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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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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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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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You better Believe it – it’s looking like superstar singer and actress Cher will headline Sydney’s 40th gay and lesbian Mardi Gras in March.
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While it is understood a contract is yet to be signed, sources close to the event have told Fairfax Mediathe 71-year-old gay icon is almost locked in to perform at the world-renowned gay pride festival.

Organisers typically seek out big overseas acts on major anniversaries – the 30th Mardi Gras was headlined by Cyndi Lauper – and this year’s will take on extra significance given the historic legalisation of same-sex marriage just weeks ago.

Cher, a leading gay icon, is known for hits such as ”Believe” and ”If I Could Turn Back Time”. Photo: Aaron Lee Fineman

The rumour mill has been in overdrive, especially after the If I Could Turn Back Time singer hinted at the deal on her official (and ever zany) Twitter account, teasingly posting: “Where am I going in March!?”

And it was helped along last week when the Australian Radio Network appeared to break an embargo by publishing an online story declaring Cher was “officially coming to town” for Mardi Gras. It was swiftly retracted but remains viewable in cached form.

Officials made it clear that while Cher was being courted as “plan A” for the after-party, dealings with megastars were always precarious and fallback options were in place.

Already, the 40th anniversary Mardi Gras parade has been swamped with interest and overbooked. Organisers copped heated criticism for rejecting the NSW Teachers Federation – a long-time participant in the parade – before bowing to pressure and granting the union a float once another group pulled out.

About 12,000 people from 200 groups are expected to march along Oxford Street on March 3, which will mark 40 years since the political protest and gay pride march began.

Organisers issued an apology to those unable to participate, citing safety and security concerns that imposed strict limits on the number of people and vehicles involved in the parade.

Brandon Bear, co-chair of Sydney Mardi Gras, said the chief barrier to expanding the size of the parade was the limited space allocated for pre-parade marshalling on College and Liverpool streets, around Hyde Park.

“If there are more people in there, it does actually become less safe, and it becomes very unpleasant,” he said.

“We’re part of Sydney, we’re not separate to it. It’s about making sure that we can be as fabulous as we can, but not ruining the space for everybody else and keeping the city operational.”

Mr Bear declined to confirm Cher’s involvement in the festival, saying only that “no announcement has been made” and “part of the excitement of the party is waiting to find out who the headliner will be”.

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SMH News. Story by, Kate McClymont and Michaela Whitbourn. Photo shows, Eddie Obeids wife, Judith Obeid leaves the Supreme Court, Sydney with one of her daughters.Photo by, Peter Rae Monday 10 April, 2017As Eddie Obeid languishes behind bars for a second Christmas and New Year, the family of the corrupt former Labor MP is being pursued in court for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash they received from the Circular Quay cafes at the centre of his trial.
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Fairfax Media can reveal the liquidator appointed to Circular Quay Restaurants, the failed front company which ran the cafes, is suing the Obeid family patriarch, his wife Judith and five of their nine children in the District Court for just over $708,000.

The figure includes $433,382 in cash payments the family members allegedly received from the businesses, plus interest and costs.

Circular Quay Restaurants, which operated three cafes on or near the bustling ferry wharves at the quay, went into liquidation in 2014 owing taxpayers almost $1 million in unpaid rent and other costs.

Obeid snr, who spent 20 years in the state’s upper house, was jailed in December 2016 for lobbying a senior NSW Maritime Authority bureaucrat in 2007 to secure favourable conditions for tenants at Circular Quay without revealing his family had a financial interest in the cafes.

In a circular to creditors dated November 28, 2017, Circular Quay Restaurants liquidator Frank Lo Pilato said he conducted public examinations of the company’s current and former directors, its professional advisers and members of the Obeid family in August 2016 and March and April this year.

“During the course of the public examinations evidence was given that cash payments totalling $433,382 were made to members of the Obeid family in the years preceding the liquidation of the company,” Mr Lo Pilato, a managing partner at RSM Australia, said.

As a result of the evidence, he launched proceedings in the District Court against the Obeid family members who received the payments. Mr Lo Pilato said he was also taking action against a former director of the company, Obeid’s brother-in-law John Abood, “for breach of his statutory duties as a director and officer of the company”.

The Obeid children named in the District Court action are Moses Obeid, his older brother Damien and younger brothers Gerard and Eddie junior, along with their sister Gemma.

Obeid snr’s criminal trial followed an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into the cafe leases, which was in turn sparked by a Walkley Award-winning Herald investigation in 2012 exposing the Obeid family’s secret interest in the cafes.

During a liquidator’s examination in April, Judith Obeid described her occupation as “home duties” and agreed she was given $1000 in cash a week from the takings of the businesses. She said she spent the money on items “for the home and for the family”.

Asked who was running the cafes, Mrs Obeid insisted she “really had no knowledge of my sons’ business whatsoever”.

“I have a large family. My dedication was to my nine married children and 33 grandchildren,” she told the Supreme Court.

“I am a hands-on mother and hands-on grandmother. I had no time whatsoever to get involved. That’s the honest truth.”

Asked if she had her own bank account, Mrs Obeid replied: “Not to my knowledge.”

During Obeid snr’s first criminal trial, Mrs Obeid’s cousin Paul Maroon volunteered damning financial records showing payments from the cafes being made to “Dad”.

Mr Maroon was asked during a liquidator’s examination if he subsequently wrote an email apologising to Eddie Obeid’s lawyers for finding the records.

“What were you apologising for in that sentence? The monumental ‘expletive’ thing you had done?” the liquidator’s lawyer, Jim Harrowell, asked Mr Maroon. Mr Maroon replied it was “over a year ago” and he could not recall.

The liquidator’s action, scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on January 15, is not the only legal headache for the Obeid clan. The family is also locked in a long-running Federal Court battle with the Australian Taxation Office over bills totalling $8.6 million, which were sent to the family in August 2013 following an audit of Obeid snr and a complex web of family trusts and companies.

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Alastair Cook wound the clock back to post a potentially career-saving century on a day Australia’s over-reliance on Steve Smith was exposed, leaving the hosts in a grim struggle in the fourth Test.
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The second day crowd of 67,882 came to the MCG expecting another ton from the Australian skipper only to see the home side crumble with the bat as England enjoyed one of its best days on what has been a miserable campaign.

Australia had been well placed to post another gargantuan first innings total but its hopes of inflicting a third straight whitewash on home soil now hang in the balance.

The visitors were 2/192 at stumps on the second day after Australia suffered a dramatic batting collapse in which it lost 7/67 to be all out for 327.

The hosts were not helped by a stomach bug to an exhausted Pat Cummins, who came off the field several times and was so tired he slept during the tea break. Down his pace due to his illness, Cummins still shouldered his share of the load as temperatures soared into the 30s.

“I was pretty proud of Pat. You go through moments when you don’t feel well in Test cricket,” Nathan Lyon said.

“The way he stuck at it and put in a massive effort was quite pleasing to see. Hats off to him for the effort he’s put in for us today.”

Things would have been worse had James Vince challenged a leg before wicket verdict with replays showing the England No.3 had feathered one onto his pad.

On a benign pitch, there is no reason why Cook and his successor Joe Root, who was unbeaten on 49, cannot bat well into the third day and leave Australia in the unfamiliar position of having to bat for survival in the second half of the match.

Opportunities have been few and far between for the Australian attack on a pitch where bowlers are relying primarily on batsman error for their wickets.

They are already ruing the life given to Cook, who was reprieved on 66 when Smith failed to hold on to a difficult chance at first slip off Mitchell Marsh

Cook capitalised on Smith’s gamble to bring himself on for the final over, peeling off the seven runs he needed to reach triple figures with two balls to spare.

England’s leading run-scorer, who posted his first ton in six matches and had gone 10 innings without passing 50, had been under fire from former greats Kevin Pietersen and Mitchell Johnson who believed he should retire.

“Testament to the bloke he is, he’s a calm character, not someone who gets fazed,” Stuart Broad said.

“He went through so much stuff about his captaincy, I’m sure a bit of stick about his batting is not going to bother him too much.

“Cooky has had periods in his career where he might not score the runs he wants then scores a big hundred. He doesn’t deal in little hundreds, he seems to go big.”

The turning point of the day came when Smith chopped on to his stumps on 76 with a 23rd Test ton within reach.

Although Australia’s top six is more stable now than a year ago, its fortunes still ride heavily on Smith’s back. Almost half the team’s runs have come while the skipper has been at the crease.

Smith was lured into a rare mistake by debutant Tom Curran, who a day earlier was cruelly denied what would have been his first Test wicket by a matter of millimetres.

The crowd was stunned when Smith chopped a short and wide ball on to his stumps on 76. He was one of three Australian batsman, along with Mitchell Marsh and Tim Paine, to lose his wicket trying to force the issue off the back foot on a pitch lacking pace.

Once Shaun Marsh departed for 61, one of four wickets to a much-improved Broad, there was little resistance from Australia’s tail.

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The England and Wales Cricket Board will complete a meticulous review of what’s required to succeed in Australia in 2021 – and the opening two days at the MCG have given insight into what’s needed.
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While there is an Ashes rematch on the swinging decks of England in 2019, the ECB will also have an eye towards its next trip here and what skill base its squad must have to be a chance of toppling a robust opponent at a time when home-ground advantage may never have been stronger.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said while the cricketing calendar was crowded, there was still opportunity to thoroughly prepare for a marquee series.

“I think it’s about understanding where the margins can be gained. Obviously, that is a complex issue with respect to our particular structure. It’s about pitches that you play on, it’s about the kind of conditions and the kinds of players that you are creating, out of your own environment,” he said on ABC radio.

“So we’ll go back and have a look at that. As I’ve said we have a thick plan in place for both white-ball and red-ball cricket, so I will go back and have a good look at it but, hopefully, come back better prepared in four years’ time.”

A prerequisite will surely be heart and resolve, something England showed in dismissing Australia for 327 on Wednesday, including claiming 7-67 from the moment Steve Smith dragged a wide delivery onto his stumps and became the maiden Test wicket of Tom Curran.

In reply, the tourists will resume day three on 2-192, with Alastair Cook unbeaten and having celebrated his 32nd Test century, and skipper Joe Root (49 not out) intent on building a big lead on a flat drop-in pitch.

Curran, after the disappointment of having David Warner dismissed off a no-ball on Boxing Day, deserved his reward but it was veteran leaders Stuart Broad and James Anderson who finally delivered in tandem.

Broad, with only five wickets through the opening three Tests, would reap four, while Anderson would finish with three and maximise reverse swing. That three Australians played on prompted the debate over whether it was more the batsman’s fault rather than canny bowling that reaped the wickets, but it did not matter.

What Broad and Anderson reinforced is how important it is that the team’s leaders show the way in a series when the spotlight is at its fiercest.

Broad said he had fallen into a “mental trap” of not wanting to concede runs in the Perth Test when he was wicketless and conceded 142 runs, but had adopted a more aggressive mindset here. He said he deserved criticism in Perth and conceded he might have been playing for his future in Melbourne.

“I have worked incredibly hard this week physically and mentally. I did some work on a few days off looking at certain things and then running hard in the nets trying to get a feeling of that rhythm back. Today, we got lucky with a couple of chop-ons and a couple of wickets Australia were probably disappointed with but we were delighted with,” Broad said.

“It’s been a pretty tough couple of weeks really but it makes playing and taking wickets very rewarding.”

Cook and Root then got in on the act with an undefeated century stand. Cook, profiting from a life on 66 when dropped by Smith at slip, broke out from his tour-long funk to deliver an innings neither he nor the 67,882 fans on hand will forget in a hurry.

This was Cook at his best, with sublime cover and straight drives and pull shots. The absence of Mitchell Starc was felt and Pat Cummins was ill, sleeping through the entire tea break, but Cook scored more on this day than he had in the previous three Tests combined. Had England’s greatest Test run-scorer found touch earlier in the series, the summer could have taken on a different complexion.

“I think every time you step on the field you are pretty much playing for your career really – that’s the pressure of international cricket,” Broad said.

“You never know how things will go – you just need to focus on making sure that your mindset is right, your work ethic is right, you are doing everything you can to be at your best.

“It shows a huge amount of character to be under that scrutiny and pressure and come out and deliver any sort of performance, let alone a hundred like Cooky has just done.”

Regardless of the result in Melbourne, there will be much for the ECB to discuss.

A lack of a pure speedster has been one reason given for the tourists’ troubles, for it’s meant they cannot consistently attack with the short ball in a bid to at least unsettle their opponents. Australia, with three pure quicks in Josh Hazlewood, Cummins and, for the opening three Tests, Starc, have been able to trouble batsmen through swing and seam when pitching up and also through intimidating short-pitched deliveries.

“Australia have been very good here. You look at most of the [Ashes] series – a lot of the home teams have won. Since ’05, we have won at home,” Broad said.

Harrison said the ceding of the Ashes urn had been “hugely disappointing”, with Root’s team unable to dominate the key moments.

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CONTINUE: The Hunter team aboard She’s The Culprit. Picture: Marina NeilShe’s The Culprit has avoided a near disaster on Wednesday to continue this year’s Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
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Co-skipper and part-owner Glen Picasso said they struck a potential boat-damaging sunfish, but managed to keep sailing towards the finish line at Tasmania’s famed Constitution Dock.

“Running hard under spinnaker,” Picasso said in a text message to the Newcastle Herald.“Hit sunfish, no damage, continue racing Culprit.”

She’s The Culprit, an Inglis/Jones 39 out of Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club and Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, had improved seven spots to 66thoverallat 10pm but droppedthree places to fifth in the PHS division two category they won in 2014.

Aroundthe same time overnight, as the battle for record-breaking line honours up the Derwent River was won by Wild Oats XI overLDV Comanche, fellow Hunter crews Dare Devil (75th) and Freyja (98th) were further behind.

Dare Devil,a Farr-Cookson 47 out of Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club withSibby Ilzhofer the owner-skipper, had gone back 26 places overall in the previous24 hour period and slightly slipped to 11thinORCi division two.

Dr Richard Lees’ Freyja, a 73-year-old Atkins-Ingrid designed wooden boat out of the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, remained fourth in PHS division two handicap after being last out of Sydney Heads on Boxing Day.

Both Dare Devil and Freyja failed to finish the race last year.

There have beenthree retirements in 2017 with Wots Next, Rockall and Jazz Player all out of the running from the original field of 102 that started from Sydney Harbour on Tuesday.

Elsewhere and Sonic, a Newcastle Cruising YachtClubTP52 owned by Mick Martin and known as Frantic, was up to 23rdin line honours at 10pm with its South Korean crew who have chartered the boat for asecond consecutive year.

Black Jack,with Lake Macquarie’s Tom Addis as navigator, was third in line honours at the same time.

The crew of runner-up LDV Comanche, which had been overtaken by Wild Oats XI in tense closing stages after leading most of the race, featuredformer Maitland Blacks junior and 2014 Super Rugby champion Jeremy Tilse.

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INTERESTING RATES: Australian Property Monitors data indicates growth in home and unit prices is slowing down. “We’ll have more balanced conditions in some suburbs,” PRDNationwide’s Mark Kentwell said.
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Newcastle’s property prices appear to be back on the climb, butagents have been cautious in their predictions forthehousing market’sfortunes in 2018.

The median house price in Newcastle dipped to $580,000 by the end of the September quarter, following18 months of spectacular price growth.The median unit price across the local government area fell to $466,000.

The latest Australian Property Monitors data shows Newcastle’s medianhouse pricerebounded to$620,000 by the end ofOctober, while the median unit price surgedbackto $511,000.

Principal of PRDnationwide Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Mark Kentwell expected continued growth next year, butat a slower pace than the last four years, which have seen prices skyrocket 40 per cent.

“It’s not sustainable for the market to have double-digit growth in the suburbs year after year,” he said.

“Some suburbs may ease on their growth because buyers have a flight to value.They look for a suburb that has similar offerings but is cheaper.

“For example, people could pay $1 million for a cottage in Maryville which needs work or go across the road to Hamilton and buy a similar property for $850,000.”

Mr Kentwellsingled out Hamilton and The Hill as the two most under-valued city suburbs, arguingboth were poised for a growth spurt.

“We’ll have more balanced conditions in some suburbs and they’re likely to be the ones that have had the crazy growth,” he said.“[Vendors] might be in a period where prices go sideways for a little bit, which is healthy.”

Maitland residentLaura Turner is looking to take the plunge into home ownershipin 2018 with her partner, Harry.

The 26-year-oldwas“hopeful”predictions about a cooling market would turnout to be accurate. However the couple have already abandoned hopes of buying in Newcastle.

“We’re looking at Maitland, East Maitland, Tenambit, those sort of suburbs,” Ms Turner said. “We’ll hopefully buy a house up here and then down the track upsize or move closer into Newcastle.”

Ms Turner, who works in pathology, has been saving for about five years. Her partner, a sales representative, has been putting money away for about seven years.

The couple havetried to take a balanced approach to saving.

“We don’t go out for smashed avocado every weekend but occasionally if we want to go out for breakfast we’ll find a cheap place,” Ms Turner said. “Ihave been able to have a couple of small overseas trips since leaving high school. If Ihadn’t I’d have got the house a little sooner but it was worth having those experiences.”

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LINE HONOURS: Wild Oats XI was the first boat into Constitution Dock in one of the most dramatic finishes in Sydney to Hobart history. Picture: AAPWild Oats XIcrossed the finish line first in the 73rd Sydney to Hobart yacht race for a record ninth time, but a potential protest could ruin their celebrations.
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LDV Comanche and Wild Oats XI were neck-and-neck in the battle for line honours on Wednesday evening, with Wild Oats taking the lead in the dramatic final stages, arriving at constitution dock in record race time of1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes and 50 seconds

It was the Mark Richards-skippered boat’s first success since 2014 and came after their past two races ended early due to damage to the supermaxi.

Comanche crossed the line 16 minutes later in second place.

The Jim Cooney skippered race favourite was first to pass Tasman Island -about 40 nautical miles from the finish line -on Wednesday evening at 6pm.

However, Wild Oats went to the lead around 8pm as Comanche became becalmed in the windless conditions.

Progress slowed to a crawl as the wind eased up on their approach up the Derwent River, with only a few hundred metres separating the rival supermaxis.

Comanche indicated it plans to lodge a formal protest against Wild Oats after the boats came perilously close to colliding about 15 minutes into the race on Boxing Day.

The crew raised a protest flag shortly afterwards and will have six hours after finishing to lodge the paperwork with the international jury in Hobart.

“It will likely be a time penalty if there’s a ruling against them but we’ll have to see if there’s a request for a jury yet,” Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore John Markos said.

Wild Oats XI chipped away LDV Comanche’s overnight advantage of 20 nautical miles throughout the day as the two frontrunners flew down Tasmania’s east coast powered by a strong north-easterly.

The pair went head-to-headfor long stretches and traded the lead several times.

The existing yacht race record of one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds–set by Perpetual LOYAL last year -wasbettered by several hours.

Five boats were on pace to better the record, which was improved by almost five hours by Perpetual LOYAL in 2016.

Cooney said on Wednesday morning he thought the wind in the River Derwent would be enough to carry his boat home.

Black Jack was in third place, with InfoTrack-the 2016 record setter when named Perpetual LOYAL–fourth and narrowly ahead of Hong Kong entry Beau Geste.

Jazz Player, Wots Next and Rockall were forced to retire, while Opt2go Scamp was repairing rotor damage.

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Alastair Cook bottomed out in the first five minutes of his MCG innings on Wednesday. A dinky leading edge off his second ball, beaten for pace on his fourth and, sixth ball, an attempted pull shot that dragged the ball down between his pads and somehow past the stumps. Already on this morning, the slow pitch had produced three drag-ons. One more would have taken the Test match past Game of Thrones.
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Such a nervous start portended more of the same misery for Cook, but instead it was a darkest-hour-before-the-dawn moment. Moments after surviving what would have been the mother of all drag-ons, he struck two pure drives each side of the bowler, Jackson Bird. Neither produced a run, but they transformed the confidence of a batsman who had not stepped forward and driven an Australian bowler with authority since 2011.

And so he was off on his journey of rediscovery. A flick off the hip was so perfectly timed it sped past the deep fielder, before a vintage pull shot revived the Cook of old. Even this early in his innings, it was as if he knew something.

His recent bogey man, Nathan Lyon, was brought into the attack as early as the seventh over, but Cook was fearless. Things were shifting in his favour. The pace of the wicket was more akin to a dry English summer strip, Mitchell Starc was cooling his heel, and Pat Cummins had the runs. When Cummins overpitched, Cook drove majestically, a significant moment in itself because for seven years bowlers had been able to serve up half-volleys with impunity. A batsman steered by the desire to avoid risk, Cook had for a long time treated the drive as a potential nick. Now, with edges unlikely to carry and the ball not deviating, he saw a full ball as other batsmen see it: a Christmas gift.

Cook’s birthday is on Christmas, and he began seizing upon the Australian bowlers’ errors as if he would get the chance to celebrate only once a year. He waited on the shorter ball and cut it off his stumps. Soon he was so bold as to play that shot off good-length balls. He watched Mark Stoneman and James Vince lose their wickets, so lost in his own cocoon of concentration, perhaps, that he did not hear the inside edge that would have spared the latter. This was very much the old Cook, standing firm as his partners ticked over like pages on his Rolodex. Somewhere the tide of inevitability turned. Cook has looked like a walking wicket for quite a while against Australia.

Through the afternoon, it seemed more and more inevitable that he was not going anywhere. His encampment on the MCG turned from a visit into a tent embassy into something more and more solid. In the first over after tea, he put Cummins away to the square boundaries on both sides of the wicket. A clip off the pads brought up the half-century, humbly acknowledged. Cook was Cook again, just as, hours earlier, Stuart Broad had returned to Stuart Broad.

For an hour-and-a-half after tea, Steve Smith kept Lyon out of the attack, which also favoured Cook. Only when Mitchell Marsh took the ball did Cook’s focus waver, or perhaps heat and fatigue were setting in. He survived an lbw appeal first ball, then back-cut a four. Fifth ball, Tim Paine moved up to the stumps and donned the helmet. Steve Smith sat Paine’s cap on top of his own. Marsh pitched up, Cook drove and nicked. Smith fumbled the catch low to his right and the chance, cleverly plotted, was missed.

It can’t be said that Cook didn’t deserve his luck. As he moved towards his first century against Australia in seven years and 24 Test matches, Cook brought all of the patience and method that he kept asserting he still had in him. Here was the familiar routine between deliveries: scratching out his guard with the outside of his right foot, walking away, adjusting his helmet by gripping the left side of his grill, a tweak of the left pad flap, into the tall man’s ungainly stance, the double-pumped backlift.

For someone who has played so much cricket, Cook always plays with a slight jump, as if surprised by the ball. But all of this is, to English eyes, a kind of comfort food, their highest accumulator back doing this thing, as if he’s been batting forever. When Joe Root joined him, the new captain drew strength from the old, and English bats took advantage of the momentum swing in this match that had been initiated by their bowlers.

In the end, Smith brought himself on to bowl the day’s final over. Cook needed seven runs for his hundred. From Smith it was two gifts in one day, like a birthday on Christmas. As Cook always plays the ball, the century arrived late. Too late to save the Ashes but never too late to save a career.

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FLYING: Gema Simon stretches out at training on Wednesday. The former skipper has recovered from a knee injury. Picture: Jonathan CarrollCRAIG Deans is not sure exactly where Gema Simon will play for the Newcastle Jets but the coach has no doubts that the Matilda will play akey role in the push towards the W-League finals.
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Simon,a foundation W-League Jet and former skipper, will make her first appearance since returning from a stint at Avaldnes in Norway, where she injured her knee at training in November.

The 27-year-old will start on the bench against Melbourne Victory in Melbourne on Friday but Deans is yet to decide if she will play at left back, the position she occupies for the Matildas, or further forward.

“Depending on the game, she has that bit of flexibility,” Deans said. “She can play left back, she can push forward and she played in midfield a couple of time last season as well.Hannah Brewer has been playing left back for the thepast three weeks. It may not be her strongest position but she has been doing a good job.At the end of the day, it is good to have another player who expects to play every week. Having said that we have been doing reasonablywell. Gem knows she has to work hard and show at training that she is going to add more to the team than someone already in there.”

Former skipper gives coach many options TweetFacebookFormer skipper Gema Simon excited at return for @[email protected]@newcastleheraldpic.twitter南京夜网/VZ5L5Ak2YO

— James Gardiner (@JamesGardiner42) December 27, 2017

Apart from versatility, Deans said Simon would add experience and quality to his third-placed outfit.

“She has lots of experience to start with,” he said. “She was an inaugural squad member of the Jets. Then she went down to Melbourne Victory and they won the W-League the year she spent there. She played in Norway this year, Korea the year before that and has gotten herself back in the Matildas squad over the last 18 months. She is athletic, quick and technically good. All left footers generally have quality about them. It is like getting a new player really.”

Victory sit in seventh place six points behind the Jets

“Itis very much like the A-League, there is not really an easy game,” Deans said. “We have done reasonably well against them in the past and can be confident that we can go down there and win. And we need to win because we want to make sure we don’t drop out of the four.If we win this it takes us to 16 points which is not bad after eight games.”

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Finally, the Melbourne Stars’ women are on the board.
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After four losses to open the season, including Tuesday’s defeat to the Perth Scorchers in which they conceded the highest successful run chase in Women’s Big Bash League history, the Stars turned the tables on the Scorchers on Wednesday to prevail by 12 runs at the WACA Ground.

It was the first win for the Stars’ men’s or women’s teams this season.

The Stars won the toss and elected to bat, posting a total of 6-149 from their 20 overs. Their South African opener Lizelle Lee, who top-scored with 76 on Tuesday, could only muster nine before being removed by Katherine Brunt, who also claimed the wicket of Anna Lanning (19) en route to figures of 2-13 from three overs. The Stars clawed their way to the competitive total through a series of handy contributions, with Georgia Elwiss (25), Alana King (23), Mignon du Preez (23), Katie Mack (20) and Erin Osborne (17 not out) all chipping in.

The Stars have leaked way too many runs this season, but on Wednesday they kept things much tighter. Scorchers openers Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton had taken the game away from the Stars on Tuesday, but the visitors frustrated Bolton on Wednesday before Emma Kearney struck, with Bolton gone for nine from 28 balls. Still Villani threatened to win the game off her bat, before spinner Alana King, who had been very expensive the day before, had Villani caught in the deep by Gemma Triscari for 72 from 44, leaving Perth 3-107 from 16 overs.

The Stars were able to do enough from there, with the Scorchers finishing at 4-137. The Stars, who have moved off the bottom of the ladder, next play the Adelaide Strikers at Casey Fields on January 5.

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