Brumbies co-captain Christian Lealiifano needed to be bossier against Western Force

Brumbies co-captain Christian Lealiifano wants to be more bossy. Photo: Jay Cronan Force acting coach Dave Wessels thinks a new club will be good for centre Kyle Godwin. Photo: Paul Kane
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Dave Wessels is disappointed flanker Chris Alcock is leaving the club. Photo: Jay Cronan

Who’s the boss? ACT Brumbies co-captain Christian Lealiifano believes he needs to be more of one as the Super Rugby province prepares for their qualifying final against the Otago Highlanders at Canberra Stadium on Friday.

And Western Force acting coach Dave Wessels believes Kyle Godwin’s expected move to Canberra will be a good one for the centre.

Lealiifano was disappointed with the Brumbies’ scrappy 24-10 victory over the Force on Saturday, which secured him a spot in the first round of the Super Rugby finals.

But he said that everyone would be “buzzing” when they arrive at the club on Monday morning.

The playmaker felt he needed to take the game by the scruff of the neck after they failed to implement their attacking plan against the Force.

He’ll be looking to change that against the Highlanders who they dominated in every way except on the scoreboard when the two teams met in round 10.

They lost 23-10 in Invercargill despite having 73 per cent of possession in the wet conditions.

“We came with a clear focus and a plan with the way we wanted to play [against the Force], Lealiifano said. “I guess that’s what’s probably the most disappointing that we didn’t really execute what we wanted to, but we’ve got another week to prepare now and get it right [for the Highlanders].

“Obviously the pressure that the Western Force put on us [also affected our execution], which is probably good for us heading into next week to be able to handle the defensive pressure that teams are putting on us.

“We’ve just got to adapt better in attack. I think our attack got a bit lost at times there and as a game controller it was disappointing on my end to not boss the boys around enough.”

Godwin has been linked with a move to the Brumbies to help replace departing inside centre Matt Toomua, who will join English club Leicester.

His Force teammate Chris Alcock is moving to Canberra as cover for star flanker David Pocock, who is taking a sabbatical from rugby in 2017.

Wessels said the Brumbies would need to play better against the Highlanders than they did against the Force, but he hoped they went on to win the title.

He felt the Force were embarking on a “journey” and was disappointed Godwin and Alcock wouldn’t be part of that.

From the side that lost to the Brumbies, they will also lose prop Guy Millar and lock Rory Walton.

“The Brumbies are losing much more high-profile players than we are. I think Chris and Guy and Kyle and Rory … have been a massive part of our team,” Wessels said.

“We just spoke in the change room, they will always be a part of our team. I think particularly for Kyle, a move is going to be a good thing for him, not just from a rugby perspective but from a lifestyle perspective.

“He’s excited about being away from Perth, he’s always lived in Perth, so the opportunity for him to experience something a bit different is going to be good for him.

“Having said that, what we feel like, especially in our backs, [who] are a pretty young backline, that is really starting to gel and work together.

“We definitely feel that we’re at a start of a journey and we’re sorry we can’t take some of those guys along on the journey, but it doesn’t change where we feel we want to go.”

SUPER RUGBY QUARTER-FINALS

Friday: ACT Brumbies v Otago Highlanders at Canberra Stadium, 6pm. Tickets available from Ticketek. Members on sale Sunday, general public Wednesday.

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ANZ Championships: NSW Swifts all stars reaching milestones

Big three: Paige Hadley, Sharni Layton and Kim Green. Photo: Wolter PeetersThe Swifts’ star players are marking the end of an era as the last days of the ANZ Championships approach, and they plan to go out with a bang.
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Captain Kim Green and defender Sharni Layton have been part of the ANZ competition since it started in 2008, and attacker Paige Hadley is hungry for the win after last year’s devastating grand final loss.

“My sole goal this year is to win,” said Hadley.

“Coming off the loss against the Firebirds last year, being within a minute or so of winning the title, you can nearly taste it.”

Hadley said it was back to the drawing board for her game in the 2016 season, but she believed the Swifts’ versatility could dominate in the next few weeks of finals.

“It’s awesome, people play multiple positions where they’re needed, so I think that’s a real asset for us,” she said.

“I’ve never won an ANZ title, so I definitely want to win one before the competition ends.”

Green is the only player on this year’s roster to have experienced the Swifts’ ANZ win back in 2008.

Green plans to farewell the series in the same way she started it, by taking home the trophy, but she admits the Swifts have a challenging few games ahead.

Heading into Monday’s match against the Firebirds, Green said the main focus had been on giving the four quarters their 100 per cent.

“We know that we need to put out a full 60 minutes, and I know that’s very cliche, but that’s exactly what happened to us in last year’s grand final,” she said.

“We learnt that we can’t play 57 minutes of a game then expect to win.”

If the Swifts beat the Firebirds at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, they’ll be crowned Australian Conference champions and will host the semi-final round against New Zealand on their home court.

“In terms of our training sessions, we go hell for leather out on court against each other because everyone’s vying for a position,” she said.

“No one’s sitting on the sideline going ‘I’m just going to be on the bench this week’, everyone’s pushing and that’s the best thing about our team.”

Green, a former Diamond, retired from internationals when she joined the comp in 2016.

After this season, she said she had no plans of slowing down, and her drive to compete professionally was higher than ever.

“I feel like this year I’ve played the best netball that I ever have in my whole career,” she said.

“To think that is on the back of a little bit of a break is really exciting for me. I have no plans of retiring any time soon.”

If the Swifts make it into the grand final, it will be Layton’s 100th ANZ Championship game.

The defender said the Firebird’s attacking end would be the biggest challenge for the Swifts on Monday night.

“Romelda [Aiken] is not as stationary as what she used to be, so that’s a real challenge because no other team is like that with a tall goal attack as well as a tall goal shooter,” she said.

“At the end of the day, they can throw absolutely anything out on us. They’re a phenomenal team, they’ve proven it and played great all year, so we’ll just be concentrating on what we can do to minimise them as much as possible.”

Layton was determined to win, but she said that even a finals loss couldn’t undermine what she’d gained.

“It’s the last year of the ANZ Championship,” she said. “It’s not going to be here next year.

“I just want to soak up every single moment I can with this group of girls because, if you’re not in the moment, you’re not going to win anyway.”

Australian Conference finals: NSW Swifts v QLD Firebirds at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 7:18pm.

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Newcastle hairdressers say quality at risk if state government scraps lawpoll

DON’T CHOP ME: Melanie Coombes is fighting a proposal to scrap a law requiring hairdressers to be qualified. Picture: Max Mason-HubersNEWCASTLE hairdressers are fighting the state government over plans to trim back industry regulation they sayallows“any Tom, Dick and Harry” to call themselves aprofessional hairdresser.
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The government has put forward a proposal to scrap the Hairdressers’ Act 2003 as part of its “spring clean” of uselesslaws.

The deregulation is supposedto make it easier for small business –but has been met with sharp rebuke from unions and industry bodies, which argue scrapping the law puts quality at risk.

The law requires every professional to have a certificate III in hairdressing.

Senior stylist Melanie Coombes.

Bliss Hair ArtistsNew Lambton senior stylist Melanie Coombes said the industry is furious over the proposal and vowed to protect it from being “stripped down to nothing”.

Ms Coombes, who studied at TAFE and finished an apprenticeship before working full-time, said it was “distressing” to picture amateurs applying chemicals without proper training.

“There’s so much more to hairdressing than just cutting someone’s hair,” she said.

“It’s a science –you’re working with chemicals and you need to know what you’re doing.”

Ms Coombes said a petition, from new employeegroupHair Stylists Australia,was being circulated in Newcastle salons this week opposing the government’s proposal.

“I’ve spent a good part of my life getting the qualifications I need … and for the government to say anyone on the street can pick up a pair of scissors makes me so angry,” she said.

“We already spend enoughtime fixing the mistakes of teenagers who think they are hairdressers, imagine what it’s going to be like when you have every Tom, Dick and Harry cutting hair.”

In a discussion paper, the state government said there was an overlap in laws that controlled industry quality. It noted South Australia was the only other state to have a similar law.

“Backyard operators” … Maitland MP and Labor spokeswoman for small business Jenny Aitchison.

Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the intention was to encourage growth by removing crippling red tape.

ButMaitland MP Jenny Aitchisonsaid the repeal wasn’t thought through, claiming it would create unfair competition from“untrainedbackyard operators”.

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Dog owners vent outrage at Foley’s support for greyhound racing

Newtown resident Laurina Chilcott and Atlas at a rally in support of the greyhound racing ban. Photo: Steven Siewert Bridget Dominic and her greyhound Rivers join the rally in Newtown on Sunday. Photo: Steven Siewert
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Supporters of a ban on greyhound racing at a park in Newtown on Sunday. Photo: Steven Siewert

Laurina and Michael Chilcott had hoped a rally in Sydney’s inner west on Sunday would be a chance to celebrate Premier Mike Baird’s decision to ban greyhound racing.

Instead, the Newtown couple joined about 150 people – and a large number of their pooches – to express their outrage at Labor leader Luke Foley’s move to oppose the ban in NSW, threatening their dreams that the greyhound racing industry would finally be shut down.

“He is backing the wrong side,” Michael Chilcott said.

The couple has fostered 15 greyhounds in less than three years, Atlas being their latest.

“We want to save as many dogs as we can because we feel like we can have more impact from doing that,” Laurina Chilcott said. “The day the decision [to ban greyhound racing] was made was one of the happiest days of our lives.”

Speaking at the rally in a park in Newtown, state Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi accused Mr Foley of pitching the issue as a battle between the working class and other sections of the community.

“As if working people don’t care about dogs dying,” she told the crowd. “I think this is disgraceful political opportunism.

“Labor is using the [industry’s] workers as political pawns.”

Ms Faruqi said the industry was already facing “massive financial issues”, and 24 race tracks had been earmarked for closure before the government’s decision early this month.

“We have to accept … that this is a sport that is already in chronic decline. Mike Baird and I don’t really agree on much, but on this one he has it absolutely spot on.”

Mr Foley said if the Greens “stepped foot outside of Newtown they’d realise thousands of people will be robbed of their livelihoods and thousands of much-loved dogs will be killed under Mr Baird’s plan”.

Legislation to ban the greyhound racing industry in NSW from July next year is due to be tabled in state Parliament on August 2.

The ACT government has also moved to ban the sport.

Naremburn resident Kylie Field, a greyhound owner and a long-time Labor voter, accused Mr Foley of opposing the ban to gain marginal votes.

“These dogs need our support,” she said at the rally. “Using this as a political opportunity to secure marginal votes is appalling.

“People are really annoyed about this. We were so offended after supporting this [Labor] party all our lives. This industry cannot reform. They have been given every opportunity to reform and they have turned a blind eye to systemic cruelty.”

Mel O’Sullivan, a greyhound owner and supporter of the ban, said the Premier had made a brave decision, one he was surprised a politician could make.

“The people who support the ban are a bit more aware of the efforts that have been made to get the industry to get its house in order,” he said. “There have been many shots across the bow.”

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NSW Greens at war over ballot to replace John Kaye

Greens members are at war over who will replace John Kaye in the NSW Legislative Council. Photo: James Alcock Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham deplores “the damaging impact of factionalism and factional voting tickets”.
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The selection of a replacement for the late Greens MP John Kaye in the NSW upper house is descending into a nasty internal fight, exposing the deep ideological split in the party’s state division.

From Monday about 4000 NSW Greens members will vote on a replacement for Dr Kaye, who died of cancer in May. There are 14 candidates contesting the ballot, to be determined in August.

A group ideologically-aligned with Dr Kaye and his ally, Senator Lee Rhiannon – sometimes referred to as the hard left faction, or “eastern bloc” – is being accused of running a “damaging” ticket in a bid to have preferences directed to its eight candidates in the optional preferential voting system.

Included in the group are leading preselection contenders James Ryan, Bruce Knobloch and former Kaye aide Kelly Marks.

On Monday the candidates are expected to issue campaign material containing a statement about their support of grassroots democracy, collective decision-making and accountability to members and naming each other as supportive of these values.

Last week the party’s returning officer ruled that the statement amounts to a “serious breach” of party rules, which prohibit the making of negative comments about other candidates.

But this ruling was overturned after a complaint was referred to the party’s preselection disputes committee.

Some party members claim the ticket was only necessary because Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has been improperly using his profile to influence the preselection for his favoured candidate, Nature Conservation Council campaigner Justin Field.

Mr Buckingham has included Mr Field – a founder of anti-coal seam gas group Lock the Gate described as a “centrist” candidate – in two recent Facebook videos, enraging his factional opponents.

Mr Buckingham’s supporters counter that Mr Ryan and Ms Marks were included in videos about TAFE alongside Greens MP David Shoebridge in June.

On Saturday night Mr Buckingham released another video warning members “to be very mindful of factional preference harvesting and group voting tickets.”

While not mentioning the preselection, which would be against party rules, Mr Buckingham deplores “the damaging impact of factionalism and factional voting tickets”.

“Factional voting tickets are the antithesis of participatory democracy, as they hand power to vested interests and entrench the power of established elites at the expense of diversity.”

Opponents of the ticket note that it does not include candidates such as Dominic Wy Kanak, an Aboriginal Waverley councillor, and Christine Donayre, who is of Latina heritage.

But one party member posted in response to Mr Buckingham’s video that it was “a disgraceful abuse of your profile to attempt to pull rank in an internal Greens preselection.”

The NSW Greens have the right to choose a replacement for Dr Kaye under the casual-vacancy rule.

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US Secret Service and Vice-President Joe Biden puzzle over AFL

US Vice President Joe Biden attends an AFL match between West Coast and Carlton at the MCG. Also pictured: AFL footballer Mason Cox and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.The Secret Service codename for Vice-President Joe Biden is “Celtic”, but the Gaelic links to Australian rules football must have puzzled the small troop of burly blokes with earpieces hovering at the MCG boundary line as their charge strode onto the green.
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Only a few minutes earlier a man dressed head to toe in a navy blue onesie had perched on top of a hovercraft, spinning donuts wildly across the ground to entertain the crowd.

It’s an oval shaped ball, and you kick it, AFL chief Gil McLachlan appeared to instruct his slightly bemused-looking US visitor before Carlton took on West Coast on Sunday.

But the MCG has long been familiar with Americans, well before the arrival of US recruit Mason Cox, the Collingwood ruck man from Texas, who later sat beside Biden in the stands.

US Marines used the hallowed sporting turf as a campsite in the Second World War during a brief rest in Melbourne after the pivotal battle for Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, which cost more than 7000 American lives.

Mr Biden praised the depth of military ties between the US and Australia when speaking in the members stand during the presentation of a restored ceremonial US flag dating from the war.

“We’re together, it’s stamped on our DNA,” Biden said.

But it was modern science that dominated Biden’s morning to commence his trip to Australia, touring the labs at Melbourne’s new billion-dollar cancer centre, flanked by Premier Daniel Andrews and federal Health Minister Sussan Ley.

Biden lost a son, Beau, 46, to brain cancer last year, and reflected on the precious moments for patients and their family after diagnosis.

“You try and learn as much as you can as rapidly as you can,” he said.

Biden has been granted what he called “dictator” powers by US President Barack Obama to drive a new urgency in the search for better cancer treatments.

Biden announced the US and Australia will sign a deal to share about 60,000 patient records to study the genetic make-up of the more than 200 types of cancer.

The aim, Biden said, was to join in sharing data from across the world, where study will be assisted by supercomputers and hopefully lead to a future where cancer treatment was a simple as tackling diseases such as mumps or measles.

“Most of all it is about not giving up hope, not giving up the fight,” he declared.

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SEABL: Canberra Gunners finals hopes suffer blow after Tim Coenraad injury

Tim Coenraad, pictured playing in the NBL for Illawarra, suffered a foot injury playing for Canberra Gunners on Saturday. Photo: Christopher ChanThe Canberra Gunners may be forced to end their nine-year finals drought without key man Tim Coenraad after he suffered a foot injury in the club’s Victorian road double on the weekend.
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Canberra’s 77-74 win at Frankston on Saturday was soured by the loss of Coenraad, who recently re-signed with Illawarra Hawks in the NBL, and Dylan Simpson (knee).

They suited up just eight players against Nunawading on Sunday and despite a 20-7 rally midway through the third quarter, succumbed 89-76.

Despite the loss the Gunners remain fourth in the eastern conference, but are just a game ahead of the Spectres and Ballarat.

Three wins from the last five games should be enough to secure a first playoff campaign since 2007, but Coenraad’s plantar fasciitis injury is a huge blow.

With Indiana Faithfull (broken finger) already sidelined, the Gunners are fast running out of troops.

“We have lots of injuries, I’m not sure Tim will play again with a foot injury and we’re running out of bodies,” Gunners coach Brad Davidson said.

“He’s a professional and he’s got a livelihood [in the NBL] he has to look after, we’ll see what happens when he gets checked out.”

Simpson’s injury isn’t considered serious and his return would be crucial as the Gunners embark on three straight home games.

Davidson was pleased with his undermanned sides resolve at Nunawading but the hosts’ offensive efficiency was the difference.

“It seemed every time we got back into it they’d hit a three pointer toward the end of the shot clock, it was frustrating,” Davidson said.

“They shot really well and it came down to that in the end.”

In the women’s competition, Canberra Capitals Academy lost to Frankston 69-57 and Nunawading 92-68 over the weekend.

SEABL

Men: Canberra Gunners 77 (T Coenraad 21pts, 10reb; B Allen 15pts, 13reb) beat Frankston 74 (R Jones 20pts, nine rebs; B Lewis 21pts); Nunawading 89 (S McDonald 18pts, eight assts; S Conn 18pts, 11reb;) beat Canberra Gunners 76 (B Allen 24pts, 11reb; B Kuol 15pts)

Women: Frankston 69 (K Standish 22pts, 10reb, 5asst; T Phillips 16pts) beat Canberra Capitals Academy 57 (C Smith 15pts, M Penn 11pts); Nunawading 92 (A Kame 25pts; H Zavecz 17pts, 11reb) beat Canberra Capitals Academy 68 (M Penn 19pts, nine reb; A Davis 17pts)

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Daryl Gibson laments poor start to season as Waratahs’ post-mortem begins

Daryl Gibson says there is a “sense of unfulfillment” about the NSW Waratahs’ season as they begin a post-mortem on why they failed to make the Super Rugby finals for the first time since 2013.
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As optimistic as the Waratahs tried to be when they arrived back in Sydney from New Zealand on Saturday, they would have hardly been surprised to see the Brumbies easily account for the Force and ultimately put an end to their inconsistent season.

NSW finished with eight wins from 15 games but it could have been far worse after a 2-4 start to the year with early slip-ups to the Brumbies (twice) and the Rebels at home.

“Those moments we’ll dwell on and say we weren’t good enough,” Gibson said. “Our start probably hurt us the most… they were games we needed to get results out of. What I am proud about is how the boys came back from that difficult start and got us back in contention. Finishing off and not making the finals is disappointing and leaves a sense of unfulfilment.”

A total of 10 players made their Waratahs debut, with eight – Bryce Hegarty, Angus Ta’avao, David Horwitz, Reece Robinson, Tom Robertson, Andrew Kellaway, Ned Hanigan and Jim Stewart – sticking around in 2017.

Gibson labelled the newcomers’ transition into Super Rugby “a success” but conceded there would be problems surrounding the departures of senior players Dave Dennis, Wycliff Palu, Kurtley Beale and Benn Robinson.

“If we look at next year’s team, it’s going to be youthful and those players are going to benefit from their introduction this year,” Gibson said. “We’ve got a lot of experience we’re going to lose for a second year in a row, so that has to happen in every team.”

Gibson would not comment on the likely departure of hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, but restated his hope that Dean Mumm would go around for one more year and opt against retiring.

Israel Folau had another exceptional year for NSW, scoring two more tries than any other Super Rugby player (11), as well as finishing second for metres gained (1250) – behind the Force’s Dane Haylett-Petty – fourth on carries (173) and fifth in the competition for offloads (24).

Looking beyond the 34-28 final-game scoreline in Auckland, the Waratahs’ scrum showed just how far it has come since the set-piece was exposed as the team’s Achilles earlier in the year.

The Reds game in Brisbane springs to mind to when the Waratahs were asked to continue to pack scrums because the Queenslanders were so sure they were going to dominate in that area.

That a NSW pack, lead by the ever-improving Paddy Ryan, Polota-Nau and Gibson’s find of the year in Tom Robertson, could orchestrate two penalty tries against a quality a New Zealand unit shows their development.

“We started the season with a scrum under pressure and we got rewarded with two penalty tries which shows our scrum’s really improving,” said captain Michael Hooper. “It’s certainly a bright future for us.”

Said Polota-Nau: “You want to get those young guys really involved and to understand what it takes to be at the top level and I could only do that from the sideline but once I came back there was a kinaesthetic understanding. Paddy Ryan’s transition from tighthead to loosehead, who does that? Credit goes to him and Tom Robertson for preparing and understanding that it’s little minute detail that gets results like that.”

Forwards coach Cam Blades was just as pleased, saying he could see improvements kicking in around the halfway mark of the year.

“The back half of the season, the scrum has been strong and in the last few games we’ve been able to use it as a bit of a weapon,” Blades said. “I’m really happy with the way the guys have developed.”

Regardless of whether Mumm pulls up stumps at the Waratahs, Gibson is in the market for a second-rower, while his back line is largely untouched aside from the departure of Beale.

Asked whether Beale had indicated if he would come back to NSW after his stint with English club Wasps, Gibson said: “There’s been no discussions. He’d be very welcome at the Waratahs. We’re just really keen to see him succeed at Wasps.”

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Hunter travellers come to terms with narrow escapes in Nice attack

MERE minutes and metres wereall that stood between a tragic night and a narrow escape for five young Hunter travellersin picture-perfect Nice.
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PERFECT: Novocastrians Thomas Davies and Catriona Reid in Nice on Bastille Day. Picture: Supplied.

As tributes flow from around the world for the 84 people killed in the south of France on Bastille Day, those caught up in the attack like Thomas Davies, Catriona Reid, Georgia Bear, Dom Batey and Jackson Paul are struggling to come to terms with the tragedy that struck thepopular holiday destination.

After leaving the city, Maitland pair Mr Paul and MrBatey have now described their “sketchy”ordeal and revealed their reliance on family at home to provide information when hiding in a nearby cafe for safety.

Just 15 minutes before the attack, the 21-year-old men had been enjoying drinks on the beach watching fireworks before walking along the very Promenade des Anglais where a truck was to plough into a crowd for about 1.8kmand cause chaos on the country’s national day.

BLUE, WHITE AND RED: Dom Batey (back left) and Jackson Paul (back right) in French celebrations. Picture: Facebook.

Mr Paul and Mr Batey had made their way toa popular nightclub called Wayne’s just 150mfrom where the incident occurred about 10.30pm on Thursday.

The venue then went into lockdown mode and rumours of a gunman instilled panic before the Maitland Blacks rugby union playersfound a fire exit into a back alley.

After sprinting away the duorealised they had split from their tour group and decided to take refuge.

They were taken in by the female owner of a small cafeand stayed with her for two hours as they assessed the unfolding situation and planned what action to take next.

NOW AND THEN: Georgia Bear said Nice was nothing but sunshine and good times before the attack. Picture: Instagram.

“We didn’t know whether to stay or go,” Mr Paul said. “We were told there was a second gunman roaming the streets, but we decided to make a break for our hotel.”

Mr Batey shared those concerns and tried to get updates via his mobile phone.

“It wasso sketchy when we were hiding in that cafe because we didn’t know was happening,” Mr Batey said. “We were relying on family back home to tell us if it was safe to leave or not.”

Despite the unknown potential dangers outside Mr Paul and Mr Batey ran for their accomodation, which was a further 2km away.

Upon arrival at their destination they were met by concerned friends waiting for them in the hotel lobby.

Three days on from the experiencethey are both “still in shock”. They have continued onto Barcelona.

Calm before the storm in shattered Nice​By Brodie Owen

“NOTHING but sunshine and good times here in Nice,” read a caption to aphotograph posted onlineby Merewether’s Georgia Bear a day before 84 people were mowed down and killed.

It’s a jarring sentence now –but it was an accurate description of the peace ahead ofthe seaside town’s national Bastille Day celebrations.

Fast forward 24 hours,and for Novocastrians Tom Davies and Catriona Reid (pictured above),who were there the night of the attack,so much had changed.

The duo were returning to their hostel when they were overcome by fear.

“As we were leaving we heard what we now know were gunshots but we thought were just fire crackers,” Mr Davies said in an email to theNewcastle Herald.“The crowd started moving a little quicker, within minutes there were police cars speeding and sirens were blasting.

TRIBUTES: Flowers being laid at the site of the Nice attack. Picture: Getty Images.

“We quickly made our way to the hostel to hear that a truck crashed into the crowd on the promenade, where we were just minutes before, there was open gunfire and already people dead.

“The next few hours were full of fear, uncertainty and a growing death count.”

Mr Davies said he and his girlfriend had been emotionally affected by the act of terrorism.

“Our hearts are heavy for the huge amount of people who weren’t as lucky as we were,” he said.“[It’s] something you never think will happen to you until it does.”

Merewether’sMeg Bear, the mother of anothertraveller,Georgia Bear, told theHeraldon Sunday she wanted her daughterto come home.Georgia was lucky to fly fromNice to Italythe day before the attack.

“One moment you can be having the best time, everything is fine and then bang, everything changes,” Meg Bear said.

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Australia’s problem with gambling

IT’S been called the national blindness comparable to America’s blindness about the impact of guns –Australia’s problem with gambling.
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In every town and city in Australia the pokies are there. In just aboutevery pub and club they sit, with 12,000 poker machines in the Hunter alone.In every home where a television is turned to sport there is betting, and in every mobile phone and laptop there is the capacity to wager bets on just about anything you can imagine.

And yet our response in Australia is to tell individuals not to gamble too much or else they’ll end up with a problem.

As Knights legend Tony Butterfield wrote in a passionate opinion piece and wake-up call for rugby league administrators in April, there are apps where you can now lose your money quicker than you can say “Remember, gamble responsibly”.

“This technological revolution has well and truly brought this disease into the 21stcentury. This slope has become too slippery and the rules have changedto the extent our kids don’t stand a chance,” Butterfield wrote.

The statistics are staggering. In 2015 more than $6 billion was put through the Hunter’s 12,000 poker machines alone. Across the state the figure was $73 billion. That’s just NSW, and just poker machines.

In May we had Responsible Gambling Awareness Week where –and it’s no surprise –the message was directed at individuals to be “responsible”, while gambling opportunities infect everyday life to such a ubiquitous degree that we are blind to it.

Certainly major party politicians are deaf, dumb and blind to it, and the extent they’re captured by the gambling industry. Worse, they appearpowerless against campaigns by the gambling industry when even the mildest of gambling reforms are proposed.

Which is why Australians should be relieved to hear gambling reform will be on the federal agenda. Last week long-time reform advocateSenator Nick Xenophon andTasmanian Independent MPAndrew Wilkiesaid they would use their key crossbench positions in the new parliament to reignite debate on tackling the problem.

Reform could include banning sports betting advertising during G-rated TV broadcasts and $1 poker machine bets.

Thegambling industry will no doubt mount an aggressive campaign against the reforms. But like America and guns, in Australia there are none so blind as those who will not see.

ISSUE: 48,287

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