Newcastle and Hunter volunteers recognised as part of Volunteering China’s National Volunteers Week

MANY THANKS: Rob and Margaret Wilbow with Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service chief executive Richard Jones, who expressed his gratitude for their volunteering. ForRob and Margaret Wilbowvolunteering has become a way of life.
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After moving to Port Stephens from Sydney five years ago, the retired Salamander Bay couple chose to become involved in volunteering as a way of socialising, keeping busy and giving back.

The pair are amongthousands who are being thanked for their generosityas part of Volunteering ’s National Volunteers Week.

Across the country, organisations are sayingthank you to the some six million ns who volunteer their time each year.

The couplerun theWestpac Rescue Helicopter Service’s Port StephensVolunteer Support Group, who organise a range of fundraisers. Most notably,the Angel Billy Golf Classic,held annually for the past 20 years. The event has raised over $630,000 since it began.

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Rare Moreton Bay jellyfish found lurking in Lake MacquarieWoman, 33, allegedly drives with blood alcohol reading of 0.283Eight staff and a patient catch scabies as Kurri Kurri Hospital ward put into isolation“We run the Port Stephens fundraising effort,” Mr Wilbow, 68,said.

“We’ve got80 tinsinbusinesses right throughout Raymond Terrace and up as far as Karuah.”

Mrs Wilbow, 64, is also a volunteer palliative caredriverand a part of Port Stephens Friendship Group.

“We enjoy it and l like improving things,” Mr Wilbow said of why he volunteers.

Richard Jones, WRHS chief executive,said volunteers are essential to the sustainability of the emergency service.

“At the heart of every organisation are people,” he said.“For the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, it is the people we serve, those who work with us and those who support us.

“Since our early beginnings, volunteers have been integral to our operations and in 2018, they remain an important part of who we are and what we do.”

Newcastle City Council paid tribute to the city’s 350 volunteerson Thursday.

WELL DONE: Council’s Volunteers Week function. At front is Alma Tate, Michael Moffitt, Nuatali Nelmes, Pauline McDougall and Nancy Tapp. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

“Whether it’s a few hours a week helping an older citizen learn how to use email, or an entire day each week guiding visitors at the museum and gallery, it all adds up to a better community,” lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“Volunteers have worked more than 24,000 hours just at Blackbutt Reserve and Landcare sites alone during the past 12 months.

“At $30 an hour, those two projects amount to around three quarters of a million dollars in labour being donated.”

NSW abortion zone laws pass first hurdle

Laws giving women a “safe zone” around NSW abortion clinics, free from protesters and activists, have passed their first legislative hurdle after a day of debate and protest.
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The proposed laws, which will provide a 150-metre exclusion zone around clinics and make it an offence to film staff and patients without their consent, passed the NSW upper house on Thursday.

The bill is now expected to be introduced to the legislative assembly next month.

Government MPs have been given a conscience vote on the legislation, which NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she is likely to support.

The bill provoked emotional debate from both sides of the house, including Early Childhood Education Minister Sarah Mitchell, who fought back tears in describing her own miscarriage and subsequent medical procedures.

Ms Mitchell, who voted in favour of the bill, said she would have been pushed close to the edge had a protester confronted her outside a clinic she needed to visit following the miscarriage.

“If I had had to have the procedure after losing my baby in the clinic, no-one would know the reasons for me being there because it is just not possible for protesters outside the door to know the personal and intimate reasons why every woman is going into the clinic,” she told parliament.

Nationals MP Trevor Khan, a co-sponsor of the bill along with Labor’s Penny Sharpe, said the debate transcended political alliances.

“This is not a matter of left versus right, it is a matter of common decency,” Mr Khan told the upper house.

“It is not our place to judge these women, we do not know their stories.”

Meanwhile, Ms Sharpe took aim at free speech advocates arguing against the laws, saying what was occurring outside abortion clinics did not amount to protest.

“It is harassment, even if it is well-intentioned,” Ms Sharpe sad

The bill was not without its opponents, including Christian Democrat Fred Nile, who claimed a nearby abortion clinic had its sewerage pipes blocked by “baby body parts”.

“They had to get the plumbers in to find out what was blocking the sewerage pipes and you’ll be disgusted to know it was baby body parts, little arms, little legs, parts of bodies of babies that had been aborted,” Rev Nile said.

However, the abortion clinic in question issued a statement in response to Rev Nile’s comments, which it said were “completely false”.

Rev Nile described the bill as draconian, and said it would “stop ns who have strong belief in the sanctity of life from even saying hello, or smiling, or walking into that area”.

Outside parliament, protesters from both sides of the debate lined Macquarie Street.

Fair Agenda spokeswoman Alycia Gawthorne said women should be protected if they seek to terminate their pregnancy.

Carolyn O’Loughlin, who held a large placard with a photo of a 10-week-old foetus and caption ‘I cannot yet speak, please be my voice!’, says the new laws would censor free speech.

Colleen McCullough will dispute continues

A doctor who certified Colleen McCullough was sane and rational was unable to rouse her on his visit to her sickbed, the bestselling author’s primary carer has told a court.
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Nicola Wright also denies fabricating evidence because she wanted Dr McCullough’s widower, Ric Robinson, to lose the NSW Supreme Court battle over the author’s multimillion-dollar estate.

“I have no interest in whether he loses or wins,” Ms Wright testified on Thursday.

The author’s executor and friend, Selwa Anthony, claims the University of Oklahoma Foundation and not Mr Robinson is the rightful sole beneficiary of the estate as per a July 2014 will.

Ms Anthony claims Mr Robinson took advantage of his wife’s ill health to unduly influence her to leave him everything in the lead-up to her death on Norfolk Island on January 29, 2015.

Under cross-examination on Thursday from Mr Robinson’s lawyer, David Murr SC, the author’s solicitor Piria Coleman agreed she believed the university will was the genuine one.

Ms Coleman further agreed she had fabricated a document and given it to Mr Robinson, deceiving him into thinking it was a new will in his favour.

Mr Murr referred to a letter from Dr Robert Challender given to her by Mr Robinson on January 17, 2015, a fortnight before his wife’s death.

The GP said he had seen Dr McCullough several times over the previous six weeks and while she was not in good shape physically, her mental state was sane, rational and she was “completely able to make well considered decisions”.

The GP also wrote that he saw no signs of her being in physical or emotional distress.

Ms Coleman agreed the letter unequivocally said Dr McCullough had “testamentary capacity” and was not subject to undue influence.

Ms Wright referred to Dr Challender’s visit on January 14, 2015.

“Ric wanted a doctor to certify that Col was sane because he wanted her will changed,” she said in her affidavit.

‘”She could hardly speak.”

The GP could not rouse her but said he would write about how he saw her one to three weeks previously, Ms Wright said.

“I want to suggest that Dr Challender did rouse Col that day,” Mr Murr said.

“I disagree,” she replied.

She agreed she thought Dr McCullough had been “very badly done by by her husband” but denied fabricating evidence about conversations.

Earlier, Ms Coleman agreed she believed Dr McCullough was the “goodie” and her husband the “baddie” in the marriage but denied trying to cast Mr Robinson in as bad a light as possible.

The hearing continues before Justice .Nigel Rein.

Blues rule out Murphy for Geelong AFL game

Carlton skipper Marc Murphy will be sidelined for the second time suffering another foot injury.Carlton have ruled out skipper Marc Murphy for Saturday’s AFL clash with Geelong, and the Blues skipper could face several weeks on the sidelines as a result of his latest foot injury.
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Murphy missed five games with a plantar fasciitis injury and disrupted scar tissue in the same foot in his return to action last weekend.

The 30-year-old was on crutches at Princes Park on Thursday and will have scans on Friday, admitting the issue could be more serious than initially thought.

“At the moment I’m not really too sure what’s going on with it,” he told the Seven Network.

“It could be scar tissue, it could be a re-rupture, so not too sure yet.”

In better news for bottom-placed Carlton, brothers Charlie and Ed Curnow will return for Saturday’s game at Kardinia Park along with swingman Jacob Weitering and David Cuningham.

Jarrod Garlett is among three omissions for the Blues, who copped a 109-point drubbing from Melbourne last weekend.

Geelong have also swung the axe following their 34-point loss to Essendon.

Ruckman Rhys Stanley returns with Zac Smith one of four players omitted.

Struggling St Kilda will welcome back Jake Carlisle and Paddy McCartin for Saturday’s clash with Richmond at the MCG.

The reigning premiers have dropped Sam Lloyd and Jacob Townsend while Jason Castagna has been rested with general soreness.

Both Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs have named key inclusions for Friday night’s clash at Etihad Stadium.

Ben Reid, Josh Daicos and Levi Greenwood return for the Pies while star recruit Josh Schache will make his Bulldogs debut.

Brisbane will line up unchanged against Sydney while a freak injury means the Swans will be without Callum Mills for the rest of the season.

The Swans say Mills was throwing an American football with teammates on the way back from a cafe on Thursday when he tripped and fell, breaking his foot.

Big guns Josh Kelly and Jonathon Patton are back for Greater Western Sydney’s game against Essendon, who will welcome back young star Andrew McGrath.

Hawthorn’s Jaeger O’Meara and Fremantle’s Stephen Hill are among the inclusions for Sunday’s games.

O’Meara returns along with James Frawley to face ladder-leaders West Coast, who have been bolstered by prime mover Elliot Yeo being declared fit to play.

Hill is set to face North Melbourne, minus rested big man Majak Daw, at Optus Stadium.

Melbourne have named Tom McDonald at full-forward for their match against Adelaide in Alice Springs despite the swingman hurting his foot at training on Thursday.

Prolific midfielder Matt Crouch returns for the Crows, having missed last week’s game with hamstring soreness.

Gold Coast and Port Adelaide have the bye after playing in Shanghai last week.

Convicted archbishop asks: ‘pray for me’

Convicted Archbishop Philip Wilson has asked Catholics to “pray for me”.Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson has asked the Catholic faithful to “pray for me” in a letter distributed after his conviction for covering up child sexual abuse during the 1970s.
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The letter was distributed across the Archdiocese of Adelaide, including to parents of students in Catholic schools, drawing criticism from some.

It confirmed his intention to stand aside from his role on Friday after putting in place the “necessary administrative arrangements” to ensure the affairs of the archdiocese are managed responsibly.

“I know we are a united community of believers, a people of hope, and we will continue to be the disciples of Jesus,” the 67-year-old wrote.

“We have achieved great things in all facets of the life of the archdiocese, including in our parishes, schools, social services, health and in aged care.”

Wilson said he wanted to assure the Catholic faithful of his “continued prayers and best wishes”.

“Please continue to pray for me,” he wrote.

Some people took to social media to criticise the letter, particularly its failing to mention the victims of abuse.

On Tuesday, Wilson was found guilty at Newcastle Local Court of failing to report to police the repeated abuse of two altar boys by pedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region.

He is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse and faces a maximum two years’ jail.

In a statement issued by the Catholic Church on Wednesday, Wilson said it was appropriate to stand down in light of Magistrate Robert Stone’s findings.

“If at any point in time it becomes necessary or appropriate for me to take more formal steps, including by resigning as Archbishop, then I will do so,” he said.

He is still considering Mr Stone’s reasons alongside his legal advisors.

“In the meantime, while the remainder of the legal process runs its course, I want to assure the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of my continued prayers and best wishes and assure everyone that the affairs of the Archdiocese will be appropriately managed in my absence,” the clergyman said.

Up Front with Tony Butterfield

FLASHBACK: Former Canberra Raiders enforcer John Lomax leaves the ACT Police Watch House in 2015 after being charged with blackmail. The charge was later dropped, and he successfully sued for malicious prosecution.In a rather significant“where are they now?” story, did anyone notice the news last week about formerCanberra Raiders enforcer John Lomax?
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He’s just closed a chapter of his life that shouldn’t have happened after a very public arrest in July 2015, when he was charged with blackmail.The charges were dropped months later, and last week he settled with police after suing them for malicious prosecution. Quite a story.

I played against John and his assassin sidekicks, Quentin Pongia and Ruben Wiki, back in the days when front-rowers got up close and personal.

Johnny went on to win premierships with Canberra and captained the Kiwis. Old-school to his core, he ran hard, tackled hard and never gave up. Traits I recognised later playing with one of his talented brothers, David, for a couple of seasons under Mal Reilly in the 1990s.

From honest working stock, their dad was a shunter, who lost his legs in an industrial accident when they were kids. He was a union man and it was the union thatstepped in to support the family.

Read more: The latestrugby league and the NRL headlines

Naturally this left an impression on the Lomax kids. All went on to work in welfare roles, with one brother a religious minister, a sister in public health and Johnny in the trade union movement as an organiser for the CFMEU in the ACT.

In the event, Johnny was arrested and charged for what appeared to most to be doing his job. The charge was that he made a“demand with menace”.Police alleged he had forced a Canberra painting company to sign a union enterprise bargaining agreement, causing a financial loss.

In terms of timing, charges were laid with the Royal Commission into unions in full swing, ensuring Johnny suffered the ignominy of front-page coverage in not just his home town. The usual suspects dug up photos from his playing days and plastered them with headlines about blackmail and the like.

In a twist lost on few, his treatment then differs markedly to the current inquiry into the banks, where far worse revelations scandalise the industry, with not so much as a parking ticket in sight.

Out of interest, I understand a specific of Johnny’s supposed crime was that he phoned the company and asked that they pay the industry hourly rate. No standing over anyone, no threats, just a few phone calls and a claim for better pay for workers.

When the matter came to court, the charge was dropped. Johnny sued the police and last week there was a confidential settlement, in his favour.

My interest in this is not altogether unbiased. During my time as head of the Rugby League Players Association, particularly when we took steps to register the RLPA as a trade union in 2003, there was a marked increase in the media attacks on the organisation and me personally.

In spite of vested criticism, we achieved many ground-breaking benefits, including the formal standing of an emerging player body.

To ensure these arrangements were properly enforced for the long term, we insisted they be put in a registered agreement –nothing criminal about that, then.

But back to Lomax. With what’s since happened, it’s inescapable to conclude that in such a politically charged climate Johnny was especially targeted by sections of the media because of his profile in rugby league.Sad.

I wish Johnny well in this vindication. He’s nothing less than a gentlemen who deserved better.

* THEbiff is back.

Melbourne’syoung Turk Curtis Scott couldn’t cop another second of trash talk from Dylan Walker last week, lost his cool and jobbed him. Massively out of line, he coppeda two-week punishment. It did, however, seem for some to contradict the six-week, injury-enforced holiday for Dylan. But they’re the current rules.

Wrong? Possibly, but Walker must accept some blame.

Even in “big boys’ rules”, it’s ever wrong to throw the first punch. What’s equally accepted is incessant smack talk and shirt-fronting escalates any situation and is playing with fire.

Read more: Can Kalyn Ponga become the youngest Dally M medallist?

Another “eye for an eye” fan dilemma from the Brisbane/Roosters encounterinvolved Dylan Napa’s head clash withex-Knights goerKorbin Sims.

Korbsfinished up with a broken jaw and a diet of pain and smoothies, while the perpetrator got a 10-minute break. Again, on its face, it makes little sense.

Judging each case on its merits, I think it’s fair to say this was accidental. Nobody deliberately tackles with their head. Do they? I know it’s not good for your head or neck.

On this occasion the big palooka, at speed, clumsily caught out by Korbin’s impressive footwork, over-commits and, off-balance on the wrong shoulder, aimlessly follows through (like a raging bull). These accumulating miscalculations could so easily have seen Napa himself laying on the ground snoring.

Tough game. Two bulls. Teach better technique.

I hope Korbs has a speedy return to the field.

* FORthe Knights, last week was alost opportunity against a Titans outfit whokept on coming. In the end, silly errors and a lucky kick deflection werethe difference.

Another disappointment, another brick in the wall for the young squad who shone through with commitment and positive attitude for the most part.

Getting a chance to do it all again on Sunday, they’ll be taking on a Sharks team packed with plenty of good players. On form, Cronullashould get up in a close one.

Newcastle’s forwards need to dominate their opponents and lay a foundation for the speed section.

This is a great weekend at home to stand up(and for brain-cancer research,www.markhughesfoundation成都夜总会招聘.au). Knights by two.

Five federal by-elections set for July 28

An historic ‘Super Saturday’ of federal by-elections is set to be held on July 28, but Labor is concerned this will leave voters in five seats without MPs for 79 days.
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The seats of Braddon, Fremantle, Longman and Mayo are vacant because their MPs were found to be dual citizens and resigned from parliament, while the member for Perth resigned for family reasons.

Speaker Tony Smith told parliament on Thursday he would issue writs for by-elections on July 28, based on advice from the n Electoral Commission.

AEC commissioner Tom Rogers said the “optimal” July 28 date was based on two key factors – avoiding school holidays and allowing potential candidates to comply with new regulations under which they would voluntarily publicly declare they are not dual citizens.

However, he admitted the AEC had the ability to run elections – including a full federal election – on whatever date the government decided.

“The n Electoral Commission stands ready to conduct those events in accordance with your instructions on any legislatively appropriate date,” he said in his advice to the Speaker.

Labor pointed out it would leave the five seats, four of which were held by the opposition, without members for 79 days, and land on the day of its national conference.

The new members won’t be able to take up their seats until August 13 at the earliest.

“This deliberate delay is an insult to these communities who will be unrepresented for nearly three months,” Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said.

“It would also appear this has been deliberately designed to disadvantage the Labor Party, given our national conference is scheduled for that weekend.”

Labor Party national president Mark Butler said the announcement stunk of interference by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with the electoral commission.

“Our national conference is an important part of our policy process – and the fact the Liberal Party has deliberately sought to disrupt our democratic processes shows how desperate and pathetic they are,” Mr Butler said in a statement.

Discussions are underway into deferring the conference until next year.

When former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce resigned last year over his dual citizenship a by-election was called the same day for the soonest possible date.

The government is awaiting the Governor-General to sign off on a new regulation, which already has bipartisan support, to ensure all candidates must publicly declare they are not dual citizens or have any other bars under the constitution.

The vice-regal sign-off is expected on May 29, with the regulations expected to take two weeks for the AEC to implement.

Labor won’t face a coalition candidate in Perth or Fremantle and is expected to hold the seats comfortably.

However the coalition has its sights set on the Labor seats of Longman and Braddon and the Centre Alliance-held seat of Mayo.

The vacancies aren’t expected to impact significantly on parliament as it heads into the long winter break after June 28.

Record numbers set to see Sydney light up

The Liminal Hour, a giant puppet, will entice visitors at Friday’s Vivid launch at the Opera HouseMore than two million people are expected to visit Vivid Sydney’s 10th “birthday bash”, which is being touted as the biggest and best ever.
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The annual light and music festival kicks off on Friday with the unveiling of lights on the Sydney Opera House just after sunset.

It runs until June 16, with light installations, music and workshops across multiple venues.

NSW Tourism Minister Adam Marshall expects to break last year’s record crowd of more than 2.3 million people, who spent an estimated $143 million over the 23-day event.

“This year, if the weather is kind, then we anticipate seeing even more than that,” Mr Marshall told reporters on Thursday.

“It will be our biggest, our best, our brightest Vivid yet with lots of new inclusions this year, (and) we want to make it a huge birthday bash”.

“(People) can come and enjoy the sites, spectacular music and creative ideas sessions”.

Luna Park, Government House, and Customs House will be lit up, with light installations also at Taronga Zoo, Barangaroo, Chatswood, and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Visitors are urged to catch public transport, with an extra 6000 train, ferry, bus and light rail services being rolled out.

But authorities warn daily road closures from 3pm will impact some services.

“We really think you should leave your car at home and get public transport,” Marg Prendergast from Transport NSW told reporters.

The festival will also be overseen by an additional 2000 plain and uniformed police, water police, sniffer dogs, and mounted patrol.

“Our main priority is the safety of the community and there will be a significant amount of extra police here across all the Vivid sites,” assistant commissioner Mark Walton said.

Abortion referendum has split Ireland

An abortion referendum being held in Ireland has split the country.The abortion referendum has split opinion across Ireland.
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The topic is considered one of the most divisive and difficult subjects in public life, and has prompted posters with graphic post-abortion scenes on the streets of Dublin, erected by the No camp.

The Republic has one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in Europe, a legacy of the influence of the Catholic Church and a conservative attitude by generations past towards the matter.

While repealing the Eighth amendment of the constitution enshrining the equal right to life of mother and baby would not immediately introduce abortion, it would pave the way for the government to do just that.

Well-organised campaigns have bombarded the airwaves and doorsteps and covered lampposts up and down the country with sharply-conflicting key messages.

Those in favour of a Yes vote include the leaders of the main political parties in Ireland – Taoiseach Leo Varadkar among them – some doctors, lawyers, women’s rights groups and campaigning organisations like Amnesty International.

The government has characterised it as a modernising and compassionate reform, bringing Ireland into step with its neighbours who all have more liberal regimes.

Although there have been several referendums concerning abortion, nobody aged under 52 has had the chance to vote on an Eighth amendment introduced in 1983, and backers hope a large number of young people will vote and turn the tide their way.

They argue that that abortion is happening anyway, three illegal terminations are carried out every day using pills obtained on the internet – and thousands of pregnant women travel to the UK.

Varadkar and his supporters in Government have said it is better to regulate the procedure within the Irish health service rather than outsource it to Britain, exposing women to the dangers and inconvenience of travel, or taking a pill of uncertain origin themselves without the benefit of a doctor’s advice.

Together For Yes, the umbrella group leading the campaign for an affirmative vote, has used the slogan “trust women” to argue that they should be allowed to make important decisions about their own lives and families.

Those opposed to change include the clergy, a sizeable proportion of politicians and civil society organisations.

The Catholic Church believes the life of the unborn is sacrosanct, that it would be immoral to allow its termination through abortion, but advocates greater support for those in crisis.

It has urged people to remember the rights of the unborn, who cannot speak for themselves; many others sharing the same perspective have characterised that imbalance in emotive terms – warning that babies will die.

Exposto sentenced to death in Malaysia

A Sydney grandmother has been sentenced to death by hanging in Malaysia after an appeal court overturned her earlier acquittal on drug smuggling charges.
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The three judges sitting in Kuala Lumpur unanimously found the 54-year-old guilty but said she had a right of further appeal on the methamphetamine charges and wished her luck.

“We find the merits of the appeal, we allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the judge and find her guilty as convicted. The only sentence under law is death by hanging,” the judges found.

Exposto’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, told her it was a temporary setback and “you will win and you will walk away” following a further appeal.

He told AAP a new appeal will be lodged in the Federal Court on Friday.

“It’s the most shocking decision ever,” Shafee said.

“It’s a perverse judgment, no reasons were provided. The High Court judge examined every detail in the evidence and in today’s decision they simply reversed the decision without reason and sentenced her to death.”

He also said there remains the prospect that the case could become politicised given the return of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to the helm of Malaysian politics.

Relations between and Malaysia soured under Mahathir amid the hanging of n drug runners Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers in 1986.

“That’s a danger because Mahathir still holds a peculiar view of ,” Shafee said.

In a statement on Thursday evening Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said ” opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people”.

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would continue to provide full consular assistance to Ms Exposto in Malaysia following the overturning of her acquittal and imposition of the death sentence.

On December 27 last year Exposto was acquitted of drug trafficking but faced a prosecution appeal against the acquittal on charges of trafficking 1.5kg of methamphetamine into Malaysia.

Exposto was handcuffed in court where she was consoled by her lawyers and n Embassy officials after the verdict.

She had claimed she was the victim of a set-up after she was found with the drugs in her bag after arriving on a flight from China in 2014.

She was acquitted after the judge found she was scammed by her online boyfriend and was unaware she was carrying the drugs.

The prosecution in the appeal argued Exposto had been wilfully blind, that her defence was made up and she had engaged in a “sly game”.

Shafee responded, telling the court that Exposto was an innocent carrier hoodwinked by an internet romance scam.

No charges over NT justice commission

Former detainee Dylan Voller says he won’t stop fighting after hearing no guards would be charged.The Darwin prison guards who cloaked teenaged detainee Dylan Voller in a spit hood and strapped him to a restraint chair, forcibly stripped him naked or tear-gassed him won’t face criminal prosecution.
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A subsequent royal commission into the Northern Territory’s youth detention centres found the system was broken, but police announced on Thursday that all investigations related to matters arising from the inquiry have now been completed and no charges will be laid.

A heartbroken Mr Voller vowed to keep “fighting for what is right”.

“I’m disappointed and let down by the system,” the 20-year-old told reporters, flanked by a group of grandmothers at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

“I went through a year of listening to the royal commission, giving my side of the story, listening to other evidence, which made me (feel) down and played with my mental health, it made my anxiety worse, only to be told there’s not going to be any accountability.”

The $70 million spent on the inquiry had been a waste of money, he said.

He said the detention guards should “look in the mirror and be ashamed of themselves”.

“Hopefully they can apologise and I can forgive them and move on,” Mr Voller said.

Alice Springs grandmother Christine Kngwarraye Palmer, who gave evidence to the royal commission after her grandson was abused while in youth detention, said she felt really angry.

“We saw the physical abuse, (the footage) went all over the world, and everybody watching I’m sure would have shed a tear,” she told reporters.

“It’s a crime, they should be charged. If somebody did that to your son, what would you call it?”

Shocking footage from 2014 of the treatment of Ms Palmer’s grandson and others inside NT youth detention centres was dubbed ”s Abu Ghraib’ – a reference to the US military torture scandal in Iraq.

The royal commission found officers restrained children, using force including restraint chairs, and inappropriately used isolation cells.

It also revealed “severe, prison-like and unhygienic conditions” across a number of facilities in the Top End.

“The failures we have identified have cost children and families greatly, they have not made communities safer and they are shocking,” Commissioner Mick Gooda said when the report was released.

The Territory government has since announced it will spend $229 million to implement more than 200 recommendations.

Former NT Corrections Minister John Elferink said the fact no criminal charges had been laid meant Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had been misled in commissioning the investigation after the images were aired.

“We have… always acted when in government, with absolute probity, something Four Corners had explained to them at length, something they chose not to run with and as a consequence, they put out a story saying that we tortured children,” Mr Elferink told NT News.

“All of those things are indictable offences, none of that was found to be true.”

Storm’s Smith upset by NRL suspension

Melbourne captain Cameron Smith will be out to make amends following a week-long ban.A “upset” Cameron Smith will be out to make amends for his one-match suspension when Melbourne take on North Queensland on Friday night in their NRL grand final rematch.
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Smith was banned for a week for a dangerous wishbone tackle on his former teammate Kevin Proctor in their clash with the Titans.

Smith was forced to watch from the stands as his team turned in their worst performance of the season in a 24-4 loss to Manly.

Without their leader the Storm attack looked lost as they struggled to mount any pressure on their fierce rivals.

Ahead of the Townsville match Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said the NRL champions felt it was a harsh call to charge and suspend Smith.

“It was tough for him last week to miss a game as he doesn’t miss many but the circumstance he was really upset with, getting that charge,” Bellamy said.

The coach said there were differing views at the club about whether to fight the charge with Smith making the final call, unwilling to risk a two-match suspension should he contest it and be found guilty.

“We think he was really hard done by as well but he thought it was the safe way to take that early plea,” Bellamy said.

The Storm met with the NRL match review committee, who explained their thinking on the charge, although it didn’t change Melbourne’s view.

“They were good enough to come down and explain their side of it so it’s a little bit clearer, but we still think the penalty was a little bit harsh but you just roll with the punches,” Bellamy said.

Bulldogs-turned-Storm duo Dale Finucane and Sam Kasiano could both be playing their 150th NRL games, with Kasiano aiming for a place on the bench after being suspended last game.

No breaches on ‘shocking’ live sheep ship

The deaths of 2400 sheep on a live export ship didn’t breach the regulator’s animal welfare standards because it was a heat stress event, a Senate hearing has been told.
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Horrific footage emerged last month of sheep dying in their own filth on a Middle East-bound ship in August last year.

On day 15 of the voyage, temperatures soared, killing 900 sheep.

A further 1000 died in the two days following.

Narelle Clegg, who heads the agriculture department’s live animal export branch, said there were no breaches found on the Emanuel Exports-chartered Awassi Express.

“What this episode shows, particularly the video footage, it shows the inadequacy of the information we’re asking the vets to provide,” Ms Clegg told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday.

Bur Labor senator Lisa Singh believed it showed more than that.

“I think it shows the inadequacy of the department as an independent regulator,” Ms Singh said.

Ms Clegg responded: “It may well, that’s your view”.

The department is considering if more than one of its observers need to be on ships to observe animals and their onboard treatment.

Ms Clegg broke down as she thought about conditions on the Awassi.

“There was so much footage of empty troughs – it was dreadful,” she said.

LiveCorp chair and West n farmer Terry Enright said he had never seen anything comparable to the vision.

“We’re shocked because that footage represented the reverse of everything we work for,” Mr Enright said.

Department head Daryl Quinlivan admitted the compliance regime had been inadequate with a focus on death rates rather than conditions on ships.

“We now think mortality outcomes are not a sufficient measure of the performance of the trade,” he said.

The department’s culture and capability is under review following the controversy, as part of Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s push to clean up the under-fire trade.

Mr Littleproud introduced a bill to parliament on Thursday to punish dodgy exporters with up to 10 years’ jail and multimillion-dollar fines.

He has also announced a separate review of the n Standards for the Export of Livestock will be brought forward to the end of the year.

Middle Eastern sheep importers raised concerns costs would rise because of a new regulatory regime imposed on the industry during a ministerial visit earlier in the week, officials said.

Major importer Al Mawashi has opened talks with other countries after NSW MP Sussan Ley introduced a private bill to end live sheep exports.

A pool of independent observers, who are department officers and qualified vets, will be sent on voyages in the future.

They will ensure the animals are properly fed, watered, treated if ill and euthanased if necessary.

There were 272 live export voyages last year.

Live exports have been in decline in recent years from 2.2 million head in 2014-15 to 1.8 million head in 2016-17.