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Giant Hopper shirks suitors to sign two-year contract extension

Greater Western Sydney midfielder Jacob Hopper has signed a two-year contract extension, spurning the advances of rival clubs.
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Hopper will remain with the Giants at least until the end of 2019. He had attracted strong interest from several clubs, including Carlton and St Kilda.

The Giants continue to sweat over the signature of prime onballer Josh Kelly, who is weighing up massive offers from several clubs. This includes a nine-year, $10 million offer from North Melbourne.

Hopper, a product of the Giants academy who had played with North Ballarat in the TAC Cup, has played 20 matches in his first two years.

“I love the club and how they’ve embraced me and my family so it was an easy decision to recommit,” he said.

“This is my home and where I want to play football. I’m so excited for what’s to come with this group and I absolutely want to be a part of it.

“Heading into finals, there is a really good buzz around the place and we’re all excited for the challenge ahead.”

Hopper’s signature is a boost for the Giants ahead of their qualifying final against Adelaide on Thursday night.

Giants football-department chief Wayne Campbell said Hopper, pick No.7 in the 2015 national draft, was an important cog.

“Having Jacob extend his contract on the eve of the finals is a real boost for the club,” he said.

“He’s a great kid who has shown real leadership. He’s had some setbacks this season but we know it’s made him stronger and more resilient.

“We know what he’s capable of on the field and we are looking forward to seeing him go from strength to strength in the coming years.”

The Giants have a crucial selection to make this week, with struggling veteran Steve Johnson fighting to retain his spot in the side. Former Docker Matt de Boer, who has a modest finals record, could replace the three-time premiership Cat.

Derryn Hinch cleared of constitutional breach

Senator Derryn Hinch will not refer himself to the High Court over a citizenship question. Photo: Andrew MearesCrossbench senator Derryn Hinch will not be referred to the High Court after advice from constitutional lawyers confirmed he was validly elected.
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Senator Hinch attempted to refer himself to the court this week after concerns were raised he might be in breach of section 44 of the constitution, which would have rendered him the latest casualty of the citizenship fiasco engulfing Parliament.

According to the Victorian senator, Attorney-General George Brandis informed him he had been cleared of any breach by the government’s legal experts.

It was revealed this week that Senator Hinch held a social security card number in the United States from his time living in New York in the 1960s and 1970s. He is also eligible for a pension there.

On Saturday, he expressed relief and labelled the original revelations a “vindictive slur” from a “malevolent” person.

“I’m glad the government has accepted the same advice given to me this week by two august constitutional lawyers. I have never been entitled to the ‘rights and privileges’ of a foreign power,” Senator Hinch said in a statement.

“I offered to go to the High Court because, if I didn’t, critics would say ‘what are you hiding?’ It would have been a disgraceful waste of the High Court’s time and money – taxpayers’ and mine.”

The concern centred around whether the senator had fallen foul of the “entitlement” clause in section 44 of the constitution.

But his move to test his case before the High Court was dismissed by the government and opposition, who shared a view “that it was a waste of time”.

Senator Hinch has never held US citizenship and social security cards are issued as a matter of course without any citizenship benefits.

Seven MPs, including three Turnbull government ministers, have been found to be dual citizens. Five of the cases will face the High Court in October and the final two will be referred by the Parliament next week.

Lively Watson auction among first springtime sales

A competitive auction in Watson was among Canberra’s first springtime sales on Saturday.
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The season is traditionally real estate’s busiest and comes off the back of an extraordinary winter market marked by strong sales and high clearance rates.

A three-bedroom house at 67 Piddington Street in Watson drew a large crowd, including eight registered bidders, on the sunny Saturday morning.

The house was on the market for the first time in more than 50 years and sits on more than 1000 square metres of land backing nature reserve.

An opening bid of $820,000 blossomed as lively bidding pushed the price past $900,000.

An investor snapped up the property for $921,000.

The sale contributed to a Canberra-wide clearance rate of 66 per cent off 41 reported auctions, according to Domain Group data.

Selling agent Andrew Grenfell of LJ Hooker Dickson said prospective buyers were drawn to the block’s location. Related: Canberra’s spring property boom beginsRelated: Willemsen Kambah home sells at auctionRelated: Bruce townhouse lures buyers to auction

“It’s just a good, flat, big block for people who want to renovate or rebuild – there are a lot of opportunities there for people,” he said.

“Not a lot of houses backing the reserve come up for sale. This [belonged to] the original owners from the 1960s.”

Mr Grenfell said he’d noticed more inquiries coming through and more people inspecting homes as the weather warmed up.

“The market is definitely picking up,” he said.

“The sun has come out, the flowers are blooming. It’s definitely a good time for people to revamp their interest in property.”

Inside the Watson house. Photo: Supplied

Mr Grenfell said there were limited houses in Watson and the surrounding area for sale.

“There are a lot of people looking for renovators, things they can do up themselves and put their stamp on,” he said.

“There are more young families who are upsizing and are coming up to that time in their life where they’re looking for somewhere to stay long term.”

For a full list of Canberra’s Saturday auction results, click here.

Racing NSW bans the practice of leading horses from cars

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Racing NSW has banned the use of vehicles to lead horses in training at racetracks throughout the state, leaving smaller country trainers looking for different ways to get their horses fit.

It has long been an option for trainers, in some cases holding the reins out the window while driving, to get their horses fit, particularly when no rider was available.

James Hatch famously prepared Stoneyrise to win a Country Championships heat leading him off his car on his property at the back of Bourke.

He will be able to continue the practice on private property for now as Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said the ban was only on racecourses.

“We will not allow a practice that is so dangerous to participants, and the horse, to occur on racecourses in NSW. It is a welfare issue,” V’landys said. “It is just an accident that is waiting to happen and shouldn’t be a part of the industry in the 21st century.”

It is understood the NSW Trainers Association is compiling a list of more than 100 horses affected by the rule change as the outcry from bush trainers grows on social media. Upgrade finish at Albury

Albury Racing Club chief executive Mike Wighton is looking forward to finally getting back to consistent racing after more than year of track renovations at the border club.

The track has only held a handful of meetings in the past year as a $1.6 million upgrade took place and will hold its first meeting since Albury Cup day to coincide with the Everest and Caulfield Guineas meeting on October 14.

“We probably could have raced in September, but we just wanted to give the track time to consolidate in the growing period,” Wighton said. “We got the final section of the track finished after the cup meeting and we are using it for trackwork and jumpouts now.

“It has been a long period of work with the help of Racing NSW and the track is looking fantastic. It will be good to get back to racing regularly again.” Charman takes up as CEO

Tweed River Jockey Club secretary-manager Brian Charman will take over the chief executive of Country Racing in NSW.

Charman is set to take up his new role in October, but will be part of the annual country racing conference on September 29 before the country and provincial awards that night. Racing diary

Monday: Kempsey. Thursday: Ballina. Friday: Canberra, Tuncurry. Saturday: Armidale, Collarenebri, Griffith.

The ultimate racing form guide with free tips, live odds and alerts for all racing.

‘My mum’s in danger’: Little girl’s brave run to save her mother’s life

Four-year-old Georgia Ritter is the youngest person in NSW Ambulance’s 122 year history to receive the Commendation for Courage Community Award for her quick thinking to save her mum. Photo: Supplied”My mum’s in danger,” four-year-old Georgia Ritter told the triple-zero operator.
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She had just witnessed her mum’s quad bike flip over, leaving her seriously injured and trapped beneath the vehicle on the family’s 200-hectare cattle farm at Bundook, near Taree, in May this year.

So Georgia scaled a 75-degree slope to check on her mum and her injuries, and then ran for nearly a kilometre to reach their home.

This week, she became the youngest person in NSW Ambulance’s 122-year history to receive the Commendation for Courage Community Award and Drop Ribbon Medal.

“Acts of bravery come in all shapes and sizes and so to do the very people who perform them,” NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan said, as he presented the four-year-old with the award.

“Despite her distress, Georgia managed to remain calm enough to tell our Triple Zero call taker what had happened, where she was and her name, effectively ensuring an emergency response to the property.”

Taking the young girl’s call that day was Triple Zero operator “Matt”. After discovering Georgia’s age, Matt softened his approach and promised to remain on the line until the paramedics arrived.

In the call, which has been publicly released, Georgia tells him she is alone and it is “a long way” to get back to her mum.

In a bid to calm her nerves, Matts gets her to talk about her cat, named Tiger, and the cows on the farm, before asking her for details of the accident.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter member Graham Nickisson said Georgia continued to help the first responders with information as they arrived at the farm.

“Georgia’s ability to provide critical information to our helicopter crew, ground paramedics and the clinicians on board when we arrived was nothing short of amazing,” he said.

“Her clear instructions, information and maturity in handling what was a very difficult and challenging incident, all contributed to ensuring her mum received the urgent care she needed.”

Mum, Natalie Ritter, was “very proud” of her daughter as she received her award on Friday.

“We’re incredibly thankful for how things turned out that day and it’s wonderful to see her actions acknowledged in this way,” she said.