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Using super to buy first home a ‘pressing national issue’ says REIA

“We are prepared to look at a diverse range of proposals to help young Australians buy their first home”: Treasurer Joe Hockey. Photo: Andrew MearesFederal Treasurer Joe Hockey appears to have taken the real estate industry lobby group’s advice in suggesting people should be able to use their superannuation to buy their first homes, as the peak superannuation body urged caution for such an approach.
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The Real Estate Institute of Australia outlined the radical idea in its budget submission to Mr Hockey last month, with the treasurer saying Australians ought to start thinking seriously about the way in which their super savings can be used in the future because people were working and living for longer.

“We are prepared to look at a diverse range of proposals to help young Australians buy their first home,” Mr Hockey said, suggesting that super could be used for a deposit on a first home or job retraining.

His comments were quickly criticised by Labor and some economists, but REIA chief executive Amanda Lynch said using super to help pay for a first home could make housing more affordable and build retirement savings.

“We believe that owning a home is the biggest generator of long-term financial security for Australians and the earlier you can access the housing market, the more secure your retirement will be because most Australians aspire to have paid of their home before they retire,” Ms Lynch said.

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen rejected the suggestion, saying it would have the opposite effect.

“[The] plan would have the likely effect of not only undermining retirement incomes but also driving housing prices up further and making it harder for first-home buyers,” he said.

Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia chief executive Pauline Vamos said the plan would benefit the rich far more than the poor.

“There are significant equity issues when it comes to allowing the release of concessionally taxed superannuation contributions for home equity,” she said, referring to higher income earners paying 45 cents in the dollar in income tax but only 15 cents in the dollar on superannuation contributions.

They would be able use concessionally taxed super money to buy a house and then top up their super, again at a low tax rate.

“There significant equity issues when it comes to allowing the release of concessionally taxed superannuation contributions for home equity,” she said.

But Ms Lynch stood by the proposal.

“The fact about buying a house is that you are actually saving all that equity and the compounding interest will be beneficial. To say that investing in superannuation, which is mainly skewed towards shares, is a safe proposition doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

“In the years since the GFC we have actually seen super being more of a financial risk than previously and a lot of people close to retirement have found their super balances have been dwindling.”  

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Matthew Dale aiming three runners for Country Championships

Gary Moore wins Black Opal Stakes with TakedownMatthew Dale wins three, including Canberra GuineasGoldman pays tribute to Walter after Canberra Cup winSydney trainer Peter Snowden wins National SprintHighlights from fashions on the field at Black Opal Stakes Day
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Matthew Dale is aiming for a super Country Championships after a Super Sunday and is hoping for three runners in the qualifying race at Goulburn on March 20.

The Canberra trainer thinks Gocup Belle, Mystic Puzzle and Royal Jackpot should all qualify for Goulburn, with the first two to run in the $300,000 final at Randwick on April 4.

Gocup Belle saluted in the benchmark 65 handicap (1200 metres) at Thoroughbred Park on Sunday and Dale was delighted with the ride of jockey Brendan Ward.

His only concern was whether the four-year-old mare could run the distance at the Country Championships.

“She’ll go there over 1400 metres, first time up to that sort of trip, but that race only comes once a year so we’ll definitely have a look at it now,” Dale said.

“It’s a question mark [the distance] but she’s bred to get it. She settled a bit better today than she has been, so she’ll give it a good shake.

“It’s a big pull for anyone involved, the lure of a $300,000 final at Randwick. Everyone in the country wants to be there on Championships day.” Gratz Vella also aiming American Time for Goulburn

While American Time fell short of winning the listed Canberra Guineas (1200 metres) for Canberra trainer Gratz Vella, he is hoping to take the daughter of All American to the Goulburn heat of the Country Championships (1400m) on March 20.

The three-year-old filly lost no admirers after finishing fourth behind a gutsy Rom Baro.

“If she pulls up OK, there’s a big chance she will [run in the Country Championships],” Vella said.

“If you watch the replay, it was an enormous run. She was making up lost ground to finish the best after getting caught three wide the whole race.

“It’s hard to win in this company.” Pride wins Camarena in his own right

Queanbeyan product Joe Pride says he has finally had some luck in Canberra following Diamond Oasis’ win in the Camarena Handicap (1000 metres).

Having been born in the NSW town, Pride is emerging as one of Sydney’s best trainers, but he felt his old stomping ground had not been his best in recent years.

He won the Camarena two years ago when Shamus finished in a dead heat with Tony Sergi’s Diamond To Pegasus.

“I’ve never had much luck down here, to be honest,” Pride said. “I won this race a couple of years ago and only deadheated. I’ve never had much luck since, so hopefully that changes today.”

He felt Diamond Oasis could win at listed-group 3 level, but only in races no longer than 1100m. Snowden aims Courtza King at South Pacific Classic

Former Darley trainer Peter Snowden is aiming Courtza King at the listed South Pacific Classic (1400 metres) at Randwick on April 11 after a hard-fought win in the maiden plate (1200m) on Sunday.

The King held off Keikosan down the Thoroughbred Park straight to break his maiden status in just his second race.

“That showed me the ability that he has, but he’s got to learn his craft and he’s still very raw and very new,” Snowden said.

“He’s by the right stallion [Northern Meteor], he’s the half-brother to Hucklebuck, so he’s got a fair bit going for him.

“He’s going to town next start. I’ll be confident he can win there and if he does that then there might be a race later on for him at the carnival.

“I think the South Pacific Classic, I think that’s the ideal race for him, a listed race in the week of the Championships. It’s a high aim for him but I think this horse has that sort of talent.”

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NRL clubs receive additional $13.8m but not all are happy

Follow LeagueHQ on TwitterPlay Ultimate LeagueNRL 2015 Team by team guideQuiz masterclass: How many 70s footy stars can you name?Expert predictions on where each team will finish
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NRL clubs received an additional $13.8 million in funding above their annual $7.2 million grants last season but some are unhappy they had little control in how it was spent.

The NRL recently announced an operating surplus of $49.9 million for the 2014 season but there is disenchantment among some clubs that the figure included $28.1 million directed at growth initiatives and strategic priorities to build future value for the game.

Of that money, $17.9 million was paid directly to clubs and the state leagues, including $450,000 per club to strengthen their financial position and operational capability, and $1.9 million for the establishment of a central support unit to assist clubs with financial sustainability and commercial opportunities.

An additional $4.8 million was invested to support clubs in growing their membership base and game day attendances, while the NRL funded the appointment of a dedicated careers coach for players at each of the 16 clubs.

Other areas identified by the NRL as spending on growth and strategic priorities include: $4.1 million to improve the quality of the NSW and Queensland state leagues and establish the state championship grand final between the winners;the establishment of the NRL’s own statistics company, which provides data for fans and coaches;$5.4 million to honour a commitments to community, welfare and education, included funding The Men of League and establishing the Rise For Alex fund.

The NRL also spent $1.7 million in supporting research and development proposals for stadiums and high performance units for a number of clubs.

NRL officials believe that is a small sum to pay for $700 million of commitments in Sydney and Townsville for rectangular stadiums and point out that AFL had previously monopolised government funding for major Stadium projects. The NSW Government has allocated $600 million on rectangular stadiums in Sydney, while the Queensland Government will provide $100 million for a new stadium in Townsville.

The NRL is offering clubs a further $250,000 in funding this year if they meet certain growth targets, but the money must be spent on improving the business and not the football department.

However; some club bosses believe they should have greater control over how the $344.9 million revenue the game generated last season should be spent and the issue will be discussed at a meeting of club chairmen. While there is genuine discontent among some clubs, Fairfax Media was told that the majority are supportive of the NRL and believe the game is in far better shape than before the advent of the ARL Commission in 2012.

“Those that appear aggrieved did not even turn up to ask a question at the AGM,” South Sydney chairman Nicholas Pappas said. “Instead they wage a nameless campaign through the media. We are light years away from where we were as a game and some have very short memories of just how far we have come. We all now need to focus on how we can improve our own businesses rather than publicly ravaging our code.”  

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Sydney trainer Peter Snowden collects National Sprint with Snippets Land with double on Black Opal Stakes day

Snippets Land wins the Mercedes Benz Canberra National Sprint from Mighty Lucky. Photo: Matt BedfordGary Moore wins Black Opal Stakes with TakedownMatthew Dale wins three, including Canberra GuineasGoldman pays tribute to Walter after Canberra Cup winDale aims three runners for Country ChampionshipsHighlights from fashions on the field at Black Opal Stakes Day
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Two runners, two winners – it was a perfect 100 per cent success rate for leading Sydney trainer Peter Snowden on Black Opal Stakes day.

While he didn’t have any contenders in either the Canberra Cup or the Black Opal Stakes, Snowden still produced a winning double at Thoroughbred Park on Sunday.

Snippets Land ($5.30) delivered the goods in the $120,000 listed National Sprint (1400 metres) after red-hot favourite Courtza King ($1.30) had earlier gotten the day off to the ideal start in the Maiden Plate (1200m).

Jockey Hugh Bowman timed his run to perfection aboard Snippets Land, taking the lead with 300m to go to hold off a fast-finishing Mighty Lucky and Darciwood.

Mighty Lucky had the support of the punters when the National Sprint effectively became a set weights race.

All runners in the National Sprint carried 58 kilograms after the withdrawal of original top weight Laser Hawk (60kg) and the Hawkes family’s Leebaz (58kg) elevated the rest of the field up from 54kg.

The change occurred under Australian Racing rule 103 (2), which states if the top weight withdraws, then all weights are increased until at least one runner reaches 58kg.

Snowden was against the move, which wouldn’t have happened if it was a benchmark race and not a black-type one.

“I didn’t agree with it, I thought they should have rehandicapped the race,” Snowden said. “It wasn’t a fair decision to bring everyone else up to the same weight. Saying that, he won with 58kg on his back so he was able to do the job.”

Snowden is a big supporter of Canberra’s premier race day.

This is the first season he has gone out on his own with his son Paul after previously working with the Darley stables.

It was the fourth win from 11 starts for Snippets Land and takes his career prizemoney over $100,000.

Snowden will consider a couple of different options for the four-year-old during the autumn carnival and was pleased with Bowman’s ride.

“He rode it beautifully,” Snowden said. “He put the horse in the right position and was able to make his move at the right time. That’s why he’s one of the best going around.”

Bowman said the steady tempo suited Snippets Land and allowed him to kick strongly on the back straight.

“I thought if they don’t go gallop it’s not going to suit us, but they went a nice, genuine pace,” Bowman said. “It was set up nicely for him and he was dominant. When I really asked him to stretch, he responded beautifully.”

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No regrets as Walker calls an end to 20 stormy years

Veteran Australian Grand Prix boss Ron Walker will step down after Sunday’s 20th Formula One race at Albert Park with no regrets about his controversial leadership.
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Walker, 75, has been chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, which runs the event, for all of its two stormy decades, defying protesters and constant criticism of the cost of the race to taxpayers.

Often divisive and always colourful, the towering cancer survivor admitted that his political background as a high-profile figure in the Liberal Party had been polarising during his unusually long reign as undisputed chief of the Melbourne GP.

“Some people don’t like Ron Walker,” he said during an extended interview discussing his long tenure as chairman of the AGPC. “That’s fine. I know there’s been a degree of hatred. I mean, they expressed that on my fence at home time and time again.

“Some Sunday nights, I’d go home and pour myself a stiff whisky. But it never wore me down.”

Walker also dismissed the ongoing criticism of the annual cost of the Albert Park event, which in recent years has been around $50million, funded by the Victorian government.

“We got used to the hammering,” he shrugged. “To spend $50million advertising the city to hundreds of millions of people in lunch time, it’s cheap. And we’ve been saying this over and over again, and we’ve been comparing it with the tennis, but nobody wants to listen.

“The tennis [Australian Open at Melbourne Park] has cost about $3billion to an audience of 300,000 cable customers.

“So which would you rather have? I’d rather have both.” Although his figures are arguably rubbery, Walker’s passion for the Melbourne GP and his long-standing commitment to securing and keeping the race are undeniable.

“I’m really passionate about Melbourne,” he said. “You have to believe in something. That’s probably why I’ve stayed so long [as AGPC chairman].” He revealed that Melbourne had a secret contract with F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone to inherit the race from Adelaide as far back as 1983.

That agreement was activated when then South Australian premier John Bannon failed in 1992 to take up Adelaide’s option for renewal in 1996, when the race moved to Melbourne.

Walker’s last major achievement was negotiating a more favourable five-year renewal of Victoria’s contract to host the F1 season-opener at Albert Park from 2016, with an option for a further five years.

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Documentary shows reaction to cutting edge art festival in kandos

Lyra Burghaus adds to SNO Group’s ‘Collective Monochrome No. 26’ which invited visitors to contribute a layer to a communal red painting at the 2013 Cementa_13 contemporary art festival in Kandos.
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A new thirty-minute documentary takes audiences along to the regional contemporary art event that brought city artists over the mountains and made Kandos famous among Sydney’s contemporary art community.

At Roth’s Wine Bar from 6pm on Wednesday, March 11, Mudgee Underground will host a free screening of Welcome to Kandos, a 30-minute film about 2013’s first-ever contemporary art festival held in Kandos.

The film, shot over the four days of the festival, captures the artists’ response to the town and the town’s response to the unusual event in its midst.

Cementa_13 brought around 40 cutting edge contemporary artists to Kandos in February 2013, many creating work inspired by the town, such as Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski’s chapel celebrating the Kandos Street Machine Show, Bronia Iwanczak’s photos taken in the Kandos Museum and Madeleine Preston’s artefacts of an art movement built around items found in the museum collection.

The event was described as “wildly successful”, and was praised for showing that cutting-edge art could thrive outside “the art world bubble”.

“The level of work was very high, the event was also very relaxed,” said organiser Alex Wisser.

“People had a really good time and it allowed them to enjoy the art in a way they normally couldn’t.”

Artists enjoyed the chance to spend time with each other in Kandos and to talk about art with locals and hear some fresh perspectives, while locals enjoyed meeting the artists and hearing the ideas behind the artworks.

Welcome to Kandos captures some of the response to the event, from artists and residents, and gives a taste of the festival’s atmosphere as artists and the town prepare for its return in April 2015.

It also attempts to explore a particular turning point in the town’s history, as it looked for a new direction following the cement works’ recent closure.

The screening at Roth’s Wine Bar is open to all, and will provide a relaxed and enjoyable way of checking out

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‘Buy now, pay stamp duty later’

NSW Premier Mike Baird, Channel 7’s Mark Ferguson and Opposition Leader Luke Foley at the second debate on Sunday. Photo: Dominic LorrimerOpposition leader Luke Foley says he wants to examine possible changes to the way stamp duty is paid on property purchases in NSW to help improve housing affordability.
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During the second debate of the election campaign on Sunday night, Premier Mike Baird and Mr Foley were asked what they would do about stamp duty to help young people purchase their first home.

Mr Baird pointed out that his government had offered stamp duty concessions to first home buyers who purchase new dwellings worth less than $750,000. He said the government was “looking at other opportunities”.

But Mr Foley said he wanted “to look at a scheme where people rather than being charged 100 per cent of their stamp duty up front, could pay it back in instalments over several years”.

The suggestion came as the Liberals unveiled their first attack ad of the election campaign, which asks how Mr Foley can run NSW if he has never run a government department or been a minister.

Mr Foley worked as a telemarketer for the Guide Dogs Association of NSW to put himself through university.

He later worked as secretary of a trade union representing low paid community sector workers and as a Labor party official.

Mr Baird worked in investment banking before politics.

Asked about this, Mr Foley countered that he “ran an organisation with a turnover of several million dollars a year” and was in politics to make a difference and provide “a fair go for all”.

The leaders answered questions from the media and an audience of uncommitted voters at the Penrith campus of the University of Western Sydney.

Mr Foley opened the debate with an immediate mention of Labor’s commitment to schools and hospitals, while Mr Baird went straight to the importance of the economy and jobs.

Asked why he was opposed to Mr Baird’s plan to partially lease the NSW electricity network businesses, Mr Foley said the state would lose billions of dollars in dividends it currently receives.

But Mr Baird said the revenue would be replaced by boosting the economy from building infrastructure using the anticipated $20 billion in proceeds.

Mr Foley asked Mr Baird if he would proceed if he doesn’t get the $13 billion price he has nominated.

Mr Baird is counting on the $13 billion plus $2 billion from the federal government and $5 billion in interest to reach his total. He told Mr Foley the government would “without question” get $20 billion.

Mr Baird was also challenged by gang rape victim Katrina Keshishian about cuts his government made to the victims’ of crime compensation scheme. The cuts saw her paid $50,000 compensation reduced to $15,000.

Mr Baird said he was “sorry” for what Ms Keshishian had gone through but said the scheme inherited by the Coalition was unsustainable. He said the government was “looking at doing more”.

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Sunny Mudgee Show brings back the crowds

Danika and Courtney Rohrich met Brothers 3, Makirum, Tayzin and Shardyn Fahey-Leigh at the Mudgee Show, where the popular local trio opened the show, sashed the showgirls and performed an afternoon concert. Photo by Col Boyd In a rare event in the last five years, the Mudgee Show took place without the familiar sight of umbrellas, puddles, and gumboots at the showground.
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Instead, show-goers spent Friday afternoon and Saturday seeking shade from the heat, as a steady stream of visitors passed through the gates.

“The Lions Club said they couldn’t believe the number of people that had come in this year,” Mudgee Show Society President Wendy Harmer said.

“All of the entries in the livestock and horse sections are up this year and I’m just thankful that the rain stayed away for once.”

There was plenty to see with The Outback Show, the Pro-Wrestling Show, dance performances, ring events, sideshow alley and the livestock sections attracting visitors from the moment the gates opened.

One of the main attractions this year was the local trio Brothers 3, who did more than enterain for the crowd at their afternoon concert.

The brothers helped judge the junior showgirl competition before being taken on a guided tour of the show and its attractions by Mrs Harmer and 2015 Showgirl Brooke Sewell.

During the tour the brothers signed autographs, handed out ribbons in several competitions, and spent some time seeing what a country show was all about.

“This is our first time at the Mudgee Show and we’re having a lot of fun, even though it’s really hot,” Tayzin Fahey-Leigh said.

Outgoing Mudgee Showgirl Tanya Wisbey said the junior showgirl competition was continuing to grow, with more young ladies between the ages of four and 17 years taking part this year.

“There have been lots of new entrants and lots of returning entrants,” Miss Wisbey said.

“It’s great to see so many girls come back and give it another go.

“Overall it’s been a really good turn out for each of the three sections.”

2015 Mudgee Showgirl Brooke Sewell spoke about the community atmosphere that comes with a country show and encouraged young women to think about taking part in the Showgirl competition next year.

“Being in the showgirl competition has broadened a lot of personal horizons for me.

“It’s helped my confidence, helped me become more involved in what the show is really about, and given me the opportunity t

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Slow start sees Mustangs go down to Hills Hornets

The Maitland Mustangs have gone down to Hills Hornets 71-67 in the Waratah Championship at Maitland Federation Centre on Sunday.
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NARROW LOSS: Maitland Mustangs player Terrance Rone. Picture by PERRY DUFFIN

The Mustangs were on a high ­coming off last weekend’s last-minute victory against Central Coast Crusaders, but could not find their way around the Hills Hornets in the first quarter, trailing 21-8.

The Mustangs mounted a comeback toward half-time to close the gap 41-32.

Mitchell Rueter starred once again with the ball for the Mustangs and picked up a personal tally of 18 points with six assists.

Charles Bloemen notched up 12 rebounds.

Wayne Brown racked up 10 solo points for the Mustangs and Terrell Turner snagged four.

Mustangs captain-coach Luke Boyle, in his 202nd match, was only able to find the basket a handful of times.

The Mustangs were right in the contest up until the final quarter, but the lead squandered in the first quarter proved too big to claw back.

The match went down to the buzzer with the Hills Hornets winning by the four-point margin.

At the end of round four the Mustangs are fifth on the competition ladder.

This season the Mustangs have played four matches for two wins.

The Mustangs will face the Sydney Comets on the road next Saturday evening at the Alexandria basketball stadium.

Tip off is at 8pm.

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TOPICS: Flowers to be nipped in the bud

COLOURFUL WELCOME: Blooming salvias are to be removed from their spot in front of the Morisset sign.HERE at Topics, we reckon Lake Macquarie City Council is facing a bit of a dilemma.
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The Welcome to Morisset sign, you see, will soon vanish behind a row of flowers.

What’s a council to do? Remove the pretty plants or send a message that people are not so welcome in Morisset, after all.

We asked the council if it could shed any light on this vexing problem.

As it turns out, nipping it in the bud won’t be as difficult as we thought.

‘‘They are pretty flowers, yes – salvias, actually,’’ a council statement said.

‘‘They’re annuals, so they’ll be removed this week.’’

Topics isn’t the only one to have noticed quite a bit of overgrown vegetation on public land in Lake Macquarie territory lately.

What’s the situation there, we wondered.

‘‘A quick lesson in vegetation: It’s been perfect growing conditions lately, the ideal mix of warmth and water,’’ the council said.

There you have it.

DARK PAST: A water rat, above, is Australia’s largest rodent. They were hunted, below, after bubonic plague struck Sydney in 1900.

ANYONE remember Ratty from The Wind in the Willows?

Coal Point Progress Association’s latest newsletter said old Ratty came to mind when Landcare volunteers found three dead native water rats, while working at Carey Bay Wetland.

These elusive, semi-aquatic creatures with partially webbed feet and prominent whiskers are Australia’s largest rodent.

The newsletter noted it was ‘‘lucky we have any left’’.

‘‘During the 1930s Depression, they were hunted for their water-repellent fur when a ban was placed on imported fur.’’

DARK PAST: Water rats were hunted after bubonic plague struck Sydney in 1900.

When the bubonic plague hit the shores of Sydney in 1900, a bounty was put on rats.

A State Library of NSW picture shows professional rat catchers with the results of their handiwork.

Native water rats suffered in the killing spree, even though the black rats were the disease carriers.

Native rats are apparently good guys – just like Ratty.

NEWCASTLE Herald reporter extraordinaire Matthew Kelly reached a global audience on Friday.

Kelly gave an interview to a BBC reporter about Rio Tinto’s Mt Thorley-Warkworth open-cut mine extension plan.

This was not Kelly’s first brush with fame. Julian Lennon tweeted a link to his story last year on a disease threatening Port Stephens’ oyster crops.

Asked how the two experiences compared, Kelly said: ‘‘Son of a Beatle v three minutes of fame on the BBC World Service – it just makes you realise that we’re all tiny particles in the universe.’’ That we are old pal, that we are.

NEWCASTLE Jets fans must have been outraged at the recent F3 derby when they were denied the chance to holler and hoot at the man they most love to hate: Central Coast Mariners stalwart John Hutchinson.

It was to be Hutchinson’s last derby but in a cruel blow, he was left on the bench.

Hutchinson got his revenge on Friday when Phil Moss, the coach who benched him, was sacked.

The club confirmed Hutchinson will remain with the Mariners in a coaching capacity next season. This should be good for Newcastle. Totally reliable statistics show that whenever Hutchinson attends Jets games, Newcastle residents are on their best behaviour.

ANYONE attending Cessnock City Council lately might be forgiven for being slightly overawed by the size of the council’s business paper. The February 18 report was 589pages long. Yikes!