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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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India set to back its ageing star warriors

Sachin Tendulker.On paper India boasts one of the most formidable batting line-ups ever seen in Test cricket, but reality suggests age is starting to overpower the benefits of their experience.
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Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar are approaching 39, VVS Laxman is 37 and India’s recent whitewash against England and 2-0 deficit against Australia indicates something is significantly wrong.

Writing off champion players is always fraught with danger, and India’s big three, as well as Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni, have shown patches of their prowess over recent months.

But India became the No. 1 team in Test cricket because its stars had a knack of firing together and combining for huge partnerships to bat teams out of matches.

That isn’t happening at the moment, and the question is whether its ageing heroes are in a position to see them back to the top of the world rankings.

Rohit Sharma is expected to come into the middle order for Virat Kohli in Perth, but captain Dhoni didn’t believe fazing out his war horses for young blood is the way to go. “With age comes plenty of experience and I think they are the best we have got as of now,” he said.

“They may be feeling the pressure that they really want to perform well over here, but what’s important is to enjoy the game, stick to the present and hopefully they’ll get better and we’ll score more runs in the coming Test matches.”

Laxman is under the most pressure. He might have made a hard-fought 66 on a flat deck in the second innings in Sydney, but he still struggled early and looks a shadow of his former self.

Dravid looks shaky, but has hundreds behind him from the England tour in August.

Tendulkar looks classy and in control, but he’s clearly having trouble converting 50s into centuries – something which had always been his bread and butter.

Sehwag, 33, and Gautam Gambhir, 30, are very dangerous on their day, but away from the subcontinent they don’t inspire the same confidence that they can get India off to a good enough start before the veterans have to come in and face the music.

Australian captain Michael Clarke believed India’s batsmen are nervous, but denied they’ve lost their aura.

“Not at all, I think India’s batting line-up is as strong as I’ve ever played against,” he said.

“They have some of the greats of the game and have a lot of Test runs and Test hundreds between them.

“I would never write off great players, so my focus is to make sure we are at our best come Perth because we know how good they are.”

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

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Naden may be looking for guns

Malcolm NadenPOLICE are worried the state’s most wanted man Malcolm Naden may try to re-arm himself as he tries to stay on the run through dense bushland in the Barrington Tops.
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Assistant Commissioner Carlene York yesterday urged all gun owners in Northern NSW to remain vigilant and ensure their firearms were locked away until the 38-year-old fugitive was captured.

Police believe Naden has been armed with hunting rifles and other firearms, stolen during break-ins at Kempsey, Gloucester and the Barrington Tops, since he arrived in the area.

But officers have now recovered three firearms in a fortnight, leading to concerns Naden may be running low on firepower and may want to replenish his stocks.

Police found two firearms at a remote campsite on December 7 after Naden shot a 33-year-old senior constable in the right shoulder during an attempted raid.

They recovered a third firearm on Wednesday after two general duties police officers from Walcha police station stumbled upon Naden burgling a remote property between Niangala and Nundle.

‘‘Naden has sought to gain access to firearms during break-ins on previous occasions,’’ Assistant Commissioner York said.

‘‘We continue to urge local residents to ensure their safety and security is a priority, as we believe this wanted man is dangerous.’’

Assistant Commissioner York revealed yesterday that the two officers got close enough to speak with Naden before he once again gave police the slip.

‘‘They did disturb a male person, which has now turned out to be Malcolm Naden,’’ she said. ‘‘They were approaching the house when he has confronted them and he’s been spoken to by police.’’

As revealed in the Herald yesterday, the officers drew their guns but Naden ran back into the house.

Ms York said the officers would have been permitted to shoot Naden, based on their assessment of events.

She said the officers called for back-up but Naden escaped.

‘‘There’s many exits from the premises, so as the police called for back-up on the radio … It’s surrounded by heavy bushland, quite difficult to contain, and he fled out into the bush,’’ Ms York said yesterday.

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Lake police state’s most understaffed

CONDITIONS: Greg Piper outside Toronto police station.LAKE Macquarie residents have the most understaffed police force in the state and its police stations are in such poor condition that immediate upgrades are needed, the MP Greg Piper says.
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‘‘I believe Lake Macquarie has the lowest police-to-population ratio in the state,’’ Mr Piper said.

The Liberal government said last week that Lake Macquarie would receive 18 more police.

‘‘The new officers are welcome, but they probably only address operational shortfalls from long-term leave and attrition,’’ Mr Piper said.

‘‘Lake Macquarie will still be grossly understaffed.’’

Lake Macquarie police commander Superintendent Craig Rae said the new 18 officers ‘‘put me in a fairly comfortable position, but we definitely needed them’’.

Superintendent Rae said he was aware the police ratio per head of population was ‘‘reasonably low’’ in Lake Macquarie.

‘‘Like all commanders, if someone was to offer me additional staff I would take them with open arms,’’ he said.

‘‘The police here do a fantastic job in protecting the community.’’

Superintendent Rae said crime statistics in Lake Macquarie were high because of its big population but per head of population, the area was in the middle range of the state for crime.

Police Minister Michael Gallacher’s spokesman said police resources in regional areas were being considered in a review conducted by former assistant commissioner Peter Parsons.

Mr Gallacher said the government had given Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione until May to respond to the review’s recommendations.

Mr Piper said police stations in Toronto and Boolaroo were in atrocious condition.

Toronto police station was a small 50-year-old office building and a demountable, he said.

‘‘The police prosecutors operate out of a converted garage,’’ Mr Piper said. ‘‘A separate house is used as a locker room by the 50 staff.

‘‘There is one shower for all staff and only one toilet for the 20 female staff.’’

There were no public toilets or access for disabled people.

‘‘Conditions are cramped and uncomfortable, with not enough room for desks and filing cabinets,’’ Mr Piper said.

Superintendent Rae said police would welcome modern stations and work was being done to provide that.

The previous Labor government had planned to build a police headquarters at Glendale, but the Liberal government was instead planning to spend $20million to upgrade police stations at Toronto, Morisset and Belmont.

The future of Boolaroo, Cardiff, Charlestown and Swansea police stations was uncertain.

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The quick brigade

Ryan Harris.Australian captain Michael Clarke has emphasised the strength of its bowling attack isn’t the form of the three out in the middle, but a band of Test-ready fast bowlers being assembled for the future.
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Having its two young spearheads James Pattinson and Pat Cummins as well as vice-captain Shane Watson sitting in the casualty ward isn’t ideal, but the high injury rate has made Australia acutely aware of the need for quality depth.

The third Test against India in Perth, where the experienced but fragile Ryan Harris and the talented but raw Mitchell Starc have been called into the squad is an ideal beginning for how Australia can manage their quicks leading into the 2013 Ashes.

Australia has tried almost everything to get Harris fit, but he’s only made it through one of the four Test series he’s been selected for since his debut in March 2010.

Sadly it seems he’s too injury prone to play fill in for Pattinson or Cummins when they need a rest.

This would mean Australia would be replacing quality with quality and in the process prolonging the careers of Harris and the developing young bowlers at the same time. Up until the outstanding debuts of Pattinson and Cummins, 32-year-old Harris, a proven wicket-taker was considered the best fast bowler in the country.

Australia still values him as a crucial asset and selectors must now find the right balance.

“The value is we’ve got a proven Test quick bowler waiting in the wings, ready to go,” said Australian coach Mickey Arthur of Harris’s availability for Perth.

“We’ve put a lot of work into Ryan over the last two weeks. He was close to getting a game (in Sydney).

“We felt he hadn’t had enough work. We’ve put that work into him and we’re satisfied, if selected, he’s ready to go come Perth.”

With the amount of cricket being played, bowlers breaking down so regularly and the brightest prospects Pattinson and Cummins both under 21 years of age, balancing work loads has become a necessity.

In Pattinson, Cummins, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Harris, Starc and Watson, Australia has the basis of a bowling squad rich on talent and experience, that could be rotated with confidence.

Chairman of selectors John Inverarity revealed Pattinson was going to be rested for the WACA regardless of his foot problem, and it’s likely 18-year-old Cummins will receive the same cushioning through his early years.

Clarke believed the attack have the potential to become the best Australia has seen since the days of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie.

“I would love to see our bowling group, and that’s not just the three guys playing, the squad of bowlers we have around Australian cricket . . . set our standard as high as we can and continue to improve,” he said.

There’s some chance Australia could go with four quicks at the WACA and leave out Nathan Lyon, but Starc is almost certain to be 12th man.

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

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Jets slayed by Phoenix

DOWN AND OUT: Michael Bridges hits the turf in Wellington last night. – Picture by Getty ImagesNEWCASTLE’S dreadful away form continued with a 5-2 loss to Wellington Phoenix last night.
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The result left Newcastle in eighth place on 13 points, and they could be as many as five points adrift of sixth place depending on last night’s other games.

The Jets have not won on the road since January 8 when they beat North Queensland, and this season they have garnered just a single point from a possible 18 away from Ausgrid Stadium.

But nowhere is their record worse than in New Zealand, where they have now lost eight straight games by a combined tally of 23 goals to three.

Coach Gary van Egmond sent the Jets to Wellington to ‘‘make a statement’’, but they turned in their worst effort of the season and trailed 3-0 at half-time after some shambolic defending. As speculated in the lead-up to the match, van Egmond changed from his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation to 4-4-2, playing Ryan Griffiths alongside Francis Jeffers up front.

Ben Kantarovski anchored a diamond midfield, with Ali Abbas at the point, Ruben Zadkovich on the right and 19-year-old Jacob Pepper a surprise starter on the left.

Nikolai Topor-Stanley returned from injury to partner Tiago Calvano in the centre of defence at the expense of Taylor Regan, and there was no place in the starting side for in-form Kiwi striker Jeremy Brockie. Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert also made a raft of changes to his side to cover the loss of striker Paul Ifill (groin strain) and Nick Ward (concussion).

The Jets were without suspended captain Jobe Wheelhouse, and van Egmond had opted to rest midfield general Kasey Wehrmann.

The absence of both screening midfielders left a back four that has looked shaky all season badly exposed.

The home side took a well deserved lead in the 16th minute when left fullback Manny Muscat’s first-time pass found Brazilian Daniel, whose instinctive lob over Topor-Stanley found Dani Sanchez unmarked at the top of the box. The Spaniard took one touch before slotting the ball past keeper Ben Kennedy.

The warning lights were flashing for the visitors.

Striker Chris Greenacre found himself with space in the Jets box but could not capitalise, and Sanchez went close with an audacious chip from halfway that cleared Kennedy but also the bar.

Sanchez doubled the lead in the 34th minute when he beat the offside trap with ridiculous ease and slipped the ball through the legs of the advancing Kennedy.

The Jets were a rabble now.

Tim Brown beat the offside trap but delayed too long and allowed Tiago and Kennedy to recover.

Then Topor-Stanley, trying to play out from the back, passed straight to Leo Bertos, who dribbled through the heart of the Jets defence and crossed for Greenacre to celebrate his 34th birthday with a grass-cutting diving header.

Van Egmond replaced Jeffers with another English veteran, Michael Bridges, at half-time, and also brought on Brockie for Abbas.

The Jets started the second stanza with a bit more intensity and pulled one back five minutes after the restart when Byun Sung-hwan curled in a right-foot free kick from just outside the box through a gap in the defensive wall created by Tiago.

Replays suggested the hand-ball call against Andrew Durante that led to the free kick was harsh.

But the Phoenix continued to create chances against a Jets defence that repeatedly turned over possession.

Brown and Ben Sigmund both squandered free headers, and Topor-Stanley continued to play Santa Claus, twice passing the ball to Phoenix attackers.

Former Jet Mirjan Pavlovic came on for Sanchez in the 70th minute and was on the score sheet four minutes later. Four defenders converged on Daniel, leaving Pavlovic unmarked on the right of the box. Daniel slipped him the ball and he slotted home.

Van Egmond ended Topor-Stanley’s unhappy night soon after, bringing on Taylor Regan. But Pavlovic had a second in the 77th minute when he headed in a Daniel corner.

Griffiths headed home a corner in the 89th minute to complete the scoring.

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