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Planning a bright 2017

LOOKING AHEAD: Use the holiday period to really look at where you spend money and where your business is going. Use this time to create a roadmap for the way forward in the next 12-months.*Sponsored by Small Business First
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A new year is a fantastic time to refresh and re-energise your business.

As 2017 rolls around, it’s a chance for you and your business to assess where you are at, what issues may have been mounting that can be fixed, and where you want to take the business over the next 12-months.

But you know as well as I do that unless you really sit down to plan, identify some goals, and make sure it happens, nothing will change.

So, time to make some new year’s resolutions for your business. Here are a couple that I’ve found are a great starting point.

Get planning

They say that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If your business is going to achieve anything this year, it’s going to need a roadmap and some real, tangible goals and objectives.

Big businesses do this religiously every year – they plan out their marketing objectives for the year, outline revenue targets and then detail the exact steps to achieving those targets. This is something every small business needs to be doing too.

Plug the leaks

I hate the feeling of knowing your business is leaking money but not knowing where or how to stop it.

But over the course of a year, as we get busier and busier and processes fall by the wayside, this can become incredibly harmful for your business.

Over the new year period get your reports out, go through with a fine-toothed comb, and look at where you could be saving money. Then spend some time shopping around for ways to cut costs.

Sites like Small Business First can really help. For example, there’s currently an offer from Uber for business which could take a bucket load off your travel costs.

Get paid on time

It’s so important to your business to get paid on time. If late-paying customers have been an issue, it’s time to address it. Identify your worst paying customers and question whether they are worth hanging onto.

Change your payment terms to include upfront deposits, incentives for early payment, or even late fees. And automate your reminders so that you don’t need to be chasing up paymentson the due date.

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Small Business First and Fairfax Media may earn a commission on deals through smallbusinessfirst南京夜网南京夜生活.

Readers should shop around for the best deal to suit their needs. Pinstripe Media, David Koch’s family business, is a founder of Small Business First.

Australian Bloodstock change course in hunt for Magic Millions starts

HUNTER syndicators Australian Bloodstock will saveDeneeky for an easier assignment at Scone on Saturday but test Rhymes at the Wyong Magic Millions meeting on Thursday.
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Luke Murrell. Picture: Getty Images

The Kris Lees-trainedfillieswere nominated for the main Wyong events, which serve as qualifiers for races at the rich Gold Coast Magic Millions carnival next month.

Deneeky, a winner on debut at Muswellbrook, was down to race in the $200,000 two-year-old race(1100 metres), while Rhymes is in the $100,000 three- and four-year-old feature (1200m).

However, Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell saidDeneeky would be scratched given the strength of the Wyong race, which features black-type winner Madeenaty.

“The aim has always been to try to get her into theMagic Millions race and that one tomorrow is probably the best edition of that race there’s ever been,” Murrell said.“We think it’s probably a little too hard for her at this stage, so we’re going to go to Scone on Saturday. If shewins we could probably just sneak into the field.”

Rhymes is one of three Hunter-trained outsiders in the other feature, where Bjorn Baker’s Egyptian Symbol isthe early favourite. Newcastle trainer Paul Perry will start Last Witness, while Scone’s Rodney Northam has Touch Sensitive.

Murrell said Rhymes, which was second at Port Macquarie and Muswellbrookin her two starts,was being aimed at the$250,000maiden Magic Millions race.

”Kris has wanted to try her in a better class and ride her quiet, so we’re going to try that and see how far off the better ones she is,” he said.

Search for the CEO: Newcastle conservatives welcome review despite vote confusion

Cr Brad Luke, right, and lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes exchange words after an aborted council meeting last week. A TRIO of conservative Newcastle councillors say they have nothing to hideafter being referred to the Office of Local Government overthe search for a new interim chief executive.
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In a now-contested vote on Tuesday night, the council supported a motion by Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes which included referring councillors Brad Luke (Liberal), Andrea Rufo (Independent) and Allan Robinson (Independent) to the council watchdog.

However, it was only the next day when Cr Luke learned he was named as part of the investigation approved by council.

“She [Cr Nelmes]handed out a piece of paper with something written on it … then she said another thing, moved it and voted on it,” Cr Luke said.

The council requested theOffice of Local Government investigate “reported conversations” between Cr Luke, Cr Rufo and Cr Robinson prior to the start of interviewsin the appointment of the next interim CEO.

Cr Robinson claims he was told, by a member of the public, who had been appointed to the top job two days before interviews began. Cr Rufo – who was one of three councillors on the interviewing panel – later resigned in protest due to what he believed was a tainted process.

Tuesday’s motioncalled for Cr Rufo’s actions to be investigated, “and the fact none of these ‘concerns’ were raised by Cr Rufo during the process”.

Asked the next daywhether he agreed with the lord mayor’s motion, Cr Rufo replied: “I was still reading the document when she was calling for votes. I’m named in there and I wasn’t given time to vote”.

The Independent councillor abstained from voting because he was still reading what was being moved.

However, Cr Nelmes was adamant everyone had enough time to read the 147-word document.

“I clearly said, ‘It’s a motion, as distributed’,” she said. “I said, ‘Has everyone read the motion?’.

“Everyone said yes.”

Asked why the motion wasn’t read out in full, Cr Nelmes said: “You don’t get to hear every motion, otherwise we’d be there all night.”

Despite the confusion, Cr Rufo said he welcomed the Office of Local Government review. “I’m excited to be given the opportunity to raise my concerns,” he said.

Cr Robinson said the review was the “greatest thing ever”, while Cr Luke said it needed to be an “in-depth investigation that interviewed everyone”.

Tinkler fails to get out of bankruptcy

NATHAN Tinkler’s audacious bid to escape bankruptcy has fallen at the first hurdle after he failed to post the $1 million he proposed to settle debts of more than $550 million before a creditors’ meeting on Wednesday.
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Mr Tinkler’s bankruptcy trustee, John Melluish of Ferrier Hodgson, said “part of the proposal was that the funds had to be sitting there before the meeting started”.

“This had not occurred before the time of the meeting and therefore it could not be put to creditors, so it was a bit of a non-event, in the end,” Mr Melluish said.

Nathan Tinkler at a recent meeting in favour of Drayton coalmine.

He said “three or four” creditors had attended the Grosvenor Place meeting in person and another “four or five” took part by telephone.

He said Mr Tinkler spoke to the meeting by telephone.

Asked if Mr Tinkler had said why he did not post the funds as promised, Mr Melluish said he could not go into detail beyond noting it appeared Mr Tinkler’s relationship had deteriorated with the other partners in Australian Pacific Coal –a business attempting to reopen the Dartbrook coalmine near Muswellbrook.

But Mr Melluish said Mr Tinkler had indicated “he could try again in the New Year” to put an offer to creditors.

Mr Tinkler was forced into personal bankruptcy in March this year after finance company GE Commercial moved against him over about $2.7 million owed on the lease of a private jet.

Documents prepared for his bankruptcy indicate he owes $553.8 million to more than a dozen creditors, although some of these, including US investment bank Jeffries, have no dollar figures next to their debts, indicating the total could be much higher.

The tax office is claiming $106 million in taxes and penalties.

Under bankruptcy law, a proposal such as this has to be accepted by 75 per cent of the creditors by value, and 50 per cent by number.

Mr Melluish said that if Mr Tinkler’s proposal was eventually accepted, even those creditors who voted against it would be bound by its conditions.

Under the terms of his bankruptcy, Mr Tinkler is obliged to make regular“income contributions”, which Mr Melluish said he had not been making.

“Given that the bankrupt has not paid any contributions, consideration is being given to extending his bankruptcy by a further five years,” Mr Melluish said in his December 13 report to creditors.

Although Mr Tinkler is no longer formally associated withAustralian Pacific Coal, Tinkler family entities still own shares in the company, which a year ago announced plans to buyDartbrook fromAnglo American.

German mining identity Hans Mendes agreed to tip in $10 million in September butthis deal was“not completed” and“still on foot” earlier this month.

Fairfax Media left text messages for Mr Tinkler, but they were not returned.

Ho-Ho-Ho House of the weekMayfield WestPhotos

House of the week | Mayfield West | Photos TweetFacebook House of the week | Mayfield WestThe tradition of putting up the Christmas decorations in December takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to Vicki and Brian Frankham’s Mayfield West home.
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With only the bedrooms and bathroom off-limits, the house’s interior is annually converted to an Aladdin’s Cave of Christmas treasures.

The everyday decor is packed away and almost every surface between the front door and the back deck is adorned with delicately intricate and elaborately colourful Christmas items.

They range from from animated scenes to tiny ornaments and large statues.

Then there are the trees: there are five this year including a traditional green adorned with glittering lights and glass baubles, a white snowman-shaped tree and a black one topped with a Mad Hatter’s headpiece.

“If you’re going to ask me why I do this, I’m a nutter,” Vicki laughs.

“And my husband’s a nutter for letting me do this.”

Vicki and daughter Casey started the tradition about 15 years ago, with the collection growing annually.

Vicki has lost count of the number of items acquired (she owns about 80 elves alone) but has a shed full of decorations to mark her appreciation of the festive season.

“I love Christmas because it includes everyone,” Vicki says.“It’s not just like your birthday when it’s just about you.”

Vicki loves shopping for gifts for the Christmas charity wishing tree and opening her home to friends for an annual December Christmas party to showcase the wonderland she and Casey create.

Planning begins at the end of the first week in November, with decorating complete for the party on the second Saturday in December.

“It’s never the same,” Vicki says of the interior design.

She sources everything from Forever Christmas in Mayfield.

“I get to wander around the shop I call my happy place,” Vicki says.“When Brian comes home and I’m not here he says ‘I know where she is’.”

Each year Vicki challenges store owner Sandy Diamante to find her new treasures – and she never fails.

“I say to Casey ‘I won’t have to buy anything at the Christmas shop next year; what could Sandy get in that I could possibly want?’,” Vicki says.

“She always amazes me.”

This year one of Vicki’s favourite pieces is a Patience Brewster limited edition Santa statue, a birthday gift from Diamante, that is displayed in the hallway.

New this year is a Mark Roberts limited edition Mrs Claus figurine.

“I’ve never had a Mrs Claus,” Vicki says.

“She’s fabulous.”

A returning favourite is a frog statue; he’s dressed in a green and red Santa suit, a pointy party hat, and stands on the kitchen bench.

“Well look at him, he’s just cute,” Vicki remarks on why she can’t resist putting the frog back on display.

Sparkling silver and glass pieces make the dining room centrepiece a standout too.

“I love the table this year,” Vicki says.

“I think the fact that it sparkles.

“If you have a little look around my house, you’re going to go ‘this lady likes sparkle and bling a little bit’.”

Even Vicki’s silver kitchen cupboard handles (from AJ Edden) are adorned with diamantes.

Among the largest of the Christmas decorations in the Frankham home is a Patience Brewster life-size nativity cow, which has a spot on the back deck.

The smallest pieces are Heart of Christmas miniature figurine owls and mice, displayed on shelves in the home’s central hallway.

Other highlights include Mark Roberts baubles encrusted with beads, crystals and other gems, that hang from the shelves.

“If I had heaps of money, I’d have a whole tree of these,” Vicki says.

Lemax animated village scenes include an eggnog factory and brewery.

“The eggnog is for me and the booze is for Brian,” Vicki laughs.

Taking pride of place on recessed shelves in the lounge room is a set of eight Patience Brewster ornamental reindeer.

The pieces are modelled on Clement C. Moore’sThe Night Before Christmasand each has it’s own identifying adornment: Blitzen is wrapped is a fluffy snowball-like coat; Comet is covered in little stars.

But Vicki’s biggest joy is opening her home and sharing it all with friends at the annual Christmas party.

“Everybody comes through and loves it,” she says.

“It’s just the pleasure, I guess, that my motley crew enjoy.”

Have a home that could feature in Weekender? We’d love to see it. Email:[email protected]南京夜网南京夜生活.

The Katering Show: How to shut-down annoying relatives at Christmas lunch

The Katering Show: Kate McCartney (left) and Kate McLennan. Photo: SuppliedGot your noodle in a knot over whether to parboil your potatoes or reheat your rigatoni? Stars ofThe Katering Show, intolerable foodie Kate McLennan and food intolerant friend Kate McCartney, tackle your vexing culinary questions. Our serving suggestion? Take their advice with a generous pinch of salt.
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1. I love your booze reviews. What trendy drinks should I buy to serve at a Christmas party?McC says:HOW FUN ARE CHRISTMAS PARTIES, BJORN?!!!

That’s a genuine question, Bjorn. Please be specific. These days I only see three people; my kid, my cat and McLennan, so I don’t get invited to parties. It’s fine though, because it means I’m never hungover so I can rise early in the morning and eat toast over the sink, like a sad collab between Cotton On and an Edward Hopper painting.

However, all is not lost. Let me cast my mind back to when I used to go to parties and I’ll try to remember some trendy drinks:

Sub Zeros. The heavy-water reactor je ne sais quoi of this alco-pop is enhanced by drinking it in a park in 1996 when you are a girl who is quietly listening to that conversation that all straight white teenage dudes have about The Doors. The conversation goes for two years, a lot of it is silence and head-nodding, and if an unthinking girl makes a noise, or a movement in their peripheral vision – thus distracting them from their holy purpose – then they have to start the conversation all over again.

Blue Curacao and lemonade. This is a really lovely blue-tasting drink that has the added benefit of making you urinate green like you’re Mighty Poseidon and you can play the seas like a keytar.

Midori Illusion Shaker. From memory this drink can only be accessed via a hose that’s coming out of a custom-built backpack that is in turn being carried by a 19-year-old promotional model who just wants to exit the club and go to bed, leaving you all to writhe around on the dance floor to the pounding base of C’est La Vie by BeWitched.

Cognac. I went on a date once in 2003 and it was to a cognac tasting at a bar. I have no excuse for being a party to that cocksnappery, except to say that it was a different time and I was confused and wearing kitten heels with very baggy jeans.

That night, as per the (assumedly) regular framework of a cognac tasting, I tried a variety of cognacs. And although this experience was 13 years ago, I feel like cognac is still trendy because cognac tastes like the Exxon oil spill, and Reg Tillerson is hot-hot-hot right now. In fact, he’s so hot here’s hoping he self-combusts, next to, say, Steve Bannon.

When it comes to cocktails, the more sugar and food colouring, the better. Photo: iStock

Anyway, I guess those are my suggestions. Whatever happens, please invite me to your Christmas party, Bjorn, because it’s grim round these parts. The closest we’ve come to a Christmas celebration is McLennan’s suggestion that we go and “look at a plant (she) wants to buy” during our 20-minute lunch break. So in summary, please save me immediately.

EXPLICIT LANGUAGE WARNING2. I love my family but we have totally different politics. How can I avoid the Trump card being played at holiday dinners, and putting everyone off their food?McC says:I say go hard, Kelly. Thunderdome your family holiday dinners. Sort the wheat from the chaff. Not to be too dramatic, but if the trajectory of 2016 was anything to go by, we’re maybe 4 months off aWater Worldsituation and along with learning how to ride the back of a tiger shark with a knife between your teeth, you’ve also got to pick a side.

Oh, you think reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools is going to tear the fabric of our super cool, super cruisy Australian existence apart, do you Uncle Greg? Time to put down that fork and GO STAND IN THE PANTRY TILL YOU’RE LESS OF AN ARSEHAT, UNCLE GREG.

Oh, you think the Irish were slaves too, do you Aunty Helen? You take your second helping of pudding and YOU GET OUT OF MY PARENTS’ HOUSE AND YOU CLOSE THE SCREEN DOOR AFTER YOU BECAUSE OF THE DOG.

Don’t think the date of Australia Day should be changed, do you Carol? HEAD TO THE HILLS, CAROL, BEFORE I PIFF THIS TURKEY LEG AT YOU AND MISS TERRIBLY BECAUSE I DID NOT PLAY SPORTS AT SCHOOL BECAUSE OF THE PATRIARCHY AND ALSO A TOTAL LACK OF INTEREST.

Can’t believe that the US is being so selectively outraged at Russia’s interference with the US election given their own history of meddling in other countries’ elections, eh Cousin Freya? WELL THAT’S ACTUALLY AN INTERESTING POINT I’LL NEED TO RESEARCH THAT MORE, THANKS COUSIN FREYA, DO YOU WANT SOME MORE BEANS?

McL says:Karen, your elitist attitude is exactly why we are in this mess in the first place. You’ve been too busy buying your smashed avocado and soy matchstick lattes and compostable diaphragms to realise that white people are suffering.

That’s why I suggest you sit down with your uncles and aunties on Christmas Day, perhaps after they’ve finished eating their seafood buffet lunch, and really listen to them and hear their thoughts on why they “don’t like the direction this country is heading.” Let them finally have a voice, Karen, because they’ve been silent and repressed for far too long. Then once they’ve finished their ranting and sucking back of Coffin Bay Oysters you need to start thinking about how you can make things better for them; because everybody knows that the only hope of achieving equality for all man-kind is to ensure that all the white people are happy and really rich first. As you can imagine, it’s very hard to open your hearts to the children of Syria when you’ve just had a nightmare run on the Peninsula Link.

Or you know, just do what I do and start clapping and chanting “Mmmmm! Best pav yet! Best pav yet! Best pav yet!” whenever anyone starts to tee off on a minority that they’ve literally never clapped eyes on.

Pavlova saves Christmas, yet again. Photo: iStock

3. My sister-in-law insists we only bring healthy food to Christmas lunch this year. I’m feeling very flat about it. Should I rebel?McC says:Hi Florina. I can understand your frustration. I know I get angry when people insist that I cook healthy food for an event, or cook for an event at all, or cook at home, or engage with food in anyway, or listen to jazz, because jazz is like listening to a clarinet trying to stabilise its moods.

But let’s look at each other in our good eye and speak plainly, Florina: that stodgy English Christmas food isn’t actually good, is it?

No one in Australia needs to carb load in December; we’re not shaking the kilojoules out of us in the bitter cold. I’m personally sick of eating a traditional English Christmas meal of dormouse dunked in suet and a side of hot gravy boots when we’re in the Antipodes, it’s 45 degrees Celsius outside and the polar Ice caps are melting like a Calippo under a bum.

Also, everyone stop making Christmas about food. Aside from a shared ice addiction, food is the worst way to bring a family together. Family meals are long and require too much cutlery, and you are normally stuck in a chair at a weird angle next to a homophobe who is also psychic, and often all the food – inclusive of dessert – has onion in it. And onion, we all know, is the main cause of farting in Kate McCartneys.

In summary, tell your sister-in-law to scrap the lunch aspect of Christmas lunch altogether. Just buy some quoits, some cool drinks – maybe even a Tesla home battery if you want to be a responsible consumer – and let your family be the revolution, Florina. And if muscle memory makes you feel like you need to eat, just eat some watermelon. Watermelon is temperature-appropriate and the seeds turned into a superfood this year. Plus a watermelon looks like a head so you can put a Santa hat on it and pretend to talk to it when the homophobe is wafting your way, looking to spread some Christmas hate.

McL says:Hi Florina, You know what? Your sister-in-law is doing her shitting best. Maybe she’s just really concerned for you guys, particularly with your family history of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and gout. Perhaps she’s wanting to avoid a situation like the last family gathering where you bought a deconstructed nacho plate and it made Nan spring a leak. Cut her some freaking slack Florina. And what kind of name is Florina anyway? It sounds like a feminine hygiene spray for cats. You leave those cats alone.

For the record, I think your sister-in-law is doing a remarkable job; she’s raising a child, working two jobs, writing this column, suffering from a nasty head cold and is dealing with the demands of being a woman in a patriarchal society that is hell bent on destroying her oneDaily Telegrapharticle at a time. Just take a toss salad, Florino, and shut the hell up. And for the love of shortbread, give her a hand with the dishes and leave when she starts yawning. She’s so tired her bones are crying.

4. I want to raise my table centrepiece game this Christmas. What’s the 2016 ‘turducken’?McC says:What you need to do is take the classic ingredients of a turducken; a chicken, a duck and a turkey. Then you need to not kill the birds. Then you just need to turn up the Bing Crosby and unleash these live birds on your Christmas table. Did you know that when turkeys become aggressive they will leap with large, sharp talons, and try to peck or grasp the head of their foe? Well, you will soon.

McL says:Hi Miranda. You better raise your table centrepiece game in 2016 because we heard about your 2015 efforts, and frankly, we’re disgusted. You should give back your Woman Membership because you failed us Miranda.

Having said that, I’m so glad that you’ve reached out to us – two women who know everything because they’ve been on the telly – because we can absolutely help you turn your miserable, shameful life around.

Hear me when I say that the Turducken of 2016 is WHO GIVES A CRAP MIRANDA – COME JANUARY 20TH THE WORLD WILL BE ON FIRE!!!

This article first appeared on goodfood南京夜网南京夜生活

Pill press, six firearms and drugs allegedly seized as six houses searched across Abermain, Weston and Chisholm

SEIZED: Strike Force Olenia detectives allegedly found a small pill press during one of the simultaneous raids on a Chisholm property on Tuesday morning.
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WHEN members of the Central Hunter’s drug unit went knocking on a few doors across Abermain and Chisholm on Tuesday, they were already planning to lay significant drug charges against an alleged burgeoning drug syndicate.

But what they allegedly found even surprised them.

A pill press, so rarely seized by law enforcementbecause of its obvious manufacturing value, at least six firearms and a total of nearly 500 grams of ice was allegedly seized in the six simultaneous search warrants.

Strike Force Oleria detectives later charged seven people following the raids.

At the alleged drug kingpin Kirt Wayne Griffiths’ home on Charles Street at Abermain, police said they found a handgun, two 12-gauge shotguns, a sawn-off .22 calibre rifle, a shortened .22 calibre rifle, an air rifle, assorted ammunition, an extendable baton as well as some drugs.

Mr Griffiths, 21, was later refused bail on a range of charges, including two counts of supplying a large commercial amount of drugs and manufacturing a large commercial amount of drugs.

DISCOVERY: Investigators will allege they discovered a handgun during the search of one of three houses on Charles Street at Abermain.

At an associate’shouse at Chisholm, police allegedly located thepill press, a powder believed to be amphetamine, pills believed to be MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy), a white rock substance believed to be methylamphetamine, as well as methylamphetamine oil and other tools and implements used in the manufacture of prohibited drugs.

A man, 31,was arrested at the home and charged with multiple drug offences including manufacture prohibited drug (large commercial) and supply prohibited drug (large commercial).

At another home on Charles Street, Abermain, police allegedly located an amount of cannabis, drug paraphernalia, water pipes, scales, an amount of cash, and a mobile phone.

GUNS: Sawn-off rifles, shotguns, an air rifle, assorted ammunition, an extendable baton as well as some drugs were seized in the raids.

A man, 23,wascharged with knowingly take part on large commercial quantity supply of methylamphetamine, and supply cannabis.

And police allegedly seized a number of mobile phones, laptop computers, storage devices, a Honda 125cc motorcycle, personal documentation, a white powder believed to be methylamphetamine, and a small amount of cannabis at a third CharlesStreet premises.

A man, 23, and 20-year-old woman were arrested at that house and charged with drug offences.

A woman, 33, is also facing serious drug offences after an amount of ice and cash were found at a home on Ellis Street, Weston.

Police alleged located an amount of cash, assorted personal documentation, and electronic devices at another Abermain house.

A woman, 51 was spoken to at the address, however no arrests were made and enquiries are ongoing.

The Newcastle Knights are at 251/1 odds to win the 2017 premiership

Underdogs: Can the Knights do a Leicester and win next season’s premiership? Can the Newcastle Knights win the comp next season?
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One punter thinks so.

The TAB says a $1000 bet has been placed on the Knights to follow back-to-back wooden spoons with a premiership in 2017.

If the Knights pull off this miracle, the punter will collect $251,000.

This, of course, means the odds of the Knights being triumphant when the whistle blows on next year’s grand final are 251/1.

These are the longest odds among all the teams, followed by St George/Illawarra at 81/1.

North Queensland are favourites at $7.50/1, followed by Brisbane and Melbourne at 8/1.

“If you took the glass half-full approach with the Knights, the Sharks were wooden spooners in 2014 and, of course, went to the top this year,”TAB’s Glenn Munsie said.

“But this is a Knights’ side which won one game in 2016, so it would be up there with Leicester City winning the English Premier League should they manage to go all the way next season.”

We should also mention the Chicago Cubs, who won the World Series this year after 108 years of waiting.

Glenn said another TAB customer had last month placed a $400 bet on Newcastle to win the 2017 premiership and “stands to collect $100,400 should they pull off a sporting miracle”.

Here’s the full odds for next season:

Newcastle in 2017

$251 NRL winner

$15 Top four

$251 Minor Premiership

$1.90 Most losses

$7Final eight

2017 NRL Premiership

$7.50 North Qld

$8Brisbane

$8Melbourne

$9Canberra

$9Penrith

$11 Cronulla

$11 Warriors

$13 Roosters

$15 Manly

$17 Bulldogs

$17 Gold Coast

$17 Parramatta

$17 Souths

$26 Wests Tigers

$81 St George Illawarra

$251 Newcastle

We don’t condone irresponsible gambling. In fact, we think gambling is a mug’s game. But we do like odds. Odds are interesting.

Take this quote from Elon Musk, the man behindSpaceX and Tesla Motors: “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour”.

Day trippers drive the Hunter’s record year in tourism

SHIFTING SANDS: A Quad Bike King tour group explores the Stockton dunes in December. The Hunter’s record year in tourism has been driven by almost 6.7 million day trips, a 17 per cent increase. Picture: Marina Neil- Why Asia is in love with the Hunter
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THE Hunterhas enjoyed a record year oftourism, with a day tripper-drivenincreaseofmore thana million visitors whocollectively spent$2.3billion.

The total10.1 million visitors in the year to September was up by 1.25 million people, and tourism chiefs creditthe international pull ofthe Hunter Valley wine countryand Port Stephens, andthe newfound urban chicof Newcastle.

Tourism Hunter chairman Will Creedon said thesector’s boost of $120 millionwas a windfall for the near-six thousand businesses and28,000 workers who rely on the Hunter’s visitor economy.

The valley and Port Stephens bothhad three million visitors in twelve months.

Newcastle,long overlooked byholidaymakers, drew more than fourmillion.

There was a steady rise invisitors stayingin the Hunter overnight, both from Australia and thetraditional overseasmarkets ofBritain, New Zealand and the USA.

ButMr Creedon also pointed to the burgeoning number oftourists from China, India and South Korea who stayed in Sydney and visited the Hunter for the day.

“There were nearly 6.7 million day trips, which is a 17 per cent increase. It’s a big number,” Mr Creedon said.

“With the day trips you don’t know where they’ve come from, but our business is growing in Korea, China and India.”

BIG NUMBERS: Tourism Hunter chairman Will Creedon has lauded the Hunter’s record visitor numbers. Picture: Simone De Peak

The Hunter’s brand has been bolstered, Mr Creedon said, by itsassociation with events such as football’s2015 Asian Cup and next year’sV8 Supercars Championship race in Newcastle.

The V8 race has become a flashpoint for some residents of the city’s East End who are angryabout the looming disruption and what they say has beenalack of consultation by Newcastle City Council.

But Mr Creedon, a vocal supporter of the race, said the success of 2017 as “a building year” for the Hunter’s tourism will hinge on a receptive approachfrom locals.

“With respect to Novocastrians, I think a lot of people have a lot to say in Newcastle without knowing what they’re talking about,” he said.

“I think we need to play the long game.”

Records have also tumbledat Newcastle Airport, whichoverhauled its passenger recordin a calendar year by November, moving 1.21 million people.

“October was our biggest ever month at the airport, and since November last year we’ve been growing every month by around the sixper cent mark. That’s twice the growth rate compared with Sydney Domestic [airport]’s business,” the airport’s chief executive Peter Cock said.

“It shows the strength of the Hunter tourism product. Just over a year ago we opened our new terminal, so I think people are giving us a go.”

TAKING OFF: After a record year at Newcastle Airport, chief executive Peter Cock says the best way to attract international flights is for locals to keep using the airport’s domestic services. Jonathan Carroll

The airport hasopenlycourtedcarriers forinternational routes to New Zealand and South EastAsia, though Dr Cock declined to predictwhether2017 wouldbe the year overseas-bound flights began taking offfromWilliamtown.

He said the most effective wayfor locals to unlock international routes –with a trans-Tasman service the most likely starter –is to flyfrom Newcastle whenever possible onthepresent carriers Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, FlyPelican and Rex.

“What I can do is promise to try andnotleave any stone unturned,” Dr Cock said.

“We’re trying to get into that virtuous cycle where people are using their local airport and airlines are putting flights where the numbers are.”

Maitland’s home for the aged Benhome is in the middle of an $18 million redevelopment.

An $18 million revamp is underway at Maitland’s home for the aged Benhome.
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DIGGING DEEP: Benhome’s Director of Services Irene Gill, Site Manager Andre Bartley, and Benhome CEO Neil Sutherland. PICTURE: Jonathan Carroll.

Work started on the Regent Street site in April this year and is expected to be completed mid to late 2017.

Benhome CEO Neil Sutherland said the work involved the installation of on-site demountable buildings to accommodate a temporary kitchen, stores and staff amenities.

The new works will accommodate 45 additional residential aged care beds and an additional 14 replacement beds.On completion the new works will mean Benhome will be able to accommodate 121 permanent residents and close to 100 staff.

Mr Sutherland saidthe relocation of other services including physiotherapy, laundry, staff offices and maintenance department all needed to take place before half of the property was handed over to builderstodemolishbuildings that had become outdated for providing aged care.

He said the expansion will also incorporate a new function room and attached servery from the kitchen to seat 150 people. It will also have an operable wall for partitioning into two function areas including a chapel.

Builders will also work on anew main entry and reception area, new kitchen and laundry, new physiotherapy centre (gym), doctors’ consulting room, physiotherapy, dental and hairdressing clinics, a new men’s shed, emergency power generation room, maintenance department, additional 30 car parking spaces and two 23-person lifts.

Mr Sutherland said the expansion is a sign of the times withBenhome, like most other aged care facilities, experiencing lengthy waiting lists.“We do have a lengthy waiting list,” he said. “The disappointing aspect will be that for every place offered on completion, there will be three families for every place offered that will be disappointed.”

He said the expansion has meant many jobs during the construction phase and will result in additional positions being created in registered nursing, carers and hotel support service staff (catering, cleaning and kitchen), once the new buildings are commissioned.

Benhome is also hoping to significantly increase its home care services from February.