Fireworks, a funhouse and a family-friendly event for New Year’s Eve in Newcastle

Fireworks, a funhouse and a family-friendly event for New Year’s Eve in Newcastle

ACTION: Maryville arts collective Studio One, which will be performing on New Year's Eve, at Queens Wharf on Friday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers A SEMI-CONSTRUCTED cardboard funhouse will be the centerpiece of Newcastle’s New Year’s Eve celebrations that will conclude with afireworks finale at the family-friendly time of 9pm.
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The giant funhouse has been designed to allow for public interaction, encouraging attendees to roll up their sleeves and unleash theirhome renovation skills.

Local artists will provide creative materials to help decorate the construction, which will be on the rejuvenated Market Street Lawn.

Fireworks will be launched from Griffiths Park at Stockton to allowfor viewingfrom all along the harbour's foreshore and will last for 15 minutes.

Live music consisting of legendary rockers Dragon, Bowie Unzipped and GW Freebird Blues will keep partygoers entertained on the foreshore, along with a string of food stalls on Wharf Road.

“Our New Year’s Eve event will see families celebrate with a hands-on creative collaboration for the whole community and a fantastic line-up of entertainment throughout the evening - before enjoying our fireworks display,”Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“I want to thank Port of Newcastle for partnering with the City to provide this safe and fun activation to celebrate the New Year.”

Port of Newcastle chief executiveCraig Carmody said the organisationwas proud to be part of the celebration for another year.

“Since our first shipment in 1799, the Port and the City have grown and prospered together,”he said.

“We are proud to partner with the City of Newcastle to deliver a celebration for the community that will mark the beginning of our 220th year of commercial shipping in the Port.”

Colourful costumes can be created on the night to take part in a musical parade,inflatable slides and jumping castles will be on offer, and Happy Senses returns with a VIP experience.

“Following positive feedback from last year’s event, we’re repeating the VIP Sensory Area, which provides a safe base from where registered participants can explore the whole event or simply relax and enjoy the music,” Cr Nelmes said.

Opinion || Encryption laws impact on human rights

Opinion || Encryption laws impact on human rights

In the last hour, of the last day of Federal Parliament this year, unprecedented encryption access laws were rammed through the Senate and became law.
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This occurred despite politicians knowing that serious problems still exist.

The measures are complex, seemingly targeted, and to the everyday person, possibly of little consequence.

But they are some of the most far-reaching laws of their type introduced in the world and should be taken seriously by all ns – they impact our most basic rights.

The Law Council of , the voice of the legal profession, supports the purpose of the laws to keep us safe from the horror of terror attacks. But we believe that in the rush to get the legislation enacted it has been poorly executed.

This could have serious unintended consequences and there is a real risk these laws could be used for purposes outside protecting our national security.

The legislation’s capabilities can be exercised in relation to any crime with a maximum penalty of three years’ jail or more – a low threshold that sets a very broad scope.

Before they passed, the Law Council submitted these laws should only apply to crimes carrying a seven-year plus maximum prison term and should be specific to particular crimes, such as terrorism and child exploitation offences.

In the current form, however, these laws could, in theory, be used to target people suspected of relatively minor offences, such as theft.

The encryption access bill gives our law enforcement and intelligences agencies unprecedented powers to exercise intrusive covert powers, accessing messages sent over encrypted messaging software and intercepting communications.

The need for a warrant is also potentially side-stepped, as law enforcement agencies now have the power to issue “technical assistance requests” or “voluntary assistance requests” to designated communications providers to access and decrypt an individual’s private information.

Further, individuals – such as IT experts – could be held and forced to provide compulsory assistance without the safeguards necessary for detention, including being able to contact a lawyer. There is also a stark lack of assurances for lawyers, with a failure to protect the integrity of legal professional privilege.

It is the Law Council’s firm view our law enforcement agencies should not be allowed to bypass the need to obtain a warrant when accessing information via encrypted or intercepted communications.

The n Government’s rushed and politicised encryption access legislation, as it stands, is not fit for purpose and poses a real risk to the rule of law.

Next year Parliament has the chance to immediately revisit these laws and ensure they get them right.

The consequences of not doing so can impact us all.

Morry Bailes, President, Law Council of

Not-for-profit Newcastle wellness centre Integrated Living helps seniors stay active

Not-for-profit Newcastle wellness centre Integrated Living helps seniors stay active

Staying active: Wickham residents Ken and Jocelyn Hullick exercise at Newcastle's "wellness" centre for seniors twice a week.
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A “wellness centre” for seniors in Newcastle is bringing exercise and health services together to help improve the lives of older people.

The centre, run by a not-for-profit organisation, overlooks Newcastle Harbour.

It includes a gym with digital exercise equipment, manufactured in Finland.

“The machines actually have seatbelts in case you reckon you’ll fall off,” Wickham’s Ken Hullick, 80, said.

The equipment also has software to monitor customised exercise programs for each user.Gym-goers at the centre are given a swipe-card that is used to adjust resistance settings on each piece of equipment. This helps users to maintain a personalised program, while monitoring improvements.

The gym is designed to help older people stay active. It’s also aimed at those who require exercise for rehabilitation.

The Integrated Living site has been dubbed “Newcastle’s first purpose-built wellness centre for seniors”.

It’s considered a place where older people can socialise, as well as exercising and accessing health services.

For example, the centre has just launched other services for improving memory, foot care, diabetes, massage and nutrition. There’s a focus on ways to improve and manage chronic conditions.

Mr Hullick attends the gym with his wife, Jocelyn, twice a week.

Ken Hullick.“As we get older, we become more sedentary and get less exercise, then we start a downhill spiral,” Mr Hullick said.

Going to the gym, doing cardio and resistance exercises, helps build confidence, he said.

“As you get older, you lose a bit of confidence. You tend to avoid doing things because you’re not too sure whether you’re up to it.

“If you build up your strength, you build up your awareness and confidence.”

Mrs Hullick, 74, said she’d “had a couple of falls”. After attending the gym for a few months, she’d “certainly noticed the difference in my strength”.

“I really needed to build up my strength. I am feeling much fitter and getting stronger.”

The gym overlooks the harbour through big glass windows in Wharf Road.

No one can see in, which is a relief to self-conscious types, but it’s not so good for those who like to show off their muscles.

Integrated Living chief executive Catherine Daley said staying mobile “plays an integral part in remaining independent and healthy as we age”.

“We have one lady who used to need a walking stick, now she is so confident in her mobility that she often leaves her walking stick behind.”

Joyce wants A-League goal-scoring spread

Joyce wants A-League goal-scoring spread

Melbourne City's Ritchie De Laet is an uncertain starter when the A-League club take on Adelaide.Melbourne City will continue their search for an A-League scoring formula without Bruno Fornaroli when they travel to Adelaide this weekend.
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City have scored in just two of their past five matches and are desperate to find a forward-line connection against United.

Last week against Perth, City troubled the league leaders but didn't have a shot on target.

Unfortunately for City, coach Warren Joyce reported no sign of the change in attitude he wants to see in his proven scorer.

"No, there's been no difference," Joyce said on Thursday.

Joyce said he wouldn't look to field the Uruguayan in the City's youth team, as he did with Curtis Good last month, saying he didn't think "things like that help senior players".

City must wait until the January transfer window to ponder replacements for Fornaroli, so it's up to Joyce's next-gen brigade to find the goals.

Riley McGree, whose form has the 20-year-old in Asian Cup calculations, 21-year-old Lachlan Wales and teenager Nathaniel Atkinson are likely to continue in Adelaide on Sunday.

Along with last-minute signing Kearyn Baccus, established names Rostyn Griffiths and Anthony Caceres have been kept out of the side in line with Joyce's training-first mantra.

"We've got competition for places and other players have done better than (Caceres)," he said of the Manchester City loanee.

"He's had a chance to show what he can do so far this season and other people, the emergence of Lachie Wales or Riley McGree or Nathaniel Atkinson, they've done better.

"You want competition for places, don't you."

Joyce said Frenchman Florin Berenguer was unlikely to be seen until the new year with a calf injury.

Osama Malik might play minutes in Adelaide, while Ritchie De Laet is a wait-and-see proposition after locking his knee twice last week.

"We'll look at everybody after training," Joyce said.



Liquor & Gaming NSW licence conundrum delays Newcastle rum bar’s launch to 2019

Liquor & Gaming NSW licence conundrum delays Newcastle rum bar’s launch to 2019

A Newcastle small bar hopingto be open before the summer holidays has been dealt a blow by the state’s government’s liquor agency, which has pushedthe bar’sliqour licence review backuntil late January.
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Blue Kahunas, a tiki bar in Hunter Street mall, is owned by Prudence Farquhar and Byron Marzinotto, who have been setting up their business since July.

They opened with a temporary liquor licence during the Newcastle 500 and had targeted opening as soon as possible after their licence review on Wednesday.

But on the day of their scheduled review from theIndependent Liquor & Gaming Authorityboard, which usually meets only once a month, the couple were told they needed to assess and return two sections of paperwork not previously required with applications.

Despite assembling the required paperwork, they were knocked off the day’s list of scheduled reviews and denied the chance to receive the final tick of approval to open thebusiness.

“It’s been a bit of a nightmare,” MsFarquharsaid.

HELD BACK: Business owners Prudence Farquhar and Byron Marzinotto at Blue Kahunas in Hunter Street mall. Picture: Simone De Peak

”We found out at 8am [Wednesday] that it was no longer being reviewed due to a last-minute requirement that was passed [Tuesday] afternoon. [Wednesday] was meant to be the day we were getting reviewed.

“We’re not going to get reviewed until the 23rdof January now, and we can’t officially trade until seven days after that approval, so seven weeks until we can officially open.

“We’re just a small business trying to open up, and that’s all we’re waiting on.”

A spokesperson for Liquor & Gaming NSW did not explain why earlier notification of the extra requirements was not provided.

“Liquor & Gaming NSW was not able to progress the application earlier due to the applicant not providing all the required information,” the spokesperson said.

“The matter has also been delayed by the need to give the applicant an opportunity to respond to certain issues. This was to ensure procedural fairness to the applicant.

“Liquor & Gaming NSW is continuing to try to get the application determined before Christmas.”

MsFarquharsaid it was disappointing to not open before the new year given the city’s revitalisation.

Hunter students celebrate star ATARs

Hunter students celebrate star ATARs

Stars: Elly Diamandis-Nikoletatos, Emma Nickel, Jess Mulhearn and Mariam Khalid. Emma has accepted an offer to medical engineering, Jess wants to pursue law or orthodontics and Mariam is aiming for medicine. Picture: Marina NeilELLY Diamandis-Nikoletatos’ mother made it clear she shouldn’t feel any pressure about her n Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).
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“She said ‘You can get a mystery mark and we’d be proud of you, no matter what happens’,” Elly said.

Instead, the Merewether High student woke on Friday to news she had received an ATAR of 99.75, one of the highest in the region.

She is among six of the selective school’s students – all girls – to receive ATARs over 99.

Merewether’s Ruby Dempsey, who is in France, is understood to have achieved the Hunter’s highest, 99.9.

“It feels unreal, like I’m imagining it or someone else got it,” Elly said.

“It’s a relief. This year was incredibly stressful, but it paid off and I’m happy with the reward.”

Elly was named on Thursday as one of the school’s 15 all-round achievers, for receivingmarks in the top band possible for 10 or more units of study.

She came 12thin NSW in Legal Studies last year, when she completed it as an accelerated course.

“My mum asked me yesterday if I wanted to celebrate but I was against it, I didn’t want to be too sure,” she said.

“I wasn’t a good judge of how I would go, so it’s been a really great surprise.”

Elly said she had “worked really hard continuously”since the start of year 10.

She said she focused on completing tasks, instead of clocking hours –“I can get a lot done in one hour and sometimes not a lot done in three” –but still spent about nine hours studying each day in the lead up to exams.

“I always wanted to make the most of every opportunity I had,” she said.

“I’m very lucky to go to this school and have these teachers and resources. Some people can’t.

“Doing well in Legal showed me what I can achieve.”

Elly wants to study medicine.

Newcastle Grammar School studentsEmma Reid receivedan ATAR of 99.75 and Emily Elvish 99.70.

Belmont Christian College’s Makensie Toole got 99.65.

Lambton High’sRani Ruse received 99.6. Grammar’s Lucinda Watt got 99.45.

Lambton’s Charlie Ekin; Merewether’s Phoebe Gray, who is in Japan, and Merewether’s Jess Mulhearn all received 99.4.

Lambton High’s Riordan Davies, Merewether’s Emma Nickel and All Saints’ College (St Mary’s Campus) Bradley Montroyall achieved 99.2.

Merewether’s Mariam Khalid and Grammar’s Margot Roberts got 99.1.

Lambton’s Gwen Devoy received 99.05.

Merewether originally appeared to have two students on the Top Achievers list, but also has students who received state rankings in languages they studied by distance education.

Bade Gulmez was second in Turkish Continuers, Ruby Dempsey third in French Continuers, Zoe McTackett third in Korean Beginners, Jess Mulhearn fourth and Joshua Kershaw fifth in Indonesian Beginners.

Prison warning for Vic sex worker shooter

Prison warning for Vic sex worker shooter

Domenico Natale, 89, has been told he's likely to be jailed for shooting at a sex worker.An elderly man who shot himself in the stomach after firing twice at a sex worker he believed he was in a relationship with, has been told he's likely to go to jail.
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Domenico Natale, 89, said after the shooting outside Brunswick's Romantics Brothel that "she f***ing destroyed me".

He was a regular visitor to the woman and out of what she believed was kindness towards a lonely old man, she began to visit him at home, though not providing services.

Prosecutor Jeremy McWilliams told a Supreme Court plea hearing on Friday that Natale started booking her first appointment of the day and would initially meet her outside the brothel, later meeting her at a tram stop and walking with her to work.

When the woman returned from a year-long break, Natale continued to visit her and would tell her about other brothels he'd been to.

"She believes he thought she was his girlfriend, not his client," Mr McWilliams said.

One day in the lead-up to the shooting, Natale was asked to leave but became angry, grabbing the woman around the neck, prompting a struggle before he fled.

In the following days, he sent her stalking messages, telling her to "remember you've destroyed my f***ing life" and "I can forget you, I can't forgive you".

On July 21 last year, Natale drove his daughter's car to the brothel and waited for half an hour for the woman to arrive for work.

He removed a shotgun from the car and fired a shot at her from seven metres away, missing her.

He fired a second shot as she ran in the door, striking the entrance, but again missing her.

Natale got back in the car and fled, while women inside called police.

From his car Natale called the woman and when her colleague answered, he told the colleague: "You know what happens when a person falls in love with someone" and "she f***ing destroyed me".

Natale then threatened to shoot the colleague too, before turning the gun on himself and shooting himself in the stomach.

Natale's lawyer Simon Moglia said with home visits and text messages between Natale and the woman in the lead-up to the shooting, the relationship had strayed into "murky territory".

"The relationship between them went beyond the bounds of the purely commercial," he said.

But Mr McWilliams said Natale had disregarded the woman's humanity and treated her as an object.

"His response to her ending of that subjectively romantic relationship is a deeply disturbing one and a deeply concerning one," he said.

Justice Lesley Taylor will sentence Natale in February, warning him prison is "looking like a likely option".



No-ball dramas on Sharma’s mind: Fleming

No-ball dramas on Sharma’s mind: Fleming

Ishant Sharma is worried about bowling no-balls and therefore under performing, says Damien Fleming.A week after setting the tone by skittling Aaron Finch's stumps in Adelaide, Ishant Sharma's skittish start to the second Test suggested the spearhead's no-ball dramas may be playing on his mind.
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Sharma started his first spell of the four-Test series in emphatic fashion, uprooting two stumps while dismissing Finch for a duck to put India on track for a 31-run victory.

The veteran was far less threatening during his four-over spell in Perth on Friday morning, when he was handed the new ball and asked to create chaos on a green-tinged pitch.

Sharma was taken out of the attack after struggling to hit the 130 km/h mark in his fourth over, which featured three boundaries and a no-ball.

Former paceman Damien Fleming suggested recent scrutiny of Sharma's habit of overstepping may have been a factor in his ineffectual opening spell.

"We saw in his first over he wasn't pushing the line," Fleming said on Seven.

"Maybe he's running in looking at the line and not focusing on where he wants the ball to go.

"The radar isn't working for Ishant today, he has been all over the place. He has been too wide.

"He is really conscious of bowling no-balls."

Mark Waugh, calling the game for Fox Cricket, suggested Sharma looked "awkward" and not at all comfortable.

Sharma has been a near-constant presence in the headlines since the end of the first Test, with footage revealing he should have been called for 16 no-balls in 's first innings of the series opener.

Sharma was denied the scalp of Finch in 's second innings of the first Test because of a no-ball then overstepped again when he looked to have captured the final wicket of the thrilling match.

Tim Paine urged umpires to crackdown on no-balls during his pre-match press conference in Perth.

"I'm glad it's been brought up and certainly been spoken about," Paine said.

"I don't think it's a great look for the game.

"Hopefully they police it really well this game."



LNP Qld president Gary Spence steps down

LNP Qld president Gary Spence steps down

Mr Spence has been at the centre of tensions between the Qld LNP's party and parliamentary wings.The president of Queensland's Liberal National Party will step down, blaming new developer donation laws introduced by the state's Labor government.
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Gary Spence, who is also chairman of engineering consultancy firm PeakUrban, announced his resignation on Friday after a meeting of the party executive.

Mr Spence blamed recent Queensland laws banning developer donations to political parties for his decision, saying his position at PeakUrban makes him a "prohibited donor" subject to hefty fines and even prison time if he stayed in both roles.

"Thirty years ago I joined the Liberal party as a 23 year old. Thirty years later my values haven't changed.

"But what has changed is if I do my job as the LNP president in the lead-up to the next federal election I could go to jail for two years," Mr Spence told reporters after the meeting.

Nationals federal president Larry Anthony heaped praise on Mr Spence, saying he deserved much credit for creating the LNP and had made the party a "powerful force".

"It is a travesty that the Labor state government has wilfully used the legislative process to restrict the ability of the sitting president to do his job," Mr Anthony said.

Mr Spence said he received legal advice earlier this week that because his party's High Court challenge to the laws had been pushed back by several months, it was now likely there wouldn't be a decision before the next federal election.

That means if he solicited donations for the party as its president he could be found in breach of the laws because he is also technically a developer.

"The government of the day (has taken) steps to ensure their competitor is prohibited from participating in an election campaign," he said, adding he remained confident the High Court challenge would eventually succeed.

Mr Spence has recently been at the centre of tensions between the LNP's party and parliamentary wings, after threatening the preselections of three MPs, including former opposition leader Tim Nicholls, for voting with the Labor government to decriminalise abortion.

All LNP MPs had been granted a conscience vote on the issue but Mr Spence slammed the three MPs, saying they had "defied the party".

Mr Spence was also involved in the ousting of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this year, advocating behind the scenes for challenger Peter Dutton, who failed to gain the leadership, with former Treasurer Scott Morrison eventually taking the top job.

However Mr Spence rejected suggestions the recent issues had contributed to his decision to leave, and insisted there had been no internal pressure for him to go.

LNP State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington wished Mr Spence all the best for the future.

"Mr Spence is passionate about the LNP and his work to merge the party and his service should never be forgotten," she said in a statement.

Mr Spence's replacement will be chosen at another party meeting on Tuesday with both LNP City Vice-President David Hutchinson and former opposition leader Lawrence Springborg understood to be among a shortlist of candidates to take over the role.



Lambton High marks best ever HSC results

Lambton High marks best ever HSC results

Well done: Riordan Davies, Rani Ruse, Charlie Ekin and Gwendolyn Devoy. Charlie said teacher mentors and group study sessions "made the HSC more bearable" and were "empowering and uplifting". Picture: Max Mason-HubersLAMBTON High is celebrating its best ever Higher School Certificate results, which have been attributed to a “perfect storm” of capable and hard-working students, professional development for teachers and a senior learning centre where pupils receive study support.
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Deputy principal Peter Riley said theschool community was “incredibly proud” of the students’performance.

“It’s phenomenal,” Mr Riley said. “To get these results for a non-selective state school is just out of the box.”

Lambton High is 100thon a list of the state’s top 150 schools, ranked by calculating eachschool’s number of band six scores as a percentage of its completed courses.

It is preceded only by Newcastle Grammar at 35th, Central Coast Grammar at 56th, Gosford High at 58th, Merewether High at59thand Hunter Valley Grammar School at 70th.

Mr Riley said Lambtonis the highest ranking non-selective state school in the Hunter and Central Coast and the ninth highest ranking comprehensive school in the state.

“We’ve been building for five years and havemade a lot of changes that have helped get a mark here orthere, push a band four to a band five,” he said.

“The biggest challenge in education is helping kids reach their true potential and we think we’re getting close to getting them to 98 or 100 per cent of their potential.”

He said at least 25 students achieved an ATAR of 90 or above, including four students above 99: Rani Ruse got99.6, dux Charlie Ekin99.4,Riordan Davies 99.2andGwen Devoy 99.05.

“No-one expected this many over 90,” Mr Riley said.

Charlie said he “didn’t think I would touch 99” and was “speechless” when he saw his ATAR.

“It’s a sense of fulfilment that my hard work has paid off. Ithas opened more doorsfor me.”

Mr Riley said Lambtonhad achieved the most band six or equivalent results among non-selective Hunter state schools every year since 2016.

This year, its students achieved 116 band six or equivalents and 245 band fives, up from 76 band sixesand 184 band fives in 2017 and 79 band sixes and 189 band fives in 2016.

“In 45 per cent of all exams sat, the students get a band five or six,” Mr Riley said.

“It’s been three years, it’s not a fluke –it’s an endorsement what we’re doing is right.”

Lambton had four all-round achievers.