothers Wines. All works are for sale. Until December 4.

Sculpture Workshops @ the Hunter BotanicGardensSaturday and Sunday, 10am to 2pm.Hunter Region Botanic Gardens hosts artist in residence sculpture workshop where participants have an opportunity to play with mud.

Lake Macquarie City Art GalleryHunter Red –Re(a)d Earth, Razzamatazz & Corpus. Ends Sunday.

Maitland Regional Art GalleryLuminous Maitland, until August 12; Stuart Scott –Faces of Maitland from the Mrag Collection, ends August 12;Wendy Sharpe –Secrets, until August 19; All That Glitters, until September 2.

Newcastle Art Gallery Patricia Williams-Adams –Stain Me With The Intensity of Black, until August 26; Hunter Red, ends Sunday.

University GalleryStill Life in Yellow, Steel and Mandarins, by Dani Marti. Until November 12.

Newcastle MuseumVoyage to the Deep is about undersea exploration and adventure – of the kind immortalised by Jules Verne’s novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and celebrated in popular culture from Jacques Cousteau to the Octonauts.

THEATREDisney’s Aladdin JrMusical version of the classic story about a street boy who falls in lovewith a beautiful princess and is helped by a genie. Hunter Drama presents the show atCessnock with a local young cast. Cessnock Performing Arts Centre,Saturday, at 2pm and 7pm.

The Girl With The Golden LocksAmusing family show by American playwright Brian D.Taylor, with fairy tale characters as secret service agents and the suspicious characters they areinvestigating. Maitland Repertory Theatre, at its theatre. Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 2pm.

I Hope It’s Not Raining in LondonTwo people trapped in a room piece together memories fromtheir lives; moving and amusing new play by Newcastle’s Nicholas Thoroughgood, with differentactors at each performance. Bearfoot Theatre, at Tantrum Studio, Merewether.Saturday 2pm and 7pm.

PeepshowThe lives of seven people living in an apartment building, including two pairs oflovers, two female friends seeking relationships, and a lone man, become intertwined inIsabel Wright’s comedy. Newcastle Theatre Company, at the NTC Theatre, Lambton. Saturday at 2pm.

PinocchioEngaging musical adaptation by Novocastrians William Ford and Glenda Price ofCarlo Collodi’s novel about a wooden puppet who becomes a live person. Young People’sTheatre, at its Hamilton theatre. 2pm Saturday andSunday.

Rowan ThambarThe Newcastle-born title comedian mingles musical comedy andbig-hearted stand-up on his journey to discover the kind of man he wants to be. RoyalExchange, Newcastle. Saturday, at 8pm.

Which Way HomeCity-dweller Tash and herIndigenous dad are heading by car tohis birthplace, talking, arguing and joking onthe way; writer and actor Katie Beckett’stribute to her father. Ilbijerri Theatre Company, at the Civic Playhouse. Saturday 2pm and 8pm.

MUSIC5 SawyersSaturday, AK Morris.Sunday, Matt McLaren Duo.

Adamstown Uniting ChurchSaturday, King Single, Bitchcraft, Moonsign, Lonelyspeck..

Albion Hotel WickhamSaturday, Lachlan Edwards.

Anna Bay TavernSaturday, Outerphase.

Australia Hotel CessnockSaturday, James Naldo.

Avon Valley InnSaturday, Barracuda.

Bar PetiteSaturday, Danny & Jake.

Battlesticks BarSaturday, Aqwa.Sunday,Codi Kaye.

Bay Hotel Bonnells BaySaturday, Code Red.

Belmont 16sSaturday, Loko,Hayden Johns. Sunday, The Blue Water Cowboys.

Belmore HotelSaturday,Misbehave.

Beresfield Bowling ClubSaturday, Pocket Aces. Sunday, Red Dirt Country Band.

Blackbutt HotelSaturday, Hornet.

The BradfordSaturday, Witchery.

Burwood InnSaturday, Ngariki.

Cambridge HotelSaturday, Polaris,Justice For The Damned,Diamond Construct,Junkhead (glasshouse),The Chats, Boing Boing,Wavevom (warehouse). Sunday,Goodnight Japan, Lachlan X. Morris, Good Grief.

Catho PubSaturday, Ben Woodham.Sunday, Crawfish Stew Band.

Central Charlestown Leagues ClubSaturday, Pete McCredie.

Central HotelStroudSaturday, Doctors Of Rock.

Cessnock LeaguesSaturday, 2GoodReasons.

Charlestown Bowling ClubSaturday, Something From Nothing –Foo Fighters tribute.

Club KotaraSaturday, Full Throttle.

Club LemonTreeSaturday, Matty G.

Colliery InnSaturday, Roxy.Sunday, Kevin O’Hara.

Commercial HotelBoolarooSaturday, Steel City.

Commercial Hotel MorpethSaturday, Presidential Sweet.

Criterion Hotel CarringtonSunday, Boney Rivers.

Croatian Wickham Sports ClubSunday,Jamming With You.

Crown & Anchor HotelSaturday, Devultra,Bobby C.

Customs HouseSaturday, DJ Angelo. Sunday, Jake Davey.

Cypress LakesSaturday, Mark Wells.

D’Albora MarinaSunday, Ben Travis.

Duke Of WellingtonSaturday, Greg Bryce Duo.

East Cessnock Bowling ClubSaturday, Vivian solo.

East Maitland Bowling ClubSaturday, MardMax Trio.Sunday, Roxy.

Edgeworth Bowling ClubSunday, Kempy.

Edgeworth TavernSaturday, Brazillian Brothers Duo.

Exchange HotelSaturday, Lithium. Sunday, Hornet.

Family Hotel MaitlandSaturday, Pete Gelzinnis.

FinnegansSaturday, Indigo Starlight.

Gallipoli Legion ClubSunday,Shivoo.

Gateshead TavernSunday, Outerphase.

George TavernSaturday, Bandditts.

Grain StoreSunday, JJ King.

Grand Junction HotelSunday,Australian Beef Week Show,Handsome Young, Strangers.

Gunyah HotelSaturday, Paperboy.

​Hamilton Station HotelSunday,Yev Kassem, Natalie Henry, Spencer Scott.

Harrigan’s PokolbinSaturday, Roxy.

Hexham Bowling ClubSaturday, The Snape Trilogy.

Honeysuckle HotelSaturday, Prestige Inc.Sunday, From Creedence to Cougar.

Hotel DelanySaturday, Phonic.

Imperial SingletonSaturday, Ash Mountain.

Jewells TavernSaturday, The Years, plus Tina Turner show.

The Junction HotelSaturday, Jason Bone.

Kent HotelSaturday, Loose Bazooka.

Lake Macquarie Yacht ClubSunday, Jamie Martens.

Lakeside Village TavernSaturday, Viagro.

Lass O’GowrieSaturday,The Hedonists,Shrimp,Boots Porter & The Passion Pops,Lu Quade.Sunday,Tim Richards,Sunset Blush,John Tennyson.

Lizotte’sSaturday, Jeff Martin (CAN). Sunday, Aleyce Simmonds & Brad Butcher.

Lochinvar HotelSaturday, Matt Gaudry.

Lucky HotelSaturday, Howie & Alex. Sunday, Prestige Inc.

Mary EllenSaturday, Sundays Record. Sunday, Chad Shuttleworth.

Maryland TavernSaturday, Counterpart.

Mavericks On The BaySaturday, Tim Broadway. Sunday, Greg Bryce.

Mavericks On DarbySaturday, Matt McLaren.

Mayfield Ex-ServicesSaturday, Early Daze.

Mezz Bar at Wallsend DiggersSaturday,Triple Zero.Sunday,Bonnie Rai.

Morriset Country ClubSunday, Mark Lee.

Murray’s BrewerySaturday, Adam Gear. Sunday, Tom Blake.

Nag’s Head HotelSaturday, Kevin O’Hara.

Neath HotelSaturday, Mick Jones.

Nelson Bay DiggersSaturday, The Big Bang. Sunday, Bobby C.

Nelson Bay Golf ClubSaturday, Ryan Daley.

Newcastle Art Gallery Saturday,String Loaded Celtic Fiddle Band.

Newcastle Cruising Yacht ClubSunday, Mick Jones.

Northern Star HotelSaturday, Rooney West, Nano.

Paxton Bowling ClubSaturday, Daniel Arvidson.

Pedens CessnockSaturday, Mardmax Trio.

Pelican RSL ClubSaturday, The Crawfish Stew Band.

Pippis At The PointSaturday, Jake Davey. Sunday, Mardy Leith.

Premier HotelSunday, Code Red.

Queens Wharf HotelSaturday, Anyerin Trio,Matt Semmens.Sunday, Mark Wells Trio,Wharf Life.

Royal ExchangeSaturday,RowanThambar.Sunday,Totally Gourdacious – Mal Webb & Andrew Clermont.

Royal Federal HotelBranxtonSaturday, Kempy.

Royal Hotel SingletonSunday, Katie N Feff.

Royal Motor Yacht Club TorontoSunday, Gary Wallace.

Rutherford HotelSaturday, Zane Penn.

Seabreeze HotelSunday, Matt Bowles.

Shenanigans at the ImperialSaturday, Joy Duo.

Shoal Bay Country ClubSaturday, ABBAlanche.Sunday, Aqwa.

Shortland HotelSaturday, Joel Oakhill.

Small BallroomSaturday, Hayden Shepherd, Will Freeth, Special K, Hooey, Kurtis Elms.

Soldiers Point Bowling ClubSaturday, Jumpin’ Jukebox.

South Newcastle Leagues ClubSaturday, Pistol Pete.

Stag and Hunter Hotel Saturday, The Craw, Southern End.

Stockton Bowling ClubSunday, Nomie James & Steve Cowley.

Swansea HotelSaturday, Shaka. Sunday, The Jungle Kings.

Swansea RSLClubSaturday, Maryanne Rex Duo.

Swansea Workers ClubSaturday, Solid Gold Dance Party.

At Lizotte’s: Golden guitar-winning country duo Aleyce Simmonds (pictured) and Brad Butcher have teamed up to perform solo and together across the country. Catch their show on Sunday at Lizotte’s.

Tilligerry RSLSaturday, Cotton Sax and Strings.

Toronto DiggersSaturday, John Noble.

Toronto HotelSunday, Kellie Cain,

Toronto WorkersSaturday, The Remedy.

Town Hall HotelSaturday, Chris Saxby.

Victoria Hotel HintonSaturday, Chad Shuttleworth.Sunday, Zane Penn.

Wangi Wangi RSLClubSunday, Reg Sinclair.

Warners At The BaySaturday, All Access 80’s.

Weston WorkersSaturday, Deborah Sinclair.

Wests CardiffSaturday, The Jungle Kings.

Wests New LambtonSaturday,Cruzers.Sunday,British Invasion.

Wests NEXSaturday, Iguana.

Wickham Park HotelSaturday,Lachlan’s Show – Fundraiser.Sunday, John Larder,Rose Carleo + Len’s Theory.

Windsor Castle HotelSaturday,Codi Kaye.

MOVIESAdrift(M) A young woman sails into the eye of a hurricane to save the man she loves.

Ant-Man and The Wasp(PG)As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission.

Back To Burgundy(M)After a 10-year absence, Jean returns to his hometown when his father falls ill. (Tower)

Breath(M)Two teenage boys, hungry for discovery, form an unlikely friendship with a mysterious older adventurer who pushes them to take risks that will have a lasting and profound impact on their lives. (Lake Cinema)

Deadpool 2(MA)When a super soldier arrives on a murderous mission, Deadpool is forced to think about friendship, family and what it really means to be a hero – all while kicking 50 shades of ass. (Event, Glendale)

Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation(G)Mavis surprises Dracula with a family voyage on a luxury monster cruise ship so he can take a vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom(M) It’s been four years since Jurassic World was destroyed by dinosaurs. Isla Nublar now sits abandoned by humans while the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again(PG)In this sequel to Mamma Mia! Sophie learns about her mother’s past while pregnant.

Mary Shelley(M)While staying in the home of Lord Byron at Lake Geneva, the guests are challenged to write a ghost story, which leads Mary to conceive her classic novel, Frankenstein. (Tower)

Ocean’s 8(M)Debbie Ocean gathers a crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Overboard(PG)A spoiled, wealthy yacht owner is thrown overboard and becomes the target of revenge from his mistreated employee.

Show Dogs(PG)Max, a macho, solitary Rottweiler police dog is ordered to go undercover as a primped show dog in a prestigious Dog Show, along with his human partner, to avert a disaster from happening.

Skyscraper(M)On assignment in China, USwar veteran Will Ford,finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze.

Tag(M)A small group of former classmates organize an elaborate, annual game of tag that requires some to travel all over the country.

Tea With The Dames(M)Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith have let the cameras in on a friendship that goes back more than half a century. (Lake Cinema)

The Equalizer 2(MA)A sequel to the the 2014 film, “The Equalizer”, which is based on the TV series about a retired agent who’s a hired gun for vengeance.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society(M)A writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey Island in the aftermath of World War II when she decides to write a book about their experiences during the war. (Tower)

The Incredibles 2(PG)Bob Parr is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen is out saving the world.

The Leisure Seeker(M) Arunaway couple go on an unforgettable journey in the faithful old RV they call The Leisure Seeker. (Tower)


April 8, 2019

Comments Off on Cambage rips WNBA for ‘ladylike’ attempts

Cambage rips WNBA for ‘ladylike’ attempts

Australian basketballer Liz Cambage has ripped into the WNBA about its treatment of players.Australian basketball star Liz Cambage has ripped into the WNBA about its treatment of players, the pay disparity with men in the NBA and attempts by referees to suppress emotion in games to make them “more ladylike”.


In a wide-ranging interview a day after breaking the WNBA’s scoring record with 53 points in a game for the Dallas Wings, Cambage also joked about her rocky relationship with Andrew Bogut and defended Thon Maker’s role in the recent “sickening” melee involving the Boomers and the Philippines national team.

The 26-year-old and former NBA player Bogut have had an ongoing social media feud, but after her record 53-point game on Tuesday he sent out a congratulatory tweet.

“I didn’t see that, but thank you Mr Bogut,” Cambage, when told about the tweet, said.

“He’s softening up to me these days.”

Maker was criticised for kicking out at Filipino players, but Cambage said “Thon was just trying to protect his team-mates” and praised assistant coach Luc Longley for saving Boomer Chris Goulding.

“Chris Goulding could have died if Luc Longley didn’t come out and get those people off the top of him,” she said.

In a WNBA-organised conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Cambage criticised the way they are forced to play back-to-back games in different US cities while flying in economy class planes.

“The WNBA is constantly called the best league in the world, yet we don’t get treated like the best athletes in the world,” she said.

“We sign $1-million contracts in Asia and Russia and get treated like royalty but when we are here in America we are flying in the back of the plane in economy, playing back-to-backs.”

The average WNBA player earns around $US71,000 ($A96 000) a season and elite players $US114,000 ($A154 000).

Cambage, a 203cm tall centre named an All-Star on Tuesday, is the WNBA’s second top scorer averaging 21.4 points per game and has Dallas in fourth place.

Cambage accused referees of trying to “suppress” WNBA games by hitting players with technical fouls for showing emotion, including flexing after making a big play.

“We are women and we are passionate and we are playing hard,” said Cambage.

“Let us play our game and try not to soften it because it is making it boring and right now it makes me feel like they are trying to make it more ladylike.

“That’s not how we play. We play like fierce women. Stop trying to suppress our game.”


April 8, 2019

Comments Off on Accused Russia agent jailed pending trial

Accused Russia agent jailed pending trial

Maria Butina(L) has been ordered jailed pending trial over allegations of acting as a Russian agent.A judge has ordered an accused Russian agent jailed until her trial after US prosecutors argued she has ties to Russian intelligence and could flee the United States.


Prosecutors have not charged the agent they identified as Maria Butina with espionage, but said she had been in contact with Russian intelligence operatives and kept contact information for several Russian agents.

During a preliminary hearing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, the lead prosecutor in the case showed a photo of Butina in a Washington restaurant meeting with someone whom they believe is a Russian intelligence agent.

The 29-year-old former American University graduate student wore an orange prison jumpsuit in court and showed no emotion as her lawyer entered a not-guilty plea.

The government also displayed a copy of a handwritten note uncovered by the FBI at Butina’s apartment asking how to respond to an employment offer from a Russian intelligence agency, as well as a photo of her standing in front of the US Capitol on the day Donald Trump was sworn in as president 18 months ago.

“We do not believe she was here … just to attend American University,” said lead prosecutor Erik Michael Kenerson, adding that Butina was engaged in a “covert influence campaign.”

The case coincides with an investigation by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether members of Trump’s 2016 election campaign coordinated with Russian officials.

Butina’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, said she is not a Russian agent and poses no flight risk. She was arrested on Sunday without warning. In a statement after the hearing, Driscoll declared his client is innocent.

Butina has been accused of working with a high-powered Russian official and two unidentified US citizens, trying to infiltrate a pro-gun rights organisation in the US and influence US foreign policy toward Russia.

The gun rights group was not identified. However, her social media accounts show she attended many National Rifle Association events and met with top officials of the lobbying group.

The unidentified Russian official appears to match the description of Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in April. The central bank has declined comment on the case.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said there were no grounds for Butina’s arrest and that its embassy in Washington has requested a meeting with her.


April 8, 2019

Comments Off on Three people are in hospital after a head-on collision at Stroud

Three people are in hospital after a head-on collision at Stroud

Two people have been air lifted, and a third has been transported by road,to John Hunter Hospital after a high-speed, head-on collision at Stroud on Wednesday afternoon.


NSW Police and Ambulance crews were called to the scene at around 2.20pmon The Bucketts Way, approximately93 kilometressouth-west of Taree, afterreports a Toyota Corolla and a Toyota Hilux had collided.

The driver of the Corolla and sole occupant, a 62-year-old woman, was flown by rescue helicopter to John Hunter Hospital having suffered a suspected fractured pelvis,where she remains in a critical condition.

The driver of the Hilux, a 74-year-old man, and his passenger, a 69-year-old woman, also sustained injuries.

The woman, believed to have suffered head and chest injuries,was flown by rescue helicopter to John Hunter Hospital, where she remains in a critical condition.

The man was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics at the scene for injuries to his chest, leg and lower back,before being taken to John Hunter Hospital. He remains in a stable condition.

Officers from the Newcastle Crash Investigation Unit established a crime scene and launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page.

The details of this report are developing. It will be updated.In the news todayICAC asks former Awabakal Land Council board member Richard Green to explain a series of payments he received from Nick Petroulias(July 19, 2018)The boys rescued from a Thai cave have been released from hospital(July 19, 2018)Aged care double murderer Garry Steven Davis launches appeal against convictions(July 19, 2018)


April 7, 2019

Comments Off on THEATRE REVIEW: Equus


TROUBLED: Timothy Blundell plays psychologist Martin Dysart. Presented by: Stooged Theatre
Shanghai night field

Venue: Civic Playhouse, Newcastle (49291977)

Season: Ends Saturday

THE central characters in Peter Shaffer’s play are a psychiatrist in a regional hospital and one of his patients, a 17-year-old boy who has blinded five horses in a night-time attack.

The psychiatrist, Martin Dysart (played by Richard Burton in the film version), gradually finds out what led to the brutal crime as the responses of the boy, Alan Strang, lead him to question his own life and values.

The title, Equus, the Latin word for horse, refers to Alan’s belief that the animals are godlike figures, and the horses that Shaffer includes in the story are seen through the boy’s eyes as human with elegant equine heads.

Equus is a demanding work to stage, but director Mat Lee, the actors and technical team make it one that is generally engaging with an appropriate mix of dark and light elements.

The set design by Joel Yager and the director has a central, neat and partly enclosed platform that serves, among other venues, as various hospital rooms and places in Alan’s parents’ home.

Behind this is a wall made of old and rough timber pieces showing the outside world. The actors, excluding the two central characters, sit and stand at the sides of the wall when they are not involved in the action.

Callan Purcell engagingly has the mix of behaviour that shows Alan’s troubled mind, initially singing television advertising jingles in response to Dysart’s questioning and slowly unwinding to reveal the influential things in his life.

Timothy Blundell’s Dysart, astutely changing tactics to get the reluctant boy talking, likewise has a neat handle on his character, though the monologues in which he reveals his own obsession with classical Greek culture lack the needed passion.

Michelle Burnitt and Phillip Ross, as Alan’s parents, Dora and Frank Strang, effectively reveal their respective treatments of the boy – she is a devout Christian, he is a cold atheist – but their words sometimes lack the sharpness needed to show why their differences have had such an effect on Alan’s thoughts and behaviour.

Linda Read, as the magistrate who persuades the overworked Dysart to treat Alan, neatly has the psychiatrist revealing his own life’s woes.

Chloe Perrett is charming as the young female stable hand whom Alan is attracted to, and Claire Thomas ensures that the humanity of the nurse looking after Alan is seen despite her required formality.

Richard Murray gives an understandable gruffness to the stable owner whose horses are maimed.

Glen Waterhouse is effective as both a horse owner, who gives Alan his first ride on a horse along a beach at the age of six, and as Nugget, the horse that the 17-year-old rides on moonlit nights, with the beach scene being a charmer.

Harold Phipps, Amy Wilde, Alexander Jacobs and Dane Rhoades as the other horses have too little to do.

They need to be moved around in such a way to show why Alan has such a passion for horses.


March 5, 2019

Comments Off on Luke Foley promises Labor would add 500 paramedics

Luke Foley promises Labor would add 500 paramedics

More paramedics: Labor would add 500 more staff over four years. Photo: Amy CorderoyAn additional 500 paramedics would be hired over the next four years under a Labor election policy announced on Sunday.
Shanghai night field

Paramedics say the 15 per cent increase in staff over four years will stop dangerous work practices that currently exist in overstretched ambulance stations, where paramedics are sometimes forced to work long hours without days off, and sometimes to attend jobs alone.

Labor leader Luke Foley said the system was overstretched, and the additional resources, which would be gradually rolled out with 125 new positions each year, would help them focus on saving lives.

“Paramedics are one of the most trusted professions in our communities – their arrival at our homes, workplaces and everywhere in-between can literally be the difference between life and death,” he said. “This is about increasing response times, increasing and improving patient care.”

He said the policy would cost $46.6 million over two years, along with $2.1 million for capital costs including 76 additional ambulances and extra equipment such as defibrillators and stretchers.

Steven Fraser, an intensive are paramedic from the mid-north coast, said the new positions were needed and would allow paramedics to treat patients more quickly.

“In our job, time matters, minute matters, and what we want and … what we are getting here is more resources to make those minutes less,” he said. “In order to do the job you have to have the people there, it can’t be done remotely”.

Labor says ambulance response times have increased under the Liberal government to an average of 10.8 minutes last financial year – above a national benchmark of 10 minutes.

The NSW Ambulance service website, which breaks down data by subgroup rather than overall average response time, shows the average daytime response time in the Sydney area decreased over the past three years. However, response times in other parts of NSW and at night have blown out.

Labor’s health spokesman Walt Secord said Labor intended to target the new ambulance positions to areas of need, with half in Sydney and half in rural areas.

He said Labor was also promising more hospital beds in Westmead, the Tweed and St George, which would held prevent “trolley block”, where ambulances were stuck at hospitals unable to offload patients at busy emergency rooms.

“Many paramedics have expressed to us the frustration of getting people to hospital only to find out there’s a shortage of beds,” he said.

In January Fairfax Media revealed patients and paramedics had been kept waiting up to 20 hours in Blacktown Hospital because of bed closures.

Gerard Hayes, the NSW secretary of the Health Services Union, said he hoped the Liberal government would match the promise.

“We have seen over the last three years increases in call-outs that go to 30,000 [extra] a year, and paramedics can’t meet that gap without these resources,” he said.

The Labor policy says there are currently 3435 paramedics, who attend more than one million cases each year.

“Roster vacancies are often unfilled and there are also reports of paramedics being forced to respond to call-outs by themselves,” it says. “This is an unsafe practice for both paramedic and patient”.

The Baird government has committed $150 million to roll-out five new “super” ambulance stations at Kogarah, Bankstown, Blacktown, Liverpool and Penrith, a plan the Labor party said it will also back.

Your seat by seat guide to the NSW election:

<a href="/interactive/2015/nsw-election/electorates/electorates.html?el=Auburn" _rte_href="/interactive/2015/nsw-election/electorates/electorates.html?el=Auburn">Key facts on NSW electorates</a>


March 5, 2019

Comments Off on THEATRE: Mr Bennet’s Bride goes on tour

THEATRE: Mr Bennet’s Bride goes on tour

REPRISED: Cassandra Griffin, James Chapman, Lance Hawkins and Tracey Gordon are among the cast taking Mr Bennet’s Bride on the road. Picture: Simone De PeakWHEN Newcastle Theatre Company staged the premiere last year of member Emma Wood’s Mr Bennet’s Bride, a prequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, they wondered what the audience response would be.
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Austen’s novel centring on the five Bennet sisters, with the two oldest being of an age where they are expected to marry, has been popular with readers since it was published 200 years ago, and the film and television adaptations have been audience favourites.

In Mr Bennet’s Bride, Emma Wood draws on references in the novel to the backgrounds of the girls’ ill-matched parents to show how they came together 25 years earlier.

As things turned out, Mr Bennet’s Bride was a hit with theatregoers.

The show became the third biggest audience draw in the company’s 57-year history, selling 98 per cent of seats in its three-week run. Some audience members enjoyed it so much that they returned for a second viewing.

Word about the play spread beyond Newcastle, with the organisers of Canberra’s annual Jane Austen Festival asking if the NTC production could be staged as part of their 2015 event.

So Mr Bennet’s Bride will have three performances at Canberra’s Repertory Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, April 11 and 12.

The following Saturday, April 18, there will be two shows in Sydney, at Chatswood’s Zenith Theatre.

Novocastrians haven’t been forgotten. NTC will host three stagings at its Lambton theatre on Easter weekend, with matinee and evening shows on Saturday, April 4, and a matinee on Sunday, April 5.

And Emma Wood, who is now living in Canberra, has received other good news about the play in the past week.

Sydney-based David Spicer Productions, a theatrical agency that represents predominantly Australian works, is now publishing plays through new subsidiary DSPress.

Mr Bennet’s Bride is the first play offered in book form.

The NTC production, again being rehearsed by director Julie Black, has new cast members playing four of the 10 characters, as some of the original actors had other commitments.

James Chapman has joined the cast in the role of James, the Mr Bennet of the play’s title.

James is 28 and trying to ignore his father’s demand that he get married almost immediately.

The widowed father, Robert, is worried that if James, his only child, doesn’t marry and produce an heir, their vast rural estate will fall into the hands of a greedy cousin who has just become father to a son.

While James doesn’t get along with dad, he’s grateful for the advice and support his father’s live-in sister, Mary, gives him.

Tracey Gordon, who played Mary last year, has returned to the role and she is enjoying it as much as the first time. She also sees the inclusion of four new cast members as giving the storytelling freshness.

Chapman auditioned for the role of James before the play’s first staging, and he’s excited to now have the chance to play the initially grumpy loner who is attracted to a young woman whose parents see him as a good catch.

Other returning actors are Lance Hawkins as Robert, Cassandra Griffin as Emily Gardiner, the 17-year-old who catches the eye of James, Malcolm Young as the avaricious cousin, Benedict Collins, Stephanie McDonald as another would-be bride, Clara Bowman, and Alison Murphy as Clara’s mother.

Other newcomers are Patrick Campbell and Fran Hodgson, as Emily’s scheming parents, and Jenny Brook, as the observant housekeeper.

Mr Bennet’s Bride can be seen at the NTC Theatre, 90 De Vitre Street, Lambton, on Saturday, April 4, at 2pm and 8pm, and on Sunday, April 5, at 2pm. Tickets: $29, concession $23. Bookings: 49524958; newcastletheatrecompany上海龙凤419m.au.


March 5, 2019

Comments Off on Eagles give one of these nights to remember

Eagles give one of these nights to remember

Eagles give one of these nights to remember LEGENDS: The Eagles, from left, Timothy B. Schmit, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh perform at Hope Estate, Pokolbin. Picture: Dean Osland
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Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

Scenes from the Eagles concert at Hope Estate on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Picture: Dean Osland.

TweetFacebookHUNTER audiences were treated to a performance from one of the world’s most revered bands, when The Eagles took to the stage at Hope Estate.

Band members Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit played in Pokolbin on Saturday as part of their History of The Eagles world tour, which began in 2013 to coincide with the release of a documentary of the same name and has been suggested as possibly their last.

The three-hour show spanning the band’s entire career saw them play songs they had not previously performed live, as well as celebrated favourites such as Desperado, Take It Easy, Lyin’ Eyes and Take It To The Limit.

Formed in Los Angeles in 1971, The Eagles are one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 150 million records.


March 5, 2019

Comments Off on Back from the brink: how to lose 207kg

Back from the brink: how to lose 207kg

TRANSFORMER: The transformation of Jordan Tirekidis who lost more than 200 kilograms.Source: South Coast Register
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JORDAN Tirekidis lost 207 kilograms and with it the title of Australia’s fattest man.

He had a severe food addiction that was killing him and about three years ago decided to turn his life around.

On a bad day Mr Tirekidis would eat up to 20 hash browns and four coffees for breakfast, four to eight burgers with fries and several colas for lunch. Afternoon tea was often 16 cakes. On the way home after a family dinner he would consume four Hungry Jack meal deals followed by a late night snack of two family pizzas, a large cola and a dozen ice-creams.

Mr Tirekidis’ journey from being a morbidly obese 310 kilograms has resulted in him having a strong connection to the Shoalhaven on the New South Wales South Coast.

Mr Tirekidis is a Sydney resident but lived in the Shoalhaven while on his weight-loss journey.

He spent a lot of time with Nowra personal trainer Ivan Murray and hypnosis weight-loss specialist Mark Stephens from Milton.

Mr Stephens said discovering why Mr Tirekidis would eat as many as 13 burgers or 12 family blocks of chocolate in a single binge was crucial to helping him overcome his addiction.

“Food had become an anaesthetic for Jordan and getting to the underlying problems took time,” Mr Stephens said.

Mr Murray remembers their first exercise session.

“We started with 15-metre walks. His first session on a cross-trainer machine lasted 30 seconds,” Mr Murray said.

“We had to take it easy. We didn’t want Jordan getting hurt either by too much movement too fast or by breaking any machinery.

“It was pretty scary. He had a journey and a half ahead of him.”

Now with two thirds of his body weight gone, Mr Tirekidis is a new person and wants to help others get fit and healthy.

Mr Stephens documented the steps taken to help Mr Tirekidis shed more than 200 kilograms in a book titled, the Think Slim Diet.

The book will be launched in Nowra on Tuesday, March 17 at the Bomaderry Bowling Club from 6pm.