Premier defends NSW school-building plan

GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN SCHOOL VISIT SYDNEYNSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has defended her government’s education infrastructure plan amid claims it isn’t keeping up with Sydney’s burgeoning population.
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As more than 800,000 students began to walk through the school gates on Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes visited the newly-built Wentworth Point Public School in Sydney’s west.

It was an example of the 1500 classrooms to be delivered through new or upgraded schools in the next four years, the premier said.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley claims NSW is in “crisis”, with an additional 280,000 students needing classrooms over the next 15 years.

But Ms Berejiklian said there had already been a net increase of 600 classrooms since her party formed government.

“We’re able to do this because we’ve worked so hard to have a strong budget position,” she told reporters.

“We’ve done a lot so far but we’re re-doubling our efforts over the next few years.”

The Wentworth Point school has also been criticised because classrooms are not air conditioned.

Mr Stokes said the site used passive design principles and its waterfront location to help ease the heat’s impact in summer, referring to it as “deliciously cool”.

“As and when air conditioning is required, of course we will look at it and we have a clear policy in relation to its provision,” Mr Stokes said.

Ms Berejiklian said the government had inherited policies that dictated when air conditioning should be installed, including a school’s location, average temperature and demographic.

“This is part of good sustainable development which will last us another century,” she said.

The Wentworth Point project took longer than anticipated due to remediation works on the site and local government approvals, Ms Berejiklian added.

New syllabuses in English, mathematics, science and history will be taught for Year 11 students in 2018.

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Trump to tout strong economy in address

USA GOVERNMENT AZARPresident Donald Trump, battling a probe into his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia and struggling to sell Americans on his leadership abilities, will take credit for US economic gains in the past year in an address to Congress.
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Facing a looming deadline on an immigration controversy amid strong Democratic opposition, Trump on Tuesday night will also call for a bipartisan compromise of the type that has eluded him during a turbulent first year in office.

Aides said the Republican president would use the televised speech to take credit for advances in the economy since he took office and tout the benefits of a tax overhaul approved by the Republican-controlled Congress in December that was his first major legislative victory.

But the atmosphere in the House of Representatives chamber where Trump will speak could be tense. Several Democratic lawmakers have said they would boycott the event. Some Democratic women who will attend plan to wear black in support of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

Ahead of Trump’s speech, Republicans and Democrats were deeply divided over immigration. Lawmakers are facing a February 8 deadline to try to reach a compromise on the issue and pass a new budget measure to avoid a second government shutdown.

To attract Democratic votes for an immigration deal, Trump has said he is open to letting “Dreamers,” a group of immigrants brought into the country illegally as children, stay in the United States.

In return, he has demanded funding for a wall on the border with Mexico and measures to curb family sponsorship of immigrants, proposals that have failed to gain traction with Democrats in the past.

Trump will also promote a $US1.7 trillion plan to rebuild America’s aging roads and other infrastructure, but he is not expected to offer many details.

He will speak at a time when he is being buffeted by a drumbeat of headlines about US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump or his aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the campaign using hacking and propaganda to attempt to tilt the race in favour of Trump. Russia has denied meddling. Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has called the Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt” and “hoax.”

Americans, at the same time, are voicing concerns about Trump’s fitness for office. His job approval ratings are about 40 per cent, an alarming number with congressional elections coming in November that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of the US Congress.

Trump is expected as well to address the various global crises that have persisted during his watch, such as North Korea’s nuclear challenge and Iran’s clout in the Middle East.

Trump’s drive for more reciprocal trade with China and other countries is also expected to be a dominant theme.

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Foo Fighters review: Grohl & Co live up to high expectations

One of music’s more affable, often flat-out hilarious frontmen in Dave Grohl. Photo: James BrickwoodFoo Fighters
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ANZ Stadium, January 27

Reviewed by George Palathingal


It has been noted before that American rock titans Foo Fighters might be incapable of giving a bad show.

They’ve been pretty consistent with their output for nearly a quarter of a century, with at least a couple of enormous tunes coming with every album, so they have plenty of songs from which to choose. They’ve been touring long enough to have honed their craft as a live unit to a formidable standard.

Plus, of course, they have one of music’s more affable, often flat-out hilarious frontmen in Dave Grohl.

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Photo: James Brickwood

Sure enough, the band explodes out of the blocks with a dizzying barrage of anthems that forms perhapsthe best start to a rock concert you’ll see.

The riotous roll of their latest song built for stadiums,Run, heads straight into the meaty guitar riffery ofAll My Life, Grohl screeching with such larynx-shredding intensity you wonder how he’ll make it through the first 10 minutes, let alone an entire tour.

The dazzling opening continues with the irresistibleLearn to FlyandThe Pretenderbefore another tune from last year’sConcrete and Gold,The Sky Is a Neighbourhood, holds its own in such exalted modern-rock-classic company with its blistering, seedy stomp.

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Photo: James Brickwood

Then, however, things take an unexpected turn.

Grohl had warned us that there would be lots of jamming on this night but by extending the already underwhelmingRopeinto a 10-minute snoozefest complete with drum solo, the realisation dawns that this is going to be a different kind of Foo Fighters experience; maybe even that unthinkable bad gig.

What is confirmed for longer subsequent stretches of the show than you’d hope is that on this tour, this group of ultimate crowd pleasers isputting their own enjoyment before their audience’s.

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters play Sydney at ANZ Stadium, Homebush Sydney. Photo: James Brickwood

This may not sound unreasonable but, for all Grohl’s casual boasts of three-hour sets, you can see in the relatively static audience during, say,Let It Diethat a few track omissions and significantly less jamming might have made this evening even more fun for everyone.

But there’s plenty of that anyway. The band intros come with mini-covers of rock classics (the opening of Van Halen’sJumpfor keyboard player Rami Jaffee​, the Ramones’Blitzkrieg Bopfor guitarist Pat Smear, and more), while Grohl gives us an unparalleled thrill by playing the opening drum riff of his old band Nirvana’sSmells Like Teen Spiritduring a cameo behind the kit.

Poignant nods to the country we’re in come with Grohl’s gorgeous acoustic instrumentalThe Ballad of the Beaconsfield Minersand a scorching full-band tribute to the late Malcolm Young in AC/DC’sLet There Be Rock,while the audience’s spine-tingling backing vocals onBest of Youadd to an unforgettable climax.

The Foo Fighters, then: incapable of giving a bad show indeed.

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Tomic may never play for China again

Ten Davis AustAfter all but ruling Bernard Tomic’s Davis Cup career over, Lleyton Hewitt admitted he is not sure whether the controversial tennis star will even continue playing the sport.
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n team captain Hewitt said he doubted whether Tomic would play Davis Cup again after causing a stir since joining reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here.

Tomic told Network Ten that could not win the Davis Cup title without him and that Hewitt knew it.

Tomic’s comments didn’t go down well with two-time major winner, who is preparing a Nick Kyrgios-led team for their Davis Cup first-round tie against Germany in Brisbane starting on Friday.

Asked if Tomic would play for again, the former world No.1 said: “It’s highly doubtful.

“He’s made some mistakes. It will be a long way back.

“He’s digging a big hole for himself that he may never get out of.”

Kyrgios joined the squad on Tuesday but Hewitt said team members already in camp had laughed off Tomic’s claim that they needed him to be successful.

“I don’t watch a lot of those kind of shows but a couple of boys have kept a close eye on it (I’m a Celebrity) and it keeps them in good humour at night and gives them something to talk about,” he said.

“The team camaraderie is as good as I have seen for a long time.

“We believe we can go a long way and I back these boys.”

Asked if could win without Tomic, Hewitt said: “Everyone knows he couldn’t help us right now”.

Baffled by Tomic’s reality TV stint, Hewitt said the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist had to commit to the sport to ever be considered for Davis Cup again.

“It’s strange. You either want to be a tennis player or you don’t,” he said of Tomic’s TV reality show appearance.

“I don’t know (if he will play again). He still wanted to play the n Open and tried to qualify and good on him for that.

“But it is pointless if he is playing in quallies and you are not committed to the sport.

“He’s wasting not only his time but also everyone around him.

“He’s got to commit to the sport if he has any chance of coming back.”

Tennis CEO Craig Tiley said it was up to Hewitt to assess Tomic’s Davis Cup prospects but admitted “he’s got some work to do to get back”.

“It’s not the first time I have heard Bernard make negative comments toward the organisation – I can pretty much guess what Bernard is going to say,” Tiley told SEN Radio.

The draw for the first round tie at Pat Rafter Arena will be held on Thursday.

lead 4-3 in head-to-head Davis Cup clashes but Germany won the last tie, a 2012 World Group playoff 3-2 in Hamburg.

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Arrest after Toronto chase, Lakelands crash

A man has been arrested following a pursuit with an alleged stolen vehicle in Lake Macquarie.
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Police have been told a Mitsubishi Triton utility was stolen from a home in Speers Point on Monday.

Just before 11.30am on Tuesday, officers attached to Lake Macquarie TAG sighted the vehicle at the intersection of Victory Parade and Cary Street, Toronto, and a pursuit was initiated.

The pursuit continued along Five Island Road, where police deployed road spikes at the intersection of Anzac Parade however, the driver allegedly crossed the median strip and continued driving into oncoming traffic and the pursuit was terminated.

About 1pm, the vehicle was seen driving along Macquarie Road, Warners Bay, when it veered off the road and hit a tree.

The driver fled from the vehicle, and a short foot pursuit took place.

A-24-year-old man was arrested and taken to Belmont Hospital for mandatory testing.

He remains in hospital under police guard after an x-ray revealed a fracture in his back.

Charges are expected.

Separately, police on the Central Coast are appealing for information after a pursuit at Narara.

Brisbane Water police attempted to stop a red Lexus sedan with stolen numberplates on Manns Road about 5.15pm on Monday.

They began a pursuit along Narara Valley Drive that was terminated due to safety concerns. They spotted the vehicle about 5.25pm on the Pacific Highway at Lisarow, where they began following it to the intersection of The Ridgeway and the highway.

As police headed south on The Ridgeway, they came across a crash involving a grey Mazda 3 and a red Lexus sedan.

The occupants of the alleged stolen Lexus were last seen running through the rear yard of a home on The Ridgeway. They were headedtowards Donna Crescent.

Police patrolled the area but were unable to find the men.

The driver of the other car, a 36-year-old woman, was taken to Gosford hospital to receive treatment for a possible neck injury.

Anyone with dash cam vision or information about the crash is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Shorten seeks lower private health bills

BILL SHORTEN PRESS CLUBBill Shorten has put private health insurers “on notice” that a Labor government would not accept premium rises of a similar scale to recent years.
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But the Labor leader, who laid out his plans for 2018 in a speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday, did not specify how he would deliver cheaper premiums.

“If you want to go to a barbecue and talk to a stranger, have a whinge about your private health insurance bill – you will make a friend straight away,” Mr Shorten said.

He said there were a “number of options” on the table for the industry which received $6.5 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies and made some of the biggest profits of any n firms.

“I put private health insurance – the big-end multinationals – on notice. Business as usual does not work,” Mr Shorten said.

He flagged examining the issue of exclusions in policies in consultation with the industry.

The most recent premium rise, to kick in on April 1, will cost families an extra $200 a year on average.

That is despite the 3.9 per cent rise being the lowest in 17 years.

Premiums rose 4.84 per cent last year and 50.7 per cent between 2010 and 2016.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said health insurance cover would always be lower under the coalition.

“Labor has always hated private health insurance. In government, Labor cut $4 billion from the rebate and means-tested it,” Mr Hunt said.

He said the end of waiting times for policy upgrades, discounts for young ns and a $1.1 billion reduction in costs in the private health sector was taking pressure off premiums.

Labor health spokeswoman Catherine King said the government was failing to address a drop in private hospital coverage as well as a rise in premiums.

“Labor has been clear – we think the balance needs to be shifted towards n consumers and away from the pockets of the big insurers,” she said in a statement.

“We are looking at a series of reforms, but we have no further plans to change the private health insurance rebate.”

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NPL: Valentine Phoenix gain green light for move to home of their own

VALENTINE Phoenix will play their senior Northern NSW NPL matches at Croudace BayComplex in a move president Steve Screen has hailed as a win for football.
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PITCH PERFECT: Valentine president Steve Screen at CB Complex in August 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Phoenix have been working tirelessly togainapproval from Northern NSW Football to move from Cahill Oval atBelmont, where they share the huge pitch with cricket and rugby league, to dedicated football fields at CB Complex.

After making changes to CB Complex, the club’s junior grounds, and curating the surface to meet NPL criteria, Valentine gained the green lightthis week.

“It’s going to bring the club back to the community,” Screen said.

“We’ve been playing over at Belmont for a long time and people just don’t want to go watch us there.

“We’re hoping that’s going to be one of the good parts, and it’s going to give the players a better surface. Even though Cahill Oval is being returfed, we’ve got to share it with rugby league and cricket. Thisis a win for not only our club, but for the game.”

Valentine will play NPL Youth matches at Cahill Oval this year but hope to eventually host all games at CB Complex, which will have three football pitches under redevelopment plans before Lake Macquarie City Council. Another multi-million dollar revamp is planned for Cahill Oval.

Screen said the move came through successful collaboration between the club,NNSWF and council.

Phoenix coach Darren Sills said the CB Complex pitch was in “outstanding condition” after the hard work of volunteers and the movewill help the clubkeep and attract players, as well as improve their recovery.

“It’s a huge step forward for the club,” Sills said.

“Knowing we will have a pitch which is on par with others in the competition, in terms of quality and size, it’s a great benefit, and it’s going to be one club back at home, which is amazing.”

Valentine, meanwhile, have recruitedformerMarconi and Blacktown striker Daniel Ott andJapanese midfielderShinji Shozu. Zac Sneddon has returned early from US collegeand will play the full season. Young defender Reece Pettit has beennamed captain after the departure of Scott McGinley.

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Sabre Norris speaks about her health and medical condition

‘I cry in my bed’: Surfing champion knows she can’t hide from her health battle Sabre Norris.
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Sabre Norris on the Ellen Show.

Sabre Norris and Tony Hawk.

Sabre Norris gets air.

TweetFacebookNewcastle’s Sabre Norris is sticking to her goal to skateboard for at the 2020 Olympics, despite facing a challenging medical condition.

The 13-year-old talented skateboarder and surfer made waves around the world in 2016 afterreceiving a wildcard entry to Sydney International Women’s Surf Pro, aged 11.

Hertelevision interview with Karl Stefanovic went viral after she poked fun at her dad, former Olympic swimming medallist Justin Norris, which led toappearances on The Ellen Show.

Sabre Norris, 11, won Ellen’s heart after her appearance on The Ellen Show. Photo: YouTube

Having conquered skate ramps, big waves and the limelight, the pint-sized athlete now faces a bigger challenge with her health.

She has been diagnosed with the condition Chiari malformation, which causes her brain tissue to extend into her spinal canal.

It’s thought that this condition may be affecting her pituitary gland because she hasn’t been growing.

“The medical result means I need to show more heart and put in more hours than anyone else,” she said.

Sabre said her goal remains to “represent my country, hopefully at the Olympics in skateboarding”.

“I’ve got to learn to live with it,” Sabre said. “If you’ve got something wrong with you, you’ve got to accept it and not hide it.

“You need to tell someone about it, so you don’t feel so alone.”

Sabre says it has been difficult, but she has a lot of support.

Biggy, Naz, Sockie and Sabre Norris.

“I do cry in my bed a lot,” she said. “I’m scared of it getting worse and not being able to skate and surf again.

“I’ve got good brothers and sisters and they always help me through it and give me a lot of cuddles.”


The siblings who love to laughSabre Norris takes down the trollsSabre and her brother Biggy and sisters Sockie and Naz have been making successful videos on social media.

The videos show a strong connection and much love between the siblings.

“I’m very lucky to have the family that I have,” Sabre said.

“They’re always there for me, they care about how I feel and they’re very selfless.”

Sockie, 10, gives Sabre lots of love.

“It’s a little bit tricky, she is going through a tough time,” Sockie said.

“We’re always going to be there for Sabre. Hopefully it all works out because we love her.”

Biggy, 9, said he gives Sabre hugs and motivational speeches to help her.

“I say ‘Sabre, you can do it, you’re the best. You can skate your way to the Olympics and you can be anything’.”

One symptom of the condition is scoliosis, which Sabre has been diagnosed with.

However, she has no other symptoms at present and has been able to continue skateboarding and surfing.

She was skateboarding at Bondi Skate Park on Tuesday morning, before heading for an MRI scan in Sydney for a further analysis of her condition.

The Herald, Newcastle

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Jackie Gillies and Anthony Mundine encourage Bernard Tomic on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!

Newcastle psychic Jackie Gillies counsels depressed tennis misfit Bernard Tomic Deep Discussion: Jackie Gillies and Anthony Mundine trying to lift the spirits of Bernard Tomic, who was feeling depressed.
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Ben Gillies shows his wife’s new TV gig.

Jackie Gillies.

TweetFacebook I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

Jackie, known for starring on The Real Housewives of Melbourne and for being a “professional psychic”,is in the SouthAfrican junglewith nine other contestants.

Among them are Anthony Mundine, Bernard Tomic, Shannon Nolland Tiffany [aflame-haired pop star from the ‘80s].

You might remember those heartfelt lyrics: “I think we’re alone now, there doesn’t seem to be anyone around, I think we’re alone now, the beating of our hearts is the only sound”.

Ben Gillies shows his wife’s new TV gig.

Those lyrics were touching, as was Jackie Gillies’ heartfelt effort to prevent a depressed Tomic –the Aussie tennis misfit – from quitting the show on its second night, after he struggled with a terrifying challenge.

Tomic had to walk on a narrow bridgeoff a 200-metre high cliff, while wearinggoggles that made his vision become upside down. Hehad to reach out to grab big yellow stars towin points for a decent dinner for his camp mates.

How about the fall from Tomic. He really struggled out there under intense conditions. Welcome to #ImACelebrityAU! pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/AQdMbDxxQS

— #ImACelebrityAU (@ImACelebrityAU) January 29, 2018Melon ManiaSticking with the Silverchair theme, a “melon rescue” will be held at The Edwards in Newcastle West on Wednesday.

The former band’s bassistChris Joannou is a co-owner of the cafe and bar, which willhost “melon mania” from 10am to 6pm.

So-called “warpaint watermelons” grown on Moore Farm at Wollombiare ripe for the picking.

They’ll be available straight from the back of a truck, old-school style. We hear they’re juicy and sweet. And if people don’t buy them, they’ll go to waste.

There are100 melons on offer,eight to 20 kilograms in size, costing$8 to $12.

Melon party anyone?

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Aussie refused bail in Cambodia spy case

CAMBODIA TRIALS AUSTRALIAN DRONE FILMMAKERAn n filmmaker accused of spying in Cambodia has been denied bail by a Phnom Penh court.
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A bench of four Supreme Court judges ruled on Tuesday that investigations into Ricketson’s activities should continue in a lower court.

Ricketson, who has been held in pre-trial detention since June last year, arrived after the court delivered its decision and he was returned to prison immediately after his arrival.

He did not comment.

Ricketson, 68, was arrested in June and charged with “collecting information prejudicial to national security”. He faces five to 10 years’ jail if convicted.

Since his arrest, Ricketson has been detained in Cambodia’s notorious Prey Sar prison where he has been kept under tight security.

His case has been linked to the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, which was dissolved by the courts amid a government crackdown on dissent that included the closure of media outlets.

His son Jesse Ricketson, who has moved to Cambodia to help his father with the case, said the family was “sorely disappointed” by the bail decision.

“We had all hoped very much that the court might return a positive result on the question of bail, allowing my father to sit through the investigation period in conditions more appropriate to his age,” Mr Ricketson said in a statement.

“As he’s almost 70, our family is very concerned about my father’s health in the lead up to the hot period in March and April.

“He has already lost 10 kilograms and is currently housed in a cell the size of 16m x 6m with 140 other men and we’re just not sure how long he can endure these conditions.”

The Ricketson family has appealed to the Cambodian government to help ensure the investigation be carried out with transparency and due process.

The statement describes Ricketson as a “kind, decent and honest man”, who had over the last 22 years volunteered a much of his time and money to help poor families in Cambodia.

“We firmly believe James is innocent of espionage or any other crime and hope to see him return home soon.”

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