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Boomies celebrate minor premiership

MOREE Boomerangs celebrated a Group 19 minor premiership with their 48-30 top-of-the-table win over Glen Innes Magpies on Saturday.
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Armidale Ram Gary Quinlan on the attack in Saturday’s win over the Moree Boars. He and his team-mates have another big Group 19 clash in Glen Innes on Sunday.

However, the Chris Binge-coached Boomerangs can ill afford to relax after the injury-stricken Magpies, who had 15 players unavailable for Saturday’s match, staged a valiant rear-guard effort.

While Dillon Walford was electric again scoring two tries and Jason Saunders crossed for three, coach Binge said his side cannot take it easy.

“Glen turned up but didn’t have a full team, they’d already forfeited reserve grade, ” Binge said.

“It was a credit to them they did play and went the full 80 minutes. While we were never in trouble and played some good football, at stages they also played some good football too.

“We consolidated our half time lead (26-10) after half time. They did score some soft tries but I was pretty happy with that win.

“It was all we were after and I’d think Glen would be happy with their performance too.

“They gave it a good crack. They’ll go home and reassess.

“But the main thing is we’ve got the minor premiership and have a home major semi.”

He was also delighted with the form of fullback Dillon Walford, who crossed for two tries.

“He’s been a great find for the club,” he said.

“He played with Wee Waa last year and moved here this year. His partner’s family are from Moree.”

Madison Smith had another strong game at prop, Mundarra Weldon and Luke Raveneau also starred in the second row.

“Our six and seven also steered the side around really well too.”

Glen Innes captain-coach Sam Key said the injury crisis wasn’t as bad as it was being painted.

While there were 15 out “we had players away at the Brisbane Show and a few niggling injuries”.

“It was disappointing that we couldn’t get the numbers but all in all to go out there, finish the game with 12 and only get beaten by 18 was pretty good.

“I think that might have helped us turn the corner. It was a game we needed to re-energise everyone for the run in to the semis.”

He thought backrower, Jock Waters, who scored two tries and kicked three goals was outstanding.

“Everytime he touched the ball he left a wake of Boomies behind him. He was awesome,” Key said.

“But we should be right this week and have everybody back on deck for a big game against Armidale at home.

“They’ll be tough after their big win (56-24 over Moree Boars). It’s a bit of redemption for us too. They beat us by a point last time.”

Rams president Terry Carson is looking forward to Sunday’s clash too.

“It’s going to be a big game up there,” Carson said.

“Second spot is still open if we can knock them off.”

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Jet-ski hoons a headache in Helensburgh

Helensburgh’s Gymea Glade duck pond, where hoons rode a jet-ski in the early hours of Sunday. Picture: ADAM McLEANThey headed out in darkness to a duck pond with a jet-ski, hoping to have a quacking good time. But a group of young men have raised the ire of Helensburgh residents, who have labelled the stunt “stupid” and “disrespectful”.
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Several residents living near Helensburgh’s Gymea Glade duck pond and park awoke around 3am on Sunday to the sound of a motor turning over.

Outside, they saw a jet-ski lapping the shallow suburban pond and a group of laughing men.

Resident John Hill took to a Helensburgh community Facebook page to complain about the prank, which he said was inconsiderate and disappointing.

“Not only was it an outrageously anti-social act because of the noise, but for those of you who take your kids there to feed the ducks, imagine how these dropkicks terrorised the large numbers of water birds that live there,” he wrote.

“If you own this goose, if he is your son, or brother or God forbid your husband, tell him to wake up to himself.”

The group, who used a large ute to tow the jet-ski through the parkand launch it into the pond, rode the watercraft for more than 30minutes.

Residents said they often found alcohol bottles and litter left overfrom late-night parties in the park.

Ward 1 councillor Greg Petty said he planned to act on complaints he received about the incident and that he was fed up with antisocial behaviour in the northern suburbs community.

“As a resident myself I’m seeing it far to often – the antisocial behaviour, the alcohol-fuelled violence and stupidity. I don’t understand people who seem to think it’s acceptable behaviour,” Cr Petty said. “The saddest thing is people on the Facebook site appear to be condoning such outrageous behaviour.”

Some commenters on the Helensburgh Cheersandjeers page laughed and commended the stunt, while others such as an Otford environmentalist raised concerns about the safety of wildlife at the pond.

“Since the pond was constructed to control stormwater and debris from entering the Hacking River, it’s also become home to native grey teal ducks and other native birds,” NatashaWatson, a WIRES volunteer, said.

“I know ‘men will be boys’ but have some consideration for the neighbourhood and environment.”

Neighbourhood Forum 1 co-convener Warwick Erwin said he would raise the incident with police.

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Heritage rules scrapped for Millers Point buyers

Great history: John Arnol at work on a Millers Point home. Photo: Tamara DeanINTERACTIVE SPECIAL: MILLERS POINT, A COMMUNITY UNDER THE HAMMER
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The NSW government has scrapped strict heritage rules for buyers of historic homes at Millers Point, undermining claims the public housing sell-off will revive the neglected harbourside suburb.

Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore and the National Trust have condemned the decision, which has raised fears the heritage-listed homes will not be properly restored, and left idle for years before being redeveloped or sold.

The government is selling 293 properties at Millers Point and The Rocks,evicting about 600 public housing tenants and potentially earning hundreds of millions of dollars in sales proceeds.

In 2008 under the previous Labor government, 29 Millers Point properties were sold on 99-year leases. Owners were legally obliged to carry out conservation work within two years, plus further work in the medium and long term.

Owners paid a heritage bond – in some cases believed to be up to $175,000 – to guarantee work was properly completed. Approved heritage professionals were required to design and certify work, and compliance checks were conducted.

However, home buyers under the Coalition government will be relieved of such stringent obligations.

A “heritage handbook” sent to prospective buyers says no repair work is required as a condition of purchase, aside from basic maintenance such as ensuring the property is watertight.

No bond will be required,and the use of heritage-qualified professionals to oversee the work is recommended, not mandatory.

In Parliament last week, Liberal MP Barry O’Farrell, who was premier when the Millers Point sell-off was announced,said claims that heritage at Millers Point was at risk were “outrageous and false”.

“We know that [homes] will be better maintained, restored and preserved,” he said, accusing critics of “hysteria”.

Cr Moore said the eviction of residents threatened the social significance of Millers Point, and the government was now “washing their hands of responsibility” for built heritage.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said the relaxed rules may lead to “land banking”, whereby “people just buy a property so they’ve got the asset, and then they leave it”.

National Trust NSW chief executive Brian Scarsbrick was concerned that “individual houses will be aggregated into large modern redevelopments and, even with some token facade conservation, the real heritage values of Millers Point will not survive”.

A Department of Family and Community Services spokeswoman said conservation plans for each property will recommend a “maintenance schedule”, and authorities such as the City of Sydney may require that heritage professionals be hired.

Fairfax Media has also learnt the government also plans to offer current owners on 99-year leases a conversion to freehold titles, in exchange for payment. The plan would give state authorities less control over the properties than lease arrangements.

John McInerney, who bought a Millers Point home under a 99-year lease, said restoring a heritage property could be difficult, and removing legal obligations meant “the heritage of the area will suffer in the long run”.

Public housing tenant John Arnold, who has done maintenance on several properties, said many were badly rundown but “working on these old heritage places … you can quite often stumble across some great history”.

With Leesha McKenny

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Tim Watson calls ASADA’s bluff

Tim Watson: “There has been a lot of bluff, a lot of creation of narrative that has taken place right through this last 18 months.” Photo: Wayne TaylorTim Watson has called ASADA’s bluff, questioning whether the anti-doping body would launch a second investigation into the Bombers’ supplements program and re-issue “show-cause” notices to 34 players if they did not win the Federal Court case that began on Monday .
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The former Essendon great, who has been a regular voice on developments due to his media commitments, spoke out again on Monday night, labelling the offer of reduced suspensions and the issuing of “show-cause” notices to former and current players as a “fishing expedition” by ASADA.

Lawyers for ASADA reiterated their “absolute” intention in the Federal Court on Monday to re-open the case against some Essendon officials and 34 players in the event the judge ruled the original joint investigation between ASADA and the AFL was unlawful.

ASADA lawyers did so having been asked directly by Judge John Middleton.

On Channel Seven, Watson was asked how he felt about the possibility of his son, Essendon captain Jobe, and teammates being put through the stress of another investigation. He responded by casting doubt on ASADA’s intention to do so.

“There has been a lot of times throughout all this where I’m not quite sure what to believe,” Watson said on Talking Foot.

“There has been a lot of bluff, a lot of creation of narrative that has taken place right through this last 18 months.

“So in regard to [a second investigation], I’m not sure that’s the case. I think there’s a bit of a fishing expedition that has already gone on – which is the 34 show-cause notices and the fact that they have been offered a six-month penalty that they could have served in the off-season.

“Now, if you’ve seriously got some evidence against a group of players, why would the penalty be so soft? If that’s your opening penalty, why would it be so soft?

“I’m not sure that this is anything more than a fishing expedition on behalf of ASADA, but this will play out.

“The whole reason Essendon took this [Federal Court] action was because they did not want this to be prolonged.

“Now, if ASADA are saying that, and let’s believe that’s what they are going to do [launch another investigation], it will just mean that they go to the next course of action – which means this drags on for another six, 12, 18 months.”

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Beverly Knight denies challenge to Essendon board

Trail-blazing AFL club director Beverly Knight has assured Essendon she has no intention of mounting a challenge against the Bombers’ board.
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And Knight has denied a report she had been approached to form a ticket against Paul Little and his directors.

Another former club director, James Demetriou, has told colleagues he was not challenging Little and had not been approached to form a ticket.

With Essendon challenging the legality of the ASADA-AFL investigation into the club’s supplements program of 2011-12 and facing mounting legal costs and contractual payouts, rumours of a board challenge with the involvement of various factions have been circling since the end of last season.

However, Knight – the game’s first woman board member who was an Essendon director for 17 years – said she was not involved.

She said she been contacted by some members about 18 months ago about returning to the club early last year, roughly the time the Bombers’ supplements scandal became public.

”I have no thoughts about going back,” said Knight, ”and there is nothing I dislike more than former directors getting involved.

”It was fantastic when I was there and I gave 100 per cent, but now I’m out of it. These days I go to the football with my family as a supporter.

”Once I made the decision that was it.”

Knight pointed out that she had overseen the rewriting of the club’s constitution, which restructured the Essendon board to be made up of just six elected directors and three appointed committee members.

Knight herself gave the club two years’ notice and nominated Little to succeed her when she stepped down in 2011.

She contacted the club on Friday to assure the Bombers she was not involved in any challenge.

Demetriou, a former Essendon player, company director and brother of Andrew Demetriou, briefly sat on the Essendon board and, with Knight, worked closely on the Bombers’ governance committee.

Under the revised constitution, appointed directors can serve just two three-year terms.

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Police career on hold for Canberra Raiders fullback Jordan Rapana

Canberra Raiders comeback kid Jordan Rapana has revealed he was ready to quit the game and join the police force before playing his first NRL game in six years.
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Frustrated at being unable to crack the side, Rapana was so close to giving up he asked Raiders football manager John Bonasera three weeks ago how to enrol to be a police officer.

He was resigned to chasing crooks instead of his rugby league dream, but is thanking his lucky stars he changed his mind.

In an inspirational tale of persistence, Rapana was given a career lifeline by coach Ricky Stuart, who handed him a one-year contract even before he stepped out of the NRL wilderness against Parramatta on Saturday night.

The 23-year-old played five games for Gold Coast in 2008 before leaving for a two-year Mormon mission, and had an unsuccessful stint in rugby union.

Rapana isn’t in Canberra’s top 25 squad and has done everything from bar tending, cutting hair and waiting tables to make ends meet.

“There was definitely days when I felt like giving up,” Rapana said.

“Even three weeks ago I was asking JB, our manager, how to enrol to be a police officer.

“I was pretty close to giving footy up, but it shows hard work and persistence pays off.

“It was always something I wanted to do as a kid, my dad and my uncles were cops.

“I was thinking of giving up footy professionally, but I’d still play somewhere local like Woden.”

Rapana said he didn’t want to think ”What if?” a decade on, and regret not giving league his best possible crack.

“The first thing he [Bonasera] said was don’t give up yet, you’ve still got a few more games left in the season,” Rapana said.

“He told me to keep my head in the footy scene and work hard.

“When I look back in 10 years time it will be a story to tell. I was two or three weeks off literally giving up rugby.

“I’ve been around and had a few jobs, but I look at it as a positive.

“It’s taught me about work ethic and dedication, which has helped me in the long run.”

Rapana was impressive at fullback in Canberra’s 18-10 loss to the Eels in Darwin, with his aggressive hole running the highlight.

He said Stuart’s faith in giving him a new contract before he had even played an NRL game for the Raiders was the show of belief he needed.

“That gave me a lot of confidence,” he said.

“I actually don’t think Ricky even knows about it. It was a personal moment with me and JB.

“I was happy with how I went [against the Eels], there was a few  bombs I had a nightmare with but apart from that I went all right.

”I’ve been out of the game for many years so I’ve got a lot to work on to get where I need to be.”

SATURDAY NRL round 22: Canberra Raiders v St George Illawarra Dragons at Canberra Stadium, 3pm. TV: Live on Fox Sports 1.

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Eighteen months and James Hird still doesn’t get it

James Hird, true to the whisperings of his camp for more than 15 months, did not really believe he was responsible for his football department or his players. Nor did Hird believe the club was genuinely self-reporting when it fronted the public in February last year and admitted its nasty and dangerous problem.
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In fact the Essendon coach fronted the media  alongside his fellow club chiefs and former colleagues David Evans and Ian Robson only because Gillon McLachlan suggested he should do so “for the look of the club and my reputation”. He finally agreed to sign a deal with the AFL “under duress, threats and inducements”. He was told by Evans, his former close friend, to omit evidence when being interviewed by ASADA and in fact was unwilling to be interviewed by the anti-doping body at all.

So the key question at some point for Hird is just what exactly was he responsible for? What did he truly stand for while he claimed to be acting only in the best interests of his players and at what point during this entire sorry saga did he actually think and act on his own behalf? If his apology behind closed doors to the AFL Commission was insincere then how can his club truly move forward with Hird at the helm?

As the Federal Court and Justice John Middleton continue to deliberate over the legality of the joint investigation carried out into Essendon by ASADA and the AFL it was also suggested in evidence on Monday that the Australian anti-doping body would simply re-issue show-cause notices to 34 Essendon players whether or not the work they have done already was valid. If that is correct the tactic by Essendon will serve to expose the inadequacies of last year’s processes but do nothing to save its players.

It has also served to devalue the reputation of the AFL and its past and present chiefs but there again the AFL remains certain it has broken no laws. The AFL has always disputed it definitively knew that Essendon was the club at the centre of doping allegations after it was briefed by the Australian Crime Commission. Both Andrew Demetriou and Gillon McLachlan have always stressed this despite having the strongest of suspicions that the Bombers were the club.

It is understood that both the current boss McLachlan and his predecessor still deny they left the meeting on January 31, 2013 with a definite answer and there is even genuine dispute as to whether the ACC’s director of operations, Paul Jevtovic, actually uttered the words “say no more” after McLachlan asked: “Is it Essendon.” The AFL Commission’s version of events is that the ACC refused to confirm the club involved.

Nonetheless it remains unfortunate that Demetriou chose the words he did when denying last year that he had tipped off David Evans. No one, except perhaps Hird, would have had a problem with an AFL chief giving counsel to a distressed club chairman concerned that his players were in trouble. Demetriou should have admitted he believed the club was Essendon and Evans, if Hird is telling the truth, should never have told the coach to hide anything from ASADA.

Not that the process changes the bottom line in this seemingly never-ending story. And that finally is the question of what the players took, or were given as they worked in this  “pharmaceutically experimental environment’’.

On Tuesday, when Hird takes the stand again and continues to point the finger at an investigation he allowed himself to enter into, the AFL will again be forced to roll with his well-aimed punches.

It has not been a happy few days for the AFL, ASADA and the departed Gillard government. That a government was so concerned about the look of the process – and ASADA so incompetent in its willingness to make deals – should be a matter of concern to a sport-loving nation.

The AFL  will do things differently next time and so they should. But it remains less and less likely that Hird will get the chance to redeem himself.

Hird knows that when he returns to Essendon later this month he will be doing so under the guidance of a board that remains divided as to whether he should be allowed to return or not. Judging by his performance on day one of the Federal Court deliberations he certainly doesn’t deserve that chance.

During his evidence expected to be put forward under examination on Tuesday by his own legal team, perhaps Hird will finally and unreservedly apologise for the damage his regime has done to his club. Then again perhaps not.

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Funding boost for veterans’ support service

EX-service organisations working with south-west veterans have been boosted with almost $4 million of restored government funding.
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Overall 141 organisations will share in a total of nearly $3.8 million (GST exclusive) in funding allocated in the restored Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) grants program, including $6250 for Warrnambool’s South West Veterans Centre.

Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the grant would assist the largely voluntary ex-service organisation workforce to help the local veteran and defence communities, and their families, access Department of Veterans’ Affairs entitlements and services.

“This funding will help the South West Veterans Centre continue their good work with local veterans and I congratulate them for their ongoing commitment to the local veteran community,” Mr Tehan said.

He said the funding included an additional $1 million reinstated as part of the 2014-2015 budget.

“The Abbott government has restored advocacy and support funding for the veteran community which was cut by Labor.

“The 2014-15 budget provides an additional $1 million per year to the Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) program over the forward estimates. This funding will support the work of veterans’ advocates in helping veterans, war widows and widowers to access important information and services.

“The additional funding will support the work of veterans’ advocates, welfare and pension officers right across the country and provide them with greater certainty into the future.”

For more information on DVA grants visit www.dva.gov.au/grants or call 1800 555 254.

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Wagga taxi zones need to be justified: mayor

Despite having “no qualms” about the provision of adequate taxi drop-off and pick-up zones, Wagga mayor Rod Kendall told council’s recent meeting on numerous occasions the proposal needed to be looked at in-depth before any changes were made. WAGGA CITY COUNCIL
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THE mayor’s motor was running on Monday nightas he put his foot down during debate over taxi pick-up and drop-off zones.

Wagga City Council’s policy and strategy committee meeting was told the six-month trial of the Baylis Street zones – which gave taxis and community transport vehicles a three-minute limit to assist passengers – had been a success.

A report to the meeting suggested one zone be made permanent, with the potential for others in every block between Morgan and Morrow streets.

Despite having “no qualms” about the provision of adequate zones, mayor Rod Kendall stressed on numerous occasions the proposal needed to be looked at in-depth before any changes were made.

Councillor Kendall said a letter from Wagga Radio Cabs Co-operative Society Limited wasn’t indicative of “a need”.

“I just question whether or not this is just trying to appease, I guess, a noise that’s been made or whether it has actually been adequately analysed in every sense,” Cr Kendall said.

“I don’t see … any analysis of the need or otherwise to do what’s intended.

“We’ve heard before that there are a very, very significant number of loading zones (for taxis to use).

“We’ve also heard that there is a scarcity of parking, yet we’re going to dedicate, again, an area for taxis that may or may not be used.”

The recommendation was altered to ensure “further detailed analysis of utilisation rates and unmet demand” was considered in a report to be tabled at the November traffic committee meeting.

Councillor Garry Hiscock said the issue had been debated for years and immediate action was needed.

“We can’t go back and just keep procrastinating with this, this is modern times,” Cr Hiscock said.

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Preparing for new P&C federation

“I am very pleased to see the restoration of the federation.”: Adrian Piccoli.NOMINATIONS have opened for the election of a new state federationfor schools’ parents and citizensassociations.
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It comes after education minister Adrian Piccoli took the extraordinary step in May of introducing legislation to dissolve the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations, saying he had been given no choice after continued “warring” within the group.

Mr Piccoli said the organisation had been given years to sort out its internal problems, which included both Lyall Wilkinson and Sharryn Brownlee claiming presidency of the federation.

Mr Piccoli appointed an administrator to take charge of restoring the federation, “both as a representative voice for parents, and also as an importantservice provider to school-based P&C associations”.

“I am delighted at the progress Mr Payne has made in reconstituting the organisation and I am confident that the federation will be serving its members autonomously and effectively by the time the period of administration ends in late 2014,” he said.

“I am also delighted that, despite any disruption at the federation, school-based P&Cs have continued their fine efforts to support schools and students, raising extra funds and providing a valuable forum for community feedback.

“Strong, effective parental engagement is one of the essential building blocks of a successful education system so I am very pleased to see the restoration of the federation, which has played an important role since it was established more than 90 years ago.”

Nominations for councillors and delegates for the reformed federation are now open until August 29, with one councillor and two delegates to be elected from each of the 16 new regions – including New England – established under the legislation introduced by Mr Piccoli in May.

Once a new governing body is elected, it will then select a seven-memberexecutive committee to be responsible for the day-to-day running of thefederation.

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