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Vic bus driver injured six, court told

Vic bus driver injured six, court told

Jack Aston has been convicted of injuring six people when driving his bus into a Melbourne overpass.A bus driver showed "flagrant inattention" when he negligently drove a bus into the Montague Street bridge, seriously injuring six of his passengers, a Melbourne court has heard.
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Jack Aston, 55, appeared in the County Court on Thursday for a plea hearing after being found guilty by a jury of negligently causing serious injury to six passengers when he drove into the bridge in 2016.

The court was told the Ballarat resident and Gold Bus driver was confused, new to the job and on a new route when he crashed into the "unexpectedly low bridge".

But Judge Bill Stuart said drivers must be alert to the "vagaries and the ever-changing risks" in the course of everyday driving.

"Possibly the most damning evidence against him was the observation of one of the witnesses ... of the imminent collision," he said.

"She saw it, he didn't and I don't get that.

"He had 14 passengers on board and of whom six were seriously injured. They were literally, in so far as he was the driver, in his care."

Judge Stuart said it was an unusual case in that Aston wasn't speeding, alcohol affected or distracted by his phone, but he had formed an almost "tunnel vision focus" and a "criminal lack of attention".

Defence barrister Richard Edney argued the bridge, built in the 19th century, was an ongoing problem for VicRoads and Melbourne drivers.

Character witness, Gold Bus company director Donald McKenzie, told the court Aston was a "good man" and should have been given better warning about the route and the bridge.

The hearing continues.



PM Morrison’s pitch to religious voters

PM Morrison’s pitch to religious voters

If voters are still listening to Scott Morrison he had a lot to tell them this week.If voters are still listening to Scott Morrison he had a bunch to tell them.
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In five days the prime minister rolled out billions of dollars in health spending, the site of a new space agency, and a deal with the states to work closely on migration.

Morrison was at the unveiling of plans for a major steel plant expansion, which could become the biggest steel plant in the world.

And on Thursday he announced a new anti-corruption body and a new religious discrimination act.

We're in cricket season and Morrison is getting runs on the board.

The "announceables" are a mix of the prime minister's own agenda and leftovers from Malcolm Turnbull's reign.

One of those leftovers is the new religious discrimination laws, which stem from Philip Ruddock's religious freedom report.

It sat with the government for seven months before Morrison's announcement on Thursday.

"For those who think that ns of religious faith don't feel that the walls have been closing in on them for a while, they're clearly not talking to many people in religious communities," Morrison told reporters.

The religious freedom review was a ticking time bomb for Turnbull, who was never passionate about it - being a conservative pay-off following the same-sex marriage vote.

But Morrison sees something else.

A church-going Christian, Morrison pitched to the 70 per cent of ns who identify with a faith.

"If you look at some of our largest, our most long established, as well as some of our most recent arrivals to , the proportion of those in those communities expressing an identification with a religious belief is far higher," he said.

That includes 95 per cent of Indian-born ns, Greek ns, and Filipino ns, and more than 90 per cent of Italian and Lebanese ns.

The Liberal party has long had problems getting a strong Middle Eastern and Asian-n vote.

But Eastern Europeans have been shown in political research to be more comfortable voting conservative.

Where Turnbull saw problems with the religious freedom review, Morrison sees an opportunity to win over voters who care about their faith and don't want to be told they can't practice it.

But he seemed less convinced about the other major policy he announced on Thursday - the Commonwealth Integrity Commission.

Turnbull pushed ahead with work on it while he was prime minister, even as many in his party room argued against it.

A couple of weeks ago Morrison described it as "fringe issue", and yet there he was announcing it after 11 months of work.

"We haven't kicked up a lot of dust about this because we've just been working on it," he said.

He had some choice words for the NSW version, ICAC, which has been attacked as a "kangaroo court" or a "star chamber" running show trials where guilt was already presumed.

Morrison's version of an anti-corruption body can't initiate its own investigations, and can only hold public hearings in certain circumstances.

But the prime minister could see an opportunity in this too.

Public support for a national anti-corruption watchdog is above 80 per cent. It's highest among Liberal voters, according to a recent Essential poll.

When the history of the Morrison government is written, Thursday's announcements might be two of the prime minister's most significant achievements.

Because as it stands, 'The Morrison Months' will not be a long read.

Labor is heading into its national conference solidly ahead in the polls, and Bill Shorten is looking to avoid factional brawls ahead of the May election.

Morrison has been pushing Shorten hard on border protection, but Labor sources suggest there might not even be much of a fight on it at the conference.

Shorten is promising bigger personal tax cuts, more spending on education, and he wants to make it easier for first home buyers to get into the market.

Morrison can count on the government's strong economic record, and on Monday will likely unveil the first budget surplus in 12 years.

But while the polls suggest voters have stopped listening, Morrison's wheels will keep spinning until he gets some traction in the electorate.



Roar ready for Victory A-League challenge

Roar ready for Victory A-League challenge

John Aloisi says his struggling A-League side Brisbane Roar can hit back against Melbourne Victory.Facing an in-form Melbourne Victory is exactly the kind of challenge Brisbane coach John Aloisi believes his out-of-sorts A-League team needs.
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The Roar have slumped to second-last on the competition ladder after last weekend's disappointing 2-0 loss to Newcastle and have just one win from seven matches this season.

In contrast, the Victory have stormed to second on the ladder on the back of five consecutive wins with Japanese star Keisuke Honda and Swedish striker Ola Toivenen fitting in seamlessly at the defending A-League champions.

While it may have all the hallmarks of a mismatch, Aloisi says his team is excited to prove the doubters wrong at Suncorp Stadium.

"We know we've got a side that can beat Victory and that's what we'll try and do," the ex-Socceroo said.

"It's actually come at a good time because of our loss last week and we're looking forward to playing against Victory. We know they're a good side. We know they've won five in a row but that makes it that extra bit special."

The Roar will be boosted by the return of Stefan Mauk after the attacking midfielder missed the Jets defeat due to suspension.

Leading scorer Adam Taggart is also likely to start after having to come off the bench in Newcastle due to a groin strain.

Aloisi remains hopeful if the pair can spend time together on the pitch, they will blossom into a crucial partnership for the club.

"Stef Mauk, we bought him for a reason, because he does link up well with midfield into the front third," he said.

"You saw that when did play with Adam Taggart, they've got a great understanding.

"We can't go get a Honda but we can go and get a young talented n and hopefully help them develop into big stars and that's what we're trying to do."

The Victory head north with imports Georg Niedermeier (ankle) and Raul Baena (hamstring), who have both been ruled out through injury.

Carl Valeri will continue to fill in for Baena while Nick Ansell is expected to slot into the backline in place of Niedermeier.

KEY MATCH FACTS

* Despite failing to score a first-half goal in each of their past four games against the Victory at Suncorp Stadium, the Roar have won two and drawn one of those matches.

* Brisbane are undefeated in their past five matches at home, including their only win so far this season against Melbourne City.

* Victory's 16 goals in seven matches is the highest in the league with Keisuke Honda (four goals, three assists) involved in as many goals alone as the Roar have so far managed in total this season.



Billings backs Saints recruit Hannebery

Billings backs Saints recruit Hannebery

Jack Billings was the No.3 draft pick by St Kilda and has played 85 AFL games for 64 goals.St Kilda's Jack Billings believes Dan Hannebery is going to be a huge addition to the AFL club, both on and off the field, describing him as a "bull at a gate".
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Hannebery joined the struggling Saints with a question mark over his body but Billings says the veteran midfielder appears in great shape.

A three-time All n, Hannebery has dealt with groin and calf injuries which has seen his form dip in recent seasons.

"Out on the track he's been pretty sharp and he looks good to me," Billings said.

"The medical staff are being really diligent with his program to have him primed for March-April."

Billings said Hannebery's experience and leadership was already being felt around the club, desperate to improve on their disappointing 16th-place finish this year.

"He's a bull at a gate, which is great to have around the club," Billings said.

"He's come from a successful program and has won a flag so he knows what it takes.

"There will be a lot of talk around his performance on field but I think the biggest impact he will have next year will be stuff that you can't really see, it will be on the guys around him."

Billings said he was looking for more consistency in his own game after a slow start to 2018 saw him dropped to the VFL for a week.

He said he hoped to spend more time in the midfield.

"I think I can really help through the midfield but I'm going to have to work really hard over the summer and show Richo and the coaches that I need to spend more time there," the 23-year-old said.

"But I definitely still like the combination of playing midfield and forward and I think that's one of my strengths."

Billings is out contract at the end of 2019 but said he wasn't in any rush to get a new deal done.

"Obviously I love the club and I'm going to give it my best," he said.

"I'm looking forward to next year, so hopefully when the time comes I'll work things out."



‘Deceptive’ NSW killer jailed for 24 years

‘Deceptive’ NSW killer jailed for 24 years

John Gasovski was shot once in the head in Illawarra bushland in mid-2014.A "master deceiver" who shot a man dead in NSW's Illawarra region to cover up his lies about a nonexistent cannabis haul has been jailed for at least 24 years.
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Truck driver Glen Roland Dunstall, 50, was found guilty by a jury in October of the execution-style murder of 48-year-old John Gasovski, who was shot above his ear at close range in Budderoo National Park in mid-2014.

In the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Richard Button jailed Dunstall for 32 years with a non-parole period of 24 years, saying the killer was "partly motivated by fear of retribution".

"The offender believed that he had, through that act of the utmost heartless brutality, solved the financial problem that he himself had created," the judge said.

"He was content to leave the body of the deceased where he had fallen to decompose, just like the body of a dead animal."

Mr Gasovski's body was found by a park ranger at Jamberoo three days after his wife reported him missing.

He came to know Dunstall through criminal associates but was "on the edge" of that world, Justice Button said.

A high-level drug dealer paid Dunstall $45,000 in "green-keeping" fees - in the hope of making a profit through onselling - after the then-45-year-old said he could get a large amount of cannabis from a Canberra warehouse.

The drugs didn't exist, but Dunstall provided misleading photos to suggest otherwise.

"Pressure began to build on the offender to make good on his claim that he could facilitate the supply ... for which the purchase price was proposed to be $300,000," the judge said.

At the time, Mr Gasovski "foresaw a very difficult financial future" for his family after a failed investment and became a "gopher" for a cafe owner associated with the dealer.

It was arranged Dunstall would travel from Wagga Wagga to meet Mr Gasovski at Sutton Forest petrol station, then the pair would get the drugs from Canberra and Mr Gasovski would pass them on.

While the victim believed the arrangement was genuine, Dunstall had armed himself with a gun, the judge said.

He convinced Mr Gasovski the plan had changed and to drive to Jamberoo instead.

Once they arrived, Dunstall "somehow inveigled" the victim to walk into the bush where he was shot.

"The men were together for a good half hour, during which, unbeknown to the deceased, the offender maintained the firm intention that his companion would shortly be callously murdered," Justice Button said.

The judge said Dunstall had decided to falsely claim the cannabis had been supplied to Mr Gasovski and, once he was missing, further say he had "either made off with the cannabis himself or been robbed by a third party".

He labelled Dunstall a decades-long "practised, chronic, recidivist" and "master deceiver" convicted of offences in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

Dunstall's sentence was backdated meaning he'll be eligible for parole in May 2039.



Demetriou reunited with Bennett at Souths

Demetriou reunited with Bennett at Souths

NRL coaching assistant Jason Demetriou will reunite with Wayne Bennett at South Sydney.A week after being dumped by Brisbane, ex-Broncos assistant Jason Demetriou has reunited with Wayne Bennett as part of South Sydney's new-look support staff for 2019.
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Demetriou has signed a three-year deal to again be Bennett's right-hand man, joining Willie Peters who has been promoted from development coach to Rabbitohs assistant.

The NRL club's former strength and conditioning boss Jarrod Wade is now South Sydney's head of performance under Bennett.

Demetriou's NRL career appeared in limbo when he was dumped last week by Brisbane the day former Rabbitohs mentor Anthony Seibold took over the Broncos reins.

Groomed by Bennett to replace the master coach at Red Hill, Demetriou was one of the high-profile victims of a month-long coach swap saga that embroiled South Sydney and Brisbane.

There was no room for Demetriou after Bennett was sacked by voice message and replaced by Seibold, who brought with him assistants Peter Gentle and Ben Cross, plus high performance manager Paul Devlin.

However, Bennett has welcomed Demetriou to Redfern as the replacement for Rabbitohs assistant David Furner who is now head coach of UK Super League heavyweights Leeds.

"We conducted an extensive search and interview process for our assistant coach role and Jason was the best candidate," Rabbitohs football manager Shane Richardson said.

"Jason is highly regarded as a coach in rugby league circles and comes highly recommended from coaching counterparts as well as many of the players he coached at Brisbane, North Queensland and St George Illawarra."

"We're delighted to have Jason, Willie and Jarrod on board, and we know they will give their all in support of Wayne and the team."

The future of Bennett's remaining former Broncos staff members - high-performance boss Jeremy Hickmans, analyst Scott Barker and sports scientist Tannath Scott - is unclear.



Record Christmas retail figures expected

Record Christmas retail figures expected

Shoppers are expected to splurge a record $50 billion on retail sales this festive season.n shoppers are set to splurge a record $50 billion on retail sales this festive season with almost $18 billion of it at bricks and mortar stores in the lead up to Christmas Day.
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The expected overall figure would be five per cent jump on last year, with shoppers increasingly buying online and closer to Christmas Day, the National Retail Association says.

"There's been a 35 per cent increase in spending online and that's all about convenience," chief executive Dominique Lamb told reporters in Brisbane on Thursday.

"People are working longer hours, they're certainly busier this time of year and it's all about making sure they get the right gift for the right price."

Despite the growth in online sales, Ms Lamb says $17.8 billion will be spent at physical stores in the 10 days before Christmas Day as shoppers take advantage of longer trading hours.

"Retailers are certainly reporting their figures have been great this year and we are seeing more and more foot traffic come into our centres," she said.

Ms Lamb says technology products, such as drones, were selling well, as are fitness related products.

"They're (also) spending on nostalgic items such as Mickey and Minnie's 90th anniversary, we know they're looking for personalisation and leather emboss goods," she said.

Ms Lamb says the boost in sales was welcomed by traditional bricks and mortar retailers, who have increasingly adjusted their business model to include an online offering.

"Regardless of what's happening in our economy, we know that people still come out in droves to spend ... Santa Claus definitely has an effect on everyone," she said.



Newcastle Beachwatch with Dave Anderson: Friday, December 14, 2018

Newcastle Beachwatch with Dave Anderson: Friday, December 14, 2018

SWISH: Guss Chaffe at Dixon Park on Thursday. Picture: Dave AndersonBest to get in early as there is likely to be freshening onshore winds through out the day. Not much of an increase in swell which will start to straighten up. Gutters beginning to form as beaches sand up. Swell a combination of N/E to S/E at 1m. Wind light from North then picking up from the N/E. Tides running out for the dawn patrollers with banks at Newcastle Beach, South Bar and Pogos. Bar Beach on the afternoon high. Boxy and Birubi up at Port Stephens. Redhead, Catho and Moonie to the south. There is some kelp at Nobbys with slight sweeps to the south. Listen out for lifeguards and swim in flags. Water temp 20C. –Dave Anderson
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Hunter BoatingWindsNortheasterly 15 to 25 knots, reaching up to 30 knots early in the morning and again in the evening.Seas1.5 to 2.5 metres.SwellNortheasterly 1 to 1.5 metres, increasing to 1.5 to 2 metres during the morning, then decreasing to 1.5 metres around midday.WeatherPartly cloudy. 70% chance of rain. The chance of a thunderstorm in the morning and afternoon.

Newcastle ShippingARRIVALS

Yesterday:Corona Lions, 5.56am; Striggla, 10.30am; Clory Navigator, 10.48am; Corona Wisdom, 4pm; Kg Coen, 8pm.

Today:Brilliant Century, 1.45am; United Dignity, 5.30am; Stolt Stream, 12.30pm; Spirit of Ho-ping, 1pm; Anangel Destiny, 3.15pm; TahoEurope, 4pm; Indus Prosperity, 5.45pm; Corona Infinity, 8.15pm; Suikai, 11.15pm.

DEPARTURES

Yesterday: Palma Bulker, 1.55pm; Akatsuki, 2.48pm; Ninghai, 11.45pm.Today:Corona Lions, 12.30am; Glory Navigator, 3.15am; High Trader, 7am; Striggla, 8.30am; Alam Setia, 10am; Corona Wisdom, 11am; Brilliant Century, 9.45pm.

AIR QUALITYNewcastle Good Wallsend Good Beresfield Good Singleton Very good Muswellbrook Very good

Convicted former St Pius X teacher Edward ‘Ted’ Hall applies for bail after hearing victim impact statements

Convicted former St Pius X teacher Edward ‘Ted’ Hall applies for bail after hearing victim impact statements

Convicted: Edward 'Ted' Hall on his way to court in Newcastle during his trial in October, 2018. Picture: Max Mason-HubersA former teacher convicted of child sexual abuse has sensationally applied for bail because he wantsto seea doctor outside prisonabout his high blood pressure, incontinenceand an eye problem.
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Judge Tim Gartelmann, SC, rejected the bail application from Edward Smith Hall –also known as Ted or Tony Hall –in Newcastle District Court on Thursday after the court heard sentencing submissions and victim impact statements.

Hall, 68, has been in custody since ajudge-alone trial ended in October with him beingconvicted of 21offences against eight students of St Pius X Adamstown, where the former army sergeant was a maths teacher, between 1973 and 1986.

Read more: St Pius X Teacher Ted Hall found guilty of child sex abuse

The offences Hall committed against St Pius studentstook place before he taught at prestigious Sydney private schools Trinity College and Newington College.

He was living in Junee, in the NSW Riverina region, when he was arrested and charged in July, 2016.

Hall’s defence barrister Colin Heazlewoodtold the court on Thursday the former teacher instructed him that morning to apply for bail because of several health issues, including a slippedretina onhis left eye, a cyst that had rendered him incontinent and high blood pressure.

The courtheard Hallwas unsatisfied with the length of time it was taking to get medical treatment at Cessnock Correctional Centre.

Judge Gartelmann said some of Hall’s convictions were for “show cause” offences, which meant he had to provide evidence as to why he should be granted bail.

Younger days: Edward 'Ted' Hall during his days as a maths teacher at St Pius Adamstown. He later went on to teach at two prestigious Sydney private schools.

He did not provideany.

“The eye surgery is eyesight-threatening,” Hall saidfrom the dock as the matter was being discussed.

Mr Heazlewood said he told his client earlier thatit would be “extraordinarily rare” for someone to be granted bail in Hall’s circumstances.

Read more: Maths teacher on fresh child sex charges

The late bid for a few more weeks of freedom came after several victim impact statements were read to the court–some personally by Hall’s victims.

The victims cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Anxiety, depression, embarrassment, feelings ofisolationand addiction to alcohol and drugs asa resultof Hall’s abusewere common themes of the statements.

One victim, who was abused in the 1970s, recounted the story of how the Catholic Education Office hadtold him in the 1990s that Hall was dead, after the man went to make a complaint about his former teacher.

The man discovered through aNewcastle Herald report that his abuser was still alive when Hallwas charged in 2016.

“[The abuse] changed me,” he said.

“I drank a lot of alcohol and smoked a lot of marijuana to drown out what happened to me that day.”

The victim was so traumatised by what happened to him that he begged his mother to let him leave school, but he was too young.

The day after his 15thbirthday, he began a bricklaying apprenticeship.

“I won’t be happy again until he is sentenced, until he grows old in a cell and feels what it’s like to be trapped.”

Another man, who was abused by Hall in the 1980s, said he had been “betrayed by the Catholic church”.

“I was mentally tortured,” he said.

“I tried to live a normal life but I didn’t know what was normal any more.”

On staff: Edward 'Ted' Hall was convicted of 21 offences against eight students from St Pius X Adamstown between 1973 and 1986.

He described how, for years, he did not tell his wife or parents what had happened to him.

His family had been committed to the church and went to mass each Sunday.

“My wife, mother and father were totally shocked by what I told them,” the man said.

Another victim, whose statement was read to the court by a representative, said theabuse resulted in uncontrolled behaviour and financial hardship.

The court heard the man drank large amounts of alcohol to “numb the feelings”.

Read more: Former St Pius X teacher Ted Hall denies sexually abusing 11 students

Over the course of a decadehe would get drunk and turn up outsideNewcastle Police Stationwith the intention of reporting what Hall had done to him, but he never went inside.

“The huge amount of stress, guilt and shame …is inexplicable,” the man’s statement said.

Hall will be sentenced on February 15.

Judge Gartelmann has left the door open for a possible hearing earlier that week for further submissions after Mr Heazlewood indicated Hallwanted special consideration in his sentencingfor age and health reasons.

Coal boost to Qld coffers won’t dent debt

Coal boost to Qld coffers won’t dent debt

QLD Treasurer Jackie Trad says the state will have a $524 million operating surplus in 2018-19.Queensland will post operating surpluses in the next few years off the back of increased coal royalties, but the black gold won't be used to pay down the state's overall debt, set to top $83 billion over the same period.
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Treasurer Jackie Trad released the Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Review on Thursday, showing the state will have a $524 million operating surplus in 2018-19.

That's up from the $148 million surplus predicted in the June state budget, with the state's coffers buoyed in part by an increase in coal royalties, up from $3.5 billion in June to $4.3 billion on Thursday.

Meanwhile the state's overall debt is predicted to hit $83.5 billion by 2020-21, a slight increase on previous projections.

Ms Trad said the state's debt level was manageable and in line with other n states.

"Our debt levels are about building the infrastructure that Queensland needs," Ms Trad said.

"We just had the Victorian government go to an election promising to fund their infrastructure spends by doubling their levels of debt. In NSW we have a government borrowing $13 billion over the next four years alone to build infrastructure."

Queensland is spending 2.5 per cent of its total economic output for 2018-19 on infrastructure, with that figure set to rise to 2.9 per cent in 2019-20.

Despite the state's coffers being boosted by coal royalties, the treasurer played down the importance of the sector to the state's bottom line.

"I'm looking forward to the continued diversification of our economy," she said.

Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane said without coal royalties the budget would have been in the red this year and for the foreseeable future.

"The Queensland (coal) industry is not only employing over 300,000 Queenslanders, it's not only supporting small businesses, but it's paying the wages of teachers, doctors, nurses and police," Mr Macfarlane said.

That money for wages will come in handy, with the MYFER figures also showing the public sector wage bill has increased by $925 million since the June budget.

LNP Shadow Treasurer Tim Mander accused the government of abandoning its plan to pay down debt and manage its spending.

"It's totally alarming that despite record royalties, the debt is still going out," Mr Mander said.

"These royalties won't be there forever, so it's important we invest them in job producing infrastructure."

The state's unemployment rate remained steady at 6.25 per cent, currently the worst rate of any state or territory in , with employment growth steady on 1.5 per cent.

The state government also unveiled a $70 million Build to Rent scheme as part of MYFER, to deliver affordable rental properties in Brisbane's inner-city by partnering with the private sector.