Shia LaBeouf’s new flop earns just $11.50 in UK opening weekend

???While Emma Watson’s Beauty and the Beast continued its box office burning run, Shia LaBeouf was setting a different kind of ticket sales record.
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The troubled actor’s new war thriller Man Down earned just ??7 ($11.50) at the UK box office during its theatrical opening this weekend, Variety reports.

That’s the equivalent of one sold cinema ticket.

“Poor Shia, that opening could be in the Guinness World Records or something,” a senior media analyst at data company ComScore told the trade magazine.

Of course, there’s context. The film, which was simultaneously released digitally for download and streaming, opened in just one cinema in Burnley.

But even that doesn’t excuse its dismal pull: The Void, a Canadian horror movie starring Ellen Wong, also opened in just one cinema this weekend and took in ??1613 ($2650), according to The Independent.

Man Down, a thriller set amidst the war in Afghanistan, also stars Sydney actor Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad) and Oscar nominee Gary Oldman. It reunited LaBeouf with Dino Montiel, the director of his 2006 indie breakthrough A Guide To Recognising Your Saints.

The film was released in the US in December last year where it grossed $US454,490 ($600,530), following an opening run at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.

“The script landed on my lap at just the right time – [Montiel] came to my house when I was at a really low place and offered it to me like therapy, like, ‘Here’s a healing process where we can jump into together and get well,'” LaBeouf said about the film at Venice.

But negative reviews – the film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 15 – saw its theatrical run largely shelved internationally.

While Variety notes a potential “silver lining”, saying media headlines over the film’s tiny grosses may boost the small project’s profile, it’s another dent on LaBeouf’s floundering reputation.

Once a bankable box office topper in Hollywood blockbusters like Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise, the star has earned more attention for his off-set shenanigans than his work in recent years, including a recent scuffle that saw him arrested for assaulting a Nazi sympathiser at his anti-Trump art installation in New York City.

The actor, who did earn raves for last year’s festival fave American Honey, will next be seen playing John McEnroe in a Scandinavian production that follows the tennis great’s ’80s rivalry with Swede Bjorn Borg.

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Shock at $2.2m Toowoomba house sale, but it shouldn’t be a surprise

9 Campbell Street, East Toowoomba Photo: Webster Cavanagh ToowoombaToowoomba property market ripe for buyers’Best start to a year in a decade’ for Brisbane prestigeWhy an extended summer is great for QLD property
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Toowoomba is home to some of Queensland’s most beautiful historic homes but when a six-bedroom property in the eastern suburbs recently sold for $2.2 million, there were a few shocked faces.

It is, after all, a suburb in what is essentially a country town, albeit a large one ??? but local Webster Cavanagh agent Kirstie Smolenski says Toowoomba’s prestige market is not just well established but firing on all fronts.

“Some were surprised that I cracked the $2 million mark but I wasn’t ??? there’s a lot of support for high end property in Toowoomba,” she says.

“That area in East Toowoomba is incredibly tightly held and highly sought-after ??? and not just for the suburb but that street name in particular,” she says. “I had four offers at the tender process.”

The property in hot contention was 9 Campbell Street, East Toowoomba, a gorgeous colonial residence set on 4047 square metres of elevated, landscaped land.

The house had been meticulously renovated to a luxurious standard and included beautiful open plan living rooms, spacious bedrooms, a wide central hall, 12-foot ceilings and large deep verandahs. It featured stunning outdoor living spaces complete with in-ground pool, rolling lawns with large mature trees, a self sufficient guest cottage and a floodlit tennis court.

It’s one of a number of high end deals that have been secured this year and it’s no aberration; last year’s records show the highest sale in East Toowoomba was $2.5 million but the record that remains unbroken was set in 2015, when the highest sale recorded was $3.2 million.

Ms Smolenski says Toowoomba’s prestige market is supported largely by wealthy rural families.

“A lot of them use Toowoomba as a base for when their kids go to the local private schools. They’re bringing kids in to board and there’s so much money in that,” she says.

The house at 9 Campbell Street, as well as another stunning heritage home at 9 Fletcher Street, were both recently purchased by rural families wanting a base to use in the future for when their kids were at school, Ms Smolenski says.

“My argument has always been that we haven’t had a lot of higher priced properties simply because we haven’t had the stock. When we have the stock, I have people all over it.

“There is a big prestige market here. It’s as simple as this: we could sell more if there was more available.”

The house at Fletcher Street has just gone under contract and although Ms Smolenski couldn’t reveal the exact price, it went for close to the asking price of $1.95 million, she says.

Steeped in history, the five-bedroom, three-bathroom home on an acre of landscaped grounds was built in the 1870s, making it one of Toowoomba’s oldest residences.

It features original stone work, bay windows, gabled roof line and stunning pressed metal ceilings throughout.

“In my opinion this market will continue to grow. The liveability of this town is completely understated. The prestige market here is alive and not just well – but kicking.”

Alex Lincoln from PRDnationwide Toowoomba says that apart from wealthy rural families, the local prestige market is heavily supported by medical professionals who feel comfortable spending millions in Toowoomba because of its steady, reliable market.

“Buyers feel comfortable and confident paying these prices in Toowoomba because it’s a solid market that doesn’t have the peaks and troughs that other regional centres have had,” Ms Lincoln says.

“As a property market, it’s solid, it’s locally supported and it doesn’t have the transient population that other towns have; people come here, stay, they put down roots here and raise their families.”

Ms Lincoln says anywhere along the escarpment sells for a premium price, citing the recent sale of a contemporary home at St Ives Court, Mount Lofty, which went for $1,485,000.

“Anything along the escarpment with views regularly sells for a high price; $1.3 million, $1.4 million. There’s one currently for sale for $1.5 million,” she says.

“Toowoomba really holds its own as a property market and has a great range of property at all price points. That said, I think it’s one of the most underpriced markets in the country. You get exceptional value for money here for the lifestyle on offer.”

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Gordon Park: Brisbane’s newest boom suburb

Street record smashed at auction in HawthorneBrisbane auctions: Brisbane architect snags land to build dream family homeA modern take on the classic Queenslander for sale in Red Hill
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Rising buyer demand has delivered unexpectedly strong results for Gordon Park, with some sales in recent months breaking suburb records.

McGrath Wilston agent Garry Jones says Gordon Park has not traditionally been placed in the same league as surrounding suburbs such as Wilston, Windsor and Grange.

“It’s becoming a first alternative,” he said. “People who want to buy in Wilston and Grange are getting frustrated by low stock levels; they’re being pushed into this area.”

Gordon Park is located about six kilometres north of Brisbane’s CBD and is the smallest suburb within Brisbane City Council.

Domain Group chief economist Andrew Wilson agreed there was high demand in Gordon Park.

“It’s a suburb where demand is ahead of supply and I think it’s a part of an upper price perception with buyers there,” he said. “It’s that price range that’s been the strongest in Brisbane in recent years.”

Buyer demand translated to a impressive rise in prices in the past five years, Mr Jones said.

“Ultimately, the properties I’ve sold in the past few years that I’m now reselling have increased anywhere from 20 to 25 per cent in value,” he said.

Dr Wilson said those numbers weren’t far off. He placed the Gordon Park median house price at $787,500, nearly 33 per cent up from five years ago and seven per cent year-on-year.

“Those numbers are pretty good; (it’s) very strong growth over last year,” he said. “Better than the rest of Brisbane.”

“That’s quite a hefty median, even for that area.”

Mr Jones pointed to three recent sales in the suburb, which he said offered an insight into where Gordon Park was headed.

“There’s 100 Richmond Street, which set a new record,” he said. “The suburb has now exceeded $1.305 million for a 607 square metre block, which is great news for Gordon Park.

“And 52 Goulburn Street, which sold prior to auction, with seven offers on the property.”

Mr Jones didn’t disclose the price for Goulburn Street, but said it was above reserve.

“They both sold prior to auction three weeks into the campaign, well over reserve.”

The last example was 56 Barron Street, which sold at auction for $797,000, tens of thousands above reserve, he said.

Mr Jones said now was a good time to sell in Gordon Park, but warned sellers to keep their expectations realistic. He was concerned sellers may think their suburb exists in a vacuum and forget external market forces.

“It’s advisable to look at the whole market, not just your suburb.”

“[Agents] will always give a realistic guideline on recent sales data,” Mr Jones said.

“But that’s very difficult to rely on in a rising market.”

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What happens when a heatwave hits in a post-Hazelwood world?

Extreme heat is a test. It tests people and the systems they rely on, not least the electricity system. So in a post-Hazelwood world, how will the national electricity grid cope during hot days as we seek comfort by cranking up our cooling systems?
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It’s a summer’s day in 2018, and it’s bloody hot. It threatens to be the fourth day in a row the mercury will soar above 40 degrees.

It’s still early morning, but power-hungry air-conditioners are already working hard in Melbourne and across the eastern seaboard.

In the mid-1990s, about a quarter of ns artificially cooled their homes. It’s now more than half, with Victorians gobbling up about 80 per cent more electricity on a hot day.

As the climate control kicks in, home solar systems are also firing up. At the turn of the decade, rooftop solar panels were a novelty. Now, more than 1.5 million households have them. They provide some relief for the stretched electricity grid. And the grid needs all the help it can get.

Like most of us, electricity infrastructure struggles when it’s hot. This applies to the ageing equipment in creaking old coal plants and gas-fired turbines, with breakdowns more common as the heat rises.

Power lines sag, no longer capable of transmitting their usual load, lest they pack it in.

Even solar panels on people’s homes can lose nearly a fifth of their capacity as the temperature goes past 40.

When Hazelwood shut it became the tenth coal generator since 2010 to close. The closures took 5 gigawatts – more than three Hazelwoods – out of the grid.

Conversely, nearly 4 gigawatts of wind turbines have been connected, 5 gigawatts of solar rooftop panels installed and 3 gigawatts of gas-fired plants built since 2009 to cover peak demand.

These new sources are not a like-for-like replacement. Where coal plants run 24-7 and are inflexible, wind and solar energy are variable and need a flexible system in which different technologies are called on when needed. That’s where the grid is headed. But it’s not there yet.

The pressure on the regulator – n Energy Market Operator (AEMO) – to make the right calls about who will supply the power and where it is needed most during a hot day is immense.

There have always been occasional blackouts, but the febrile political climate is such that a loss of electricity will have nasty political ramifications for state governments.

If things go wrong, governments will be quick to pass the buck. And the market operator – which went out of its way to stress that in an emergency there was more than enough spare capacity to cover the loss of Hazelwood – is likely to cop the blame.

Knowing this, and fresh from being accused of not doing enough to prevent blackouts in South in 2017’s summer, the market operator took extra precautions. It urged generators not to schedule maintenance at peak times, and told two baseload gas-fired plants mothballed in northern Tasmania and Brisbane to help fill the gap left by Hazelwood. Both are up and running.

As demand rises, the regulator will also turn to “peaking plants” to supplement the generators that run every day. Hydro power and open-cycle gas (which differs from baseload gas) can ramp up quickly when a boost is needed in supply – and there is a willingness to pay a hefty price for the extra generation.

Victoria has a stack of peaking plants. Gas is expensive and the east coast supply is overwhelmingly being exported, but there is enough fuel for these plants to come online during a heatwave.

To help ease demand, some big industrial plants that use a stack of electricity have agreed to reduce their production to help keep the lights on. Aluminium smelters use more than 10 per cent of power generated in NSW and Victoria.

All things being equal, that should do the job. But there are other risks. Some power plants won’t be available.

Power plants are not compelled to make their generators available. During South ‘s 2017 blackouts one gas plant ran at about half its capacity.

That same summer also saw 2000 megawatts of coal, gas and hydro capacity out of action in NSW during a heatwave. In this instance, the market operator faced the difficult decision in relation to who would lose power. It angered the Victorian government by warning that power in Ballarat and Bendigo could be cut to keep NSW connected, though in the end it didn’t act on it.

As the heat rises, such decisions may have to be made if fossil-fuel plants fail or the wind doesn’t blow. Worse, the ever-present bushfire threat could knock out transmission lines or affect generators. What’s the extreme scenario? That all the risks arrive at once and blackouts, whether planned or forced, hit in some areas.

Victoria’s Hazelwood power station in Gippsland shut in March. Photo: Getty ImagesThe short-term fixes

Assuming the system is managed better than it has been in recent times everything should be fine, but experts also warn decisions made now will be crucial in ensuring reliability in the years ahead as more coal plants close.

The scenario above is the picture today, but it will almost certainly have changed again by next summer. The energy industry has been acting as though on fast-forward in recent weeks, and shows no sign of slowing down.

The Clean Energy Council says there is more than $5.5 billion worth of renewable energy projects under construction.

Last week, it was announced work would start this year on a $1 billion solar and battery plant in South . Billed as the biggest of its type in the world – it includes a 330 megawatt solar farm and 100 megawatt battery system – proponents say it could fix South and Victoria’s supply issue this summer.

This is independent of the the SA government’s quick tender for ‘s first large-scale battery system that could – if Tesla mogul Elon Musk is to be believed – be built in 100 days.

Tesla batteries connected to distribution circuits at Southern California Edison’s Mira Loma substation.. Photo: Jake Michaels

Less headline grabbing is SA Premier Jay Weatherill’s assurance that there will be 200 megawatts of emergency back-up in place. Almost certainly, it will be met by bringing in diesel generators.

This was the path Tasmania took when its hydro dams were running low and the Basslink cable to Victoria was broken last year. It might seem antiquated, but it works.

The Victorian government has also promised a battery tender, aiming to have 50 megawatts – enough to power a couple of regional cities for four hours – before Christmas. Another 50 is expected to follow in 2018.

Batteries and diesel can help deal with peaks, but Hazelwood’s daily output is likely to be mostly replaced by increased generation at NSW’s black coal plants, which have been running at about 50 per cent capacity.

Other promises – including Malcolm Turnbull’s proposal for a $2 billion expansion of the Snowy Hydro Scheme, and South ‘s pledge to support new plants to run government agencies and to build further gas-fired back-up – will take longer to be realised.

The Snowy Hydro Scheme at Talbingo, NSW. Photo: Alex EllinghausenUnanswered questions

The big, unaddressed question is what will the response be when the next large coal power plant closes – and the next one after that, and so on.

has 23 remaining coal generators. As the federal government acknowledges, several more may shut over the next decade.

According to modelling for the Climate Change Authority, all would need to be gone and replaced by cleaner technology by 2035 if is to play its part under the Paris deal to keep global warming below 2 degrees.

That notional deadline rarely gets a mention in public debate, but a campaign is in full flight for a bipartisan national energy and climate policy to set the pace for the transition to cleaner plants.

Businesses are worried that ageing coal plants will otherwise continue to shut abruptly – Hazelwood’s closure was announced just five months out – without there being time to build replacements.

The federal government has rejected their preferred model, an emissions intensity scheme, and has offered no alternative. Reviews into electricity security (by chief scientist Alan Finkel) and climate policy are under way, but the government is fundamentally divided on the need to do anything. It is hard to see where it lands.

Nationally, the only significant large-scale policy designed to drive energy investment beyond this decade is Victoria’s ambitious and contested renewable energy target, which aims to build enough wind and solar farms to deliver 40 per cent of the state’s electricity needs by 2025. The ACT also has a renewable target, but in other states the goals are purely aspirational.

Steam billows from the cooling towers at Victoria’s Yallourn coal-fired power station.

The Daniel Andrews government has not said what it thinks the rapid growth in clean energy means for the Latrobe Valley’s three remaining coal plants – Yallourn, Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B.

The state opposition plans to abolish the renewable target if it wins government next year but it hasn’t said what, if anything, it would put in its place. It has hinted it may subsidise coal plants to keep them open.

Meanwhile, anyone hoping for an answer on what will keep the lights on long-term is left waiting.

Adam Morton is on Facebook and Twitter.

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All wound up by turning back time

SIMON WALKER: That’s Life archive
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BIG QUESTION: Having used the force to adjust our clocks, thus exposing us to the dark side, can we confirm a scientific link between Daylight Savings and Star Wars?

Daylight saving time (DST) came and went last weekend leaving us alla little confused, as usual, and raising a number of important questions.

Can we truly accelerate the onset of winter simplyby adjusting our clock radios?

Do people get up earlier now in order to savour the extra morning hours, or is it because their beds are cold?

And having used the force to adjust our clocks, thus exposing us to the dark side, can we confirm a scientific link between DST and Star Wars?

DST is off course the practice of forwarding the clock an hour in summer so that come April we don’t know whether it’s time tofly south for the doona, north for the flannos, or just man up in uggies and shorts.

While not exactly genuine time travel, winding the clock back an hourdoes throw the rhythms out just a bit, particularly if you’re a chicken.

Sacrificing sunset hours by starting and leaving work an hour later, certainly encourages the feeling we are living in a darker world.

Mainly because it IS darker, which you notice when walking to the car in the afternoon.

Ironically, that all changes the moment you start driving into the newly angled the sun which now sets right into your retinas.

Altered light waves can affect moods, and while this new sun setting is certainly atmospheric, it can play havoc merging into traffic.

Note to self: Must wash windscreen.

Mercifully there have been times this week, as Debbie did downpour, that the windscreen was washed, revealing how poorvisibility can be without the newly angled sunlight.

Second note to self: Must repair dodgy windscreen wiper.

As Easter approaches I’m taking it all as a reminder thatif you make it home in the new-found bedazzling gloom, you’ll be able to resurrect and do it all again tomorrow.

Of course there are no guarantees on that front, as the Reserve Bank chairman reminded us this week with hisgloomy comments about unemployment.

Does daylight savings impact on economic outlook? Hard to say, although farmers complain it does make it that much harder to milk the cows.

To milk this subject matter further, the question has to be raised, does the end of daylight savings accelerate the time at which we have dinner?

Anecdotal evidence in our house suggests yes:dinner seems to be getting done way beforethe SBS News finishes, leaving us with no option but to go to the gym.

Normally going to the gym is a ritual avoided with the kind of intensity you’d like to show at the gym.

Is this accelerated consumption of dinner actually comfort eating brought on by less light? Are we putting on our winter coats? Do ugg boots make us ravenous?

These and many more questions are thrown up in an effort to delay getting to the gym, capped off by the big one –can we blame daylight savings?

I certainly do when I get to the gym and there’s a bunch of other maladjusted light freaks who believe I’m mucking around their routine on the treadmills and weight machine, not vice versa.

Mainly because I’m not normally there are this time.

Good thing it gets me home that much earlier so I can chase up those extra blankies.

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‘We will take care of Chloe’: Community rallies behind Tumbulgum family

Police are waiting to speak to a young girl who was the sole survivor of a tragic accident that killed her mother and two siblings, as the community rallies around the devastated family in flood-hit northern NSW.
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A crowd-funding page has raised nearly $40,000 for the family in less than a day, as friends and family pay tribute to mother Stephanie King, who died along with two of her children, Ella Jane, 11, and Jacob, 7, when their car crashed off a muddy road and sank in the flooded Tweed River in Tumbulgum on Monday.

Ms King’s youngest daughter, Chloe May, 8, managed to clamber from the sinking van and ran to a nearby farm for help, but her mother and siblings could not be saved.

Police revealed that Ms King’s body was found clutching one of her children in the submerged van, in what they said was a final heroic act to try to save the child. Ms King is believed to have helped Chloe May escape from the sinking vehicle, but ran out of time to help her other two children or save herself.

Chloe May is being cared for by the only other surviving member of her immediate family, her father Matthew Kabealo, who was not in the vehicle when it crashed into the river.

“She’s got a loving father. She is a very brave young lady,” Superintendent Starling said of Chloe May.

“For such a young girl, it’s just remarkable what she did. It is traumatising. We will speak with her when we can.”

Mr Kabealo works as a chef at the Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club which, along with the Club Managers’ Association of , launched a GoFundMe page on Tuesday to support the family.

“One of our own, Matt a chef from Kingscliff Bowling Club, has tragically lost his wife and two children in the floods in the Tweed,” the page says.

“The funds raised through your kind donations will help Matt cope financially and emotionally with this devastating event in the short term and help him and his surviving daughter rebuild their lives.”

Early on Wednesday morning, more than $38,000 had been donated to the page.

Ms King worked as an assistant in nursing at Opal Aged Care in Tweed Heads. She is originally from New Zealand, and returned there just last month after the death of her father. Tributes for an “amazing mother”

One of Ms King’s friends, Sally Fraser, described her as a devoted and “amazing mother”.

“Every single time I saw you, I spun out at what an amazing mother you are,” she wrote online.

“I’m glad I always told you: ‘You’re such an amazing mum!’ And you’d smile…. Your ethics, your integrity. Your fierce loyalty to giving your children the very best. The lessons you were determined to teach them. To become good people. To become respectful.. There’s not enough like you. And they were beautiful. A real credit to you and Matt.”

The fact that Ms King was found holding one of her children in the van was not surprising, but heartbreaking, Ms Fraser said.

“We all hear how you fought and everyone that knows you isn’t surprised but it breaks our heart that little bit more. Deeply. It rips our hearts at how a vibrant, chatty, talkative, giver and connector like you has been taken so strangely. So unfairly,” she said.

“Everyone will take care of Chloe May. Every strong and purposeful, passionate and loving woman in your life will treat her like gold. Because she takes after you. And you were worth more than rubies. Rest easy beautiful smiling lady x.”

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‘We will take care of Chloe’: Community rallies after Tumbulgum flood tragedy

Stephanie King, pictured with her children (left to right) Chloe May, Jacob, and Ella Jane. Photo: FacebookPolice are waiting to speak to a young girl who was the sole survivor of a tragic accident that killed her mother and two siblings, as the community rallies around the devastated familyin flood-hit northern NSW.
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A crowd-funding page has raised nearly $40,000 for the family in less than a day, as friends and family paytribute to motherStephanie King, who died along with two of her children, Ella Jane, 11, and Jacob, 7, when their car crashed off a muddy road and sank in the flooded Tweed River in Tumbulgum on Monday.

Ms King’s youngestdaughter, Chloe May, 8, managed to clamber from the sinking van andran to a nearby farmfor help, but her mother and siblings could not be saved.

Police revealed that Ms King’s body was found clutching one of her children in the submerged van, in what they saidwas a final heroic act to try to save the child. Ms King is believed to have helped Chloe May escape from the sinking vehicle, but ran out of time to help her other two children or save herself.

Chloe May is being cared for by the only other surviving member of her immediate family, her father Matthew Kabealo, who was not in the vehicle when it crashed into the river.

Stephanie King and Matthew Kabealo, with their children (left to right) Ella Jane, Chloe May, and Jacob. Photo: Facebook

“She’s got a loving father. She is a very brave young lady,” Superintendent Starling said of Chloe May.

“For such a young girl, it’s just remarkable what she did. It is traumatising. We will speak with her when we can.”

MrKabealo works as a chef at the Kingscliff Beach Bowls Clubwhich, along with the Club Managers’ Association of ,launched a GoFundMe pageon Tuesday to support the family.

“One of our own, Matt a chef from Kingscliff Bowling Club, has tragically lost his wife and two children in the floods in the Tweed,” the page says.

“The funds raised through your kind donations will help Matt cope financially and emotionally with this devastating event in the short term and help him and his surviving daughter rebuild their lives.”

Early on Wednesday morning, more than $38,000 had been donated to the page.

Ms King worked as an assistant in nursing at Opal Aged Care in Tweed Heads. She is originally from New Zealand, and returned there just last month after the death of her father.

Tributes for an “amazing mother”One of Ms King’s friends, Sally Fraser, described her as a devoted and “amazing mother”.

“Everysingle time I saw you, I spun out at what an amazing mother you are,” she wrote online.

“I’m glad I always told you: ‘You’re such an amazing mum!’ And you’d smile…. Your ethics, your integrity. Your fierce loyalty to giving your children the very best. The lessons you were determined to teach them. To become good people. To become respectful.. There’s not enough like you. And they were beautiful. A real credit to you and Matt.”

The fact that Ms King was found holding one of her children in the van was not surprising, but heartbreaking, Ms Fraser said.

“We all hear how you fought and everyone that knows you isn’t surprised but it breaks our heart that little bit more. Deeply. It rips our hearts at how a vibrant, chatty, talkative, giver and connector like you has been taken so strangely. So unfairly,” she said.

“Everyone will take care of Chloe May. Every strong and purposeful, passionate and loving woman in your life will treat her like gold. Because she takes after you. And you were worth more than rubies. Rest easy beautiful smiling lady x.”

Hero mum died with child in arms as car sank in riverNo mother should ever be confronted by a scenario that requires her to try to save the lives of her young children.

On Monday, not only was Stephanie King thrust into that role, it was how she died.

Mrs King, 43, was driving alongDulguiganRoad, Tumbulgum, with Ella Jane, 11, Chloe May, 8, and Jacob, 7 – in the car when their vehicle skiddedoff the road and disappearedinto the swollen Tweed River just after 1.40pm.

Chloe May somehow managed to escape the car and ranto a nearby farm screaming for help. But her mother and siblingswere unable to get out of the vehicle as it sank. Police recovered their bodies on Tuesday.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that that woman is a hero,” said Superintendent Wayne Starling.”The mother was trying to get one of her children out of the car when she passed away … she was with the child, holding the child.”

He added how, in themoments immediately after the accident, Chloe May had clambered courageouslytoshore,beforesounding the alarm.

“[She’s] avery brave little girl. She had injuries to her feet, trying to get out. Her main focus was trying to save her mum, her brother and sister,” he said.

Chloe May was taken to the Tweed Hospital with cuts to her legs and neck pain. She is being cared for by family members.

Former police officerMatt Grinham arrived at the scenejust after the car disappeared and along with fellow witnesses, entered the water tomount arescue effort. Hesaid he felt “helplessness” as he watched air bubbles surfacing in the river but “just couldn’t find the car”.

Two police divers at the accident scene on the Tweed River. Photo: Kate Geraghty

“They had no chance,” hesaid.

Jake Perkins was on the oppositeriver bank and witnessed Mr Grinham’sbrave bid to save the family.

“We saw the guy being helped out of the water after trying to dive down and save them,” he told Fairfax Media, adding: “You can see how much mud has built up on the road this side from the floods – and how slippery it is. It would be the same over there.”

Devastated friends posted messages online as they waited for the police recovery operation to take place on Tuesday.

“I love you Steph,” one friend wrote.

Another said:”Sorry to hear of this devastating news, my hearts breaking for her daughter.”

Superintendent Starling called it a “horrible operation”, adding the divers and emergency service workers involved in the rescue all had children the same age.

“We cannot imagine what the family is going through. We can’t imagine what school friends are going through. It’s just horrific.”

“We all have accidents,” he said. “They are just dire consequences on this occasion. The road is just so slippery over there. While the matter is going before the coroner, I have no doubt … she [Stephanie] would be alive today if [she] wasn’t trying to save her children.”

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Hunter BreakfastWednesday, April 5, 2017

Morning Shot: @donna.scott67/InstagramTrains:Passengers travelling towards Sydney on the Central Coast and Newcastle Line should allow additional travel time due to a passenger disturbance and the train requiring mechanical repairs at Hamilton earlier. Passengers are advised to allow plenty of extra travel time, listen to announcements and check station indicator boards. Buses replace trains between Scone and Hamilton.
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Weather: Shower or two in Newcastle, Nelson Bay (both 22 degrees), Raymond Terrace, Wallsend andToronto (all 23 degrees).

Traffic:No major incidents reported on Hunter roads.

Beachwatch: This bad run of beach weather is set to continue today with onshore winds and the odd shower.The wind will be south to south-east with the swell from the south-east around 1 to 2 metres.Once again wave conditions will be very messy with only the southern corners offering any protection.In the city try Stockton and Nobbys, to the south try Blacksmiths, Catho and Norah Head and at PortStephens try Fingal and One Mile. Heavy edges and strong rips at the open beaches will see the beach closed signsup and there’ll be lots of bluebottles so be extra careful if you venture in. The water temperature is 21 degrees.

Hunter headlinesA SPLIT-second incident has devastated two families, with a teenageboy having to undergo surgery after he was injured by a dog and the animal’s owners facing the heartbreaking choice of keeping the one-year-old in a cage, or having him destroyed. Read more.

A Port Stephens traffic engineer has called into question federally-funded upgrades to a Salamander Bay intersection, fearing it is only a matter of time before a serious collision occurs. Read more.

A POLICE strike force investigating a series of violent armed robberies and shootings across the Hunter have released vision of two bandits wanted over the hold-up of McDonald’s at Williamtown just over two months ago. Read more.

STAFF and patients can wait an hour or more to leave the John Hunter Hospital, prompting renewed calls for a full interchange to be built as part of theNewcastle Inner City Bypass to relieve congestion. Read more.

IT was a minor collision between a truck and forklift in the yard of a Sandgate transport company that should have ended with an apology and a repair bill. Read more.

THEY didn’t call her Monster for nothing. Read more.

WILLIAMTOWN residents have again pleaded with Defence Minister Marise Payne to stick to her promise andvisit the embattled community “to hear our stories first-hand and see how this disaster is affecting us in so many ways”. Read more.

​Country cottages to seaside suits, take a look at the houses that have featured online this year. Read more.

Regional news► BERRY:A girlwas airlifted to hospital in a critical condition in the wake of a car crash that claimed the lives of a woman andchild at Berry. Full story.

Emergency services at the crash site on the Princes Highway in Berry. Photo: Adam McLean

► PORT MACQUARIE:A POLICE strike force investigating a series of violent armed robberies and shootings across the Hunter have released vision of two bandits wanted over the hold-up of McDonald’s at Williamtown just over two months ago. Full story.

GRAINY: Security vision shows two of the armed robbers who held up the McDonald’s restaurant at Williamtown armed with guns and baseball bats on January 25. Picture: NSW Police.

► SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS:Investigations are underway after an abandoned car was found on fire in Moss Vale on April 2. Full story.

Moss Vale Fire and Rescue NSW attended a car fire on Yarrawa Road, Moss Vale. Photo: Facebook

►TASMANIA:Opposition Leader Rebecca White used her first Question Time in the roleto gohead-to-head withPremier Will Hodgman over the state’s hospital issues on Tuesday. Full story.

Tasmanian Labor Leader Rebecca White

►NOWRA: A Parkinson’s grief workshop for carers will be held next month.The workshop will be held at the Bomaderry Bowling Club on Friday, May 19 from 11am to 1pm. More details.

►BALLARAT:A Delacombe ice addict who said he “didn’t care about having a licence” was caught unlicensed three times in three months before crashing his car, a court has heard. Full story.

National news►Midway throughThe Testament of Mary, the Mother of God was recounting the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead, when the sound of fireworks burst through the theatre. The impromptu interruption unsettled the audience somewhat. Actor Alison Whyte ploughed on with her performance, despite the din of unscripted pyrotechnics outside. Full story.

►Julia Proud cried when she was told she needed to stop taking her opioids.

“You feel invincible when you’re taking them. The thought of feeling the pain again was too confronting,” Ms Proud, 45, said. Full story.

►In 2008, with much of deep in the torment of what became known as the millennium drought, a new Governor-General set out across the backblocks of NSW, Victoria and South . Full story.

The Governor General Quentin Bryce, reads to Kindergarten students at St Bede’s Primary as part of Walk Safely to School day. 24 May 2013. Photo: Rohan Thomson.

►The freedom you have to do your job and the support you get from colleagues and bosses is more likely to make you happy than your pay packet, a new study has found. Full story.

National weather radarWorld news►LONDON:Downing Street has explicitly ruled out that Brexit Britain will go to war with Spain over Gibraltar – an extraordinary step made necessary after it backed a former Conservative party leader’s sabre-rattling comments over Britain’s big Mediterranean rock. Full story.

►BANGKOK:n miner Kingsgate is seeking compensation from Thailand’s military government over its controversial order to shutdown the company’s gold mine in northern Thailand, forcing the sackings of more than 1000 Thai workers. Full story.

►BEIJING:Young ns aren’t the only ones feeling locked out of a red-hot housing market that seems unfairly skewed towards their parents’ generation. Full story.

On this day 1985 – An estimated 5,000 radio stations around the world simultaneously played the song”We Are the World”.

1993 – Construction began on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH.

1993 – In Beverly Hills, CA, Marky Mark Wahlberg had assault charges against him dropped. He had reached an out-of-court settlement with the man he allegedly beat in 1992.

1994 – Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) killed himself with a shotgun. He was found three days later.

2000 -Ziggy Marleybecame the official spokesman for the Hemp Bar.

Faces of :Frank Hunt and Bill Wilcox REUNITED: Frank Hunt hugs Bill Wilcox, the man who saved his life in the Long Hai mountains of Vietnam 48 years ago. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

As two veterans sat discussing the war that brought them together on the battlefield, it seemed as if they had known each other forever.

This week, Bega’s Frank Hunt was emotionally reunited with Bill Wilcox, one of the two men who saved his life after being severely wounded by an M16 anti-personnel landmine in the dense jungle of the Long Hai mountains in Vietnam almost 48 years ago. Read all about it.

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Brooks agrees $1.1m Tigers deal as Eels chase Moses

Luke Brooks has agreed to a two-year $1.1 million deal to stay at the Wests Tigers – but the future of his halves partner Mitchell Moses is in limbo as the five-eighth weighs up an offer from Parramatta.
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The Wests Tigers have finally secured the services of one of the big four, with Brooks accepting an Ivan Cleary approved contract worth close to $550,000 a season.

Fairfax Media understands James Tedesco is now weighing up a massive four-year, $4.5m deal that will see him become one of the highest-paid players in the game.

Cleary officially began his tenure at the Tigers on Monday, but he signed off on revised contract offers that were tabled to the “big four” last Friday.

Moses was offered a three-year deal – but it is becoming increasingly likely he will depart Tigertown, with the Eels joining the race for his services.

Parramatta are keen on luring Moses back to his junior club but won’t fork out ridiculous money for a player who still has to live up to his enormous potential. While the Eels are happy with the development of Clint Gutherson, they have been on the look-out for a play-maker to partner Corey Norman in the long term.

Nathan Cleary is happy at the Panthers and won’t walk out on his deal to link up with his dad at the Tigers, but ironically both Brooks and Cleary come off contract at the end of 2019.

Tigers skipper Aaron Woods has also had a three-year deal put to him, with the NSW Origin prop weighing up whether he wants to be part of the Cleary revolution.

Fairfax Media has been told Cleary told the players “You’re either on the bus or off the bus” in his first meeting with the group on Monday morning.

The Bulldogs have made a huge play at both Woods and Tedesco, but it’s likely the decision of one could determine the future of the other. Canterbury aren’t keen on retaining Will Hopoate, who has been shopped around to several clubs as the Bulldogs look to clear the decks for next year.

Five-eighth Josh Reynolds and hooker Michael Lichaa are also off contract at Belmore, with whispers about James Graham being shopped to Newcastle getting louder.

Look who’s back …

Roy Spagnolo is back at Parramatta games … in the opposition sheds. There were a few gobsmacked faces at the Eels on Saturday when their former chairman was seen waltzing through the tunnels at GIO Stadium as a guest of Canberra coach Ricky Stuart. If you don’t remember, Spagnolo was the one who trumpeted Stuart as “the greatest signing since Jack Gibson” when the Eels unveiled him as Stephen Kearney’s successor back in 2012 (pictured above).

Despite his messy exit from Parramatta, the NRL had no issue with Spagnolo being invited into the Raiders’ inner sanctum.

“While several former Parramatta officials had been found ‘not to be fit and proper’ to be on a Leagues Club Board, this did not preclude them from attending a Rugby League match as guests of a club,” an NRL spokesman said.

It is interesting to note, former Eels chief executive Bob Bentley, who was also responsible for luring Stuart to Parramatta, was spotted on a video on the Raiders website in the background of the Canberra post-match victory song.

Dogs welcome Isaac

It was hard to ignore who was invited to the Bulldogs’ Chairman’s Suite at ANZ Stadium for the game against Brisbane last Thursday night. The Bulldogs are going hard at luring Tedesco and Woods to the club next year, and their manager IsaacMoses was being wined and dined in the club’s box. It was his client Aiden Tolman’s 200th game, so we’ll leave it for you to decide if we’re reading too much into it.

Whare to next?

The Penrith Panthers might have some competition keeping Kiwi international Dean Whare at the club. The Wests Tigers have identified Whare as a potential recruit for next season and the signing of Ivan Cleary has only strengthened their chances. Whare went to the Panthers to play under Cleary, and given Penrith’s salary cap position, the Tigers have picked an ideal time to target the centre for 2018 and beyond. It comes after the Tigers also made a huge play for Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who this week committed to Penrith until the end of 2020.

Vonnie rings changes

The face of Fox Sports’ league coverage, Yvonne Sampson, announced her engagement to Channel Nine reporter Chris O’Keefe on Tuesday morning. It’s been a big year for Sampson, who has made the transition from Nine to Fox over the summer.

Galling for Ballin

Matt Ballin can’t catch a break. The Wests Tigers hooker has been dogged by knee injuries over the past couple of years. He finally made his return to the NRL against the Dragons on Sunday but his return lasted only a few minutes. In shattering news for the former Manly premiership-winner, he’s expected to be sidelined for the next six weeks with cartilage damage in his ‘good knee’.

Clearys split down line

The Cleary family is divided after Ivan signed with the Tigers. “My little brother is going for Penrith, my little sister is going for the Tigers and my other sister is in between. Then mum is just hoping for wins every week,” Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary said. Nathan still lives in the family home in Leonay but has no desire to leave. “Unless they leave me stranded and move away,” he joked. “But at the moment I’ll be staying at home living life as it always was. He might kick me out of home that week we play them so it’s not as awkward. Judging by how our golf games go, it should be pretty competitive.”

Spotted:

Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe, coach Ivan Cleary and board member Simon Cook raising a schooner at Wests Ashfield Leagues Club after the club’s coach announcement on Monday afternoon.

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Tigers, Bulldogs and Eels are likely suitors for Cronk

Parramatta, the Wests Tigers and the Bulldogs loom as likely suitors for Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk if he decides to continue his NRL career next season, having yesterday flagged his intention to leave Bleak City and move to Sydney.
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Cronk announced his shock departure from his beloved Storm yesterday, revealing a desire to move to Sydney to be closer to partner and Fox Sports presenter Tara Rushton when the pair tie the knot at the end of the season.

Cronk is unsure whether he will pursue a career in the media or continue playing, but he will have no shortage of options if he decides to strap on the boots in 2018.

“Whether that’s corporate business inside the NRL, outside the NRL, commentating with Fox and things like that,” he said on Fox Sports TV show NRL 360 on Tuesday night.

“There’s no doubt Sydney was going to be my end point, whether that was two years or four years, but we all know it will be next year.

“There’s a lot of things to take into account.

“In due course I can promise you at some stage this year I’ll make a decision whether I’m playing on next year and I’m sure all the conspiracy theories will run until that point,” he added.

The Eels have the most money to spend of all the Sydney clubs and despite showing interest in Mitchell Moses, are interested in hearing if Cronk wants to reunite with former Storm assistant coach Brad Arthur at the Eels.

The Bulldogs are in desperate need of a controlling playmaker and given Josh Reynolds is off contract at the end of the year, and the fact the club had previously expressed an interest in the Queensland No.7, it’s likely Belmore could be an option for the 33-year-old.

The Wests Tigers have secured the services of Luke Brooks on a two-year deal worth close to $550,000 a season, but the Tigers aren’t sure whether they will retain Mitchell Moses despite tabling a three-year deal for him last Friday.

If Moses decides to leave Tigertown, Cronk looms as a likely target for a club with plenty of money under the cap to spend next year.

Cronulla and South Sydney are unlikely to make a play for Cronk, although the futures of Chad Townsend and Jack Bird are up in the air at the Sharks and Maguire has a close relationship with Cronk from his time at the Storm.

“Sometimes there is more to life than football,” Cronk said at his announcement yesterday. “I’m jealous of the guys who have their families here, who have their loved ones and have football in the same city.

“Unfortunately or fortunately – whichever side you sit on, it’s time for me to try and prioritise my time and my future and that’s why I’ve made the announcement. I’ve been pretty selfish in my approach to my football career and I think it’s time I put someone else and something else first.”

Cronk says he doesn’t know whether he will play on with a Sydney club in 2018 or retire but he has good options in the media and is already exploring that side of football. However, every hint and even the timing of the announcement lends itself to Cronk being on the field next year.

“I don’t know what is ahead for me next year but if you ask me if I could play, then yes I could,” Cronk said. “I feel physically and mentally that I could play another couple of years but there are other things to weigh up. My attachment to this football club is one thing but the other thing is once you are retired, you are a long time retired, so there will be some conversations around that and I don’t have a timeline around this decisions.

“The last four to six weeks have been about this decision and I haven’t given any thought to the next one, I will take some time to do that.”

With Roy Ward

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