Bennell injures leg in latest AFL setback

Fremantle midfielder Harley Bennell, pictured for the Suns, has hit another injury setback (File).A minor calf tear has again put troubled Fremantle midfielder Harley Bennell’s AFL career on ice – again.
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The Dockers say the latest injury on the 25-year-old’s left leg is in an area unrelated to a previous injury.

The grade one tear occurred while he was with WAFL team Peel, where the midfielder was banished in mid-January for a scuffle at a Perth nightclub and drinking excessively the day before a training session.

He was also fined $15,000 – a third of which was suspended.

At the time, Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe said Bennell would have to “fight for his career” during his eight weeks at the state league club.

The 2010 draft’s No.2 pick has played two games in two years for the club after spending five years at the Gold Coast Suns.

It had been hoped the move west would see an end to the off-field troubles that plagued his time at the Suns.

But in April, he was ejected from a Gold Coast-bound flight before it departed because he was intoxicated.

The club also ordered him to undergo counselling and fined him $10,000 – half of which was suspended – after bizarre behaviour while watching a WAFL game in 2017.

The 24-year-old interrupted the three-quarter-time huddle of a match involving the Dockers’ WAFL-affiliate Peel Thunder to speak to his cousin Traye Bennell.

In May 2015, the Suns dropped Bennell from their team after he drank alcohol after a game, breaking a team rule.

And in July 2015, pictures of Bennell allegedly preparing to snort an illicit substance were published.

The Suns traded Bennell after he was involved in a drunken altercation in September 2015 on the Gold Coast.

Australian Associated Press

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“It is not good enough, only 20 per cent of concussions are diagnosed”

A SET of statewide guidelines for managing concussion in community sport competitions has been launched amid concerns only two out of 10 concussions at a local sportlevel are diagnosed.
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The NSW government has provided a $78,350 grant to Sports Medicine Australia to develop the guidelines and run awareness workshops in communities across the state.

“There is nothing tough about playing with a concussion,” Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres said, announcing the initiative,on Friday.

RELATED:Newcastle rugby referees face concussion test

“I encourage players, sports officials and parents to remember the three ‘Rs’– recognise the symptoms, remove from play and refer to a medical professional.”

Mr Ayres said there needed to be a culture shift around the idea that players soldier on after a sporting incident.

“It is not good enough that only 20 per centof concussions are diagnosed in local sport and I hope these new guidelines will help trigger a sector-wide culture shift,” he said.

A series of more than 30 community workshops start next week and will be run by University of Newcastle clinical neuropsychologistDr Andrew Gardner.

The workshops will provide hands-on guidance and advice taken directly from the concussion protocols, which were developed by a panel of experts, including Dr Gardner.

In announcing the guidelines and workshops, Mr Ayres said it was vital that junior sporting groups understood what to look for when it came to possible concussion following incidents.

“We are proud to have partnered with Sports Medicine Australia to develop a recommended code of practice to assist sporting codes, parents, players and trainers in NSW in recognising the early signs of a head injury,” Mr Ayres said.

“We also need to protect junior athletes.

“We know that children and adolescents can have increased susceptibility to concussion and can take longer to recover.

“They may also be at risk of severe consequences such as second impact syndrome.”

RELATED:Hunter doctor’s work with concussion in sport draws strong support

Sportts Medicine Australia board chairman Dr Andrew Jowett said the protocols recommend appointing a designated person at a local level to implement the guidelines.

“The guidelines cover all major concussion concerns, including understanding and recognising what concussion is, managing a suspected concussion and returning to sport safely,” Dr Jowett said.

The free workshops will be held across the state during the first half of the year.

The community workshops will be in Newcastle on February 20 and March 1, and in Cessnock on February 21.

More information can be found at:梧桐夜网sport.nsw.gov419论坛/concussion

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Murray Goulburn suitor questions $1-a-litre milk

The Canadian businessman leading the push to buy the Australian processor Murray Goulburn, Lino Saputo jnr, has questioned the sale of fresh milk for $1 a litre, telling a dairy conference, “I just don’t see how $1 milk could be viable.”
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He also told hundreds of people in the dairy industry his reaction to seeing milk selling at $1 a litre.

“As a consumer, when I walk into the retail outlet and I see that water is sold at $3 a litre, and milk is sold at $1 a litre, I think there is an imbalance there,” he said.

Lino Saputo Junior. Photo: Rob Gunstone

Mr Saputo made the comments on $1-per-litre milk in response to a question about what Saputo’s attitude would be on current Murray Goulburn liquid milk contracts.

Murray Goulburn, the dairy co-operative that Saputo wants to buy, has a contract to supply milk to Coles that the supermarket giant sells for $1 a litre.

Ever since $1-per-litre milk was introduced by the supermarket chains a few years ago, the product has been very popular with consumers, but has angered dairy farmers.

Mr Saputo said Saputo was “not privy” to MG’s contracts, and added that he wouldn’t like to say that he was for or against $1 per litre milk, “because I don’t know the economics of it”.

He also stressed that if Saputo became the new owner of Murray Goulburn, it would honour all contracts it had signed.

A spokesman for Coles declined to respond to Mr Saputo’s comments.

In a wide-ranging address to the Australian Dairy Conference,Mr Saputo discussed the early history of the Saputo dairy company set up by his family in Canada in 1954, its global growth, and the attractiveness of the Australian dairy industry.

Mr Saputo, who is the company’s chief executive and chairman, said his company heard repeatedly of Australia’s high-quality dairy produce.

“Australia has a reputation for high-quality [dairy] solids,”he said.

“Australia is a key dairy-producing country, high quality at a competitive price. So the infrastructure was here … And Australia also had the capability to supply the international markets, because there was excess production.

“So it was inevitable for us, ultimately, to consider Australia as an important platform for Saputo, in our ambitions to be a global dairy player.”

In 2017 Murray Goulburn revealed it had agreed to sell its operations to Saputo, in a $1.31 billion deal. The proposed deal is subject to regulatory approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board.

To go ahead the deal would also need the backing of 50 per cent plus one of the farmers who supply MG with milk.

In an interview with Fairfax Media after the conference, when asked whether he believed farmers would back the deal, Mr Saputo said: “I think so, based on the feedback that we got when we did the supplier meetings back in November. I think the support for Saputo buying the MG assets there was very, very strong.”

He also said: “We’re not here to destroy markets. We like to build markets, we like to build good strong infrastructure for all stakeholders in the dairy space.”

Mr Saputo said his company was very excited about the proposed deal.

“We’re hoping it happens sooner rather than later, because there are a lot of people involved in MG that really have an uncertain future right now. We’d like this deal to close as quickly as possible, so that we can give them some certainty for the future,” he said.


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Vic ANZ manager jailed for $300k theft

An ANZ manager has been jailed for stealing more than $300,000 from the bank.Even though she was already a highly-paid senior manager at ANZ, Tracey Lee Cook embezzled more than $300,000 from the bank for “personal lifestyle reasons”, including buying a car and jet ski.
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The Melbourne mother-of-two will spend at least 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to making 14 fraudulent deposits to accounts in her husband’s name between December 2014 and July 2016.

The County Court of Victoria was told on Friday that Cook, 44, was in charge of a department dealing with dishonoured and missing cheques, overseeing a team of 162 staff nationally and that her stealing was “entirely for personal lifestyle reasons”.

Over 17 months, the mum of two teenage girls used her staff, who trustingly followed her requests without question, to make the fraudulent deposits.

When quizzed about a suspicious transfer of some $4000, Cook was able to bluff her way out. But when pulled up on a subsequent deposit of $29,000, she came clean.

Cook used the stolen $311,529 to buy a jet ski, a car for her husband, to make payments on her investment property, to pay for general household bills and to pay her husband’s tax obligations.

This was despite the couple already earning a combined income of more than $450,000 a year.

“You said your family was living a lie they did not have to live,” Judge Trevor Wraight said.

“You were in a trusted position as an employee and manager.”

Cook earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

She made full admissions during investigations by both police and the bank, becoming “distraught and crying” when questioned.

Two days after she was sacked, Cook repaid the money to ANZ – more than $262,000 once her long-service leave payment was deducted from the overall total.

Judge Wraight said her moral culpability was high, but the fact she repaid the money was of “considerable weight” in determining her sentence.

Cook attempted to avoid jail, arguing her family unit should not be broken up, particularly as her 17-year-old daughter was in her final year of school.

She was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, and must serve at least 15 months before being eligible for parole.

Australian Associated Press

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Sally Pearson set to fire on home soil

Sally Pearson of Australia will be the star turn at Carrara Stadium several times.Sally Pearson will take centre stage at Carrara Stadium for the first time on Saturday night.
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It promises to be the first of many times over the next couple of months.

Pearson will be the unbackable favourite at the Australian Commonwealth Games trials in the 100m hurdles, with the heats and final both scheduled for Saturday evening.

The 31-year-old has already bettered the qualifying standard a dozen times – most notably when she clocked 12.48 seconds last August in London to win a second world title to sit alongside her 2012 Olympic crown.

Pearson is also the two-time defending Commonwealth champion, but the 2018 Games shape as an extra-special occasion as they are hosted by her hometown.

“There’s obviously more pressure because people are coming to watch you race and everyone is really, really excited and can’t wait to get there,” Pearson said.

“You have that, but at the same time, as the athlete, you’re just going in there, you’re not really focusing on the fact that you’re in your home country or in your hometown.

“You’re trying to focus on the job at hand.”

Brianna Beahan and Michelle Jenneke are best placed to claim the maximum two other spots on offer in the Australian squad in the 100m hurdles – but in reality they are racing for second spot at best.

Pearson is set to to compete in two events at the April 4-15 Games, having also made herself available for the 4x100m relay for the first time in several years.

She has always been an accomplished flat sprinter, as proved by a flying time of 11.17 last December, much quicker than any of the Australian 100m specialists have gone during the qualifying period.

The relay squad would likely also include national record holder Melissa Breen and rising star Riley Day.

“It would be fantastic,” said Pearson.

“I haven’t done relays for a long time now.

“I think the last time we had a team was in 2011 at the world championships.

“There’s a lot of new girls. This time will be great, to get another chance to step out into the stadium in front of your home crowd is always a thrill.”

Pearson has already been told that she will be running one of the final legs of the Queen’s Baton Relay on April 4 and would also jump at the chance to play a role in the opening ceremony if asked.

I’d definitely love to be a part of what they have going on but it depends on what they think is right,” she said.

“I’m definitely going to the opening ceremony, so if they want me to do an extra job, then I’ll be there.”

Australian Associated Press

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Increased national interest in East End assets

Increased national interest in East End assets UNIQUE OFFERING: 48 Watt Street is set to hit the market and joins a growing list of East End assets being sold.
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BIG ASSET: Side-by-side buildings at 51-55 and 61 Bolton Street were bought last year by a Sydney-based property management company for $20.6 million.

INVESTMENT: There was strong enquiry for this building on the corner of Watt and King Street, which has an R4 high density residential zoning.

LANDMARK: This building on the corner of Watt and Church streets was bought by local purchasers who intend to make it a residential home.

PRIME LOCATION: This building on the corner of Church and Watt streets has been vacant for the past 10 years and was previously used as office space.

TweetFacebook East End assets gain national interestAS 12 proposals for Newcastle’s dilapidated post officeare being considered, another historic site in the city’s East End isset to hit the market.

Colliers International national director Adam Leacy, who is working with the Awabakal Land Council on the sale of the post office, will market 48 Watt Street.

The former church was built in 1905 and is being used as a function centre, bar and live entertainment venue.

Mr Leacysaid there was no question that interest would be strong and would come from across the country, continuing a trend ofcity sitesproving increasinglysought-after real estate.

“This building isleased through until October 2022 and it’s got endless opportunity,” Mr Leacy said.

“That’s because it’s future use could be residentialdevelopment. It is zoned R4 high density residential.

“It will be national interest;interest is always coming from nationally now. That’s probably been thelast 18 months to two years and it’s increasing.”

He said events like Supercars as well as infrastructure investment was bringing renewed interest tothe city, and its real estate.

“The new driver for the EastEnd of Newcastle is outside interest in the city and it’s about affordability in the centre of town and closeto the beach, whether it be commercial or residential,in my opinion,” Mr Leacy said.

“Big business has come to town and people are following on the back of the infrastructure investment into Newcastle and the region.

“When you look at the assets, each has a different attribute, and the properties we’ve sold each offer different opportunities and that is why campaigns have been so successful.

“There are different buyer profiles andthere’s confidence in people investing capital into older assets in the East End.”

Buildings in Church Street and Watt Street attracted around 145 enquiries collectively before both sold at auction in December.

The building at 35-37 Watt Street, which hasan approved 17-room boarding house, sold for $2.685 million to a local investor.

The other building on the corner of Church and Watt streets, at 6-8 Church Street, soldfor $2.01 million.

It had previously been used as commercial office space but has been vacant for the past decade. The local purchasers are believed to intend to restore the building for use as a residential home.

Twelve months ago, Double Bay-based property management company Eagle Property Group purchased side-by-side sites at 51-55 Bolton Street and 61 Bolton Street for $20.6 million.

One has a long-term tenant in the Federal Court of Australia while the other has been repositionedand is now being marketed for commercial use.

The managing director of Eagle Property Group, Lawrence Kopping, said when investing they choose a location“that will perform well in the future”.

“We felt Newcastle had more to offer than was being recognised,” Mr Kopping said.

“We felt that particular area of Newcastle would benefit from state infrastructure spend and the generational shift taking place and people into the future will tend to like to live in lifestyle precincts which allow them to work, play and eat, et cetera.”

Two other key sites in Newcastle were brought to market in the past week.

Expressions of interest have opened for the site of NBN television building, which was rezoned by Newcastle City Council in October to allow a seven-storey residential toweron the site at 11-17 Mosbri Crescent.

Council opened expressions of interest for Shepherds Hill Cottage at the top of King Edward Park on Wednesday.

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Robert Dillon: Sporting Declaration

YOU’D have thought the NRL had more pressing issues.
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Here we are,pre-season trials already under way and only a few weeks until round one of the competitionkicks off, and suddenly it dawns on those occupying the corridors of power that perhaps it might be time to produce something tojustifytheir lucrativesalaries.

So a new policy is introduced, albeit not quite as momentous as theno-bonking ban Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has imposed onthe contituents of Parliament House.

In a puzzlingdevelopment, the NRL has instructed its referees to crack down on sloppy play-the-balls.

As the Knights and Storm discovered during last week’s trial at AAMI Park, the men with the whistles will no longer tolerate the trend of recent seasons, whereby tackled players simply roll the ball between their legs to the dummy-half, rather than propelling it backwards with their foot, as the laws of the game stipulate.

Newcastleconceded nine penalties, Melbournefive.

After a quick gaze into the crystal ball, Sporting Declaration is going to make the following bold forecast.

During the opening rounds of the season, there will be a rash of penalties as the refs strive to enforce the new directive.

The penalties will occur at the most infuriating of times –when your team is in possession and setting up for a tryscoring opportunity.

Moreover, there will be a procession of fumbles and knock-ons from clumsy front-rowersunaccustomed to the subtle skill of playing the ball with their feet.

Meanwhile,attacking teams, already struggling to make inroads against defenders with ingrained wrestling techniques, will find it even harder to generate any ruck speed.

Inevitably, pressure will mount until a coach erupts at a press conference after a narrow loss, pointing out that for all the penalties awarded for dodgy play-the-balls, the refs missed another dozen infringements that were equally glaring.

The controversywill be fodder for various media outlets duringthe following week before the powers-that-be, licking their wounds, accept discretion is the better part of valour and secretly instructthe referees to back down.

PLEASE EXPLAIN: NRL players, coaches and fans are likely to grow frustrated quickly if the referees proceed with a proposed crackdown on play-the-balls. Picture: AAP

All of which will leave us with a sense of deja vu and serve as a reminder that, while the rules do state that tackled players should use their feet to play the ball, it’s not exactly one of the code’s greatest dilemmas.

When, for example, did you last watch a game and find yourself enthralled and uplifted by the sheer quality of the play-the-balls?

It all strikes me as a waste of time and effort that could easily create more problems thanit solves.

Meanwhile, there are myriad other burning issues that seem perenniallyconsigned to the NRL’s too-hard basket.

Take the game’s finances, for instance.

It was only last week that NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg revealedthe code had posted a $3.7 million loss for 2017. That’s the ruling body, mind you, not the 16 clubs, who lost tens of millions between them.

Greenberg was confident that the new $2 billion, five-yearTV deal would “see the game return to a strong surplus position” within 12 months. But wasn’t that the expectationfive years ago, when they signed a $1 billion broadcasting contract?

Once Greenberg has transformed the NRL from a commercial black hole into a licence to print money, he can perhaps turn his attention to the fiasco known as third-party sponsorships.

At what point will the NRL stop treating fans with contempt by pretending that, because there is a salary cap, all clubs are competing on a level playing field?

The least they can do is to publicise the amount each club reapsin third-party income. That way everyoneknows which clubs are advantaged or disdvantaged, and hopefully there will be less need for brown-paper bags, delivered under the table.

Next on the list of quick fixes would surely be the much-maligned video-refereeing “bunker”.

The bunker will never be perfect, but the secret is surely to minimise its involvement by introducing the captain’s call.

The NRL did, admittedly, trial the captain’s call in the last-round game between St George Illawarra and Newcastle in 2016.

Ten tries were scored, and not one was referred to the bunker. The game flowed, everyone went home happy, yet for whatever reason the experiment was not repeated. Go figure.

Capping off the quandaries the NRL would prefer did not exist is the ticking time bombknown as concussion, which has already had a landmark impact in American football.

When will the NRL show enoughsense to err on the side of caution and introduce mandatory stand-down policies, avoiding instances like last season, when Broncos winger Cory Oates was stretcheredfrom the field unconsciousin the play-off against Penrith, then backed up to play a week later against Melbourne?

If he was a boxer, there is noway he would have been allowed back in the ring so soon.

Addressing any of the aforementioned matterswould have assured this columnist that NRL officials havea strategic plan and the game’s future is in safe hands.

But a clampdown on play-the-balls …is that the best they can come up with?

Clearly they haven’t been paying much attention to the scrums.

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Lees looks for Clearly Innocent to step up

NEW DIRECTION: Clearly Innocent with Lees Racing foreman Mal Ollerton. Picture: Simone De PeakKRIS Lees has already taken Clearly Innocent from a country champion to group 1 glory in one preparation.
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Now the premier Newcastle trainerhopesto take the six-year-old gelding from the world’s richest sprint race to a Doncaster Mile.

Clearly Innocent will resume at Randwick on Saturday in the group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200 metres) and isone of seven black-type runners for Lees.

The 2016 Country Championships winner over 1400m for then Scone-based trainer Greg Bennett, Clearly Innocent won at group 1 level for Lees in May 2017 over 1300m in the Kingsford Smith Cup at Eagle Farm.

Lees then targeted 1200m in a bid to secure a start in the inaugural $10 million The Everest, in which Clearly Innocentran eighth last October.Clearly Innocent followed that with fifth in the Darley Classic (1200m), but three months on, Lees is looking at building himtowards1600m and the $3 million Doncaster on April 7.

“He’scoming up really well and I think he will certainly improve off the run,” Lees said.“I’ve taken him along a lot steadier this time around.It’s been a different type of preparation and I hope to get him to a mile in time.”

Lees has pencilled in the group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) as Clearly Innocent’s second-up run.

Aide Memoire, a group 1 winner in New Zealand, is another Lees expects more of after Saturday.

The six-year-old mare, third in a trial at Gosford on January 31,will debut for Lees in the group 3 $150,000 Triscay Stakes (1200m) along with stablemates Zestful, which won the race last year,and Just Dreaming.

“She’d have a rough chance because she’s got ability, but you want to see her do it first,” Lees said.“I’ll reserve judgement until we see her race.She’s only had one soft trial so she’ll certainly improve off the run.

“Zestful seems to be coming up pretty well. She’ll just need a bit of luck from an awkward alley [in 14].I think Just Dreaming’s going to have a good preparation but this might be a bit of a challenge for her tomorrow from a wide gate [in 11], and 1200 metres is not really her go.”

Dual group 1 winner Prized Icon, second on debut for Lees in the Carrington Stakes, runs in the group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m).

“I think he’ll be most competitive,” he said. “There’s a little reservation staying at the 1400 because he’s probably looking for a touch further. But the horse is going well.”

Sasso Corbaro and Yulong Xingsheng will contest the group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m).

“Sasso Corbaro is probably favourite of the two at the 1200. The other one will be better over a bit of ground.”

“But both are coming up pretty well.If they run well they’ll both go to the Surround Stakes in two weeks.”

High Opinion was scratched from his Randwick race.

“He’s just got a couple of little issues so we’ll just back off him for a while,” Lees said.

“It was a nice option, but you’ve got to look after the horse first.”

AAP reports: Bjorn Baker believes things are in Addictive Nature’s favour to reward the perseverance of punters in the Apollo Stakes.

Sent out favourite in each of his five career starts, the three-year-old has only lived up to that billing twice, although he has never finished out of the minor placings.

The colt again leads the TAB market forSaturday’sGroup Two feature at Randwick and his trainer is upbeat about Addictive Nature’s prospects, and not simply because super mare Winx is no longer a rival.

Baker pinpointed a good track and a step up in distance to 1400 metres as positive factors after his third in the Group Two Expressway Stakes (1200m) on February 3.

“Back on top of the ground is really good for him and up to 1400 should suit. Fitness-wise he’s definitely come on since the Expressway,” Baker said.

Addictive Nature followed Trapeze Artist and Showtime home on soft ground and was blocked for a run in the straight before finishing 1-1/2 lengths behind the winner.

“Trapeze Artist is one of the leading three-year-olds and he wasn’t too far off them,” Baker said.

“There’s no easy races at his level, but he’s going pretty well.”

Addictive Nature is the only three-year-old in the eight-horse field but Baker is happy to run his rising star rather than stick to his own age group innext Saturday’sGroup Two Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill.

“He’s up and running and it’s probably the race we’d prefer. The Hobartville could be tougher to win,” Baker said.

He is happy with barrier five and confident new jockey Adam Hyeronimus will quickly bond with the colt.

“Adam’s always positive. We’ll see if we can lead and see what happens,” Baker said.

Hyeronimus replaces Jason Collett who rides the Chris Waller-trained Comin’ Through.

“He meets quite a nice field without it being overly strong for a weight-for-age race,” Hyeronimus said.

“I think Bjorn’s taken the right option.”

Waller also has Irish import Endless Drama in the Apollo Stakes, while all eyes will be on his stablemate Winx when she gallops in a simulated race in a tune-up for the Group One Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick onMarch 3.

Winx is a non-starter in the Apollo with connections opting not to run her because of the unavailability of her jockey Hugh Bowman through suspension.

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From flood to drought: Fight to keep hope alive that rain will come

From flood to drought: Fight to keep hope alive that rain will come Jock Mackay’s horse stud at Dungog. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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Dungog horse stud owner Jock Mackay at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The dry bed of Seaham Swamp. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke at a drying dam on his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The Williams River at Dungog. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Lower Hunter, near Dungog. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The Williams River near Dungog. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The Williams River near Dungog. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog horse stud owner Jock Mackay at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Jock Mackay’s Dungog horse stud. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Jock Mackay’s Dungog horse stud. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A drying dam at John Hooke’s Dungog property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A drying dam at John Hooke’s Dungog property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dried bed of Seaham Swamp. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Jock Mackay’s horse stud at Dungog. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Jock Mackay’s horse stud at Dungog. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog farmer John Hooke, 73, puts on his boots. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog horse stud owner Jock Mackay at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Tallies etched on trees are a way for old farmers to keep track of how many head of livestock are in each paddock, Dungog farmer John Hooke says. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke at his property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Jock Mackay’s Dungog horse stud. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dungog dairy farmer John Hooke in his lounge room. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Jock Mackay drives through his Dungog property. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookThe Big Dry is a special ongoing series by the Newcastle Herald, Maitland Mercury, Singleton Argus and Hunter Valley News investigating the widespread effects of drought on farmers and the communities of theHunter.Deeper reading: The Big DryThousands more livestock go to sale as the Upper Hunter sweltersHow you can help a farmer survive the big dryDrought-affected Hunter farmers say they need more help‘They opened me up, I asked the doctor what caused this and the first word he said was “stress”’Advocates express extreme concern for farmers’ mental welfare as hard times hitIncome lost as farmers sell-off stock in dry timesDrought’s decaying effect is not just on the landWhen will the drought end?Farms turning into dust bowlsHot, dry conditions take toll on livestockAmong the most highly-respected AustraliansMeeting an increased demandTough times for the HunterFarmers turn to survival-mode through terrible conditionsHunter drought drains hay suppliesDry times make it tough ahead of the 2018 Maitland Show

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New plan for Tosen Stardom

Tosen StardomAustralian Cup favourite Tosen Stardom is unlikely to take his place in the group 1race at Flemington.
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Trainer Darren Weir said the Japanese import, syndicated by Hunter company Australian Bloodstock,had endured a tough run at his return outing in the C.F Orr Stakes at Caulfield last Saturday and took longer to recover than expected.Tosen Stardom was 11th behind Hartnell after a wide run.

Racing Victoria stewards reported that Tosen Stardom had a poor recovery, heat stress and the thumps.

Weir said the group 1Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington onMarch 17was likely to be Tosen Stardom’s next outing, a week after the 2000m Australian Cup.

“He’s all right now but it’s obviously not the ideal way to start a preparation,”Weir told RSN927.“He’ll be fine but we’ll just poke around with him and probably change plans a bit now and maybe go to the Blamey to give him some time to get over the run and then head up to Sydney for the carnival.”

Meanwhile, arule breach has cost Australian Bloodstock $19,000 in fines.

Racing Victoria stewardson Thursdayconcluded an inquiry into Australian Bloodstock Pty Ltd and their compliance with regulations imposed upon them as an authorised promoter.

Australian Bloodstock, represented by director Luke Murrell, pleaded guilty to six breaches of Australian racing rule 69P(iii).The rule states a promoter must obtain approval from the Principal Racing Authority, in this instance Racing Victoria, for each Product Disclosure Statement prior to an offer being made.

The charges and penalties related to various offers made between January and June 2017.

In assessing the penalties, stewards took into account Murrell’s guilty plea on behalf of Australian Bloodstock and that RV had communicated with Australian Bloodstock on multiple occasions between 2015 and 2017 regarding its compliance obligations as an authorised promoter of horse racing syndicates.

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McGowan denies WA upper house problem

Mark McGowan denies his government is having trouble passing legislation through the WA upper house.WA Premier Mark McGowan has denied having a problem passing legislation through the upper house after a proposal for a 10 per cent levy on taxi and ride-sharing trips was criticised by the opposition and some crossbenchers.
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Under the Labor government’s plan, about $120 million raised from a four-year levy imposed on operators would be used to fund a voluntary taxi plate buy-back scheme.

But the Liberal opposition and some crossbenchers have already indicated they will block the plan, describing it as a broken election promise not to introduce or raise taxes.

It comes after Labor’s gold royalty tax hike was also knocked back twice in the upper house following a campaign from the mining industry.

Mr McGowan said failure on the gold royalty hike was “very regrettable”, but insisted other measures had been supported.

“Our politicians pay freeze, our initiatives to put in place significant changes to the law to crack down on dangerous sex offenders and the like, those sorts of things are going through the upper house,” he told reporters on Friday.

“If the taxi industry wants a decent deal, they need to go and lobby the Liberal party, the National party and the crossbench in the upper house.

“Otherwise, we won’t be able to get it through and there won’t be any support for the taxi industry under the package we proposed.”

Mr McGowan insisted the taxi reform package was fair on the industry and taxpayers.

The Liberals and One Nation have both ruled out supporting the levy, although both agreed some reform was necessary.

Liberal Democrats MP Aaron Stonehouse will also oppose the levy.

The Nationals and Greens are waiting for a briefing from Transport Minister Rita Saffioti before making their final decisions.

Australian Associated Press

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Lloyd eyes midfield with AFL premiers

Sam Lloyd has his eyes set on an AFL return after missing out on last year’s premiership.Trying to break the door down into Richmond’s drought-breaking AFL premiership team left Sam Lloyd huffing and puffing and unsuccessful.
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So now he’s trying a different door.

Better known as a forward, the 27-year-old has trained exclusively with the Tigers’ midfielders this pre-season.

It is a tough rotation to break into, given Richmond’s midfield boasts several of the game’s top players.

But Lloyd and coach Damien Hardwick decided on the change when they met after last season.

“I’ve moved into the midfield this pre-season and although it’s a long list of blokes to get in front, I’m certainly trying to put my (best) foot forward,” he said.

“Probably the motivation is to get into a premiership-winning side and as much as we were all a part of it, I wasn’t on the ground and playing.

“I thought I was playing as good footy as I ever have in the VFL, but I think we had one injury towards the end of last year and everyone was playing really good footy.

“I was trying to knock down the door and it wouldn’t open.”

Lloyd played eight senior games last season for a total of 50 and won the Norm Smith Medal as best afield in the VFL grand final.

But he could not break back into the AFL after the disastrous round-16 loss to St Kilda.

Despite missing out on the Tigers’ drought-breaking flag, Lloyd said the players outside the AFL team were made to feel a part of the triumph.

“It wasn’t tough, because we’re a really tight-knit group,” he said.

“The players, coaches and club really made you feel like you’re a part of it every day and especially when we won.

“It was really emotional in the end.

“To be a part of that, playing good VFL footy and (eight) senior games, you certainly feel like you contributed and they made me feel like that as well.”

The midfield is not completely new for Lloyd – he has pinch-hit through there before.

“Getting my fitness up, which I’ve done in the last three years, has been the main factor in that,”‘ he said of the move.

“At the moment I’m assuming AFL or VFL, I will be starting in the midfield and then rotating forward.”

Australian Associated Press

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AFLX doesn’t engage fans: Brisbane coach

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan would like see some tinkering to the AFLX rules.Not everyone is happy with AFLX, it seems.
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Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan says the concept doesn’t engage fans and has already suggested rule changes after the abbreviated form’s debut in Adelaide on Thursday night.

But what Fagan fears most is his Lions players getting injured as “guinea pigs” in an experimental game.

Coaches, players and fans appeared to lap up the new format unveiled for the first time at Coopers Stadium, with Adelaide downing Geelong by eight points in the inaugural final.

But Fagan still needed some convincing ahead of Saturday’s six-team AFLX tournament in Sydney featuring Brisbane, saying the concept may be too fast for its own good.

The Lions mentor claimed there was no time to celebrate goals in AFLX, robbing fans a chance to become involved.

“Players enjoy playing it (AFLX) but I don’t know if fans like it or not,” Fagan told AAP.

“Fans love the opportunity to celebrate after a goal and in that game you can’t do it because it moves too quickly.

“In cricket after a big six the crowd can carry on until the next ball is bowled a minute later but there is no gap (in AFLX) for the fans to get truly involved.”

Fagan also believed the rule which awards 10 points to a goal kicked on the full outside the 40m arc should be changed.

“I am not sure if the 10-point goal is a bit easy – 40m is not a long kick at all for a professional AFL player,” Fagan said.

“Maybe give 10 points for a goal on or behind the halfway line – that is a long kick.”

Fagan said the only major worry he had with AFLX was the risk of injury playing as a “guinea pig”.

“The only bad side is if a club gets an injury,” he said.

“It’s experimental. That’s the one thing you worry about playing in a competition as a guinea pig really.”

But Fagan still wanted the AFLX concept to work.

“It’s good that they are trying something new – every time you do that you learn how to make it better,” he said.

“I am sure the AFL will seek feedback from clubs to help bring a better version next time but they have to start somewhere.”

Australian Associated Press

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