Christmas Day at one family home in western Sydney this year was a flick of the wrist away from going horribly wrong, after a child found a sharp, rusty blade resembling “something from a prison”inside a bon-bon.
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The McNeilage family was sitting down to lunch at Northmead on Monday afternoon when 11-year-old Bobby alerted the adults to what he had discovered after ripping his bon-bon in half with his older brother.

Bobby McNeilage, 11, discovered the blade inside a bonbon purchased from Woolworths. Photo: Supplied

“I pulled it out and I tipped it upside down to get it out onto the table,” Bobby told Fairfax Media.”I noticed that it was a knife thing, so then I showed everybody else.”

The “knife thing” was a large, sharp, rusty blade, wrapped in tape at one end.Did it scare him? “Kinda.”

Bobby’s mother, Melissa McNeilage, said at first the family thought it was a prank. But when theyrealised the blade had come from inside the bon-bon, they were stunned.

The large rusty blade found inside the Christmas bon bon purchased from Woolworths. Photo: Amy McNeilage

“I was just shocked to think there was that in there, it’s a dangerous weapon,” she said.But the mother-of-fouradded that her biggest concern was what could have happened if the bon-bon had been pulled by a younger child, or if the blade had flown out and hit someone.

“How many times when you pull the toy open does something come flying out? If it flew out it could have been heaps worse,” she said.

“If it got into the wrong hands of a little kid, something drastic could have happened.It looked like something from a prison.”

Ms McNeilage,from Blacktown, said her sister, who was hosting Christmas this year, had purchased the “Woodland 6-pack” of bon-bons from Woolworths in Winston Hills. The product was manufactured in China.

“I don’t think [my sister] will be buying Woolworths bon-bons again after that. She felt bad that she’d put these bon-bons in front of my kids.”

A Woolworths spokesperson said the company and its suppliers “have a responsibility to provide high-quality products and services to our customers and we take this responsibility very seriously. We are investigating this incident as per our product safety incident protocol.”

Fairfax Media understands the individual who purchased the bon-bon has made a complaint to Woolworths and has not yetreceived a refund.

Erin Turner, director of campaigns and communications at CHOICE, said “ifyou cracked open a bon-bon and got an unwelcome surprise you have the right to a remedy, like a refund or replacement”.

But she also said it was”not good enough” that the law only requires companies to act aftersomething goes wrong.

“There isno general legal requirement for companies to make sure all products are safe before they hit the shelves,” she said.

“We’re calling on the federal government to pass a new law – a general safety provision – to stop dodgy items before they make it to Australian homes.”

“Such a provision would mean a big company like Woolworths would have to do basic checks to make sure that what they are selling won’t harm their customers.

“These laws are already in place in the United Kingdom and Canada – it makes sense for Australian consumers to have the same level of protections.”


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Fireworks crackdown ahead of New Year’s Eve CRACKDOWN: The 150kgs of fireworks seized in Sydney earlier this week. Picture: Supplied.
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TweetFacebookHunter fireworks’ enthusiasts are being advised of the dangers and illegality of the unapproved use of pyrotechnics on New Year’s Eve.

SafeWork NSW are encouranging people to stick to attending compliant and official displays, of which 211 have been approved across the state.

A fine of up to $27,500 and 12 months jail awaits anyone caught selling, purchasing or letting off fireworks without a licence.

Authorities seized close to 150kgs of fireworks from a property in Sydney’s north in recent days and initial inquries suggested they were going to be sold or used illegally.

Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean said the products are now being held while investigations continue.

“However, it serves as a timely warning for anyone using fireworks; these items are not toys,” Mr Kean said.

“In the wrong hands they can be very dangerous and capable of causing horrific injuries, including burns, loss of limbs, or even death.”

Last New Year’s Eve, a 52-year-old man tradgically lost his life after being hit in the head by an illegal firework on the state’s Central Coast.

Read more:Tributes flow for Barry ‘Baz’ Walsh, killed in New Year’s Eve fireworks accident

“That’s why fireworks should only be set off by trained and licensed individuals who know how to manage the risks and ensure everyone’s safety,” Mr Kean said.

“We want New Year’s Eve to be memorable for all the right reasons, not because a loved one was maimed through the illegal use of fireworks.

“My message is simple: if you’re thinking about buying or selling illegal fireworks this summer, you will be caught and you will face significant penalties.”


Your gig guide to celebrate New YearMental As Anything to headline free New Year’s Eve concert in NewcastleNewcastle’s Queen’s Wharf to become a sea of neon for New Year’s EveRead More →


Franchisees across the scandal-ridden industry giant Retail Food Group are questioning how millions of dollars of advertising funds collected from them, across brands including Gloria Jeans, Michel’s Patisserie, Brumby’s and Donut King, are spent.
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It comes as advertising funds across the $170 billion franchise sector are under scrutiny, with evidence building that some franchisors are misusing the funds to artificially boost profits. Some industry experts estimate that more than $1 billion a year is collected from franchisees in marketing fees.

Under the Franchising Code, a franchisor must prepare an annual financial statement for each advertising fund, detailing all the fund’s receipts and expenses for the past financial year then releasing a set of audited accounts.

It sounds good in theory, but the reality is the marketing fund accounts are often scant in detail, lack transparency and are left to the franchisor’s discretion, including how much they allocate to overheads and administrative costs. This lack of rigorous external governance means they can be easily manipulated and misused – and they are.

In October the competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, sent a note to 2500 members of the Franchising Information Network, reminding them about their obligations when it comes to marketing funds. It noted that a common source of tension in franchise networks was how marketing money was spent.

It’s not hard to see why. Franchisees contribute anywhere between 2 per cent to 6.5 per cent of gross sales to a marketing fund. When franchisees are struggling financially, and see little evidence of marketing support, resentment can build.

In the case of RFG, hundreds of its franchisees have gone to the wall but still contribute to marketing. Brumby’s requires a 3 per cent contribution, while Pizza Capers’ is a hefty 6.5 per cent.

Franchisees from Michel’s, Gloria Jeans, Brumby’s and Donut King claim they submitted complaints over the years to the ACCC requesting an investigation of RFG, including its treatment of the marketing fund.

In late 2015, a group of disgruntled Brumby’s franchisees formed a group known as the High Horses and wrote to the ACCC requesting help. In one letter it said: “If you review it nearly 60 per cent of the fund has been allocated to costs to offset those of the Franchisor like admin, operating expenses, rent! Whilst acceptable under the Franchising Code does it pass the ‘pub test’!”

Some Gloria Jeans franchisees have also complained. One franchisee who studied the latest marketing fund accounts questioned why marketing wages ballooned from more than $400,000 in 2015 to $2.35 million in 2017. He said administration expenses jumped from $54,000 in 2016 to $841,000 in 2017. “How is this possible, can you please explain and – again – send all relevant copies of invoices etc.”

Earlier this year, RFG shocked the market when it was forced to restate its accounts partly due to a change in the way RFG must treat expenditure previously charged to marketing funds (but not collected).

Its annual accounts revealed it was never justified in spending money out of the Michel’s marketing funding on supply-chain efficiencies. These supply-chain expenses had been booked as a receivable and passed on as a cost to franchisees. When franchisees couldn’t pay it, RFG wrote it off. But this time round it also restated its accounts in 2015 and 2016, which raised questions as to whether these amounts should have been booked as receivables in the first place.

Fairfax has obtained copies of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 marketing fund accounts for each of the brands. It found each marketing fund treated payroll differently, despite using the same auditor. For instance in Michel’s, payroll is lumped in with packaging as part of marketing expenses, while in Gloria Jeans’, payroll is separated out and included in administration expenses. This creates a very different picture of how much is being spent on advertising. RFG failed to respond to questions about the high payroll costs, their dramatic increases, or how many people worked in marketing on each brand.

There is much wrong with the franchise system. Agreements are drafted in favour of the franchisor, who can then slowly increase the heat. Marketing funds are one of the ways they can do it – and they do.

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Don’t want to do any housework? Then live in the inner suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.
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Residents of Australia’s wealthiest areas are also the most likely to do the least amount of chores per week.

One-third of the residents in Waverley and Woollahra in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and in Melbourne’s coastal ring of Port Phillip and Stonnington do fewer than five hours of unpaid domestic work every seven days.

In contrast, those local government areas on the fringes of Australia’s two largest cities have the highest rates of housework.

If you are searching for the Sydneysiders and Melburnians pumping out more hours per week of cleaning, cooking and washing than anywhere else head to Nillumbik, the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Ranges or Ku-ring-gai, Hornsby, the Hills Shire and Campbelltown in Sydney.

Here, one-in-10 male and female residents aged 15 and over are doing 30 hours or more per week of housework.

The census figures obtained for Fairfax Media by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show a sharp divide between inner and outer suburbs, where contrasts exist on socioeconomic lines, but also on the size of homes and properties and the families that occupy them.

Areas dominated by couples with children with one parent working full time, such as Campbelltown in Sydney’s south-west or the Yarra Ranges north of Melbourne tend to have higher rates of domestic work in the home.

Likewise, areas with an influx of young professional couples such as North Sydney, Sydney’s inner west or Stonnington, have avoided both children and the cleaning and cooking that comes with them.

Unsurprisingly, dwelling sizes also play a role in the level of attention required to maintain them.

In Cardinia in Melbourne’s east and in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire you are more likely to live in a house that has four or more bedrooms than in any other type of dwelling.

But you are also three times as likely to do 15-29 hours of housework a week compared to your inner city dwellers where there are few four bedroom properties in sight and up to 70 per cent of the population lives in an apartment.

On the North Shore, the director of Fresh as Daisy cleaners, Fiona Carter, said she had noticed an increase in clients from two income households and those with “exceptionally large houses” with four or five bedrooms or more.

“People are going out, working long hours and the last thing they want to do is spend a long time cleaning,” she said.

Communities with large migrant communities such as Fairfield and Cumberland in Sydney and Greater Dandenong in Melbourne are also proportionately more likely to have a large number of residents doing zero hours of housework [36-39 per cent] while up to 9 per cent do 30 hours or more of housework each week.

“My guess is that these are migrant groups who are probably marginalised in the economy, so the result is that women stay at home and take of the kids and you have a very traditional division of housework and paid work,” said the University of Melbourne’s Dr Leah Ruppanner.

“The first question is do the women actually want to to enter the labour market? Two, if they do, are there employment mechanisms and enough government support that allow them to find employment?”

While the census figures do not capture whether the majority of housework is undertaken by females, we know most of them are women due to previous research by the bureau which showed women spent almost twice as much time on household work as men did.

Based on those 2006 figures, the typical Australian woman spends between five and 14 hours a week doing unpaid domestic housework, while men do fewer than five.

The trouble is it has been more than 10 years since the last social trends survey was undertaken, so we don’t know if society is spreading out housework more equally now.

Mornington Peninsula resident Heidi Duel estimates she was doing 30 hours unpaid housework a week while looking after her ageing mother and her young children.

“With the kids, I was cleaning up for four people.”

Even now, she estimates she spends 15 hours a week cleaning up, on top of her job as an education consultant.

“Because I am a single parent family, a lot of the load does fall on me.”

Dr Ruppanner’s research found it was important to not write off the statistics “as the bemoans of well-resourced first world problems”.

“Housework and the mental labour associated with its organisation have real and long-term economic consequences, particularly for women’s employment,” she said.

“The consequences of this are that women are making decisions based on gendered norms, it means they are investing more of their time in unpaid labour which means you lose human capital within the economy.”

She said a second child could knock a woman out of the labour force for a decade and the economy was at a tipping point thanks to an ageing population coupled with a high divorce rate.

“It’s quite profound the huge number of women are entering retirement with no super because they have been left out of the market for their whole working lives,” she said.

“That’s fine when marriages stay together but the minute women are no longer in a marital union is the minute they are in poverty.

“It’s not just about doing the dishes or the grocery shopping, it hedges on the nation’s economic vitality.”

With Angus Smith

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TAKE-OFF: The nurses’ union has backed John Hunter Hospital in a dispute with paramedics on the Westpac rescue helicopter, raising the disagreement to a new level. Picture: Max Mason-HubersRELATED: Rescue chopper hits turbulence over hospital rule
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THE nurses’ union has sided with John Hunter Hospital management in a dispute with paramedics on the Westpac rescue helicopter.

It comes after the Newcastle Herald reported the Health Services Union was pushing for Hunter New England Health to change its policies to allow paramedics to transfer patients between hospitals, known as secondary missions.

The HSU said John Hunter’s long-standing protocol had led to lengthy delays in responding to emergencies.

It wants the helicopter’s paramedics to perform both types of missions, but the hospital has resisted changing the decades-old rule, citing the “unique” medical demands of the health district.

It also cited the need to have the “best-equipped” medical staff for the inter-hospital transfer of critical patients.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association said on Thursdayclaims the rescue chopper’s two-tier structure was risking lives was an insult.

‘We depend, as do many outlying areas throughout Newcastle, on the helicopter to respond in the matter that they want to as quickly as possible’: Port Stephens MP Kate Washington.

“The assertion by the HSU that lives are being put at risk …is insulting to the hardworking and highly skilled nurses and doctors who coordinate these call outs,” acting general secretary Judith Kiejda said.

“Doctor and nurse teams in the Retrieval Service are specifically trained in equipment, treatments and procedures that patients require, including complex ventilations, neurosurgical interventions, complex medication regimes, paediatric high-flow oxygen and non-invasive ventilations, which are not part of a paramedic’s standing protocols.”

However, Port Stephens MP and Labor’s Hunter spokeswoman Kate Washington said it “made no sense” for HNEH to applyinconsistent policies in the same health district, noting thatparamedics perform patient transfers on the Tamworth rescue chopper.

“Why should we be any different,” she asked.

“I have heard they can have an additional 45 minutes turnaround to change the chopper from hospital retrieval to a rescue.

“That puts lives at risk.

“We depend, as do many outlying areas throughout Newcastle, on the helicopter to respond in the matter that they want to as quickly as possible.”

Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen echoed the concerns of paramedics, stressing that the Belmont-based rescue helicopter was “extremely important” to ruralcommunities.

“It is not practical to have such rigid guidelines for such an area,” Mr Johnsen said.

However, Ms Kiejda said it was precisely because of the region’s size that the rescue chopper maintained the nursing crew for secondary transfers.

“John Hunter Hospital is the only tertiary referral centre for adults and paediatric patients in this vast area,” she said.

“Therefore, when transferring these critical care patients, these doctor-nurse teams become a mobile intensive care unit, providing a unique skill set.”

Ms Kiejda added: “By utilising two different types of crews, response times have improved as both the doctor-nurse teams and the doctor-paramedic teams can be deployed simultaneously to different situations.

“In addition, if the Rescue Helicopter Service is already deployed, there are other helicopters in Sydney, Tamworth and Lismore that can be deployed.”

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There have been so many fine books published in the past year, it is almost impossible to recommend only 10 for holiday reading. And if these don’t tickle your fancy, you might try new novels by Michelle de Kretser, Sofie Laguna, or Richard Flanagan. Then of course there’s … too many to mention.
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Challenging, original, ventriloquial, engaging, audacious and, ultimately, deeply compassionate, Saunders’ novel deservedly won the Man Booker prize. Lincoln in the Bardo is set in the world between death and the afterlife, a Buddhist limbo, before the dead finally proceed elsewhere. Abraham Lincoln, stricken with grief at the death of his son Willie, visits the crypt to sit with his body. Narrated by a multitude of voices, a sort of ghostly chorus, it does take a while to get used to Saunders’ imaginative form but once you do – trust me, you will – you’ll be richly rewarded. Lincoln in the Bardo.” src=”http://梧桐夜网smh南京夜网419论坛/content/dam/images/g/w/b/d/y/w/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1508981105462.png” title=”” width=”100%”>

George Saunders won the Man Booker prize with Lincoln in the Bardo. Photo: Janie Barrett


A fascinating picture of George Orwell as he battles tuberculosis and struggles to finish Nineteen Eighty-Four. Going back and forth in time, Glover gives us Orwell in Barcelona, Wigan, literary London and the isle of Jura and lets us see the ingredients – emotional, personal, and political – that went into his masterpiece. Dennis Glover presents Orwell as intellectually honest and dismayed at the flaws of the world and writes in appropriately crystal-clear Orwellian prose.


Her earlier novel set in the lead-up to Hurricane Katrina, Salvage the Bones, was a gem, and her memoir of lives lost, Men We Reaped, masterly. This novel about race, ghosts, the dark history of the Deep South and family lives that could go terribly wrong is a stunner. Leonie takes her children, JoJo and Kayla, to pick up their white father when he is released from jail. But there’s another presence in the car who wants the truth about what happened years earlier in the prison. Ward won her second National Book Award for this powerful and moving novel.

Jesmyn Ward in DeLisle, Mississippi where she grew up. Photo: James Patterson/New York Times


Another novel with a road trip at its heart. The two-time Booker winner is in effervescent form as Irene and Titch Bobs, along with their navigator Willie Bachhuber, embark on the Redex Round Australia Reliability Trial in the early 1950s. But there are discoveries to be made along the way about the country and its dark past and the hidden background of at least one of the major characters. Carey excels in this fizzing, darkly comic novel that addresses white Australia’s relations with the Indigenous population while rattling from Bacchus Marsh to Broome and back with plenty of diversions along the way.

Two-time Booker winner Peter Carey. Photo: Steven Siewert


This is an astonishing story of murder, conspiracy, cover up, a dogged investigation and the early days of the FBI. New Yorker writer David Grann, who wrote The Lost City of Z, digs and digs into the mysterious deaths of members of the Osage nation, who in the early 20th century were, per capita, the richest people in the world thanks to headrights to minerals discovered under their Oklahoma land. Much of the book deals with what is already on the historical record but Grann’s additional research and conclusions are truly breathtaking. An appalling, brilliantly told story from the last days of the old west that is now being adapted for a Martin Scorsese film.


The first surprising thing about this follow-up to the technically audacious Visit from the Goon Squad is that it is really quite a conventional historical novel, albeit with an added touch of noir. But it’s a novel that intrigues with its mix of characters and time settings. Anna becomes a diver in the Manhattan naval yards during World War II. Years earlier her father disappeared after an encounter with the enigmatic gangster Dexter Styles and soon she falls into his orbit. As you would expect from Egan, it’s a remarkably assured novel peopled by characters who seem on the cusp of new lives in a world that has plunged into flux. Manhattan Beach is an intriguing historical novel.” src=”http://梧桐夜网smh南京夜网419论坛/content/dam/images/h/0/b/i/8/z/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1514535804224.png” title=”” width=”100%”>

Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach is an intriguing historical novel. Photo: Pieter Van Hattem


Maryanne decides to go back to her husband Roy, giving him one last chance. The couple and their two children, Freya and Daniel, move to Newcastle where Roy has bought a run-down terrace house to restore. Can he restore the family though? Michael Sala’s second novel is a scrupulously written, scarifying story of impending tragedy, which is to give nothing away. Narrated largely from the points of view of Maryanne and Freya, it’s a picture of domestic tension, violence and disintegration. Worth reading in concert with Sala’s first novel, The Last Thread, which is virtually a memoir of his early life.

RELEASE Patrick Ness

This American author of YA fiction is best known for A Monster Calls, but this is perhaps his most personal book, the sort of book he would have reportedly liked when he was in much the same situation as his protagonist. Release is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and relates the intense events in a single day in the life of Adam, who is yet to come out, has already loved and lost, is now falling in love with Linus. It’s frank about sex and the difficulties Adam has negotiating adolescent life in a conservative family in a small US town.

HOME FIREKamila Shamsie

While this might be a reimagining of the classical Greek myth of Antigone and her brother Polynices, Kamila Shamsie’s novel about two British muslim families whose fates become dramatically entwined under the cloud of global geopolitics is bang up to date. At its heart lies the tricky problem facing western democracies: how to deal with jihadis who want to return home. It is also about how the decisions of fathers can impact so significantly on their children. Shamsie crafts a riveting novel and ratchets up the tension towards an ending that will leave you gasping. Home Fire.” src=”http://梧桐夜网smh南京夜网419论坛/content/dam/images/g/y/j/r/k/b/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1514536005116.png” title=”” width=”100%”>

Kamila Shamsie ratchets up the tension in Home Fire. Photo: Zain Mustafa

EXIT WESTMohsin Hamid

This fable-like novel follows the lives of two lovers, Saeed and Nadia, as they flee their unidentified home country – it seems to be in the Middle East – in the face of increasing violence and tyranny for uncertain futures in a fragile world. The couple move through mysterious doors – shades of C.S. Lewis and Narnia – that catapult them into new countries and new struggles to survive. It’s a short book that punches significantly above its weight and the future it describes seems only round the corner.

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LDV Comanche is the new line honours winner of the Sydney to Hobart after successfully protesting against Wild Oats XI after a near collision between the two yachts just outside Sydney Heads on Boxing Day.
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Wild Oats XI was penalised an hour for the infringement, enough to wipe away the 26 minutes and 34 second winning margin it had when it crossed the finish line on Wednesday evening.

A protest hearing, lasting more than three hours, decided the 73rd Sydney to Hobart and denies Wild Oats XI a ninth line honours win.

The result of the protest voids Wild Oats XI’s race record which goes to LDV Comanche in a time of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds.

The five-person international jury took witness testimony from LDV Comanche owner Jim Cooney and navigator Stan Honey, Wild Oats XI navigator Ian Burns and tactician Ian Murray.

They found Wild Oats XI was at fault for the near collision and failed to keep clear of LDV Comanche while tacking. Both boats were on a beat to windward between seamarks V and Z just outside Sydney Heads.

Wild Oats XI had the option to do a 720 degree penalty turn in the aftermath after LDV Comanche had raised a red protest flag, but decided against taking the manoeuvre.

“I’m thrilled to be installed as the line honours winner, it’s something we’ve worked so hard for,” Cooney said after the hearing. “It’s always a bit of a shame that it may happen in these circumstances. Both boats sailed a fantastically good race, it was a close fought race all the way.

“The jury’s decided that very clearly there was an infringement. When things come down to the wire so closely like that I think it’s only fair and reasonable that the jury acted the way they did. The boats have to be conducted responsibly and with fair respect to the conditions and the impact that your manoeuvres might have and I felt very strongly that wasn’t the case on Tuesday.”

LDV Comanche had led for most of the race but was overhauled by Wild Oats XI just south of Opossum Bay on Wednesday night and finished more than 26 minutes adrift.

“We’re very disappointed but we’re also good sports and we’ll have to take this one on the chin,” skipper Mark Richards said. “At the end of the day it’s a yacht race, has someone been run over or told you’ve got cancer, no, it’s a yacht race.

“We are very disappointed but I can see the jury’s point of view. They saw the incident the way they saw it, we saw it a bit differently.”

It is the third time in the race’s history that a line honours winner has been penalised post race and subsequently lost first position.

Nirvana came first in 1983 but ran into Condor in the Derwent River, pushing her rival yacht aground. The race was taken from Nirvana and awarded to Condor. Then, seven years later, British boat Rothmans claimed line honours but had flagrantly been advertising the cigarette brand on her spinnaker throughout the race, in contravention of race rules. She was penalised and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin was handed the line honours win.

The crew aboard Wild Oats XI celebrated on Wednesday night after arriving in Hobart having thought they’d ended a three-year run without victory, but their misfortune has continued for another year.

Twelve months ago the boat retired with a hydraulics issue and in 2015 they shredded their mainsail. The boat was also struck by lightning while docked in the lead up to this year’s event, damaging key navigation equipment.

Meanwhile, the prize for handicap honours looks like going to Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, who was ahead on the overall standings late on Thursday. Ichi Ban sat more than 20 minutes ahead of Bob Steel’s Quest, who had looked like claiming handicap honours as the fleet tore down Australia’s east coast.

However, Ichi Ban crossed the finish line ahead of Quest, Hollywood Boulevard and Mascalzone Latino on Thursday morning after negotiating the Derwent less than 12 hours after Wild Oats XI was first past the post.

“Matt [Allen] deserves to win – it’s his 28th Hobart,” Steel said. “I’ve had my share, so I am jubilantly disappointed for us but happy for Matt.”

Steel’s crew endured a bumpy ride down to Hobart, despite the spectacular downwind weather conditions which allowed the first five yachts across the line to finish faster that Perpetual Loyal’s race record set last year.

Sailing master Mike Green fell heavily into the port wheel, which was broken in the process, while a number of crew fell through the deck rail, fortunately still tethered to the boat.

“People think running [downwind] is easy, but it isn’t, there’s a lot of pressure on the boat and the crew,” Steel said. “It’s a short race, but a challenging one. You have to work constantly, to keep the boat moving, keep your spinnaker flying without damaging it.”

Just five boats have been forced to retire from this year’s race. Blunderbuss pulled out on Thursday morning with a broken boom while Imalizard’s race ended when she dismasted. They joined Rockall, Jazz Player and Wots Next on this year’s casualty list.

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A woman has died in a crash on the Hume Highway on Thursday morning.
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The 72-year-old woman was driving a van south of Gunning about 9am when it collided with a truck travelling in the same direction.

Her death takes the official holiday road toll to 21, after a tragic few days on NSW roads.

Sisters Annabelle Falkholt, 21, and actress Jessica Falkholt, 28, are still fighting for life after their parents and another man were killed in a fiery crash on Boxing Day.

The sisters were pulled to safety before the cars went up in flames after the head-on collision on the Princes Highway. One sister was taken to Liverpool Hospital, and the other was sent to St George where they remain in a critical condition.

A 72-year-old woman has died after her van and a truck collided south of Gunning on the Hume Highway on Thursday. Photo: Baz Ruddick

That crash was one of many that has occurred since the Operation Safe Arrival was launched on December 16.

Charges have also been laid over a fatal crash in the Central Tablelands.

A BMW sedan and a taxi van collided about 10.45pm in Walcha. The 25-year-old front seat passenger of the car died at the scene, while the driver and the passenger of the taxi were both taken to hospital.

The driver of the BMW has been charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, negligent driving occasioning death, and two counts of cause bodily harm by misconduct while driving a vehicle.

The deaths of a two-year-old who was hit by a reversing car in Campsie and a pedestrian who was struck by a car in Bonnyrigg were also not included in the official road toll as the deaths were on private property. The death of a 23-year-old woman at Peak Hill has also been removed from the official toll.

The toll is almost triple the same period last year, and on Wednesday Chief Inspector Phil Brooks said many families had been directly impacted by road trauma during the holiday period.

“Everyone who has been on our roads leaves home in the hope they can get back there [or] to their destination,” he said.

About half the deaths were the result of a vehicle leaving the road and crashing into a tree or power pole, while others were caused by head-on collisions, the Chief Inspector said.

“Those families will no doubt be feeling the pain and suffering of losing a loved one this close to Christmas.”

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Eats, shoots (video) and leaves TEENAGE DREAM: George the wombat being held by Katy Perry on the set of Sunrise in July, 2017. Picture: Tim Faulkner & The Australian Reptile Park
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Picture: Tim Faulkner & The Australian Reptile Park.

Picture: Tim Faulkner & The Australian Reptile Park.

Picture: Tim Faulkner & The Australian Reptile Park.

Picture: Tim Faulkner & The Australian Reptile Park.

Picture: Tim Faulkner & The Australian Reptile Park.

TweetFacebookWORLD-FAMOUS wombat “George” from the Australian Reptile Park at Somersby is set to be released back into the wild.

The prolific marsupial came to fame earlier this year after videos of his activities went viral online.

He was brought into the park’s care in late 2016 after being found by a passing motorist in the pouch of his deceased mother, who had been hit by a car.

From then, George was taken under the care of general manager Tim Faulkner who became his new “fill-in family” and provided the resources the tiny wombat needed.

Read more:A new video has been released for George’s first birthday

“We are going to miss George so much but he is now ready for release,” Mr Faulkner said.

“George has always been so adorable in the eyes of staff at The Australian Reptile Park, so it was fantastic that the rest of the world also saw him as we do.

“We are sending him to Cedar Creek Wombat Sanctuary to run free and make lots of wombat friends.”

Named “Australia’s Most Adorable Animal” in September after he won an online poll run by Experience OZ, George’s profile received a huge lift midway through the year when he was nervously held by popular American singer Katy Perry on the set of Sydney breakfast program Sunrise.

The summer holidays will be the last chance to see the cuddly creature in the Reptile Park’s wombat enclosure before he is released in mid-January.


Orphan baby wombat George named Australia’s most adorable animalHunter Street cafe to donate half of Christmas Day coffee sales to local wombat rescueHalloween at the Australian Reptile ParkRead More →

The cost of living is forever creeping up, and pay rises, if you’re lucky enough to get one at all, are typically underwhelming. So how can you get some extra dollars coming in the door? Perhaps a side hustle is your solution.
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What we are talking about here is something that you do outside of your normal method of earning a living, and which produces additional income.

Research undertaken by Manpower Group highlighted how the side hustle concept linked to the idea of the ‘gig economy’, finding that two out of five Australian Millennials preferred to work a number of part-time jobs, rather a single, Monday to Friday, 9-5 job. A study in the US found that 28 per cent of those aged between 18 and 26 were working on an income-generating side project – or side hustle. Of those, almost all worked in the side hustle at least once a month, and one in four said they earned more than $US500 ($646) a month.

One aspect of the side hustle concept that I really like is that it enables you to give things a try, to experiment. To test ideas and see if real people are willing to part with their hard-earned cash for your idea.

A popular entrepreneurial process is the Lean Start-Up methodology. A key concept in this process is how many cycles you can go through of putting an idea out in the world, obtaining real customer feedback, tweaking your offer based on that feedback, and going back out to market again. The more times you can run through that cycle, the greater the likelihood you will find a sustainable business that you can grow. Working through those iterations as a side hustle can be fantastic, because you’re not relying on the new venture to put food on the table or a roof over your head. You can experiment and discover, and if those experiments don’t play out as you’d hope, you can live to fight another day.

So how might you get started on your side hustle journey?

There are two mostly likely paths you could go down to find a side hustle that works for you. One is to think about your hobbies and passions. Is there scope to turn a dollar doing something in that space?

The other avenue is to consider what skills you have, and whether you can monetise those skills outside of your regular job.

So on the hobbies front, let’s say you love playing the guitar. Could you pick up some work in a cover band on the weekend? Or provide guitar lessons? Maybe you could create an online course on learning the guitar, or tuning a guitar, or whatever. Perhaps you could import guitars and sell them on eBay or Amazon.

Earning money in a space that you love and are passionate about might be fantastically liberating. Chances are you have a community already around you who share your interest that could be an incredibly useful sounding board for your plans, and perhaps even customers one day.

Then what about turning your skills into some extra cash? This is perhaps where the internet has provided the most liberation. If you have design skills, for instance, you could pick up work at 99 designs, AirTasker, Freelancer and no doubt plenty more. Of course, in the case of AirTasker and Freelancer, there are opportunities for those with plenty of other skills too – from cleaning to web site design, there will be an avenue for you turn those skills you’ve acquired into extra money in your pocket.

Perhaps your skills point to selling a particular product that you know a lot about. Market-places such as Amazon and Ebay can open up enormous opportunities. Fulfilment by Amazon is an opportunity of enormous magnitude. I know of someone who designed a bag to hold medical items for children, such as EpiPens, for instance. These bags could then be put in their school bag, or wherever they needed to go, and the parent could be confident everything that was needed was there, and there were instructions for carers, if required.

She gets these manufactured in China and ships them to the Amazon warehouse in the UK. She can then market the product throughout Europe on Amazon – more than 300 million potential customers – and anytime someone orders, Amazon takes care of the process from that point forward – picking the item, packaging it and getting it delivered. And she can manage the entire thing from her study at home in Melbourne. What an incredible age we live in!

A final point to note. It might be wise to consider whether what you are planning to do could conflict with your current employment. It may be a good idea to simply ask your employer, “do you see any problems with what I’m planning to do?” Who knows, they may even be able to flick some opportunities your way.

Paul Benson is a financial planner and creator of the podcast Financial Autonomy. [email protected]

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To say fishing has been busy over the Christmas break would be the understatement of the year, according to Brent“Hammer” Hancock from Tackle World Port Stephens.
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FISH OF THE WEEK: Todd Graham wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this 119cm, 15kg jew caught off Stockton Beach this week.

The holiday masses are in full swing along Hunter waters and Brent says they’ve been enjoying the best of weather and catches.

“We’ve been run off our feet, but there’s been really good reports,” said Hammer, who reportedly fell asleep on the in-laws couch on Christmas Day.

(Experts are still trying to determine if that was because he’d been working to hard, or had eaten too much turkey.)

“In the bay we’ve seenplenty of bonito and tailor turn up,especially on the incoming tide, anywhere from the Anchorage to the breakwall at Nelson Bay marina.

“Plenty of surface activity, with fish really responding to small metal lures.

“Bread and butter species like whiting and bream are about in abundance on the sandflats and along the beaches.

“We can’t keep enough tube worms in stock.

“Been a few blue swimmers about too, which has been good.”

Branching outOne of Hammer’s hitmen at Tackle World Port Stephens, Paul“Ringo” Lennon, has ventured out into the fishing charter business.

His operation is calledFish Port Stephens Estuary Charter Services and has been booked solid over the Christmas New Year period as anglers cash in on Paul’s local knowledge to track down among other species, some big kingies.

Visit梧桐夜网fishportstephensestuarycharters南京夜网for more info.

Meanwhile, Brad, from Pacific Charters, has been putting customers onto some great snapper, jew and trag around the local reefs like The V, and 21.

Big jewSpeaking of jew, a young Turk Hammer used to live next door to speared a 37kg mulloway last week on Broughton Island.

“It was a monster,” Hammer said. “He’s 19 years old now. Apparently he was diving for lobster and had the gun there when this fish turned up–got lucky I guess.”

Wide hopesOut wide there have a been a few striped and black marlin spotted and reports of a couple of big dolphin fish.

“Water has been a bit hit and miss but the good news is there is no current belting down the coast,” Hammer said.

“I’d almost call this a normal season.

“The last couple of years we’ve had that current raging south and impacting on game fishing, but this year, with no current, it’s reasonable to expect that as soon as the water temps get up, the bait will stack andit will be on.”

Beach bountyLocal beaches are firing for whiting, jew and bream.

Places like Birubi have been producing great sessions on live tube worms.

“Fish early and fish late for best holiday results,” Hammer advised.

Happy New YearThe fishing forecast for the New Year weekend is looking reasonably promising with a few showers predicted buthardly any wind.

“Mostly 10 knots all weekend,” Hammer noted.

“Saturday is shaping up well with a slight southerly change Sunday and then New Years Day looks great.”

Dad strikes backIt’s been a bumper year for the Graham family.

Nine-year-old Zander featured on this page in November, having shown up his dad Todd by catching two jew in one cast off Stocko. It led to a lament from dad along the lines of “took me 20 years to get my first jew and he gets two at once at age 9, the little bugger. LOL.”

As the Fish of the Week photo shows, the empire struck back this week, or rather big daddy Todd did, landing a 15kg bigger daddy mulloway off the beach.

“I caught this one on Tuesday night up Stockton beach. 15kg even and 119cm long (so close to 120cm though it’s not funny!),” he reported.

Holiday joyFive year old Harper Dryden landed a shovel nose shark at Nelson Bay that was nearly bigger than Dryden while fishing with grandad Paul Rowett. Young Dryden was pretty chuffed.

Lexi Bower of Bolton Point caught her first fish on the brand new fishing rod she got for Christmas –a beautiful 44cm flathead.

Papers pleaseJust a reminder that when fishing, RecreationalFishing Licences are a must and can be purchased online at梧桐夜网onegov.nsw.gov419论坛; ​over the phone on 1300 369 365;via Touch Corp agents who sell fishing fee receipts via EFTPOS, or at over 600 agent shop fronts including tackle shops and most Kmart stores.

To receive a plastic card (1 and 3 year fishing fees receipts only), you need to purchase or renew your fishing receipt via one of the electronic payment channels identified above. A list of all our current agents can be found on our website:

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A YEAR ago, almost to the day, a friendI’ll call Beryl settled on her ambition for 2017.
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She’s a teacher. She’s not given to hyperbole or hysteria.

When people put together dinner party lists Beryl’s always there as the sensible one who won’t end up in a gutter, blotto, wailing about not being 23 anymore. She’s the one who brings the perfect salad, or the just-so trifle, and who never leaves a friend’s dinner partywithout cleaning the kitchen,taking out the garbage, and even sortingbottles and cans into the recycling bin.

Beryl’s dependable. If she says she’ll meet you at 5.30 in the morning for a run she’ll be there, always, even if her leg’s in a cast or she’s running a fever.

“A commitment’s a commitment,” she said one time when we met in a carpark at 5.30am and she was wearing an eye patch after a gardening incident too weird to go into (something about a stick, a spider web, some turps, a dark shed–in other words, very un-Beryl).

“If I say I’ll be here I’ll be here, and if I’m not, well, you know,” she said.

“What, you’ll be dead?” I said.

“Well, either that or unconscious, or something terrible,” she said.

“Good to know,” I said.

Anyway, a year ago Beryl announced that 2017 was the year she would commit to yoga. And in typical Beryl fashion that commitment came with a goal.

“My aim is to do the downward dog with my heels flat to the ground,” she said, before a demonstrationof how far she had to go. Her arms were nice and straight, her backwas flat, her backside was in line with her shoulders and her legs were not shaking, but her heels were centimetres from the ground.

“It’s hard. I’ve been trying for months but I’m asflexible as a house brick,” she said.

Now some people aim high at this time of year when they’re settling onnew year’s resolutions.

Quit smoking. Quit drinking. Quit binge-watching crap television series. Exercise at least three times a week. Spend more time with friends. Take up a hobby more serious than collecting pub coasters with the word“Beer” on them.

But Beryl, as I’ve mentioned, is one of those sensible people who goes for the vaguely achievable.

“If I can just do the downward dog without falling over or groaning I’ll be pleased, but heels flat to the ground is the goal,” she said.

It’s been a big year, 2017.

Donald Trump,Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un andRodrigo Duterte have slammed any romantic notions some of us might have had about human progress and the advance of civilisation back to earth with a thud.

There’s something about big, powerful men boasting about killing other people, or being able to kill other people without consequence, or sexually assaulting women, or laughing about the annihilation of millions, or appearing in too many photographs shirtless, that has you doubting whether we really have progressed very far from 1215, despite mobile phones andFacebook.

It’sthe year when we’vesadly achieved what politicians have always urged us to achieve after terrorist attacks–we’ve gone on with our lives.

Around the world thousands of people have died in terrorist attacks ranging from barely-reported single-person deaths following suicide attacks in countries like Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria, to the killing of more than 300 people in a mosque in November in Egypt’s worst terrorist incident, and the London Bridge, Manchester and Westminster attacks in England that left more than 30 people dead, including Australians. And life has gone on.

There have been many bright spots in 2017, even on those days where it’s felt like we’re only a Donald Trump tweet away from possible nuclear armageddon, or a Kim Jong-un ego trip from some other kind of military meltdown.

Australia has provided more proof of comedian John Oliver’s assessment that we’re not only home to Russell Crowe, but we are the Russell Crowe of countries.

How else to explain the world’s dumbest constitutional crisis?

Only in Australia could a pile of politicians solemnly swear they were Australianonly to find, one by one, that they actually weren’t.

Only in Australia could the party leader who notoriously threatened to kill a couple of fluffy dogs for being in the country illegally, end up out of parliament himself –if too briefly –because he was actually a New Zealander.

Only in Australia could pollies turn their sloppy paperwork into a political bun-fight without apologising to the millions of Australians routinely threatened with severe penalties if they stuff up on the paperwork for their welfare benefits ortax returns.

And only in Australia could normal, sensible Australians –more than 80 per cent of us –turn a potential disaster like the politically-contrived same sex marriage postal survey into a triumph for democracy, at a time when democracy itself seems under challenge in too many parts of the world.

My friend Beryl tried to do a downward dog with her heels on the ground on Thursday, to show the fruits of a year’s worth of yoga classes.

“So close,” I said, as she grunted and strained to push her heels to the ground while her legs stubbornly refused to cede another millimetre of flexibility.

She’ll keep trying.

And I’ll try to achieve my achievable goals in 2018 –planting out an area of my back garden, resuming a project of taking a substantial walk in each of this state’s national parks, and reading more.

As Beryl said when she’d grunted her way to a standing position on Thursday morning, her heels-fully-down-downward-dog still a goal, “There’s always next year.”

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