Monthly Archives: July 2019

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Cleary goes from Origin fan to dream maker

After attending NSW’s 2014 win as a fan, Nathan Cleary has a chance to lead NSW to Origin success.Nathan Cleary still has June 18, 2014 marked down as one of the best nights of his life.

Dressed in light blue shirt and donning a dark blue wig, a 16-year-old Cleary watched from the concourse at ANZ Stadium with the Blatchy’s Blues supporter group as NSW looked set to squander another series.

Then with one dummy and go, Trent Hodkinson crossed the tryline and ended eight years of misery.

“That was one of the best experiences of my life seeing Hodko go over there,” Cleary told AAP.

“I was at the game and in Blatchy’s Blues.

“It was unbelievable seeing them get the win and the crowd was going off. It was unreal.”

Four years on, Cleary now has the chance to join Hodkinson as one of only two Blues halfbacks to have tasted Origin series success since 2006.

In that time, some seven others have tried and failed. That list includes the likes of Craig Gower, Brett Kimmorley and James Maloney.

But Cleary is determined to make sure he doesn’t join it, instead dreaming of sending Sydney into the same kind of drought-breaking delirium of 2014 on Sunday night.

“Hopefully we can replicate something like that,” Cleary said.

“(Jarryd Hayne’s crowd surf) was right in front of us and that was awesome.”

Cleary wouldn’t have been alone in his excitement on that night some four years ago.

Had it not been for that victory, up to 16 of the 17 Blues selected for Origin II wouldn’t have seen NSW win a series in their adult life.

Five of the squad were still in primary school when the Blues tasted victory previous to that in 2005, with most still clinging onto faint memories of Andrew Johns’ heroics.

But all that can end on Sunday night, where the NRL is expecting a packed house and the Blatchy’s Blues allotment is rapidly approaching its capacity of 12,000.

Australian Associated Press

Slick West Coast not scared of the wet

Midfielder Elliot Yeo says West Coast will be ready to face Essendon if it’s a wet-weather contest.They’ve played some sizzling football in the sun, but West Coast will equally embrace the rain if Thursday night’s clash with Essendon turns into a wet-weather slog.

The Eagles sit second on the ladder following their 10-2 start to the year, with the team averaging 97 points per game this season.

That average improves to 106 at their new home ground Optus Stadium, where the Eagles have enjoyed mostly dry conditions this year.

That could change on Thursday night with rain forecast for Perth.

However, if the rain does eventuate, West Coast players will be ready.

“There’s plenty of times there where as you see throughout the week we have the footies out in the wet water,” midfielder Elliot Yeo said, referring to the team mimicking wet-weather conditions at training.

“If it is (raining), we’ve done our homework during the week and hopefully we’re able to implement that in the game.”

Yeo said the six-day break between games was a good thing, given the players were keen to atone for last week’s 15-point loss to Sydney.

“Personally I hate losing,” Yeo said.

“I’m not a big fan of it. But having the six-day turnaround, it gives you the quick turnaround to rectify.”

Essendon (5-7) enter the game fresh following their recent bye,

But despite winning three of their past four matches, their finals hopes are still hanging by a thread.

“They’ve been a bit up and down with their form,” Yeo said.

“But they had a good spurt not so long ago.

“Their midfield is one of the things that’s a bit of a danger.

“Once they get going, if they get the ball in their hands quite early, they can be quite damaging.”

Australian Associated Press

NSW budget surplus comes in at $3.9b

The NSW treasurer had revealed a budget surplus of $3.9 billion and promised to use “the holy grail of numbers” to address cost-of-living pressures across the state.

Despite losing more than $5.5 billion in stamp duty revenue the surplus for 2017/18 exceeded expectations by $600 million off the back of increased mining royalties and GST receipts.

Nine months out from the March 2019 state election, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Tuesday promised his 2018/19 budget would help ease cost-of-living pressures for families while maintaining a record $87 billion infrastructure spend.

NSW Treasurer Portrait of Dominic Perrotet. Photo: James Brickwood

The treasurer’s message focused on the hip pocket but more than half of government expenditure is flowing to the transport portfolio next financial year, including $4.3 billion for the Sydney Metro.

The controversial WestConnex motorway will receive $1.8 billion in 2018/19 while $258 million will kickstart the first stage of the Parramatta Light Rail.

In total, the coalition government will spend $51 billion on road and rail over the next four years.

Despite lacking any big ticket items for struggling families, the government has extended universal education access to three-year-olds, saving parents an average of $825 per year.

It has also cut certain parking fines and streamlined Service NSW, which it says will help residents to find the best energy deals.

“This is a budget that puts people first, it builds for tomorrow and delivers for today,” Mr Perrottet told reporters.

A $740 million upgrade to Liverpool Hospital headlines health spending with the government committing $8 billion over four years on upgrades and new facilities.

Some $17 billion will be spent on education in 2018/19 while $6 billion will be committed over four years to address a big increase in enrolments.

A sovereign wealth fund will also be created next year, starting with $3 billion, with 50 per cent of the interest generated each year going toward community projects.

Australian Associated Press

Gargasoulas fitness jury battling to agree

A Melbourne jury is struggling to come to a unanimous decision on whether Bourke Street driver James Gargasoulas is mentally fit to stand trial for murder.

Gargasoulas, 28, is accused of running down pedestrians in the city in January 2017, killing six people, including two children, and injuring many others.

He is facing an investigative Supreme Court hearing to decide if he is fit to face trial on six counts of murder and 28 of attempted murder.

A jury of 12 retired to consider their verdict on Monday, but on Tuesday afternoon sought guidance from Justice Lex Lasry, saying they were torn.

“I have been informed that you have not been able to reach a decision,” the judge said.

Justice Lasry said he could dismiss the jury without a verdict if they could not reach one but he was not yet ready to do so.

“Experience has shown that juries, given more time to discuss, can reach a verdict,” he said.

“That’s what I’m going to ask you to do. Come back in the morning, hopefully fresh.”

Justice Lasry urged the jury to share their feelings and listen to others, as their views may shift.

But he said they can’t change their minds simply for the sake of reaching a decision.

“To do that would breach your duty to the court,” he said.

Medical experts in the case have been divided over the question of Gargasoulas’s fitness.

Two psychiatrists believe he is unfit for trial but one psychologist disagrees.

The defence argues he is “profoundly psychotic”, believing he is the “Messiah” sent to save the world from a comet, and should not stand trial.

But prosecutors say Gargasoulas should face trial, claiming he understands his case and can make decisions about his defence and plea.

“(He) has the presence of mind to know that if it’s his lot in life to be saving the world, he wants to be doing that from the relative comfort of Thomas Embling Hospital, rather than the 23-hour lockdown of prison,’ crown prosecutor Andrew Tinney SC said.

The jury will continue deliberations on Wednesday.

Australian Associated Press

Farmers want better access to EU market

PM Malcolm Turnbull (left) and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom at Parliament House.Australia wants farmers to get better access to the European Union’s huge market when negotiations on a free trade deal start within weeks.

The nation’s top agricultural exports to the EU are canola, wine, greasy wool, beef and veal, and almonds, but that could expand once a deal is signed.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other ministers in Canberra on Monday to officially launch negotiations on a free trade deal.

The sticking point, as it has been for years, will be European producers unhappy with Australian companies using European names, and farmers worried about competition.

“Agriculture and what we call geographical indicators are very important to us,” Dr Malmstrom told reporters.

“I think this is probably the chapter that would be the most difficult one. But we are well-prepared.”

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the EU was Australia’s fourth-largest agricultural export destination, and reduced tariffs would only make it bigger.

“More high-quality Australian produce on EU dinner tables is a win for EU consumers and a win for our farmers, our rural and regional communities and our nation,” Mr Littleproud said.

National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson said Australian farmers were ready to compete on a fairer playing field in the EU.

“Australia exports about 75 per cent of its agricultural produce and our farmers are amongst the least subsidised in the world,” she said.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo hinted that high-quality agricultural products could be a big winner.

“I want to see more Australian premium produce on plates from Prague to Paris,” Mr Ciobo said.

The trade talks come as EU and Australia have become concerned about rising protectionism, especially in the United States and China.

Dr Malmstrom said the “predictability” of rules-based free trade had served Australia and the EU well.

“I think it sends a very strong political signal that we’re launching these negotiations today,” she said.

A free trade pact would open a market of half a billion consumers and a GDP of $23.2 trillion, making it one of Australia’s biggest agreements.

The first round of negotiations will be held in Brussels in early July.

Australian Associated Press