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Socceroos heading to Sharjah to meet China



China’s inability to play World Cup qualifiers at home means it will ‘host’ the Socceroos in Sharjah later this month.

The Socceroos will return to the Middle East following their Sydney clash against Saudi Arabia, with confirmation their World Cup qualifier against China will be played in the United Arab Emirates.

The Australians will play on home soil for the first time since October 2019 when they host the Saudis – who top Group B in the third round of AFC World Cup qualifying – at CommBank Stadium on Thursday week.

However, while Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted to allow the Socceroos to again play at home, it’s a different case in China.

As a result, the Chinese national team must continue to play its home matches on foreign soil.

China will “host” the Socceroos in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday, November 17 (AEDT) at the 18,000-capacity Sharjah Stadium.

The Socceroos will have no qualms about playing the match in the UAE after winning a host of games in the Middle East in the past two years.

However, the timing of the match against China isn’t good for A-League champions Melbourne City, who start their title defence on Friday, November 19 at AAMI Park against Brisbane Roar.

City’s star attackers, Mat Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout, are all expected to be named in Graham Arnold’s latest Socceroos squad, set to be announced on Friday.

Any City players chosen in the squad face a tight turnaround in their bid to play in the opening match of the A-League season.

City faced a similar situation in last season’s finals series, but managed to defy the absence of Maclaren, Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe – who were on Socceroos duty in Kuwait – to win the title.

Socceroos coach Arnold arrived back in Australia on Monday after a stint of almost six months overseas.

Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant and Melbourne Victory attacker Chris Ikonomidis – the only two A-League players in the Socceroos squad for last month’s World Cup qualifiers against Oman and Japan – are both out of quarantine and training with their clubs.

The Socceroos, whose 11-game winning streak was ended by Japan, are in second place in Group B, three points behind Saudi Arabia, who have a perfect record of 12 points from four matches.

China has just three points from four matches, with only Vietnam behind them on the Group B ladder.

The top two teams from Group A and Group B will automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Originally published as The Socceroos’ road to next year’s World Cup will take them to Sharjah to meet China




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Teenager in hospital after high school stabbing in Melbourne’s west



A teenager is in hospital following a stabbing at a secondary school. Another student is assisting police.

A teenager is in hospital after an apparent stabbing at a high school in Melbourne’s west.

Victoria Police officers were called to the Hoppers Crossing Secondary School in Fraser St just after 11.30am on Wednesday.

A teenage boy sustained minor injuries, a spokeswoman said.

Another student is currently assisting police with their inquiries.

Paramedics treated a person for upper body injuries and they were taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital in a stable condition, Ambulance Victoria said.

Caller Dianne told 3AW radio her grandson, who is a student at the school, told her there had been a stabbing.

“It was quite a big knife,” she told the station on Wednesday.

“It’s my grandson’s friend, so it’s said.

“But he’s going to be alright.”

The incident is understood to have occurred in the food tech rooms, she said.

Hoppers Crossing Secondary College declined to comment, referring inquiries to police.

Originally published as Teenager in hospital after high school stabbing in Melbourne’s west




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Tullamarine crash: Van with nine people inside rolls, treated by paramedics



Paramedics have treated nine people at the scene of a nasty crash where a van rolled onto its side.

Nine people crammed inside a van have been injured after it crashed and rolled onto its side in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

Emergency services were called to the intersection of the Western Ring Rd and Tullamarine Freeway in Tullamarine about 10.15pm on Tuesday.

Police believed a van carrying nine people rolled onto its side after it collided with another vehicle.

Everyone inside the van was treated by paramedics and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the other vehicle involved in the incident attended Broadmeadows police station and was assisting police with their inquiries.

Anyone with information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Originally published as Nine people injured after van and car collide in Tullamarine




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Liberal MP Tim Smith caught drink driving, calls to resign from parliament



A senior Victorian MP is facing heated calls to quit parliament after he admitted to drink driving.

A Victorian Liberal MP is facing pressure to quit parliament after he was caught drink driving at more than twice the legal limit.

Kew MP and shadow Attorney-General Tim Smith, 38, resigned from the frontbench on Sunday after admitting he made a “serious error of judgment” the previous night.

“After dinner with friends, I believed I was under the legal limit to drive home,” he said.

“This was not the case. I was breath tested and returned a positive reading.”

Victoria Police said they were called to reports a car had collided with another vehicle before crashing into a fence on Power St in Hawthorn just before 9pm on Saturday.

“The driver of the vehicle, a 38-year-old Kew man, tested positive for alcohol and was taken to a police station where he returned an evidentiary breath test reading of 0.131,” police said in a statement.

“The man had his licence immediately suspended and will receive an infringement notice for exceed prescribed concentration of alcohol.”

While Mr Smith gave up his frontbench duties, the Liberal MP was now reportedly facing pressure to quit parliament altogether.

According to the Herald Sun, senior Liberals were openly discussing if he was fit to represent the party.

Mr Smith risks not playing a role in the Liberal party’s run at the Andrews Labor government at next year’s state election.

Mr Smith made no mention of a crash in his statement on Sunday, and apologised to his constituents, colleagues, family and Victorians.

“I have been fined under the Road Safety Act and my licence has been suspended for 12 months,” he said.

“Today, I tendered my resignation from the shadow cabinet to the Leader of the Opposition, which he has accepted.

“(They) expect their elected representatives to uphold the highest standards of behaviour.”

Mr Smith has been contacted for comment.

Originally published as Tim Smith facing pressure to quit parliament after drink driving incident




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Bert Newton: Victorian state funeral planned for television legend



A state funeral is being planned in Victoria for television icon Bert Newton, who died aged 83 following an illness.

Television icon Bert Newton, who died aged 83 following an illness, will be honoured with a state funeral in Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews described Newton as a “larrikin and a born entertainer”, noting Australians had never known television without him.

“He was there from the beginning. From black and white to colour – as TV changed, Bert endured,” Mr Andrews said.

“He lived his life on the silver screen — and we welcomed his wit and humour into our homes.

“We will all have an opportunity to honour his memory, his talent and his achievements at a state funeral.”

Details of the state funeral will be shared later, but according to entertainment journalist Peter Ford it will likely be held at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

Mr Andrews acknowledged Newton’s “legendary partnerships” with fellow television icons Graham Kennedy and Don Lane.

“For so many, those partnerships are as inseparable as they are memorable,” the Premier said.

While Newton “brought the Logies to life during TV’s golden era”, Mr Andrews said he was also a star on radio and stage, including performances in Phantom of the Opera and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“But above all his achievements, he was a family man and his greatest partnership was with his wife of almost 50 years, Patti,” the Premier said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her, their children and their grandchildren.

“Bert will live on in the memories of an entire generation. Gone but never forgotten.”

Affectionately known as Moonface, Newton had been in palliative care at a private clinic in Melbourne after having his leg amputated earlier this year due to a life-threatening infection.

Tributes have flowed for the beloved entertainer, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying there would never be another person like him.

“Bert came into our homes and made himself very welcome. He was a regular guest and we always looked forward to his next visit,” Mr Morrison said.

“Four Gold Logies, hosting the Logies on 20 occasions and entertaining Australians for over half a century.

“There was a familiarity that connected us to Bert, but it also connected us to each other. We could laugh together. That was his gift.”

Former Wheel of Fortune host John Burgess said on social media: “I had the absolute honour of sharing a stage on occasion with Bert and was able to step back and watch a star at work. The void he leaves behind is immeasurable.”

Comedian and television host Rove McManus wrote: “I don’t know that I’m ready to accept this yet. Today I lost a mentor and friend, our country lost an icon, but most importantly a family has lost their hero and soulmate.

“Sending love to all the Newtons, especially Patti. My heart is broken. Rest In Power, Albert Watson Newton.”

Newton is survived by his wife Patti, his two children Lauren and Matthew, and extended family.

Originally published as State funeral planned for television legend Bert Newton who died aged 83




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Vic storms: 110,000 without power a day after storm hits state



Shocking footage has emerged after a storm smashed Victoria, with about 110,000 properties across the state still without electricity.

More than 100,000 Victorians remain without power amid concern the electricity crisis could stretch into next week, after violent storms lashed the entire state on Friday.

Emergency crews responded to dozens of calls for help after torrential rains and severe winds knocked down trees and powerlines and tore apart buildings.

Wind gusts exceeded 110km per hour in some areas, with conditions leaving 518,000 Victorians without power for much of Friday.

Staggering footage uploaded to Tik Tok overnight showed multiple garage doors in a home complex in Melbourne near buckled from their hinges.

The Australian Energy Market Operator on Saturday said there was still around 110,000 properties across the state without electricity, due to the winds and heavy rainfall.

The energy operator predicted some homes would be without power for the rest of the weekend and potentially into early next week.

Melbourne’s outer east and northern suburbs along with eastern and northeastern Victoria remain the hardest hit, with more than 61,000 people without power.

Homes in the outer western suburbs, central and western Victorian as well as southeast Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula had more than 40,000 people without power on Saturday morning.

Hundreds in Melbourne’s CBD and inner suburbs remained affected, with around 5,000 in northwestern Melbourne also without electricity.

“Network crews have restored the power to more than 400,000 properties, enduring challenging weather conditions, falling trees and access issues to repair damaged power lines and critical energy infrastructure,” AEMO said.

“Victorians travelling this weekend should consider their plans to visit areas of significant storm damage, flooding and electricity outages.”

The havoc comes after severe storms right across eastern and southern Australia over Thursday night and Friday morning, with homes across Adelaide and Sydney also affected.

Storms in Melbourne ripped roofs off houses, tore trees from the ground and flipped a truck over on a major Melbourne road.

Emergency services responded to dozens of calls for help, mostly to do with tree damage, trees falling down and building damage.

Temperatures are expected to improve in Melbourne in the coming days, with no severe weather warnings currently issued for the state.

But severe weather is expected to hit northern NSW and southern QLD over the next few days, with another severe weather system predicted to move through the northeastern states.

The bureau on Friday issued severe thunderstorm warnings, including damaging winds, large hail and heavy rain, for southern Queensland‘s Central West, Channel Country and Maranoa and Warrego districts.

The same warning was issued for much of northeast NSW, including North West Slopes and Plains and parts of Mid North Coast, Hunter and Northern Tablelands.

Storms will continue for northern New South Wales and southern Queensland before the trough bounces up into Queensland during Saturday, bringing the risk of storms to Brisbane.

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Originally published as 110,000 Victorians without power following violent storms




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Melbourne: Police charge man for allegedly wielding gun in CBD



A man allegedly wielding a gun in Melbourne’s CBD has been charged, with the city narrowly avoiding a potential tragedy just hours before opening up.

A man who allegedly wielded a gun in Melbourne’s CBD has been charged by police.

Police arrested the man, 23, within minutes of public reports he was allegedly seen carrying the gun into a store on Bourke St, just after 11am on Friday.

Fortunately no one was injured during the incident, which occurred in the hours leading up to the further easing of restrictions in Melbourne.

Witnesses said police initially descended on a 7-Eleven store before discovering the man in a building foyer nearby.

“Lots of cops ran into the 7-Eleven, and I entered the building and saw the man in the corner – he had a gun, and it looked like he was trying to put it down his pants and hide it,” she told The Herald Sun.

“I called out to them to come over and they charged in.

“I didn’t hear a gun shot, I only saw him when I came in.”

Police on Saturday morning announced the man had been charged with 17 drug and firearm offences including unlicensed possession of a firearm, using a firearm in a dangerous manner, reckless conduct endangering life and possessing cannabis.

It came after detectives swarmed a home on Villiers St, North Melbourne, overnight finding drugs, cash, ammunition and an imitation handgun.

The man has been remanded in custody and will appear at Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on Saturday.

Originally published as Police charge man following alleged Melbourne CBD firearm incident




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Melbourne, Adelaide weather: Power outage, train delays after massive Victoria storm



Wild weather has lashed several states, bringing golf ball-sized hail, falling trees and winds that tore a large window from an apartment block.

Strong winds are believed to have torn a large window pane out of a Sydney apartment on Friday afternoon, following a morning of weather-induced havoc in Melbourne.

NSW Fire and Rescue was called about 4.30pm to the unit block on Sutherland St, Paddington where a window was dangling from one of the apartments.

Firefighters went up through the elevator and pulled it back into the apartment using ropes.

Winds reached up to 87km/h in Sydney’s south about 3.30pm and 78km/h on Sydney Harbour just after 6pm.

Sydneysiders sweltered through their warmest day since January, with the mercury climbing to 34.3 degrees at the airport – which was the hottest part of the city – by about 1pm.

Earlier, Victorians battened down the hatches, as strong winds of up to 110km/h – well over what is considered gale-force – swept across the state, ripping roofs off houses, tearing trees from the ground and even flipping a truck over on a major Melbourne road.

Footage captured the moment a roof was torn off a Port Melbourne apartment block and large chunks of styrofoam careened past someone’s window during the chaos.

Thousands of homes across Victoria and South Australia remain without power on Friday after severe wind, hail and heavy rain ripped through neighbourhoods, leaving a trail of destruction.

Melbourne residents woke to severe wind and rain, with motorists warned traffic lights were out across the city, while fallen trees were blocking roads and also the Glen Waverley train line.

Photos showed trees that had been uprooted during the extreme morning blast.

High winds began to ease late in the morning in Melbourne, but thousands of residents were still struggling with power outages.

There were at least 50,000 AusNet customers in Victoria’s east without power.

“And I thought there were only four horsemen of the apocalypse,” wrote Melbourne-based comedian and actor Magda Szubanski.

“This is getting scary. Take care people.”

In Melbourne, motorists have been told to drive with extreme caution.

V/Line, which operates regional passenger train and coach services, warned that, “due to extreme weather conditions across the state, train services will be held in place until tracks can be cleared from debris.

“Coaches have been deployed across the network to assist with travel. Additional information will be made available once confirmed.”

A number of Covid-19 vaccination sites have also been temporarily closed amid the wild weather.

The Bureau reported more than 500,000 lightning strikes have hit South Australia, Victoria and southern NSW over the past 24 hours, as a deep low pressure system moves towards Bass Strait.

Hobart copped 40mm overnight and several areas of Tasmania are on floodwatch.

Two teenagers had to be rescued near the central Tasmanian community of Campbell Town on Thursday night, with police and rescue services using a boat to free the girls trapped in flood waters from the Elizabeth River.

Elsewhere, a huge damage bill is expected for Adelaide and surrounding regions after golf ball-sized hail pelted the suburbs on Thursday, and severe wind triggered thousands of calls for assistance to the State Emergency Service.

The weather was so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology Adelaide office had to be evacuated.

Many South Australian homes remained without power on Friday morning, with authorities working to clear trees that fell overnight.

“Batten down the hatches. I have thousands of dollars’ damage to my house and a couple of cars with damage, including my poor son’s, which is probably a write off,” wrote Penny Artis on Facebook.

That intense system has moved east, and on Friday morning was bearing down on Victoria, bringing torrential rain, damaging wind, and cutting power to thousands of homes.

The state’s west and northwest appeared to be particularly affected by outages.

“It was spectacular last night, watching the light show, which went on for hours and hours,” wrote Caroline Jane Knight.

“But it was so loud, all night, I’ve hardly slept at all. No power this morning, the wind storm is still going.

“Just went out to find a coffee and half the roads are blocked by fallen branches, we’ve gone miles to get to a coffee shop with power.”

Gusts of 143km/h were reported at Mount William in the Grampians National Park – nearly double what is considered “gale force” – while a severe weather warning was active for the western and central Victorian coasts, Greater Melbourne, Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the danger was likely to shift towards northern NSW and Queensland this afternoon.

“It’s about Victoria and Tassie this morning, but things are already shifting,” said senior meteorologist Jonathan How.

Mr How said the steamy temperatures experienced across northeast NSW and southern Queensland of up to 36 degrees would be hosed down by a potential supercell thunderstorm on Friday afternoon.

“There’s also the possibility of tornadoes; we can’t rule that out,” Mr How said.

The system will linger over Brisbane and the Gold Coast into Saturday before easing on Sunday.

Originally published as Wild winds rip window from apartment in Sydney after a morning of havoc in Melbourne





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James Packer’s Crown admission at Perth royal commission



Reclusive billionaire James Packer has made a bombshell admission at a Perth royal commission into Crown Casino.

James Packer has conceded there were many “things that should have been done differently” at Crown Perth when he was at the helm – and he should have quit rather than missing board meetings for three years as criminal junkets infiltrated.

The probe is the third faced by Crown Resorts over now substantiated allegations of money laundering at the West Australian casino and also at its Melbourne venue.

The reclusive billionaire and major shareholder in the gambling giant fronted the WA probe via videolink on Friday, admitting he did not attend a single board meeting of Crown Perth’s Burswood Ltd between 2013 to 2016 after he moved overseas.

Counsel assisting Patricia Cahill suggested that if he had been “more active and engaged”, Burswood Ltd may have been more aware of the risk of money laundering through its Riverbank Investments account, which was closed by ANZ in 2014 over regulatory compliance issues.

Mr Packer said he “should have attended or resigned”, and an account closure “absolutely would have been a red flag” but claimed he was “not informed” of the risk of criminal infiltration through high roller junket tours until after 19 Crown staff were arrested in China in 2016 for marketing the business on the mainland, where gambling is illegal.

“You weren’t keeping an eye on things, Mr Packer,” Ms Cahill said, which he rejected.

“I should have resigned or attended, I accept that,” he added.

He agreed he left it to management to ensure risks such as money laundering were mitigated and assumed they were doing enough.

“I had full confidence in the CEO Barry Felstead,” Mr Packer said.

Mr Packer said “at some point the culture slipped”, responding “potentially” after Ms Cahill asked whether that was due to his absence.

The royal commission has been seeking to establish to what extent those who ran the Perth venue functioned independently or at the behest of the parent company in a bid to find out who was most responsible for allowing the money laundering scandal to unfold.

Mr Packer paused lengthily and carefully considered Ms Cahill’s questions about the 2004 to 2016 period, when he was chair of Burswood Ltd, before responding.

He often said he did not recall certain details and that he was “not a lawyer”, and asked Ms Cahill to repeat questions.

Earlier, Mr Packer’s barrister Noel Huntley objected twice when Ms Cahill pressed his client on how the corporate structure operated, describing her line of questioning as “argumentative”.

“I may well have known these things in 2006. I can’t remember now,” the businessman had responded.

He admitted he could not recall which specific subsidiary held the Crown Perth gaming licence.

Asked if that mattered to him, he replied: “What mattered to me was that the company was operating and behaving well, and that if that wasn’t happening that information should flow to the board ASAP.”

Mr Packer disagreed with testimony by former Crown Resorts director and his board nominee John Poynton that the overwhelming power rested with the parent company.

He said Burswood Ltd only did not have the authority to sign off on capital expenditure and redevelopment decisions, with Crown Resorts holding the purse strings.

If Crown Perth didn’t want someone appointed, it would not happen, Mr Packer said.

He said that in hindsight, Crown Perth should have had more independent directors and agreed with Ms Cahill’s proposition that it was “overseeing itself”, which was a poor governance structure.

Asked if there was anyone on the board with anti-money laundering expertise, he replied: “I don’t believe there was.”

“Looking back, there were many oversights, things that should have been done differently.

“I did not believe at that point in time that Crown Perth were engaged in money laundering.”

Mr Packer agreed with the general proposition that he would have known all casinos were at risk of being used for the criminal practice.

Asked how he saw his role as Burswood Ltd chair, Mr Packer said it was to ensure Crown Perth “put its best foot forward” and was seen “as a good corporate citizen”.

But he rejected as “completely wrong” Ms Cahill’s assertion he was “disengaged” from all aspects of Crown Perth other than its financial performance.

“I was financially and emotionally committed to Perth.”

It is the second time Mr Packer has testified since the scandal exploded, having fronted last year’s damning NSW inquiry via videolink from his private yacht.

He sat in a modestly furnished room on Friday from an undisclosed location, only revealing he was in a time zone 11 hours behind Perth.

It comes after the damning Victorian royal commission findings recommended slashing CPH’s stake in Crown from 37 per cent to less than 5 per cent.

The NSW inquiry had labelled Mr Packer’s influence “disastrous”, as he was the driving force to secure more junkets.

Victorian Commissioner Raymond Finkelstein agreed.

The NSW inquiry was told that after Mr Packer quit Crown, he received special treatment, with briefings on an almost daily basis under a “controlling shareholder protocol”, which was torn up after the evidence emerged.

Originally published as Crown Resorts’ biggest shareholder and former chair James Packer expresses regret to Perth royal commission




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Man charged with animal cruelty for allegedly kicking dog at Melbourne construction rally



A man captured on film allegedly kicking a dog at a violent construction rally has been charged by authorities.

A man who allegedly kicked a dog at last month’s violent construction rally in Melbourne has been charged.

The 41-year-old man has been charged with animal cruelty after an investigation by the RSPCA and Victoria Police.

The offence attracts a penalty of up to $45,435 or 12 months’ jail if convicted.

Video footage emerged of a dog allegedly being kicked during wild demonstrations outside the CFMEU Melbourne office in Elizabeth St on September 20.

The footage shows two men in a tussle before one man allegedly lunges towards the other and kicks at his leashed dog.

The RSPCA received multiple cruelty reports over the incident, resulting in the charge being laid.

RSPCA Victoria chief inspector Michael Stagg said the authority was flooded with complaints from concerned Victorians over the matter.

“Many concerned Victorians reported the incident both to Victoria Police and to RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate, which is authorised to enforce Victoria’s animal cruelty legislation,” he said.

“Every incident of animal cruelty is serious, and the Victorian public are the RSPCA’s eyes and ears when it comes to these matters,” he said.

“We encourage anyone with information about any animal cruelty matters to provide that information to the RSPCA.

“All matters reported by the public will be investigated swiftly and we are committed to holding offenders to account.”

Originally published as Man charged with animal cruelty for allegedly kicking dog at Melbourne construction rally




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