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Bargain hunters warned to stay safe

BARGAIN hunting at the post-Christmas sales is so serious police issued a warning for shoppers to be vigilant about their security.
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NSW Police delivered the message yesterday as part of the Play Safe, Stay Safe campaign designed to protect consumers against theft and fraud.

Traditionally the December 27 sale day is the largest single trading day of the year with most retailers offering post-Christmas reductions.

Read The Herald’s editorial ‘Ring the Registers’ by clicking here.

Customers are set to queue for hours before the shops are scheduled to open at 9am today and the rush for bargains often causes chaos.

‘‘We support the message being sent by police and we have increased security at this time of year to support our customers and retailers from those situations,’’ Westfield Kotara centre manager Ryan Burns said.

‘‘We were quite busy prior to Christmas but the 27th is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year.’’

Charlestown Square centre manager Dwight Hodgetts said customer feedback had been predominantly positive in regard to safety before Christmas.

Mr Hodgetts said an increase in security and a management plan to control car park rage had created a safer shopping experience.

‘‘We’ve been very conscious of the traffic flow in and out of the centre which makes life a bit easier for everyone,’’ Mr Hodgetts said.

East Maitland’s Green Hills shopping centre was another expecting large crowds in the holiday rush after a double cut to interest rates leading into the festive season.

The Reserve Bank of Australia cut the cash rate from 4.75per cent to 4.25per cent when it reduced it by 25 basis points in November and again in December.

‘‘It has certainly been a challenging year for the retail sector across the board,’’ Mr Hodgetts said.

‘‘From the GPT point of view the company has achieved its expectations in its first year since the major development was completed and we’re looking forward to 2012.’’

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Myall Lakes sewage collection vessel to stop

FAILING HEALTH: Bede Bright will not operate the Myall Lakes sewage collection vessel past New Year’s Eve. – Picture by Ryan OslandUP to 200 boat owners holidaying on the Myall Lakes will be left without a sewage collection service from next week.
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Local identity Bede Bright and his wife Jacqui have operated the collection vessel Independence since 1986.

Failing health prompted Mr Bright, 70, to begin negotiations with NSW Roads and Maritime for the transfer of his licence in August.

The new prospective owner was ready to continue the business under the same contract with no disruption to the service. The talks broke down last week without any prospect of a new service in the foreseeable future.

The 70-year-old, who has terminal lung cancer, said his poor health would prevent him operating the vessel beyond New Year’s Eve.

‘‘The last correspondence I had from them [the Department of Roads and Maritime] was on December 22, the same day I got the news my cancer was terminal,’’ Mr Bright said.

‘‘They had previously offered a contract and my solicitor had written back to say we would like to change certain things. They just replied and said it was noted and disagreed.’’

Mr Bright said he regretted leaving between 150 to 200 boats without a sewage collection service, but he had been left with no option.

‘‘It’s left me terribly disappointed because I’ve always had such a terrific association with Maritime,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel a bit cheated actually.’’

The prospect of raw sewage entering the lakes system has also raised alarm among locals who are already concerned about poor water quality in the estuary.

A spokesman for Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay said negotiations with Mr Bright were ongoing.

‘‘Roads and Maritime Services is currently negotiating with Mr Bright over a new contract that will allow him to sell the business if he wishes,’’ he said.

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Lake risk reduction plan

LAKE Macquarie faces environmental security risks worth $4.4billion by 2110, a city council report says.
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The value of the risks, which related to natural disasters, climate change and pollution, stood at $249million last year, the report said.

The council said its sustainability department aimed to reduce those costs through managing contaminated land and air quality, flood mitigation and climate change adaptation.

‘‘The extent of risk reduction achieved through these programs is monitored and audited by council,’’ the report said.

The sustainability department has been criticised recently, with mayor Greg Piper and Cr Barry Johnston saying it should shed staff.

Their comments reflected wider concerns that the department was too big and too academic and must produce more tangible results.

Lake Macquarie councillor Phillipa Parsons defended the department, saying it did a good job.

Cr Parsons said surveys showed Lake Macquarie residents rated the environment a top priority.

‘‘The programs the sustainability department are implementing now are putting us in good stead,’’ Cr Parsons said.

Cr Johnston reaffirmed his concerns, saying the council had to ensure the department was ‘‘not wasting money or duplicating state issues’’.

Challenging criticism of the department, Cr Parsons said: ‘‘Council bashing is a regular occurrence in the media. It almost qualifies for an Olympic event.’’

Council general manager Brian Bell has not said publicly that the department, which he started, should shed staff.

But a council statement said the department had reduced staff by 12per cent in the past year.

The department had about 20 staff and a $9million budget in its first year in 2008-09, but now has 36 full-time equivalent staff and a $12.4million budget.

Councillors voted recently to significantly increase rates over seven years, which includes continuing sustainability programs.

On the weekend before the vote, the council advertised for a ‘‘sustainability engagement officer’’ earning up to $72,000 a year for a 35-hour week.

The council said the position was ‘‘required to meet commitments under the sustainability levy’’.

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FFA cries foul over tactics in Culina case

UNDER FIRE: Dumped Newcastle Jets marquee star Jason Culina. – Picture by Getty ImagesFOOTBALL Federation Australia has accused the players’ union of mischief-making in asserting FFA was responsible for insuring disenfranchised former Socceroo Jason Culina.
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The Professional Footballers Association launched legal action last Thursday, accusing FFA of not ensuring Culina’s former club Gold Coast took out an insurance policy when they signed him as a marquee player in 2009.

PFA chief executive Brendan Schwab suggested in the Newcastle Herald on Saturday that Culina’s bitter split with the Jets could have been avoided had the 31-year-old midfielder been appropriately insured.

In a statement issued yesterday, FFA corporate affairs and communications director Kyle Patterson said the PFA was ‘‘trying to make out that this situation involving Jason Culina can be boiled down to a dispute between FFA and Jason over insurance’’.

“This assertion is a red herring; a quite mischievous distraction from what’s happening. You have to question the PFA’s motives in running this line through the media,’’ Patterson said.

“FFA doesn’t intend to talk specifically about Jason’s case, other than to say our advice is that the Newcastle Jets have been meeting their obligations under Jason’s contract, as they should.

“We also understand that Jason is working hard on his rehabilitation in order to get back into action, which is great news for Australian football … On behalf of the football community, we wish him well in his efforts to return to playing football.”

Clarifying rules for marquee players, Patterson said any club that contracted one was responsible for all costs, including insurance, and subsequent liabilities. Costs, as with benefits, rest with that club, not FFA, the A-League or other clubs, because not all clubs signed marquee players.

That information seems to contradict clause 3.2 of the PFA-FFA collective bargaining agreement, which states: ‘‘FFA must establish and maintain such insurance as is necessary to cover the remuneration and entitlements of a league player … for the period of any injury, illness or ailment sustained arising out of or in the course of his employment with a league club.’’

Culina suffered a serious knee injury representing the Socceroos in January while contracted to the Gold Coast.

After surgery, he signed a $2.65million three-year deal with Newcastle.

The Jets asked FFA in October to set aside that contract and sacked his father, Branko, as coach.

? Newcastle’s round-24 home game against Brisbane has been brought forward from 4pm, Sunday, March 18, to 5.30pm, Saturday, March 17, to fit in with the Roar’s Asian Champions League schedule.

The W-League game between Newcastle and Sydney on Saturday has been switched from Belmore Sportsground to Campbelltown Stadium.

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Trainer aiming to cleanup at cup

The Cleaner is well-placed to win a second cup this month after winning at Longford on New Year’s Day.RISING star The Cleaner is challenging for favouritsm in Wednesday’s $100,000 Devonport Cup after attracting the top bid at the barrier draw-calcutta yesterday.
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The Cleaner was clearly the most wanted horse at the calcutta selling for a bid of $1000 well in excess of race favourite Too Many Reds who was knocked down for $600.

Longford trainer Mick Burles said he couldn’t be happier with The Cleaner and was delighted when he was able to nominate barrier four for his stayer when the preferential barrier draw was held.

“Barrier four is perfect for him, it’s better than drawing one or two when there would be a chance he would get chopped out,” he said.

The Cleaner was second favourite at $5 in bookmaker Nick Whelan’s opening market behind the topweight Too Many Reds ($3.50) but that could change by Wednesday with further support expected for him.

Too Many Reds also drew favourably in barrier seven and the in-form five-year-old will have Craig Newitt in the saddle on Wednesday.

Too Many Reds clearly didn’t attract the same attention as The Cleaner yesterday and was sold for $600.

South Australian visitor Uchimura wasn’t afforded any favours in the barrier draw coming up with stall 10 but he still sold for $400 and was brought by transport operator Vern Poke.

The calcutta attracted a final pool of $3660 with the first prize being $2560.

Campania-trained Maybe French remains the only horse without a jockey and there was a doubt about the seven-year-old taking her place in the cup.

But trainer Michael Voss said after the mare had drawn barrier one that he was influenced to consider a start for her.

The Devonport Cup festivities continue tonight with a cocktail party at Spreyton Park.

The guest speaker will be Michael Dickinson the owner of Tapeta Footings Inc and the man responsible for laying Spreyton Park’s new $11 million synthetic track.

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

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