Robert Dillon: Sporting Declaration

IF the Wests Group need a reminder of the challenge they face in resurrecting the Knights, they should lookno further than Newcastle’s past three opponents:St George Illawarra, the Warriors and Parramatta.
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HIGHS AND LOWS: Warriors players congratulate their Newcastle counterparts after last week’s clash at McDonald Jones Stadium. Picture: Darren Pateman: AAP

Three clubs, hundreds of millions of dollars in players’ wages, and only one premiership between them in the past 31 years.

And even that grand final victory, by the Dragons in 2010, had a slightly hollow feel about it, given that defending champions Melbourne Storm were ineligible after being stripped of all their points for salary-cap breaches.

Other than that solitary success, there has been precious little to celebrate for thefans of all three clubs.

Before 2010, Saints’ previous title was way back in 1979.

The Eels have won nothing since that famous day in 1986 when Pricey and the Crow bowed out in a blaze of glory.

And the Warriors, who have now been in Australia’s premier competition since 1995, remain the most enigmatic of under-achievers. The closest they have come to a lap of honour is finishing runners-up in 2002 and 2011.

It is hard not to observe that these three clubsenjoy advantages many their rivals are entitled toenvy.

The St George Dragon is arguablythe most famous brand in rugby league, an iconic club since their record 11 consecutive premierships between 1956 and 1966.

Throw in their merger with Illawarra, and they also have access to a supply line of talent fromsouth of Sydney.

Parramatta aresupported by a rich leagues club and traditionally have been a dominant force at under-agerepresentative level, thanks to their extensive junior nursery.

The Warriors, of course, are the only NRL club based in New Zealand. They could potentially be a juggenaut yet they remain perenially dysfunctional and last week’s insipid 26-10 loss to the Knights was another example of the club’s lack of direction.

Moreover, their under-20s, who have won a record three National Youth Competition titles in its nine-season existence, were humiliated 70-4 by Newcastle.

All of which puts the recent history of the Knights in context.

Novocastrians think they’ve beendoing it tough. Sixteen years have passed since the club’s last premiership, and they have been play-off spectators for the past four seasons.

Yet Parramatta, inexplicably, have not featured in the finals since 2009, nor have the Warriors since their last grand final appearance six years ago.

Even the mighty Brisbane Broncos, despite their unmatched corporate and crowd support, have not won a premiership for 11 seasons.

Cronulla (2014), the Roosters (2009), Bulldogs (2008), Eels (2012-13) and South Sydney (2003-04 and 2006) have all finished in the cellar in the relatively recent past.

The NRL is a fiercely competitive, dog-eat-dog environment. For most teams, success and failure are cyclical.

Theoretically, in a salary cap erain whicheachclub has an opportunity to spend as much on players as their rivals, everyone has the same chance to comefirst or last. Bearing that in mind, it is almost as notable a feat for the Knights to finish –as they are in danger of doing –as three-time wooden spooners as it is for a team to win a hat-trick of premierships.

To put that in perspective, only four clubs (thus far) have collected three successive spoons, and only five clubs have been champions in three or more consecutive seasons.

But what is truly remarkable is that the Knights, after all they have endured since the brief spike of reaching the grand final qualifier in 2013, find themselves in a position where the outlook seems optimistic.

Not only are the thriving Wests Group poised to take over the embattled franchise, hopefully providing financial security and astute management, but there is genuine cause to believe, after consecutive wins against the Dragons, Warriors and Eels, that a corner has been turned in terms of on-field results.

Certainly Knights coach Nathan Brown has more reason to feel his team are heading in the right direction than, for example, Stephen Kearney or Des Hasler.

Andrew Johns, for one, is predicting Newcastle’s new-look squad can challenge for a finals berth next season, and Wests CEO Phil Gardner says the goal is to eventually produce a top-four team “four years or out every five”.

What will it take to build a team capable of winning a premiership?

Stability will be the key. The most successful clubs in the NRL have long-term coaches, good operators in the front office, and a nucleus of players who stick together for a large part of their careers.

The other essential ingredient is to have at least one champion player on the roster. If your team features a Johns, a Thurston, an Inglis, a Gallen or –in the case of Melbourne, a trio of all-time greats –at some point you are almost guaranteed a shot.

The Knights don’t possesssuch a player …yet.

Will Kalyn Ponga develop into that type oftalisman?

If he does, then the angst Knights supporters have experienced overthe past few seasons might eventuallybe accepted as a small price to pay.

Dude, where’s my canopy? WWII artefact stolen from backyard

Dude, where’s my canopy? WWII artefact stolen from backyard Have you seen this canopy? Robert and Julie Morfitt would like to know of its whereabouts. Photo: supplied.
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Bristol Bombers were built in Australia from 1941. Photo: Norman E Brown.

TweetFacebookHere’s a tricky one –have you seen this Wold War 2-era Bristol Beaufort bomber gunner’s canopy?

The interesting piece of memorabilia went missing from local couple Robert and Julie Morfitt’s backyard in late July, and they would like to know what happened to it.

Mr Morfitt has lived in Mandurah since childhood, and the canopy has been something of a family heirloom for more than 60 years.

“We used to live down on Mandurah Terrace, down at the end of Cooper Street. My father and his brother were working on wells and windmills, and it was given to him,” Mr Morfitt said.

“He used to work out on a lot of the farms, so it’s our guess that he got it from one of the farmers.

“He brought it home and used it to cover a well motor, originally. Over the years, it was eventually used to keep firewood.”

That was, until the canopy mysteriously disappeared.

The item had been in a stationary state for years, serving its use as a firewood shelter, until Mr Morfitt decided it was time to hand it down once again.

“I decided to give it to my son. He’s a shift worker, and I was going to give it to him when he got back,” he said.

“But when I went out to look for it, it just wasn’t there.

“At first I saw the gate had been opened, and I thought to myself, ‘hang on, someone’s been in here’.

“And I didn’t notice at first because nothing else was missing, there’s not much out there to steal. But then I realised, after all these years, it was finally gone.”

Ms Morfitt said she couldn’t exactly understand why someone would want to steal a 60 to 70-year old piece of aeronautic equipment, other than due to having more information than they do.

“The thing is, it’s a big shell made out of steel and perspex, it’s not easy to carry,” she said.

“Whoever took it, we think, might have an idea of what to do with it.

“We started looking around online, and there’s a fair few people out there doing restorations on old planes. We just don’t know.”

While the canopy had not been used, or even noticed, much by the Morfitts in the last few years, the principle –and curiosity –surrounding the theft has left them with questions.

“If someone was to ask me for it, I probably would’ve given it to them,” Mr Morfitt said.

“We’ve had people telling us since we put the picture up, ‘Hey, I remember that being out the front of this house or that house years ago’, so people know it.

“We’ll just hope it turns up.”

If you have any information on the missing bomber canopy, contact Mandurah Police on 9581 0222 with reference number030817 1028 86919.

The week in pictures: August 6-11, 2017

The week in pictures: August 6-11, 2017 BORDER MAIL: Amy Auwardt in the classical solo category at the Albury-Wodonga eisteddfod.
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WOLLONGONG: Prue Krishnayya, co-owner of Lower East cafe in Wollongong, with a collection of the cafe’s reusable metal straws. Picture: Adam McLean.

NEWCASTLE: Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate for Dungog Shire Concil John Preston said he is prepared to ‘knee-cap’ people in Macquarie Street to repair the damage in Dungog caused by the NSW Government’s amalgamation.

CARINGBAH: Owners Pennie and Joe with staff members Anne and Serpil ready to serve customers mouths and minds Picture: John Veage

BORDER MAIL: Kaitlyn Goodsell, 23, lives everyday in pain because of endometriosis. One in ten women have the disease, but many don’t know they do. Picture: MARK JESSER

BALLARAT: Wendy Abraham with knitted octopuses for premature babies. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

MOUNT ISA: Jessica Mauboy in concert. Photo: Derek Barry

LAUNCESTON: Twenty-year-old Zodin Bungham graduationed from StGiles’ 13-week program that will ready her for employment in the disability sector. Picture: Paul Scambler

TAMWORTH: Darren Ralph has shared his concerns about the government’s plan for a postal vote on legalising same-sex marriage. Picture: Gareth Gardner

TAREE: Local band SOAR took out the Battle of the Bands at the Taree Eisteddfod. The win secured a $1000 prize. Picture: Rob Douglas

TAMWORTH: Larissa Schwanke and Lachie Urquhart of Carinya Christian School have a few more exams to go. Picture: Gareth Gardner

WODONGA: Labor Upper House Member for Northern Victoria, Jaclyn Symes and Barry O’Sullivan general manager of Mars Petcare with Holly. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

WOLLONGONG: Five Barrel Brewing Phil O’Shea (left) and Binary Beer’s Michael Burton have teamed up to trial a device that can track the location and temperature of beer kegs. Picture: Robert Peet

WINGHAM: Alan Carlyle couldn’t understand ‘all the fuss’ with the recent seat dedication to him. Picture: Julia Driscoll

PORT MACQUARIE: Story time at the library comes to life with a bear hunt. Picture:Ivan Sajko

BALLARAT: Western Bulldogs engagement manager Brett Goodes. There is expected to be a spectacular opening to next weekend’s game at Mars Stadium. Picture: Lachlan Bence

WARRNAMBOOL: Middle Island project volunteers John Sutherland and Dr Trish Corbett on their way to Middle Island. Picture: Rob Gunstone

NEWCASTLE: Accredited massage therapists, like Luke O’Donnell, fear rogue operators are harming the industry. Picture: Marina Neil

WAGGA: Six-year-old Red Hill Public School student William Thorpe plays doctor during a visit from medical students aiming to take the fear out of doctor appointments. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

FORSTER: Local photographer Judy Butler captured the full moon and partial eclipse on Monday night.

FORSTER: The partial eclipse captured on camera by reader Judy Butler.

MANDURAH: Mandurah Licensed Fishermen’s Association members Meegan Watts, Damien Bell and Brendon Watts with Red Manna owner and chef Jason Hutchen. Picture: Marta Pascual Juanola.

WALCHA: The Fletcher family. (at right) Warwick holding his daughter Holly, Pendleton’s son Fletcher, 5 months, and Warwick’s sons Jock with his children, Grace, 3, Angus, 5 and Ross, Cairnie Grazing Co, ‘Cairnie’, Walcha.

MANDURAH: Mandurah residents rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty to make Mandurah’s Marlee Reserve a bit greener for National Tree Day. Picture: Marta Pascual Juanola

RIVERINA: Peter Symons from Tumut and Lloyd Galloway from Temora before jetting off to Canada to help fight wildfires. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

GILGANDRA: The Carlow kids – Caitlin, 15, Mitchell, 14, and Ashleigh, 12, – from ‘Kidman Park North’, Gilgandra, looking after 13 poddy lambs for Jenny Bradley, New Armatree Border Leicesters. Photo: Rachael Webb, The Land

YOUNG: Gary Steenbergen, of Garys Gourmet Meats, Young, with 76 year old butcher, Arnie Brown. Picture: Rachael Webb, The Land

WALCHA: Rouseabout Mona Roi, Cook Islands, working at the Fletcher family’s Cairnie Grazing Co, ‘Cairnie’, Walcha. Picture: Rachael Webb, The Land

WALCHA: Warwick Fletcher and his sons, Ross and Jock, Cairnie Grazing Co, ‘Cairnie’, Walcha. Picture: Rachael Webb, The Land

MANDURAH: Animals are a big part of Hudsons Circus’ show in Mandurah this week, including their two water buffalo. Picture: Marta Pascual Juanola

WODONGA: Anna Speedie with Wodonga South Primary School students in 2009. She has promoted the lack of zoning for schools as an attraction to living in Wodonga. Picture: Border Mail

LAUNCESTON: Lily Cornish and Michael Wilson prepare to take on their competitors at the Tasmanian Open DanceSport Championship in Launceston this weekend. Picture: Paul Scambler

PENGUIN: Penguin Football Club coach David Law is focused on breaking down barriers and promoting a welcoming environment at the club for the whole community. Picture: Grant Wells.

WAGGA: Chris Hughes from Frankston Clay Target Club with John Cassin from Tamworth Clay Target Club at the NSW Skeet titles at the National Shooting Grounds. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

WAGGA: Dominique Timothy-Nesbitt, 9, Abbey Townsend, 11 and Chelsea Holle, 10, prepare for ballet exams at Yvonne O’Connor School of Dance. Picture: Les Smith

WAGGA: Former Olympian Rachael Downs, pictured with vet student and grand prix rider Bee Flynn and off-the-track thoroughbred horse AMW Red Label. Picture: Les Smith

WAGGA: Sam Freund from Woodstock at the Wagga Dog Show on Sunday. Picture: Laura Hardwick


Big Ben’s debut date locked in

Ben Simmons will be thrust into the NBA limelight on night two of the upcoming season, with the Australian to make his Philadelphia debut in Washington against the Wizards.
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The 76ers will kick off their campaign on October 18, with the 2016 No.1 draft pick and former Newcastle Hunters junior set to make his belated NBA debut after injury ruined his first year in the league.

CHANCE: Ben Simmons

Simmons and the 76ers have also been slated to play one of the NBA’s marquee Christmas Day games – against New York at Madison Square Garden – their first appearance as part of the holiday extravaganza since 2001.

The 213cm-Simmons is among the favourites to win the NBA’s rookie of the year,along with new teammate and 2017 No.1 pick Markelle Fultz. The highly anticipated debuts of Chris Paul with the Houston Rockets and Gordon Hayward with the Boston Celtics highlight the opening night of the regular season on October 17.

Paul and the Rockets will visit the Golden State Warriors as the second part of a double-header. Paul, a nine-time All-Star point guard, spent the past six seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, while the Warriors will be receiving NBA championship rings for the second time in the past three seasons.

In the opener, Hayward and the Celtics will visit the Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals.

Hayward joined Boston as a free agent during the summer after seven seasons with the Utah Jazz.

The remainder of the NBA schedule will be announced next week.

Cleveland once again will have LeBron James on the floor but the status of guard Kyrie Irving remains unclear after he asked to be traded.

Government unsure if marriage survey will exclude 100,000 voters

Greens Senator Janet Rice with MP Alex Greenwich and Human Rights Law Centre lawyer Anna Brown outside the Law Courts in Sydney where they have lodged a case against the federal government regarding same-sex marriage. Photo: James AlcockThe Turnbull government was scrambling on Friday afternoon to determine whether a loophole in its same-sex marriage survey would disenfranchise about 113,000 “silent electors”.
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They were also forced to work out whether16- and 17-year-olds could accidentally be included in the survey, but ruled this out late on Friday.

The unprecedented $122 million optional poll, now the subject of a High Court challenge to proceed over the coming four weeks,has caused a number of headaches for the government and its agencies.

It relies on the Australian Electoral Commission sharing the electoral roll withthe Australian Bureau of Statistics, which is legal. However, the law expressly forbids the divulgence of the addresses of silent electors.

Those typically include MPs (and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is one), judges and victims of crime who do not want to appear on the roll for privacy reasons. The Parliamentary Library said there were 113,000 such voters as of 2016.

Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann,who earlier in theweekwasconfident ballot papers would be sent to silent electors, released a statement on Friday saying that this remained the government’s intention.

“Our commitment is for all Australians on the electoral roll,including silent electors, to have the opportunity to have their say on whether or not the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry,” he said.

“The ABS will make further announcements in relation to this as soon as arrangements have been finalised.”

AEC spokesman Evan Ekin-Smyth said: “The AEC is working with the ABS regarding this issue. Relevant advice will be provided when available.”

Meanwhile in the High Court,chief justice Susan Kiefel said the full court would hear an urgent challenge to the validity of the postal voteon September 5 and 6. The hearing is expected to take one-and-a-half days.

The court heard an injunction to stop the postal vote going ahead before the hearing was not required because the ABS has agreed not to take steps to conduct the poll before September 12.

Two challenges to the validity of the vote have been lodged – one headed by Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie and the other by national organisation Australian Marriage Equality.

At a directions hearing in Sydney on Friday, the High Court heard there is a significant degree of overlap between the two cases.

The Australian MarriageEquality challenge is confined to two legal issues about the validity of the manner in which the government authorised the expenditure of money to conduct the vote.

NSW independent MP Alex Greenwich, the co-chair of AME, said: “Our legal challenge is a reminder to the government that it’s time they did their job and voted for marriage equality, rather than wasting time and money.”

The $122 million for the survey was not authorised by an Act of Parliament but was provided to the ABS by way of an advance from Senator Cormann, who is also the Finance Minister, under the Appropriation Act. An advance to the Finance Minister may be made if there is an “urgent need” for the funds and it was “unforeseen”.

The unprecedented national survey has caused a few headaches for the government and the ABS. Photo: Edwina Pickles

An issue in the case will be whether the expenditure was “unforeseen”. A directions hearing will be heard on August 16, which is expected to narrow the issues.

The government was also seeking advice on Friday about whether a legal loophole in the postal survey would accidentally allow 16-year-olds to vote.

A direction given by the Treasurer Scott Morrison to the ABS declared that anyone who made “a valid application for enrolment” on theroll before August 24 would be eligible to participate in the survey. People aged 16 and 17 can make a “claim for enrolment” but are not able to vote in elections.

Senator Cormannlate on Friday dismissed speculation the loophole would give 16-year-olds the vote. “The survey instruments will be sent to those who are on the roll; 16- and 17-year-olds are not on the roll,” he said.

Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann Photo: Andrew Meares

Also on Friday, the Equality Campaign officially launched its bid for a “yes” vote, and signed up former ALP national secretary Tim Gartrell as campaign director.

Executive director Tiernan Brady said the postal vote was a “terrible, terrible process” but “we have a duty to prepare”, and encouraged potential voters to enrol and check their address details.

“There are only 12 days left for people to enrol to vote,” he said

“This is specifically important for young people because we need them to enrol to vote so they can defend their friends if we have to have this vote.”

with AmyRemeikis

The bus, the bikes and the biggest loser

TWO years after the first petrol-driven car was built in Australia in 1901, the first organisation dedicated to the car came into being.
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Harley Tarrant had barely rolled the firstTarrant automobile out of his small Melbourne workshop when the Australian Motoring Association was formed, dedicated to the motor vehicle, its makers and owners.

Tarrant and his bicycle maker assistant Howard Lewis had used the workshop to build engines, and they powered the first Tarrant car with a rear-mounted six-horsepower Benz engine.

History doesn’t record whether there was ever a race between Harley Tarrant in his vehicle, and Howard Lewis on a pushbike, but what we can be sure of is that they weren’t encumbered by traffic.

More than a century later Australians love their cars more than ever. A stunning and record-breaking 1.178 million new cars were sold in 2016, up 2 per cent on the previous year. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from 2016 show 48 per cent of Newcastle households had access to two or more motor vehicles. The figure was significantly less than the Hunter region figure of 54 per cent.

The figure might be partly explained by a University of Newcastle test of the best ways to travel from its Callaghan campus to the beautiful NewSpace building in the central business district.

While participants expected the car to blitz the field, it came in a slow and expensive fourth out of a field of four. It was beaten by three cyclists, a bus passenger and a university shuttle bus passenger. While it might have traversed the distance quicker than other modes, the inability to find parking and 780 metre walk from parking space to NewSpace pushed it to last place. But as a reflection of the reality of using a car totravel between the two university sites, it was an honest outcome.

All participants were surprised that the government bus made the 11 kilometre trip faster than the other modes of travel. Some based their assessment on previous experiences of bus travel. It is probably accurate to suggest public transport was not rated highly before the experiment because Australians, as a rule, see public transport as the mode of travel you use when you don’t have another mode of travel.

We love our cars, but in Newcastle it’s a love that’s starting to come at a cost.

Issue: 38,569.