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A former government lawyer who resigned after spectacularly falling out with ex-attorney-general George Brandis will do battle for ACT Labor senator Katy Gallagher as her citizenship case goes to the High Court.
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Justin Gleeson SC, who left his role as solicitor-general following a public deterioration in relations with Senator Brandis, will argue the case for Senator Gallagher after she was caught up in the dual citizenship fiasco that has ejected multiple parliamentarians.

Mr Gleeson also acted for Tony Windsor in the High Court, fighting the former New England MP’s nemesis, deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, as the Nationals leader’s citizenship case was heard in October.

The Senate voted to refer Senator Gallagher to the High Court over her dual British citizenship in December, when she also stood aside from her responsibilities on Labor’s frontbench until her case was resolved.

A finding on her eligibility could have implications for other Labor MPs under a cloud over dual citizenship claims, but the ALP says it won’t consider a High Court ruling on Senator Gallagher as a precedent.

Senator Gallagher said she believed she had taken all reasonable steps to renounce British citizenship by descent from her father, but delays in processing her case by the UK Home Office meant she was a dual citizen at the time of nomination for the 2016 election.

Documents provided to the Senate this month showed she was “at the date of her nomination for the 2016 election, a British citizen by descent” and that her moves to renounce in April 2016 took until August 16 to be completed by UK officials.

Labor has enlisted Maurice Blackburn as Senator Gallagher’s solicitors and it is understood the High Court will decide whether the ALP or the government bears the costs for her legal representation upon making a ruling.

Batman Labor MP David Feeney’s case will also go to the High Court after he admitted he could not find documents proving he renounced his British citizenship.

Mr Gleeson argued in Mr Joyce’s High Court case the Nationals leader should be disqualified as an MP, warning the High Court that chaos and uncertainty accompanying Parliament’s dual citizenship crisis will be repeated in future if the court accepted that ignorance was a valid defence.

Section 44 of the constitution required strict “undivided loyalty” from MPs and dual citizenship did not need to be “voluntary, chosen or felt” to create a split allegiance, Mr Gleeson said.

Clearing Mr Joyce and other MPs on the basis that they were ignorant of their status would set a dangerous precedent, he said.

The High Court will hold a directions hearing for Senator Gallagher’s case on January 19 in Brisbane.

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Long-viewed as Australia’s next coach, Justin Langer says it is way too early to think about whether he will take over the role when incumbent Darren Lehmann stands down at the end of the 2019 Ashes.
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Lehmann, who was appointed Australian coach after Mickey Arthur was sacked shortly before the 2013 Ashes series in England, this week confirmed in an interview with Fox Sports that he would not seek a new deal when his current contract expires in less than two years.

“That will be it,” Lehmann said. “It will be a case of too much time, too much travel.”

Lehmann’s former Test teammate Langer, who coaches Western Australia and the Perth Scorchers, has seemingly been on the path to replace Lehmann, having already filled in for Lehmann in white ball series.

Langer’s record with the Scorchers is terrific, while he also led WA to the most recent one-day title in October.

However speaking after the Scorchers continued their unbeaten start to the season with a win over the Melbourne Stars at the WACA on Tuesday night, Langer said the job wasn’t on his radar.

“It’s all hypothetical. It’s two years away,” the long-time gritty Test opener said.

“Had we lost [against the Stars], I would be a rubbish coach and not even considered for it.

“So I know how fickle it is. It’s so fickle. It’s all about timing. Life’s about timing. A lot happens in two years.”

Asked specifically about whether his family situation would prevent him from taking the job, he played a straight bat.

“Honestly I don’t even have to think about it at the moment. It’s two years away. Honestly, I love my job here [in Perth].”

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Kuala Lumpur: An Australian grandmother who was the victim of an online romance scam has been acquitted of drugs charges in Malaysia.
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Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 54, would have faced execution if found guilty in Malaysia’s High Court on Wednesday, despite lawmakers in Kuala Lumpur voting only weeks ago to give judges discretionary powers in individual cases.

The new law passed in Malaysia’s parliament on November 30 would not have saved her because it has not yet been formally gazetted.

Prosecutors told Exposto’s lawyers on Wednesday night they had decided to appeal the acquittal, meaning she will not be allowed to immediately return to Australia.

Earlier prosecutors had asked for her to be deported with days.

Ms Exposto insisted she was duped into flying into Kuala Lumpur’s international airport from Shanghai in December 2014 with 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine in her luggage.

Defence lawyers say Ms Exposto, a mother of four from Cabramatta in Sydney, was the victim of a sophisticated US military romance scam that has entrapped thousands of people.

She told Malaysia’s High Court in September she fell for the scam after building an online relationship with a supposed US soldier and Afghanistan veteran named “Captain Daniel Smith” who asked her to marry him in 2013.

She said her relationship with her husband was “getting a bit sour” at the time.

Ms Exposto said she was lured into carrying a bag from Shanghai to Melbourne – transiting in Kuala Lumpur – which she believed to contain only clothing by a supposed acquaintance of the soldier.

“He (Smith) made me feel loved, he made me feel wanted,” she said.

The scam involved the supposed soldier sending her photographs .

“Smith would sing to me a few times a day and send poems as well,” she said.

Defence lawyer Shafee Abdullah told reporters that Ms Exposto’s testimony revealed what she strongly believed was a close relationship with the fictional Smith.

“There are probably thousands, mostly women, who have (been) conned in similar situations,” he said.

Ms Exposto arrived in court on Wednesday wearing a black blazer, white top and black slacks, having lost weight during more than two years in a Kuala Lumpur jail.

She smiled and chatted with lawyers before the verdict was delivered.

A judge said he found that Ms Exposto had no knowledge of the drugs in the bag, rejecting a prosecution submission that her story about the love scam was an afterthought.

The judge said he believed Ms Exposto’s love for the online scammer was genuine and that they been in contact for two years.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has warned that scammers targeting Australians in love scams will go to “great lengths to gain your interest and trust, such as sharing personal information and even sending you gifts”.

“Scammers may take months to build what seems like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come,” the ACCC said.

The commission warned there are dozens of scams including those involved in dating and romance, identity theft, get-rich investments, money transfers, jobs and employment.

Fraudsters often personalise scams to fit the profile of their victim.

Often scammers use fake webcams, video changing programs and photographs of other people to build a false identity and then prowl the internet for victims.

The US military has described the scams as a “growing epidemic”.

Australian defence personnel have also had their identities stolen by scammers.

Defence lawyers say Ms Exposto, a former social worker in East Timor, has never wavered in her account of the scam.

Mr Shafee said Ms Exposto is a “responsible mother” who told him she is so anti-drugs that if her four children ever got involved in drugs she would kill them herself.

Her family and friends in Sydney, including a son who travelled to Kuala Lumpur for the verdict, were shocked by her arrest after she volunteered to put her bag with the drugs through Customs screening.

The drugs were sewn into a hidden compartment in the bag and she insists she never knew they were there.

Malaysia has hanged more than 440 convicted drug offenders since 1960.

Two Australians, Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers, were the first Westerners to be executed under Malaysia’s then new drug laws in 1989, after being arrested with 141.9 grams of heroin.

Michael McAuliffe, another Australian, was hanged in Kuala Lumpur in 1993 after being found with heroin in his pocket at a Penang airport checkpoint.

Malaysian government officials say despite the law change giving judges discretionary powers on capital punishment, authorities are not going softer on drug trafficking.

“We do not want the judges’ hands tied,” said Azalina Othman Said, a minister in the prime minister’s department.

After the acquittal, Ms Exposto was sent back to jail on Wednesday night.

Lawyers said her passport had expired while she was awaiting trial and they would apply for another from the Australian embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Abdullah told reporters after the verdict the case was “clear cut”. He said there was overwhelming evidence she was tricked into carrying the bag.

Leaving the court, Ms Exposto’s son Hugo said: “I am very happy.”

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Newcastle earthquake destruction ‘unbelievable’ | photos, video ANNIVERSARY: Rutherford paramedic Bruce Varley (far right, touching hat) at Newcastle Workers Club on the day of the Newcastle Earthquake in 1989.
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DESTROYED: The damage at Newcastle Workers Club after the earthquake on December 28, 1989.

Paramedics work hard to revive an injured man taken from Newcastle Workers Club after he suffered a heart attack.

Ambulance workers rush a woman to Royal Newcastle Hospital after pulling her from Newcastle Workers Club.

An ambulance rescue worker brings down a survivor from the top of Newcastle Workers Club.

Rescuers at Newcastle Workers Club stand on collapsed floors and crushed cars in the car park as another section of floor hangs over them.

Hamilton community rallies to help vicitims of earthquake and to clear debris in search of more trapped persons. Picture: Supplied

Hamilton community rallies to help victims of earthquake and to clear debris in search of more trapped persons

Kathryn Gray outside her wrecked home at 44 Laman St Newcastle Earthquake

Newcastle residents in a demolished home following the 1989 earthquake

Newcastle 1989 earthquake 25-year anniversary. Former NBN cameraman Stewart Osland films the event on the corner of King and Union streets, Newcastle west.

Newcastle Workers Club demolition Steven Bennett 13 of Blackalls Park and Martin Blaxell 9 of Lapston, Blue Mountains. Picture: Anita Jones

Newcastle earthquake victim being taken into the Mater Hospital by Ambulance and hospital staff 28-12-1989 photo by Anita Jones

Gaye Windsor says her bit at the meeting at West Leagues Club to Ross Hemsworth, manager of Health & Building Surveillance.

Otto, Lindsay demolished shop Newcastle Earthquake

Blood donors at police boys club broadmeadow Bruce Garnham of Marylands.

Woman stacking bricks to be used in reconstruction Pam Goldman 41 Stevenson Place 2-1-1990

Royal Newcastle Hospital staff being briefed by Dr 28-12-1989. Credit- Newcastle Museum

Bob Hawke talks to the press Newcastle earthquake disaster aftermarth 28-12-89 Bob Hawke Talks To The Press 28-12-89

Newcastle earthquake victim being transported by ambulance to the Mater Hospittal Photo by Ken Robson 28-12-1989

devastated newcastle buildings Newcastle Earthquake Laman Street 28-12-1989 Museum

Hamilton community rallies to help victims of earthquake and to clear debris in search of more trapped persons

Mrs Kay Brown outside the ncle ambulance station in Hamilton. She was inside when the earthquake hit and collapsed the walls next to her

Woman stacking bricks to be used in reconstruction. Pam Goldman, 41 Stevenson Place

Earthquake repairs. Paul Williams and Andrew Gilkinson of Project Technology installing porting for grout injection on the face of the Newcastle Court House

War memorial and Junction Motor Lodge damaged by quake.

he chief of the Geophysics Division at the Australian Seismolegicial Centre in Canberra, Dr David Denham, with the seismologicial chart of the earthquake

George Hotel in Newcastle just after the earthquake on the day of its demolition as a result of earthquake damage

Earthquake damage to road, Bridge St, Waratah.

Police rescue squad from Marrickville get their first break from earthquake duty at Ncle Workers Club Newcastle Earthquake

rescue crews working to find people trapped under rubble beneath the kent hotel awning in hamilton

Mary Ironman rescued from the Newcastle Workers Club in 1989

Denny Milligan at his home in the Junction

Newcastle Workers Club.

Tech College Vice Principal Phil Warren in courtyord of Darling Building at Tighes Hill campus.

Western end Workers Club 1989

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In the end, as with most of the so-called scandals that leave the commentariat wringing their disapproving hands at the rest of us, the transition of Doctor Who from boy to girl was spectacular but brief.
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In keeping with the modern Doctor Who tradition, the regeneration of one Doctor into another is accompanied by a spectacular malfunction in the time-travelling Tardis.

So television audiences got their first glimpse of Jodie Whittaker, who replaces Peter Capaldi in the iconic role, set to the backdrop of the Tardis’s systems exploding and its console room catching fire. It was short. And she said just two words: “Oh, brilliant!”

And it went over well with the fans. “I mean if I was Jodie Whittaker and I looked at myself in a mirror for the first time those would be my first words too,” wrote one wag on Twitter.

The regeneration scene came in the wake of a Christmas episode that managed to be both gentle and affecting, suffused with melancholy and dipped deeply into the themes of life and loss.

In it we said goodbye to Capaldi’s Doctor, and also to the very first Doctor, played by actor David Bradley, who was reprising a character originated by William Hartnell in the very first episode of Doctor Who in 1963.

In the episode, we met both men on the eve of their regenerations.

Having the first and the latest on stage together gave this baton-change an unexpectedly poignant feel; Hartnell’s Doctor – originally described as “a crotchety old man in a Police Box” – is properly iconic.

One of the episode’s lightest touches, the gentle mocking of the 1960s-era of Doctor Who for its subtle misogyny and its expectation that the Doctor’s female companions were there for little more than to scream at Daleks and make the tea, served as a cute foreword to what lay ahead.

By episode’s end a woman was not just centre stage, she was stepping into the role of The Doctor, the exclusive domain of male actors for its more than five-decade history.

The announcement of the casting of Jodie Whittaker in July was greeted as a controversial event by a minority of fans and a vocal chorus of mostly conservative commentators. In truth, though the media headlines may not have always made it clear, in the mainstream of Doctor Who fandom the news was met with cheers of approval.

One of Whittaker’s predecessors, actor Colin Baker (the sixth Doctor), offered the simplest of explanation for those wrestling with the idea that young boys had been robbed of a role model. “You don’t have to be of a gender to be a role model,” he said.

The change of actor within the Doctor Who narrative was a plot conceit established in the 1960s when the actor who originated the character, William Hartnell, became ill and was unable to continue working on the series.

As a result, more than a dozen actors have now played the part on television, and a handful more in spin-off projects, standalone movies, radio serials and stage plays, among them Tom Baker, David Tennant, Jon Pertwee and Matt Smith.

But in historical terms two factors were consistent: the Doctor’s childish, obstinate nature, and his gender. The latter has now been torn to pieces with good humour, a wry smile and a touch of style.

There are now 13 official Doctors Who: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.

But there are others, from Richard Hurndall and David Bradley, who played recasts of the Hartnell Doctor, to John Hurt’s War Doctor (a between McGann-and-Eccleston Doctor), Adrian Gibbs’ The Watcher (a projection of the future Baker-to-Davison regeneration), and Michael Jayston’s Shadow of the Valeyard, an evil future Doctor.

Throw in Peter Cushing, who played Doctor Who on the big screen in the 1960s, and Joanna Lumley, who played The Doctor in Curse of the Fatal Death, plus a half-dozen more, and you have a long and impressive honour roll connected officially and unofficially to British television’s most iconic character.

Whether Whittaker becomes the equal of the best – Baker and Tennant, has always been the prevailing thought – remains to be seen. But falling from the burning Tardis, in a classic Doctor Who cliffhanger, she’s off to a flying start.

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The place
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Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery, New Orleans The location

New Orleans’ Warehouse District, just on the edge of the CBD and a short walk from the Mississippi River waterfront and the famous French Quarter.

Despite the name, the Warehouse District is no longer an industrial neighbourhood. Instead it has become known as the city’s arts district, home to museums, galleries and hipster cafes. The space

Housed in a former warehouse used by a local company as a coffee store, the hotel’s building dates back to 1854. The 167-room space across four storeys retains some of its industrial origins, with exposed brickwork, metal support frames and original hardwood floors.

The hotel has a partnership with the New Orleans Centre for the Creative Arts and artwork permeates the building, both on the ground floor lobby which leads into a gallery space, through to the rooms which feature modern, original works.

Three of the hotel’s suites have been curated by three separate artists, each offering a unique look and feel. There’s a gym on the ground floor as well as a store (the Chandlery of the hotel’s name) that offers a variety of local goods for sale.

A nice touch is the converted cigarette machine in the lobby, which now sells small works from local artists. At $5 a pop, these make for great souvenirs.

The hotel is also pet-friendly, with some rooms offering pet beds and other amenities. During my visit this seemed to be a popular option, as numerous guests were coming and going with their dogs in tow. The room

It’s a good-sized space, with exposed brick, two modern artworks on the walls, stylish furniture and thick, dark curtains to block out the hot Louisiana sun. The bathroom is a simple affair with a large shower, toilet and single sink, but little space for storage of your own toiletries.

A sideboard doubles as a desk space and also contains the safe, while the open wardrobe space hides behind the door upon entry. The king-sized bed is very comfortable. The food

Compere Lapin, located within the hotel, was named the best new restaurant in New Orleans in 2016 and its owner and chef, Nina Compton, was named one of the 2017’s best new chefs by US Food and Wine magazine. Compton has a national profile thanks to her success on the TV cooking contest Top Chef and, as such, the restaurant is popular spot.

Like the city itself, the menu is French-influenced but offers modern twists on traditional fare. I opt for the fresh oysters as an appetiser, which come with several sauces on the side. For the main I opt for the signature goat curry, which is tasty, though American tastes tend to lean away from subtlety. The “biscuits” served on the side – a scone-like side served instead of bread at most restaurants in New Orleans – are so delicious it’s hard to resist filling up on them. Stepping out

You’re a short walk from the Mississippi River and it’s a pleasant stroll from here down to the French Quarter. Though Bourbon Street is notorious for its cheap cocktails and rowdy nightlife (it’s one of the few streets in the USA where it’s legal to drink on the street), there are pockets of more authentic culture to be found here.

Preservation Hall (726 St Peter St) presents nightly performances from a collective of more than 100 local jazz musicians performing classics in a traditional style. See preservationhall南京夜网The verdict

Close to many of the city’s highlights and home to one of the city’s top new restaurants, this is a cool hotel at a decent price. Essentials

Rooms at the Old 77 Hotel start from $US148, including taxes. See old77hotel南京夜网Highlight

The cool style of the hotel is fitting for the Big Easy. Lowlight

While I do love dogs, I don’t particularly like hearing them barking in neighbours’ rooms or corridors early in the morning.

Craig Platt stayed as a guest of New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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An alliance of six Sydney councils has imposed new guidelines on dockless bike sharing companies.
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Inner West Council is leading the charge, giving the share bike companies three months to comply or they could face punitive action.

The alliance was formed in November when mayors from Inner West, City of Sydney, Randwick, Waverley, Woollahra and Canada Bay councils met to draft a set of guidelines to address the problem of haphazard placement of share bikes in parks and streets.

Inner West Council mayor Darcy Byrne, who convened the meeting, said it was important that one set of rules was established to protect pedestrian safety and ensure the success of bike share schemes.

Operators will have to introduce “geo-fencing” – a virtual boundary area – for their bikes, a feature that oBike has already launched in Singapore.

Under geo-fencing, users would have to park their bikes in preferred areas or risk a penalty.

A spokeswoman from oBike Australia said it would not be implementing geo-fencing technology “anytime soon as we are still in discussions with the Sydney councils on that”.

CP Lim, the head of oBike Australia, said: “We will abide by [the guidelines] to the best of our abilities within reasonable means.”

A spokesman for Reddy Go said the full implementation of geo-fencing would require “advanced technology and more investment” and there hasn’t been any agreement with the councils on how it would be financed.

Reddy Go said the guidelines are fair and that it would cooperate with councils.

It expects its competitors to also show that the “image of bike sharing in Australia” isn’t diminished.

A spokesman for the City of Sydney said while the council “supports the concept of bike share, we continue to stress our concerns about safety, redistribution of bikes and accessibility on footpaths, and have found operators to be responsive”.

The guidelines state operators must: move bikes in dangerous spots within three hours and be proactive in the redistribution of bikes;man a repair phone service between 6am and 9pm;unlock bikes for council staff when requested so that they can move bikes with more ease; deactivate broken bikes immediately and remove them within a week; educate users about correct bike parking and the possibility of heavy penalties for offences such as not wearing a helmet; install bells, helmets, front and rear lights, a rear reflector and a sturdy kickstand on all bikes; have public liability insurance; send relevant data, including the number of registered users and trip origins and destinations to councils whenever they ask for the purpose of transport and urban planning; offer incentives to customers to relocate bikes in built-up areas; move inactive bikes after 11 to 14 days or they are to be impounded and a fee will be charged. If the fee isn’t paid, the bike is recycled.

Customers are advised to park their share bike in an upright position, kerbside, away from buildings and bike rack spaces, and not on narrow footpaths.

The problem of share bike clutter is well-documented.

Similar guidelines have been introduced in Canberra and in three Melbourne councils.

This came after 30 oBikes were crushed by Melbourne City Council after they were impounded for getting in the way of pedestrians. This is not where you return your #obike. #melbourne#victoriapic.twitter南京夜网/C6V3V3BVB2??? Paul Wong (@___pw___) September 19, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.Read More →

Story of the Year – Sergio Garcia
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Sergio Garcia really was due. The 37-year-old, who burst on to the scene around the same time as Tiger Woods, had finished second in a major championship on four occasions, and top 10 in a further 22. Even he didn’t think he had it in him to finally get over the line. That was until he strode onto the fairways at Augusta for the US Masters, found himself in a play-off against England’s Justin Rose, then slipped his arms into the green jacket. It was hard to think of a touring professional who deserved the breakthrough more than the Spaniard. He would round out his year at the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast. Like Adam Scott, who broke the drought for Australian fans in 2013, a Masters triumph gives Garcia the sort of exalted status that will last until the day he puts down the clubs for the final time. Who’s to say there aren’t more major wins in store for him in 2018.

The Winners – Americans

Garcia aside, it was the rise of the young Americans in 2017 as they took every major outside of the Masters. Brooks Koepka began the rush when he saluted in the US Open at Erin Hills in June, pocketing more than $US2 million in the process. Then it was the turn of Jordan Spieth, who won the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in dramatic scenes. Spieth looked to have blown it when he gave up a three-shot final round lead to countryman Matt Kuchar, before a blisteringly fine nine holes that included three birdies and an eagle – good enough for a one-stroke win. Justin Thomas rounded out the hat-trick for the Stars and Stripes, winning the PGA Championship at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow. They represent a new breed of 20-something stars that have set the pace for the previous generation, those of Garcia’s vintage, who must find a way to respond in 2018.

The losers – golf fans in Melbourne

While Spieth and Jason Day were playing the Australian Open in Sydney and Garcia, Marc Leishman and Adam Scott were teeing it up on the Gold Coast, Melbourne remained a golfing wasteland in 2017. The demise of the Masters has left the city, which boasts some of the finest courses in Australia, devoid of any live action. The days of the triple crown of Australian golf are gone, at least for the foreseeable future, though there is reason for Victorians to be excited in coming summers.

The city has poached the Open for 2020 and 2022, leaving Sydney minus a major golf event, while the world’s best players will be there in 2019 for the President’s Cup, which Open organisers and those in charge of the PGA Championship (staying at Royal Pines for another three years) will be hoping to leverage for talent. But as it stood this year, the television was as close as it came for golf enthusiasts at the bottom of the mainland.

Quote of the year – Jason Day

The former world No.1 dashed off the course in Texas in March, later explaining the emotional reasons for his rapid departure. His mother, Dening, was suffering lung cancer and had been in surgery in an Ohio hospital.

“It’s really hard to even comprehend being on the golf course right now because of what she’s gone through,” a tearful Day said later. “I’m glad I brought her over here. And it’s been really hard to play golf lately this year. It’s been very, very emotional, as you can tell. I’ve already gone through it once with my dad [Alvin, who died of stomach cancer when Day was 12], and I know how it feels. And it’s hard enough to see another one go through it.”

Social media moment – Audrey Leishman

The Australian Marc Leishman’s American wife, Audrey, wasn’t impressed with what she saw at the President’s Cup in New York, using a blog post to lambast boozy fans, whom she felt showed little to no respect for many of the international contingent.

“There were many times last week that I thought about what the kids were seeing. The crowds booing for good shots and cheering for missed putts. The drinking at 7 a.m.? Screaming ‘Big Easy’ to Ernie Els and begging for his autograph and then yelling at his players. Heckling a wife for her beauty and then her husband for his play. I was thankful my boys weren’t there to see the way people were treating their daddy. Their hero.”

Crystal ball – another major, a rising star and the return of a familiar name

Tiger Woods showed promise in his tournament in the Bahamas and will return to the tour to be a force in the majors, although he won’t win one. An Australian will, though, and it’s likely to be Marc Leishman, who has become a consistent force among the game’s elite and has the chops to carry off one of the big ones. Scott will return to the game’s top 15 players as he returns from new-baby duties and Cameron Smith, a new star of the game, will be in the world’s top 50 by the end of the year.

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‘CONTINUOUS BLOODY DEBACLE’: Gail Henderson at her Marks Point home on Wednesday. She has been without an internet and landline connection for the past 10 days. Picture: Jonathan Carroll More than 18 months after NBN Co apologised for the botched rollout of new broadband servicesin the Hunter, customers like Gail Henderson are still suffering.
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NBN Co chief customer officer John Simon apologisedin April 2016 after a litany of complaints about slow internet speeds, long periods without service while waiting for achangeover from ADSLandlandline disconnections.

He said at the time that customers had an“absolute commitment we will continue to drive these problems out”. Service providers had bought more bandwith so speed complaints “should be radically diminished”.

But theNewcastleHeraldcontinuesto document problems with the NBN in the Hunter, wherefibre-to-the-node technology is being married withan ageing copper phone network.

Ms Henderson, who lives in Haddon Crescent, Marks Point, has been battling internet issues since reluctantly agreeingto switch to the NBN with Optus in February.

She said her download speeds were often between one and four megabits per second and her connection regularly dropped in and out, despite a visit from an NBN technician in August.

“I was told I was at the end of the nodewith old infrastructure and would continue to have problems,” she said.“Optus provided compensation in that I paid half of the internet side of the bill for threemonths to allow time to investigate changingservice providers.”

Advice from neighbours and other service providers had suggested it was pointless switching providers.

She continued to have problemsuntil she lost her phone and internet connectionaltogether on December 18.

From this point she tells a familiarstory of waiting up to 40 minutes on the phone twice a day to speak to Optuscustomer support, conflicting advice about the cause of the problem and unfulfilled promises of a quick fix.

Finally, she lost her temper on the phone, prompting Optus to suggestshe buya five-gigabyte mobile broadband dongle to use until her NBN service was restored.

“That’s one of the things that annoys me: They don’t offer you alternatives. It was only when I went absolutely berserk on Wednesday, after I’d waited for 40 minutes to speak to a person,” she said.

“The only way I seem to get anything done is to behave like a lunatic.”

She said Optus planned toreimburse her for the dongle, although it was useful for little more than checking emails, and hadorganised to send out another technician on Thursday, 11 days after shelost connection.

“If you think about how long I’ve been without phone and internet this time, it’s not right in this country and this day and age.It’s just a continuous bloody debacle, really.I was better off under the old system.

“It’s not going to get any better until they fix the whole area.But my argument is they should be able to provide me with a service. And they can’t seem to be able to.

“If we have old infrastructure, why did they make us change without upgrading the lines. It must be costing a fortune to pay lip serviceto repairs.

“I don’t care who’s to blame. I want them to stop blaming each other and fix the damn thing.”

NBN Co said there were“no known issues with the condition of infrastructure in Ms Henderson’s area” and it had“a number of initiatives under way to improve end user experience, and are working with all our phone and internet providers, suppliers and other parties in the supply chain to ensure that residents and business owners receive a good experience”.

TheHeraldalsoapproached Optus for comment.

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NBN Co apologises …18 months ago

Lobby group says the system is broken

Dialing up the pain in Islington

Stuck in the slow lane

Vodafone offers back-up 4G service

Questions over‘local’ NBN support service

Telstra offering compensation over slow speeds

Why we’re slower than Kenya

Hunter complaints spiral

The lighter (and darker) side of NBN complaints

Bad start at Redhead

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TRUE BLUE AUSSIE: Victory striker Besart Berisha hopes to receive Australian citizenship early next year. Picture: AAP Images Besart Berisha hopes to finally come good on his long-running dream of playing in the A-League as an Australian early next year.
Nanjing Night Net

The competition’s all-time leading scorer says he’s just weeks away from being granted citizenship in the country he’s called home for seven years.

“I hope in January or February I will become an Aussie and that will be great. I’m really looking forward to that,” Berisha said ahead of the clash against Newcastle on Friday. “I’m not sure exactly when but I’m really looking forward to being an official Australian.This is the country where I start again to play good football and I achieve great things. I’m very grateful for that and this is why I’m still here.I love this country, its been great to me and I’d like to enjoy it as much as I can.”

Berisha’s citizenship would be a boon for Victory coach Kevin Muscat, allowing the club to sign an extra foreigner next season.

Muscat is unlikely to do so in January even if citizenship came through, given the club’s salary cap dynamics and the fact the A-League premiership is almost definitely out of reach.

Berisha, who this month signed a new deal to stay at Victory until 2019, has a fascinating journey to the A-League.

The 32-year-old was born in Yugoslavia – now Kosovo – fleeing the violence of the Balkans as a refugee with his family on foot, settling in Germany.

After stints in England, Scandinavia and Germany, Ange Postecoglou convinced the fiery hitman to swap Europe for Brisbane, where he became a raging success.

Berisha scored in both of the Roar’s grand final successes under Postecoglou before moving to Melbourne Victory.

Under Muscat, Berisha won a third title and became the first man to score 100 A-League goals, including two more in grand finals.

Berisha’s five-year stay in Melbourne will be his longest at any club.

“This is a big club with big ambitions, they want to be always the best,” he said.

“This is why I decide to stay another year here. I’m very happy with my decision.”

Berisha chose to remain at Victory despite reported interest from the Chinese Super League.

“Of course if you play good football and you score goals as a striker you always attract clubs,” he said.

“Since day one when I arrived here I’ve really enjoyed my football.”

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