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Christmas countdown

SHOPPING SEASON: Christmas shopping can be stressful, but with a little planning and organisation you can have it done without the hassle right here in town.Advertising feature
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It’s no surprise that shopping during the festive season can be a daunting and stressful experience. Here are some tips that require minimal effort for maximum results.

Make a list

Write down everyone you plan to buy a present for, including smaller presentssuch as the office Kris Kringle. Don’t forget Christmas is an opportune time to also thank invaluable people such as school teachers. Include ideas of what to give each person, along with the amount you’re willing to spend.

Researchideas online

If you know what you want to give someone but are unsure of specifics, head online for price comparisons and to read reviews. If the thought of facingcrowds is too much to bear, try some internet shopping. Many online retailers guarantee delivery up to a few days before December 25.

Shop solo

If you do decide to hit the shops, make sure you go alone. You’re on a mission here – get in, get the job done, and get out. While shopping with someone else might seem like fun, it’ll end up taking twice as long and you run the risk of being influenced by their purchases and straying from your own list.

Buy less expensive gifts first

When you shell out for something expensive, your brain loses perspective on what’s a bargain and what’s overpriced. Once you’ve spent $400 on a game console, paying $10 instead of $5 for stocking fillers may no longer alarm you. Avoid this trap.

Set a time limit

During the festive season, Christmas tunes, staff offering samples, and the sensory overload in general, can make you lose sense of time. Combat this by making plans immediately after your shopping trip, so you have to leave at a specific time.

Consider DIY

If itall becomestoo much and you have a knack for all things crafty and creative, why not make some of your gifts. You could try your hand at making bath salts or festive treats, and present them in a beautiful glass jar adorned with ribbon. This is a good idea for those teachers, or elderly relatives who often don’t care for more stuff, but love the thought that’s put intosomething handmade.

FFA Cup final win rich reward for John van ‘t Schip, a Melbourne Heart original

John van ‘t Schip was there at the beginning, so if anyone has earned the right to be there at the moment of Melbourne City’s greatest triumph, their FFA Cup final success, it is he.
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The Dutchman was there when City were Heart, when the team played in red, not sky blue and white, when they trained at far flung locations in the northern suburbs, when they used wheelie bins for ice baths and portakabins as a medical facility.

He was there when it was underfunded, under-appreciated and, for the most part, underwhelming.

The club’s inaugural coach, van ‘t Schip was brought in from The Netherlands after an impressive playing career, a coach with regal personal connections (he was a friend to the likes of Marco Van Basten and had been mentored by the legend that is Johan Cruyff) and a grounding in one of the best football production systems on the planet.

Hired in October 2009, van ‘t Schip’s appointment was designed to make a statement about the then new club, the team designed to become an A-League rival to powerhouse Melbourne Victory: his arrival heralded, so it was said, Heart’s philosophy. This was a club that was to be soaked in “European sophistication”, to play the game “the right way”, one that would appeal to football purists.

They did, sometimes. More often than not they didn’t, as their lack of success showed. Sure, they made the finals in their second season but they struggled for crowds, an identity and relevance as Victory continued to rule the roost.

Van ‘t Schip eventually departed at the end of the 2011-12 season, having taken Heart to the finals for the first time.

He was gone nearly two years, but answered an SOS call to return and stabilise the club after it had gone into a tailspin in the 2013-14 season, replacing his successor, John Aloisi, who was sacked at the end of 2013, midway through what to that point had been a disastrous campaign.

Van ‘t Schip’s return coincided with the takeover by the City Football Group, and like Heart, which morphed into City and grown and prospered since, the Dutchman’s record in Australia has improved dramatically.

City have made the A-League semi-finals in the past two seasons under his tutelage, and this year sit second on the table and have collected their first silverware in men’s football.

The coach has proved himself one of the more tactically adept in the A-League, developing a group of players who can adopt flexible tactical set-ups, play an attacking game at high tempo and press high up the field.

He has collated a versatile group and has created a buy-in mentality in a squad where there are some big names, such as Tim Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli, and some squad players who will all come in and do a job when asked.

“I am happy of course because it is the first trophy in the history of the club. Everybody has been waiting to get it done, so its important to win your first trophy,” he said after the final triumph.

“Everybody in the club … from the administration, to the players, the kitchen area, all the staff around the football team.

“Moments like this evening don’t come that often. Every time that you play a final its something very special. its the first prize we could win.”

In the immediate aftermath of the game, van ‘t Schip spared a thought for his mentor Cruyff, who died this year.

“I also think of Cruyff who passed away, his legacy and the football philosophy he left behind and I hope to contribute in the way he wanted to play football. I think we are making those steps here and the staff here are helping me. We have an incredible staff that are backing me. It’s a credit to the City Football Group that made these things happen.”

Van ‘t Schip’s contract expires at the end of this season, and who would bet against him finishing with the biggest trophy of them all, the A-League title.

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If Tim Cahill didn’t exist, could anyone dare to invent him?

Tim Cahill celebrates after kicking a goal during the FFA Cup final. Photo: Daniel PockettIf he didn’t exist, could you even dare to invent him?
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Tim Cahill is a player so improbable that his achievements, especially on the big stage, seem scarcely believable.

He’s not the most skilful player in the world, nor is he the most technically adroit. He is not Australia’s greatest player by almost any measure, although he is its most recognisable, and certainly the greatest Socceroo.

But he has something more priceless than both those commodities: he has the knack of rising to the occasion, the bigger the stage, the more impact he has.

And he has the gift of timing, knowing where to be in the penalty box, knowing when to be there and knowing how to finish.

Cahill has scored so many vital goals for both club and country over the years that it sometimes is easy to forget his crucial interventions.

Yes, everyone knows about his goals against Japan in the World Cup in 2006, or his spectacular volley against the Netherlands in Porto Alegre in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But there are countless others that have arrived in big games, in Liverpool v Everton derbies in the Premier League, for Millwall early in his career when he scored an FA Cup semi final winner against Sunderland that took them to Wembley, along with countless goals for the national team in various tournaments.

Now can be added his winner in the FFA Cup final, when he rose to head home Ivan Franjic’s cross to make the crucial difference on the night when Melbourne City beat Sydney FC and won their first ever men’s football trophy under the City Football Group ownership.

In the aftermath of his matchwinning performance for Melbourne City he declared the FFA Cup triumph as “right up there” with the biggest achievements of his career.

It was pure Cahill, a textbook header early in the second half, which brought City glory. All his classic aerial skills were on display: his ability to push off defenders, to find a half stride of space, to leap with perfect timing and to place, rather than thump, the ball wide of goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.

It was reminiscent of the goal he scored against Chile at the World Cup of 2014, a header which had also come from an Ivan Franjic​ cross.

It was a script that could have been written days before the game, so often does the Socceroo frontman provide a storyline that seems to defy logic and expectation. Except that had any journalist speculated on how the winning goal would come it would probably been spiked by an editor on the grounds that this sort of fairytale could not happen, especially not when the protagonist is a 37-year-old who nowadays struggles to see out 90 minutes.

But Cahill does what others don’t, and in the wake of helping City to win its most significant trophy so far, he said the playing group could now build on that achievement and use it as a springboard for greater things in the future.

“My feelings are pretty amazing. Everything we spoke about for the past nine months, leading into this campaign and the FFA Cup … the culture of the club, to bring a winning mentality and a group of guys together.

“Its up there with the proudest moments of my career. You can have your wildest dreams … this is nice, it’s in Australia, it’s where I am from.

“I said I would give it everything, regardless of what people were saying about my age and my body,” said Cahill, wearing a T-shirt proclaiming City’s Cup success and his winners medal round his neck.

He also revealed that he had been made angry and determined to do something by the Sydney fans, who just before he scored had been taunting him with chants that he was “only here for the money”.

“It was like Chile, but I didn’t jump as high. Cic’s cross, I was thinking did I have to go and meet the ball … I could see Vukovic’s body was open …

“Tonight was just special, just before the fans were singing negative things about me, then I thought this is my chance.

“It’s the story of my life. That’s why I play, for moments like that. My job is to be in the box and if I score great … It was beautiful, nice the way it hit my head and went in.”

One of the reason City signed Cahill was top tap into his experience and know how, the ability to mentally prepare for matches at the highest stage and in the most difficult of conditions.

He said he had spoken in a heartfelt fashion to his team-mates before the game, impressing on them how they had to seize this opportunity.

“Collectively as a group I said to the boys before we went out, you don’t get a lot of chances like this in your career. For one night only we will play our heart and souls out and give it everything, and when you are cooked put your hand up … I wanted to get the fire out of their bellies.”

Cahill paid tribute to the City Football Group and the attention to detail and commitment they had brought to turning a broken down Melbourne Heart into the powerhouse that is City, setting standards off the field for the rest of the A-League to match.

“This club is run like a Premier League club. I am there from 8am every morning to three in the afternoons … I am so impressed with what we do in the community and with the women’s team.”

“This football club, we have to win things. Now we have won something, we take this momentum, we regroup, we stay humble, and go again.

“There would have been a lot of people watching that game, praying we would lose. I hope the other codes take notice.”

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Australia v New Zealand 2016: The innings that made one-day bolter Hilton Cartwright

Steve Smith last month demanded his team show more resilience and in Hilton Cartwright he has been given a player who fits that bill.
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The Zimbabwean-born West Australian all-rounder might not have the greatest set of numbers in the world to demand international selection but there can be no doubting his character.

Cartwright, who is poised to make his international debut in the Chappell-Hadlee series, left his state teammates and coaches in awe last year when he batted not once but twice after tearing a muscle off the bone to save a Sheffield Shield game against Victoria.

Facing a high-class attack including Test duo Peter Siddle and James Pattinson and ODI paceman Scott Boland, Cartwright batted for some 90 minutes to make an unbeaten 27 off 70 balls.

The injury required surgery and ruled him out for more than 10 weeks but won him rave reviews from the dressing room.

“He was very courageous. When you see someone do that, hobble on one leg, you know he has ability and he’s something special,” WA assistant coach and former Test vice-captain Geoff Marsh said.

“For any athlete you couldn’t get any higher praise than what he got after that game; that was a moment in his career we thought we had someone special, who crossed the line to do something for his team. He won’t leave anything out there.”

Despite his bravery, it’s unlikely Cartwright will be a familiar name to many cricket fans other than those who follow the state scene very closely. From 27 domestic one-dayers, Cartwright has not scored a ton or taken a five-wicket haul and averages 26.5 with the bat and 39 with the ball though clearly made a strong impression on selectors with a century for Australia A in September.

“He’s a beautiful player to watch, very elegant, plays all the shots, times the ball beautifully,” Marsh said. “He’s one of those players, you look at the scoreboard and he’s 20 before you know it.”

Ironically for Marsh, the player taking Cartwright’s position in the team is his son Mitchell Marsh. “They joke about it, they’re very similar players,” Marsh said.

Cartwright will be seen as a speculative selection though three years out from a World Cup is as good a time as any to take a punt.

Australian all-rounder James Faulkner did not train on Thursday due to illness.

The Black Caps’ 14-man squad contains only five players from last year’s World Cup final. Among those missing are former captains Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori, who have both retired, while star batsman Ross Taylor is injured.

Pace duo Trent Boult and Tim Southee are back, joined by uncapped quick Lockie Ferguson, who can nudge the 150 km/h barrier.​

“Lockie gives us that point of difference in our attack. He hasn’t played a huge amount up until the past two seasons where he’s got over a lot of injuries,” Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said. “He’s got to an age when those major issues tend to dissipate a bit, when you get to 24 or 25. He’s a strong bowler, he’s certainly quick and I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t play at some stage this series.”

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Modest sales for Michael Clarke autobiography compared to Ricky Ponting book

Book business: Former Australian captain Michael Clarke with wife Kyly and daughter Kelsey Lee at his book launch. Photo: Ben RushtonIt made an almighty splash when it landed on shelves and you can barely walk past a book shop without seeing a promotional poster of it, but Michael Clarke’s autobiography hasn’t made the same impact when it comes to sales. Clarke pulled no punches in the book, and it’s an indisputably compelling read. Compared to Ricky Ponting’s autobiography of three years ago, or previous Australian captain Steve Waugh before that, though, sales have been modest. Clarke’s My Story, published by Macmillan Australia, had shifted a little more than 13,000 copies since its release on October 26 in figures provided to The Tonk on Thursday. Of course, the peak Christmas buying period is still to come but it would want to get a hurry along if it’s going to hold a candle to Ponting’s At the Close of Play, which hit the 100,000 mark in its first few months on sale at the end of 2013. Clarke, who is believed to have been paid an advance of close to $1 million, hasn’t been helped by a crowded market for cricket and sports books already this summer, with releases from Mitchell Johnson, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin, Jim Maxwell, Dennis Lillee and Brad Hogg among others. (Johnson’s autobiography Resilient, by the way, has sold about 5700 copies, while Lillee’s has done essentially its entire print run of about 4800). The industry has also changed dramatically in recent years with stores closing down and readers turning to Kindle but for a recently retired former Test captain, Clarke’s numbers are underwhelming.
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Prolific Perry

While we’re talking numbers, there are few who can boast better than Ellyse Perry. The Southern Stars all-rounder’s one-day international average since her shift up to the top five in the batting line-up is now at a staggering 92.53 after her player-of-the-series performance against South Africa, which wound up in Coffs Harbour this week. It’s no small sample size either – she’s been in the top five now, mostly at four, for 25 innings dating back to the tail end of Australia’s tour of England in 2013 and scored 1388 runs. Perry, 26, made 334 runs between dismissals across the Stars’ series in Sri Lanka and at home against South Africa – the men’s record is 405 set by Mohammad Yousuf in a series against Zimbabwe in 2003-04 – but remains typically humble, crediting coaches. “Mixed in is a bit of luck,” she said this week. “Every cricketer needs luck at different points in time.”

Not-so-fast finish

This column is hearing James Faulkner wasn’t the most popular person with the NSW dressing room after this week’s shield game. Both sides can agree to end a game early from tea on the last day if there’s no prospect of a result but Faulkner chose to play on in pursuit of a maiden shield century. Given his reputation as the finisher in Australia’s one-day side, we can only surmise the pressure of the moment weighed heavily on Faulkner, who took 29 balls to get out of the 90s despite the Blues having the field up. Play was eventually called off once Faulkner reached three figures but not before NSW captain Moises Henriques injured his side, slamming the ball into the ground before storming off. Henriques may still play as a specialist batsman in the next round of the shield but cannot bowl.

Stumper’s revenge?

There will be a lot of talk with the Australia-Pakistan Test series coming up about Mickey Arthur taking on the team from which he was sacked as head coach. But an equally intriguing narrative is around Pakistan’s fielding coach, Steve Rixon. The former Test ‘keeper and Australian assistant coach was overlooked for the head coach’s job when it was given to Arthur in 2011 and we’re reliably informed doesn’t have a great deal of time for some senior figures in Australian cricket, the team performance manager Pat Howard among them. An old-school type who was very close with Michael Clarke and highly respected by others of that generation, Rixon had bid to be the next man in line after Tim Nielsen departed the post – which makes it interesting that Arthur then went on to hire him on his Pakistan staff – and will be eager to have some hand in a series upset against his former employer.

Cotton wool SOK

You can all but mark down Stephen O’Keefe for a ticket to India despite his recent calf injury. The left-arm spinner appears set to miss the next round of the shield but that should not be read as a blow to his Test chances – quite the opposite. The Tonk has been told Cricket Australia have demanded the Blues not pick O’Keefe to give him extra time to recover from a slight calf strain or risk their wrath if he plays and breaks down. With a Test to come on the spin-friendly SCG and a tour of India to follow, there’s plenty of chances yet for O’Keefe to add to his three appearances in the baggy green.

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Amanda Seyfried reveals she is expecting her first child

Thomas Sadoski and Amanda Seyfried have been engaged since September. Photo: Kevin MazurAmanda Seyfried is no stranger to the red carpet but at a Givenchy press event, her appearance left people talking. Launching the Live Irrésistible fragrance, the 30-year-old spokeswoman took the chance to announce that she was expecting her first child with fiance and fellow actor Thomas Sadoski.
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Clad in a sheer black mini-dress, there was no mistaking her baby bump.

The couple, who first met while working together on the off-Broadway show The Way We Get By, started their relationship when they reunited on the set of The Last Word. The pair confirmed their engagement in September, six months after they started dating   Baby bump alert!   #AmandaSeyfried is pregnant! The actress is expecting her first child with fiancé Thomas Sadoski. | Sylvain Gaboury/GivenchyA photo posted by People Magazine (@people) on Nov 29, 2016 at 5:37pm PST

The actress has not been shy when it come to speaking about the prospect of parenthood, revealing her desire to be a mother in an interview with Marie Claire UK last year.

“I keep feeling like my eggs are dying off. I need to get on it… I want a child. Badly,” she said.

“‘I want to be a mother, badly. That’s what I feel. I’ve been feeling it for like, two years. I’m not ready but nobody’s ready. It changes everything… so how you can ever be ready for that?”

Speaking toE! about wedding plans when she was with long-term partner Justin Long (the pair split last year), the star also revealed that she definitely wishes to have at least two children in the next few years.

The actress is no stranger to an on-screen wedding but it will be her first time down the aisle in real life.

“I got married so many times in my life – on screen! I don’t want a white dress! I’ve worn so many of them,” she said.

“The fact is, that kind of stuff is less about the ceremony and more about the commitment. So it’s like children. That’s where it’s at, right? For me. But it’s different for everybody. I’d like to have one in the next four or five years. And the second one can happen between 35 and 40. Or I can adopt… It’s fine. I definitely want to a couple kids.”

It will be the second time down the aisle for Sadoski, with the 40-year-old Newsroom actor previously married to actress Kimberly Hope.

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Bella Hadid bumps into her ex The Weeknd on the Victoria’s Secret runway

Every ex’s dream: Bella Hadid bumping into her ex The Weeknd on the Victoria’s Secret runway in Paris on Wednesday. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris One of the most covered up people to take to the catwalk was Irina Shayk, 30, who is rumoured to be expecting her first child with boyfriend, Bradley Cooper. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain
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Sisters Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid pose backstage. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain

Auckland’s Georgia Fowler making her VS debut. She is sister’s with Kate Fowler, who is Merivale boss Justin Hemmes’ partner. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris

Fifty-one of the world’s most sought-after models took to the runway at the Grand Palais in Paris on Wednesday for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2016.

The multi-million dollar line-up included 21-year-olds Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, who both returned to the show for a second year, while Hadid’s younger sister Bella, 20, made her walking debut alongside the likes of VS veterans Alessandra Ambrosio, 35, and Behati Prinsloo, 28.

One of the most covered-up people to take to the glitter-strewn catwalk was Irina Shayk, 30, who is rumoured to be expecting her first child with boyfriend, Bradley Cooper.

The Russian did nothing to allay whispers that she was with child when she concealed her stomach for both runway appearances with a trench coat and a red fringe robe.

Performing at the 20th anniversary show were ​Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd, 26, who had a rather awkward encounter with his underwear-clad ex-girlfriend, Bella, who he reportedly split from in the last few weeks.

As the Canadian singer, real name Abel Tesfaye, belted out Starboy he turned to serenade her as she sauntered past in a grey lace teddy with matching sheer cloak (let’s face it, how every ex-girlfriend dreams of bumping into her former significant other).

However, it was reported, “she didn’t return his coy glances instead looked coolly straight ahead.”

“You are in my way, please move,” she probably did not tell him as she sashayed past.

There was plenty of eye-catching lingerie on display throughout the show’s six themed sections: Road Ahead, Mountain Romance, Pink Nation, Secret Angel, Dark Angel and Bright Night Angel.

With 2014 revenue estimated at $9.7 billion, money is clearly no object when a $4million emerald and diamond encrusted Fantasy Bra worn by Jasmine Tookes, 25, steals the show. She was passed on the honour from Lily Aldridge, 31, who wore it last year in New York City.

Australia was represented by Perth-born Bridget Malcolm, 25, who said she was “beyond thankful” for the opportunity to walk in the show for a second year in a row, while it was third-time lucky for Swedish-Australian model, Kelly Gale, 21.

Malcolm wore VS’s Pink range exclusively – think cheerleader-chic with knee-high socks, letterman jackets and crop tops, while Gale swanned out in a grey two-piece with feather embellishments.

Merivale millionaire Justin Hemmes also had a connection to “the most watched fashion show in the world” when his partner Kate Fowler’s sister made her debut.

Georgia Fowler from Auckland, New Zealand, daughter of professional golfer, Peter “Chook” Fowler, said she was “living the dream” and also gave a shout-out to her mum and dad who flew to Paris to be her “biggest fans”.

What do the models do once the catwalk wraps? Party.

“I’m planning to let loose and have some champagne and dance,” Tookes told the “It’s going to be good.”

But for Jenner, after “training like an angel” for all of those weeks, there was only one thing on her mind post-show.

“Burger please,” she wrote on Instagram.

You can watch the show on December 5 in the US and December 8 in Australia on Channel Nine.

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Baird government has no industry support for privatisation of land titles registry

There are 3.5 million certificates of title in NSW, each one proving the ownership of a parcel of land. Photo: Mark Merton Staff at NSW’s Land and Property Information protested the government’s privatisation plans in June. Photo: Public Service Association
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The Commonwealth Bank would not confirm or deny whether it’s reconsidering its confidence in the land titles system, ahead of the sale. Photo: Glenn Hunt


The Baird government is charging ahead with its land titles registry sell-off, despite having no support from peak professional bodies across the state’s property sector.

It comes amid the Commonwealth Bank’s refusal to confirm or deny claims it is reconsidering its confidence in the integrity of the land titles system, which underpins the state’s economy.

A Fairfax Media survey of peak bodies including the NSW branches of the Property Owners Association, Real Estate Institute, and Property Council of Australia, found nine out of 11 believed the privatisation process should be stopped. Two were uncertain or neutral.

“Not only would the homeowner have to pay extra insurance of $900 or more to compensate for the loss of confidence in the government’s guarantee, but surveyors, lawyers and other professionals would be forced to pass on additional fees as their costs shoot up,” said Michael Green, president of Institution of Surveyors NSW.

The survey also found nine out of 11 felt they hadn’t been adequately consulted about the sale of the Land and Property Information unit (LPI), which keeps the official record of land ownership. Two were uncertain or neutral.

“It is disgraceful there was no consultation with key stakeholders and the community,” said John Gilmovich, president of POANSW.

The government is planning to splash the speculated $1.5 billion proceeds from the 35-year concession of the LPI on sports stadiums, despite an oversupply of sporting infrastructure capacity.

The peak bodies expressed concerns about higher costs to home buyers, increased risk of fraud and threat to personal data security, under a privately-run monopoly geared towards making a profit.

“Our biggest concern is that it is a very profitable government body that just needs a revamp … and due to the nature of the data it collects it should be part of the government’s drive for free, open data,” said John Cunningham, president of REINSW.

“Privatising it puts that initiative at risk and exposes the public to private information risk.”

The government is currently collecting the first round of bids. It wasn’t slowed down by the UK government’s final decision to permanently abandon plans to sell its registry on November 23.

It also wasn’t hindered by the recent F6 land titles bungle which saw more than 200 families unknowingly buy homes that could be knocked down for a freeway. Banks watching closely

Opposition finance spokesman Clayton Barr said a senior Commonwealth Bank employee told him the bank – the country’s top mortgage lender – was reconsidering its confidence in the integrity of the land titles system, and this process had begun before the F6 bungle came to light.

Banks use titles as security for a customer to obtain a loan to buy real estate.

A CBA spokesman said it would not confirm, deny or comment on the claim.

Rival big bank ANZ said it was aware of the process and awaiting the outcome. An NAB spokesman said it was awaiting further details on potential changes from the NSW registrar.

“We will review our practices accordingly when that information is received,” the NAB spokesman said.

A Westpac spokesman said it hasn’t identified any issues with the proposal.

Labor is firmly opposed to the LPI sale, saying it doesn’t make sense to privatise an income-generating asset that pays for teachers, nurses and police.

“Why do we need to sell it off? We don’t need to go down an avenue of selling everything off, particularly assets that earn money and perform very well,” shadow treasurer Ryan Park said on ABC Radio’s Mornings with Wendy Harmer.Government on the defence

Neither Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian or Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet would say whether they were reconsidering the privatisation of the LPI, which turns a steady $50 million profit each year.

The government is not releasing the scoping study, citing “cabinet in confidence”. It’s understood it has consulted the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The legislation allowing the transaction, passed in September, shows there will be contractual agreements between the government and the private operator, which will include government oversight through the Registrar General.

Ms Berejiklian said the scoping study concluded the private sector was in a better position to run the LPI and invest in technology.

“The government is confident this process will result in better outcomes for customers, industry and the taxpayers,” she said.

“Sydney needs world class sporting facilities to attract national and international events, and investment in infrastructure has widespread economic benefits.”

There is an emphasis on technology despite the LPI’s own claims that it is “one of the most robust and reliable land title systems in the world” that “continuously reviews and applies world best practice security measures”.

She said prices of regulated services will only go up by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the government will have step-in powers.

But some of the peak bodies have their doubts, with one survey respondent saying: “We have seen with the gas industry that it is easy to get increases beyond CPI. The private operator can also introduce new products or re-brand existing products and in which cases price increases will be able to exceed CPI.”

After two attempts in two years, the UK Government ditched its privatisation plans, saying the land registry “should focus on becoming a more digital data-driven registration business, and to do this will remain in the public sector.”

Infrastructure funds Hastings, The Carlyle Group and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, are among the potential buyers. Paper titles killed off

Banks are quietly destroying paper land titles and replacing them with electronic certificates, as a result of a national push to electronic conveyancing on the PEXA system.

PEXA is owned by state governments, the ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac, Macquarie Bank and private equity.

The Public Service Association has raised concerns about the potential conflict of interest and is demanding the LPI sale be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

“The channelling of electronic conveyancing into a company in which the Baird government has an interest is a glowing example of our concerns,” the PSA said.

“As far as the LPI sale is concerned, the PSA has again not seen a business case or cost benefit analysis that explains why such a well run and profitable government service should be privatised.”

Other respondents to Fairfax Media’s survey were: Australian Institute of Conveyancers NSW, Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute NSW, Australian Valuers Institute, Association of Consulting Surveyors NSW, Institution of Surveyors NSW Inc, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, NSW Country Surveyors Association, and Real Estate Association of NSW.

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NSW Labor MP Ron Hoenig calls for a parliamentary inquiry into children’s soccer

Ron Hoenig is calling for a parliamentary inquiry into youth soccer in NSW. Photo: Nick Moir Little boy in shorts and trainers with his foot resting on top of a soccer ball on green grass with copyspace GENERIC soccer, sport field
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In the NPL youth league, the eastern suburbs Dunbar Rovers provides free football to elite youth players. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

A NSW Labor MP is calling for a parliamentary inquiry into children’s soccer to expose “the scandalous exploitation of local children and their parents”.

The Member for Heffron, Ron Hoenig, first addressed parliament in August this year, after learning that parents in his electorate were paying fees of up to $1100 for children as young as six to play at clubs in the Eastern Suburbs Football Association.

More than 150,000 children aged between five and 17 play grassroots soccer in NSW.

“Football clubs utilising council grounds, which in the past have been community-based [and] run by volunteers, have now outsourced coaching to profit-making soccer academies,” he said. “These private academies have infiltrated this children’s sport, exploiting parents into paying huge fees under the belief that if they pay, one day their child will play for Manchester United.”Mr Hoenig has highlighted the Heffron Hawks as one junior club that has engaged coaching services from a private soccer academy named Soccer De Brazil, where he is aware of children as young as six paying fees of $1100.

A spokesperson for Heffron Hawks said it introduced optional academy coaches to “raise the standard of training,” to which parents and players responded positively.

“Now…we offer two strands of teams, the traditional parent-coached teams and professionalyl-coached teams. The parent and players have complete choice, and nobody is forced into choosing one or the other.”

Soccer De Brazil declined to comment on its coaching with any specific clubs, however the Brazilian futsal academy said its coaches were “engaged by some clubs to coach their development programs.”

The rise of academies was raised at an Eastern Suburbs Football Association meeting on Monday, amid a discussion of proposals to address the cost of football.

“We are very concerned that for-profit groups are effectively being granted subsidised access to public grounds, while not-for-profit clubs struggle to find places to train and play,” ESFA president Sean Fenton told Fairfax Media.”The median total registration fee for an under-six player in our association is $280…we don’t think that charging nearly four times the median registration fee is reasonable.”

This week Mr Hoenig wrote to Randwick and Centennial Parklands councils, urging them to allocate playing fields “to community-based sports clubs run by volunteers in preference to any organisation that outsources or employs a soccer academy”.

His call for a parliamentary inquiry follows a Fairfax Media report into elite youth football, which raised questions about fees of up to $2400 being used to fund player wages for first grade teams.

“Everyone knows premier league clubs are running expensive junior representative football solely to put their first grade teams on the park…but now we are talking about parents paying huge fees…in the grassroots community game,” Mr Hoenig said, pointing to “poor administration” within Football NSW.

“Football NSW is a hopeless, incompetent vested interest organisation that is not fit and proper to be in charge of a junior sport.”

In its National Premier League and Youth League competitions, Football NSW sets strict rules banning clubs and players from participating in ‘non-sanctioned programs,’ such as academies, as it “cannot ensure” the delivery or quality of coaches.

However the same rule does not apply in the grassroots competition.

“Associations are separate legal entities to Football NSW and are able to make their own rules,” a Football NSW spokesperson said.

“Football NSW has rules in place that prevent grassroots clubs which have an affiliation with private academies in competition age groups from participating in competitions directly run by Football NSW.”

In response to Mr Hoenig’s allegation that Football NSW is “hopeless and incompetent”, the governing body said it thanked Mr Hoenig for sharing his views.”

As the president of Pagewood Football Club for the past 10 years, George Lundy said he had seen community club football “diminish greatly”.”The problem comes from the top of Football NSW, in regards to the programs they implemented five or six years ago; particularly the Skill Acquisition Program (SAP).”

The program for children aged 9-12 is said to “underpin” the NSW men’s and women’s National Premier League competitions.

“It used to be that your kid didn’t enter elite football until 13, but when the SAP started they could enter at under-9,” Mr Lundy said.

“This provided an opportunity for academies to approach parents, and say, I can get your kids into the SAP and premier league if you do my expensive program. “

Roy Belcher, a former president of ESFA from 2001 to 2008 and the current chairman of Waverley Football Club, said grassroots football’s biggest problem was a lack of coaches.

“We’ve got 150,000 kids playing the game in NSW and there’s just not enough quality coaches. That’s why academies are moving in.”

Mr Belcher said $1800 fees set by Football Federation of Australia for compulsory coaching licenses were “ridiculous” and turning away would-be coaches.

“I think there is a mentality at both Football NSW and the FFA that elite junior football [is needed to identify] the next Harry Kewell,” he said.

“But it’s not about having all these expensive academies making promises to a young family. What is required is that at a community level the game has good quality coaches…”

Director of junior football at the Redfern Raiders Nicholas Procopiadis said he employed an academy to administer coaching four years ago, resulting in fees in excess of $2500.

“But after a year I got away from it, I could see it was profiteering. They just want to sell everything, they don’t want to cater to those who aren’t able to afford it.”

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James Packer’s Hollywood partner Steven Mnuchin joins Trump’s White House team

Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, talking with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower on Wednesday. Photo: Evan VucciJames Packer’s career as a pop groupie might be over, but his political influence is growing with one of his Hollywood business partners, Steven Mnuchin, announced as Donald Trump’s pick for the job of US Treasury secretary.
Nanjing Night Net

Despite Trump’s anti-Wall Street rhetoric, Mnuchin would become the third Goldman Sachs alumnus to head the US Treasury since the 1990s – the same firm that produced our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Mnuchin and other cabinet appointees will face senate hearings in the weeks following the January 20 presidential inauguration.

It was not a surprise choice by Trump. Mnuchin was in charge of fundraising for Trump’s election campaign.

But it has not always been a smooth relationship either. In 2008, a Mnuchin company was among a group that Trump sued over a luxury hotel and condominium tower he was developing in Chicago. The case was settled out of court.

But Mnuchin’s most recent career has been as one of Packer’s business partners in Hollywood.

In 2013, Mnuchin merged his company Dune Entertainment with Packer’s RatPac Entertainment – a joint venture with film maker Brett Ratner.​

Ratpac-Dune announced plans to finance up to $US400 million worth of Warner films that year having already scored a big hit with Gravity which starred George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

The connection now spreads Packer’s political influence across three continents. He has close ties to the family of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Packer’s private company has not responded to reports from Israel about the extent of those ties – which apparently include the Israeli PM using Packer’s neighbouring home for meetings, Mariah Carey concert tickets and joint holidays.

There was also a report that Packer has been seeking permanent residency in Israel.

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