Keeping children safe

STAY SAFE: Eglinton Public School captain Jane Sheather, vice captain Lachlan Taylor and kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 students with the Daniel Morcombe Foundation Big Red truck. Photo:CHRIS SEABROOK 102516cdaniel
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IN 2003, 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe was abductedfrom the side of the road as he waited for a bus.

He was later killed, his remains not found fornearly eight years.

His story is well-known throughout Australia and has spawned the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, which now aims toeducatechildren about personal safety through various school-run programs.

On Tuesday, Eglinton Public School was visited by the foundation’s Big Red truckin a joint-effort with the Australian Federal Police to continue spreading its message.

Assistant principal Ross James said child safety is a very important part of the curriculum at Eglinton Public School.

“It is important for every child to remain safe and ensure that while they are in our care they are safe,” he said.

The school has participated in Day for Daniel, held onOctober 28, for the past three years, but Tuesday was the first time the truckhad visited.

Educators from the truckwere keen to spread one vital message to students: recognise, react and report.

Students were told to trust their instincts in unusual situations and react accordingly.

“In a lot of situations about child safety, instincts tell us that if you don’t feel safe, you probably aren’t safe,” Mr James said.

Internet safety was another focal point of talks during the visit.

Studentswere told to protect their identities online, regularly changes passwords, restrict social media use until they’re over 13 years of age and never add someone they don’t knowas a friend on social media.

“It is one of our biggest concerns and I don’t think we are aware about how dangerous it can be,” Mr James said.

Eglinton Public School will participate in formal Day for Daniel activities on Friday.

Students will wear red to school in support of the day and talk about a specific child safety issue in classrooms, which will be shared at an assembly later in the day.

Mr James said the Daniel Morcombe Foundation has made addressing these issues with students easier thanks to itssupply of classroomresources.

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Funding boost for Wimmera schools

Seven Wimmera schools have received new state government funding for buildings. WIMMERAschools will be able to upgrade old buildings after the state government announced new money for maintenance.
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Seven Wimmera schools are among 400 schools to share in $40 million.

Hopetoun P-12 College will receive $246,000, Horsham Primary School will receive $166,000 andHorsham West and Haven Primary School will receive $60,000.

Dimboola Primary School will receive $47,000, Kaniva College $29,000, Apsley Primary School $13,000 and Beulah Primary School $5000.

Hopetoun P-12 College principal Tony Hand said he was ecstatic to learn about the money.

“We haven’t got the finer details yet about where exactly we can spend it, but it will certainly contribute to our refurbishment work in putting all the students onto one campus,” he said.

The collegemoved all of its students onto the senior school campus from the start of this year.

Previously there was about onekilometre between the junior and senior sites.“This money will allow us to now focus on some of the secondary school buildings and remove some old, decommissioned buildings,” Mr Hand said.

“We had plans in place for these buildings, but we weren’t expecting any money, so this willallowus to get our plans into action.”

Mr Handsaid merging the school’s two campuses had been a positive move.

“The transition of all students onto one campus has been exceptionally smooth, which is a credit to students, staff and the community,” he said.

Horsham Primary School principal Chris Walter said how the money would be spent was still to be decided.

“We are really pleased got some money and it is always very helpful to our school,” he said.

Education Minister James Merlino said the funding boost would allow more schools to replace or upgrade building that were in poor conditions.

“It’s important our teachers and students have the first-rate classrooms they deserve,” he said.

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Shire canoe club face a very Hawkesbury Halloween

Big day: Sutherland Shire Canoe Club members. Picture: SuppliedWhile you and your kids are out trick-or-treating this weekend, some of theShire’s fittest and fastest will be spending their Saturday night in a very differentway.
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Around 14 members of the Sutherland Shire Canoe Club have entered theannual Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, a 111km overnight paddle that raises fundsfor the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation.

The Classic, now in its 40thyear, starts at Windsor and ends at Mooney MooneyBridge at Brooklyn, on the Hawkesbury River.

The paddlers will leave Windsor in groups between 3pm and 5pm on Saturdayafternoon, with the fastest taking around 8.5 hours to do the route, arriving inBrooklyn at around 2am. The average paddler will take 13 hours while theslowest will take 16-19 hours – and probably get to see the sun rise.

“A few of our paddlers – and about two-thirds of the entire field – have enteredwhat’s called ‘Brooklyn or Bust’ which is simply focused on finishing the eventrather than racing,” club presidentSteve Dawson said.

“The rest are racing classes divided by boat type, age, and gender. Personally I’drather finish fast because sitting for longer in a boat is physically worse thanworking harder.”

Among the club members hopeful of good results are Dawson and his wife,Kate, who are record holders from previous years, as well as fellow husband andwife team, Ross and Robyn Bingle. Other hot tips are Bob Turner and JasonCooper paddling together, and Kristy Benjamin.

Steve and Ross covered the distance last year in less than nine hours (8h:46m).Bob and Kristy have also posted sub-ninehour paddles previously. Others whohave competed before but not this year will be at the river as support crew.

All the club members who have entered have been training hard. Most haveclocked up 40-50km each weekend; the Dawsons have been doing 60-80km.

Many have been cross-training too, either running or cycling.While it might seem a punishing way to spend a weekend, Mr Dawson saidfinishing the 111km race comes with a real sense of achievement – and more.

“The event has a great atmosphere. Everybody encourages others as they passin the night. In last year’s race, where Ross and I were racing for a podiumposition, we were paddling alongside the other leaders, chatting and swappingstories for almost the entire race,” he said.

“When we came across a paddler in difficultly, all the lead boats stopped tocheck they were okay, even though we didn’t need to. When we knew they werealright, we all went off again together.

“The chatter stopped in the final two kilometres as everyone got down tobusiness. We finished third, two seconds behind the boat that came second.

“There are tough times, because it is such hard work. Between 40km and 60km isthe worst, while the final 30km is almost a relief. Crossing the line is ecstasy.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the cause can do so via the club’sEveryday Hero account.

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Pokie payouts a ‘myth’: landmark legal action

The 85 per cent return figure is calculated over the lifetime of a machine. Photo: Erin JonassonAustralia’s voracious gaming machines are facing a landmark legal test, with a former pokie addict set to challenge the industry’s assurance that players are returned a minimum 85 per cent of their stake.
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In the Federal Court on Wednesday, Adelaide-based lead applicant Shonica Guy will seek a declaration against industry giants Crown casino and pokie manufacturer Aristocrat that the machines she played for 14 years were misleading and deceptive.

In September, Fairfax Media revealed details of Ms Guy’s claim that the popular Dolphin Treasure machine was designed to mislead players. This included an uneven spread of symbols needed to win across the game’s five “reels” and the disguising of losses as wins through images and sound.

But in an updated claim, Ms Guy will also argue that information to players provided on machines is deceptive, notably the assurance that players will get a “theoretical” return of 85 per cent (the figure varies by state and by machine).

The 85 per cent return figure is calculated over the lifetime of a machine and includes jackpots that occasional players rarely win.

Prominent Melbourne-based law firm Maurice Blackburn is representing Ms Guy. Principal Jacob Varghese slammed the 85 per cent advice to players as  a “myth” based on the average return from a single spin.

Ms Guy’s team will claim that, contrary to federal consumer law, players are tricked into believing that if they enter a pokies venue with $100 they will leave hours later with $85.

But because 15 per cent on average is lost each game, the return cumulatively diminishes, with average players losing $5 every minute and $10 in five minutes.

“So if you put money into the machine and have multiple spins, you likely will be left with nothing,” said Mr Varghese. He said that to be confident of an 85 per cent return a player would have to have unlimited funds and use a machine for its lifetime.

Mr Varghese said the case was the first to focus on the effects of poker machine design on the prospects of winning. If successful it would have ramifications for the design of all pokie machines across the industry.

The case centres on the Dolphin Treasure machine and the claim the machine is designed – including in its reels and symbols – to make winning far more difficult than it appears to players,

Ms Guy said the machines took over her life for 14 years. “I do not want that to happen to another family.

“People deserve to know what is going on with the design of these machines, which deliberately give people false hope that they have a chance of winning to keep them playing. It is wrong, and it has to stop,” she said.

The legal action is being supported by the Alliance for Gambling Reform and backed up with analysis by researchers at Monash University.

Australians lose more than $11 billion on pokies each year. Some $2.5 billion is lost in Victoria alone, with $1 billion flowing to state coffers through taxes. Crown has a licence to operate 2628 poker machines.

Pokies manufacturer Aristocrat did not comment on Tuesday but has previously said it would “vigorously” defend any legal action.

It has said it “emphatically rejects” that its games are designed to encourage problem gambling or do not comply “with all relevant regulations and laws”.

In a brief written statement a spokeswoman  for Crown in Melbourne said it would also defend any claim.

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Canberra Raiders prop Junior Paulo ready for boxing rumble with Paul Gallen

Junior Paulo has impressed ringside observers of his boxing training. Photo: Jay CronanCanberra behemoth Junior Paulo is looming as the most likely opponent for Paul Gallen as some of the biggest names in rugby league prepare to take their rivalries into the boxing ring.
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The identity of Gallen’s foe for the upcoming footy charity fight night has been a heavily guarded secret. But it’s understood the forward enforcers will be the headline act in a series of bouts between NRL stars in Sydney on December 8.

Paulo and Gallen almost crossed paths a month ago when the Raiders met the Sharks in the opening week of the final series. The Cronulla captain had to sit out that encounter due to injury, instead watching on as his side won the match en route to their maiden premiership victory.

Paulo, considered one of the most intimidating forwards in the game, will have a chance to earn payback for the Green Machine when he laces up for his boxing debut. There is already bad blood between supporters of the teams after Canberra coach Ricky Stuart took exception to veteran hooker Michael Ennis’ mocking of the popular “Viking clap”.

Gallen will likely go into the encounter as the favourite after emerging undefeated from five professional bouts. The most recent was a technical knockout of Herman Ene Purcell in Toowoomba, Gallen’s second win over the Queensland bouncer.

While Gallen sees Paulo as a stepping stone towards his ultimate ambition of stepping into the ring against Sonny Bill Williams, those in the Paulo camp are confident of his chances. The former Parramatta prop has been training for the fight in recent weeks and those overseeing his preparation have been amazed by his power and agility.

Gallen has retired from State of Origin football, opening up a vacancy in the NSW forward pack. Paulo could become a contender to replace him in the Blues engine room if he can continue his rapid rise in the nation’s capital.

Paulo earned notoriety for a series of off-field incidents this year. The 22-year-old made headlines after donning headgear and secretly running out for Oatley third grade rugby. The Samoan international was also one of several NRL stars to be issued with a consorting notice for associating with criminals.

Parramatta forward Peni Terepo and former Eels halfback Chris Sandow are expected to be part of the footy fight card, although their opponents are yet to be confirmed.

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Australian Boomers star Patty Mills puts Spurs culture and NBA dreams ahead of contract talks

Patrick Mills will put NBA championship dreams ahead of his individual contract ambitions as he prepares for one of the biggest seasons in his eight-year career in the world’s best league.
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The Canberra basketballer will join the San Antonio Spurs on the road for their season-opener against the all-star Golden State Warriors on Wednesday afternoon (AEDT).

It’s the start of a huge campaign for Mills as the three-time Olympian readies himself for free agency at the end of the year and the Spurs play for the first time in 19 years without future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.

Challenges don’t come much bigger than taking on the Warriors at their home fortress in Oakland with Kevin Durant teaming up with Steph Curry for the first time as an NBA power couple.

But Mills has narrowed his focus to becoming a leader for San Antonio, declaring “I will play my heart out for the Spurs” this year as he chases a second NBA title.

“I want to accomplish more and achieve more,” Mills told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“Playing against the Warriors is not a bad way to kick things off … it’s pretty exciting to think that the season is already here.

“We haven’t looked too much at anyone else in the league at the moment because we’ve got our own growing plans for us to develop. It’s come around so quickly and playing against [Curry and Durant] is a good way to test ourselves.”

Mills will spearhead an impressive cast of Australians in the NBA this year, with No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons set to make an impact, Dante Exum coming back from injury, Andrew Bogut testing himself at a new team and Matthew Dellavedova starting a $US30 million contract in Milwaukee.

Mills has established himself as a significant role player on the Spurs roster but is still keen to leave a bigger mark on the league as he works with Tony Parker in the point guard job.

The former Canberra Marist College student has a burning ambition to become a starting point guard in the world’s toughest competition and a strong season will increase his bargaining power next year.

Mills is nearing the end of his $12 million, three-year deal with the Spurs, but he says he will bury contract speculation at the back of his mind to concentrate on a title bid.

“I can’t control anything about next year or beyond that at all, so for me it’s about focusing on this season,” Mills said.

“I’ll go about this year the same way I would for any other year and cross the bridge of all of the contract stuff when it’s all over.

“It’s not something that will affect me on or off the court. It’s just another year and another opportunity to get back to the finals, it’s not different on my end.”

Mills made his NBA debut in 2009 and has played 361 games with the Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers.

He has also been the Australian Boomers inspirational leader, taking charge of their Rio Olympic Games campaign earlier this year before suffering personal and team heartbreak in the dying seconds of a bronze-medal match.

Mills was intent on guiding the Boomers to their first medal at an Olympics and was on track against Spain when the referees controversially called a foul against him with 5.4 seconds left in the game.

Spain iced the free throws and won the match by one point. But Mills’ classy reaction spoke volumes for his character and now he wants to transfer the Olympic passion into the Spurs’ season.

Mills sees one of his major roles as stepping up as a leader to carry on the Spurs legacy after the retirement of five-time champion Duncan.

“The Olympics still stings and burns and I think it will linger for a while, but at the same time it adds a bit more fuel to the fire,” Mills said.

“What happened at the Olympics will hurt for a long while, but I’ve learnt you’ve got to use those experiences to motivate you to get better. In the long run I truly believe it will pay off if you handle it the right way.

“I’m going into my sixth season with the Spurs and the way I feel about playing for them and for the city, I’ve become to understand what it means to be a Spur.

“It’s very similar to the passion and pride I have for playing for Australia. That’s the growth I’ve had being in San Antonio, that contributes to the fun and the passion. I want to play my heart out for the Spurs.

“I want to establish myself more as a leader in this Spurs culture to get everyone to buy in. A championship goal goes without saying, it has to be our goal.”

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Teenager approached in Morpeth

Police are appealing for information after a girl was approached at Morpeththis week.
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About 5.30pm on Monday, October 24, police were told two men approached a 13-year-old girl at the Morpeth boat ramp and asked her to come over to their vehicle.

The girl ignored the men and walked away towards Swan Street. The men got into a silver-coloured single-cab utility, drove ahead of the girl and parked.

One man got out and approached the girl again before the girl asked a passer-by for help. The two men then left the scene in their vehicle.

Police from Central Hunter Local Area Command were notified of the incident and have started inquiries.

Investigators would like to speak with two men who may be able to assist with their inquiries.

The passenger in the vehicle is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 20 years old with short brown hair and had his left ear pierced with a spacer. He was last seen wearing a black T-shirt.

The driver of the vehicle is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 20 years old with short blonde hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a brown shirt.

Anyone with information is urged to come forward and contact Maitland Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Meanwhile, the incident has again prompted police to encourage parents to discuss the ‘Safe People, Safe Places’ messages with their children, including;

Make sure your parents or another adult you know knows where you are at all times.Always walk straight home or to the place you are walking to. Walk near busier roads and streets, or use paths where there are lots of other people.Know where safe places are – a shop, service station, police station, library or school. If you are ever frightened, you should go to one of these places and ask them to call the police.Learn about safe adults you can look for and talk to if you need help – police officers, teachers at school, adults you know and trust.Don’t talk to people you don’t know and never get into a car with someone you don’t know. If a car stops on the side of the road and you don’t know the person inside, do not stop.If you are scared and can use a phone, call 000 and tell them you are scared.If someone tries to grab you, yell out, ‘Go away, I don’t know you’. This lets other people know you have been approached by someone you don’t know.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Labor push to protect ICAC public hearings

ICAC chief Megan Latham opposes a move to a three-member commission. Photo: Daniel MunozA push to require the unanimous agreement of three commissioners of the NSW corruption watchdog before public hearings can be held is set to be opposed by Labor, amid fears it will lead to more inquiries conducted in secret.
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On Tuesday, Fairfax Media revealed a draft report by the oversight committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption recommended a single commissioner be replaced with a three-member commission.

The report says any decision to hold public hearings during a corruption inquiry should require unanimous agreement of the commissioners.

The committee, chaired by Liberal MP Damien Tudehope, is considering a report on the watchdog’s powers by Inspector of the ICAC, David Levine, handed to Premier Mike Baird in May.

The committee’s draft report rejects a call by Mr Levine to scrap public hearings at the ICAC “to prevent the undeserved trashing of reputations”.

But it says introducing a three-member commission and requiring unanimous agreement before public hearings are held would “balance” Mr Levine’s concerns.

However, it is understood Labor members of the oversight committee will press in a meeting on Wednesday to allow public hearings if only two commissioners agree.

The government controls the 11-member committee, but Labor MPs led by shadow attorney-general Paul Lynch are expected to argue for the change in order to achieve a consensus final report.

At a committee hearing last month, ICAC commissioner Megan Latham spoke against a move to a three-member commission, which was proposed in a submission by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Ms Latham warned it would would increase costs and leave “a couple of people sitting around twiddling their thumbs”.

Former ICAC commissioner David Ipp described it as “an unnecessarily expensive and top-heavy absurdity”.

The draft report proposes a chief commissioner be appointed for five years and two other commissioners on a part-time basis.

It recommends that all commissioners be appointed by the NSW governor on the recommendation of the government and that the oversight committee retain the power of veto.

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East coast meat allergy phenomenon linked to tick bites

Janelle Williams has a mammalian meat allergy, which she developed after a tick bite. Photo: Nick MoirJanelle Williams knew nothing about allergies or anaphylaxis when she walked into her doctor’s practice five years ago, covered in hives, eyes swollen shut and struggling to breathe.
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She certainly didn’t connect her predicament to the meat she had eaten the night before or the ticks that had bitten her in the grass around her Freshwater home.

The surgery was in panic mode, her GP was yelling for somebody to call an ambulance, and she wondered briefly who was in trouble.

Then she realised it was her.

“I’d never had an allergic reaction before, no hay fever, nothing,” Ms Williams said.

“I was totally naive when I started having breathing problems how quickly it could escalate to your throat closing.”

An allergy test six weeks later would reveal an insidious culprit in mammalian meat, which extended not just to beef, lamb and pork, but products made with animal products such as dairy, wine and fruit juice, as well as gel tablets, toothpaste, bandaids and tampons.

“There’s just a whole range – you have no idea. I had to basically clean out my entire house.”

Two months ago, she went into anaphylaxis after breathing in the fumes of beef served in a plane.

Mammalian meat is one of many strange allergens that have surfaced in recent decades, but its even more bizarre trigger – tick bites – could hold the key to a cure.

Mammalian meat allergy has become more common since it was first reported in the Journal of Internal Medicine in 2007, and nowhere more so than the eastern seaboard of Australia.

In the tick endemic areas of the Sydney basin it is a more common food allergy than peanut allergy, with one in 550 people developing the condition in the northern metropolitan region.

Tick-induced Allergies Research and Awareness Centre immunologist Sheryl van Nunen made the connection between ticks and meat after noticing a trend of people admitted to hospital overnight with anaphylaxis, who developed reactions to the molecule alpha-gal in prick tests and had recently been bitten by the parasite.

She hopes that the cause-and-effect relationship between tick bites and a meat allergy could hold valuable clues to the causes of allergies generally.

“There’s no other allergy as far as food goes where we know why you became allergic to it,” Associate Professor van Nunen said.

“So we’ve got an unparalleled opportunity for both primary and secondary prevention of mammalian meat allergy.”

Alpha-gal is a combination sugar molecule found in all mammals apart from humans and old apes, but it is harmless when introduced orally because people have learnt to be tolerant to it.

But when it is injected into a human with the saliva of a tick that has picked it up from a mammal such as a deer, kangaroo or bandicoot, the body detects it as a foreign substance.

In some people, this process seems to reprogram their immune systems to detect the alpha-gal as an enemy the next time they meet it at the end of their fork.

Some research has shown that the number of bandicoot sightings has increased since fox baiting was permitted in 2003, which Associate Professor van Nunen points out was around the time that meat allergy started to be notified.

Some people lose the allergy after a few years if they have no further tick bites, but in others it appears to get worse.

The best prevention is to wear long clothes and insect repellent and avoid being bitten at all. If you are bitten, the tick should be removed with wart freeze rather than disturbed, which is when it releases its saliva.

It should not be squeezed or removed with tweezers, Associate Professor van Nunen said.

Shelley Peat’s daughter, Ella Bennett, was one of the first people in whom meat allergy was linked to tick bites.

Now 16, she developed the allergy when she was four, while attending a preschool on the northern beaches where ticks were plentiful.

“The last time she went to that preschool she would have had 100 ticks on her body,” Ms Peat said.

“I told the preschool they needed to do something about it and they said, ‘Oh, we’ve got lavender around the property’.”

Recently Ella’s allergy seemed to worsen – she has developed a reaction to barbecue fumes – but it has reduced in Ms Peat’s son, Kobi Bennett, 14, who thinks he is now clear.

“But he’s unwilling to have a bite of bacon.”

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‘Too wild for his own good’: Suspected gangland trigger man gunned down in Sydney

Police at the scene of Tuesday’s fatal shooting. Photo: TNV News A distraught friend or relative is comforted at the scene in Sturt Avenue. Photo: TNV News
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Crime figure Walid “Wally” Ahmad, who was killed outside Bankstown Central shopping centre in April. Photo: Supplied

Hamad Assaad, 29, was a key suspect in the shooting of Wally Ahmad at a Bankstown shopping centre. Photo: Supplied

The crime scene after Tuesday morning’s shooting. Photo: TNV News

Georges Hall shooting vicitm Hamad Assaad (right) Photo: Supplied

Wally Elriche the former bodyguard of Salim Mehajer at the scene of Tuesday’s shooting Photo: Supplied

Georges Hall shooting vicitm Hamad Assaad. Photo: Facebook

Six months after standover man Walid “Wally” Ahmad was gunned down in a brazen and very public execution, the man suspected of pulling the trigger has suffered a similar fate.

Hamad Assaad, 29, had been on the police radar after he was identified as a key suspect in the death of Mr Ahmad, who was shot as he sat in a cafe outside Bankstown Central shopping centre in April.

Investigators believe Mr Assaad was aligned to a rival family, which some of the Ahmads had been pitted against after another shooting outside Wally Ahmad’s smash repairs in Sydney’s south-west.

“He was on the other team,” one source put it.

It is not yet certain whether Mr Assaad’s death was in response to his widely rumoured role in the death of Mr Ahmad, who was at the helm of one of south-west Sydney’s infamous families.

Investigators suspect two gunmen and a driver were lying in wait in a black car near Mr Assaad’s Georges Hall home on Tuesday morning for him to emerge.

At about 9.20am, he walked out of his family’s Sturt Avenue home with a 12-year-old boy, whom he was about to drive somewhere.

After moving one car from the garage, Mr Assaad was getting into another when two gunmen opened fire.

A succession of bullets were fired from two handguns, in full view of the horrified 12-year-old, before the gunmen jumped into a black car and sped off.

“This is a targeted shooting,” Homicide Squad Detective Chief Inspector Grant Taylor said.

“These individuals obviously wanted to kill him, there is no doubt about that.”

Mr Assaad was shot “many” times, police say, and despite attempts to revive him he died on his driveway.

Neighbours said they heard a rapid succession of up to six gunshots, which sounded like they came from a semi-automatic weapon.

“I was about to go in mum’s car and I heard boom boom boom,” said the daughter of Sturt Avenue resident Sonya Aleksandrova.

“I was like, ‘Mummy, mummy shut everything please hide, shut the doors, shut the windows’.”

Mr Assaad’s mother emerged from their home, hysterical, after the shooting to find her bloodied son. Traumatic scenes followed.

Many relatives and friends flocked to the taped-off crime scene throughout the day, with one man caught jumping into the Assaad home back yard.

Wally Elriche, the one-time bodyguard for Salim Mehajer, was among a small group of men circled by police at the rear of the Assaad home.

He was not arrested but another man was loaded into the back of a police truck and taken away.

At another side of the crime scene, Mr Assaad’s distraught grandmother demanded officers let her past the police tape.

“They won’t let me see my son’s son,” she said.

“He hasn’t done anything at all. Go catch the drug dealers, gun dealers, they are killing people.”

The latest shooting has fuelled concerns about retaliation, with the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad part of the push to try to quell those concerns.

“We are always concerned about any potential retaliation from events like this,” Inspector Taylor said.

An obvious line of inquiry for police is whether Mr Assaad, a well-known figure in the south-west criminal community, was killed in retribution to Wally Ahmad’s demise.

However, police stressed they were keeping all avenues open.

Mr Assaad had previously escaped a conviction for the murder of Mohamad Alahmad, 37, who was shot six times as he sat in his BMW in the driveway of his South Granville home in 2007.

It was alleged at the time that Mr Alahmad’s ex-wife was in a relationship with crime boss Nasser Kalache but had started talking to Mr Alahmad about a possible reconciliation.

Mr Assaad was then under orders to kill Mr Alahmad with another man.

He beat the charge and was found not guilty in 2010.

In the wake of his death, a friend revealed Mr Assaad had run for Kalache for years.

“He was too wild for his own good,” he said.

“He was a really nice kid but you could direct him [to do something].”

The Homicide Squad now has three murder investigations in 2016 with possible links to the Ahmad family conflict.

It started with the shooting of Safwan Charbaji, 32, outside Wally Ahmad’s Condell Park smash repairs in April.

The conflict erupted between members of the Elmir and Ahmad family over a bizarre $100,000 kidnapping plan.

Mr Charbaji was killed and another man was shot in the jaw but survived.

Wally’s brother, Mahmoud “Brownie” Ahmad, is one of a handful of men police suspect used a gun that day. He travelled to Lebanon after the shooting.

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Usman Khawaja in plans despite comments, says Darren Lehmann as Test auditions begin

Shield action: Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja are all smiles after the coin toss at the Gabba. Photo: Chris HydeDarren Lehmann insists Usman Khawaja’s “scapegoat” comments won’t be held against him when the Test squad is named on Friday as the Australian coach declared there were genuine spots up for grabs ahead of the opener against South Africa.
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Lehmann was in Brisbane on Tuesday for the pink-ball Shield game at the Gabba between Queensland and a stacked NSW side, many of whom will be trading their blue caps for green against the Proteas in Perth.

After the early loss of openers David Warner (12) and Ed Cowan, who was bowled without offering a shot on 10, the Blues feasted in the afternoon sun to be 2-176 ahead of dinner, with Steve Smith and Kurtis Patterson notching half-centuries.

It was a long day in the field for Khawaja and opening aspirant Joe Burns, with both looking to reclaim their spots after being dropped for the final Test in the winless series against Sri Lanka.

The former NSW left-hander claimed selectors had been “fickle” when he was demoted in favour of Moises Henriques for the final Test in Colombo, while Burns made way for Shaun Marsh, who was returning from a hamstring injury suffered in Perth against South Australia.

Lehmann was happy to laugh off the comments, saying Khawaja was in their plans for the first Test and beyond and he was happy to add a new nickname to the stockpile.

“He’s not on the back foot. I love these nicknames … we have the GOAT [Nathan Lyon] and now we have the scapegoat. I love it. But I will chat to him privately, we would rather have these things played out between selectors and players,” Lehmann said.

“Being on the selection panel for that Test match, it was warranted. At the end of the day, there were different conditions and those two guys weren’t playing well enough, they averaged eight or seven in two Test matches.

“We had to change something but that doesn’t affect the summer at home. We have to work out what we think the best batting line-up is for the summer.”

Lehmann and duty selector Trevor Hohns weren’t able to get a look at a few of their main concerns ahead of the Test, with Queensland winning the toss and sending the Blues in to bat. That left Burns and Khawaja without the willow and returning quick Mitchell Starc cooling his heels in the dressing room.

But the coach said runs would mean plenty in Brisbane and Perth, as would the bowling performances of Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird in Melbourne, with that pair the leading contenders to be the third quick alongside Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

“It’s always important, you need to make runs against Starc and Hazlewood or vice versa, you grow in standing. It’s important not just here at the Gabba but all the games around the country, the start of the year when there are spots up for grabs, it’s important to start well,” Lehmann said.

“Like all our blokes, we want them to prove their fitness first and foremost and then they have to get some form. Hopefully Mitchell gets through and there are no problems.”

Lehmann had a dual-purpose in Brisbane, as did the Australian players in action as they sounded out the pink ball in Queensland conditions ahead of the day-night Test against Pakistan in December.

The new, improved pink ball is brighter than the one used in Adelaide last year and boasts a more-pronounced seam. But with the humidity in spring far lower than summer, it will at best be a guide on how the ball will behave closer to Christmas if the air is thick as pea soup.

“We won’t know until we get here in late summer, that’s the unknown. But we will get a better idea over the next three or four days,” Lehmann said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Doubts raised over Powerhouse move to Parramatta as director admits cost is unknown

Serious concerns about the NSW government’s controversial plan to move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta have been raised in a parliamentary inquiry. Photo: Anna Kucera Robert Borsak, chairman of the NSW parliamentary inquiry into museums, questioned whether Powerhouse director Dolla Merrillees had sufficient skills and experience to deliver a new museum. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
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NSW Premier Mike Baird and Powerhouse Museum director Dolla Merrillees, pictured in April, opposite the proposed new site for the museum in Parramatta. Photo: Louise Kennerley

A crucial crossbench MP has raised doubts about the NSW government’s plan to move the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta.

Robert Borsak, of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, also questioned whether the museum’s director Dolla Merrillees had the sufficient skills and experience to deliver a new museum as she told a parliamentary inquiry that the cost of the controversial project was unknown.

Mr Borsak, the chairman of the inquiry, said that secrecy surrounding the proposal to relocate the museum raised serious concerns.

“You may understand the vision,” he told Ms Merrillees. “We do not see it. We do not know anything about it. The land is subject to Parramatta River flooding.”

Mr Borsak added: “How can we have any confidence at all that what is being proposed is going to meet the requirements?”

Mr Borsak said the Powerhouse Museum (rebadged as the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) covered 8.3 acres at its current Ultimo site, but the proposed new site in Parramatta on the former David Jones car park was only 2.4 acres.

“From my review of having been out to the site I cannot see how it is the same, or at least only 3000 square metres less, unless you are talking about a high-rise building,” he told an inquiry hearing last week.

Mr Borsak later asked: “Ms Merrillees, as a long-standing professional museum director, do you ask this committee to believe that you can squeeze the enormous objects currently on display at Ultimo into the footprint at the new site at the Parramatta car park?”

Ms Merrillees said finding space for the museum’s large items was under examination.

The at-times fiery hearing was called to hear further evidence from Ms Merrillees and Professor Barney Glover, the chairman of the MAAS board.

Ms Merrillees admitted the cost of building a new museum and moving its collection from Ultimo to Parramatta, a distance of approximately 20 kilometres, was unknown.

The inquiry has previously been told the project could cost up to $1 billion.

“Do you still believe that your experience is sufficient to envision, direct and control such a large and complex project?” Mr Borsak asked Ms Merrillees.

Ms Merrillees said she believed she had the skills required, as did her staff and board of trustees.

She also told the inquiry some of the permanent exhibitions at its Ultimo site had not been changed for “probably about 30 to 35 years”.

The parliamentary inquiry, set up in June, has been dominated by the state government’s controversial proposal to move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta and sell off its Ultimo site to developers.

But the inquiry is also examining government funding for NSW museums and galleries, the impact of the efficiency dividend on institutions’ budgets and the plight of museums in regional NSW.

Labor’s Arts spokesman Walt Secord said there was community concern about “a cloak of secrecy” over the Powerhouse relocation.

Mr Secord clashed with Professor Glover over secrecy surrounding the amount of taxpayer-funded overseas travel taken by museum staff.

He also raised the spectre of the NSW government not proceeding with the museum move following policy backflips over West Connex and banning greyhound racing.

Professor Glover said he believed the government remained committed to moving the Powerhouse to Parramatta, subject to the final business case and acquiring the new site.

But under questioning from Greens MP David Shoebridge, he said the MAAS board would only support the move if there was sufficient funding to build an improved museum and the new site was not compromised by other commercial developments.

“The board would express its serious concern to government if we felt those conditions were at risk, yes,” Professor Glover said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Ben Quilty launches exhibition of Myuran Sukumaran paintings for Sydney Festival

Artist Ben Quilty surrounded by works painted by Myuran Sukumaran, which will be exhibited at Campbelltown Arts Centre as part of the 2017 Sydney Festival. Photo: Daniel Boud Artist Ben Quilty (right) with Campbelltown Arts Centre director Michael Dagostino (left) and Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch. Photo: Daniel Boud
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Sukumaran was a prolific painter during his incarceration in Bali’s Kerobokan jail and on Nusa Kambangan. Photo: Daniel Boud

With 24 hours left before he faced death by firing squad, Myuran Sukumaran could have been forgiven for wallowing in self-pity and regret. Yet Sukumaran, one of nine Australians arrested for heroin smuggling in 2005, spent his last day of life on the Indonesian island of Nusa Kambangan wielding a paint brush.

His friend and mentor, the Archibald Prize-winning artist Ben Quilty, says Sukumaran was determined to leave an artistic legacy and take a stand against the death penalty.

“The last day on the 28th of April, 2015, Myuran made four or five paintings,” Quilty says. “And he was up all night, as much as he could, with his family around him, supporting him, bringing him food. And he just painted and painted and painted till the end.”

The artworks painted by Sukumaran the day before he was executed last year will be exhibited at Campbelltown Arts Centre as part of the 2017 Sydney Festival.

Myuran Sukumaran: Another Day in Paradise features more than 100 death-row paintings by Sukumaran as well as works created by seven artists in response to his execution.

One of the new works by Abdul-Rahman Abdullah features a dove nesting inside a circle of 3665 eggs, representing each day of the more than 10 years Sukumaran was imprisoned until his execution in 2015.

Sukumaran was a prolific painter during his incarceration in Bali’s Kerobokan jail and on Nusa Kambangan. He painted portraits of himself and friends inside prison as well as his family including a series of pictures of his grandfather on his death bed in Liverpool Hospital.

“By that point in Myuran’s prison life, he was very well-respected and trusted inside the prison and they allowed him to have a Skype for several days with his grandfather,” Quilty says.

It is one example of Sukumaran’s dramatic transformation from heroin smuggler to model prisoner who was entrusted to run language and art classes for inmates and even have keys to the jail’s medical facility, Quilty says.

The exhibition dwells on Sukumaran’s rehabilitation as well as the death penalty and treatment of prisoners in Australia, according to co-curator Michael Dagostino. “The whole idea of rehabilitation and redemption doesn’t really figure in our justice system.”

Sukumaran and fellow Bali Nine drug trafficker Andrew Chan were two of the prisoners executed by Indonesian authorities in April 2015.

Vigils were held across Australia in support of the pair, who grew up in western Sydney, and senior politicians pleaded with Indonesian authorities for their lives to be spared.

But a poll conducted in January 2015 found that more than half of Australians supported the death penalty for Sukumaran and Chan.

Controversy also surrounds the conduct of the Australian Federal Police in alerting Indonesian police about the Bali Nine, which led to their arrest in a country with the death penalty.

Sukumaran’s life and death also raises intensely personal issues for Dagostino and Quilty.

Dagostino, the director of Campbelltown Arts Centre, says there is a dark side to western Sydney: “Where I live there are drugs around and I’m scared for my son.”

Quilty says he hopes the exhibition prompts a debate about why young men engage in risk-taking and destructive behaviour.

He says Sukumaran paid a tragic price for the type of mistake made by many young men.

“I was locked up. I was arrested,” he says. “Not for anything quite as crazy as that but there was drugs and alcohol and violence. That was my background.”

He adds: “And my group of friends, whoever was the one who was going to go and buy the big bag of drugs was the risk taker who took the risk of actually going to prison for all the mates who then took the drugs and got high.”

Quilty also points out that racism and bullying were a daily reality for Sukumaran during his youth.

“That’s not an excuse and he never, ever looked for any excuse,” Quilty says. “He took his crime squarely on his shoulders but it’s an insight into what leads young men to behave the way they do.”

Quilty says drugs remain an integral part of youth culture.

“I have a son now and I am going to talk about it and I’m going to continue talking about it with him, with his friends, with my community to work out why that happened,” he says. “Why was that drug culture completely ignored by authorities, by society, by our parents, by teaching staff of the schools and universities?”

Myuran Sukumaran: Another Day in Paradise is at Campbelltown Arts Centre from January 13 to March 26.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.