MORNING RUSH: news, sport, weather, traffic and online buzz

8.55am That's it for today's Morning Rush. We'll be back tomorrow to bring you all the latest news. Bye!

8.52am LOCAL NEWS Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama angels have already raised more than $25,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation during the annual Angels at Work fund-raiser.

8.48am MOVIE NEWS Sad to report the director of the hit documentary Searching for Sugar Man, Malik Bendjelloul, has died. Swedish police report he died late on Tuesday. HUFFINGTON POST

8.45am LOCAL NEWS Wollongong City Councillors voted against a motion calling for a temporary halt to the planned expansion of the Port Kembla port.

8.40am CELEB GOSS Ricky Gervais and Russell Crowe had a boozy night out over the weekend. Basically, they got hammered and started taking selfies. To be a fly on the wall...

8.33am LOCAL NEWS Thousands of senior school students turned out for the first day of the Illawarra Coal Regional Careers Expo on Tuesday, expecting to find some direction as they take their next steps into adulthood.

8.30am Coastal Yokel Blues, the long awaited debut album from popular local band Big Erle is set to be officially released on May 16 at the Heritage Hotel. 7pm. Tickets: $12 from

8.26am Beautiful morning at Wollongong harbour

8.22am CELEB GOSS Comedian Louis C.K has offered Late Night host Jimmy Fallon some parenting advice - don't do anything. Love it.

8.19am Sorry to be the one to break the bad news. New research has suggested the health benefits of chocolate and red wine have been greatly exaggerated. The antioxidant resveratrol, found in dark chocolate, red wine and berries, has no significant impact on lifespan, heart disease or cancer, say scientists. I'm going to choose to ignore this latest study. SMH

8.15am As a schoolgirl, Aileen Muscat was so ashamed of her vision impairment she used to bury her "coke-bottle glasses" in the dirt and pretend she had lost them. Mrs Muscat was one of 11 Vision Australia Wollongong volunteers who received their Years of Service pins at a morning tea in Balgownie on Tuesday during National Volunteers' Week.

8.10am TRAFFIC ALERT The earlier accident at Tempe has cleared and traffic is slowly getting back to normal. Expect some delays while the flow restarts.

8.07am BUDGET Curious about where your tax dollars will go in the new budget? Enter your income on this SMH link and the computer will tell you. 

8.04am May 14 is Chicken Dance Day, as well as receptionist's day. See if your receptionist will do the dance in celebration.

8am Welcome if you're just joining us. The sun is shining and it's almost 18 degrees in Wollongong.

7.57am Well this looks delicious. The Kiama Farmers' Market is on at Black Beach today from 3pm.

7.54am LOCAL SPORT Wests could be without as many as five players, including captain-coach Jason Ryles, for their round six match with Corrimal this weekend, while The Butchers could be without three in their game against Collegians after the Illawarra Coal League board cited a total of eight players in the aftermath of the spiteful clash at Gibson Park.

7.51am TRAFFIC ALERT If you're heading to the city, or to IKEA, this morning, a car has broken down on the Princes Highway at Tempe, near Holbeach Avenue. One northbound lane of traffic is closed, with heavy traffic conditions. Drivers should expect significant delays.

7.47am CELEB GOSS Alec Baldwin was arrested on Tuesday morning for riding his bicycle the wrong way on a Manhattan street and arguing with police officers who stopped him. SMH

7.43am  Calling all comic book fans! We have the perfect event for you! Comic Gong returns on May 17 and is again promoting local comic artists and comic culture in the Illawarra. The event is based at Wollongong Town Hall and features trade stalls, comic workshops, craft activities and more!

7.39am BUDGET Mercury reporter Kate McIlwain has provided an analysis on Tuesday's budget "The Abbott government's first budget - aiming to reduce debt and bring the country's finances back to surplus - was eerily similar to some of the first Fraser/Howard budgets in the late 1970s, one of which prompted the Illawarra Mercury to scream "Lies, Lies, Lies" on its front page." Read the full article here.

7.35am BUDGET ABC's Sarah Ferguson grilled Joe Hockey on Tuesday night's 7.30, moments after he delivered the budget speech. To say he looked a little stressed would be an understatement. SMH

7.31am May 14 birthday boys and girls share their day with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Star Wars' creator George Lucas and the luminous Cate Blanchett.

7.27am Another awesome animal story - a dog in Ohio saved his owner's life by calling 911! Okay, he didn't actually press the right numbers, but when Terry McGlade started having seizures, Major the Labrador retriever pit bull mix took the mobile out of his human's pocket and repeatedly pawed at the phone's screen, alerting concerned dispatchers who sent help. Good dog! HUFFINGTON POST

7.24am And is some more upbeat news, firies rescued an echidna from a car tyre at Unanderra on Tuesday after he wandered across the Princes Highway and tucked himself in the comfy wheel. Awww.

Picture supplied by Fire and Rescue NSW

Picture supplied by Fire and Rescue NSW

7.21am BUDGET Schools and public hospitals will be among the hardest hit over the next decade, with the federal government slashing $80 billion from the sectors, with Commonwealth spending earmarked for the states and territories is slashed due to the rejigging of indexation arrangements and the abandonment of guarantees for public hospital funding. SMH

7.17am TV NEWS The first pics of the upcoming Family Guy/The Simpson crossover ep have been released. But not everyone is happy - a lot of people are sayign it's a sign Homer, Marge and the fam need to wrap it up.

7.13am If you're after a sample of what to expect at the aforementioned comedy shows, reporter Josh  Butler spoke with comedian Marcus Ryan.

7.10am The 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Road Show comes to Wollongong this May. Comedians include; Tom Ballard, David Quirk, Bev Killick and Marcus Ryan. Venue: IPAC, Wollogngong. Times: Thu 15 May 6.30pm, Fri 16 May 8pm, Sat 17 May 6pm & 9pm. Tickets: $37-42, call the box office on (02) 4224 5999 or visit to book.

7.07am  WORLD NEWS Seventeen coal miners were killed on Tuesday in an explosion and fire at a mine in western Turkey which trapped more than 200 others inside. SMH

7.03am BUDGET The SMH's political editor gives his take on the budget and, more specifically, what it means for Tony Abbott "He's not looking for popularity but respect. His budget is a bold political bet that people will not punish him for breaking promises but reward him for being tough and responsible." Read the full piece here.

7am Good morning if you're just rolling out of bed! It's a mostly sunny day, the roads are looking good and there is good service on South Coast trains.

6.55am Dreaming of a Paris sojourn? It's not the only European city that will look good in your Instagram pics. Have a read of this list of lesser-known, but just as picturesque cities on the Continent. 

6.52am We’ve kicked off our Mercury Cartoon Competition! We want 15 - 25 year olds to produce their own cartoon or caricature that reflects a popular news topic or personality from an Illawarra Mercury news story during May for their chance to win some awesome prizes. PLUS the best entries will be printed in the Illawarra Mercury and exhibited at the Wollongong Art Gallery.

6.48am LOCAL NEWS A love of cigarettes and a penchant for speed have landed Dapto man Christian James Mackay in deep trouble with the law. Mackay, 27, confessed on Tuesday to his role in a series of traffic and fraud crimes stemming from two separate incidents in August last year and March this year. He will be sentenced on May 28.

6.44am This morning's cute animal is the best animal, the elephant. And he is frolicking on the beach!

6.40am MOVIE NEWS The next installment in the Harry Potter world has a release date - for the US anyway. And don't worry, it's not an unnecessary sequel, but an adaptation of the companion book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - remember the textbooks Harry and co had to read? It follows author Newt Scamander and is set 70 years before the events of the Harry Potter series. But we've got a while to wait - it should hit cinemas on November 18, 2016.

6.36am The Man From Coxs River screens at the Gala Cinema on Wednesday at 7.30pm. It tells the story of Luke Carlon, whose family has lived in the Burragorang Valley since the 1800s. 

The film has sold out multiple screenings in the Blue Mountains, and is now travelling the country with 40 screenings planned already.

6.32am WORLD NEWS One of the teenagers accused of the drive-by shooting murder of Australian baseballer Chris Lane has appeared in an Oklahoma court.

James Edwards Jr, who was 15 when Lane was shot in the back while jogging along a Duncan, Oklahoma, street last August, was scheduled to face a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

Edwards Jr's family was hoping a plea deal would be struck, with the first degree murder count dropped and replaced with an accessory count. THE AGE

6.28am NATIONAL NEWS Former Environment Minister Peter Garrett has taken responsibility for the Labor Government's failed insulation scheme but revealed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd refused to approve a change to the installation system just weeks before the first installer died. SMH

6.24am BUDGET In the mood for some more budget over brekkie? Here's Joe Hockey's full speech from Tuesday night.

6.20am BUDGET Social media went nuts last night with the #threewordbudget, with people expressing their thoughts on the Abbott government's plans quite succinctly. While there was some serious commentary, people mostly saw the funny side. Here's a few of that gave me the giggles

6.16am LOCAL SPORT Benji Marshall had his first training session with the Dragons on Tuesday, but he is unlikely to make his debut for the team against the Eels this weekend.

6.12am BUDGET Economist Ross Gittins has given his take on Tuesday's budget - "It's undoubtedly the toughest budget since John Howard's post-election budget in 1996, but it's hardly austerity economics." Read his full comment here.

6.09am Let's take a look at the national headlines, courtesy of the SMH

*An unprecedented $80 billion cut to health and education spending over the next decade leads a list of tough savings measures affecting age pensioners, seniors concession card holders, family  payments and people on the disability support pension in the Abbott government's first budget.

*On Tuesday, Rolf Harris' barrister painted a very different picture of the woman who on Monday claimed she was abused by Harris from the age of 13, until she ended the relationship at age 29.

Harris, 84, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecent assault. Seven of those charges related to the complainant currently in the witness stand.

*Surging energy prices have pushed electricity disconnections to record levels, with the planned increase in gas prices expected to undermine the longstanding cost advantage of gas over electricity, a forum was told on Tuesday.

6.06am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today

The Budget

*Illawarra residents will have to adjust to wide-ranging new taxes, medical levies and huge structural changes to pensions, unemployment benefits and the higher education system, after the Abbott government’s first budget was handed down on Tuesday night.

*Illawarra residents react to the decisions in the live blog the Mercury ran last night.

*The Budget's key points can be found here.

*In other news, an anonymous benefactor has given some freedom back to an Oak Flats mum left paralysed after the birth of her third child.

*Store employees and some customers have fallen victim to a spate of armed robberies across the Illawarra. In the latest robbery, staff at Woonona Liquorland were left shaken after being threatened with a knife on Monday night.

6.02am Let’s take a look at the roads and the skies

WEATHER A little warmer today, with top temps of 23 degrees around the region. There will be a few light winds, but it’s going to be a mostly sunny day. Right now its about 15 degrees - brrr!

TRAFFIC All clear between Nowra and Sydney at this early hour, with roadworks at the top of Mount Ousley and at Gerringong.

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast Line.

6am Good morning Illawarra and happy hump day! Your host Kate Walsh will be Rushing with you this Wednesday.