Sydney braces for another soggy week as floods leave thousands stranded

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 16: Weather. A walker gets caught in a rain squall at Jubilee Park along Rozelle Bay in Glebe on March 16, 2017 in Sydney, . (Photo by Kirk Gilmour/Fairfax Media) Photo: Kirk GilmourSydney has sloshed through yet another wet weekend, with a total of 222 millimetres of rain soaking the city over the past 19 days – 16 of which were rainy.
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While the rain is expected to persist for the rest of the week, Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Gabrielle Woodhouse said the wet conditions were no cause for alarm.

“We start to see a lot of the weather patterns change [in March] and so this is where typically we start to see some wet months,” she said.

“You can start to see these sorts of troughs where we just have a lot of shower activity or the development of lows off the coast and they’re the ones that generally bring the widespread rainfall, with a really high rainfall total.”

At just over halfway through the month, March is poised to break rainfall records, inching closer to the 270 millimetres that fell across Sydney in 2012 – the wettest March in almost 30 years.

But it’s unlikely to beat the wettest March on record – a whopping 434.30 millimetres in 1892.

More than 2100 people have been left stranded by flooding, the NSW State Emergency Service said.

Up to 180 SES teams were on standby to help with the additional 124 callouts along the Mid North Coast on Sunday, bringing the total number of calls for assistance over the weekend to 3156.

“We’re expecting that [those stranded] will remain isolated for the next couple of days, depending on rainfall conditions,” SES spokeswoman Kerrie Langendam said.

“However, 15 to 40 millimetres [is still] expected from as low as the Illawarra up until the Queensland border.”

Flood warnings were issued for rivers and creeks across the Northern Rivers, Mid North Coast and Central Coast, with an evacuation order put in place for areas near the Bellinger River on Saturday evening. By Sunday afternoon, the area had been given the all clear. Heavy rainfall over NSW. Flood warnings current: Severn Orara Bellinger Nambucca Hastings Gloucester Manning & Colo https://t苏州夜场招聘/Ss766eSCrLpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/FlwuSTfloK??? BOM New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) March 18, 2017

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Mark Ferguson and Seven News upset the locals in 6pm TV showdown

MERCURY. NEWS. Pic of Bruce Gordon owner of WIN TV with TV News prestenter Geoff Phillips. Picture: Sylvia Liber . 7 February, 2017 Photo: Sylvia LiberRegional broadcaster Southern Cross Austereo’s launch of localised Nine News bulletins against WIN News in Canberra and Wollongong appears to have split the local news viewing audience in both markets and delivered ratings wins to competitor Prime7.
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But the Nine affiliate insists it is satisfied with its news debut despite running third behind its commercial rivals in the 6pm timeslot.

The first survey period of the 2017 free-to-air TV ratings season shows WIN’s established half-hour weeknight news bulletin, presented from Wollongong by veteran anchorman Geoff Phillips, holding off its local news challenger in both cities.

But Prime7’s relay of the Mark Ferguson-hosted Seven News from Sydney is the winner at 6pm.

Southern Cross Austereo and feeder network Nine are halfway through the ambitious roll-out of 15 localised evening news bulletins for the ACT and regional viewers across southern NSW, country Victoria and Queensland.

Canberra and Wollongong were the first to receive local versions of Nine News – the first time in 15 years that billionaire Bruce Gordon’s WIN TV has faced direct commercial competition for local news viewers in those markets.

In Canberra over the month to March 11, WIN News averaged 15,378 viewers in the 6pm-6.30pm slot, beating the first half of the new localised Nine News (11,745) but narrowly beaten by the first half of Seven News (15,588).

The Prime7 program won the 6pm-7pm slot, averaging 15,377 viewers to WIN’s 13,397 and Nine’s 11,438.

The ABC’s 7pm Canberra bulletin remains the capital’s most-watched evening news by far, averaging 39,000 viewers.

In WIN’s hometown market of Wollongong, Seven News from Sydney won the 6pm-6.30pm timeslot with an average 34,939 viewers for Prime7, ahead of WIN News (27,644) and the first half of the localised Nine News (17,483).

Prime7 also won the 6pm-7pm hour, averaging 36,329 viewers a night, ahead of WIN (25,755) and Nine (18,258).

An hour format mixing local, state, national and international news and sport, the new ACT and regional NSW bulletins of Nine News are presented from Nine’s Sydney studios by Vanessa O’Hanlon, with weather presented by Gavin Morris from Nine’s NBN station in Newcastle.

In a media release that trumpeted its Canberra ratings victory over Nine without mentioning Prime7, WIN said its 30-minute news format of all-local content “consistently delivered a higher number of viewers across the four-week survey period compared to Nine’s recently introduced local bulletin”.

“ACT audiences have remained loyal to WIN News,” network news director Stella Lauri said.

But the localised versions of Nine News are already delivering audience gains for Southern Cross Austereo, according to its head of regional media Rick Lenarcic.

“It is still early days but in Canberra our audience between 6pm-6.30pm has increased by more than 20 per cent compared with the same period last year and by six per cent in Wollongong,” he said.

“It’s clear the news is already building our audiences.”

Despite running third in the 6pm news race and Prime7’s success with its cheaper relay of Seven News, Mr Lenarcic said adding locally focused content “enhances the overall brand” of Nine in regional markets.

Prime7, long-time affiliate of Kerry Stokes-owned Seven, hasn’t produced its own news bulletins for Canberra, Wollongong and Newcastle since June 2001, when it axed locally produced evening news in favour of brief “updates” slotted into ad breaks.

It still airs five half-hour weeknight bulletins from its Canberra studios for the regions of Inland NSW, North Coast NSW, Central West, Wagga Wagga and Albury/Wodonga, as well as a half-hour national news tailored for regional areas.

Commenting on the ratings success of Seven News in the ACT and Wollongong, Prime7 head of news Paul Patrick said “clearly these markets prefer a national news bulletin”.

But Prime7 was committed to retaining its local news bulletins in regional NSW – despite the arrival of localised Nine News bulletins setting up a three-way fight for small local news audiences.

“Our local bulletins deliver exceptional results,” Mr Patrick said.

Last month, ahead of the Nine News launch in its NSW markets, Prime7 switched to dual newsreaders Madelaine Collignon and Kenny Heatley for its local bulletins.

From March 20, meteorologist Karl Lijnders joins to present a “more insightful” weather forecast.

WIN News, presented in NSW and the ACT by Phillips and Amy Duggan, moved to the 6pm timeslot – between Ten Eyewitness News First at Five and The Project – last July as part of WIN’s program supply deal with Network Ten.

That switch followed Nine’s dumping of WIN as its regional affiliate after almost 30 years to strike a five-year, $500 million programming tie-up with Southern Cross Austereo.

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Packer calls in $100m loan to Crown

Casino tycoon James Packer has an extra $100 million in his wallet after calling in a loan to his Crown Resorts empire.
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Mr Packer last week sold a million subordinated notes – a debt security – to Crown for $101.58 each, returning more than $101 million to his coffers. Crown and Mr Packer’s personal wealth vehicle Consolidated Press Holdings told the n Stock Exchange after the market closed on Friday.

Crown has issued the notes since 2012 with a face value of $100, suggesting Mr Packer made 1.5 per cent interest – or $1.5 million – on the loan.

Crown on Friday also delivered Mr Packer, a company director and its largest shareholder with 48 per cent of shares, a separate $489 million cash injection in the form of a 30?? dividend and a special 80?? payment from Crown’s sale of its Macau casinos stake.

Mr Packer had another $488 million pay day in August last year when he sold 4.8 per cent of the company, bringing his ownership to below 50 per cent.

Crown is trying to reduce its debt, which at December 31 last year stood at $1.76 billion, after launching a massive overhaul of its business that has seen it abandon global ambitions for a smaller operation focused on its casinos in Melbourne and Perth and its under-construction resort in Sydney’s Barangaroo.

The company has another $422 million in subordinated notes outstanding and intends to buy back as many as possible. Crown also plans to launch a $500 million buyback of ordinary shares as early as Monday, which if that target is reached, will represent a repurchase of almost 6 per cent of issued capital.

A spokesman for Mr Packer could not say on the weekend if he owned more of the debt notes or if he intended to cash them in.

Crown’s overhaul followed the arrest of 18 Crown staff members in China in October, of whom 14 remain behind bars accused of “gambling crimes”. Two months later Crown said it would sell its stake in its Macau casino joint venture Melco Crown and was canning plans to build a new casino in Las Vegas.

Crown’s half-year result released in February revealed that VIP gambling income, largely driven by Chinese visitors, was down more than 47 per cent in Melbourne and almost 39 per cent in Perth. That led to a 9.6 per cent profit slump for the half.

The company is also looking for savings in its marketing and sponsorship budget and has started cutting its workforce, starting at its Perth casino last month.

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Nelmes ‘concerned’ at Newcastle Supercars race management

UNHAPPY: Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes address a council meeting in 2015. Despite supporting the race, Cr Nelmes has been increasingly critical of the way the event is being managed by Destination NSW. PICTURE: Peter StoopTENSIONS over the running of the November Supercars race in Newcastle have ratcheted up another gear, with lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes telling NSW Tourism Minister Adam Marshall she doesn’t believe Destination NSW is doing a good enough job managing the event.
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In correspondence sentto Mr Marshall last week and seen by theNewcastle Herald,Cr Nelmes expressed the council’s “concerns regarding DNSW as the event organisers”, revealing that the two bodies have yet to sign a memorandum of understanding that was part of the council’s support for the race.

“I am still concerned that the management and organisation of the Newcastle 500 is not locally based and that the community consultation and stakeholder engagement has been carried alone by [the council],” she wrote.

Cr Nelmes enthusiastically backed the race when it was announced by Premier Mike Baird late last year, attending the launch of the event in Honeysuckle, but as opposition to the race from East End residents has ramped upthe lord mayor has become increasingly critical of Destination NSW’s role as organiser.

“Council is committed to ensuring that there is proper consultation with the community and key stakeholders to ensure their needs and concerns are resolved [or] managed in a timely manner,” she wrote.

“To date this has not occurred.”

While Mr Marshall has moved to blunt criticism of the consultation in the lead up to the event by announcing a “coordination office” to run the event, the government’s been criticised for notcreatinga legislated authority like the one that initially ran the race in Sydney.

“I acknowledge that the NSW government has a clear role to play in coordinating implementation of the event, including community engagement,” Mr Marshall said in a statement to the Herald.

“That is why I announced in February that Destination NSW would create a dedicated Newcastle 500 Coordination Office, to oversee all aspects of implementation ahead of the inaugural event in November, working closely with Supercars and Newcastle City Council.”

The Herald reported last week that the council had asked thestate government for an 11thhour route change so the track uses Shortland Esplanade instead of passing through the city’s historic East End.

The request was rejectedby Supercars, who saidit had been made too late.

But Cr Nelmessaid she was “concerned” moving the trackhad been ruled out, saying it was “contrary to the discussions” with Mr Marshall and Supercars boss James Warburton “in preceding weeks”.

Mr Marshall’s office told the Herald to “refer to the statement distributed by Supercars in regards to the Shortland Esplanade option”.

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Newcastle Knights under fire for Brendan Elliot incident

JUST weeks after former player James McManus launched legal action against Newcastle for their handling of a series of career-ending concussions, the club is again under scrutiny after an incident involving fullback Brendan Elliot in Saturday’s 24-18 loss to South Sydney.
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Compelling argument from @Peter_Fitz. I suspect @NRLKnights will be hearing more about this … pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/HNl28dw0HW

— Robert Dillon (@robertdillon174) March 19, 2017Sports Sunday show.

“Here is Newcastle, the same club that is being sued … [Elliot] is clearly, 100 per cent, absolutely, no doubt about it, motherless,’’ FitzSimons said. “He is concussed.”

FitzSimons then challenged NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and the code’s chief medical officer, Dr Paul Bloomfield, to examine replays of the tackle.

“Look at that and tell us how is it that that guy was not removed from the field, even for a head-injury assessment,’’ FitzSimons said.

FitzSimons said Elliot was “clearly concussed, and then he gets concussed again, and was taken off”.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said he had not been contacted by the NRL about the incident.

INJURY: Sione Mata’utia is taken off for a head-injury assessment.

“The NRL have no raised any issue with the club regarding yesterday’s game,’’ Gidley said.

“If they ask for further details regarding the incident, we will provide all on-field/medical assessments.

“This is standard procedure with any incident the NRL opts to review.’’

An NRL spokesman said the incident“will be reviewed, along with a number of HIAs and head knocks over the course of the round.’’

Knights coach Nathan Brown was critical of the NRL’s concussion-replacement rules on Saturday, after losing both Elliot and Sione Mata’utia during the second half.

TheHeraldcontacted Brown on Sunday for a response to FitzSimons’ comments but received no reply.

On Saturday, when asked about Elliot’s condition, the coachsaid:“Well, he got cleared and…they don’t clear them too much these days.Doctors are too frightened to clear them.’’

Under the NRL’s concussion protocols, there is a“slow to stand” guideline, which usually prompts a head-injury assessment.

PAIN BARRIER: Nathan Ross played on despite an ankle injury midway through the first half.

Brown called on Saturday for the NRL to allow additional replacements to cater for concussed players.

“The game has got to address this, because obviously with legal cases coming up, doctors are more cautious, but we’re not addressing the bigger problem,’’ he said.

“The bigger problem is injured people being forced to stay on the field because we don’t have any players left.’’

Hunt was placed on report for the tackle on Elliot and was charged on Sunday with a grade-two reckless tackle, which carriesa minimum suspension of four games if he takes the early guilty plea.

If he contests the charge and is found guilty, he would be looking at a six-game ban.

Asked for his view on the incident, Brown replied:“I’ll leave that withthe referees and the judiciary…

“But if Brendan Elliott does have to leave the field because of that, and then the player does get suspended, who gets the benefit out of it?’’

Souths prop George Burgess also copped a grade-two striking charge for an incident involving Newcastle’s Mitch Barnett, which is likely to cost him two or three weeks out.

Rabbitohs winger Braidon Burns faces a grade-one shoulder charge –at least a week out –for a hit on Sione Mata’utia, while Newcastle prop Josh Starling can escape suspension if he pleads guilty to grade-one dangerous contact on Kyle Turner.

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