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The Block: One couple may not finish room as tight budgets bite

While the contestants on The Block may well be going up (upstairs, that is), some appear to be heading in the opposite direction when it comes to executing.
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Jason and Sarah are like two lost souls this week … even Jason, who will normally talk your ear off about his woes and his plans for the house, was melancholy and without purpose. It was hard to feel anything other than they’ve given up. Let’s hope not, as even though in real-estate speak “renovator’s delight” is a decidedly enticing catch phrase, it’s not going to cut it on The Block.

Over in house four, Wombat who is flying solo (except for the large marsupial strapped to his chest), has well and truly got his work cut out for him. There are a few flags in the space they’re creating, namely in the orientation of the room. And I would also implore these boys to dial the masculinity down as much as they can. Less man-cave and more parent sanctuary.

Ronnie and Georgia claim to be adding drama to their suite by adding in a hallway, but for me, it just seems like wasted space. I understand their intention in having a proper walkway/entrance and the idea of adding “drama”, but this incredible master suite already has that in spades – it’s on a floor of its own. For me, drama at the cost of a few square metres may put some buyers off. Having said that, we’re coming to rely on Ronnie and Georgia for drama and they’re not ones to shy away from glamour so let’s see what they deliver.

I think Hannah and Clint are the ones taking the smartest route this week. I know the Grafico wallpaper they’ve gone with will be polarising to many. I personally love it and think it’s striking in it’s beauty. They have a fabulous walk-in-robe. Not too big, not too small and it’s armed with lots of practical nooks and crannies. Show me a female buyer who wouldn’t rush towards that.

Josh and Elyse’s stunning master space would have, could have and should have taken the prize from me this week. It’s stunning but, with no door, I am left dumbstruck.

They’re pitching this house at families and even without kids, watch a few episodes of The Brady Bunch and you’ll know that large groups of people make noise, teenagers roam the house at all hours studying, eating and getting home late. And don’t even get me started on young children making an unwelcome visit to a parent’s room. A master suite needs a door. Full stop. Related: Everyone wants open-plan – or do they?Related: The dilemma of a blank canvasRelated: Getting it right for the kids

On the plus side, it looks like their bathroom is going to be a room of beauty. I can’t wait to see their tiles. And yes, the en suite has a door.

NRL: It means “everything” for Lachlan Fitzgibbon to stay at Newcastle Knightsphotos

Knights fans will have to get used to seeing the distinctive long locks of Lachlan Fitzgibbon for a littlelonger.
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Not only is he keen to keep the rangy mane over the off-season and maintaintheold-school tape approach for next year, but he will once again be playing in Newcastle.

The 23-year-old Merewether-based South Newcastle junior has signed a two-year deal with the Knights, which will keep the back-rower at the NRL club until the end of 2019.

Fitzgibbon on board for Knights’ long haul BACK: Newcastle Knights second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon, who has re-signed at the NRL club until the end of 2017, crashes over for his eighth try of the season on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebook Lachlan FitzgibbonPictures by Jonathan CarrollFitzgibbon had already achieved a dream by debuting in 2015but the Lions productwill now continue to wear his belovedred and blue after impressing with eight tries, including Sunday’s double,from14 appearances in a barnstormingback-end to the season.

“It meanseverything,”he said following Wednesday’s announcement.

“Being a local junior your number one goal in life is topull on an NRL jersey and even more so being at home.

“We’re luckyenough in Newcastle to be a one town team and every junior here wants to play for the Knights.”

Fitzgibbonwas coming off-contract and in August theKnights tabled an offer, butdespite the distraction of rumoured interest from elsewhere he said leaving was a“last resort” and the security of finally extending his existing dealwas welcomed.

“My first priority was always to stay in Newcastle,” he said.

“Ilove being here, it’s myhome town and Idon’t really want to leave at any stage so to belocked in for the next couple of years is unreal.

“Whether there was interest from anyone else I’m not too sure, Ileft that for my manager tosort out.

“But Ithink the club knew, my manger knew, and my family and friends knew that I wanted to stay.

“That being said Browny wanted me to stay as well, which gave me added confidence.

“We wanted to come up with a deal by the end of the season leading into next year and now there’s a bit of a break soI can hit the ground running [for pre-season training] on November 1.”

Fitzgibbon was inspired by the weekend’s turn out at old boys’ day–both from famed ex-players to crowd attendance once again supporting a last-placed team.

The second-rower feels the Knights are well placed to move up the ladder in the years ahead and he wants to help lead the push forward.

”There’sbeen a lot of growth over the last year in particular,” he said.

“A lot of us played a bit before our time and whileI’m still [relatively]inexperienced I don’tsee myself as a young bloke anymore.

“I’ll be 24 next year and a lot of boys will be hitting their straps at around the right age to make a mark in first grade.

“Plus a couple of recruits coming in will definitely help for bigger and better things next season.”

As for losing the “little tape addition” and a possible summer trim.

“No she’s staying,” he said.

“Until I get conned enough by my missusor someone elseto cut it off.”

At least 11 players remain off-contract at the Knights, including centre Peter Mata’utia.

Others includeBrendan Elliot, Luke Yates, Josh Starling, Jack Stockwell, Jaelen Feeney, Pauli Pauli, Jacob Gagan, Will Pearsall, David Bhana and Tyrone Amey.

It is believed Mata’utia has been offered a deal.

In other contract negotiations Knights’ targets Adam Blair (Broncos) and Gerard Beale (Sharks) have been approachedbut are yet to confirm if they will play in Newcastle or elsewhere. Both have been strongly linked to the New Zealand Warriors.

PREVIOUS: The setback that kick started his NRL career

AUGUST 7: Deal put forward by Knights

NATHAN ROSS: Pain is the price of victory

Urgent national ban on dangerous aluminium cladding needed: report

Grenfell Tower in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building on Wednesday morning, Saturday, June 17, 2017. Public fury over the London high-rise fire is mounting as exhausted London firefighters continue their grim search Saturday for victims of the inferno that killed at least 30 people. (David Mirzoeff/PA via AP)Removal of aluminium cladding from Canberra’s Centenary Hospital and other public buildings should come with an urgent national ban on the dangerous products, a Senate committee has warned.
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Flammable composite cladding – blamed for a catastrophic fire which killed more than 80 people inside London’s Grenfell Tower – is present in tens of thousands of n buildings and makes up as much as 10 per cent of the cladding on the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Economics called for an urgent national ban on the importation, sale and use of the dangerous polyethylene core aluminium composite panels, as well as for state and territory governments to establish a national licensing scheme for builders.

The committee, which has considered dangerous building products over three years and received more than 160 submissions, also called for beefed up penalties for breaches of the construction code and more funding for the Federal Safety Commissioner.

It said there had been extensive delays in the development and implementation of policies to address non-compliance and non-conformity in the building industry and long lag times in addressing a 2014 fire at Melbourne’s Lacrosse residential tower.

Labor’s spokesman on innovation, industry, science and research, Kim Carr, said the panels represented a fundamental failure of public safety akin to deadly asbestos.

He blamed decades of deregulation and privitisation and said use of the cheaper, imported combustible products saved builders just $3 per square metre.

“It’s been more good luck than good management that no one has been burned to death. More than 80 people were killed in England and we could have a similar circumstance here,” he said.

“We have the case of Canberra and while we don’t know how many buildings there are in Canberra specifically, the question is why are there any at all?

“The Commonwealth government needs to take some leadership here. Nationally consistency is required.”

Last month an independent assessment of the hospital found the panels represented a “credible fire risk”, including where panels had been installed over emergency exits and evacuation areas.

The Grenfell tragedy has prompted audits around and the world.

The fire is believed to have rapidly spread because of the exterior cladding, made of aluminum and polyethylene.

An audit of about 100 Commonwealth-owned buildings in Canberra is under way and the ACT government says the hospital is the only building identified so far by a desktop audit.

Territory schools are being reviewed as part of the probe.

Senator Carr said the committee had been told of clear breaches of the national building code, widespread certification fraud, product substitution and counterfeiting.

“I’ve never seen a set of submissions from such a wide range of people, particularly in an industry so diffuse as the building industry, with so uniform responses to what is a comprehensive failure of public accountability for safety,” he said.

“We banned asbestos because we’ve realised how dangerous it is. There is not a safe use of this product for high rise buildings, it is against the building code, and yet it is on tens of thousands of buildings.”

A final report from the committee is due in April 2018.

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Six burning questions ahead of Crows v Giants

We answer six key questions heading into Thursday night’s qualifying final between Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney.
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For anyone who watched the club’s performance in their maiden final 12 months ago against Sydney, the answer is a resounding yes.

But such intensity has been rarely seen from the Giants this season. They were poor against Geelong, who blitzed them for contested possession and tackled with more intent and vigour.

Worryingly for the Giants, it was a similar scenario in round one against the Crows when they were crushed by an avalanche of goals in the second half.

It’s time for the likes of Josh Kelly, Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield to be the stars of today rather than the next big thing.

Giants midfielder Josh Kelly. Photo: AAP


If someone had said two years ago the Crows would start favourite in a final without Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane you’d load up on whoever they were playing.

The Crows are a more accomplished team now but this is a major test with Sloane out after appendix surgery.

Adelaide have struggled this year when the 27-year-old has been tagged so you’d think him not being out there at all will suit the Giants.

The catch is the Crows will have spent much of the fortnight planning without Sloane, and the likes of Matt and Brad Crouch and Richard Douglas are good enough to cover for him as a one off.


It’s dangerous to write off a champion but getting axed on the eve of the finals does not bode well for the mercurial forward.

Not even an injury to Devon Smith, who plays a similar role to him, could save Johnson.

The veteran can still produce moments of brilliance but injuries have caught up with him. The mind is still there but he no longer has the body capable of getting the job done.

Also against him is the fact that he struggles to play back-to-back weeks

Outside of an injury, it will be difficult for Johnson to break back into the Giants’ team.

End of the line? Stevie J. Photo: AAP


At face value yes, but not if you scratch deeper. While losing the final two games of the home and away season is not ideal, the Crows could not have hoped for a better pipe opener to September action.

Against Sydney, they won many of the key statistical areas but let themselves down in front of goal to lose narrowly.

Despite missing bookends Taylor Walker and Daniel Talia, they were admirable in defeat against a West Coast team that was playing for its season.

In both games they were up against teams that had more on the line and competitive for long periods. Before that, they had won six games and drawn another.

The Crows faced an Eagles side playing for its season. Photo: AAP


At one end there’s Walker, Josh Jenkins, Eddie Betts and Tom Lynch. At the other end there’s Jonathon Patton, Jeremy Cameron, Rory Lobb and Toby Greene.

???Alex Keath had shaped as a potential weak link for the Giants to exploit but Talia’s return along with Kyle Hartigan’s recent comeback gives the Crows’ defence more steel.

Whoever Jake Lever goes to will need to present well in order to stop him from zoning off as a third man up in marking contests.

The Giants’ defence has been their weakest third on paper but is now better equipped to withstand long periods of pressure.

Back in the side: Daniel Talia. Photo: AAP


Patton, Cameron and Lobb look an imposing combination on paper but problems arise when they don’t mark the ball as none are known for their pressure at ground level.

Locking the ball in their forward line has not been a strong suit for the Giants, and they will need to improve otherwise the Crows will cut them up on the rebound.

Matt de Boer’s inclusion will help but they will need one of their top-end recruits, possibly Jacob Hopper, to sacrifice their game for this blue-collar role.

Footage released after ‘encounter’ with Tasmanian tiger

Tasmanian tiger: Trio release footage they claim is sighting of thylacineCredit: Booth Richardson Tiger TeamThree men have released footage of what they claim is a Tasmanian tiger – proof, they say, the animal is not extinct.
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Greg Booth, his father George “Joe” Booth and Adrian “Richo” Richardson on Wednesday revealed video and stills of what they say is a Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine.

But Tasmanian wildlife biologist Nick Mooney said there was a “one in three” chance the grainy footage showed a thylacine.

Mr Mooney said while it was “the most interesting bit of video I’ve seen”, the camera’s wide-angle lens distorted the image and the animal was “a bit small” to be thylacine.

“It’s not the sort of thing you’d bet on, even with someone else’s money,” he said.

Mr Mooney said the image more likely showed a spotted quoll – a species related to the thylacine and still native to Tasmania.

The last confirmed thylacine died in captivity in the Hobart Zoo in 1936.

The release of the footage comes one day before the 81st anniversary of the death of that thylacine.

The men, who call themselves Booth Richardson Tiger Team, are the latest of numerous people to claim proof of the thylacine’s continued existence.

Greg Booth, fromOuse in Tasmania’s Central Highlands, said he spotted the animal while out on a bush track with his father in April 2015.

Mr Booth refused to reveal exactly where he had seen the animal (he didn’t want the site disturbed), but said it was within 50 kilometres of Maydena, in the state’s south-west.

He was adamant he counted 11 stripes on the animal’sbody, which he said he saw for up to eight seconds.

“It had like a really big head, really long snout nose,” he said at a press conference in Hobart on Wednesday. “Its ears were not so much pointed but really flared.

“It had white around the eyes, really dark brown eyes, and set well back within the skull of the animal.

“I noticed the front legs of the animal and it was sitting down and actually looked at me. I was within eight to nine foot [about 2.5 metres] of the animal.

“So he sat down and I noticed his paws – he had fur over his paws.”

Mr Booth said he hardly slept for several nights after the sighting.

“You try to get a wink of sleep and you wake up thinking about it,” he said. “I still don’t believe it … but it was there.”

Mr Booth and his father set up cameras to record the animal. A year later, they sent footage to Mr Richardson, who had been researching thylacines for decades.

“Richo near dropped to the floor, I think,” Mr Booth said.

Mr Richardson agreed: “I knew then that it would change science on the animal.”

The group set up 14 $200 cameras to gather proof, sorting through up to 700 photographs at a time until switching to video.

They claim to have captured the animal on video last November.

Mr Booth said he never believed in the thylacine’s continued existence but had no doubt about what he saw.

“Cause I seen it. I know what it is,” he told journalists in Hobart.

The team claims to have heard two thylacines during site visits; sometimes barking, other times making a high, wolf-like call.

Mr Mooney said he couldn’t rule out the possibility the thylacine – like the recently rediscovered night parrot – might still exist.

The most probable outcome of the latest sighting, however, was a likely surge in thylacine hunters.

“Doubtlessly, it will bring them out of the woodwork,” he said.

– with Rob Inglis,The Examiner

Gordon, Murdoch in legal challenge to Ten takeover

MERCURY. NEWS. Pic of Bruce Gordon owner of WIN TV . Picture: Sylvia Liber . 7 February, 2017Billionaire Network Ten backer Bruce Gordon and the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox have each made last-ditch pushes to thwart the purchase of the failed network by America’s CBS.
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Lawyers for Mr Gordon are arguing that administrators should have considered selling the business to Mr Gordon’s private company Birketu and Lachlan Murdoch’s Illyria Nominees Television which were shareholders in the group ahead of its collapse.

WIN Corporation, which is majority owned by Mr Gordon, made an urgent application to the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday to allow it bring on a court hearing later this week.

The application by WIN was made on behalf of its CEO and Ten director Andrew Lancaster who claims he has not been paid his directors fees.

The challengers led by WIN are seeking to push back the date of the next creditors meeting for Network Ten which is scheduled for September 12.

They are also seeking rights for all shareholders to vote on the proposal and for the weighting of CBS’s vote to be reduced to $1. CBS is Network Ten’s largest creditor due to Network Ten holding a $172 million debt to the US group.

21st Century Fox is also understood to be preparing to front court this week alongside WIN Corporation to have its complaints heard about how the administration has been conducted. Comment has been sought from the company’s US offices.

Hearings will be held on Thursday and Friday in the Supreme Court of NSW before Justice Ashley Black to determine whether the meeting should be held at a later date.

WIN and its fellow challengers will ask the court for KordaMentha to reveal “the expected value of any tax benefits to CBS (whether in or in an other jurisdiction) as a result of CBS acquiring shares in Ten Network”.

They will also seek information on whether Network Ten will be capable of trading as a going concern in the event that the Proposed CBS DOCA is approved and the transaction is completed given the secured debt of $172 million owed to CBS.

A flurry of legal activity took place on Tuesday and Wednesday as lawyers for Mr Gordon and fellow Ten backer Lachlan Murdoch informed administrators from KordaMentha of their concerns about the second report to creditors.

Network Ten collapsed in June after Mr Gordon’s Birketu and Mr Murdoch’s Illyria said they would not extend their guarantee of $200 million of the media company’s debt. This followed the exit of James Packer as a backer for the financially troubled network.

In a searing letter from lawyers for Mr Gordon’s private company Birketu and WIN Corporation seen by Fairfax Media, John Atanaskovic described KordaMentha’s report as including “defective disclosure” after an initial review of the document.

“Even on cursory inspection, however, it is clear that the report obviously fails properly to discharge the obligation of setting out the [administrators] reasons for those opinions,” he said.

The letter adds the report does not include an independent expert report, does not include sufficient analysis of the alternative proposal put forward by Mr Gordon and Mr Murdoch’s private companies and fails to properly explain the transaction deed or financing from CBS. Independent expert reports are generally included in the final deed and not in creditors reports.

The letter also includes concerns that the CBS transaction does not allocate any votes to shareholders “in their capacity as contingent creditors in class actions against Ten”.

In a second letter to KordaMentha, sent on Wednesday, Mr Atanaskovic said WIN was not properly listed as a creditor.

“WIN is owed a liquidated debt by Network Ten in respect to unpaid amounts under a program supply agreement between WIN and Network Ten,” Mr Atanaskovic said.

Illyria is believed to have voiced separate concerns to KordaMentha.

A spokesman for KordaMentha said the insolvency house “has no plans at this stage to defer the Second Meeting of Creditors scheduled for Tuesday 12 September”.

“The report to creditors was comprehensive and compliant,” he said.

AFL has grounds for concern in Sydney

Gillon McLachlan has vowed to find football grounds in Sydney for junior players being turned away by local clubs due to a critical shortage of facilities.
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Pointing to the scarcity and inadequacy of grounds as “almost the biggest challenge facing our game”, the AFL chief vowed he would not “accept turning kids away” after holding talks in the harbour city on the eve of the finals with the president of Sydney’s biggest junior club.

McLachlan called a meeting with Eastern Sydney Bulldogs president Iain Dunstan after launching the finals on Wednesday in the harbour city. “The situation, as he explained it, was quite dramatic,” said McLachlan.

Dunstan, who turned away 70 juniors before this season and said that number would grow into the hundreds come 2018 registrations, pointed to the success of the two Sydney AFL clubs, the enormous impact of Lance Franklin, the influx of junior girls and the league’s growing impact in Sydney schools as creating a supply-and-demand crisis.

Of his meeting with the AFL boss, Dunstan said: “I think he was genuinely shocked. My view is the AFL has to put in some serious money to fix it and the current growth is only going to exacerbate.

“I understand the girls’ success caught them on the hop but right now it’s like running a business and spending all your money on advertising and then having no product to sell.

“I appreciated the time he (McLachlan) gave me and for listening, but I’ve had to resort to civil disobedience because I just think the AFL is spending the money in the wrong places.”

Dunstan’s club East Sydney was formed in 1880 and boasts 685 junior players, including 100 female players. Forced to share their 139-metre ground at Paddington’s Victor Trumper Park with rival club the UTS Bats, Dunstan said his club faced massive expenses renting facilities at the University of NSW 15 kilometres away.

For the second successive season both the AFL’s Sydney-based clubs are challenging in September and Dunstan said AFL NSW should have pushed harder to follow up negotiations with Randwick racecourse to establish an n rules playing field in the middle of the track – first proposed last season.

“We”re not getting our message across,” said Dunstan, “and we’ve got two successful AFL clubs, Buddy Franklin is a superstar here and kids are now playing at school on Saturday and wanting to play club footy on Sunday.

“It’s causing friction between the boys and the girls because we can’t send girls in their first season 15 kilometres away to play and the boys think we’re favouring them. I can’t walk down the street without disappointed parents asking why their kid is being turned away. Where am I going to fit them in?”

McLachlan conceded that while football clubs across were being stretched by a shortage of grounds, clubs in Sydney’s eastern suburbs were “bursting at the seams”.

“The facilities challenge for us is almost the biggest challenge facing our game,” added McLachlan. “We’ll play whatever role we can in turning it around and whatever the solutions are, I’m not going to accept turning kids away.”

The AFL boss said the competition was working with Sydney’s local councils and schools and confirmed the code was exploring establishing a football ground in the middle of Randwick’s racecourse. McLachlan added that the NSW minister for Sport Stuart Ayres had been sympathetic to the dearth of playing fields restricting the code in Sydney.

Easter Sydney was the junior club of Sydney’s Dane Rampe, Hawthorn’s Will Langford along with Paul Roos’ sons Dylan and Tyler. AFL commissioner Jason Ball coaches the under-15 girls team.

West of Sunshine, set in Melbourne’s west, makes its mark at Venice

Damian Hill and real-life stepson Ty Perham in West of Sunshine. Damian Hill and real-life stepson Ty Perham in West of Sunshine.
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n writer-director Jason Raftopoulos was overcome by the five-minute standing ovation that greeted his debut film West of Sunshine after its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

“It was a completely overwhelming experience,” he said. “So much of filmmaking is conducted in a bubble – you never truly know what you have until it’s shown. So to have the Venice audience respond in the way they did just blew me away.”

The critical response to the film was also warm. Trade magazine Variety called it an “impressive feature debut”. The Guardian said its “down-at-heel Aussie vibe prompts one to set it alongside other recent bawlers and brawlers, such as Kriv Stenders’ Boxing Day or David Michod’s Animal Kingdom”.

West of Sunshine was shot over 18 days in Melbourne and is based on Raftopoulos’ award-winning 2011 short film Father’s Day.

It stars Damian Hill as sad-sack Jim who is given one day to pay off a $15,000 gambling debt to a violent loan shark. His efforts to raise money are complicated by his compulsive gambling and the fact he has to look after his young son, who is on school holidays.

There is a melancholic tone to the proceedings as Jim proves himself his own worst enemy. Even when he wins big at the races, he can’t resist another flutter.

Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Harry Windsor praised Raftopoulos’ use of the location: “The town’s ubiquitous cranes and construction sites form an elegant widescreen metaphor for the film’s endlessly fraying central relationship.”

The central father-son relationship is loosely inspired by the 1948 Vittorio De Sica classic Bicycle Thieves, where mishap leads to a greater familial bond.

“I wanted to do a father-and-son relationship in a neo-realist style with a man under pressure and have him face his own demons,” said Raftopoulos. “It’s a meditation on fatherhood, and the theme of West of Sunshine is that love is an action and it’s not something that you necessarily feel.”

After earning awards in for writing and starring in Pawno, also set in Melbourne’s western suburbs, Hill is proving to be a talisman for local, low-budget breakout films. West of Sunshine was a family affair for the actor, as playing his son Alex in the film is his real life stepson Ty Perham. Both Hill and Perham were in Venice for the premiere.

“He’s been with me for about eight years,” said Hill of his 12-year-old stepson. “So that made developing the relationship between us easier.”

Perham, he says, came into his own in his first acting role.

“On the first day, I felt like a dad on set, but after the first day he wanted to be with other people in the crew,” said Hill.

“It was kind of weird because it was like working and parenting to a degree, but he was beautiful and everybody indulged him.”

The Guardian’s Xan Brooks said father and son both “deserve credit for excellent, affecting performances”.

The film screened in Orizzonti (Horizons), the section of the Venice Film Festival dedicated to new trends in world cinema, and is a contender for the Orizzonti Best Film Prize, to be announced on Saturday evening in Italy.

Running at a sprightly 78 minutes and co-starring Kat Stewart, Tony Nikolakopoulos and Arthur Angel, West of Sunshine is scheduled for an n release in August next year, after playing at more major film festivals.

Karissa ‘will never have the chance’ to pass tough tests for HSC

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEMPTEMBER 06: Student Karissa Piller and her mum Sabine Piller at NAPLAN protest at NSW Parliament on SEMPTEMBER: 6, 2017 in Sydney, . (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEMPTEMBER 06: Students protest NAPLAN at NSW Parliament on SEMPTEMBER: 6, 2017 in Sydney, . (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)
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If the new policy requiring students in NSW to pass literacy and numeracy tests to be eligible for their HSC stays in place, Sabine Piller is looking at moving her family to Victoria or Queensland.

Her daughter, Karissa, who is in year 8 at Catherine McAuley and has dyslexia, will “never have the chance” to pass the tests, Dr Piller said.

“We have definitely started looking at how different states treat students with disabilities and we’re seriously looking at moving because you want to give your kids the best options and it’s hard to justify taking all of those away,” said Dr Piller, a senior lecturer at Western Sydney University’s school of science and health.

After school on Wednesday, Karissa travelled to the city from Westmead with her mum to join dozens of other students and parents outside Parliament House to protest the changes to the Higher School Certificate.

“I want to work with animals when I finish school and I want to go to uni or at least have the chance to,” Karissa said.

“I’m worried and a lot of my friends are worried they won’t ever pass.”

Another group of year 9 students from the International Grammar School said they did well in the NAPLAN tests but thought the policy was “unfair”.

“If you’re not the most academic, that doesn’t mean you’re worth less or your future is worth less,” Allegra Welsh, 15, said.

Martine Beaumont, founder of the HSC, Opportunity, Potential for Everyone group, which organised the protest, said she and other parents have been seeking a meeting with Education Minister Rob Stokes and Department of Education secretary Mark Scott over the issue.

“We’re here because we’re not being listened to, kids want to have a voice, parents want to have a voice,” Ms Beaumont said.

Under the new policy, which was announced in July last year, students who are currently in year 9 will be required to meet a minimum literacy and numeracy standard by achieving band 8s in their NAPLAN reading, writing and numeracy tests or passing online tests in subsequent years in order to get their HSC.

Mr Stokes said that he has “yet to hear a good reason why we shouldn’t expect students to have basic level of literacy and numeracy when they leave school”.

“We have introduced the HSC reforms to raise standards for our students leaving school to make sure they have a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy, to motivate them and challenge them to achieve at the highest possible level, and to prepare them as well as possible for life after school,” Mr Stokes said.

However, Labor’s spokesman for education Jihad Dib said that “the fact that so many people and so many students are out here shows how important this decision is”.

“Contrary to what the minister thinks, the general public do not think this is a good idea. I’m all about raising standards but anyone who knows anything about education says this is not the right way to do this,” Mr Dib said.

Dr Piller said Karissa wants to keep studying after school but probably won’t get the chance to do so without the HSC credential.

“The HSC in itself already tests that in a way that lets students fulfil their potential in different areas,” Dr Piller said.

“You don’t have to be good at both English and maths. Combining the two just cuts out a lot of people who could pursue further education in areas that are important to society.

“Karissa’s not stupid but she will never achieve the band 8 [in next year’s NAPLAN tests]. And it puts even more pressure on them if they can sit the online tests [in later years], and they probably still won’t get it.”

Newcastle Rugby: Maitland colt cops 10 years for assaulting refereevideo

MAITLAND breakaway Mark Meafua hasreceived a 10-year ban for striking referee Niklas Gaal during the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Unionunder-19s grand final.
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THE MOMENT: Mark Meafua about to be issued a red card by referee Nick Gaal. Picture: Stewart Hazell

The 18-year-old pleaded guiltyto lashing out at the promising whisteblowerin the second half of Maitland’s 28-3 loss to Wanderers at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday night.

BarTV Sports footage shows Meafu forcefully shove Gaal in the faceafter the refereeissues the player with a red card.

Meafua was arrested at his home in Rutherford on Saturday night and charged with common assault.He will face Maitland Local Court on October 4.

A remorsefulMeafua read out a three-page apology letter during a two-hour NHRU judiciary hearing on Wednesday night.

The judiciary, despite the player’s regret,deemed the act unacceptable and at the top endunder n Rugby Union guidelines.

As well as thesuspension for“physical abuse of an official”Meafua was found guilty of the red card offence–striking with his elbow–andissued a 10-match ban.

Both sentences are to be served concurrently. The red card incident was sparked by a dangerous lifting tackle on a Maitland player.

Gaal, who did not appear at the hearing, was not seriously hurt in the attack.

Meafua was set to receive the Jack Scott Medal, presented to the best and fairest player in the under-19s competition, but is now ineligible.

The ugly incident shocked and outraged the hundreds gathered at the ground and drew widespread condemnation on social media, but NHRU officials stressed that, whileMeafua’s actions were unacceptable, they had a duty of care to look after him during the process.

“We have not seen anything like this in our zone in 30 years,” NHRU general manager Andy Fairfull said.

“It is unacceptable to verbally or physically abuse a referee. Thesanctions show that if you undertake that behaviour, you will be out of the game for a serious amount of time.

“But, as well as ensuring Nik’s wellbeing, the union hasan obligation to provide Mark with the appropriate support.Within that 10 years, the referee’s association and Maitland club will work the young man to assist in some rehabilitation.”

Meafua has until close of business Friday to appeal against the sentence.