Immigration presses on with digital transformation

The Immigration Department is pressing on with a slate of digital transformations changing how people travel as other agencies struggle to adopt new technologies.
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As it grows less visible to travellers using Australian airports, the department is coupling its adoption of digital programs with efforts to transform its business, its technology boss says.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Chief Information Officer Randall Brugeaud told Canberra’s Trans-Tasman Business Circle briefing on Thursday that agency bosses were driving its digital uptake.

Digital disruption and innovation needed to be driven by the executive to succeed, Mr Brugeaud said.

“Technology has actually been discussed at our executive table,” he said.

The Immigration Department, growing between 4-6 per cent yearly across its business, was moving staff away from duties that could be automated at customs as 80 per cent of departing travellers over the Christmas period were processed using automation.

Mr Brugeaud said in some cases, the department would become “virtually invisible” to travellers and businesses not breaking the law.

Immigration is shifting towards digital technology, involving changes to infrastructure as well as web-site building, as other agencies grapple with IT wrecks.

Centrelink is embroiled in the “robo-debt” debacle, which uses an automated system to match information held by the agency and the Australian Taxation Office to calculate overpayments.

The ATO is scrambling desperately to save this year’s tax return program from the fall-out of its disastrous pre-Christmas online meltdown, abandoning much of its IT program for this year.

Immigration’s massive technological shift brought cultural changes, but not all staff had adapted.

“Culturally, it’s a real challenge to get people to behave in a different way,” Mr Brugeaud said.

Staff who had long carried out one function may have been asked to become “multidisciplinary”.

“That’s a pretty tough thing to deal with,” he said, adding it was “not for everybody”.

The department used “evangelists” for the new technologies to help staff adapt to changes, Mr Brugeaud said.

Other new technologies were being tested, including Citizenship Exemplar, an appointment booking service used for 30 per cent of reschedulings, and eBorderforce, allowing department staff to target their attention better in examining cargo.

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Gong is King for Dr Karl

Spanning Space & Time: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki with his new book The Doctor: Picture: Greg Ellis.When five-year-old Karl Kruszelnicki arrived in Wollongong in the early 1950s it was a very different place to what we know today.
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But if it hadn’t been for a fever he would have grown up in America. The man now affectionately known across the nation as Dr Karlmoved toAustralia when he was two. The first three years were spent in a migrant camp in Bonegilla, Victoria. His family then relocatedtoWollongong when he was five.

In The Loop – People of Wollongong segment – extended interviewDr Karl recently recalled for In The Loop’s People of Wollongong some of the early challenges he faced and reflected on the journey that started in a Wollongong library. He is now so highly regarded in the country that gave him and his family a new start that he has beendescribed asaNational Living Treasureby theNational Trust of Australia, was honoured as aMember of the Order of Australia and consistently ranks in the top 10 list ofthe most trusted people in Australia by Reader’s Digest.

There have been many accolades bestowed on the man who introduced us to many scientific facts on Quantum and has since regularly graced our television screens, radio, newspapers and magazines.

There is only one Dr Karl and sitting with the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow in his office at theSchool of Physics atUniversity of Sydney memories flowed as he recalled his years spent growing up in and being schooled in Wollongong.

He took us on a journey through time and space sitting near his40th bookas an author. It is appropriately called The Doctor.

The former Edmund Rice College student said his family migrated to Australia within two years of him being born because the future waslooking fairly bad in Europe.

“Russia was threatening to invade into Finland. My father had already spent time in a Russian concentration camp…before he escaped,” he said.

“We were going to be heading for the United States when I had a fever in response to a Smallpox vaccine. My parents panicked and the ship sailed away. The next ship was coming to Australia so we went on with our cardboard suitcases … and ended up in a refugee camp on the border of NSW and Victoria.”

Dr Karl described the early years in Wollongong “as a totally different time”.

“If you were a woman and had a job but got married you had to resign. A married woman was not allowed to have a job. If you were an Aboriginal/indigenous person you didn’t exist. You didn’t get counted on the census and you couldn’t vote. But the good thing about Wollongong was not just the beautiful climate and environment and lots of jobs available..butfor me the Wollongong Library.”

Dr Karl started reading Fairytales of the World and his constant thirst for knowledge began.“I then got into science fiction and funny stuff like that. And the librarians looked after me”.

Gong is King for Dr Karl Dr Karl at image campaign launch with Hargrave inspired box kites. Picture: Ken Robertson.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki revisits Edmund Rice College. Picture: Andy Zakeli

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki at a Wollongong Innovation Week community forum. Picture: Robert Peet.

TweetFacebookIn The Loop – Episode 16Dr Karl recalled watching the face of Mount Keira completely go up in flames in 15 minutes flat during the big bush-fireof 1968.He was standing on the campus ofwhat is now known as theUniversity of Wollongong. He said it had changed enormously since then.“It started off as a branch of the University of NSW and kept on growing. Now it has so many people doing world class work. I think it is a lovely university”.

Dr Karl said ProfessorGordon Wallace was one of about adozen researchersinWollongong recognised as world leaders in their fields. And they havea really nice environment to work in and live. After completing a Bachelor of Science majoring in Physics at UOW in 1968 Dr Karl’s first job as a physicist was at the Port Kembla Steelworks where he designed a machine that could be used to test steel.

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Catching growth express

TAKE OFF: Consolidated Land and Rail Australia chairman Nick Cleary addressed media about the high speed rail proposal last year. Photo supplied.High speed rail will be much more achievable in bite-size pieces, says federal Hume MP Angus Taylor.
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He has also reiterated his support forproponent, Consolidated Land and Rail Australia’s (CLARA) method of funding the infrastructure through value-capture.

In a wide ranging interview, Mr Taylor said it was important to think of high speed rail as a regional development opportunity.

He pointed out that the federal government’s annual $5 billion to $10bn expenditure on transport infrastructure had hardly increased formany years.

“The last time a study was done on high speed rail we were told it would cost almost $120 billion. So that’s 20 years of federal funding and it’sjust not possible,” Mr Taylor said.

“So we need alternative sources of funding and that’s why I welcome the work CLARA and (MP) John Alexander’s committee are doing. I also encourage them to break it into small pieces and treat it as a regional development opportunity rather thanone big project because it’s just too large.”

Mr Taylor said CLARA had shifted its thinking this directionin the past six months. However chairman Nick Cleary told The Post last year that the project would be completed in stages with Melbourne to Greater Shepparton, valued at $13bn, as the first phase.

GUNNING FOR GROWTH: Federal Hume MP Angus Taylor argues high speed rail and regional development must be viewed in the same context to make it happen.

Mr Alexander heads up the government’sinfrastructure, transport and cities committee. The group recently endorsed value capture, or a profit margin reaped by developers along the route, as a way of funding high speed rail.

Mr Taylor argued it was essential to recapture the mindset that transport and regional development were linked; it was the way road and rail werefunded in the past and it was the way of the future given budgetary pressures and bigger demands on infrastructure.

He has been charged with putting together an infrastructure financing unitwithin the Prime Minister’s Department, which would consider proposals from third parties, both private and government, to build and fund projects. This could be through private money or a combination of private and government funding.

“That means we have potential to increase the investment going into big projects, which is what we want to do,” Mr Taylor said.

“These majorprojects take time but it means we have alternative sources of funding rather than the traditional model which was never going to spread far enough. We encourage groups like CLARA to work up their proposals.”

CLARA earlier this year announced it would lodge an unsolicited proposal for high speed rail to the federal government.

The company hadalso secured “35 to 50 per cent” of the land needed for eight smart cities along the route, including one near Goulburn, Mr Cleary said.

Its location is still top secret but it’s believed to be north of the city.Mr Taylor rejected suggestions the cities, focused on high quality IT,renewable energy and livability, would compete with established regional cities.

“If you have great transport, you’re not competing,” he said.

“There is a great opportunity to strengthen regional cities at the moment. Goulburn is in a wonderful position, independent of high speed rail. What’s important is the need to see growth.

“It would be great to see high speed rail but how that plays out, we’re yet to see. I do know there’s no other way of funding it and it will only work if communities embrace it.”

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Major break for ‘menace’

A MENACE who led police on a dangerous pursuit, narrowly missing a pedestrian, has had his sentence slashed so he can be at the birth of his baby.
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Allen Simmons, 25, yesterday appealed the nine month minimum prison sentence he was given in the Magistrates’ Court earlier this year after pleading guilty to reckless conduct endangering serious injury.

The County Court heard Simmons performed a burnout in a built-up street in Mildura before he was involved in a prolonged high speed police chase.

Simmons narrowly missed hitting a pedestrian who had to jump out of the way of the car.

Police abandoned the chase for safety reasons before Simmons tried to convince two women to hide his car by offering them cash.

Simmons then made a false police report claiming his car had been stolen to avoid responsibility for the incident, the court heard.

At the time of the chase, Simmons was on bail after appealing a prison sentence for other traffic offences.

He yesterday withdrew that appeal.

The court heard Simmons had five previous court appearance for driving while disqualified and one for dangerous driving while pursued by police.

Defence counsel Gavan Tellefson asked for Simmons’ sentence be reduced so he could be there to support his partner who is due to give birth in August.

Judge Micheal Bourke said while the offence warranted prison time, a slightly shorter sentence was more appropriate.

“He might behave like an adult when he gets out,” he said.

“He’s an A-grade menace.”

Judge Bourke reduced Simmons’ sentenced from 18 months’ prison with a non parole period of nine months, to 12 months’ prison with a non parole period of six months.

Simmons’ licence was disqualified for three years.

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Brownlow traditions? So pass?? in AFLW land

Shall we call it the postmodern Brownlow? So progressive it doesn’t yet have a name.
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Much will be familiar at a dinner event on the Tuesday after the first AFL women’s grand final: a black-tie dress code, a vote count and a guest list of top footy players.

But much more promises to be different: the count will be a sprint not a marathon, women will be award winners, and traditional plus-ones will have a progressive face. AFLW footballers in same-sex relationships will see to that.

Wives and girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends, come on down.

The AFL hoped the first AFLW awards night would be telecast but, as of Thursday, that appeared unlikely.

Planning, however, is under way for red carpet arrival-style coverage on the broadcasters of the first women’s season – Channel Seven and Fox Sports – with Fox looking to set up its nightly AFL 360 show at the awards night venue.

Announced on the night will be the first AFLW All-Australian team, the season’s best young player – a NAB Rising Star who wins $20,000 – the competition’s top goalkicker, which Carlton’s Darcy Vescio looks to have sealed, mark of the season, goal of the season and the main event: the best and fairest player.

“We hope it will have a different feel. Fresh and exciting. Not your traditional sit down for three hours-type situation,” AFL executive Simon Lethlean, who has taken AFLW across to his new football operations post, told Fairfax Media on Thursday.

“It’s being finalised, but I think it will be pre-dinner drinks, into a formal hour or so sitting down for the count and awards, before getting out and having some fun. It won’t be like a Brownlow marathon.”

Traditionalists, fear not. The AFL CEO will still have the honour of reading a roll call of three-, two- and one-vote-winners, round by round, as awarded by AFLW umpires through the inaugural seven-week season before the grand final on week eight.

Whether Gillon McLachlan can imprint himself on this event like his predecessor did at the AFL Brownlow, through pronunciation of player surnames and deft use of dramatic pause, remains to be seen.

“The vote count will be done in an official manner,” Lethlean said. “But it will be pretty quick given 28 games is like doing three rounds of men’s footy.”

As it is for the men’s Brownlow, the guest list for the AFLW awards night will be exclusive.

Best performers from the 27-woman lists at the eight clubs will be hand-picked and invited with a partner. The fourteen Rising Star nominees will also be invited, along with mark and goal of the season contenders, club presidents, CEOs, AFL bosses and commissioners.

Brownlow night has traditionally been a Monday night affair that kicks off AFL grand final week. A media hit and magnet for glossy magazine snappers, the occasion has featured any number of bells and whistles, ranging from multicoloured entrance carpets to revolving wheels for outfit parading and a diamante-studded G-string feature on one particularly memorable gown.

The first gathering to award the as-yet-unnamed highest individual prize in the AFLW is on a Tuesday. After the grand final is won and done. Writing a fresh script already.

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Mick Gatto claims he was approached by Bombers official

Ex-Bomber’s ‘late-night threats’ part of blackmail probe
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Underworld figure Mick Gatto claims he was approached by a senior Essendon official to help “sort out” the supplements scandal in 2014, contradicting his other assertions that he reached out to the football club.

Footage has emerged of a one-on-one interview between The Footy Show presenter Sam Newman and Gatto at the Villa Romana restaurant in Lygon Street, Carlton, on Thursday.

In the exchange Gatto claimed he was approached by Essendon in an official capacity over the supplements saga, but refused to name who he spoke to, saying “it wouldn’t be professional for me to divulge that”.

“With this one I did get embroiled in it. I was approached,” Gatto said.

“They just wanted me to find out what was going on with it all and what I could find out and have a feel around.”

However, Gatto also told Newman he did approach Essendon at one point, and met with club officials, to try to negotiate a deal on behalf of biochemist Shane Charter to supply information about supplements.

Newman told The Footy Show that Charter wanted $800,000 in exchange for information he believes could prove supplements taken by Essendon players were not illegal.

“Shane came and seen [sic] me and he said ‘Mate, I have been hard done by here’,” Gatto said.

“And he said ‘I can prove without a shadow of a doubt that the supplement that they brought over here, the [Thymosin Beta 4], I can prove it wasn’t that. It was something else.

“He had compelling evidence that it was legal. He’d done a deal with some members of Essendon, or tried to do a deal.

“He wanted to be paid for it, for his hardship and what he’s been dragged through. They wouldn’t hand it over so they would pay lawyers millions of dollars instead.”

The encounter began with Newman describing Gatto as ubiquitous.

“Ubiquitous means you’re everywhere Mick. It’s extraordinary. You are omnipotent. All powerful,” he said.

“Mick you are Mr Fix It. How are you embroiled in this Essendon Saga?”

In a statement, Essendon chairman Lindsay Tanner said the club did not have any dealings with Gatto.

“As previously stated, Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell has had no dealings with Mick Gatto and kept the AFL Integrity Department informed at all times,” Tanner said.

“I am advised by my predecessor Paul Little that he was approached by Mick Gatto offering his assistance and this offer was declined.”

Former Essendon team services manager John Elliott has alleged, in a signed statement as part of a WorkSafe compensation claim, that he was asked by a senior club official to set up a meeting with Gatto, who has earned a reputation as a dispute resolution specialist.

But prominent Bombers supporter Mario Salvo, who facilitated a meeting between the club and controversial biochemist Shane Charter in 2014, rebuffed the claims.

“I’ve heard that; that’s total bullshit,” Mr Salvo, a builder and property developer, said on Thursday.

“The club never tried to [meet Gatto]. I’ve had dealings with Mick Gatto because I’m in construction and I’m a property developer and Mick acts as a mediator.

“His job, his career, his profession is as a mediator, so it wouldn’t surprise me that he approaches people that may require his services.

“What I’ve been told from very reliable sources is that he did approach a very senior member from the Essendon Football Club offering his services and those services were not required.

“I’ve been approached over the years in my career as a property developer on several occasions where Mick’s services have been offered to mediate a dispute with different parties, whether it’s a builder or a contractor, and he’s done a very good job in mediating.”

Mr Salvo didn’t know which senior Essendon figure Gatto might have approached at the time.

Former assistant coach and dual premiership player Dean Wallis is also pursuing compensation from the club, alleging he was made the scapegoat during the supplement saga.

“I have been scapegoated in relation to the supplement program, while others at the club have been covering up the use of cocaine, sexual harassment and fraudulent behaviour,” he said in a statement first published by News Corp.

In the statement, Essendon said the matter was the subject of a blackmail investigation by Victoria Police.

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Busselton star netballer enroute to Canberra

South West Academy of Sport netball players Elycce Webb, Riley Culnane, Shantelle Tassone and Jessica Repacholi are preparing to play for WA in an Under-17 team at the upcoming national netball championships in Canberra. Busselton’s Riley Culnane is currently preparing to fly the flag for WA at the national netball championships held in Canberra in April.
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The 15-year-old talented athlete impressed at selection trials to beat other aspiring netball players from around WA to earn a spot in the state Under-17 team.

Culnane said the process of narrowing thesquad to 12 players from a pool of 60 was long and tedious but she’s proud of her efforts.

“It’s been a huge step-up from what I’m used to playing in the Under-15 team,” she said.

“I’ll be playing against girls who I expect are going to be tough competition and I imagine it’s going to be a massive learning curve.

“The Under-17 girls are much stronger competition so we will just have to wait and see how we match up against the other state teams.”

Culnane, who also swims, plays basketball and soccer, said the love of sport runs in her family with her mum a former professional netball player and dad a former rugby player.

Playing for her local clubsince 2013, she said she quickly fell in love with the game and she’s met most of her best friends through netball.

Exhibiting passion and skill in defence, she loves playing in the position of goal keeper and trains three times a week in Perth in the lead up to the event in Canberra.

“It’s been a little bit of a balancing act juggling school with training but it’s all worth it in the end,” she said.

“On Wednesday, we have a gym session and on Friday and Saturday we’re on court for match and agility sessions.

“It’s a huge responsibility and honour to be able to play and represent at this level.

“I’d like to thank my mum who is also my personal coach and physio and my dad too who has always been there for me.”

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The Charlestown man who took down a bad guyPHOTOS, VIDEO

The Charlestown man who took down a bad guy | PHOTOS, VIDEO James Pheils tackles the alleged offender on a Charlestown road.
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The alleged offender approaches a car.

James Pheils runs towards the alleged offender on a Charlestown road.

Protection: James Pheils used aikido to stop an attack in Charlestown.

TweetFacebookA video of the alleged attack at Charlestown. Footage: KOFM.He used aikido (amartial art) during the incident, which happened last week.

James attends Newcastle Aikido, which has its dojo (martial arts studio) at Hamilton.

Aikido is a martial art that teaches harmony, discipline and energy control. Participants learn to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.

“I’m not just a guy coming off the street wanting to be a hero,” James, 38, of Charlestown said.

“It’s something you get trained to do.”

James, an ex-Army officer, said the decision to take out the alleged offender was a “calculated risk”.

“I had to explain this to my kids,” he said.

His kids said “I’m gonna be like you dad”.

“But you’ve got to have the training to do it,” he said.

“It’s a split-second decision. The guy could have had a weapon.”

The alleged offender was charged with common assault, assaulting police, affray, resisting arrest and using offensive language over several incidents that day.

This included alleged assaults on three people.

As for James, he learnt that doing an aikido flip onconcrete is much different than doing it on a mat.

“I’ve torn ligaments in my rib cage, bruised it and I might have cracked it,” he said.

He found aikido to be a rational form of defence.

“There’s so many other martial arts where you can destroy people, but that’s not going to help your cause,” he said.

“That gets you in more trouble than it’s worth. I wasn’t trying to kill this guy, just subdue him to stop him [allegedly] hurting other people.

“I didn’t need to run in and do a fly-kick and crack him over the head, I just needed to take him away from the problem.

“Aikido fits into that mindset really well.”

Negative Nelly Catherine Cusack sent an explosive nine-page email to the Premier.

Readers might remember that we wrote aboutCatherine Cusack in late January, after she replaced Scot MacDonaldas the Hunter’s new parliamentary secretary.

In our article, we noted that Catherine had said she wantedto end Novocastrian “negativity”.

We took issue with this. We asserted in a negative rantthat if people wanted to express themselves in a “negative” way, good luck to ‘em. After all, one person’s negativity is another person’s positivity. And who decides what’s negative?

Imagine our surprise when we read Herald journo Michael McGowan’s story on Friday about Catherine Cusackresigningas parliamentary secretary to the Hunter.

Catherine had sent an explosive emailto Premier Gladys Berejiklian, which was leaked to the media.

Michael reported that this wasa“nine-page email attack”, in which she took aim at Liberal MP Don Harwin, describing him as“dreadful”, “easily flustered” and being “wafer-thin skinned”.

Geez Catherine. That’s quite negative. Although we’re glad you got that off your chest. Better out than in, eh.

The only thing is, we were starting to like you. But now you’ve left us. Who will be ournew parliamentary secretary for the Hunter?Will Scot MacDonald make a comeback?

Jono Dean backs brother Blake on The Southpaw Project

Sport. Douglas Cup final at Kippax Oval between Weston Creek/Molonglo and Wests/UC. Weston Creek players, brothers Jono Dean, left and Blake Dean. March 22nd.The Canberra TimesPhotograph by Graham Tidy. Photo: Graham Tidy The Cricket ACT finals series is always an exciting time for Weston Creek Molonglo batsman Jono Dean, but this year there’s a bit of a hollow feeling.
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His brother Blake isn’t there alongside him.

Creek are “hurting” and looking to right the wrongs of last season’s Douglas Cup grand final defeat in a three-day semi-final against Ginninderra starting on Friday.

But they are without a former Cricket ACT player of the year with Blake Dean deciding to forego a year in first grade to experiment with “The Southpaw Project”.

Right-handed Blake Dean committed to playing the entire season as a left-hander, averaging over 30 in second grade with a top score of 85* from 58 balls.

The former Sydney Thunder all-rounder even cracked Creek’s first grade side as a left-hander for two games after working on his game since winter.

All the while his progress has been documented in The Southpaw Project, which is tracking the mental and physical change a player goes through to try and “make it” in cricket.

A 44-second Facebook video of him switching between left and right-handed in the nets has been viewed over 27,000 times.

The goal is to be able to take that skill – as well as bowling spin with both arms – and get back to the highest level.

Eventually Blake Dean wants to see players doing it regularly – his early success shows “anything is possible in cricket”.

There’s no doubt his input has been missed for Creek in first grade and the ACT Comets in the Futures League, but Jono Dean can’t wait to see how far his brother goes with it.

“I’m his brother, I’ve always supported him in whatever it is he wants to achieve and whatever he wants to do,” Jono Dean said.

“Initially I was quite disappointed because I wanted to have him playing cricket next to me, being not only my brother but being the class player and exciting player he is.

“He’s been a huge loss for us at club level and especially at the Comets level as well. I’m trying to back him in as best as I can as his brother.”

Adelaide Strikers batsman Jono Dean tested himself against his brother on a baseball field as they batted left and right-handed.

Jono felt “awkward” and says he “looked horrible and felt horrible” batting left-handed, but Blake looked at ease.

“I don’t think the comparison was about that, it was more about the fact that it was opening people’s eyes to Jono is a Big Bash player, he’s the best player in Canberra,” Blake Dean said.

“Then I’m trying to show something different. It’s not something that is easy that anyone can do. You’ve actually got to train hard for it.

“There’s not many players who get to play professional cricket, and it’s not like when you’re playing first grade or for the ACT Comets you’re looked after.

“I’m training this two times a week, imagine if I could do it five times a week.”

Meanwhile, minor premiers Tuggeranong host reigning champions Wests-UC at Chisholm Oval in the other semi-final.

CRICKET ACT DOUGLAS CUP

Semi-finals: Three-day matches beginning Friday – Weston Creek Molonglo v Ginninderra at Stirling Oval. Tuggeranong Valley v Wests-UC at Chisholm Oval. Games start at 11am.

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Jets players welcome Jones’ passion

JETS midfielder Steven Ugarkovic says Newcastle’s playersappreciate the controversial show of support that has earned their coach a one-game suspension.
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FOCUSED: Jets midfielder Steve Ugarkovic remains confident Newcastle can qualify for the A-League play-offs. Picture: Getty Images

Newcastle mentor Mark Jones was ejected from the McDonald Jones Stadium pitch and banned for their next game after being found guilty of using offensive, insulting or abusive languagetowards a match official during Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Brisbane.

He will not be able to have any contact with the team from two hours before kick-off in their clash with Melbourne City on Saturday week.

Ugarkovic said it was “always good to see the coach stick up for the players”.

“Obviously that’s what you look for in a leader, on and off the field, players, captains and coaches,’’ he said.

“It was good to see.’’

Assistant coach Clayton Zane will take the reins against Melbourne City and Ugarkovic felt Jones’ absence on game day would have minimal impact.

“Obviously it’s a loss, not having him in the changing room, but the coaching staff, everyone involved they send the same message, so I don’t think it will be a massive loss,’’ he said.

“We’ve just got to focus on what he tells us during the week and take that onto the field.’’

Ugarkovic, voted Newcastle’s player of the month for February, said the Jets were still confident of making the finals.

They are currently eighth, three points behind sixth-placed Western Sydney, with five games to go.

Asked how many games Newcastle would need to win to reach the play-offs, Ugarkovic replied: “It doesn’t really matter we need to win.

“We’ve just got to go out there and try to win every game. That will get us into the top.’’

AAP reports: Adelaide United midfielder Riley McGree says he was in disbelief when told of his inclusion in the Socceroos squad.

The 18-year-old was chosen in coach Ange Postecoglou’s 30-man squad for looming World Cup qualifiers after just 12 A-League appearances.

“I was lost for words. I didn’t know what to say,” McGree told reporters on Thursday.

“I didn’t really think it was true, to be honest.”

McGree started the season merely trying to get some meaningful A-League minutes.

But last-placed Adelaide United’s woes have gifted the versatile midfielder opportunities.

“Coming into the season, I thought that I would get maybe some minutes here and there,” he said.

“But due to some unfortunate circumstances of injuries and players leaving, I was thrown in at an earlier stage than I expected.”