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Newcastle, so hot and cold right now

DEMAND: Dave Crane says winter clothes are already selling off the shelves.WHAT the heck is going on with this weather? And what is it doing to Newcastle’s fashion scene?
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Everywhere Topics goesaround the city, it seems no one has a cluewhat to make of Mother Nature’s state of mind. Is it hot, or cold? Jacket on, or off? Should I really be wearing those thongs, oris it time to dust off the scarf?

Topics tried to answer these important life questions as we took our jacket off, before promptly putting it back on, for the third time in 15 minutes at the weekend.

We eventually resolved that it wasn’t cold enough for a jacket – but before long a friend had us stumped again.

“I just saw someone pay $800 for a fur coat,” she thundered as she sat down for lunch. “Where would you even wear it –it’s not like it’s that cold.”

A frustrated Topics decided to further investigate, so we hit the capital of the Hunter’s high fashion scene –The Junction –to find out if there was a winter rush.

SUMMER CITY: Lindsay Otto finds that Newcastle tends to buck winter fads.

Dave Crane, the co-owner of Seraph women’s clothingstore on Kenrick Street, confirmed that winter had definitely come early.

“Winter is here,” he said.“I’m finding that people are preparing a lot earlier this year. We’re selling a lot of scarves, a lot of knitwear. It’s a relief, to be honest, becauselast year was just too hot. People just want to be ready.”

Lindsay Otto, of Otto’s women’s clothing, observed that some in the city were in “winter denial” (think: shorts and ugg boots)–but there was no cause for concern because “Newcastle doesn’t really embrace winter, anyway”.

“It’s something to do with our beach lifestyle,” she said. “You never really need much to keep warm. Something light will do.”

Whatever havocthis “in between” weather might be wreaking on tough as nails Newcastle, at least we’re not as bad as Sydney.

KEEPING IT REAL: John Nelson in his shorts and thongs at The Junction.

As one Topics correspondent noted this week of Sydney fashion on Facebook: “Man scarves. Man scarves everywhere. Sadly. Mostly wound around the neck three times and tucked into the breast of a Ted Baker tweed coat. The walk is one of purpose, hands in coat pockets, an expressionless face staring outward through heavy-rimmed Tom Fords.”

It prompted the reply: “This Northern town glances at what the big smoke is doing then ignores it.”

Merewether’s John Nelson is one proud Novocastrian thumbing his nose at the fashion elites of Sydney.

Resplendent in shorts,thongs and a polo shirt as he walked down Kenrick Street on Monday afternoon, John said simply of his fashion choice:“I’m comfortable.”

Hard to argue with that.

“I do rug up from time to time, but not now,” John explained. “It’s just not one of those days.”

Newcastle can expect a top of 21 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ask yourself, WWJD – What Would John Do?

Go behind the barsTHINK it’s cold? Spare a thought for the inmates ofMaitland Gaol. Or just seefor yourself.

Maitland council has announced the return of its popular night tours at the historic penitentiary, giving visitors another perspective of the former prison.

Visitors will experiencehow the prisoners counted down the time until their release, as well as an inside look into the many escape attempts at thejail.

A children’s tour called “Snitch’s Gaol Exploration” –narrated by “Snitch the rat” –is also promised.

The next night tours will take place between 6pm and 9.30pm on June 9 and July 14. Last entry at 8.30pm.

It pays dividends to check

This column was written on the night of the federal budget, so matters pertaining to the economy were to the fore.
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Or ‘ecomomy’ as it was published on the front page of a metropolitan newspaper recently

I don’t highlight the mistake to poke fun at someone else’s mistake.

Regular readers of this column, or my sister at least, would be aware a central theme is the importance of self-editing copy, or if possible getting another pair of eyes to check.

The typo appeared in an edition that may not have been sub-edited.

It’s the future of newspapers we are told, especially online.

But it’s not just media consumers who suffer from unedited copy.

A week before that newspaper’s mistake, reports were published of a Centrelink letter to Melbourne’s Ben Klein, a TAFE Advanced Diploma of Music Industry student.

In an effort to advise him of Austudy payments, the unsigned letter contained typographic, grammatical, spelling and factual errors.

It was so poor, on first viewing Mr Klein actually thought it a scam.

At least a dozen mistakes lined up for the honour of document doozy including the agency misspelling its own name “Cedntrelink”, and citing an irrelevant law.

Despite being about Austudy, the letter said the notice was given under “paid parental leave law”.

Music obviously soothes the soul and Mr Klein good-naturedly “marked” the letter, but gave it an F.

Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongensaid the letter had not been automatically generated by a computer but was in fact from a manual template and the mistakes were the result of human error.

How reassuring.

I wonder if any budget money is going to literacy programs?

Darrell Croker is senior coach at Write For Impact. CLOSER LOOK: It is important to have a second set of eyes read over your work to pick up any mistakes.

Izzy’s reaching for the starsVIDEO

HARD WORKER: Izzy Roughan dreams of one day becoming an astronaut.IZZY Roughan has her mind set –she is going to be an astronaut.
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For as long as she can remember, the St Joseph’s High School student has wanted to visit outer space.

Inspired by her late grandfather’s love of astronomy, she has actively pursued her goal since she was a young child.

She regularly flies planes at Scone Aero Club to build her skills as a pilot.

Her latest goal is to raise enough money to take her to anAdvanced Space Academy Program at the United States Space and Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

“Recently I was made aware of the 2017 iSTEM Space Camp Tour that enables selected Year 9-to-12 students from NSW, accompanied by teachers, to participate in the space academy program,” she said.

“By attending this iSTEM space camp, I will have a marvellous opportunity to feel what it’s really liketo be an astronaut.”

Her interest in leaving Earthhas grown over the years, particularly since she began studying physics and chemistry.

“It all kind of got bigger when I got to learn about it more,” she said.

“Not many people get the opportunity –it’s like one in a million that actually get to become an astronaut.

“It’s very demanding and it’s really hard to get to.

“And, by the time you become one, you’re well into your thirties or forties.

“There are a lot of people out there who want the same role, but there are only a few people that actually get it.”

Izzy has never met an astronaut before, but she is looking forward to the activities inthe US program, including meeting with like-minded students.

“I think it will be interesting to share our common interests and be able to speak to each other about it,” she said.

“The whole week [we will be] doing things that astronauts would do –being flipped upside down in those really cool machines,actually putting the space suit on,going underwater in the space suit, and just learning what it’s like to be an astronaut.”

The 17-year-old often reflects on how much work is required to make her dream a reality.

But, it never changes her aspirationto one day view the planet from a distance.

She would liketo thank Professor Tim Robertsfrom The Tom Farrell Institute, and business development manager atUmwelt Australia Julie Wicks for their assistance.

To donate, visithttps://梧桐夜网gofundme南京夜网/izzy-roughan-istem-space-camp

LIFELONG DREAM: Even when she was a baby, Izzy had space pyjamas.

To keep updated with the program, findhttps://梧桐夜网facebook南京夜网/SJAspacecamp/on Facebook.

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Jack and Margaretha’s $5 million property plan to be stay at home parents

Six properties at 24: From housing commission to property investorHow a 28-year-old investor used Uber to help him buy six propertiesHow a 20-year-old bought three investment properties: His seven steps to get started
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Corporate IT worker Jack Chen, 32, and his wife Margaretha have spent the past eight years buying properties across Sydney and Brisbane.

But their ultimate aim isn’t to reach 100 properties or live a life of luxury. Instead, they want to be able to start a family and stay at home together.

The Hills District couple already have enough equity and rental income from their nine properties to be able to retire provided they keep their living costs in check.

“We plan to start a family very soon and want the flexibility for [us as] Mum and Dad to be full-time, stay-at-home carers,” Jack said.

Already, they have managed to take off seven months of work to travel and Jack recently reduced his hours to part-time to look into other interests, including mortgage broking.


When he graduated university, Jack looked into managed funds and share trading as ways to increase his wealth.

“The only thing that really stuck was property,” he said.

In his second year out of university in 2007, after saving a deposit, Jack bought a two-bedroom walk-up flat in Marrickville for $307,000.

This was his first foray into property investing – he sold it in 2012 for $456,000 after some renovations and used the proceeds to pay down other debt.

“In hindsight I should have kept it, as it would be easily worth $800,000 today,” he said.

The rest of the couple’s portfolio-building began in 2009. Margaretha bought an apartment in Eastwood for $352,000 as her first home and claimed the $14,000 grant before living in the property for a year. Together, they painted and renovated with a $2500 budget.

While they lived in the home, they saved as diligently as possible.

“Every time we built up enough of a deposit, we bought the next [property],” Jack said.

A year later they bought and moved into a Belmore apartment for $217,000 with a 20 per cent deposit. They kept the Eastwood unit, renting it out as the first step of their investment portfolio.

This buy-and-hold strategy is at the cornerstone of their financial planning.

“Once we got married and combined finances, we were able to buy much more frequently and at the same time aggressively pay down debt in our principal residence,” Jack said.

While living in the Belmore apartment and spending about $1000 on cosmetic improvements, they managed to buy a Homebush West unit in March 2010 for $343,500 that they renovated with a $4500 budget before putting it up for rent.

By the end of 2010, they were ready to upgrade into a house – buying in Baulkham Hills for $658,500 and spending $9000 on renovations – and put their Belmore apartment on to the rental market.

After a few years of saving, by 2013 they bought their last Sydney investment property – an apartment in Guildford for $345,500.

Sydney then became too expensive for investment, as prices began to soar and rental yields fell.

Their portfolio was growing significantly in value, but to expand they had to look elsewhere.

Queensland quickly came on to the radar due to its relative affordability, strong rental yields and likely prospects for growth. Using a buyer’s agent to scope out opportunities, in 2014 they bought two houses in Zillmere, Brisbane, for $430,000 and $374,000, undertaking undertook minor improvements for $5000 and $5500.

After another two years of Sydney property market growth, they no longer had to save but rather could use the equity from their portfolio. There was “no looking back”.

In February 2017, they bought a house in Boronia Heights, Logan City, south of Brisbane. They are currently settling on a house in Loganlea, also in Logan City, bought in April.

With this portfolio, and dabbling in some shares investing, the couple have high hopes they will be prepared to give their children a very different life experience.

“Around the time the kids hit toddler age, we plan to rent out [our home] and travel the world together as a family for years on end,” Jack said.

They have close to $2.5 million worth of equity in the portfolio, which cost them about $3.4 million to buy. Jack estimates the value of the portfolio at about $5.2 million. This means they still have around $2.7 million in property debt.

When including their shares portfolio into their debt calculations, this brings it up to $3.1 million.

They’ve also started converting some of the loans to principal and interest to start paying down this debt – part of a risk management strategy they’re putting in place. They also have insurances and buffers in case of vacancies and are prepared to lower their rents significantly if needed.

Having tracked their living expenses together, which total $40,000 a year, Jack said they could take equity out of the portfolio and turn it into dividend income through shares. He estimates that would provide $75,000 a year – enough to stop working.

But until then, he’s going to continue to build his portfolio and pay down debt, anticipating they’ll be able to pay off their non-deductible debt on their Baulkham Hills home over the next three months.

Jack hopes to teach his children about property investing: “I fully expect that the Monopoly board game will be a family favourite.”???

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Insurers forced to display savings under new fire levy rules

The way fire and emergency services are funded in NSW is changing. Photo: Adam WrightNSW insurance companies will be forced to show the price a customer paid for the previous year’s property insurance on renewal notices from July 1 under reforms to how fire and emergency services are funded.
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The rule is designed to provide transparency in the savings insurers are expected to pass onto customers when a levy used to fund fire and emergency services in NSW is removed from insurance policies in favour of a new property-based tax.

The requirement will be announced by former corporate regulator Professor Allan Fels during a public inquiry into NSW insurers at state Parliament on Tuesday.

Professor Fels has been appointed by the NSW government as Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor to ensure that insurance companies pass on savings to customers.

The monitor is charged with ensuring insurers drop residential insurance premiums by up to 20 per cent and can apply penalties of up to $10 million to companies breaking the rules.

It says insurers have been compelled to attend the public inquiry to answer questions about how they price their insurance policies ahead of the change.

“Today’s inquiry is firstly and foremost about accountability,” Professor Fels said.

“It’s a good opportunity for insurers to show what they are doing and how they plan to do the right thing by their customers when the [emergency services levy] is removed on July 1.

“The removal of the Emergency Services Levy from insurance policies should not be used to restore or increase insurer profit margins.”

A spokesman for the Insurance Council of Australia said insurers “will do the right thing by NSW consumers as they did in Victoria when that jurisdiction removed its Fire Services Levy in 2013”.

“Insurers are aware of the Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor’s expectations [of the requirement to list the previous year’s price] and are seeking to comply at short notice,” he said.

“This was only made formal in a notice gazetted last Friday. It was previously a best-practice recommendation contained in a guideline that the Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor issued late last year.”

From July 1, NSW property owners will be charged the new Fire and Emergency Services Levy based on land value determined by the NSW Valuer-General.

The government has estimate the average levy will be $185 but the change is angering many property owners who will pay much more under the new regime.

OpinionUniversity has new brand, but the same old issues

DISILLUSIONED: “Staff working conditions are student learning conditions, and continued attacks on one undermine both.”
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Patriotism may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, but is rebranding the last hope of a management that has lost its way? With great ceremony and reportedly costing more than $1million, the University of Newcastle (UON) this week launched its brand: The world needs new.

But consider what’s going behind the scenes. All eyes are instead on the Professional Staff Review, widely understood to be proposingup to170 imminent job cuts.

Recommendationsfrom the external consultant hired to undertake the reviewwere due to be announced in April, but the review is seemingly in disarray: promisedweekly updates for staff dried up without explanation around six weeks ago, and reports suggest that the consultant has now disappeared from campus. UON hasrefusedto reveal the ongoing cost of the review. The $25million price for a recent similar review at the University of NSW is worrying.Another external consultant has reportedly been hired to oversee the resultant organisational change. It appears senior management is now outsourcing management.

The seeming disarray is also evident in senior management walking away mid-review. The head of human resources will leave UON next month. Further, the university’s head lawyer is away on extended leave, and despite this week’s launch of a new brand, the marketing director has also recently resigned. Surely an indicator ofgoodmanagement would be to have human resources,legal, and marketingteams in place at a time of the proposedmajor restructure and associatedmassive job cuts.

All the signs are there that the university is seeking significant financial savings through this process, and hence significant productivity increases from all remaining staff. References to improving our ‘agility, effectiveness and efficiency in a changing higher education landscape’ are received by staff for what they are – tired, empty slogans borrowed from spin doctors across the sector to try to justify cost-cutting and work intensification.

The negative impact of several years of poorly communicated, endless ‘restructuring’, and formalistic ‘consultation’ with staff and their union, after decisions have been made, has to stop. Staff working conditions are student learning conditions, and continued attacks on one undermine both.No amount of rebranding can paper over that.

Meanwhile, a number of additional, significant issues remain unresolved. The university continues to channel money to Broadspectrum, complicit in human rights abuses at the Manus and Nauru detention camps. This is despite two years of overwhelming opposition from students, staff and others, and despite recently adopting an ‘Ethical Framework’ for decision-making that claims UON aspires ‘to deserve the trust and good opinion of the communities we serve’ and be ‘accountable for the choices we make’. Really? How is management holding itself ‘accountable’ for continuing to associate the university with ongoing human rights abuses?

Last year’s Your Voice survey of staff produced devastating evidence of staff disillusionment with senior management– particularly how they handle change.Senior management may not like that staff are disillusioned with their performance,but responding with more spin and diversion, rather than substance and transparency, will only further damage this important public institution.

Associate Professor Tom Griffiths is president of the Newcastle Branch of the National Tertiary Education Union.

Will & Grace tease comeback season with musical trailer

The gang’s back and they have a simple message in the new first-look at Will & Grace’s comeback season: “Everything’s as if we never said goodbye.”
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The epic five-and-a-half minute trailer, launched by network NBC during this week’s “upfronts”, plays like its own mini episode, with star Eric McCormack (Will) attempting to convince a reluctant Debra Messing (Grace) the reboot is a good idea, despite her cold feet and Twitter priorities.

The clincher is a backstage visit to the sitcom’s iconic set, where castmates Sean Hayes (Jack) and Megan Mullally (Karen) are already positioned in character, martinis in-hand, leading to a Broadway-esque musical number.

“We’ll have must-see primetime madness, This Is Us should be our lead-in,” they sing, a sly in-joke at NBC’s loaded fall ratings schedule.

“Well, that was gay,” says McCormack, as the singalong ends and confetti pops.

The series, returning for a 12-episode revival, originally wrapped in 2007 – its finale aired locally on Channel Seven – following eight seasons that netted 16 Emmys and a handful of GLAAD Awards for its groundbreaking focus on openly gay characters.

The cast reunited for a 10-minute special last September, urging Americans to vote in the US election, testing the waters for a full-scale reboot which was confirmed this January.

Alongside the cast, the new series also brings back the show’s creative team, including writers and creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan and veteran director James Burrows, who helmed every episode of the show’s original run.

The series will premiere in the States around September, with a local broadcaster yet to be confirmed. Did somebody say encore?! #WillAndGrace is back this fall on @NBC. pic.twitter南京夜网/uKOxtYGJCP??? Will & Grace (@WillAndGrace) May 15, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Blunder could leave thousands without driver’s licence

Michael Bounds, 75, has had his driver’s licence revoked despite having a medical condition deemed as safe by his specialist. Photo: Steven SiewertIt’s the time away from his grandchildren that angers Mike Bounds the most about having his driver’s licence revoked.
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The 75-year-old can no longer drive to visit his two youngest grandkids after he received a letter saying he was unfit to drive due to having an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The aneurysms, which are balloon-like swellings of arteries, can cause sudden death if they burst, which is why people who have them require a 12-month conditional licence.

But if the aneurysms are under about five centimetres or are repaired, they pose no danger.

Mr Bounds, a retired widower who lives in Gosford on the NSW Central Coast, has one that has been repaired and assessed as safe by his specialist.

He said being told he was unable to drive despite this had left him feeling isolated, lonely and frustrated.

“The simplest things now become seriously complicated,” he said.

“Socialising with friends ceases to happen; getting to watch grandchildren grow up is limited; picking up a coffee and talking to people at our local village shops, no more.”

The Australian and New Zealand Society for Vascular Surgery has called for an urgent ministerial review of the national licensing guidelines.

The Australian and New Zealand Society for Vascular Surgery has called for an urgent ministerial review of the national licensing guidelines. Photo: Louie Douvis

Its president, Dr Bernie Bourke, said there were more than 18,000 Australians with repaired aneurysms who could be in the same position due to incorrect wording that stated they were unfit to drive.

He estimated up to a further 70,000 people with abdominal aortic aneurysms might one day be in the same situation.

“The problem is that people are having licences taken away because the licensing authorities are misinterpreting the ambiguous standards,” said Dr Bourke, who is also Mr Bounds’ specialist.

“To deny driving licences to these patients is as ludicrous as denying a patient who has had successful treatment of a fractured leg.”

Dr Bourke said he had been told the National Transport Commission was investigating the issue, but he remained concerned as new guidelines were published on average only every four years.

The most recent guidelines, which inform state licence authorities such as VicRoads in Victoria and Roads and Maritime Services in NSW, were published in 2016.

He wants ministerial intervention to speed up the process.

“Patients are being unnecessarily and seriously inconvenienced,” Dr Bourke said.

“These patients are often in the older age bracket but are perfectly fit to drive. They may live alone …or they may have a spouse for whom they care.”

A National Transport Commission spokesman said it had written to each state’s licensing authority on Tuesday asking them to issue licences for drivers with repaired abdominal aortic aneurysms.

He said they were also seeking to change the guidelines in consultation with the vascular surgery society but it would need ministerial approval.

Meanwhile, Mr Bound is spending thousands on a lawyer to appeal the decision in June.

He said he was grateful for his mental strength but worried how others would cope in his situation.

“I can see how it would make you depressed,” he said. “Other people might say, ‘What’s the point?’ “

Transport Minister Darren Chester declined to comment.

John Oliver roasts New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English

John Oliver has lobbed a giant, comedic grenade at New Zealand – or, as he prefers to call it, “wallaby f— island”.
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Australia’s neighbour drew the Last Week Tonight host’s ire after its Prime Minister Bill English remarked that Oliver wasn’t very funny.

The British comedian took no time in firing back, using the most recent episode of his show to label the National Party leader the “very poorest man’s Daniel Craig”.

“Bill English must know the moment he mentioned my name I was going to immediately find the stupidest, most humiliating things about him that I could,” Oliver said. “Because when it comes to Kiwis, Johnny don’t play.”

The comedian then launched straight into a rant where he called the New Zealand PM a “masturbating cyborg”, before mocking an “indescribably lame” exercise video English recently put on Facebook.

In the video, the politician describes how his exercise routine involves walking uphill and running down the “downhill bits”.

“After seeing that, I would give anything for Bill English to make a sex tape,” Oliver joked, taking aim at the PM’s monotone narrating skills.

However, the best was saved for last. Oliver – unsurprisingly – brought up last month’s now-infamous pizza post that generated headlines all around the world.

The post showed the New Zealand PM taking a selfie, along with a snap of some pizzas he cooked for his family with a controversial ingredient – tinned spaghetti.

“I think I speak on behalf of all humanity when I say, no!” Oliver shouted. “Hard no there, Bill. I do not agree with canned spaghetti on a pizza because that is not a thing anyone should be doing. A divorced dad cooking for his kids on the weekend would not put canned spaghetti on a pizza.”

The skit then concluded with Oliver listing several other pizzas English would probably enjoy, including one made with “skittles, baking soda and condoms”.

English has reportedly not seen Oliver’s latest skit, but has said the publicity can only be good for New Zealand.

It is not the first time Oliver has taken aim at the country and its politics. Last year, the British comedian performed a skit involving two giant penises after finance minister Steven Joyce was hit by a flying sex toy during a press conference.

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Cassandra Sainsbury’s fiance arrives at jail with red rose

Accused drug mule Cassandra Sainsbury has been reunited with her family, including her fiance Scott Broadbridge, who arrived at the Colombian prison where she is being held carrying a single red rose.
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The 22-year-old South Australian woman was also visited by her mother, Lisa Evans, and sister, Khala Sainsbury, in a separate meeting at the El Buen Pastor women’s prison in the Colombian capital Bogota on Monday, local time.

It is the first time the former personal trainer has seen her family since she was arrested at El Dorado International Airport on April 12, allegedly with 5.8 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside 18 headphone boxes in her suitcase.

Ms Sainsbury’s family did not speak to waiting media as they arrived and left the prison, after signing deals with separate Australian networks.

Mr Broadbridge arrived in Colombia late last week with a crew from Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program, while Ms Sainsbury’s mother and sister have signed a deal with Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes.

Mr Broadbridge was carrying an overnight bag, a plastic bag and a red rose when he arrived at the prison.

He spent about an hour visiting his fiancee, before Ms Sainsbury’s mother and sister arrived with several bags and spent a similar length of time visiting, according to Channel Nine.

Ms Sainsbury’s Colombian lawyer Orlando Herran also visited her in prison, saying his client was “fine … she is meeting with Scott”.

Ms Sainsbury has denied any knowledge of the drugs in her suitcase.

She has reportedly told authorities that she was tricked and given the headphones by a man she knew only as Angelo or Tom, who had been showing her around Bogota.

The man offered to buy her the headphones cheaply and brought them to her shortly before she was due to fly out, Ms Sainsbury claims.

She said she planned to give the headphones as gifts to friends and members of her wedding party.

Police arrested her inside the airport as she prepared to board a flight to London.

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Cast adrift, clinging to a door, students slam minister

On Monday night, a post-budget edition of Q&A was chock full of big questions. It was beamed to us Live From The Gold Coast, a miracle of science and medicine unimagined by previous generations, but otherwise the answers to modern life were less confidently come by.
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Is the age of entitlement over? (Answer: Depends.)

Are our major political parties the definition of insanity? (Answer: Well, come on now??? how many fingers am I holding up?)

Are governments deliberately targeting young people? (Answer: Pop this apple on your head and sit very, very still.)

And this: how does a cabaret at the Twin Towns Services Club ever end if there is this much recurring applause? It’s a wonder a Roy Orbison tribute band ever manages to finish a show.

“Thank you,” said host Tony Jones early on. “We can’t be clapping every statement.”

Oh, but they could Tony. They could.

There was much applause, and even a bit of lively shouting, by way of a band of student protesters.

Leading the youthful rebellion was Molly James, who wanted to know of Education Minister Simon Birmingham: “While you were at university you were an active student politician who campaigned for fair treatment from government ??? why is it now 20 years on that your view has complete changed?”

Birmingham: “A lot’s changed in the last 20, 30 years. A lot’s changed in the last decade. We’ve seen enormous growth in the number of Australian students going to university???” – and then came the shouting, shouting with which fellow panellist Larissa Waters nodded in furious agreement while issuing a plea to security: “Don’t drag her out.”

This fell on deaf ears; the dragging had already commenced. A second questioner, Bec De Graaf, had a related, omnibus question: “Higher utility costs, more tax, higher health costs, low wage growth and a low exchange rate will ultimately affect everybody.The cost of a degree and lowering the wage level at which it has to be paid back will make the attractiveness of higher education a little lower in a competitive world job market. As a single mum of four children, who I’m trying to encourage to go to university and with me starting university next year, how does this make our already becoming outdated degree seem like a great pathway?”

When this question came to Innes Willox, head of the Australian Industry group, he trod carefully.

“Good on you. Fantastic,” Willox responded to De Graaf encouragingly, no doubt remembering his previous outing on Q&A, on the opening day of last year’s federal election campaign, when he found himself front-and-centre for the brutal pile-on administered to audience questioner Duncan Storrar. Everyone present for the Storrar encounter is older and wiser about the perils of live television now, though the perils of talking about the economic pie remain a trap.

On the notorious night in May 2016, it was Turnbull minister Kelly O’Dwyer advising Storrar: “The critical thing here is that we actually need to grow the pie.”

On Monday night, Willox told De Graaf: “The issue is that our pie is just this big. Our fiscal pie is just this big???. we all wish it would and it could, but to get money it needs to raise taxes and we go back to that circular argument.”

Larissa Waters: “Not corporate taxes in your book. Definitely not those.”

It fell to the final questioner, Joshua Lucey, to most forcefully hammer home the point the students had come to make: “My question to you is, why are you targeting my generation and our desire to – at some point – live the life you have been enjoying?”

In response, Birmingham proffered the Government’s budget measures to help young people save for a house deposit. Labor’s Chris Bowen called that policy plan “a complete joke” and declared: “Young people are targeted by this government.” Willox empathised with the questioner: “I have three kids. I’d rather be 53 than 23. I wouldn’t want to go through that again.”

Questioner Lucey remained unimpressed, delivering the closing reprimand to all of them: “I don’t know what century you think you live in. I think you’re totally out of touch. I would really love to know how much you paid for your degree. Somehow none of you own how much you earn or how much you had to pay for the struggles that we are currently enduring. I have not seen a single politician come out during this budget time and say [what] they’re earning and what they’re taking in by us is obscene and that it’s unrealistic to represent people like us that are struggling so much.”

In essence, Lucey was asking the politicians and business folk: how do you sleep at night?

For viewers trained by A Current Affair to believe that young people on the Gold Coast only prompted this question during Schoolies Week, this may have come as a revelation – and a reminder that the Millennials are also the Titanic Generation: forever wondering why the Baby Boomers cast them adrift clinging to a door, unable to reach a lifeboat, with Celine Dion wailing in the background.

Their hearts, one hopes, will go on.

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Medicinal cannabis works, just ask 12-year-old Jai Whitelaw

Wonderful results: Jai Whitelaw experienced up to 500 seizures a day and had exhausted all traditional medical avenues. Then he tried medicinal cannabis.The decision to include Port Macquarie Base Hospital ina trial of medicinal cannabis has met with a strongly favourable response.
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The trial will include some 80 people and will focus on patients who are suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea or vomiting.

The year-long trial will get underway shortly.

While there is mainly positive reaction to the decision to broaden the trial from two hospitals to a total of nine hospitals around the state, some sections of the community are concerned the trial is too little too late.

Crescent Head resident Tony Bower is an advocate for the use of medicinal cannabis. He operates Mullaways Medical Cannabis Pty Ltd.

One of his patients is 12 year old Jai Whitelaw from Queensland who was diagnosed with three rare forms of epilepsy as a five year old in 2010.

Jai’s mum Michelle says the government and medical argument that too little is known about the ramifications of using medicinal cannabis are wrong.

“My frustration is that Tony is providing medicine for some 200 sick kids. So, why aren’t they listening to him as the medicine maker,” she questioned.

“We have the very clear medical evidence that Jai is now seizure free.

“Change the laws.

“I just don’t get it. I don’t smoke cannabis. The medicine that comes from Tony’s company is harmless. We are not hurting anyone.

“We are saving our son. He had an expiry date and now he’s exceeded that.”

After exhausting all traditional medical treatments and pharmaceutical products, Jai was ‘essentially discharged from hospital and we were told to take him and just love him’.

In 2012 Jai was in hospital for all but five weeks while the following year was slightly better with him spending a total of 12 weeks at home.

He suffered numerous broken bones as the result of his falls associated with the seizures and his father and siblings have performed CPR on the youngster on numerous occasions.

In 2014 Jai was taking 35 tablets a day and was having up to 500 seizures a day.

“We were told by the medical fraternity that there was nothing more to do,” Michelle said.

Their life changed dramatically when Michelle eventually got in contact with Tony.

She says Tony told her that he made the medicine, did not take any payment and only asked that they document the amount and frequency of the tinctures.

After just the second day of administering her medicine, Michelle says there was a dramatic change in Jai.

“The seizures stopped. He is now, basically, seizure free and is counting up to nearly 700 days free.”

With such remarkable results, Michelle took Jai back to their medical specialists and went through further testing. They came back clear.

“Specialists need the science. So, let’s give them the science. Let’s give them more trials,” Michelle said.

With no hospital admissions for ‘a very long time’ Michelle said her family now has what every normal family has: normality.

Ballarat’s killer chef had mental health problems, inquest hears

Marcus Volke and (inset) Mayang Prasetyo.A former Ballarat man who killed and dismembered his Indonesian partner before taking his own life in 2014 had seen a doctor for anxiety, depression and a sleep disorder in the weeks before their deaths, an inquest has heard.
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Mayang Prasetyo, a transgender escort, was allegedly murdered and maimed by Brisbane chef Marcus Volke at their apartment before he then fled the scene and took his own life in a nearby industrial bin soon after police arrived for a welfare check.

During questioning before state coroner Terry Ryan on Monday, Detective Sergeant Joshua Walsh said Volke had presented to a Newstead-based doctor for mental health issues two weeks before the couple’s deaths in October 2014.

Detective Sergeant Walsh, who investigated Volke’s death, also said police had obtained medical records showing that he had sought treatment at the Ballarat Base Hospital when he was 16 years old.

Before moving to Brisbane, Mr Volke had lived in Haddon and attended Ballarat High School.

He had a keen interest in martial arts and was a member of Haddon’s Damashii Dojo.

Volke had met the victim while working as an escort in Melbourne’s club scene to pay off $9000 in credit card debts, the court heard.

Marcus Volke had a keen interest in martial arts. Photo: supplied.

In her opening address, counsel assisting Emily Cooper said neighbours had noticed a foul smell coming from the couple’s apartment on October 3, a day after they were heard arguing.

Mayang Prasetyo

That same day, Volke presented to Royal Brisbane Hospital for treatment to a cut on his hand, Ms Cooper said.

A manager of the Teneriffe apartment building where the couple lived contacted police on October 4 and reported seeing blood stains and cleaning products inside the unit.

One of the officers who responded to the report, Senior Constable Bryan Reid, said the building manager was concerned something wasn’t right.

“They knew that there was a female that lived there with the man and they hadn’t seen her for a couple days, and there was a foul sort of odour around there,” Sen Const Reid told the court.

“It was a bad smell, it was something I hadn’t smelt before and can’t really describe.”

Police questioned Volke outside the apartment and then allowed him to go back inside to tether his dogs so they could enter.

When he went back inside, Volke locked the door, self-harmed and exited from the rear of the building. He was later found dead inside a nearby bin.

Inside the apartment, police discovered some of Miss Prasetyo’s remains in a black garbage bag inside the washing machine, while her feet were found protruding from a stock pot on the kitchen floor, next to a pool of Volke’s blood.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact:

Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

– with AAP

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