Hunter Morning NewsWednesday, June 21, 2017

Hunter Morning News | Wednesday, June 21, 2017 This foggy morning in Maitland was captured on camera by Rick Chapman.
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This foggy morning in Maitland was captured on camera by Rick Chapman.

This foggy morning in Maitland was captured on camera by Rick Chapman.

TweetFacebookState of the nationNeed anational newssnapshot first thing – well, we have you covered.

Regional news

► Illawarra:Taking a leaf from song diva Mariah Carey, Daisy Pring hit all thehigh notes during the official launch of the Southern Stars 2017 Postcards extravaganza.The Kiama High School student belted outCarey’s hit songEmotions,on Tuesday at WIN Entertainment Centre (WEC)Read on.

► Newcastle:THE state government has pledged nearly $2 millionto prepare a business case for the remaining stages of the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange.

The project has been lauded by all 13 Hunter councils, and has the support of the region’s Labor MPs. More here.

An artist’s impression of the Pennant Street Bridge.

► Bendigo:A series of weight loss surgeries over four years has seen a Bendigo woman lose nearlyhalf her body weight and reclaim her life.

The 164cm-tall woman lost 49kg, down from 107kgin 2012.More here.

SUCCESS: Jinie Fox lost nearly half her body weight with the assistance of bariatric surgery. Pictures: DARREN HOWE

National news

► The spread of airborne diseases could be reduced through redesigned ventilation ofoffices, schools and hospitals, Queensland researchers hope.

Scientists from the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland have discovered that some bacteria can spread up to four metresand remain alive in the air for up to 45 minutes after being coughed or sneezed. Read on.

►KFC Australia will trialhome delivery next month, as the chicken frying giant triesto keep pace with the rapidly changing fast food market.

Direct competitor Red Rooster has been offering home delivery for 2½ years and says the move is behind much of the growth that has its parent company setfor a $250 millionstockmarket float.Full report here.

National weather radar:World news:►Indonesia:Bali police were forced to hold off an investigation to ensure four prison escapees, including Australian Shaun Davidson, were not still trapped inside the escape tunnel after rain made conditions unstable.

The four prisoners have not been sighted since it emerged they had escaped during prison roll call at Kerobokan jail at 8am Monday. Read on.

Shaun Davidson

► London:John Varley, 61, a director of mining giant Rio Tinto, has been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by the UK Serious Fraud Office.

He has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, and one count of providing unlawful financial assistance.Read on.

John Varley

The Australian Football Hall of Fame’s 2017 inductees

Super six: the latest inductees to the Australian Football Hall of Fame,Barry HallOne of the best power forwards the game has ever seen, Hall achieved the unique distinction of becoming the only player in VFL/AFL history to kick 100 goals for three different clubs. A nightmare to match up on, Hall’s brute strength saw him dominate the game for over a decade.
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He found himself in hot water on many occasions due to his ill-discipline – most notably in 2008 when he received a seven-match suspension for punching West Coast defender Brent Staker in the face. But while he is remembered by many for his fiery temper, his on-field feats were remarkable.

Hall will forever go down in history as the man who captained Sydney to their drought-breaking 2005 premiership – the club’s first flag in 72 years – which ended the longest barren run the VFL/AFL has ever seen. He is a four-time All-Australian, one-time All-Australian vice-captain, led his club’s goalkicking 11 times, won Sydney’s best-and-fairest in 2004 and claimed the AFL Coaches’ Association Champion Player of the Year award in 2005.

All up, he played 289 games for St Kilda, Sydney and the Western Bulldogs and, with 746 career goals to his credit, sits 15th on the all-time goalkickers’ list. He never managed to kick 10 goals in a game, but with a career-best bag of eight and another six hauls of seven, displayed what an ominous attacking weapon he was. He kicked 80 goals in a year on two occasions.

Barry Hall kicks a goal for the Swans at the SCG in 2005. Photo: Steve Christo

Anthony StevensOne of the best players North Melbourne has ever produced, Stevens epitomised the ‘Shinboner spirit’ over a storied 16-season career with his rugged tenacity.

A supremely gifted midfielder who had blue-and-white blood coursing through his veins, Stevens played in two premierships for the Kangaroos. He was revered for his toughness and the best example of this probably occurred in the 1999 Grand Final when he played with a fractured right heel and ligament damage and had to be piggy-backed off the ground after the match by Cameron Mooney.

His relentless determination was on show again in 2000 when he fought back from severe neck and facial injuries after he was struck by a shard of glass that fell from a hotel window to play the final 11 games of the season. Stevens won a pair of best-and-fairest awards for the Kangas, earned an All-Australian guernsey in 1998 and ended up captaining his beloved club for a few years before retiring in 2004.

Perhaps his greatest individual accolade was being named the ruck rover in North Melbourne’s Team of the Century. With 292 games to his credit, Stevens sits only behind Brent Harvey (432), Drew Petrie (316), Glenn Archer (311), Wayne Schimmelbusch (306), Adam Simpson (306) and Keith Greig (294) for most games played for North Melbourne.

Simon GoodwinAn extremely damaging midfielder with exquisite skills, Goodwin found success very early on and was a two-time premiership player for the Crows by the age of 21. He went on to play 275 games for Adelaide over 14 seasons to be the sixth-most capped player in the club’s history.

Goodwin featured in no fewer than five All-Australian teams, won the Crows’ best-and-fairest award on three occasions and was crowned the AFLCA Champion Player of the Year in 2007.

He captained Adelaide for the final three years of his illustrious career and despite spending most of his time on the ball, Goodwin was capable of being a potent force in attack as evidenced by his memorable seven-goal performance against West Coast early in 2008.

After his playing days ended, Goodwin became an assistant coach at Essendon and is now the Melbourne senior coach.

Melbourne Demons head coach and former Adelaide Crows star Simon Goodwin looks on after the round eight AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the Melbourne Demons at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images

John HalbertAn extraordinarily talented centreman and centre-half forward for Sturt, Halbert was one of the SANFL’s brightest stars in the 1950s and 60s. A three-time Magarey Medal runner-up, he finally broke through to win the coveted award in 1961.

Halbert played 244 games for the Double Blues (a then club record) over 14 seasons, including their drought-breaking 1966 premiership, and kicked 253 goals.

His incredible ability was perhaps best summed up by the fact that he defied his small 179cm tall stature to thrive at centre-half forward later in his career.

He captained Sturt for seven years and his exploits earned him membership of both the Sturt Team of the Century and South Australian Football Hall of Fame. Halbert won four best-and-fairest awards and was named an All-Australian in 1961 following the Brisbane carnival that year. He represented South Australia with distinction on 16 occasions and went on to coach both Sturt and Glenelg.

John Halbert, one of the SANFLs brightest stars in the 1950s and 60s. A three-time Magarey Medal runner-up, and Hall of Fame inductee. Photo: Supplied

Ron ToddOne of the most prolific goalkickers the game has ever seen, Todd booted 999 goals in 217 games across 15 seasons with Collingwood (VFL) and Williamstown (VFA) for a mind-boggling career average of 4.6 goals a game.

Todd routinely dazzled crowds with his high-flying antics and possessed blistering pace, making him a drawcard attraction at footy grounds all over Melbourne.

Todd played in the Magpies’ 1936 premiership and was a member of Williamstown’s 1945 and 1949 flag-winning sides. He was Collingwood’s leading goalkicker twice and the Seagulls’ leading goalkicker on four occasions.

Todd won back-to-back VFL leading goalkicker medals in 1938 and 1939 and repeated the feat in the VFA in 1945 and 1946. He captained-coached Williamstown in the final two years of his career, including the 1949 premiership, and was later named as the centre-half forward in the Seagulls’ team of the century.

Ron Todd was known for his high-flying marking and speed. Photo: Photographer Unknown

Brett AllenWith 347 matches under his belt from 1992-2007, Allen is the ninth-most experienced umpire in VFL/AFL history.

Only Jack Elder (10) and Ian Robinson (nine) umpired in more grand finals than Allen (seven) who missed out on one premiership decider between 1999-2006.

All up, Allen oversaw 37 finals, which ranks him equal-third all time. Elder and Hayden Kennedy (39 each) are the only umpires in the history of the league with more finals experience than Allen.

He was named an All-Australian umpire on four occasions in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2006 and also officiated in two State of Origin matches as well as four International Rules tests between Australia and Ireland.

Shane Crawford, then-Hawthorn captain is ordered from the ground by umpire Brett Allen under the blood rule. Photo: Ray Kennedy

Mystery surrounds Bali jailbreak as rain hampers investigation

Bali police were forced to hold off an investigation to ensure four prison escapees, including Australian Shaun Davidson, were not still trapped inside the escape tunnel after rain made conditions unstable.
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The four prisoners have not been sighted since it emerged they had escaped during prison roll call at Kerobokan jail at 8am Monday.

Badung police chief Yudith Satriya Hananta said police tried to investigate the tunnel using scuba gear on Tuesday but rain made it unstable.

“We will try again when the water dries out,” Mr Yudith said.

He said police could not confirm whether the prisoners had left Bali and there was a suspicion they might be still stuck inside the tunnel.

“That’s why we are drying it out to check. It’s still full with water, we will see when it’s dry.”

Police found a small fork inside the narrow tunnel, which was about 13 metres long and led from a hole assumed to be a septic tank near the jail clinic to outside the prison walls.

A head lamp flashlight, sandals and clothes were also found inside the tunnel, including a black shirt recognised as belonging to one of the escapees, Malaysian Tee Kok King, according to a prison official.

Wanted posters urging anyone who sees the prisoners to contact Badung police have been erected throughout Bali.

Mystery surrounds Bali jailbreak as rain hampers investigation Shaun Davidson is still on the run a day after escaping from the a waste tunnel.

Shaun Davidson is still on the run a day after escaping from the a waste tunnel.

The tunnel through which the Kerobokan inmates escaped. Photo: Supplied

Kerobokan jail in Bali. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Sayed Mohammed Said and Tee Kok King. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Pictures of Kerobokan escapees Shaun Davidson and Dimitar Nikolov Iliev. Photo: Amilia Rosa

TweetFacebookMr Yudith said Badung police had coordinated with police throughout Bali and officers at the airport and ports.

“There is the possibility they left Denpasar … we don’t know yet.”

Mr Yudith said police had completed questioning the 10 guards who were on duty when the prisoners disappeared and other prisoners in the block.

Police had also taken a back up of the CCTV footage on the day of the break out.

However, the footage did not cover the location of the tunnel. Police were still investigating whether the tunnel was new or had previously existed.

Davidson had just 10 weeks left to serve after being sentenced to a year’s jail in Bali for using another man’s passport.

But he also faces drug charges back in Australia.

He had been due to face Perth Magistrates Court on January 28, 2015, charged with possessing methamphetamine and cannabis and two other offences, but skipped the country.

Davidson spent a year partying and boxing in Bali before falling foul of immigration authorities for using another man’s passport that had been reported missing by its real owner in 2013.

Prison sources told Fairfax Media Davidson had told prisoners he intended to do something prior to his release to prolong his stay at Hotel K, as the prison is colloquially known.

“Davidson had made no secret of his intention to avoid being sent back to Australia,” a Kerobokan source told Fairfax Media.

A frequent topic behind bars had been how he could be deported to a third country at the end of his sentence that did not have an extradition treaty with Australia.

“He actually likes prison. I can well imagine he escaped with the aim of being caught and extending his sentence in Kerobokan, which is far more comfortable and drugs more easily available than in an Aussie prison,” the source said.

A former prisoner said Davidson wanted to stay longer in “Hotel K”.

“He was asking me what I thought he could do to stay longer to avoid going back to Australia, as a joke I said ‘try escaping’, I guess he took it literally,” the ex-prisoner said on Facebook.

$450M estimate for new hospital

The Lower Hunter will receive a $450 millionnew hospital that couldbe completed within six years, according to information released in Tuesday’s state budget.
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Budget papers estimated the cost of the new facility at $450 million, $5 millionof which was allocated in the 2017/18 budgetfor preparatory work.

A NSW Health spokesperson said it was expected construction would be completeby 2022.

The new information was welcomed byParliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald.

Mr MacDonald said the hospital was initially earmarked as a $400 million project.He said that his party would have faced criticism if that figure went down.

“I was quite pleased,” he said.“There’s not going to be any skimping.”

Mr MacDonald said while$5 million was not a lot of money, the larger amounts wouldcome as the project progressed.

“People will have to be a bit patient,” he said.

Australian Medical Association president Brad Frankumwas optimistic about the hospital followingthe budget announcement.

“There’s been a significant investment to redevelop Maitland Hospital,” he said. “It’s good to see a commitment to the new hospital being built.

Mr Frankum said Hunter New England Local Health District now needed to work towards a definitive plan for the project.

“The uncertainty around Maitland has gone on too long,” he said.

NSW Health said the government was still considering if the hospital wouldbe funded publicly or through a public-private partnership.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association called on the government to declare its intentions about the funding.

“It’s been six years since a new hospital was earmarked for Maitland,” acting general secretary Judith Kiejda said.

“The local community deserves to know if they will continue to have access to a publicly run new hospital or not.”

Related contentPublic-private partnership in doubt

New hospital to be built and run by private sector

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Parr says Smith mare a tough act to follow

Jockey Josh Parr believes Newcastle-trained In Her Time could be the toughest mare he has ridden ahead of their Tattersall’s Tiara (1350 metres) assignment at Doomben on Saturday.
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BACK ON TOP: Josh Parr and In Her Time winning the group 2 Millie Fox Stakes at Rosehill in February. Picture: bradleyphotos南京夜网.au

The Sydney hoop travelled to Brisbane on Monday night and rode In Her Time in trackwork on the Doomben course proper on Tuesday morning.

It was the first time Parr had ridden the Ben Smith-trained four-year-old since they were a brave fifth in the group 1 Doomben 10,000 on May 13. Parr could not make the weight for In Her Time’s close second in the Stradbroke Handicap two weeks ago, when Dean Yendall was aboard.That run helped In Her Time claim favouritism for the $500,000 Tiara and she was at $3.30 was TAB Fixed Odds on Tuesday.

Parr told Sky Racingwhen he returned to Sydney on Tuesday that he was desperate to get back aboard In Her Time and was pleased he made the trip for the mare’s final serious hit-out.

“She’s in fantastic order,” Parr said.“Ben Smith and his team have done a really good job with her. Her work was fantastic this morning.

“I think her work has progressively got better as her preparation has gone on. It’s just really pleasing to get on her this morning and have her work in that fashion.

“She’s so tough and has got a turn of foot, which helps her. She races up on the speed and then shows that turn of foot which puts a bit of a gap in her rivals.

“I think she could be the toughest mare I’ve ever ridden. She sticks her head out and her determination is something to admire.”

Newcastle trainer Kris Lees also put his Tiara hope, Danish Twist, through a final hit-out on Tuesday.The five-year-old, which was eighth in the race last year, worked on the Newcastle course and will make the trip to Brisbane onThursday night.

Danish Twist has not won since the June Stakes last year but was a close third in the group 1 Coolmore Classic in March. Shewas a $13 hope for the Tiara and Lees said Wednesday’s barrier draw would be vital.

“She rushed through her grades pretty quickly when she put four or five wins together and now she’s racing at the highest level all the time,” he said.

“She’s mixed her form a little and had a couple of hard luck stories here and there but the most important thing is the barrier draw tomorrow.

“That’spretty vital.She needs to be covered up and get the right type of run.”

Lees has Savoureux nominated at Randwick and for the Tiara but he conceded she “probably won’t make the field” at Doomben.

“She’s still up there so she’ll probably run there the week after,” he said.

On Wednesday, Lees’ focus will be on first-starter Sasso Corbaro at Canterbury. The two-year-old filly, a $290,000 China Horse Club buy, was an impressive trial winner at Gosford two weeks ago.

“It’s a really competitive race so it’s a good guide to see where we’re at, but it’s been encouraging what we’ve seen so far.”

‘Didn’t even feel it go over’: crash driver can’t explain M1 shocker

‘Didn’t even feel it go over’: crash driver can’t explain M1 shocker ‘A lapse of consciousness’: Gregory Thomas Foale leaves Wollongong court on Monday (left); and the scene of the accident which caused traffic queues of 6km.
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TweetFacebook’The next thing I know, I ended up like this’

“I was in the left hand lane,” he told them. “I was doing about maybe 30 or 40 kilometres. I have rounded the bend and come up the hill and the next thing I know, I ended up like this. I didn’t even feelit go over. Nothing at all. And then I climbed out.”

He later told police he may have “missed a gear”. Police allege the crash was fatigue-related.

Authorities audited Foale’s log book andfound five breaches, mostly relating to incomplete record-keeping,and one count of making a false or misleading entry.

Foale did not give evidence at Monday’s hearing. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of negligent driving.

He told police he left Ingleburn in theWSI Transport truck about 3.45am.

But lawyer Graeme Morrison told the court his client spent much of the morning waiting atSydney International Container Terminal.

“My client didn’tactually leave [the terminal] until approximately 7.30am,” Mr Morrison said. “At the time [of the crash] …he had spent less than two hours driving.

“It’s the case [authorities] took his log book and went through it with a very finetooth comb. [Leaving a field blank] is hardly the world’s worst offence with regard to a logbook.”

Magistrate O’Conner noted Foale’s limited driving record, after three decades on the road.

“Maybe the explanation was what the defendant said –that he must have missed a gear –but what really is concerning the court was that he appeared to have a lapse of consciousness. He didn’t seem to know where he was. His vehicle was … three or four metres off the ground and he was endeavoring to start it in that position.”

Foale was convicted and fined $1000 for negligent driving and $500 for each of his other charges. He was not disqualified from driving.

‘A bizarre act of snobbery’: Labor opposes Turnbull government’s citizenship changes

Labor has drawn a dramatic line in the sand on Australian citizenship, vowing toblock the Turnbull government’s proposed crackdown and resolutely denyingany link between citizenship policy and national security.
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In a move the government swiftly linked to old battles over boats and border protection, Labor MPs unanimously agreed to oppose the controversial citizenship bill, which frontbencher Tony Burke warned would be “a fundamental change in who we are as a country”.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, pictured at a Refugee Week function in Parliament House on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The opposition’s main concerns, previously flagged by some left-wing MPs, included a tough English language test for aspiring citizens and a four-year wait for permanent residents before they could claim citizenship.

A fired-up Mr Burke said the university-level English requirement was “ludicrous, absurd and dumb”, and would create “a new, permanent underclass of permanent residents” who would never be able to become Australian citizens.

He said it was “a bizarre act of snobbery” on all Australians and “a fundamental shift in how Australian citizenship is defined”, adding that a “very large number” of Australian-born citizens would never pass such a test.

“That is a big change in howthis country operates, and it’s a change that Labor cannot support,” he said.

The fate of the citizenship package now rests with the independent Senate crossbench, where it is likely to find enough votes,given One Nation’s sympathies and the “broad support” previously indicated by Nick Xenophon.

But the politics were quickly exploited by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who doubled down by insisting national security was at stake andaccusing Labor leader Bill Shorten of being “mugged by the left of his party”.

He said Labor’s argument about university-level English requirements was “nonsense” and a red-herring floated by some left-wing MPs as “cover to get them to today’s position”.

And he linked the decision to the 15-year battle over asylum seeker policy, declaring Labor was “completely divided … as they were on the border protection bill” to establish Operation Sovereign Borders.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also hit back, accusing the oppositionof “disrespecting” and devaluing Australian citizenship and claiming the compulsory English test was “doing people a favour”.

Mr Shorten initially offered lukewarm support for the citizenship changes when they were announced in April, suggesting the English test and waiting period sounded “reasonable”.

But several Labor MPs publicly voiced concerns about key elements of the proposal, and many on the party’s right were also understood to be disturbed by the government’s plans.

On Tuesday, Mr Shorten told his caucus colleagues the changes would “alienate people who are already permanently living here” and sent the message “that there are two sorts of Australiansand it’s only the ones who reach university-level English who the government reallywants”.

Mr Burke strongly rejected Mr Dutton’s linking of the issue to national security, pointing out the changes only affected people already living permanently in Australia and were rooted not in security agency recommendations, but a review undertaken in 2015 by Liberal senator Concetta Fierrevanti-Wells.

He also hinted that, if elected, Labor would seek to roll back the changes if they were passed into law.

“This is absolutely where Labor’s at,” he said. “I’m not going to presume defeat but … our position is very strong.”

The position was welcomed by migrant groups, which have lobbied hard against the citizenship revamp, and will nowturn their attention to crucial Senate crossbenchers.

Labor will refer the bill to a Senate inquiry and left the door open to accepting administrative changes the party deems reasonable, if the government was to propose themin a separate bill.

Queensland Maroons captain’s run

Billy Slater’s suspect shoulder is set to be given its sternest test since his return to the NRL with NSW intent on harassing Queensland’s No.1 at every opportunity in his State of Origin return.
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Left out of the Maroons’ Origin I caning – due in part to concerns over his perceived hesitancy in defence after almost two years out of the game – Slater is bracing for a torrid reception from the Blues, who have identified his injury as a focal point on Wednesday night.

Queensland Maroons captain’s run Billy Slater at the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Scenes from the Queensland Maroons State of Origin captain’s run at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

TweetFacebookNSW relentlessly bombed the axed Corey Oates in game one, but won’t be afraid to direct their aerial raids at either Slater or Queensland debutant Valentine Holmes to stifle their ability to build a head of steam on kick returns at ANZ Stadium.

Asked whether roughing Slater up could work, NSW skipper Boyd Cordner said: “I suppose it can. In Origins in the past, where NSW has done well against Billy is they’ve got down there on Billy – the kick-chase has been awesome – and really got into [him].

“We’ve talked to the halves and the halves know how big a job they’ve got with their kicking game, especially out here. It’s normally a bit dewy anyway. Turn them around and getting a good kick-chase to try to get us in good field position [will help] to limit [Slater’s] opportunities in his half.

“Origin is a physical game so we’ll be going out there with the same mindset as always no matter who is wearing the No.1 for them.”

Slater is yet to commit to playing beyond this year given his torturous road back to the top, potentially paving the way for 2017 to be the last Origin series for him, Johnathan Thurston and Storm teammate Cooper Cronk. And it appears the Blues don’t want to make it one to remember.

How NSW limit Slater’s time with the ball won’t be finalised until coach Laurie Daley consults Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney at Tuesday’s captain’s run at ANZ Stadium, but Cordner admitted the series-chasing Blues would be foolish to pour all their energy into the Melbourne ace and the fit-again Thurston.

And so Queensland would be too, to paint a pronounced target on the back of Origin I wrecking ball Andrew Fifita.

Cordner is yet to discuss with Daley the coach’s plans beyond this year with speculation the Blues boss has been worn down in the past five years, but his skipper hoped a series win might convince the coach to stay on.

“If we’re going to win it for anyone it would be for Loz,” Cordner said. “I haven’t sat down with him and maybe after this game or game three we’ll have a chat, but he hasn’t said anything [about his future yet]. He’s probably the most passionate guy I’ve been coached by and I know how much this jersey and this team means to him. That’s what you need at Origin level. He’s the right man to lead us.”

Cordner stands on the cusp of leading NSW to a series win at his first attempt and has momentarily drifted off to think about what it would like to hoist the Origin spoils this year. But his message to his teammates has been a lot sterner, advising them to avoid the media noise emanating from Camp Maroons and finish the job as he tries to settle his own frayed nerves.

“I’ve never felt the way I did before game one with the nerves and emotion,” Cordner said. “I suppose it’s going to be different for game two. I suppose it’s going to be more comfortable because we’re playing at home in front of our home fans, family and friends.

“They’ve got some great inclusions with Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater, but if we concentrate on what we can do and how we play to get ourselves right it doesn’t really matter what they’re going to come with because I’m pretty confident if we turn up on Wednesday night we can win.”

NSW Blues captain’s run

NSW Blues captain’s run Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.
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Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Andrew Fifita at the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Boyd Cordner at the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Tyson Frizell at the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Mitchell Pearce at the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

NSW cricketer Doug Bollinger at the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Coach Laurie Daley at the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Nathan Petas at the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Scenes from the NSW Blues captain’s run at ANZ Stadium on the eve of Origin II 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

TweetFacebookThe NSW Blues are one up in the 2017 State of Origin series.

The Laurie Daleu-coached NSW tackles Kevin Walters’ men from north of the borderat ANZ Stadium on Wednesday.

But with big guns Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater back in Maroon, will the Blues be smiling on Wednesday night?

Meanwhile, check out the origins of the NSW players. It’s not all about Sydney.

Find out who’s from Gulgong, Taree and Orange.

Big spending NSW budget skips the Hunter

At his budget press conference on Tuesday, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet was asked whether the days of asset recycling –read: privatisations – were over now that the government had completed the sale of its electricity network businesses.
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The implication behind the question seemed to be; after raising some $29.8 billion through privatisation, surely there’s not much left to sell, and when it’s all gonewhat will the government prop up its revenue base with?

Mr Perrottet’s answer was essentially that they’re not done yet.

The government still plans to sell its $16.8 billion Westconnexmotorway project, and it’s currently in talks with the Commonwealth about the so-called Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme.

Mr Perrottet called asset recycling the “secret sauce”of the state’s strong budgetary position.

Since coming to power in 2011 the government has used privatisation – like the $1.5 billion lease of the Newcastle Port – as a base on which to fund its ambitious infrastructure budget.

But the question of how long it can keep going for is an interesting one.

With stamp duties expected to begin falling in coming years, debt from infrastructure rising, and GST receipts about to fall off a cliff, the government certainly has a revenue problem.

Mr Perrottet says the government’sdealing with it by controlling expenditure growth through wage caps and efficiency dividends –read: budget cuts –in the public service.

But in the Hunterthe prospect of more difficult days ahead raises an important question: have we already seen the best of what’s to come?

In 2014 when the government was in the process of privatising the Port of Newcastle for $1.5 billion, the Hunter was briefly at the centre of the state’s politics.

Since then, following the commitment to build a 2.7 kilometre light rail track down Hunter Street, we’re often told how lucky we are that the government is investing half a billion dollars into the region.

But after another budget in which Sydney infrastructure projects were the overwhelming centrepiece, it’s fair to ask whether we’re getting our fair share. And when the most significant funding announcement is a $1.7 million business case for a project that has been on the government’s radar for years, that question becomes all the more stark.