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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.


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.

I will never silence all my critics: Lodge

I will never silence all my critics: Lodge

Matt Lodge has capped a comeback to the NRL by taking part in an Emerging Blues training camp.Even Matt Lodge thinks his Emerging NSW squad selection is a "big call", admitting he will forever be tainted by his 2015 New York rampage.
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But the controversial Brisbane prop says he no longer cares what people think as long as he remains on his NRL road of redemption.

Twelve months after his Broncos signing caused a public uproar, Lodge, 23, has capped a remarkable comeback by taking part in an Emerging Blues training camp in Sydney on Thursday.

Thrown an NRL lifeline by Wayne Bennett, Lodge played all 25 of Brisbane's games in a stellar 2018 return to earn Emerging Blues squad selection from NSW coach Brad Fittler.

Much to Lodge's surprise.

"It was a big call from Freddy. I could never have guessed I would be doing media here," Lodge told reporters.

"But like Wayne, he (Fittler) has shown faith in me and hopefully I repay that.

"It was a tough road back but this is just a little stepping stone to a bigger goal but I'm grateful to be a part of it.

"Hopefully it encourages people who have done the wrong thing that they can get back."

Lodge was booed at season's start upon his return from his infamous drunken US attack but is now a Brisbane fan favourite, recently earning a two-year Broncos contract extension.

Lodge is a changed man off the field too, enjoying a settled life in Brisbane with partner Jess and their one-year-old son Coby.

However, Lodge admits he will never win over every critic.

"That will be with me for the rest of my career but I can't please everyone," Lodge said of criticism.

"All I can do is apologise for what I have done, be grateful for my opportunities.

"It doesn't matter what other people think as long as you are doing he right thing.

"Just because someone doesn't want you to achieve your dreams doesn't mean you have to listen to them and give up."

Lodge hopes to press his claims for a NSW debut in 2019 at Brisbane despite being linked to a move to South Sydney where Bennett now holds the reins.

"It was sad to see Wayne go. But we will stay in contact. I will always love Wayne for helping me out, that won't change," he said.

"But I was never going to follow him. It wasn't just Wayne who helped me at the Broncos, there were a lot of people from the chairman down.

"We've moved on. We have Anthony Seibold there now."

Wambo open cut conflict of interest raises questions about the Independent Planning Commission’s ability to act impartially

Wambo open cut conflict of interest raises questions about the Independent Planning Commission’s ability to act impartially

Opponents of the proposed Wambo open cut mining project believe they are unlikely to get a fair hearing even after the Independent Planning Commission appoints a new commissioner to the panel considering the project.
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Outraged: Bulga-Milbrodale Progress Association president John Krey. Picture: Peter Stoop.

Geoff Sharrock stood down from the panel two hours before a public meetingabout the project was due to commence on Wednesday after he identified a conflict of interest.

An IPC spokesman said Mr Sharrock was only appointed to the panel on Tuesday and advised chairwomanMary O’Kane of the conflict at the first available opportunity.

He was the second commissioner forced to stand aside from the panel due to a conflict of interest.

Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association president John Krey said the apparent difficulties finding a genuinely independent commissioner combined with the concerns raised by Department of Planning whistle blowers made it unlikely the project would ever be impartially assessed.

“The assessment of every mining project should be put on hold until the allegations raised by the four whistle blowers are resolved,” Mr Krey said.

“We are also very concerned about the process used to checkthe CVs of those people who are appointed to the panel.”

Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson complained to the NSW Ombudsman in 2015 regarding potential conflicts of interest that prevent the commission from making unbiased decisions.

Ms Olofsson said she was appalled that Mr Sharrock’s conflict of interest was only identified two hours before Wednesday’s meeting was due to start.

“It is important that the public have strong confidence andtrust in the independent planning commissioner but utmost that the commissioners themselvesare deemed independent by the public and honest,” Ms Olofsson wrote in a letter to commission chairwoman Mary O’Kane on Wednesday.

The public meeting has been rescheduled for February 2019 when a new panel will be appointed to consider the project.

Wildcats on Bogut huddle watch in NBL

Wildcats on Bogut huddle watch in NBL

Andrew Bogut and Trevor Gleeson appeared to smooth the waters after their in-game run-in.Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson says he will do his best to chase away NBL star Andrew Bogut if the Sydney Kings centre tries to eavesdrop on his huddle again.
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Gleeson copped a $500 fine from the NBL for pushing Bogut in the chest when the NBA champion tried to listen in on an impromptu Wildcats huddle during the Kings' 77-72 win in Sydney last week.

Because it wasn't an official timeout, Bogut was within his rights to stand wherever he wanted on the court.

Bogut grabbed Gleeson's wrist during the incident but he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The teams will lock horns again at Perth Arena on Friday night and Gleeson says he will probably do "the same thing I did last game" if Bogut attempts to infiltrate the Wildcats huddle.

"I'll shoo him away," Gleeson said.

"Hopefully the 'Red Army' (Wildcats fans) will help me and direct him towards the bench he needs to go to and the coach he needs to listen to.

"We'll just tell him we're putting him in the pick and roll. That's fine. We'll have something ready for him."

Gleeson said there were no lingering ill feelings from his run-in with Bogut.

"It was more of the hand was out there to (get him to) stay away," Gleeson said of the incident.

"Then he grabbed it and wouldn't let go, so I said, 'Get out of here'.

"Thirty seconds later we smiled about it and had a bit of fun with it. There was no malice in there at all.

"If I had have known he wanted to listen to me talk that much, we could have offered him a contract.

"I'll ask him this week if he wants to join our huddle at halftime. He can come in and listen."

Bogut has been in hot form in recent weeks, and looms as a key player in Friday's blockbuster.

The Wildcats lead the league with a 11-2 record but the Kings (7-4) have closed the gap.

Gleeson said Bryce Cotton's injured thumb has been improving by the day but the star American will have to continue to manage the complaint.

"Basically if he didn't have a couple of tendons hanging on, he would have had surgery," Gleeson said.

Cotton didn't play in Sydney's win over Perth last week and Kings coach Andrew Gaze said it would be a tough job to limit the influence of the reigning MVP.

"There's a little asterisk next to our win at home because they never had Bryce Cotton," he said.

"That's going to be a challenge for us."

FFA expands A-League by two teams

FFA expands A-League by two teams

FFA CEO David Gallop (l) and chairman Chris Nikou confirmed the A-League will expand by two teams.The A-League will expand to 12 teams across the next two seasons after FFA decided to award licences to Western Melbourne and Macarthur South West Sydney.
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Western Melbourne Group will enter the league in October - in time for next season - with the Macarthur South West Sydney bid, based in Campbelltown, scheduled to join the 2020/21 campaign.

The decision comes after a protracted and heated fight to join the league, with long-term favourites Team 11, based in Dandenong, one of four shortlisted bids to miss out.

Hopefuls from Canberra, South Melbourne and Sydney-based Southern Expansion have also been overlooked.

FFA chair Chris Nikou said the decision, made in a marathon FFA board meeting on Wednesday, allowed the league to tap into 's biggest growth corridors.

"An expanded Hyundai A-League will connect new communities in our two biggest markets, create new rivalries, bigger television audiences, more derbies and importantly, further opportunities for n footballers to play at the highest level in this country," he said.

The Western Melbourne outfit will play out of Geelong's Kardinia Park until a purpose-built privately own stadium is completed, with FFA expecting it to be ready in 2022.

Little is known about the bid's big-promising investors, which is part of a major infrastructure proposal in tandem with Wyndham Council.

That private investment, and a bumper licence fee, is understood to have tipped the decision towards Melbourne's West rather than the South-East.

"Football-specific stadia have been extremely successful in league expansion in other parts of the world and we are excited by the prospect of such a facility in Melbourne," Nikou said.

Western Sydney Wanderers, an expansion outfit in their own right, will have new rivals from 2020/21 after the admission of a side from Sydney's South-West.

Their win, which aims to secure former Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak as an inaugural marquee, came after bids from Macarthur and the South-West merged.

FFA chief executive David Gallop said their ready-made broadcast-suitable venue at Campbelltown Stadium was key in landing a licence.

"Macarthur South West is a region with a rich football history that when blended with a fast-growing demography creates an exciting future for the game. A ready-made rectangular stadium will also deliver an enjoyable match day experience for fans," Gallop said.

"Both of the new teams will start their life in the Hyundai A-League in grounds that will allow us and our broadcast partners to present the league in the best possible way and at high quality venues."

The losing bids expressed responses from shock to acceptance.

Southern Expansion claimed FFA acted against their own advice, while South Melbourne, Team 11 and Canberra vowed to fight on for new licenses into the future.

Those aspirations were given heart by Nikou, who vowed to continue growing the league beyond 14 teams.

"At this point that's not the full stop for the expansion process ... it's an ongoing dialogue," he said.

Dragons deal imminent for Norman

Dragons deal imminent for Norman

Tariq Sims has re-signed with St George Illawarra, keeping him at the NRL club until at least 2022.The final piece in St George Illawarra's 2019 team jigsaw will soon be in place with a Dragons deal believed to be imminent for Parramatta playmaker Corey Norman.
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St George Illawarra announced on Thursday they had re-signed NSW back-rower Tariq Sims for three more seasons and thrown an NRL lifeline to ex-Brisbane flyer Lachlan Maranta.

But another coup is set to be announced as early as Friday with Norman poised to link with the Dragons on a three-year deal.

Norman, 28, is believed to have secured a release from the final year of his Eels contract on Thursday.

Norman's manager Paul Sutton is overseas but is expected to finalise a Dragons deal by week's end.

Eels five-eighth Norman is expected to move to fullback for St George Illawarra, throwing the future of Dragons No.1 Matt Dufty - who only recently re-signed until the end of 2019 - in limbo.

Norman is tipped to step into the playmaker role in 2020 with Dragons pivot Gareth Widdop expected to leave for the English Super League at the end of next year.

While there was no official word on Norman - who has played 169 NRL games - from either clubs on Thursday, the Dragons still had plenty of signing news to announce.

Sims capped a stellar NRL season by inking a new deal that will keep him at the club until the end of 2022.

Sims was the 2018 Dragons' Player of the Year after a State of Origin debut for the Blues.

"To have the chance to extend my time with this special playing group, it was too good an opportunity to go anywhere else," Sims said.

Dragons roster manager Ian Millward said Sims' retention was critical for 2019.

"He's a very crucial piece of the jigsaw, locking him in long term, along with (Jack) de Belin, (Tyson) Frizell, (Paul) Vaughan and (James) Graham," he said.

The Dragons also sprung a surprise by signing Maranta on a one-year deal after the ex-Broncos winger spent the past two years with Super Rugby outfit the Queensland Reds.

"We were looking for a squad member and I must stress that Lachlan isn't a replacement for Kurt Mann nor a replacement for Nene Macdonald," Millward said.

Utility Mann has linked with Newcastle to nail down a hooker starting spot while ex-Dragons flyer Macdonald has signed with North Queensland.