In a win for old-fashioned paper books, new research has found children with access to a range of e-reading devices are less likely to read.
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The findings will serve as a wake-up call for parents, and schools, which have rushed to buy expensive devices to boost children’s literacy.

Giving children devices such as Kindles, iPads, computers and mobile phones inhibits reading, according to the study.

“Reading frequency was less when children had access to a greater range of these devices,” the research said.

Mobile phones were particularly problematic, and linked to reading infrequency.

Murdoch University lecturer Margaret Merga said her research, which was published in the Computers and Education journal, challenges the myth that children are digital natives who prefer screens.

It found that daily readers who had access to e-reading devices preferred paper books.

“There has been a knee jerk reaction that all children prefer to read on screens and that has led to school libraries removing all paper books,” she said. “That is not necessarily the case.”

Why do young people prefer paper books?

Previous research by Dr Merga suggests that it comes down to children liking the sensation of picking up a book and “feeling the weight of commitment”.

She suspects young people are also judging books by their covers, making the paper variety more attractive.

There’s also the benefit of fewer distractions.

“Reading on internet search enabled devices, such as tablets, also opens up easy opportunity for distraction, allowing engagement in the practice of media multi-tasking, which has been found to detrimentally impact on student comprehension and concentration,” the study said.

Nine-year-old Benji Mazzone said he prefers paper books because he likes turning pages and “being taken somewhere else”.

He reads one to two books a week and can be found browsing the shelves of the Little Bookroom in Carlton North most nights after school. He writes reviews for the children’s bookshop, and helps staff wrap up presents.

With the help of his mum, he set up his own book club last year, where he discussed the popular Tinklers Three series with his friends.

“I’m a bit of a bookworm,” he said. “I read for two hours a day – I do some in the morning and after school.”

Ten-year-old Madeleine Hayen, from Annandale, has mixed views on the merits of paper and electronic reading.

“I don’t mind what I read as long as it’s interesting,” Madeleine said. “I reckon I’ve got over 200 books on my bookcase.”

The Year 5 student goes to Glebe Library once a week with her grandparents to pick up a new batch of books.

“I used to read a lot of books and stuff, but ever since I found Kindles, I kind of enjoy that more because it’s a lot lighter and easier to take around with me. When I go to school in the morning I can just read and it’s a lot easier to use,” Madeleine said.

“When you read paperbacks and hardcover books, you can actually see the pictures which informs you a lot about what the story is trying to say.”

The study involved 997 Western Australian students in years 4 and 6 who were asked how often they read books in their spare time, whether they owned iPads, Kindles or mobile phones and whether they used them to read.

It coincides with the increased take up of e-books in Australian schools, with an estimated 34 per cent of schools purchasing e-books in 2015 compared to 28 per cent in 2013, according to The Australian and New Zealand School Library Survey.

Bring Your Own Device policies have also made it easier for students to access e-books.

Dr Merga said parents had been put in a difficult position and were targeted by aggressive marketing which suggested that technology improved children’s intelligence.

She said there was no scientific evidence to support this.

The research follows a 2015 OECD report which found that investing in computers and iPads in schools fails to boost numeracy and literacy skills. The OECD report went even further, saying that frequent use of computers in schools was often associated with lower results.

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EMBARGOED UNTIL 15TH MARCH 2017. Sally McManus will be the first female secretary of the ACTU. Photographed here in the banner room at Sussex street HQ. Thursday 2nd March 2017 SMH photo Louie Douvis . Photo: Louie Douvis
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ACTU secretary Sally McManus has admitted she made an error when she accused building company Grocon of “killing workers”, but continued to defend her stand against unfair industrial laws.

During an interview on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last week, Ms McManus said Grocon was fined $300,000 for “killing” five workers.

“While it was not accurate to say ‘Grocon was fined $300,000 for killing five workers’, it is accurate to point out that the huge discrepancy in fines paid by the company and the CFMEU is a glaring example of the inherent unfairness in our industrial relations laws,” Ms McManus said.

In a statement issued on Monday night, Ms McManus said Grocon did not have the best record for workplace safety.

The March 2013 collapse of a wall on a Swanston Street construction site in Melbourne led to the death of three passers-by. The incident followed the death of a construction worker on a nearby Grocon site the previous month.

It was convicted and ordered to pay a fine of $250,000 – less than a quarter of the maximum available penalty.

“This compares with the almost $4 million in fines levied on the CFMEU over a similar timeframe for protesting Grocon’s record and taking action to stand up for worker safety on construction sites,” Ms McManus said.

Grocon issued a statement on Friday saying it did not deny tragic deaths had occurred on its sites, but insisting it had not caused them.

“Findings on the public record are that Grocon has not caused the death of any individual,” a company statement said.

“It is beholden on Ms McManus to publicly correct her statement and Grocon will be writing to her seeking this correction.”

The company said the Victorian Coroner’s Court confirmed in 2014 there were no workplace safety issues involved in the death of a crane driver, William Ramsay, on Grocon’s Emporium building site in February, 2013.

It said WorkSafe had also confirmed Grocon’s conduct did not cause a wall to collapse on a Swanston Street footpath, killing three people. However, the Swanston Street case did see a Grocon subsidiary fined $250,000 after it pleaded guilty to failing to ensure a safe workplace.

Ms McManus sparked controversy when she told the ABC on Wednesday that she believed in the rule of law “where the law’s fair, where the law’s right, but when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it”.

Unions have thrown their support behind Ms McManus by challenging the fairness of industrial laws that outlaw strike action to achieve better pay and conditions.

The Coalition has strongly criticised the ACTU secretary as a law unto herself in promoting unlawful conduct.

The Labor Party has also opposed breaking the law, saying it is better for parliamentarians to work towards changing unfair legislation.

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Up to half a dozen players could make their debuts for Carlton on Thursday night, as the Blues’ rebuild begins to take shape against old rivals Richmond at the MCG.

And young gun Patrick Cripps has won his battle with injury and will play in the AFL season opener.

After an off-season during which the dramatic reshape of the club’s list been scrutinised, the Blues hope the next generation of Carlton players can cause a major upset by knocking off the Tigers in front of a massive crowd.

Former GWS players Caleb Marchbank, Jarrod Pickett and Rhys Palmer will all play barring any training mishaps, while former Cat Billie Smedts has cemented his spot in Carlton’s best 22.

The 21-year-old Cripps looked a long shot to take the field for round one after being diagnosed in late November with a stress reaction in his lower back.

The injury required a 12-week rehabilitation, which severely hampered the bullocking midfielder’s preparation.

But Cripps was able to feature in the past two games of the pre-season series to convince medical staff of his fitness.

“I can confirm that Patrick Cripps has got through and is ready to play for us (against Richmond),” coach Brendon Bolton told Fox Sports News on Monday.

“We’re rapt with the work that he’s done and the conditioning staff to have him up and ready to play.

“He’s terrific for us in and around stoppages, we know he wins the contested footy and he’ll be important for us on Thursday night.”

Harrison Macreadie – who also has ties to the Giants after being part of their academy – is also in the frame.

His selection will largely depend on whether Bolton wants the flexibility to throw Jacob Weitering forward.

New draftees Cameron Polson and Zac Fisher remain in contention, but they are considered less likely to debut.

While the Blues would like to settle Weitering in defence, where they see him playing the majority of his career, they are also aware of their inability to score freely.

The Blues are likely to start with Levi Casboult, whose struggles in front of goal have been well-documented, up forward along with second-year players Charlie Curnow and Jack Silvagni.

If that combination isn’t potent enough, Bolton would like to be able to throw Weitering into attack as he did at times in 2016.

A bumper crowd of more than 70,000 is expected at the MCG for Thursday’s season opener, which is a Carlton home game.

That would be a strong start to the opening round, with the AFL hoping to break the record attendance for a single round by surpassing the 400,000 mark.

While there have been doubts as to whether two sides that didn’t make the eight last year can draw such a big crowd, both Carlton and the AFL are confident the figure will be reached.

More than 75,000 were at the corresponding match last season, which saw a wasteful Carlton lose by nine points.

In 2015, 83,493 turned out to see the Tigers down the Blues by 27 points.

Carlton haven’t beaten Richmond in round one since 2012, when captain Marc Murphy amassed 32 disposals and Matthew Kreuzer earned three brownlow votes.

Murphy will lead his side out on Thursday night for the first time since injuring his ankle against Geelong nearly 10 months ago, and the Blues will be desperate for Kreuzer to return to dominant form.

While a fully fit Marchbank has been earmarked for Carlton’s best 22 since making the move from GWS, Pickett has been a pleasant surprise to many at Ikon Park.

The number four pick in the 2014 draft missed last year with a foot injury, after an impressive first season yielded 26 goals in 17 NEAFL games.

The West Australian speedster was in solid form during the JLT series, before kicking three goals in the final hit-out against Fremantle.

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Baby AnimalsBaby Animals and Screaming Jets are joining forces on a national tour this winter that includes Newcastle.
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Fans can look forward to a four on the floor night of rock and a set list including rock classics like Better, One Word, Helping Hand, Painless, Shivers, Early WarningandRush You.

Newcastle’s own the Screaming Jets have nine albums, seven top 40 radio hits and countless live shows under their respective belts.

Frontman Dave Gleeson’s frantic and frenzied command of the stage leads a revitalised band of Paul Woseen on bass and main backing vocals, Scott Kingman (Divinyls and James Reyne) and Jimi “The Human” Hocking (blues and rock guy extraordinaire) on guitar and backed up by the thumping beats of Mickl Sayers on drums.

“We first shared a shared a stage with the Baby Animals about 25 years ago. We’ve all done a lot of miles since then,” Dave Gleeson said.

“There’s always been a lot of mutual respect and musical admiration between the two bands. We’re all pumped to be part of what’s going to be a huge event in live music.”

This time in 1992, Baby Animals were celebrating their first number onealbum as their debut self-titled release reached top spot on the ARIA Albums Chart. Fast forward 25 years and the band are riding high on the back of full houses for their recent One Wordanniversary tour. Suze DeMarchi’s reputation as a fierce and inspiring frontwoman remains undiminished, her rapport with songwriting partner and guitarist, the legendary Dave Leslie, as dynamic as ever.

Baby Animals emerged on the Australian music scene in 1991 and delivered four massive hits off their debut album. They also picked up three ARIA Awards in 1992, for Album Of The Year, Breakthrough Artist Of The Year – Album and Breakthrough Artist of The Year – single for Early Warning. Their self-titled album was also named in the 100 Best Australian albums. Their second album ‘Shaved And Dangerous” reached number two and their 2013 album, This Is Not The Endreached top 20.

Catch Baby Animals and The Screaming Jets in Newcastle at NEX on Friday, June 30. Tickets are on sale Wednesday, March 22.

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A deal has been finalised which will keep television’s biggest cash cow, the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, on air for at least two more seasons.
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The show’s 10th season kicked off last year and will conclude this coming May.

The new deal will put an 11th and 12th season into production and on television schedules in the US and around the world through to 2019.

It is unclear whether the two additional seasons would be the series’ last; some US media outlets are suggesting the 12th season would be planned as the show’s conclusion.

The deal was stitched up between the studio Warner Bros, which produces the series, and the US broadcaster, CBS, which airs it.

The two additional seasons are also a huge windfall for Australia’s Nine Network, which owns the local rights to first-run episodes of the series.

In a re-tooled deal in 2015, Nine retained first run rights but surrendered repeat rights to the show’s earlier episodes to Seven.

The series, which is a major commercial hit for CBS, is currently in the process of finalising a sequence of complex talent deals with the show’s cast.

The five leads – actors Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg – all took pay cuts to around US$900,000 ($1.2 million) per episode – in order to finalise the larger suite of deals.

The pay cuts helped to underwrite pay increases for the show’s other two key cast, actors Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.

Bialik and Rauch joined the show in its third season but are only paid US$175,000 ($226,000) per episode; the current negotiation is expected to net them something closer to the half-million mark.

As part of the trade-off, Parsons, Galecki and Helberg also signed longer-term production deals with Warner Bros.

In real commercial terms, the space in which the fine print of the deal is being worked out is tight.

While it’s absurd to suggest that a show like The Big Bang Theory is not a money-spinner, its age, and increasing costs, both eat deeply into its revenue.

Million-dollar-range salaries, such as those commanded by actors in the final seasons of shows such as Friends, effectively soak up any profit potential in first-run episodes of television shows.

For The Big Bang Theory, where the actors are also entitled to share in the show’s profit, their own high salaries effectively undermine the network’s ability to deliver a profit on the show.

CBS is also planning to launch a spin-off series, Young Sheldon, which will be narrated by Parsons and will explore his character’s childhood, later this year.

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JUMPING SHIP: Otto and Michael Dal Zotto are looking into other options to access the interest for their winery, after the NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service kept dropping out.
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The NBN was supposed to be the 21st century technology set to change accessibility to the internet, but North East residents and businesses have been left with disappointment.

Single mum Toni Brezac lives on a rural Wangandary property with two children and, after she was told the old copper lines would be shut down in 18 months, decided to switch to the NBN.

Then the phone and internet connection was worse than she had before, frequently dropping out.

“I do feel we’ve been mislead a bit,” MsBrezac said.

“I’m very concerned we won’t have copper wire anymore –severe weather seems to affect the NBN.”

A tight budget meant the woman had chosen what she thought was the more reliableNBN landline and internetover a mobile phone, and was left in the lurch when she needed to call someone to help with a flat tyre.

“I panicked and I had to walk half a kilometre up the road to the neighbours to use their phone,” she said.

“It really hits home that we are isolated,it’s not easy.”

Wangandary mother Toni Brezac

Ms Brezac tried for weeks to get her internet company to address the problem, but only had success when she spoke to Indi MP Cathy McGowan’s office to learn her rights and threatened to change service providers without paying any costs because the NBN was faulty.

Her persistence worked–she now has a decent enough internet connection to actual watch a movie.

“Suddenly, after three to four weeks of sheer hell, it can be fixed,” Ms Brezac said.

LATEST TECHNOLOGY: The NBN fibre.

Dal Zotto Wines has reached the point where it is looking for an alternative to the NBN because the connection is so poor at its King Valley site.

WinemakerMichael Dal Zotto said the business used a cloud-based server, which could not be accessed at times because the NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service regularly dropped out during business hours.

“We’ll be working on it one minute, then it’ll be dropping out,” he said. “It’s a bit frustrating –we’ve got growing businesses here, we want what everyone else has.”

The King Valley’s mobilereception was not much better on busy tourist weekends.

“Don’t bother sending a text, don’t bother trying to post anything to social media to promote the event,” Mr Dal Zotto said.

He said the winery would look into switching to a wireless broadband plan instead of the NBN because it would be faster and better value for money.

NBNhead of business, products and servicesBen Salmon said this weekthe NBN rolloutwas rampingup.

“We are seeing Australian businesses, regardless of location and size, maximise their productivity and improve their work-life balance,” he said.

INVESTIGATION: Indi MP Cathy McGowan wants NBN answers.

A federal parliamentary inquiry into theNational Broadband Network is hoped to be the answer to a rollout“fraught with problems”.

Ms McGowan, a member of thejoint standing committee looking into the issue, has called on Indi residentsto have their say on their experiences during theNBN’s introduction to their homes or businesses.

“Rural and regional Australians are not being served well by the NBN rollout,” she said.

“The process has been fraught with problems in Indi.

“I receive more calls to the office about NBN and telecommunications than any other issue.”

Ms McGowansaid the inquiry was a chance for community input and she woulduse the information from submissions to inform further action on the NBN rollout.

To make a submission,[email protected]论坛with the subject line“submission to the NBN rollout inquiry”or visit the inquiry page.

The Border Mail

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The Riley Park drain (left) and another drain – which is fitted with a meshed grille – elsewhere in Unanderra, at Derribong Drive. Photo on the right taken on Monday, after last week’s heavy rain.Wollongong City Council says it will wait for a report from the coroner before considering any changes to its stormwater and drainage systems following the death of 11-year-old Ryan Teasdale.
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The Lindsay Park Public School student died last Thursday night after being swept down a drain at Riley Park, around the corner from his house, while he was playing with other childrenin the gushing water on his boogie board.

His body was found on Friday morning about 500 metres from the drain opening at the downhill end of the Unanderra park.

The tragedy has prompted many Illawarra residents to question why the stormwater opening was not covered by a grate or some other covering.

However, the council saidgrates, in some cases, could increase the risk of blockages and flooding and were not used on all types of drains.

“The size of the culvert [drain tunnel], likelihood of blockage, consequences of culvert blocking and causing flooding elsewhere and the depth of flood waters at the location are all considered when deciding if culverts have grates placed over them,” the council said, when asked why Riley Park’s drain did not have a cover.

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery joined search crews at Riley Park, Unanderra, on Friday morning. Picture: Adam McLean.

A council spokeswoman said small drains frequently blocked, with grates increasing the likelihood of flooding for surrounding homes.

Asked if the council would consider changing its policies on drain coverings, or whether it would review its stormwater systems the council said it would “await the coroner’s report and co-operate fully with those enquiries”.

The council collected nearly $1.8 million from ratepayers to fund stormwater management in 2016/17, and budgeted to spend $4.45 million onstormwater and floodplain assets in the same year.

Meantime, the communities of Lindsay Park Public School and Figtree High School –where Ryan’s older brotherJasonTeasdale attends– have pulled together to support their grievingstudents.

“Lindsay Park Public School and the Department of Education are deeply saddened by the death of one of its students,” the school said in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with the young boy’s family and friends at such a difficult time.”

“The schools will continue to support the family and will make decisions around additional support in conjunction with their school community and the young boy’s family.”

Counselling has been provided to students and staff at both schoolsand will be available for as long as necessary.

The schools have also sent home letters to parents detailing ways they can help children to understand and cope with grief.

Illawarra Mercury

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With education and the environment already under fire, US president Donald Trump has now put an American icon – Sesame Street’s Big Bird – in his cross-hairs.
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But in aiming his budgetary double barrel at this particular 249cm tall bright yellow canary, Mr Trump the big-game hunter may be about to bite off more than he can chew.

The president’s proposed 2018 budget, which was released late last week, drew a red line through funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the non-profit engine which drives America’s public broadcasting.

Though much slimmer in real terms than either the ABC or the BBC, America’s PBS is the home of a number of notable and iconic programs, not least of which is Sesame Street.

The cuts – worth about $US485 million ($630 million) – would also affect the National Public Radio (NPR) service.

Astonishingly, the argument used by the White House to justify the cuts was whether it was fair to “ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit” to fund PBS?

Using the same logic, it might well be worth asking whether it’s fair to ask anyone to pay for the president’s many golfing weekends at Mar-a-Lago?

Or the gargantuan security bill required to keep Mrs Trump in New York rather than Washington DC?

“We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said.

So it looks like golf is on the list too. And Mrs Trump. But early childhood education? That’s a government handout too far.

Mercifully, Sesame Street is not wholly funded by PBS; in 2015 an agreement was struck with HBO which puts cable money into the series in exchange for giving HBO a nine month exclusive window on the show.

So rather than killing Big Bird immediately, it merely relegates him and other cultural icons like Grover, Kermit, Cookie Monster and Prairie Dawn to the endangered species list.

But key figures in America’s public broadcasting sector have already indicated that a half-billion dollar haircut would seriously devastate its ability to deliver content – free of charge – to its audience.

Though their last official communique was publicly documented and did not end on a particularly friendly note, Mr Trump would do well to ask Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull for advice.

Back in 2014, when Mr Turnbull was communications minister, proposed cuts to Australia’s ABC put a target on the rosy pink behind of the children’s television golden goose Peppa Pig.

Facing cuts to his budget, the then managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott, issued a dire warning that the national broadcaster could not confirm Peppa’s long-term future.

The resulting feather-ruffling in the nation’s living rooms confirmed that while politicians might be able to fiddle while pensions burn, if you threaten kid’s TV you’re asking for seriously trouble.

“Contrary to media rumours, Peppa’s is one snout we are happy to have in the ABC trough,” Mr Turnbull said, calming the flames.

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Morning Shot: @petersedlacik/Instagram
Nanjing Night Net

Weather: Showers in Newcastle (27 degrees), Toronto and Wallsend (both 30 degrees). Possible storm at Nelson Bay (28 degrees) and Raymond Terrace (30 degrees).

Beachwatch:It looks like being another mixed bag as far as the weather goes with a bit of everything thown in but at least the waves are slowly improving. The wind will be north to north-east with the swell from the east around 1 to 1.3 metres. Wave conditions at most open beaches will be sloppy with the northern corners the picks. Around town try Newcastle, BarBeachand Redhead. Down south try North Catho and Soldiers. At Port Stephens try Samurai and Birubi. There’ll still be a few tricky edges and sweeps to the south so only swim in the flagged areas. The water temperature is 20 degrees.

Traffic: No major incidents reported on Hunter roads.

Trains: Good service on the Newcastle and Hunter lines.

Hunter headlinesA man accused of stabbing three people in a random attack at a gym on Sydney’s northern beaches on Monday night is then believed to have carried out two Hunter armed robberies at service stations just hours later, police say. Read more.

FRIENDS of missing University of Newcastle student Mohsin Awan say they still hold out hope their friend is found alive and well. Read more.

COULD the resurgence of ink on young people’s skinbelinked, in someway, tosocial media?It’samusingof Baroness Susan Greenfield, the renowned neuroscientist, author andmember of Britain’s House of Lords who toured theHunter Medical Research Institute on Monday. Read more.

A Rotary conference with up to 400 delegates will descend on Nelson Bay in 2018, worth at least$300,000to the Port Stephens economy. Read more.

A milestone in the Hunter’s military history is marked on Wednesday, with a lunch commemorating the centenary of the City of Newcastle RSL sub-branch. Read more.

PROPOSALS for two mobile phone towers in Morisset have stalled as Telstra and Optus consider a request from Lake Macquarie City Council to explore operatingfrom a single shared tower. Read more.

Sincelosing more than 35 kilograms after weight loss surgery in December, Paul Yorkcan now bend down to put on his socks and tie his shoelaces,and he no longer sees “that look”when people realise they are sitting next to him on a plane. But the big things have been rewarding too. Read more.

KNIGHTS fullback Brendan Elliot is set to play against Penrith on Friday, despite the concussion furore that is likely to cost his club $100,000. Read more.

ROBERT DILLON:IRRESPECTIVE of whether or not Knights fullback Brendan Elliot should have left the field on Saturday for a concussionassessment, it defies belief that the player responsible for his injury, South Sydney centre Hymel Hunt, was allowed to play out the game. Read more.

BROADMEADOW Magic have alleged intimidating behaviour from an Edgeworth official towards one of their players as part of a complaint to Northern NSW Football over their round-one match at Jack McLaughlan Oval. Read more.

National newsNeed anational newssnapshot first thing – well, we have you covered.

►MANDURAH:Some of Mandurah’sdrivers didn’t have the luck of the Irishon their side on St Patrick’s night, after police pulled over 12 driversover the limit. Read more

► WAGGA:Baby Koby Wiles might have won his fight for life, but his mother Rosie Pollard remains furious at his misdiagnosis and is gunning for a Wagga doctor’s suspension. Read more

►BENDIGO:Some people would not be caught dead in a graveyard on their wedding day.But it’s a choice couples will be able to make once renovations to a 140-year-old chapel inside Bendigo cemetery are finished. Read more

►NEWCASTLE:Friendsof missing University of Newcastle student Mohsin Awan say they still hold out hope their friend is found alive and well.The 23-year-old Pakistani national was washed out to sea by large surf at Nobbys Beach on Sunday night. Read more

► REDLANDS:Family members of Michael Eather, who disappeared while whitewater rafting in Guatemala, havevisited the area where the electrician was last seen. Read more

►KING VALLEY:The NBN was supposed to be the 21st century technology set to change accessibility to the internet, but North East residents and businesses have been left with disappointment. Read more

►LAVINGTON: A girl,12, was left with a broken collarbone after being struck by a car while with her father and sister. Read more

►KATHERINE:Sexual assaults in Katherine have risen by athird in the past year. Read more

► BALLARAT: A Burrumbeet grandfather has questioned the ethics of duck hunting season, particularly in a popular family camping area where ducks are a key aesthetic feature. Read more

National news►A number of Regional Express Saab 340 planes have been grounded following a freak incident last week.An investigation is underway after the a propeller sheared off a plane, carrying 16 passengers and three crew mid-flight on Friday. Read more

►A push to weaken Australia’s race hate laws has ignited tensions inside the government despite the changes having little chance of passing Parliament. Read more

►The troubled Australian Bureau of Statistics is to axe another 80 to 100 of its public servants, staff were told on Monday. Read more

►The brother of slain standover figure Wally Ahmad has been arrested as he stepped off a flight from the Middle East in relation to one of Sydney’s unsolved gangland killings. Read more

National weather radarWhat’s coming your way …

International news►LONDON: Britain has set its date with destiny confirming its two years of negotiations to exit the European Union will begin from next Wednesday 29 March. Read more

►BALI:Byron Bay woman Sara Connor has decided not to appeal the four-year sentence handed down to her by a court in Bali over death of police officer Wayan Sudarsa. Read more

►BEIJING:Pressure on China’s leaders to cut pollution from coal is likely to intensify – potentially hurting Australia’s exports – with new research showing Beijing’s air quality will get worse with climate change. Read more

On This Day1685:The great German composer and organist, Johann Sebastian Bach, is born.

1895: South Australia’s Suffrage Act is proclaimed after being passed by Queen Victoria.

1947:Two men die in the first documented case of death by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

1980:The USA announces its intention to boycott the Moscow Olympics due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

2233: Captain James T Kirk of the Starship Enterprise will be born.

The faces of Australia: The Evans brothersHAPPY DAYS: She Will Reign part-owners John Robertson and Matt and Nick Evans at the Australia Hotel on Sunday. Picture: Simone De Peak

Cessnock brothers Nick and Matt Evans like to think their late father, Mark, “pulled a few strings for us” when they bought a five per cent share with mate John Robertson in She Will Reign.

That $2500 stake in the $20,000 filly gave them a piece of Golden Slipper glory on Saturday at Rosehill and a share of the horse’s $2,555,150 in prizemoney.

Read more

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Police outside the Brookvale gym after three people were stabbed. Photo: TNVA man accused of stabbing three people in a random attack at a gym on Sydney’s northern beaches on Monday night is then believed to have carried out two armed robberies at service stations just hours later, police say.
Nanjing Night Net

Police are now hunting for the “agitated and aggressive” man, described as having a full beard and aged in his mid to late 20s, who allegedly attacked the men in the gym at Brookvale before driving to Newcastle in a stolen vehicle and robbing the service stations.

Members of the public who see the man or the stolen black BMW he was driving have been advised not to approach him, but to call triple zero immediately.

Police saythe man’s alleged rampage began in Brookvale just after 8pm on Monday, when heentered the Plus Fitness gym on Pittwater Roadwhere four men were working out with a trainer.

Witnesses said the offenderappeared to be extremely agitated, before he approached one of the men who was working out and punched him.

He then pulled out a knife and attacked three other men, stabbing one in the neck and two others in the arms. Their trainer was not injured.

The injured men ran outside and called police, and their alleged attacker escaped in a stolenblack BMW, with NSW registration plates DKK 39Q.

The stabbing victims were taken to Royal North Shore Hospital. One of the menneededemergency surgery, while the other two were in a stable condition. None of their injuries are life-threatening, a NSW Police spokeswoman said.

Police said at 9.45pm on Monday, less than two hours after the stabbing, a black BMW pulled into a service station on Maitland Road in Sandgate, in Newcastle’s north,and the driver started filling up thevehicle with fuel.

A 38-year-old employee at the service stationthought the driver was acting suspiciously, and started to approach him.

The man then allegedly followed the woman back into the service station, threatened her and startedsmashing the cash register. The woman told police the man pulled out a knife and stole money from the cash register, before driving away.

About 15 minutes later, the same man is believed to have walked into another service station on Maitland Road and placed two chocolates on the counter.

Asthe 24-year-old employee opened the cash register, the man jumped onto the counter, pulled out a knife and demanded the employee hand over cash. The employee did so, before the offender ran from the station and got back into his vehicle.

Police who were responding to the report of the first armed robbery saw the stolen BMW and started chasing it, but the vehicle got away.

The descriptions of the offender and vehicle from both the Brookvale stabbing and the service station robberies were the same.

Police described him as being Caucasian, about 168 centimetres tall, aged in his mid to late 20s with a full beard. He was wearing black shorts and a light coloured T-shirt at the time.

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Goannas and Bulldogs resume Shield rivalry COALFIELDS RIVALRY: Sam Apthorpe from the Cessnock Goannas, and Jonah Lisiua from the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs have been part of the Charity Shield since they were in under-6 and under-8s. Picture: Krystal Sellars
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Sam Apthorpe from the Cessnock Goannas, and Jonah Lisiua from the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs.

Ryan Walker continually put the Goannas on the back foot with his kicking. Picture: MAX MASON-HUBERS

Kurri Kurri’s Mitch Cullen attracts three Cessnock defenders. Picture: MAX MASON-HUBERS

Brock Gilmour scored a try in a powerful game for the Bulldogs. Picture: MAX MASON-HUBERS

Cessnock’s Sam Apthorpe and Kurri’s Mitch Cullen. Picture: MAX MASON-HUBERS

Picture: MAX MASON-HUBERS

Cessnock’s Cal Orchard takes on the Bulldogs defence. Picture: MAX MASON-HUBERS

A bid crowd was in full force for the annual Charity Shield. Picture: MAX MASON-HUBERS

The Bulldogs faithful in front of the John Sattler Stand. Picture: MAX MASON-HUBERS

The crowd gets involved as the Bulldogs mount an attack on the Goannas line. Picture: MAX MASON-HUBERS

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

Goannas and Bulldogs sides from the under-6s through to first grade played off for the 2016 Charity Shield. Picture: Krystal Sellars.

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A man accused of stabbing three people in a random attack at a gym on Sydney’s northern beaches on Monday night is then believed to have carried out two armed robberies at service stations just hours later, police say.
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Police are now hunting for the “agitated and aggressive” man, described as having a full beard and aged in his mid to late 20s, who allegedly attacked the men in the gym at Brookvale before driving to Newcastle in a stolen vehicle and robbing the service stations.

Members of the public who see the man or the stolen black BMW he was driving have been advised not to approach him, but to call triple zero immediately.

Police say the man’s alleged rampage began in Brookvale just after 8pm on Monday, when he entered the Vision gym on Pittwater Road where four men were working out with a trainer.

Witnesses said the offender appeared to be extremely agitated, before he approached one of the men who was working out and punched him.

He then pulled out a knife and attacked three other men, stabbing one in the neck and two others in the arms. Their trainer was not injured.

The injured men ran outside and called police, and their alleged attacker escaped in a stolen black BMW, with NSW registration plates DKK 39Q.

The stabbing victims were taken to Royal North Shore Hospital. One of the men needed emergency surgery, while the other two were in a stable condition. None of their injuries are life-threatening, a NSW Police spokeswoman said.

Police said at 9.45pm on Monday, less than two hours after the stabbing, a black BMW pulled into a service station on Maitland Road in Sandgate, in Newcastle’s north, and the driver started filling up the vehicle with fuel.

A 38-year-old employee at the service station thought the driver was acting suspiciously, and started to approach him.

The man then allegedly followed the woman back into the service station, threatened her and started smashing the cash register. The woman told police the man pulled out a knife and stole money from the cash register, before driving away.

About 15 minutes later, the same man is believed to have walked into another service station on Maitland Road and placed two chocolates on the counter.

As the 24-year-old employee opened the cash register, the man jumped onto the counter, pulled out a knife and demanded the employee hand over cash. The employee did so, before the offender ran from the station and got back into his vehicle.

Police who were responding to the report of the first armed robbery saw the stolen BMW and started chasing it, but the vehicle got away.

The descriptions of the offender and vehicle from both the Brookvale stabbing and the service station robberies were the same.

Police described him as being Caucasian, about 168 centimetres tall, aged in his mid to late 20s with a full beard. He was wearing black shorts and a light coloured T-shirt at the time. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframe_235′); /*\n”,color:”green”, title:”Stabbing”, maxWidth:200, open:0},{lat:-32.86465, lon:151.70622, text:”

Info about the point*/

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Less than a fortnight after North Sydney Council was rebuked by the Berejiklian government for its petty rivalries, councillors walked out on the mayor as she called for a “line in the sand” to be drawn following a report into the council’s dysfunction.
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North Sydney mayor Jilly Gibson began addressing the chamber on the findings of a public inquiry into the council, when four councillors left their seats and exited the room, leaving Monday night’s meeting temporarily without a quorum.

“It would be good after this if we can put this matter to bed, draw a line in the sand and move on,” Cr Gibson began.

But her colleagues – councillors Melissa Clare, MaryAnn Beregi, Jeff Morris and Zoe Baker – left the chamber as she outlined her views on the “exhausting and harrowing” inquiry process, which she said had “vindicated” her.

“The relentless actions of my protagonists has gone way beyond politics. It’s gone against civility and on many occasions I felt dehumanised,” she said.

The mayor’s speech related to a “performance improvement order” issued by local government minister Gabrielle Upton, which required the council to adopt a suite of recommendations from the inquiry to improve “orderly conduct” among councillors.

Cr Clare, who is also deputy mayor, defended her decision to walk out on the proceedings, labelling the mayor’s speech “lies” and an “exercise in rank hypocrisy.”

“It is disingenuous to say you want to draw a line in the sand and then proceed to maliciously denigrate your elected colleagues from the chair.”

Councillors Beregi, Morris, and Baker each said they supported Cr Clare’s comments when contacted by the Herald.

The episode was indicative of the kind of dysfunction laid bare in the 170-page report by Commissioner Thomas Howard, SC, following the public inquiry last year.

In the report, tabled earlier this month, Commissioner Howard found that the relationship between the majority block of councillors and the mayor was steeped in “personal antipathy”, and marked by an “absence or paucity of any civil discourse outside of council meetings”.

The dysfunction stemmed from the fact that Cr Gibson, who was popularly elected in 2012, had “at no stage enjoyed the support or confidence of a majority group of seven councillors,” the report found.

A review of council meetings spanning December 2013- July 2016 revealed a disorderly and, at times toxic, council meeting culture, characterised by claims and counterclaims of code-of-conduct violations and protocol breaches.

The inquiry also examined the breakdown in relations between the mayor and the former general manager Warrick Winn, which remained “intractable” until Mr Winn resigned in April 2016.

Their acrimonious relationship was also a factor in the council’s decision to strip the mayor of her access to a council vehicle in August 2014, after her car was found with a flat tyre and left parked near a bottleshop over a weekend.

The procedure followed Mr Winn and the councillors was found to be “seriously flawed and unfair”, and “significantly impeded” her capacity to carry out mayoral functions.

On Monday night the council voted to immediately restore Cr Gibson access to a council car.

Commissioner Howard decided against recommending the council be suspended, largely because it had “met its most fundamental performance measures”, including being in a sound financial position.

But his findings prompted a swift reprimand Minister Upton earlier this month.

“Petty rivalries, unruly and childish behaviour in council meetings and shoddy practices must be banished from our Councils forever,” she said.

Cr Gibson announced last week she would contest the North Shore by-election as an independent.

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