Recruitment drive for anti-terror specialists

The Australian Federal Police will receive $321.4 million in this year’s federal budget to go on a big recruitment drive for anti-terrorism specialists, such as bomb squad technicians, tactical response officers, forensic scientists and negotiators.
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The cash splash has been describedby Justice Minister Michael Keenan as the “largest single domestic policing funding boost in a decade”, and is more than double the $153.6 million the AFP and the Australian Crime Commission received in last year’s budget, to be rolled out over five years, to boost security arrangements.

“We are living in a very difficult national security environment and we’re also living in an environment where organised criminals, particularly those involved in the drug trade, continue to enhance the sophistication of their operations,” Mr Keenantold the ABC.

“And we need the AFP to be a high-tech organisation, with the skills sets available to it to meet these threats.”

“We know crime is changing”,AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin said at a press conference to announce the funding held at the Majura Forensics Complex in the ACT.”It’s changing at an incredible rate, particularly for the work of the Australian Federal Police. My front-line officers, those in uniform, those investigators around the country and internationally, need to know that they have the most modern, capable police force behind them to help them in terms of the investigations and the critical work they do.

Be it in organised crime, be it in terrorism, be it in cyber-crime. We deal with some of the most complex protracted investigations that this country has and we need to know we have the capabilities to support those front-line officers and that is exactly what this announcement today is about.

It’s about ensuring the future of the AFP is reliant on those specialist capabilities, our forensic capabilities, our technical capabilities, our specialist core capabilities that support front-line police.”

So this is a very welcomed injection into the AFP. I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful statement about the support for the organisation, but also a wonderful opportunity for the AFP to make sure that we can deliver the AFP of the future; a ten-year commitment to look at the future of the organisation, to make sure we can deliver on our vision to make sure that we can support the community in the critical work that we do, particularly around terrorism and organised crime.

Last year, in a response to senate estimates, the AFP said it was “stretched” to fight terrorism: “The AFP’s capacity to respond to increased volumes of activities and threat means thatresources are stretched. The AFP will continue to prioritise work and cases based on therisks and threats to Australian interests.”

On February 28, NSW electricianHaisem Zahab was arrested at his property in Young in NSW’s south-west, for allegedly attemptingto research and design a laser warning device and missiles for IS over the internet.

The 42-year-old had been under investigation for 18 months as part of the Australian Federal Police’s Operation Marksburg.

Up to 400 federal and Victorian police were used on Operation Kasselholm, which culminated in a series of raids in Melbourne’s north-west just before Christmas 2016, aimed at foiling a plan to attack Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral. Seven people were arrested and four were charged.

While some of the high-tech recruits will focus on combatingthe threat from terrorism, others are likely to focus on the AFP’s work battling the international crime syndicates and drug importers linked to local gangs.

Last month, the AFP announced they had seized $903kilograms of ice in a warehouse in Melbourne, a record haul of the drug, hidden between the timber slats of floorboards imported from China.

It’s believed a Chinese organised crime syndicate was behind the importation and it was likely bound for crime syndicates for distribution across the country.

“We didn’t get to that warehouse by mistake,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said at the time, noting the AFP worked with Victoria Police.

“It’s good work, not good luck.”

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What Hunter kids thought of NAPLAN

Pens down: St Kevin’s Primary Cardiff students Rebecca Hart, Grady Platt and Oliver O’Grady said they had mixed feelings about NAPLAN moving online from next year. “I’m slower at typing, so I’d prefer it on paper,” Oliver said. Picture: Marina NeilSTUDENTS at StKevin’s Primary at Cardiffare“relieved” after the first of three days of NAPLAN, saying they are treating the literacy and numeracy assessments as “just another test” and“nothing to be stressed about”.
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Year five studentsGrady Platt, Rebecca Hart andOliver O’Grady, all 10,were among the44,962 Hunter and Central Coast year 3, 5, 7 and 9 students who sat the writing and language conventions papers on Tuesday.

Students from St Kevin’s Primary at Cardiff give their verdict on NAPLAN and the importance of not worrying @newcastleheraldpic.twitter南京夜网/RWMQej1jiw

— Helen Gregory (@HGregory_Herald) May 9, 2017

“I was a bit nervous but now I’m just relieved I’ve finished,” Rebecca said.“I’m not stressed about it.”

Grady said the tests werea“way for your parents to know how you’re going” and he felt like he’d done“quite well”.

The language conventions paper testedspelling, grammar and punctuation.

The triosaid they found most of the paper“fairly easy”, with the exception of some tricky spelling questions.

Oliver said he was happy to put the test behind him and focus on the reading paper.

The writing task providedan idea or topicand asked studentsto write a response.Rebecca and Oliver said they had plenty of ideas andfinished just in time, whileGrady said he useda preparedresponse that he adaptedto suit the question.

The students said they spent time in class doing practice tasks and past papers under test conditions.

They also studied at home:Rebecca did some online language conventions questions, Oliver did some maths questions and Grady attempted questions froma year six ability test book.

But all said they didn’t feel any pressure from their parents or teachers to perform.

“My parents said to try my best but don’t get too worried about, just to think of it as another test,” Rebecca said.“They said to get as much done as you can in the time and just do your best.”

Oliver said his mum told him“it was not the end of the world if I didn’t do well”.

Grady said their teachers had also been supportive and told them to stay calm.

The trio said they all went to sleep earlier than normal on Monday and tried not to think about the tests, whileOliver said he also woke earlier on Tuesday so he didn’t feel hurried when preparing for school.

Assistant principal Glen Rooke said the school treated NAPLAN as one part in a“suite of assessments”.

Students will sit the reading paper on Wednesday and the numeracy paper on Thursday.

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Merrick aims to fly high with Jets

DRIVEN: New Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick. Picture: Getty ImagesERNIE Merrick insists he can win a title at the Newcastle Jets.
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The fiercely driven 64-year-old would not have accepted the coaching position –a poisoned chalicein recent seasons–if he didnot.

Merrick has signed a two-year deal, beating former Blackburn manager Steve Kean, and by the end of that period he expects to be challenging for a title.

“I feel this club is going places,” Merrick told the Herald from Scotland where he is visiting family.“I am not one for trying to buy time. Because of the set-up, the facilities, the staff and theculture of the town – historically it is a great place for football–I think we can make a substantial difference in season one. That is certainly what I intend to do. I am not one who has a four-or-five-year plan. It is about doing it and doing it now. I am very big on having a winning mentality. I don’t care how skillful players are, if they are not there to win and fight for the club, they shouldn’t be there.”

Merrick aims to fly high with Jets TweetFacebook“Icouldn’t see them winning anything,” he said.“I liked the club, I liked the setup andI had good support. It waswas more to do with FIFA windows not being respected and the horrendous travel schedulewe were continually given. We had six of our best players out for six games.”

He faces a different challenge in Newcastle.

The Jets finished bottom last season, the second time in three years they have collected the wooden spoon, and haven’t qualified for the finals in seven years.

“Newcastle fans have been long suffering in many ways,” he said.“I’m not blaming anyone for that but it is time to make a change and I want to do that as soon as possible. Season one is critical to show the direction we want to go.”

Under Mark Jones, the Jets were in sixth place with sevenrounds remaining and Merrick believes there is a“good core” at the club.

“I would like to bring in some experience,” he said.“The two players they have already signed, Daniel Georgievski and Roy O’Donovanare very good players. That is a good start.”

The current support staff, led by assistant Clayton Zane, will remain.

​“They come across as pretty competent people,” Merrick said.“I have never been the type of person to come in and clean out staff.”

Merrick will be back in Australia in a fortnight but said he was“on the job now”.

“I will be on the phone to all the staff, especially the strength and conditioning coach Chris Smith,” he said.

“I’m very big on preparation and planning.That can start now and that is what will happen.”

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Glenn Maxwell to remain a Bushranger but no certainty for Ashes berth

Glenn Maxwell is set to stay in Victoria but the dramatic improvement in James Pattinson’s batting could mean he will struggle to keep his hard-earned Test spot for the Ashes.
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Maxwell, seeking to reignite his international career after being dropped from the national ODI side, attempted to shift from Melbourne to Sydney on the eve of the 2016-17 season. Victoria opted to enforce his contract.

There was speculation earlier this year that Maxwell remained unhappy and would call the SCG home in 2017-18. Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones has confirmed that won’t be the case.

“We’d never planned it. We were pleased to learn that he was thinking of coming to NSW last year,” Jones said.

“‘OK’ and then he wasn’t; ‘OK’. And the same this year.

“We asked the question. He’s not going to come, OK.”

The Bushrangers expect Maxwell to stay in Victoria as he attempts to nail down a spot in the top six of the Test side, but that will be easier said than done with a feeling in cricket circles that the national selectors will be tempted to bat Pattinson at No.7 behind wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, to accommodate a four pronged pace attack and spinner Nathan Lyon.

Pattinson has always been an able batsman but his recent performances with the willow suggest he could hold down No.7; in three innings with Nottinghamshire in county cricket the fast bowler has made 160 runs, with a highest score of 89 not out.

One benefit of his long absences through injury is that he has returned to competitive cricket as a specialist batsman at grade level, striking a century for Dandenong in Premier cricket last summer.

The prospect of a pace attack comprising Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood is a tantalising one, but it remains to be seen whether the selectors will be prepared to gamble by playing five batsmen plus Wade, followed by a strong lower order.

Maxwell posted his maiden Test century in Ranchi earlier this year, having been called up following Mitch Marsh’s shoulder injury.

The 28-year-old is yet to play a Test on home soil but Jones believes that should change during this summer’s Ashes.

“He’s a genius. I think he’s a superb player. I thought he should’ve been picked for the first Test in India and I’m glad he was picked for the last couple,” Jones said.

“He shouldn’t be playing state cricket. He should be playing for Australia.

“It’s really about who he’s going to play two (Shield) games for rather than 10 games for, in my opinion.

“He’s batting six for Australia now and I think that’s a good spot for him. Good luck to him.”

Maxwell was overlooked for the Vics’ Sheffield Shield opener last year. However, the enigmatic allrounder’s discontent was laid bare when he spoke publicly of how it was “painful” to be batting below captain Matthew Wade.

Wade is set to return home to Tasmania this year. It means the Bushrangers will have a new captain and Maxwell’s hopes of batting higher up the order will be boosted.

Maxwell, who is currently captaining Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League, may even be in the mix to lead his home state. Close friend Aaron Finch and Test batsman Peter Handscomb appear the other leading contenders for Victoria’s captaincy.

Maxwell will link up with Australia’s Champions Trophy squad in England when Punjab’s IPL season ends.

with AAP

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Venture embraces variety

INNOVATIVE: Emma Norbiato and Bill Calabria are championing alternate-variety wines.Montepluciano, nero d’avola and aglianico are celebrated red grape varieties in Italy, but still unfamiliar to most Australian wine drinkers – something Emma Norbiato and Bill Calabria have set out to remedy.
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Emma, the award-winning winemaker for Griffith-based Calabria Family Wines, and Bill, the company’s managing director, have spearheaded the release of $15-a-bottle 2016-vintage montepluciano and nero d’avola and 2015 aglianico wines that are eminently accessible to the average punter.

The wines can be bought on calabriawines南京夜网419论坛, at the 1283 Brayne Rd, Griffith, cellar door and in bottle shops.

Montepluciano is one of central Italy’s “workhorse” wine grapes and nero d’avola is the most widely planted variety on the Italian island of Sicily.Aglianico is the most widespread red variety in southern Italy and the Calabria family has been a pioneer of the grape in Australia, producing the inaugural vintage wine in 2008.

The Calabria venture began in 1945 when Italian immigrants Francesco and Elizabeth Calabria set up a small winery at Griffith. It operated under the Westend Estate title up to 2014 and, under the Calabria Family Wines name, has become a major multi-regional producer.

Bill Calabria, the youngest of Francesco’s and Elizabeth’s nine children, runs the company along with third-generation family members.In the 2013 Queen’s Birthday awards Bill was made a member (AM) of the Order of Australia for his wine industry services and for his work in establishing the Westend Foundation to aid Riverina families with members stricken by cancer.

Emma Norbiato was last year crowned Winemaker of the Year in the Australian Women in Wine Awards, created in 2015 by The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society to spotlight positive female role models and bring about increased gender diversity in the Australian wine industry. Emma has been a great advocate of alternate grape varieties and her 2009 recruitment by Calabria is a great example of gender equality.

Born and bred in the Riverina on a sheep and rice farm, she launched a wine career in 2001 with a Charles Sturt University wine science degree. Then came a job at Lindemans, a vintage in Tuscany making Brunello at Castelgiocondo, four years in the red winemaking team at Penfolds and, at the age of 26, a senior winemaking role with Casella, notably producing Yellow Tail.

In 2009 Emma and her husband had their first child, Archie, and she joined Calabria under a part-time arrangement that has allowed her to have two more children, Florence and Edward.

As well as being a winemaker, a wife and mother, Emma enjoys cooking, mountain bike riding and waterskiing.

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Rebels name representative squads

REWARDED: Macquarie winger Matt Hay (left) with NSW Challenge Cup trophy at Mudgee on Sunday. Picture: Facebook
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Fresh from a NSW Challenge Cup triumph Macquarie’s Matt Hay has been named in Newcastle’s under-23 representative team for Saturday’sopening round of the NSW Country Championships.

Hay, who scored a try in the weekend’s 30-18 state knockout final at Mudgee,was picked on the wing by Rebels coach Todd Edwards.

The 18-man squad was announced on Tuesday ahead of Newcastle’s first-up clash with Northern Rivers at Wauchope.

The side will be steered around by Lakes halves Jack Kelly and Nick Newman while fullback Jamie Ghoulmieh, centre Jacob Gagai and lock Chris Randall also fly the flag for the Seagulls. Kyle Kennedy is the 18th man.

Wests backs Willis Alatini and Mao Uta have been rewarded as part of an unbeaten start to the Newcastle Rugby League season while fellow ladder leaders Central won’t have any players missing when they host Cessnock in round four on Sunday.

Souths premiership-winning trio Roman Fepuleau, Jake Lawrence and Luke Higgins strengthen the forward pack with Maitland pair Jarrod Smith and Lincoln Smith at hooker and prop respectively.

Cessnock trio Reed Hugo, Sam Apthorpe andRobert Tuliatu dominate the bench, which is rounded out by Souths utility Ryan Glanville.

Glanville’s sister Jordan has been named in the ladies league tag squad to represent Newcastle against Northern Rivers at Wauchope on Saturday.

The NSW Country Championships’ round one encounter will feature five of her Souths’ teammates –Brooke Carter, Jacqui Moriarty, Sam Redman, Olivia Higgins and Chantelle Graham.

REBELS UNDER-23: 1 Jamie Ghoulmieh (Lakes), 2 Willis Alatini (Wests) 3 Mao Uta (Wests) 4 Jacob Gagai (Lakes) 21 Matt Hay (Macquarie) 6 Jack Kelly (Lakes) 7 Nick Newman (Lakes) 8 Roman Fepuleau (Souths) 9 Jarrod Smith (Maitland) 10 Lincoln Smith (Maitland) 11 Jake Lawrence (Souths) 12 Luke Higgins (Souths) 13 Chris Randall (Lakes) 15 Ryan Glanville (Souths) 16 Reed Hugo (Cessnock) 17 Sam Apthorpe (Cessnock) 19 Robert Tuliatu (Cessnock) 5 Kyle Kennedy (Lakes)

REBELS LLT: 1 Brooke Carter (Souths) 3 Jacqui Moriarty (Souths) 4 Rhianni Cipta (Wests) 5 Sophie Higgins (Lakes) 7 Sam Redman (Souths) 8 Olivia Higgins (Souths) 9 Grace Gallagher (Wests) 10 Angela Jones (Lakes) 11 Chantelle Graham (Souths) 12Jordan Glanville (Souths) 13 Emma Martin (Maitland) 14 Sarah Dodds (Lakes) 15 Emily Coppins (Wests) 18 Logan Flanagan (Lakes) 19 Caitlin Johnstone (Lakes)

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ReviewAnyone for Breakfast?

Anyone for Breakfast?
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Club 71, at St Stephen’s Hall, Hamilton. Ends May 20.

There is a degree of irony watching Anyone for Breakfast? unfold after having a delicious pre-show dinner in Club 71’s venue. While the English play’s writer, Derek Benfield, is renowned for his farces, and Anyone for Breakfast? is among his most popular, there is too much repetition in the situations. All the comedy’s characters are involved in illicit relationships and spend a night and a morning trying to avoid being caught by partners and others in a London house. There are many hasty entrances and exits through adjoining doors, with unwanted encounters avoided by seconds, and it soon became a case of “Not again!” for this audience member.

It is to the credit of director Brian Wark and his six actors that I found myself frequently smiling, if not laughing. The performers move well around the large living room set, and the sounds of their voices and the wordless facial expressions show growing desperation, as they hastily make up lies relating to their presence in the house, including the married couple who live there.

The story begins with Shirley (Amanda Woolford), who owns the house with her husband, getting ready to head off for the night while friend Jane (Katie Wright) has an assignation there with Mark (Lee Mayne), a handsome young man she met at her squash club. Jane is unaware that Shirley is having a tryst with her husband, Roger (Carl Gregory). And Shirley is confident that her arrangements will work well because husband Gilbert (Lindsay Carr) has gone to an airport to fly on business to Dusseldorf in Germany.

The confusion begins when Mark and Jane reveal different programs for their get-together. Then Gilbert returns home because the flight has been cancelled and he won’t be leaving until the middle of the next day. Aware that his wife won’t be there for the night, he brings with him attractive German flight hostess Helga (Sandy Aldridge), with whom he resides when in Dusseldorf. Roger and Shirley unexpectedly come to the house individually late at night and the confusion worsens.

It was hard for me to believe that the ever-increasing untruths would be believed by the characters, but the dialogue included amusing moments provided by the actors. Carl Gregory’s sternly voiced assessment that “It’s a bit like hide and seek” summed up what was happening. And Aldridge’s German-accented hostess made amusing the woman’s references to such things as being unable to start her hired car because of “a fault in the sparkling plugs”.

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Little Eagles on centre stage for big day

RD 10 (all 2.30pm): Saturday: Newcastle Jets Youth v Broadmeadow. Sunday: Maitland v Jaffas, Hamilton v Lakes, Edgeworth v Valentine, Weston v Charlestown.A new group of “Little Eagles” will help Edgeworth celebrate amilestone moment at Jack McLaughlan Ovalon Sunday.
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Arnett’s Program training.

The Eagles will host Valentine on the125th anniversary of the first recorded home game played by Young Wallsend, which became the Edgeworth club. The region’s first club, Minmi Rangers, won thatgame 3-0.

Edgeworth will wear a heritage strip, a replica of the oneworn by Young Wallsend juniors, to mark the event.

The club is also putting one of their newest initiatives on display.Edgeworth have this year started the Arnett’s Program, which gives special needs children the chance to train for and play football.

Arnettmeans “Little Eagle” and the concept is the brainchild ofMark Midson, who has two sons in the program. Edgeworth administrator WarrenMillssaid Midson was looking for a winter outlet for the group, who had a program at Nobbys Surf Life Saving Club.Twenty-one children are in Arnett’s, which has a two-year sponsorship from the House With No Steps.

The Arnett’s children will playbetween the under-20 and first-grade games on Sunday.Edgeworth will donate a portion of canteen and gate takings to the program. They will also ask for agold coin donation at the gate for families wanting to enjoy face painting and jumping castles at the ground.

** Nathan McAllister scored twice to lead Thornton to a 2-0 win over Singleton in Northern League One round nine action.

Leaders Cooks Hill downed South Cardiff 3-0, West Wallsend beat Wallsend 2-1, Cessnock and Toronto Awaba drew 2-2 and Kahibah defeated Belswans 2-0.

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When Isaiah met Anja: Australia doubles its Eurovision odds

Australia looks to have doubled its odds in the assault on Europe’s six-decade-old singing crown with not one, but two entrants in the 62nd annual Eurovision Song Contest.
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But in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Monday the two Australian contestants – Isaiah Firebrace, who is representing Australia, and Anja Nissen, who is representing Denmark – were all smiles.

“Everyone is here to win,” Firebrace said. “I am here to win, you’re here to win, Sweden is here to win but it’s not like a cocky kind of thing it’s more like a fun competition. We all get along well.”

It seems that not since Crown Prince Frederik found Denmark’s future queen in a Sydney pub has there been such an affection between our country and the world’s oldest monarchy.

Both artists successfully used television talent programs to launch their careers: Firebrace was the winner of the eighth season of The X Factor Australia in 2016 while Nissen won the third series of Nine’s The Voice in 2014.

Firebrace was selected by broadcaster SBS and Australia’s Eurovision delegation to perform; Nissen competed for her entry by winning the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, a national music competition held every year in Denmark and used to select their Eurovision entrant.

Firebrace and Nissen said the contest, created initially as a means of healing the wounds of divided Europe and capitalising on newly-laid coaxial technology which connected the continent’s broadcasters, represented a unique opportunity for them as artists.

“You have to make the most of every opportunity no matter how big the stage is,” Firebrace said. “It’s such an amazing opportunity and I know we both feel very honoured to be representing Denmark and Australia.”

Nissen said exposure at the competition, alongside competitors from Sweden, Italy, Greece, Germany and the United Kingdom, was crucial to building an international pop career.

“You don’t get this opportunity every day,” Nissen said. “This is one of the biggest international stages you can perform on. I feel so fortunate and lucky to be part of the whole thing.”

Although they are friendly rivals, the pair will not meet in competition until the final, assuming they both make it through their individual semi-finals.

Firebrace is competing in the first semi-final, which airs in Australia live on Wednesday morning on SBS, against Finland, Poland, Portugal, Latvia and others; Nissen is in Friday morning’s second semi-final, against Serbia, Norway, Ireland and Romania.

Firebrace is singing the pop ballad Don’t Come Easy; Nissen is singing the power ballad Where I Am; at Monday night’s first semi-final jury show in Kiev there was a strong response backstage to Firebrace’s performance.

Under Eurovision rules the so-called “big five” – France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom – do not compete in the semi-finals and automatically book a place in the final; the host country, in this case Ukraine, also get a slot in the final.

Although the event is considered apolitical, this year’s competition has been bruised by a political clash between Ukraine and neighbouring Russia.

The Russian entrant, Yulia Samoylova, was banned by Ukrainian officials because she had performed in Crimea, a region annexed by Russia, in 2014; as a result Russia withdrew from this year’s competition.

Australia’s inclusion in the competition is via a wild card which is offered on a year-by-year basis, beginning with Guy Sebastian in 2015.

Although some still debate whether we are geographically eligible to compete in a European song competition, what is certain is our strong form: in two years in official competition we have come fifth and second in a field of more than 40 countries.

Firebrace said he had asked two of Australia’s former Eurovision stars – Jess Mauboy and Dami Im – and both told him to focus on the experience, not the competition.

“They both said don’t worry where you’re going to place or any of that stuff,” he said. “They said just go and enjoy yourself, go out on stage, do your best and sing your heart out.”

Firebrace and Nissen were born in small communities and both said they were conscious of how far they had come to be competing in the Ukrainian capital against a field of such diverse artists.

Firebrace was raised in the small Riverina community of Moama, New South Wales; Nissen grew up on the outskirts of Sydney and attended school in the Blue Mountains.

“It’s always on my mind how far I have come from a small country town,” Firebrace said. “It proves you should really believe in yourself and do your best wherever you can.

“I always dreamed and wanted to be on the world stage and when I started watching Eurovision I was like, this is a thing I want to do. It’s just awesome.”

Michael Idato travelled to Eurovision courtesy of SBS.

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Pointless system not worth all the trouble

HIGH-FLYER: Western Sydney Wanderers forward Ryan Griffiths will bring even more star power to the Lambton Jaffas and the Northern NSW NPL in June. Picture: Getty Images
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The burning question since Sunday’s news that Ryan Griffiths will step from the Asian Champions League with Western Sydney Wanderers to the NPL with Lambton Jaffas at the end of this month is, how?

With a player points system (PPS) in place, how can the leaders, already boasting the likes of Joel Griffiths andJobe Wheelhouseand with seven new players to their roster already this year, bring in the 35-year-old former Socceroo for the second half of the season?

The answer is that the PPS, a Football Federation Australia requirement,has become basically pointless and serves as little more than a burden to Northern NSW Football and club administrators.

Ryan Griffiths, to the surprise of some, is worth 15 points in the watered-down system, in which each club are allocated 180 points to fit in their20 to 23 players. Despite coming directly from an A-League club, Griffiths is worth the same as an NPL player switching clubs. His brother, Joel, already holds thesole marquee position, for players coming directly from a nation’s top competition,on the Jaffas’ roster. That means Joel is worth only the standard 10 points. Not much difference anyway.

Under the original PPS guidelines from 2014, Ryan would have been worth 38 points, albeit under a cap of 250. That’s the starting point of 10, plus 10 for his ageabove 25, another 10 for his A-League status and eight as a switching player.

The PPS was designed to force clubs to develop andpromote youth, encourageloyalty, rein in playerpayments and level the playing field across state leagues.However, since its introduction, and under pressure from the players’ association, FFA has changed the guidelines and, most significantly, abandonedage and marquee penalties. A 10-point penalty remains for visa players, meaning the likes of Magic’s Canadian keeper Niko Giantsopoulos are worth 20. But Ryan Griffiths is worth 15. It’s ridiculous.

The Jaffas started the season on 178 and in last week’s first window for changes, moved in Griffiths (15) and a club junior worth just two points. Michael Williams (seven) and Tom Waller (eight), who is travelling to Europe, came out, leaving the Jaffas on the limit – 180.

Now, this is not a shot at the Jaffas.They should be applauded for having the financial strength and network to recruit a player like Griffiths, who will be great for the league.The Jaffas are just playing by the rules, which is where the problem lies.

Between diluted penalties, injury waivers, two windows for changes and the allowance of under 20s outside the PPS list to play 40 per cent of first-grade games, there’s not much you can’t do.Itbegs the question, what’s the point of having it at all?

And is it achieving what it set out to do?

The PPS has promoted youth but it seems some youngsters who are put ontop lists are there largely to bring the club under the cap. Many are long odds to see significant game time.

Has it reined in player payments? I’d say, no. If anything, the number of high-profile players earning $1000 a game, or close to it, appears to have risen since the NPL started in 2014 as clubs struggle to keep up with the big spenders.

As for loyalty, the PPS has made it harder for clubs to make wholesale changes each year.However, Lambton still brought in seven new players –a third of their roster –this year after a forgettable 2016.

It can be argued that the systemhas also made long-term players, who are worth less pointsto their club, more valuable, boostingtheir bargaining power.

As for creating a more evenplaying field, the NPL is approaching round 10 this weekend and three teams are yet to post a win. That said, teams like Weston andAdamstown have been more than competitive and Lake Macquarie and Valentine are exceeding expectations.

However, most years the heavyweight clubs – Edgeworth, Hamilton, Broadmeadow and the Jaffas –are fighting for silverware and that doesn’t appear likely to change any time soon.

Many mistakenly blame NNSWF for the situation. The NPL PPS is an FFA guideline. In fact, NNSWF have gone a step further to tighten the PPS than most federations, making their benchmark 180 instead of 200.

Any real change has to come from the top.

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