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Game’s history makes Meninga more elite

Mal Meninga was proud to be named an Immortal alongside rugby league greats from the pre-war era.The decision to elevate three players from the pre-World War II era to rugby league Immortality has only made his elevation to the elite group more illustrious, according to new inductee Mal Meninga.
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The NRL unveiled a record five new Immortals on Wednesday night, with Meninga and Norm Provan the two traditional inductees as well as Dally Messenger, Frank Burge and Dave Brown.

The naming of some of the game’s founding figures came in the first time they were eligible to be named, after the NRL took control of the award from the now-defunct Rugby League Week Magazine.

And Meninga backed the decision, given the group of 13 men now represents the very best players of the game from its first year in 1908 to the 21st century.

“That was fantastic, that was like a surprise out of the box, the game got that right,” Meninga said.

“It was a really good decision. The selection committee had the forethought and were brave enough and courageous enough to do it tonight.

“It was a great time to do it. I was proud of the game when those names appeared.

“I was chuffed.”

Meninga is a known student of the game, having introduced a number of practices as Kangaroos coach to recognise the national team’s history.

His elevation came at the third time of being shortlisted, having previously been overlooked in both 2003 and 2012.

The three-time premiership winner labelled it one of the best things to have happened to him in life, no mean feat considering his record as a player and a coach at both Queensland and Kangaroos level.

“It’s a fantastic feeling, a very humbling experience. I fully understand there are so many players that could be standing in my spot right now,” Meninga said.

“It’s one of the best things that’s happened to me personally. As I mentioned I love the game and am very fortunate to stay involved in the game.”

Meninga also revealed the crucial role Wayne Bennett played in putting him on the path to Immortality.

One of the judges in selecting the latest inductees, Bennett had a distinct impact on Meninga as a teenager when he told him to pursue a career in the game.

“I wanted to be a policeman. I wanted to be a copper. I wanted to arrest people,” Meninga said.

“He said I had some sort of talent about footy and we grew up watching Vince Lombardi and what he used to do. How he prepared teams and how he set goals.

“I can remember vividly, he said to me I can do anything in life as long as I put my mind to it.

“I went back to my room … and set a goal. I want to play for Queensland, I want to play for Australia.”

NRL names five new Immortals

Former Canberra Raiders great and Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has been named a league Immortal.And then there were 13. The NRL has taken the unexpected step of naming five of the code’s greatest stars Immortals, 37 years after the first of the elite club were inducted.
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Heralded Queenslander Mal Meninga, mighty St George captain Norm Provan and pre-World War II giants Dally Messenger, Dave Brown and Frank Burge were all bestowed the honour in Sydney on Wednesday night.

The latter trio are the first to join the illustrious group despite none of the judges having seen them play.

Wally Lewis, Bob Fulton, Andrew Johns, Wayne Bennett, Phil Gould and Ray Warren selected Meninga and Provan before considering the three founding greats should also be recognised.

It had been generally accepted that only two players would be named on the night after it took almost four decades to nominate the first eight Immortals.

“It was an opportunity the game could not afford to miss and the Immortals now reflect the full history of rugby league – from 1908 to the present,” NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

Messenger was the game’s original icon, Provan the winner of most premierships, Meninga State of Origin’s most successful product and Burge and Brown the respective record-holders for the most tries in a match and a season.

Ten players were nominated for Tuesday night’s inductions with try-scoring whiz Brian Bevan, Queensland Kangaroo forward Duncan Hall, North Sydney hero Ken Irvine, multiple premiership-winning backrower Ron Coote and modern Broncos great Darren Lockyer missing out.

RUGBY LEAGUE’S IMMORTALS:

Clive Churchill (1981), Bob Fulton (1981), Reg Gasnier (1981), Johnny Raper (1981), Graeme Langlands (1999), Wally Lewis (1999), Arthur Beetson (2003), Andrew Johns (2012), Dally Messenger (2018), Dave Brown (2018) Frank Burge (2018), Norm Provan (2018) and Mal Meninga (2018).

Maloney ready to lead Panthers to finals

James Maloney is excited about captaining a side to the NRL finals for the first time.Two premierships, a world cup, a State of Origin series win – there aren’t many boxes James Maloney hasn’t ticked in his distinguished career.
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But five weeks out from a seventh straight finals campaign, the Penrith veteran is being driven by a new challenge: leading an NRL team to the promised land.

Despite being at the club less than a year, Maloney is their captain after injury forced first-choice skipper Peter Wallace to retire mid-season.

And with the Panthers trying to shake off inconsistent form heading into the finals, it’s a role Maloney has embraced.

“It’s an exciting time for me,” he said.

“A leadership role, being captain of a club like this, it’s pretty special. And to take a group of young guys who are so talented and keen, it’s an exciting challenge.”

It’s why the 32-year-old dragged his body onto the field for last week’s historic comeback win over Manly despite carrying foot, hand and back issues stemming for State of Origin.

“I probably should’ve (rested) on the weekend but it would’ve been a last-minute sort of thing so it wasn’t ideal,” Maloney said.

“I had some conversations with (coach Anthony Griffin) about how we’re going now. Hopefully the worst of it is over and we can get on the mend and play some good footy come semis.”

Crucially for the Panthers, Maloney has plenty of experience.

Except for his rookie season where he played just four games for Melbourne (who won the grand final), the only time he’s missed the finals was in 2011 with the Warriors.

That’s why he’s refusing to panic about the Panthers’ inconsistency and is confident they can match it with the likes of Melbourne and the Roosters.

“They’re playing really good footy at the moment but the grand final is nine weeks away,” Maloney said.

“It’s not about the footy you play now, it’s about the footy you’re playing then.

“When the semis come, you need to be able to turn it, the energy and everything, up a notch.”

Jones, Cottrell and ‘censorship’ questions

Infamous: United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell is seen exiting the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Thursday, July 19, 2018. Cottrell was appealing his 2017 hate speech conviction over a mock beheading in protest over a Bendigo mosque.It’s been a long time since I heard anyonesay, with a ‘lighten-up’ beseech, that “it’s just the internet!”
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This week, digital heavyweights Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest removed U.S. far-right broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from their platforms.

Jones, who runs InfoWars,is currentlyembroiled in a legal battle with the parents of aSandy Hook victim after he espousedclaims that the 2012 school massacre didn’t happen.

The parents of the many slaughteredchildren have experienced harassment and death threats as a result, including onefamily who have moved seven timessince the event because onlinefabulistshave continually publishedtheir address and stalkedthem.

It’s lazy writing to pull in Holocaust metaphors to lend impact to your argument, not to mention often belittling to the true horror of the actual event. But the parallels of denialismin this case are hard to walk by.

The conversation around censorship is bubbling in the wake of Jones’ self-described ‘purge’from accessingprivate companies who, through some cunning legalities contained in the 1000-word terms and conditions we routinely lie about reading, don’t owe him – or any other user – squat.

One of the earliest lessons I rememberlearning is that there’s two sides to every story. But does that mean a public platform for career-provocateurs who harm people withmisinformation and shock tactics? Do they really represent the ‘other’ side of a balanced, democratic coin?

Back home, United Patriot’s Front leader Blair Cottrell, who advocated for hanging a picture of Hitler in every Australian classroom, received an interview slot on Sky News this week. Public outcry and advertiser chaoscoincided witha swift withdrawal of the slot from Sky News online and an almost-apology from news director Greg Byrnes.

The increasingFox-ification of Sky News in theirafter-darkprogramming aside, Cottrell, a self-employed builder from Melbourne, made himself infamous through his pro-anglosphereviews that align with neo-Nazi ideology.

Cottrell, who declared ‘Yes, I am a racist’ on ABC2’s Hack Live in 2016,was convictedof inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims last year and has also called into question the evidence of the bloody indigenous massacres that splatter Australian history.

Increasingly, I see peoplelauding mainstream media like Fairfax as‘fake news’. But the term‘news’ hasbeen hijacked by commentators like Jones and Cottrell, who use the framework of theFourth Estate as a platform for, well, whatever they’d like.

It’s worth notingthat the threat of censorship is making waves because privileged white males are having their platforms withdrawn. But commentators like Jones and Cottrell, who so proudly defend their own right to ‘free speech’,are themselves censoring the voices of the many people they squash with their dangerous views.

Last week, Australian commentator and media professionalOsman Faruqi tweeted about the lack of adaptability of the Australian people in light of the reaction to the plastic bag ban. After his mobile number was released online, Faruqi washarassed with wave after waveof threatening, racially-motivated calls andmessages.

The reaction was shared and widely seen with thousands of likes and retweets before Faruqi took an indefinite hiatus from the platform. His number was shared by the anti-Islamic right-wingerAvi Yemini, who also appears regularly onSky News. Go figure.

Cottrell, in reacting to his removal from Sky News online, tweeted that he “might as well have raped [journalist] Laura Jayes on air”.Educated, thoughtful conservatives who don’t resort to threats, fear tactics and blatant misinformationmust collectively groan at the way Cottrell and Jones representtheir ideology. The fact is, we can have nuanced conversations that include arange of perspectives without descending to neo-Nazi or conspiracy theoristdepths.

That isn’t‘the other side’. That isn’t a fair,balanced discourse. And it’s misleading at best and dangerous at worstto implyit is.

This isnot about excludingvoices – conservative or progressive –that make ourdemocracy an interesting think tank of dichotomies. Thisisabout being proactive whenharmful viewslike Jones’ and Cottrell’s censorothers. Public debateshould be safe, open and receptive, and those who damagethat with dangerousmisinformation should absolutely have their platform revoked.

Whether or not Jones’ and Cottrell’s revocationsthis week arereally considered‘censorship’ is semantics. But if we use their words, yes–locking apparent neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists out of public discourseis a fairly good place to draw the line.

Emma Elsworthy is a Fairfax journalist.

It’s lush – no drought about it

SWEET PEA: Ellen Martin in her Duckenfield garden which will open to the public for next month’s Maitland Garden Ramble. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.Wemay be in the gripof one of the worst droughts on recordbut that’s notgoing to stop green thumbEllen Martin from nurturing the garden she established from a pile of dirt five years ago.
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Ellen runs her high tea business Ducks in the Field from her 32 acre property, two of those acres she has turned into a stunning formal/cottage garden.

The garden will be one of eight gardens showcased in this year’s Maitland Garden Ramble on September 15 and 16.

The popular annual event, run by Maitland Black and White Committee to raise money for Vision Australia, is tipped to attract thousands over the two days.

Diversity in design, size and plantings are sure to delight visitors to the gardens, at Metford, Hinton, Lorn and Bolwarra.

“It will be spring in all its glory,’’ said a Black and White Committee spokesperson.

‘’The gardens featured will be both large and small, offering a visual feast of colour, sights and sounds.

“People will come from all over the region and further afield to meander through the gardens.

“It is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year with all money raised going to Vision Australia Hunter Division,’’ she added.

Because of recent business commitments Ellen hired a gardener but she willsoon have to take the reins back withthe gardener hospitalised for a hip replacement and out of action for about four months.

“I’ve always wanted a formal garden and I suppose you can describe what I have here as formal and cottage,” she said.

There are some oldestablished trees, box hedges and conifers.

Even in drought the garden is looking good -as it should with Ellen’s summer time quarterly water bills around the $1500 mark.

“They were a little better the last quarter, around $400,” she said.

“Despite being in drought we have been lucky.

“The last decent rainfall we had managed to soak in a little so we have some decent sub-soil moistureout here.

“To be honest I haven’t watered since the second week of winter, however the garden does need a drink now.”

The Garden Ramble’s eight propertieswillopenfrom 10am to 4pm both days.

A café, barbecue and gift stalls are available at selected gardens.

Tickets are available at each garden, Maitland Visitor Information Centre, Heritage Gardens Nursery, Bolwarra Café, Sharpe’s Nursery Bar Beach and Poppy’s Nursery Gateshead.Costs are adults $35 and aged concession $25; shuttle bus and ticket $45 and concession $35 and $5 an individual garden. Children are free.

Last year’s ramble raised more than $35,000.

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

UPDATE: Timothy Andrew Whiteley, accused of murdering Tarro toddler, refused bail

UPDATE: Timothy Andrew Whiteley, accused of murdering Tarro toddler, refused bail TweetFacebookFairfax Mediathe young girlhad presented to hospitalwith wounds prior toher death.
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But the girl was returned to her family home after she was released. Within weeks of thathospitalisation, she was killed.

The 26-year-old man accused of the girl’s murder was in a de-facto relationship with her motherand had been living with them, but was not her biologicalfather.

He was arrested on Thursday morning at the Tanilba Bay home of another woman he hadrecently started a relationship with.

It comes after Homicide Squad detectives and Port Stephens-Hunter policeestablished Strike Force Nerium after the girl’s death withinvestigations ongoing since.

Earlier report: Man arrested over toddler’s death at TarroChief Inspector Walpolesaid while “no one was going home” until police had a result, it was a tough case for all of those involved.

“Any murder has its challengesand has its emotional ride, but when you’re dealing with the murder of a 20-month-old baby it’s even more so,” he said.

Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Walpole of the Homicide Squad

“Especially when a lot of the detectives have got young families themselves.”

While he commended the work the detectiveshad completed so far, Chief Inspector Walpole said investigations into the matter werestill ongoing.

However he would not be drawn on whether further arrests were pending.

“We still believe there are people that can assist with this investigation,” hesaid.

“We believe that there are people who may have information in relation to the injuries the young baby suffered and we’durge them to come forward.”

Anyone who has information regarding the incident shouldreport itto Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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

Getaway delights within easy reach

ALL ABOARD: BIG4 Happy Hallidays at Hallidays Point is great for family getaways with plenty of activities to keep the kids busy for hours while parents can relax and unwind. If you’re looking for a winter escape close to Newcastle, Secura Lifestyle has two locations within easy “getaway distance”.
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CHILL OUT: Secura Lifestyle Lakeside Forster offers relaxing waterside accommodation on beautiful Wallis Lake where you can savour the sunset.

Secura Lifestyle Lakeside Forster offers a choice of waterfront accommodation at beautiful Wallis Lake where you are treated to stunning sunsets and lakeside views.

All cabins are heated for guest comfort – ideal for chilly mornings and cozy evenings. Perfect for the romantic winter escape.

BIG4 Happy Hallidays at Hallidays Point is great for family getaways with plenty of activities to keep the kids busy for hours while parents can relax and unwind.

From iconic train rides, jumping pillow and playground fun, to tennis, mini-golf and more. There’s even a games room and indoor kid’s nook to keep rainy day blues at bay. The heated indoor pool is also a favourite for splash time during chilly, winter days.

“Many guests do come up from Newie to escape the hustle of bustle of their daily grind,” Secura Lifestyle chief customer officer Allyson Porter said.“You spend less time planning and travelling, more time relaxing.”

There are nine Secura Lifestyle Holiday Parks located along the Australian seaboard.

All offer a range of accommodation set amongst peaceful, natural surrounds with convenient facilities and that trademark tranquil and relaxed atmosphere.

Guests staying at multiple locations can save up to 10 per cent by taking advantage of the Secura Traveller discount.

Korean coal-tax increase could hit Bylong mine proposal

GIANTS: A stacker-reclaimer operating between coal stockpiles at Port Waratah Coal Service’s Kooragang Coal Terminal. Picture: Darren PatemanA PRO-RENEWABLES group says a decision by South Korea to lift a consumption tax on thermal coal by 20 per cent to about $40 a tonne is another blow to the Korean-owned Bylong coal proposal near Mudgee.
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Bylong coal would be exported through Newcastle if the mine goes ahead. High-quality thermal coal is selling for about $115 a tonne at present.

The pro-renewables Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis says it has written a new report for theBylong Valley Protection Alliance in which it urges the NSW Department of Planning to “revise its previous support for the mine, in light of the reduced economic justification for it and the severity of its environmental and social impacts”. The institute says the extra tax on thermal coal would be another hit on Bylong’s economics.

The pro-coal NSW Minerals Council disagrees, saying the tax is unlikely to have a major impact. An industry journal, the Australian Coal Report, says the proposed $8.93-a-tonne rise is the fifth rise in five years.

Minerals council chief executive Stephen Galilee said: “While the economics of individual projects are a matter for the proponents, its worth noting that NSW has a long history of exporting thermal coal to Korea, which has become one of our biggest export markets.

“Coal exports to Korea actually grew last year, and strong demand from Korea is expected to continue due the high quality of our coal and suitability for energy generation and steel production.”

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Homeless rates rise in the Hunter as new report looks at nation’s ‘rough sleepers’

ROUGH sleepers aremost likely men aged 35 and above who are unemployed, live alone, and have mental health,drug or alcohol issues, thelatestAustralian Institute of Health and Welfarereportshows.
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The first-of-its-kind report, released on August 3, aims to “shinea spotlight” on Australia’s “rough sleepers” –peopleliving on the streets, sleeping in parks, squatting, and living in cars orimpoverished dwellings –toexplorethe circumstances, experiences and housing outcomes of those who sought assistance from specialist homelessness services between July 1, 2011, and June 30,2015.

The report found that in major cities, males were more likely to receive help from homeless services at66 per cent, compared to 53 per cent of females.

But in regional areas, females were more likely to be receivingservices at 42 per cent, compared to 32 per cent of males.

Related reading: The man on the street.

While the report did not break down homelessness by geographical areas, theNewcastle Heraldunderstands there were approximately 2700 homeless people living in the Hunter New England area in 2016, a 12 per cent increase since 2011.

In Newcastle, there were about 800 homeless people in 2016 –an increase of around 22 per cent since 2011.

The report,Sleeping rough: a profile of Specialist Homelessness Services clients, showed that of the116,400 men, women and children who were homelessin Australia on Census night in 2016, about 7 per cent were sleeping rough –a 20 per cent increase sincethe 2011 Census estimate.

Despite accounting for about one-in-14 Australians experiencing homelessness, rough sleepers were the most visible, and wererecognised as some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in society, the report says. It found one-in-three rough sleepers experienced two or more vulnerabilities –such as domestic or family violence (23 per cent), a mental health issue (47 per cent), or drug or alcohol abuse (34 per cent).

Female rough sleepers were four times as likely as males to report experiencing domestic violence at 46 per cent, compared to 11 per cent.

Females were also more likely to live with at least one child at 34 per cent, compared to males at 7 per cent.

Related: Two pays away from homelessness.

Kelly Hansen, the chief executive of Nova for Women and Children, said family violence was one of themajor reasons females in the Hunter community sought their services.

“Domestic violence appears to still be the leading factor for women, and children,becoming homeless,” she said. “However, we also need to look at poverty, and the private rental market, which we have found isimpacting on older women.”

US welcomes home NKorean war dead remains

US Vice President Mike Pence has welcomed the presumed remains of US war dead home from North Korea.In a solemn ceremony, the United States has welcomed home human remains it says presumably include Americans killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War, and thanked North Korea for making good on a June summit pledge to hand them over.
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Only one identification “dog tag” was delivered by the North Koreans, underscoring the long path ahead for US military efforts to identify the remains inside the 55 boxes presented by North Korea to the US last week.

US Vice President Mike Pence hailed the remains’ arrival in Hawaii as evidence of the success of President Donald Trump’s landmark summit in June with North Koran leader Kim Jong-un. Critics say the summit has so far failed to deliver on promised steps toward denuclearisation by Pyongyang.

“I know that President Trump is grateful that Chairman Kim has kept his word, and we see today this tangible progress in our efforts to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Pence, whose father fought in the Korean War, said.

More than 7,700 US troops remain unaccounted for from the Korea War. About 5,300 were lost in what is now North Korea.

Other countries under the command of the United Nations also lost troops that are still unaccounted for, including the Australia, United Kingdom and Canada.

Pence, in his address at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, said he trusted that Americans killed in the war were among the flag-draped cases flown to Hawaii on Wednesday.

“Whosoever emerges from these aircraft, today begins a new season of hope for the families of our missing fallen,” he said.

The US military flew the remains from Osan Air Base in South Korea after they had undergone an initial review.

John Byrd, director of analysis for the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), told reporters at Osan that the family of the soldier identified by the dog tag had been notified. But he cautioned it was unclear if that soldier’s remains were among those received from North Korea.

Experts say positively identifying the decades-old remains could take anywhere from days to decades.

Still, the initial field forensic review indicated the “remains are what North Korea said they were,” Byrd said.

The North Koreans provided enough specifics about where each suspected body was found that US officials have matched them to specific battles fought from 1950 to 1951, although not necessarily individuals, he said.

The pledge to transfer war remains was seen as a goodwill gesture by Kim at the Singapore summit, and was the most concrete agreement reached by the two sides so far.

While it has taken longer than some had hoped, a U.S. State Department official said the process had so far proceeded as expected, and the handover rekindled hopes for progress in other talks with North Korea aimed at getting it to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Make the pilgrimage up the coast

WELL POSITIONED: Sandcastles is located at the corner of Ocean Parade and Boultwood Street across from the beach in the heart of Coffs Harbour, a city easily accessible by train, plane or automobile.COFFS Harbour is a holiday mecca offering an almost perfect climate, delightful beaches and a picturesque hinterland well worthwhile exploring with horse riding, pottery, wineries and eateries along with spectacular scenery.
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PRACTICAL: Apartments come with full kitchen facilities including large fridge, stove, dishwasher and microwave as well as their own laundry facilities.

Whale-watching and deep-water fishing are two popular events not to be missed on the magnificent Pacific Ocean, besides surfing, ocean rafting, canoeing, jet skiing and an endless array of other activities.

Sandcastles Holiday Apartments are centrally located for the holidaymaker to take advantage of all Coffs has to offer.

ACCESSIBLE: Coffs Harbour is located bang in the middle of Brisbane and Sydney, boasting a great climate and plenty of attractions.

Located opposite the main surfing beach, Park Beach bowling club, parkland and bus stop, the Sandcastles complex is also close to the main Park Beach shopping plaza, top restaurants, cinemas and the pet porpoise pool.

The two-bedroom apartments are spacious and comfortable, air conditioned and fully self-contained with all the conveniences needed to make your holiday a pleasure.

Free Foxtel and broadband access are also available in each unit.

A popular attraction is the beautiful, 12-metre, heated swimming pool located just below a spacious, sunny courtyard which has sun lounges, tables, chairs and umbrellas, as well as two sun sails.

Two hot spas, a sauna and covered outdoor dining area with barbecues are also available for guests to enjoy.

Special packages for off-peak and weekly stays are available.

Call 1800 025 163 or book online atwww.sandcastlesapartments南京夜网.au today to plan your next getaway.

Fund Aussie sport or say goodbye to gold

Australia should consider a national lottery to support rising sports stars, John Wylie says.Australians used to seeing their athletes punch above their weight on the world stage might have to settle for watching also-rans unless a new way to fund sport is found.
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The Australian Sports Commission, which has been rebranded as Sport Australia, is considering a national lottery to support rising stars, similar to the United Kingdom.

Sport Australia chairman John Wylie said the UK lottery was directly linked to that country’s rising success in world sport.

“There’s no doubt in the long-term, the Australian sporting system to remain as successful as its been in the past will need more funding,” Mr Wylie told ABC radio on Thursday.

Australian sport is also looking to charity to boost hopes of gold medals and podium finishes.

The Sport 2030 report, released on Wednesday, calls for Australian sport to more than double donation receipts within three years.

More than $44 million was raised through the Australian Sports Foundation in 2017/18, but the report calls for that to be $100 million in 2021 and $300 million in 2030.

Sport Minister Bridget McKenzie has committed to a business plan to revitalise the Australian Institute of Sport.

The announcement came a day after Australian marathon champion Rob De Castella declared the AIS was dead.

Mr Wylie noted the institute’s maintenance bill was $16 million a year but denied it was being hollowed out.

“It’s evolving into being a strategic agency for sport, a system leader for Australian sport,” he said.

The former investment banker warned of rising global threats to sport’s integrity, saying it was important to get on the front foot after a major report into the matter was released.

The review, led by James Wood QC, recommended setting up a new law enforcement agency to police match-fixing and doping in Australian sport.

Are Hunter schools overcrowded?

LABOR has pointed to new figures showing how Hunter schools are using their classrooms as proof of an “overcrowding crisis”, a claim the government has labelled as“nonsense”.
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Shadow Education Minister Jihad Dib said documents obtained through freedom of information laws show77Hunter schools –nearly 40 per cent of the region’s total –are at or above 100 per cent “utilisation”, which Mr Dib said was equivalent to being “at or above capacity”.

Tarro Public is at 116.67 per cent utilisation and Abermainis at 109.09 per cent.

Room to move: The state government and opposition disagree whether schools at 100 per cent utilisation are overcrowded.

Utilisation is the percentage of teaching spaces occupied by a class as a proportion of the total teaching spaces on the site.

Both permanent and demountable spaces are included.

“This is a crisis,” Mr Dib said.

“The government is really good at making funding announcements, but not at building schools: there’s no time frames or budgets.

“It’s cold comfort for parents to hear about money being spent when they have to send their kids to a school at or above capacity that has demountables everywhere.”

Education Minister Rob Stokes told theHerald a school with 100 per cent utilisation wasnot overcrowded.

“We want all classrooms to be used for teaching and learning,” Mr Stokes said.

“Only two [Hunter] schools are above 100 per cent utilisation – a figure that equates to about two per cent of local government schools.

“The utilisation data provided is a snapshot at that particular point in time and may change over the course of the year.”

Mr Dib disagreed.

“If you’re using 100 per cent of spaces and that includes demountables then of course you’re overcrowded –there’s no wriggle room for new enrolments and you’re exceeding what the school was built for.

“The government is moving the goalposts.

“It either needs to build more schools, complete more upgrades or put more demountables in – and that’s not a long term solution.”

NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser Jack Galvin Waight said the Hunter’s schools “continue to be underfunded, and it will be a problem if the government doesn’t act appropriately”.

“It is obvious from reports from our members that there are ongoing issues around; the slow turnaround in regards to the school maintenance backlog, the need for more space, permanent buildings and the building of new schools in the Hunter,” he said.

“This will affect teaching and learning if not addressed, as public school enrolments are projected to increase by 23 per cent over the next 15 years.”

Several schools’ enrolment policies show they already exceed their “enrolment ceiling”, based on their permanent teaching spaces and not including demountables.

Belair has 505 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 502 and includes a buffer of 19, for children who move to the catchment area through the year.

Biddabah has 416 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 392 and includes a buffer of 12.

Hamilton South has 437 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 363 and includes a buffer of 14.

Newcastle East has 240 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 211 but includes a buffer of 14 places.

The Junction has 576 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 548 and includes a buffer of 10 places.

Mr Stokes said the government would start work this year ontheNewcastle Education Precinct comprising a new school, as well as major upgrades to Callaghan College Jesmond campus and Speers Point, Wangi Wangi, Nulkaba and Ashtonfield public schools.

Work is continuing on major upgrades toBelmont High, Hunter School of the Performing Arts, Hunter Sports High and Bolwarra, Newcastle East and Rutherford public schools.

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