Harry and Meghan thrill Sydney royal fans

Duchess of Sussex Meghan greets Daphne outside the Opera House in Sydney on October 16, 2018. Picture: pool Photo/ Dominic Lorrimer/ Fairfax MediaAfter hours of waiting, royal fans were finally able to meet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Sydney Opera House. And they weren’t left disappointed.

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Prince Harry and Meghan descended the stairs of the Opera House holding hands as thousands of fans erupted in delight.

The royal couple briefly parted ways to shake hands and warmly embrace some of those who had been waiting since early on Tuesday morning.

After Harry bent down for a young boy and waved to another group of girls they were left beaming and yelled out “we love you Harry”.

Meghan, whose pregnancy was announced on Monday night, wore a beige trench coat over a tight-fitting cream dress by Australian designer Karen Gee that revealed a barely-there baby bump.

Many fans who started lining up outside the Opera House at 7am were rewarded with a royal greeting, including 98-year-old war widow Daphne Dunne, who has met Harry twice before and asked him to introduce her to his new wife.

“Oh my goodness, is this Daphne?” Meghan asked.

“She’s said she had heard all about me, she’s so beautiful,” Mrs Dunne told AAP.

“I wished them well with the baby on the way and said this is what Harry has been waiting for for so long.”

NSW Central Coast woman Megan Jones lined up early in the hope of catching a glimpse of Harry and Meghan.

Ms Jones was nine-years-old when she met Harry’s mother Diana during her trip to Sydney in 1983.

“I went up to her and shook her hand … She had a beautiful energy about her,” Ms Jones told AAP outside the Opera House.

Ms Jones says she sees the same energy in Prince Harry and Meghan.

Craig Gill had been waiting at since 6am in eager anticipation to see the loved up couple.

Mr Gill, wearing a cap signed by Prince William, says the duke and duchess represent something new for the royals

“They’ve lifted the game and turned it around … they’re an exciting new thing to happen,” he told AAP.

The walkabout is the first opportunity for the public to interact with the couple – and to be the first to congratulate them after Kensington Palace announced Meghan’s pregnancy.

Australian fags were flapping furiously in the wind as people waved them in anticipation, brandishing signs with affectionate messages, one young girl declaring “Evie [?]s Harry” on her sign.

Evie Treacy, 6, and her seven-year-old sister Dempsey had stayed up until 1am making their brightly coloured banner.

They had been waiting for nearly five hours to hand the royal couple a teddy bear each as an early gift for their baby.

“We hope the baby turns out just as pretty,” Dempsey told AAP.

The duke and duchess were plied with gifts from well wishers which included koala teddy bears, flowers, T-shirts and CDs.

Patricia Handy and her six-year-old daughter Whata were also lucky enough to brush shoulders with the royals and were both screaming with joy after Meghan shook their hands.

“I can’t even remember what she said … I’m trembling from excitement,” Ms Handy told AAP.

“That’s what you call a real princess.”

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Small business tax cuts pass first hurdle

Fast-tracked company tax cuts for small and medium-sized businesses have passed the lower house, bringing the plan closer to reality.

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Draft laws enacting the Morrison government’s proposed tax relief measures are set for the Senate after clearing the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Companies with turnover under $50 million will receive a tax rate of 25 per cent five years earlier than initially planned under the proposal.

“We believe in the more than three million small and medium businesses in Australia, employing seven million workers,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said as he introduced the draft law.

“Reducing their taxes will allow them to invest, grow and hire more Australians.”

Such businesses will have their tax rate dropped to 26 per cent rate in 2020/21, then to 25 per cent the following year.

The legislation sailed through the lower house with Labor’s support, while independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Greens MP Adam Bandt attempted to delay the inevitable on Tuesday evening.

Labor treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said the opposition were happy to facilitate the change in tax policy.

“They (businesses) deserve the certainty to know these tax cuts are locked in,” he said.

However, Mr Bowen says the Morrison government had only shifted to tax cuts for small and medium businesses after its plan for relief for large companies suffered defeat in the Senate in August.

Greens MP Adam Bandt says the looming federal election has resulted in the tax cuts being rushed through parliament to avoid scrutiny.

Mr Bandt said other matters, such as the mental health of refugee children on Nauru, were more important than clearing the parliamentary schedule for business tax cuts.

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Tenders called for artificial reef installation off Blacksmiths Beach

Tenders have been called for the design and construction of an artificial reef off Blacksmiths Beach.

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The artificial reef, to be situated in about 28 metres of water, is designed to promote marine biodiversity off the Hunter’s coastline.

The type of artificial planned to be installed of Blacksmiths Beach.

“The site for Newcastle’s first artificial reef was selected after a detailed environmental assessment and stakeholder consultation process,” Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said.

“The offshore reef will be accessible from Newcastle, Swansea and Norah Head, and is designed to support a large variety of fish species – especially bottom-dwelling and pelagic fish species that are popular with recreational fishers.”

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Hunter site chosen for artificial reefSwansea ocean reef promised as part of Newcastle to WollongongThe Newcastle reef follows the installation of reefs offSydney’s South Head, Shoalhaven Heads, Port Macquarie and southern Sydney.

“On the state’s five other artificial reefs, Department of Primary Industries research monitoring has already identified over 50 different fish species on previously deployed offshore reefs including Yellowtail Kingfish, Bonito, Blue Mackerel, Snapper, Mulloway, Trevally and many more,” Mr MacDonald said.

“The Newcastle reef will offer new, high quality fishing opportunities for recreational fishers and is a great example of how the NSW Government is reinvesting fees from recreational fishing licences back into the community.”

The reef will use large steel “Pinnacle Reef” towers with a vertical profile up to 12 metres high to deflect currents and create upwellings, whilst also providing shelter for fish amongst the large base structure with its various shapes and crevasses

The reef is expected to be completed in 2019 and community stakeholders will be kept updated during the tender process.

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Lock Jones rejoins Super Rugby’s Rebels

Luke Jones played 72 games for the Melbourne Rebels in five Super Rugby seasons.Melbourne remain tight-lipped about securing Queensland Reds discard Quade Cooper but have formally announced that lock Luke Jones is returning to the Super Rugby club.

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Jones was granted an early release from French club Bordeaux last month to return to the Rebels, who he left in 2016, but the contract was only finalised this week.

While the lock/flanker won’t arrive at the Rebels until the start of 2019 on a two-year deal, he’s immediately eligible to play for the Wallabies.

Playmaker Cooper has been strongly linked to the Rebels after failing to play a Super Rugby game for the Reds this year, but Melbourne had no comment on his likely signing.

Jones was a foundation Melbourne player and spent five years with the club making 72 appearances.

He won three Test caps before his move to France.

With his eye on next year’s World Cup, the 27-year-old said he wanted to return to Australia and was impressed by the Rebels’ recent growth.

“Having observed the transformation of the club over the last year, it’s obvious the Rebels have taken massive steps forward on and off the field and I want to be a part of that,” Jones said in a statement.

“I wanted to find a world class rugby program that would help take my game to the next level and speaking with (coach) David Wessels and a few of my former teammates and looking at the quality of the list at the Rebels, it’s going to be a great challenge for me week to week to earn my spot.”

Jones’s return is timely after the departures of Lopeti Timani, Amanaki Mafi and Geoff Parling.

“Luke left Melbourne as a very good player and his game has developed further over in Europe,” Rebels general manager of rugby Nick Ryan said.

Meanwhile, the Rebels are set to lose their major sponsor Legacy Property and Investment Group.

The financially-troubled business is facing prospective strike-off action by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), which is set to cut short their two-year sponsorship.

Melbourne said it would not have any material impact on their own viability.

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Meet the men behind the headlines breaking the news as we know itBetoota Advocate Roadshow

ON THE ROAD: Betoota Advocate editors Errol Parker and Clancy Overell are coming to Newcastle. Picture: Nic WalkerFor an outback Queensland newspaper that prides itself on being “arguably Australia’s oldest”, The Betoota Advocate has a remarkably astute grasp of the modern media world.

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Overseen by editors Errol Parker and Clancy Overell, the publication’s 2014 transition to a digital format has appealed to an online audience tired of mainstream news. The pairare hitting the road to share theirstories and will stop off at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on November 13. Tickets are on sale now.

It was 9.20am when Weekender called and Overell was “just starting to tap into the news cycle for the day”. Kind of late for a daily publication with its finger allegedly on the pulse, but OK.

What do you say to critics who reckon the Advocate’s a bit of a joke?We just say, it depends where you get your news from nowadays.Most people recognise what we are. A lot of people enjoy tuning in to a more regional perspective.

Your emblem is a lyrebird. Is there any particular reason you have chosen this bird to represent The Betoota Advocate? It’s native to the shire. And it’s theBetoota Bitter logo …it’s one of those things, in Perth they bang on about the swan, and in Queenslandthey bang on about broncos.

Who covers your sporting news?Tracy Bandinger. She’s an ex-rugby league prop. Female sports journalists are great because when they’re writing, they can do so without having to bring their glory days into it. I find that so refreshing. Any ex-player turned reporter, there’s usually a bit of “what could have been”.

It also removes all-too-frequent references to “the boys”?Yes [laughs]. Fitzsimons eat your heart out. Actually we were talking the other day about how the Newcastle Herald broke maybe one of the greatest stories of the ’90s. It was when that American bloke came out and tricked theKnights into thinking he played for the NFL. Greg Smith is hisname, and he fooled everyone. They pushed him in over Timana Tahu to start with the Knights. It was pre-internet so you can’t look this stuff up, but it was a big sting by you guys.

A lot of your health stories are about alcohol and other drugs. Do your writers speak from experience?No, no, that is honestly by keeping our ears to the ground. Young people these daysdon’t really know what’s right or wrong. You’ve got to wonder about some of the people tagging their mates in those stories.

How has The Betoota Advocatemanaged to survive without a paywall?We’re trying to see how we go without. In this day and age media consumers need to be conditioned to pay for it.

Do you think you will ever win a Walkley Award?Well, wedidn’t know you had to nominate yourself for a Walkely. We spent 100 years wondering why we’d never got one. We did go in 2016 and they put us on the table with the cartoonists. Maybe one daythey will bump us up to a table with our peers, like you.

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