A Grade: Horsham Demons v Warrack EaglesPhotos

A Grade: Horsham Demons v Warrack Eagles | Photos WNA A Grade premiers: Horsham. (back) Paige Lloyd, Mardi Isbel, Georgia Duncan, Stephanie Thomson, Abbie Wright, Jedda Heard, (front), Megan O’Connor, Zoe Heard, Abbie Avery, Georgia Hiscock
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WNA A Grade Best on Court: Zoe Heard, Horsham

Megan Werner, WE, Zoe Heard, H. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Megan Werner, WE, Abbie Avery, H. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Abbie Wright, H, Zoe Heard, H, Megan Werner, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Penny Fisher, WE, Georgia Duncan, H. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Zoe Heard, H, Briodi McKenzie, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Zoe Heard, H. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Claire Schulz, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Abbie Avery, H, Megan Werner, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Briodi McKenzie, WE, Georgia Duncan. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Mardi Isbel, H. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Zoe Heard, H. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Mardi Isbel, H, Jane Richardson, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Summer Schultz, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Megan Werner, WE, Abbie Avery, H. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Megan Werner, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Penny Fisher, WE, Paige Lloyd, H. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Summer Schultz, WE, Abbie Wright, H. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Georgia Duncan, H, Penny Fisher, WE, Stephanie Thomson, H, Claire Schulz, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Petah Winsall, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Jane Richardson, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Georgia Duncan, H, Penny Fisher, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

Zoe Heard, H, Abbie Wright, H, Summer Schultz, WE. WNA A Grade GF, Horsham v Warrack Eagles

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Raising money

A GALA ball on October 11 aims to lift community spirits and raise money for Sunraysia children in foster care.
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Sunraysia Cranes and Rigging operations manager Erin Hurley came up with the idea about three months ago and approached Mallee Accommodation and Support Program (MASP).

EXCITED: MASP chief executive Doug Tonge, Erin Hurley of Sunraysia Cranes and Rigging and Mark Ross of MASP are looking forward to the MASP gala ball on October 11.Picture: Clancy Shipsides

Chief executive Doug Tonge said this week that Ms Hurley’s offer to host a major fundraiser in MASP’s honour was “too good to be true”.

“MASP has run these sorts of events in the past and it is a lot of work, so to think someone is going to put this on for us is fantastic,” Mr Tonge said.

Ms Hurley said the money would provide school holiday fun and Christmas presents for children in care.

“I have a son myself and am very passionate about providing opportunities to children who may not be as fortunate,”she said.

“Growing up I had a really great childhood with my brother and the other kids in the neighbourhood and we all had each other’s backs.

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Terrorist raids a knee-jerk reaction: Wollongong expert

A man detained by police during a raid kneels on the ground in Sydney. Picture: REUTERSIntelligence showed beheadings in Sydney were planned: PM’Shock, horrify and terrify’: Man arrested in raids appears in courtMuslim community apprehension after raids leads to ‘snap protest’A Wollongong-based counter-terrorism expert has suggested the sweeping raids across Sydney and Brisbane may be a knee-jerk reaction to show authorities are on the front foot.
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More than 800 counter-terrorism police and ASIO officers swooped on homes early on Thursday, with some of the 15 people detained believed to have links to the terror group Islamic State.

“The timing of the raids is more than interesting in light of the raising of Australia’s terrorism alert level only last week,” Dr Mark Rix,who isresearching counter-terrorism and the rule oflaw and national security at the University of Wollongong, said.

“The raids seem, at first sight at least, to be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction in the way of showing us all that the government, ASIO and the AFP are doing something,” Dr Rix said.

“But such knee-jerk reactions have a tendency to go horribly wrong for suspects and those taken into custody for questioning.”

The Australian Defence Force will consider boosting security at bases around the country in the wake of the nation’s largest counter-terrorism operation.

Police believe the Sydney-based group, linked to Islamic State, was planning random acts of violence against members of the public.

Dr Rix, who has a special interest in counter-terrorism, said there were lessons to be learned from the cases of Mohamed Haneef and Izhar Ul-Haque.

Dr Haneef, an Indian doctor working in Australia, was arrested under anti-terrorism legislation for links to the terrorist attack at Glasgow Airport in 2007.

Dr Haneef’s ensuing detention became the longest without charge in recent Australian history. He was released when the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew its charge and was later awarded compensation from the Australian government.

Sydney doctor Izhar Ul-Haque was accused of training with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group which has fought against Indian claims to control Kashmir.

A NSW judge found two Australian secret service agents had kidnapped and falsely imprisoned the doctor on trumped-up terrorism charges. He was freed after being held in detention for more than three years.

Dr Rix said both cases revealed “how a crude association of Islam with terrorism … permitted the AFP and ASIO to perpetrate abuses of due process and human rights”.

Director of UOW’s Institute for Transnational and Maritime Security, Greg Rose, who is anexpert in international law and its application to counter-terrorism,said dealing with the current home-grown threat required co-operation between all agencies, with a focus on people of interest coming in from or going to jihadist conflict zones, usually through airports.

Prof Rose said agencies must be vigilant in matching and updating their “watch lists” and good co-operation was needed from “foreign passenger carriers and foreign intelligence gatherers”.

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Helensburgh team in the big league with Lego

Clockwise from bottom middle, Matthew Wheatley, Andrew Christy, Harri Lahtinim, Nicola Pang, Max Hayes and Marnie Parkinson, from Helensburgh Public School. Picture: ROBERT PEET
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HelensburghPublic School’s “Komplete Kaos” team left the competition in pieces at the First Lego League Open European Championships in Spain.

The teams were judged on three criteria: their team’s values, their Lego robot’s ability to complete a set task, and an app project.

The team won first place in the Innovative Solutions category with their flood warning phone app.

They consulted the State Emergency Service over an app that would provide users with constant updates on conditions, and that had instant links to social media so users could let others know about their safety.

Marnie Parkinson, from year 6, said her team and the SES had discussed what the community needed to know during a flood and how they could avoid becoming stuck.

“The app can be personalised to remind you to bring things you need – for example, you can customise it so it reminds you to bring your asthma puffer,” she said.

Competition was fierce on the international stage, with the primary school team going up against much older competitors.

“There were lots of teams made up of 17 and 18-year-olds,” team member Matthew Wheatley said.

The team’s coach and founder, Lilli Pang, approached the school’s librarian, Steve McQueen, to create a robotics club after her son took part in a similar program. The club raised $6000 to buy starter kits and employ a trainer two years ago.

“I would say to parents to get their kids involved because it’s fun and has incredible outcomes,” she said.

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Dragons reject Williams returns to Raiders

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Sam Williams

SamWilliams has rejoined Canberra after a failed NRL stint at St George Illawarra.

The halfback was cut by the Dragons mid-season this year, after defecting from the Raiders following the 2013 season.

Williams went to English Super League club Catalans but when the French-based side finish their campaign, he’ll return to his junior club on a two-year deal.

The 23-year-old was touted as one of the most promising players at the Raiders and will add to coach Ricky Stuart’s depth in the halves as he looks to rebuild the struggling club.

Originally from Cooma, Williams said he was returning to a place where he felt comfortable, having already played 42 first-grade matches for the Green Machine.

“The Raiders are my home club with some of my best mates and a club I’ve always wanted to see successful, so I’d love to be a part of any success we have in the future,” Williams said.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work hard to try and earn a place in the team next season.”

Williams said the chance to play under former Kangaroos halfback Stuart was part of his motivation.

Williams played only four matches for St George Illawarra, failing to nail down the No 7 jersey before the club looked elsewhere and signed Kiwi star Benji Marshall. – AAP

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NRL may probe Brett Morris overture

The Dragons say Brett Morris has been approached by a rival club to break his contract. Picture: CHRIS LANERUGBY LEAGUE
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TheNRL is set to investigate St George Illawarra’s claims that a rival club approached Brett Morris despite the winger being contracted to the Dragons for 2015.

The Dragons released a statement this week accusing another club of enticing Morris to break his contract after Fairfax Media revealed the Test flyer had sought a release from the final year of his deal to join twin brother Josh at the Bulldogs in 2015.

Part of St George Illawarra’s statement read that the Dragons “are aware that another club has offered Brett Morris more money than his contract sum at the Dragons for the 2015 season”.

The Dragons also said there were “no rules that prevent player managers from talking to other clubs about contracted players”.

While rival clubs are allowed to negotiate with Morris for the 2016 season, they are not able to entice him to break his contract a year early.

An NRL spokesman said they had “noted” the Dragons statement.

“We are making inquiries with the Dragons to determine whether the matter needs to be taken any further,” he said.

Bulldogs officials would not comment about the Morris situation. It is understood the Bulldogs plan to reunite the brothers, offering about $150,000 more per season for Morris to play fullback at the club on a four-year deal.

Recently appointed full-time St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has inherited a squad with salary cap woes.

McGregor met his playing squad individually for end-of-season reviews last week.

McGregor handed Morris the captaincy for two games late in the season when regular skipper Ben Creagh was injured.

Already, representative forward Trent Merrin has spoken out at his frustration at not being able to secure a long-term deal at the club, as the cap bites hard.

Merrin, who is contracted until the end of next season, has had no joy in his bid to ink a long-term deal at the club where he debuted in 2009.

St George Illawarra forwards Jack Stockwell and Dan Hunt, and centre Dylan Farrell are believed to have been told to find new clubs.

Meanwhile, Cronulla have signed promising Dragons under-20s talent Jack Bird on a two-year deal.

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IRIS survey provides encouraging result

Simon Pomfret reported positive activity. Picture: GREG ELLISThe Illawarra Regional Information Service (IRIS) had a pleasant surprise to report at its annual Economic Outlook Lunch on Thursday.
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IRIS Research executive director Simon Pomfret said the survey produced a more positive result at a time when the IRIS business survey result for the September quarter was surprisingly good considering reports of doom and gloom.

Mr Pomfret said there were signs of positive activity in the local economy.

“We have actually had more businesses who have indicated conditions were improving,” he said.

“Encouragingly the actual forecasts that businesses gave us in June for September actually got us over the positive line in terms of the zero net balance. So there is some positive news out there about what is going on in our local economy despite what you are hearing about job losses, particularly in the manufacturing sector.”

Mr Pomfret said he was encouraged by the latest survey.

“The finance, property and business services sector has absolutely gone off the Richter scale in the last quarter,” he said.

That was reflective of what was happening in the property market in the Illawarra, which was flowing down to the finance and business services sectors.

Historical low interest rates and limited stock had driven property prices up as well.

Mr Pomfret said unfortunately other sectors such as manufacturing and retail were still in negative territory but the good news was manufacturing was not as low as he thought it might be.

“And good things are still happening in the tourism sector in terms of growth,” he said.

“It is still bubbling along quite well. Certainly we are not experiencing the kind of growth we were getting two to three years ago but it is still improving, we are still getting activity and people are still visiting this area.”

Mr Pomfret predicted an interesting period ahead in the retail sector with so much infrastructure coming on, such as the new GPT Group shopping centre opening in just over two weeks.

He is interested to see how that affects shopping habits.

In other areas employment was still fairly flat apart from jobs growing in the finance, property and businesses services sector.

Mr Pomfret said it would be good for the Illawarra if interest rates continued to stay low for some time.

The unemployment rate locally is just below 7 per cent, which is about 1.5 per cent above the state’s and was increasing slightly because of the job losses in the manufacturing sector.

But Mr Pomfret does not expect it to go much higher than 7 per cent.

Consumer sentiment is still quite flat because people felt their present financial position was a little lower than where they would like it to be, as was what they predicted their future financial position to be.

Property prices over the last year have increased by about 13 per cent in the Illawarra and the median price of a house is heading towards $500,000.

“The volume of sales has increased but is certainly not matching the price rises,” Mr Pomfret said.

“There is not a lot of stock out there and that is driving prices.”

Mr Pomfret expected more residential building to result from that, especially in new sub-divisions around Shellharbour.

“Building approvals are going very well … up about 25 per cent over the last 12 months,” he said.

“When the land comes on it is getting snapped up. Building should do quite well over the next 12 to 18 months.”

In non residential there is plenty being built that was approved some time ago and that would continue to keep many cranes in the skyline across the region.

Mr Pomfret said the mood heading towards 2015 was certainly a little more positive for the region.

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Jets back dangerous strike force to thwart Gorillas

Nowra-Bomaderry veteran Mick Blattner is chasing his second premiership against Warilla on Sunday.RUGBY LEAGUE
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Nowra-Bomaderry veteran Mick Blattner has warned grand final opponents Warilla about the Jets’ knack for launching hot-potato attacking raids from their own danger zone.

The Jets were the competition’s only team to surpass 600 points in the regular season and plan to keep the Gorillas guessing in Sunday’s premiership decider at Collegians Sports Centre.

“The thing I like with our side is that we can score long-range tries and we can score tries from close range, so they’re going to have to be really switched on all the time,” Blattner said.

“We’ve scored that many tries from 80 or 90 metres. Anything can happen with the unpredictability of our players.”

Blattner has racked up 20-plus years of top-grade football, winning a premiership with Shellharbour in 2001.

The 40-year-old prop will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility against Warilla’s big forwards on Sunday.

“There’s no secret what they’re going to try to do,” he said.

“They’ve got a huge pack and they’ve probably got 20 kilos on every one of us. We know they’re going to try to come through our middle.”

The Jets drew 30-30 with the Gorillas when they clashed at Nowra Showground in round 11. Warilla beat the Jets 38-24 at home in round 20, though Nowra-Bomaderry stayed in the hunt well into the second half.

The Gorillas finished on top of the ladder and went straight through to the grand final with a 22-4 defeat of Shellharbour in the major semi-final.

“On paper, and the way Warilla’s gone this year, they definitely deserve to be favourites, but I know they wouldn’t like that favourites’ tag,” Blattner said.

“I’ve gone into big games being favourites and you get your pants pulled down.

“Warilla are really well coached and they won’t be going into the game thinking they’re favourites.”

The Gorillas are contesting their fourth grand final in five years, while Nowra-Bomaderry are in their first premiership decider after the two clubs merged two years ago.

Nowra haven’t reached a grand final since winning the 1996 title. Bomaderry appeared in the ’93 grand final, losing to Nowra.

“It’s new territory for Warilla at Collegians,” Blattner said of Group Seven’s first grand final at the Figtree complex.

“It’s not like they’re playing at home or Albion Park or somewhere they’re familiar with.

“It’s a very neutral venue and we’ve got a lot of support coming up.

“The town’s buzzing. Anything can happen in a grand final.”

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Meet Mogo Zoo’s new lion cubs

Mogo Zoo’s new African lion cubs Chitwa and Zuri. Proud mum Snow with one of her new babies, born just over a month ago at Mogo Zoo.
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Spring has sprung at Mogo Zoo.

With several new arrivals and more to come, there is plenty of anticipation at the South Coast zoo leading into the school holidays.

The latest additions are two African lion cubs, Chitwa and Zuri.

The sisters were born just over a month ago and will make their public debut alongside mum Snow, dad Mac and the rest of the pride within days.

Mogo Zoo owner Sally Padey said the cubs had been bonding with their mother.

“The cubs are full of energy and are now ready to be introduced to the rest of the pride,” she said.

Other recent arrivals include Tuli, the fourth Rothschild giraffe to be bred at Mogo Zoo.

There are also some additions to the golden lion tamarins, emperor tamarins and siamang gibbon populations.

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One person, one vote in council elections survives for now

Wollongong’s acting Lord Mayor Chris Connor. Picture: SYLVIA LIBERComment: just toss two-vote plan in the rubbish binLast-minute lobbying from Wollongong’s acting Lord Mayor Chris Connor has saved the city from “inequitable, undemocratic” laws, which would have forced businesses to not only vote in council elections but given them two votes each.
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On Wednesday night, as the controversial City of Sydney bill progressed through both houses of Parliament, the NSW government backed away from allowing the laws to be introduced outside Sydney.

In its original form, the bill paved the way for the government to introduce compulsory business voting at any NSW council election, however Christian Democratic Party members successfully sought to have this provision removed.

At first, Fred Nile’s party had proposed an amendment that would have allowed the laws to be introduced in Wollongong, Newcastle, Parramatta and North Sydney councils.

However, Cr Connor – who happened to be in Sydney on Wednesday for a Southern Councils Group meeting – said he spent much of the day lobbying the minor party to change its mind.

Speaking to the Mercury on Thursday, he labelled the victory “bitter-sweet”.

“It’s good for this city that we were not being tarred with the brush of this inequitable, undemocratic change to the electoral system,” he said.

“But I don’t like what’s happened for the City of Sydney, and I think into the future, we’re going to have to be very vigilant and make sure that future governments don’t amend or change [the law].”

Last month, all but two Wollongong councillors voted to fight the bill all the way to the High Court, labelling it an assault on democracy for giving business owners more voting power than residents.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward, who headed a committee which recommended compulsory voting be introduced for non-residential landowners, attributed the government’s change of heart to Wollongong councillors’ strong stance.

“The committee recommended that this could be considered in other areas but in the case of the City of Wollongong there was a strong recommendation from the councillors that they did not wish to proceed in that regard and in line with our policy to listen to local communities, the minister did just that and we did not proceed down that path,” he told Parliament on Wednesday night, despite earlier ridiculing councillors for “deliberately misleading” the public.

Cr Connor said he was pleased the government had listened to the council’s protests.

But Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich, who voted against the council’s motion, said he was disappointed.

However, he said this did not rule out the possibility of compulsory business voting being introduced in the future.

“This will be something that will come up again, this just puts it on the backburner,” Cr Crasnich said.

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