Monthly Archives:November 2018

Hunter Innovation Festival set for 2018 start in Newcastle ( admin posted on November 27th, 2018 )

CREATIVE: Hunter Innovation Festival producer Christina Gerakiteys.Creativity and innovation are the key elements of the Hunter Innovation Festival set to startin Newcastleon Monday, which will run over12 days.

The event begins with ‘Idea Bombing’ on the future of Newcastle, an interactive forum aimed at making day-to-day life easier and more sustainable.

Festival producer Christina Gerakiteys advises people to attendto share and develop ideas, learn about innovation’s evolutionand enjoy the opportunity to network.

On May 8,‘The Internet of Things (IOT)’ is the first Smart City Engagement workshop, run by Newcastle’s IOT Pioneers Group and Newcastle City Council, whojoin forces to help children and adults to understand the internet, harness its power and build internet-related projects.

A day after, on May 9, the Rapid Product Development and Prototyping workshopsees design thinking andproduct development on display, withindustrial designer Josh Jeffress and innovation manager Martin McKenzie.

Inequality and social inclusion will be the subjects discussed at the Hunter Economic Breakfast on May 11.

The speakers will be fromCommittee for Economic Development of Australia, whose CEO Melinda Cilento will present, and social researcher Hugh Mackay.

A collaborative computer programming sprint will take place on May 11 and 12 duringthe University of Newcastle’s New Future Hackathon for Aged.

Teams compete to develop solutions to promote good lifespan health, enable healthy ageing, support socioeconomic participation and enhance productivity in health-care delivery.

Winners will receiveprizes for the best tech solution, runner-up tech solution and rising star.

The Hunter Innovation Festival ends on May 18 with the Innovators Lunch, a relaxed chat about environmental, agricultural and smart city technologies.

For the full program:

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Sio’s blunder costly in loss as Knights fall to South Sydney 36-18 ( admin posted on November 27th, 2018 )

It was the critical minuteof the match that shaped it’soutcome. And Ken Sio would be wishing he could haveevery secondof itback.

During that60 second periodearly in the second half, the Knights winger committed the cardinal sin of dropping the ball over the try-line as he tried to better his position in-goal.

He’d been delivered the try on a platter with a superb cut-out pass from fullback Kalyn Ponga. But as he pushed to bring the ball closer to the posts, he had it knocked out by Souths backrower Angus Crichton.

Maybe it was because Siowas goal-kicking and the Knights hadn’t landed one. But instead of at least drawing level with the Rabbitohs at 16-16 with a kick to come, the four pointer and potential lead went begging.

Then, in the space of a set of six, Souths marched down field and as so often happens after a big let-off, Adam Reynolds bombedto the corner and the Bunnies scored through centre Dane Gagai with Sio unable to defuse the pin-point kick.

Instead of 16-all or even 18-16 to the Knights, the 12 point turnaround left the home side in a big hole at 22-12 and they never recovered..

But to lump the normally dependableSio with the blame for the 36-18 defeat would be an injustice.

For the Knights, there remainsa sizable gap between theirbest and worst performances.

While Souths were near perfect with the footy, completing at 94 percent and making just two errors, the Knights came up withmistakes at crucial times.

But defensively is where the improvement must come if the side is to becomea genuine finals contender. Theymissed 28 tacklesand several of those came in the opening five minutes when Souths effortlessly jumped out to a 12-0 advantage.

Try time: Knights centre Sione Mata’utia scored a first half try but it wasn’t enough with the Knights going down to South Sydney 36-18 at McDonald Jones Stadium. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

The second of the twotries they scored was byBunnies halfback Cody Walker, who courageously played against the Knightsdespite losing his mother to a heart attack on Wednesday night.

Coach Nathan Brown had no doubtswhere the gamewas lost.

“A lot of people will probably focus on Kenny’s drop there which you can’t afford to do at this level obviously but at the end of the day, we still got the game wrong at the start,” Brown said.

READ MORE: Newcastle Knights news“If we had got the game right at the start and Kenny does what he does, it doesn’t have the same impact.”

Brown was mainly criticalofhis middle forwards withHerman Ese’ese one who was guilty of lacking urgency when he failed to get off his line when Walkerstrolled through.

The Knights’goal-kicking and kicking game will also need to be addressed with Adam Reynolds kicking the home side off the park .

Ponga was again the shining light in a beaten side.

Souths coach Anthony Seibold called him a “freak” and Brown said he is just “too good’.

In a side often on the back foot during the game, Pongastill managed to be one of the most dangerous attacking threats on the field.

He wasn’t the only good performer for the Knights.

Apart from a spilled pass when a try was on for winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall in the first half, centre Sione Mata’utia had his best game of the season and did a great job on opposite Greg Inglis, as did Nathan Ross on Dane Gagai.

Edge backrowers Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Mitch Barnett also stood out, Connor Watson was a threat with the footywhile Kenny-Dowall scored a double and had several strong carries.


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Tax cuts, aged care focus in budget ( admin posted on November 27th, 2018 )

Malcolm Turnbull says the budget will help put money back into taxpayers’ pockets.Personal income tax cuts, more money to cut aged care waiting lists and a big spend on road and rail will be key elements of the federal budget to be delivered on Tuesday.

In delivering his third budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison’s will have one eye on the economy and another on the polls.

A federal election is due by May 2019 but is more likely to be held well before that, depending on the success of Malcolm Turnbull’s freshened-up economic message.

“Responsible budget management and strong economic leadership is vital because that is what ensures that we have more money in the pockets of hard-working Australians, we guarantee and deliver essential services and infrastructure and the government lives within its means,” Mr Turnbull said on Thursday.

Low and middle income earners are expected to benefit from lifts to tax thresholds while high earners will have the two per cent deficit levy taken off.

There have also been reports the energy supplement – initially paid as carbon tax compensation – will be kept in place, despite the government wanting to axe it as a budget saving.

More home care packages will ease pressure on the 100,000 older Australians on the waiting list.

The aged care sector is also hopeful of a generous response to two major reviews, to improve not only the quantity but quality and oversight of services.

With the states and territories having pleaded with Canberra for extra road and rail funding, the infrastructure budget is set to top $75 billion over the decade.

A $5 billion Melbourne airport rail link and $1 billion M1 upgrade between Brisbane and Gold Coast will be major projects giving funding.

Having complained about its GST share, Western Australia will score a $3.2 billion road and rail package.

Mr Morrison will reveal how he intends to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, having ditched the proposed 0.5 per cent hike in the Medicare levy.

Extra jobs and business activity has bolstered tax receipts by at least $4.8 billion more than estimated in the mid-year review in December.

The budget papers are expected to show a return to the black in 2021.

In a bid to quell fears in the coalition’s political base, new laws will guarantee tax rates and rules regarding superannuation and the limit on the maximum number of members in self-managed super funds will be expanded from four to six.

Corporate tax cuts from 30 per cent to 25 per cent will also remain on the books, despite the current Senate block, and an instant asset write-off for small business will be extended.

Hospitals, cancer scans, drug addiction and mental health services are also set to be funded.

In the environmental sphere, clarity is expected on the future of the Emissions Reduction Fund – which pays for so-called “direct action” climate projects – and $500 million will go to a Great Barrier Reef rescue plan.

Australian Associated Press

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Small tax cut likely budget centrepiece ( admin posted on November 27th, 2018 )

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the government is being responsible with the budget.It’s already been labelled the “latte and train fare” tax cut to rival former treasurer Peter Costello’s ridiculed “sandwich and milkshake” version in 2003.

Personal income tax cuts are expected to be the centrepiece of Treasurer Scott Morrison’s third budget on Tuesday, which could prove to be his last before the next federal election.

“We continue to make the decisions to put our economy on the strongest possible foundation trajectory for the future to facilitate the creation of more jobs,”‘ Mathias Cormann told AAP in summing up what will be his fifth budget as finance minister.

“We continue to focus on getting the budget back into surplus as soon as possible and making sure that government lives within its means.”

Armed with a tax revenue windfall, the Turnbull government has already ditched its planned Medicare levy increase from last year’s budget, claiming the National Disability Insurance Scheme is now fully funded without it.

Economists at ANZ calculate the government can also afford personal tax cuts of $3 billion next year, building to $8 billion by 2020/21 without threatening a long-standing budget surplus projection.

It sounds a lot, but in reality, it would mean the average household earning less than $87,000 a year would get a tax cut of $6.50 a week.

“It would likely pay for a latte and a train fare each week in the first year, with a smashed avocado breakfast possible in three year’s time,” ANZ says in its pre-budget analysis.

Costello’s 2003 round of tax cuts was worth $4 a week for the average income earner – or $5.75 in today’s money – and that was when the budget was in surplus.

Mark Molesworth, a tax partner at consultants BDO, also expects a crackdown on the black or cash economy, as well as tax “integrity measures”, which may include some sort of removal of work-related deductions.

In recent years, the government has also targeted foreign residents, multinational businesses and the big banks.

“Perhaps the financial planning sector can expect some attention this year,” he told AAP.

Infrastructure spending is likely to be another big-ticket item – the centrepiece here being the already announced $5 billion funding for the Melbourne-airport rail link.

There has been a surge in tax revenue in the first few months of this year, the fastest pace in the past 20 years.

A strong global economy has helped lift company profits and tax revenue, along with losses incurred during the 2008-2009 global financial having finally worked their way through the system.

Record employment growth has also produced the double-whammy of additional tax receipts and less demand on welfare payments.

Commonwealth Bank chief economist Michael Blythe calculates this will result in a $10 billion improvement in the budget bottom line for this financial year (2017/18) and a further $27 billion over the next three years.

This would see the deficit shrink to $13.6 billion in 2017/18 before any new policy decisions from $23.6 billion as predicted in the mid-year budget review in December.

Blythe also puts the starting point for 2018/19 at a deficit of just $9.7 billion compared to a previous Treasury forecast of $20.5 billion.

But pre-election budget or not, the government’s new-found wealth can’t be seen to be squandered away, coming as it will under the watchful eye of the global credit rating agencies.

Australian Associated Press

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Guilty recruiter’s wife gives IS salute ( admin posted on November 27th, 2018 )

The wife of a terrorist recruiter has given the Islamic State salute after becoming the first person in NSW to be found guilty of refusing to stand for a judge in court.

Moutia Elzahed defiantly remained seated once again on Friday with her arms crossed after magistrate Carolyn Huntsman delivered the landmark decision.

The 50-year-old Muslim then gave the terrorist organisation’s one-finger salute outside Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court while her friend called journalists “cockroaches”.

Elzahed, who’s married to jailed IS extremist Hamdi Alqudsi, was found guilty of nine counts of disrespectful behaviour in court.

Friday’s stand-off came to a head when the magistrate returned to the bench and ordered Elzahed to leave her seat at the back of the courtroom and approach the bar table.

“Remain standing – you remain standing when I speak to you,” Ms Huntsman said.

The magistrate found Elzahed had repeatedly and intentionally flouted the established court convention in 2016 when she failed to rise for District Court Judge Audrey Balla.

Elzahed said she only stood for Allah but Ms Huntsman found no evidence she’d acted on a genuine religious belief.

“No evidence was presented that the teachings of Islam compel this conduct,” the magistrate said.

In 2016, Elzahed had been trying to sue the state and federal governments on claims of police violence and wrongful imprisonment over a raid on her Sydney home two years earlier. She was ultimately unsuccessful.

CCTV footage previously played in court showed Elzahed failed to rise nine times in November and December, with each offence carrying a maximum jail term of 14 days and/or a $1100 fine.

The magistrate on Friday noted Elzahed, who had no prior convictions, may be eligible for community work when the matter returns to court on June 15.

Ms Huntsman ruled that the law Elzahed was charged under – introduced in 2016 following a string of high-profile cases where Muslim defendants refused to stand on religious grounds – was constitutionally valid.

The court heard Elzahed has been subjected to online trolling and death threats since the case began.

The defence had originally cast doubt over whether Elzahed was the woman under the black niqab who refused to stand. But her lawyer later conceded her identity wouldn’t be contested.

Defence barrister David Hume instead argued his client should be acquitted because there was no evidence Elzahed was under a legal duty to rise.

Elzahed, who lost her civil action over the 2014 raid and was ordered to pay $250,000 in police legal costs, earlier this week appealed the trial judge’s ruling that she could not give evidence while wearing a niqab.

Australian Associated Press

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