12 Dec 18

Collins hopes golden guitar success shines light on mental health

SHINING: Travis Collins was the star of the n Country Music Awards on Saturday, winning three golden guitars. Picture: Dan HimbrechtsTHE phone of Travis Collins’ manager Ken Outch has been running hot since his client cleaned up at the n Country Music Awards on Saturday night in Tamworth.
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The Cessnock musician won three of his six golden guitar nominations, includingmale artist, best song for Call Me Crazy and single of the year for Just Another Girl. It ended an astonishing run of 19 nominations without a victory.

“It was a huge thrill and just an honour to be held in the esteem from the industry that votes on it,” Collins said.

Winning song of the year with the ballad Call Me Crazy was particularly satisfying.

“I’m glad its win in that category has been able to shine a light,” he said. “I’ve also been able to talk to people like yourself [media] about suicide prevention and mental health in and I’m really happy that that song had already been a vehicle for it and has now been thrown into a spotlight and I get to spread that message a lot more.”

Collins plans to spend the next four months writing in the studio before he tourswith Amber Lawrence in June.

TROPHY SHORTSO close, but no cigar. Newcastle punk lads Trophy Eyes missed cracking their maiden Triple J Hottest 100 last Thursday by the slimmest of margins.

Lead single Chlorineoff their second albumChemical Miracle finished No. 101, falling just short of Birds Of Tokyo’sBrace. Chlorinewas the only Novocastrian single to crack the top 200, with The Gooch Palms’ Ask Me Why a surprise omission.

However, Newcastle drummerDom Borzestowski featured twice in the poll of2.24 million votes with his Sydney band Gang Of Youths claiming 50thand 146thfor Strange Disease and Native Tongues.

GOOD TIMES ROLLEVEN the ruling in 2012 that Men At Work’s anthem Down Under was plagiariseddoesn’t diminish itsenduring popularity. Newcastle’s Civic Theatre will no doubt be filled with that iconic flute riff on May 31 when Colin Hay performs at the venue for the Good Times Tour.

Joining the Men At Work frontman will be The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda Bull, Deborah Conway and Mental As Anything.

It is the fifth annual Good Times Tour, which last year broughtDaryl Braithwaite, Kate Ceberano, Jon Stevens and John Paul Young to the Civic Theatre. Tickets go on sale on Thursday for Ticketek members and on Monday to the general public.

WITH THE BOSSBRIAN Lizotte will live out the dream of millions of music fans when he shares the same stage asBruce Springsteen on the rock icon’s upcoming n tour.

The Lizotte’s owner has been invited to play trombone withhis brotherDiesel, when he supports Springsteen and The E Street Bandat The Boss’ Melbourne(Thursday), Hanging Rock (February 11) and Hope Estate (February 18) shows. The Newcastle Herald understands Lizotte was hesitant to wrest himself away from his duties at his Lambton theatre, but staff ensured him it was an opportunity not to be missed.

EMOTIONAL DAYEXPECTa few wet eyes on stage at Lizotte’s on Sunday when Tamworth’s Aleyce Simmonds launches her third album More Than Meets The Eye.

The album is candid about the issue of domestic violence, but the title track could well be the record’s most emotional moment. The track was co-written with Hunter Valley alt-country musician Tori Forsyth and the late Country Music Association of n Academy teacher Karl Brodie. Brodie died last April from pancreatic cancer aged 44.

Forsyth will support Simmonds on Sunday, alongside CMAA Academy graduate, Newcastle’sKate Pope.

PROLIFIC BLACKMOST of us would struggle writing a song once in our whole life, little alone one for every day of the year. However, that is the amazing feat completed by The Hard-Ons’ frontman Peter Blackin 2016. Black wrote, recorded and released 366 songs during the leap year through hisBandcamp account.

Black performed with the Hard-Ons at the inaugural Thrashville at Lower Belford two weeks ago and will return to the Hunter at the Grand Junction Hotel on February 23 to perform his solo material. Joining the Aussie punk legend on the road will be French-raised acoustic artist Forest Pooky.

The pair previously toured Europe together and recorded an EP.

LITTLE RELEASEMELBOURNE garage rockers The Pretty Littles are returning to the road in March to promote HelluvaTuesdi, the fourth single off their record Soft Rock For The Anxious.

The tour includes a March 18 support show with fellow Melbourne band Ceres at the Cambridge Hotel.


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12 Dec 18

Mayor calls on new Premier for round two of Hunter Infrastructure Investment Fund

A 20-year infrastructure plan for the Hunter could be back on the State’s agendawhen Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore calls on new Premier Gladys Berejiklian to resurrect theHunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund.
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Mayor Peter Blackmore.

Cr Blackmore wants to invite Ms Berejiklian to Maitland to discuss the possibility of extending the fund for a second round so the region can push ahead with projects that did not see the light of day during the first round.

Cr Blackmore chaired the board that was set up to advise the government on the best use of the $350 million fund that was announced in 2010 as a key plank of the Coalition’s subsequently successful election campaign.

Another $100 million was added to the fund in 2014 and almost $400 million has been spent or allocated to projects selected by the infrastructure fund board.

It was set up to guide 20 years of infrastructure development, including transport, education, water and health, support economic growth and enhancethe liveability of the region.

The government quietly abolished the Hunter-based board late last year.

Cr Blackmore told Fairfax Media this week that he wantsto invite the Premier to Maitland to discuss a number of issues, most importantly the fund.

“I want to see what plans the government has for the Hunter and call for a second round,” the mayor said.“The previous round was a huge success and there were other areas in NSW pounding the pavementasking ‘why can’t we get this’.Each project submitted for consideration is based on its merits and there are serious guidelines.”

Projects to come out of the fund include$20million for wine region roads, $44million fora New England Highway upgrade at Maitland, $4million forThomas Mitchell Drive at Muswellbrook, an $11million Newcastle Airport expansion, $5million forKurri and Cessnock hospitals, $25million for John Hunter Children’s Hospital and$25million for the University of Newcastle.


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12 Dec 18

Price hits right note in Adele tribute

INSPIRED: Naomi Price said the ordinariness of Adele makes her a compelling character to perform on stage. Picture: Dylan EvansNAOMI Price was just like millions of women around the world when she was first touched by the music of Adele.
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Heart-broken and looking for something to cling to, Adele’s second album 21 in 2011 provided the remedy the Brisbane stage performer sought.

“Her album 21 came out when I was going through a really bad break up,” Price said.“Initially, I identified with all those songs about heart break and everyone has got a memory of hearing her songs for the first time, and for me, it was the soundtrack to this really difficult part of my life. I connected initially on a more emotional level, especially her more painful ballads.”

Price wasn’t alone. Adele’s hits like Rolling In The Deep and Someone Like You made21a global smash. In an era where record sales are continually plummeting, the album sold 35 million copies worldwide to be the highest-sellerof2011 and 2012.

On October 12, 2012 Adele gave birth to her son, the same night Price debuted her Rumour Has It tribute show.

”It was perfect timing in that she disappeared from the public eye and we were able to create this show and satisfy people’s desire to see her songs performed live,” Price said.

Unlike most tribute acts, Adele is at the height of her fame and creativity and is touring for the first time next month. Therefore English-born Price, who has previously starred in Jesus Christ Superstar and Wrecking Ball about Miley Cyrus, has attempted to articulate Adele the performer and the person to audiences.

“The other thing that drew me is her speaking voice and who she is in every day life,” she said.“She’s the kind of girl you would want over for dinner because she’s an absolute laugh.

“She sings like a goddess then talks like a chimney sweep. It’s a really nice contradiction and as an actor that’s awesome to play, as you can sing these incredible songs and then start swearing and being bit of a dickhead, and people just love you for it.”

Rumour Has It –Adele plays at Wests New Lambton on February 10.


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14 Aug 19

Victory in fight to save Weston Fire Station

DON’T CLOSE IT DOWN: About 30 residents gathered earlier this month to show their support for keeping Weston Fire Station open. Picture: Krystal SellarsThe community has won its campaign to keep WestonFire Station open.
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A Fire and Rescue NSW spokesman has confirmed that the on-call firefighters posted at Weston will remain in the town, despite and earlier decision to close the station.

The news is a big win for the local community,which is in the midst of a horrendous fire season.

On January 11, Fire and Rescue NSW announcedplans to close Weston Fire Station once the new station at Abermain is fully-operational.

The move garnered community outrage and a campaign was launched to save the station.

It seems people power won out in the end with Fire and Rescue NSW overturning its decision.

Cessnock MP Clayton Barr welcomedFire and Rescue NSW’sdecision to reconsider the station’s future, sayingwas“a victory for the little guy”.

Mr Barr said the appointment of Nationals MP Troy Grant as emergency services minister,the community campaign to save the station and the media coverage of the station’s plight could have been the reason for the last-minutechange of heart.

The fire fighters at Abermain will still move into the new premises, opening on February 7 or 8.

“As always we will continue to review services in the area,” a F&RNSW spokesman said.

SAVED: Weston fire station will remain open Firefighters in Northcote Street, Kurri Kurri. Picture: Simone De Peak

Bowden St, Heddon Greta Picture: Victoria Darcy

Bowden St, Heddon Greta Picture: Victoria Darcy

Bowden St, Heddon Greta Picture: Victoria Darcy

Bowden St, Heddon Greta Picture: Victoria Darcy

Bowden St, Heddon Greta Picture: Victoria Darcy

Bowden St, Heddon Greta Picture: Victoria Darcy

Bowden St, Heddon Greta Picture: Victoria Darcy

Residents in Aberdare Street looking at the Kurri Kurri fire’s thick black smoke. Picture: Simone De Peak

Residents in Aberdare Street looking at the Kurri Kurri fire’s thick black smoke. Picture: Simone De Peak

@newietraveller/Twitter

Picture: Joshua Grace

Picture: Jessie Townsend

Picture: Jessie Townsend

Fire crews near Railway Road at Kurri Kurri. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Picture: Sky Insley

Picture: Theresa Oldano

Heddon Greta. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Heddon Greta. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Heddon Greta. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Brett Keeble

Picture: Brett Keeble

Picture: Brett Keeble

Picture: Brett Keeble

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Michael John Fisher

Picture: Des Stone

Picture: Jenny Naidu

Picture: Des Stone

Picture: Jenny Naidu

Picture: Jenny Naidu

Picture: Jenny Naidu

Krystal Sellars

Picture: Lachlan Bromage

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SMOKE: The view from Lang Street, Kurri Kurri around 2.15pm Wednesday. Picture: Amy Cagney

The fire from the Hunter Expressway. Picture: Morgan Ross

Picture: Morgan Ross

Picture: Morgan Ross

Picture: Morgan Ross

Picture: Morgan Ross

Picture: Morgan Ross

Picture: Morgan Ross

Picture: Morgan Ross

Picture: Morgan Ross

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Picture: Brett Keeble

Heddon Greta. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Picture: Theresa Oldano

Picture: Peter Houston

Fire crews near Railway Road at Kurri Kurri. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Fire crews near Railway Road at Kurri Kurri. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Fire crews near Railway Road at Kurri Kurri. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Fire crews near Railway Road at Kurri Kurri. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Stanford Merthyr. Picture: Simone De Peak

Residents in Aberdare Street looking at the Kurri Kurri fire’s thick black smoke. Picture: Simone De Peak

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14 Aug 19

Myanmar: Muslim lawyer Ko Ni’s airport assassination ‘a terrorist act’

The killing of a prominent Muslim lawyer and long-time adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi was a political assassination and terrorist act aimed at undermining the country’s stability, according to Myanmar’s government.
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Ko Ni, 65, a veteran of the country’s decades-long pro-democracy struggle, was shot twice in the head outside Yangon International Airport as he cradled his grandson on Sunday evening.

Tens of thousands of distraught relatives, friends, politicians, activists and others attended his funeral in Yangon on Monday as the United Nations condemned the killing and called for an impartial investigation.

Ko Ni’s assassination has heightened communal and religious tensions in the Buddhist-majority country where the military is waging several wars against ethnic groups in border areas and conducting a brutal crackdown on Rohingyas in western Rakhine state, after deadly attacks on police border posts last October.

“There is a serious risk that in a context of strong anti-Muslim sentiment in the country, rampant hate speech on social media and virulent Buddhist nationalism propounded by some senior Buddhist monks, this crime could embolden others and unleash further violence,” the International Crisis Group warned.

Ko Ni was a widely respected expert in constitutional law and a powerful voice in the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) against the country’s military, which still dominates key security and other institutions, despite the NLD being swept into office after a landslide victory at elections in late 2015.

Ko Ni was also a strong advocate for the rights of the country’s Muslim minority. Friends and relatives said he had had received death threats from Buddhist nationalist groups.

Bertil Lintner, a Myanmar expert, said the ambush after Ko Ni’s return from a government-led trip to Indonesia indicates that a 53-year-old gunman who was apprehended after being chased by scores of airport taxi drivers appeared to be part of a plot.

He said whoever was behind the killing knew the arrival time of Ko Ni’s flight, pointing to a high degree of organisation.

Yin Ngwe Khine, who went to the airport to greet her father, told reporters he always said that someone had to stand up for the truth.

“My father was talking to his grandson. Then I heard a gunshot. At first I thought it was a car tyre blowing out, then I saw my father lying on the ground,” she said.

Taxi driver Nay Win, 42, was killed as he attempted to apprehend the gunman.

The NLD described the killing as a terrorist act aimed at its policies.

Yanghee Lee, the UN’s special rapporteur for Myanmar, said the killing was another shocking example of reprisal against those speaking out about the rights of others, pointing out that after a recent visit to the country she issued a statement highlighting her concern at the increasing risks faced by human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and others working on sensitive issues.


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14 Aug 19

Dr Who: Peter Capaldi to play Doctor no more from end of this year

Peter Capaldi is stepping down as The Doctor. Alex Kingston as River Song and Peter Capaldi as the Doctor in the 2015 Christmas Special. Photo: Simon Ridgway
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Peter Capaldi as The Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara in Doctor Who. Photo: Supplied

Mr Who: BBC producer and writer Steven Moffat also finishes his time with the Dr Who franchise.

Peter Capaldi is stepping out of the Whoniverse.

The Scottish actor, who has played the title role in the iconic sci-fi series Doctor Who since 2013, revealed on BBC Radio 2 on Monday night (UK time) that he will finish in the role at the end of the current series, his third.

In the surprise announcement, Capaldi told BBC’s Jo Whiley that it was a difficult decision to make.

“I feel sad, I love Doctor Who, it’s a fantastic program to work on and it has been a huge pleasure to work with a family,” he said.

“I feel it’s time for me to move on to different challenges.”

Capaldi made his first appearance in the role in the 50th anniversary special Day of the Doctor. He then took over the role when the character regenerated from Matt Smith’s interpretation to his in the 2013 Christmas Special.

Capaldi’s performance as The Doctor has been described as “wise and thoughtful” by The Guardian, with Radio Times saying “Peter Capaldi’s one-man show is an instant classic”.

The tenth season of the rebooted series, which begins airing in April, will mark Capaldi’s final . The yet-to-be-shot Christmas Special will be his final episode and will feature the regeneration of the character as the new doctor. A replacement is yet to be named.

“It’s sad (to pass it on to someone else), but what a privilege to have done this,” he said. “But like everything, you have to be aware when it’s time to move on.”

Capaldi revealed that his contract was coming to an end and he decided not to renew despite producers urging him to stay on. “I didn’t know how much longer I could do it and give it my best,” he said.

The upcoming season also marks the final season of Doctor Who for showrunner Steven Moffat

Moffat has helmed six seasons of the show and will hand over to Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall.

Dr Who screens on ABC in and Capaldi’s final season will be fastracked.


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14 Aug 19

Qantas safety video 2017: New video doubles as tourism ad, says Alan Joyce

Qantas’ new safety video features catwalk models in oxygen masks.Qantas has continued its shift to more relatable in-flight safety videos, using everyday ns in stunning locations for its latest on-board safety video launched over the weekend in the US.
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The three-minute video, featuring non-actors such as a fashion designer at Docklands, Victoria, a doctor in Mount Ainslie, ACT and Indigenous dancers in Cape Banks, NSW, was unveiled at the Loews hotel in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

The previous video, released one year ago, also had non-actors in 16 locations across the country, creating a showcase of amazing places to visit.

Before that, Qantas had used Hollywood legend and airline ambassador John Travolta and sports stars to help impart the safety message.

The national airline carrier admitted it was trying to find smart ways to reach new audiences. It’s something that has proven extremely effective for trans-Tasman rival Air New Zealand – the Kiwi carrier’s humorous safety videos featuring a range of celebrities have been viewed tens of millions of times online.

As the biggest private investor in n tourism promotion, Qantas is hoping the video will prove as popular as its predecessor, which has accrued 90 million views across social media platforms.

Qantas chief Alan Joyce said the goal was to “make the safety video engaging as well as informative”.

“We know the combination of beautiful landscapes and laidback Aussie charm really cuts through. It’s also why this video doubles as a perfect tourism ad.”

Other people and places featured include an apple grower from Hobart, a caravan park cleaner from Cape Hillsborough, Queensland, a winery experience from the Barossa Valley, SA and a window washer from the Gold Coast.

There are 60 versions to accommodate 11 languages and the varying aircraft types across the Qantas group fleet.

The video will screen across domestic and international flights from February 1.

See also: Do funny airline safety videos actually work?

Meanwhile, Qantas also opened a new A380 superjumbo maintenance hangar at Los Angeles International airport, promising a more efficient and reliable service for passengers.

Joyce unveiled the $50 million, 5.7 hectare facility, explaining the benefits of being able to conduct maintenance on four A380 aircraft simultaneously.

“This facility offers a huge improvement on what we had before. The maintenance is 20 per cent more efficient. So it means our aircraft are more reliable and our schedules are more on time and that’s great for our customers.”

Features of the new hangar include two aircraft parking pads with walkways direct to the workshop, a larger spare parts facility and electric vehicle charging stations.

The previous hangar was built in 1958:  “On the last day of operation of the hangar, the light fitting fell down,” Mr Joyce said. “So it was ready to retire.”

Qantas also has plans to lease the only purpose-built A380 facility in North America, subject to availability, to other airlines that may want to share the space or have Qantas engineers do the work for them. Deals could generate millions of dollars for the national carrier.

Qantas operates more than 40 return flights a week from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles using A380s and B747s. Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner services on the Melbourne-LA route begin December this year.

The writer travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Qantas.

See also: to US flights guide: The best and fastest airlines and routes

See also: Qantas to fly new 787 Dreamliners on LA direct route  


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14 Aug 19

Cycling trail a million-dollar ‘saviour’ for Monaro

A local group is now pushing for the old railroad to be turned into a bike trail. Photo: Facebook/MonaroRailTrail Will Jardine of Nimmitabel says turning the disused rail line running 150km from Queanbeyan to Bombala into a bike trail would be the saviour of regional towns on the Monaro. Photo: Ben Smyth
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A project predicted to inject $15 million a year into several rural communities on the Monaro is attempting to get on track.

A small committee has been operating for around 18 months looking at the potential of turning the disused and decrepit rail line between Queanbeyan and Bombala into a bike track.

The 150km long rail line was once used for both passengers and freight from Monaro villages and townships including Bombala and Nimmitabel. It carried wool, cattle and sheep through to Sydney processors.

However, it has not been in use since the mid-1980s – the line between Bombala and Cooma for even longer.

Small business owner Will Jardine of Nimmitabel said a bike trail along the route would be “the saviour of this region”.

Mr Jardine, along with other members of the committee, have been trying to drum up government support for a feasibility study into the idea. He said prior to amalgamation, then-mayor Bob Stewart and the Bombala Council were all for the idea.

However, since the merger, Mr Jardine said he had hit nothing but brick walls at both local and state government level. Funding is needed, but there also needs to be active state legislation passed to officially turn it into a disused rail line.

“A bunch of us could see the benefits in using existing but unused infrastructure and turning it into a revenue stream [for these small towns],” Mr Jardine said.

“State government wants to ‘preserve the rail corridor’ – well that’s what we’re doing. The corridor remains, it’s not an either/or position.

“The current state government’s policies have been lock-out laws, council amalgamations and the greyhound bans. None of those – which were all negatives – had feasibilty studies done,” he said.

“Now we’re trying to add something to our community. We’re not going forwards – and if you aren’t, you’re going backwards.”

He said it was estimated around 15,000 riders travelled the 150km route a year. Given they could potentially spend around $200 a day at each of the five towns the railway line passes through (on food, drink and accommodation etc), he said the conservative estimate was for $15 million annually brought into the local economies of Michelago, Bredbo, Cooma, Nimmitabel and Bombala.

The numbers aren’t plucked out of thin air, they are based – just as the bike rail trail is based – on an almost identical track in Otago, New Zealand.

In fact, Mr Jardine said he had heard from some locals who had ridden the Otago trail and thought the Monaro version had the potential to be even better.

The aim is to seek around $50,000 to conduct a feasibility study into the idea, but negotiations need to take place with both local and state governments as well as the ACT government, which Mr Jardine said has proven troublesome. Benefits aplenty for bike trail

Mr Jardine is himself an avid cyclist. He enjoys racing and takes part in Gran Fondos, long-distance chip-timed rides.

He said he also rides his mountain bike around 20km every second day, mainly for health and fitness.

“When you own a bakery, you need all the exercise you can get,” he said with a laugh.

Mr Jardine said benefits of the Queanbeyan to Bombala bike trail would include the obvious health and fitness factors, but would also be a safer option taking cyclists off the main trucking freight corridor to Canberra. It could also piggyback off the recent international status of Canberra Airport.

He said the Otago bike trail reports 40 per cent of its riders are international visitors and 15 per cent ns.

Mr Jardine said some landholders do have concerns of the potential use of the rail lines through properties along the Monaro, “but most are alleviated by existing rail trails proving they can co-exist”. The current committee president is even a local landholder.

Mr Jardine said the group had already received plenty of support out of Canberra and its cycling community.

To find out more about the proposal, find the Friends of Monaro Rail Trail page on Facebook.

Bombala Times


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13 Jul 19

Aussie entrepreneurs hit by Trump travel ban

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has spoken out against Trump’s immigration policy. Photo: Trevor CollensThe impact of US President Donald Trump’s travel ban is already being felt by n entrepreneurs and small business owners.
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Trump took to Twitter today to proclaim his support for small business, tweeting “The American dream is back. We’re going to create an environment for small business like we haven’t had in many, many decades!” The American dream is back. We’re going to create an environment for small business like we haven’t had in many, many decades! pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/ZuJNaN6z8b— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2017

However the travel ban raises difficult questions for n small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a deal with the White House on Tuesday enabling n dual-citizens to continue to travel to the United States but Council of Small Business chief Peter Strong says small businesses with employees who need to travel to the United States will still be hit by the ban.

“If I’m hiring someone today and I need them to go to America tomorrow what do you do?,” Strong says.

He says small businesses are not allowed to enquire about race and religion when hiring employees however under the Trump ban this may impact the ability of employees to work in the United States.

“I’d like the Human Rights Commissioner to provide some guidance about that,” Strong says. “The government needs to brief industry. Big business will be ok but what do small businesses do?”

Entrepreneur group TechSydney says a number of members have been impacted by the Trump ruling.

HotelsCombined chief executive Hichame Assi has been in since 2008 and is a British-Syrian dual national but is concerned about the impact of the ban.

Prior to the Prime Minister’s deal with the White House Assi was told he was not allowed to go to the US for the next 90 days, even though he has a valid visa in his British passport.

“These developments in the US are not only disruptive to our business and our people, they’re very troubling and are creating more tensions at a time when empathy is required,” Assi says

Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of Atlassian, is also concerned at the ban.

“At Atlassian, our core values are built on openness and inclusion,” he says. “We believe in creating equal opportunity and access for everyone and I stand against any action that does not support these. I am shocked and saddened by the impact these restrictions could have on, not only Atlassian employees and their families, but all citizens whose dignity is being trampled.”

Follow MySmallBusiness on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. 


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13 Jul 19

Daily World Dispatch – A state of confusion in the US and the world

What is this all about? An Iranian missile, similar to the type used in the test. Photo: Fars NewsThe Trump immigration ban saga continues today with the British public flocking to sign a petition against the controversial president’s visit.
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In less than 24 hours almost a million and a half people have signed an official petition to the government saying Mr Trump “should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen”, writes Europecorrespondent Nick Miller.

Miller also reports on Myron Ebell, the man who led the Trump team’s environmental action plan, who said the environmental movement is “the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world”.

Ebell said the United States was about to change course on climate policy, including withdrawal from the Paris agreement.

Such a dramatic break from previous policy is sure to raise eyebrows in the US, where resistance to Trump’s legal moves on refugees from Muslim countries could be seen on a few fronts.

Alluding to the widespread demonstrations taking place in major airports and cities in response to the new immigration policy, Mr Obama’s spokesman said Mr Obama was “heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country.”

Crucially, the acting US attorney general Sally Yates has said the US Justice Department would not defend the ban.

The situation has created uncertainly in Indonesia, as well, for Hazara refugees who are waiting to be resettled in the US, writes Indonesia correspondent Jewel Topsfield.

“Friday I could not sleep,” said one. “I did not even tell my family these things were happening because I wanted to see them happy. Only me knew this news.”

In yet another sign that what we thought was settled last year may in fact not be: the US has accused Iran has tested a ballistic missile.

The act raises the question about whether Iran is in violation of the nuclear deal hammered out in 2015.

“It was not immediately clear whether the test launch violates a United Nations Security Council resolution,” the story says.

Which is all to say the world is in a moment of dramatic flux.

But the confusion evident these days isn’t limited to Trump assuming the presidency or Iran’s missile tests.

Russia’s skilful use of propaganda on social media has helped sow disorder through Western democracies, as Foreign Editor Chris Zappone reported.

“This propaganda skews toward extremes, seeking to corrode the broad middle area of agreement needed for the functioning of liberal democracies, wherever they are found.”

On a day like today, it looks like such spin has been effective.

Keep reading Fairfax Foreign for all the latest stories and insights into what they mean.


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13 Jul 19

Second patient contracts rare infection Mycobacterium Chimaera from open heart surgery at Prince of Wales hospital

Two NSW patients have contracted M Chimaera from a contaminated heater-cooler unit during open heart surgery. Photo: suppliedA second patient has contracted a rare infection after being exposed to contaminated equipment during open heart surgery at a major Sydney hospital
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The patients both contracted Mycobacterium chimaera (M. Chimaera) from a surgical heater-cooler units at Prince of Wales Hospital.

The particular brand of units, manufactured overseas by Sorin, have linked to over 70 cases of the infection internationally.

NSW Health issued several alerts – the first in August – advising open heart surgery patients to see their doctor if they had undergone the procedure in the past five years.

The second NSW case is a man in his 40s. A woman in her 80s also contracted the infection, NSW Health said. The woman is now recovering. There is no risk of affected patients passing on the infection to their families, friends or the general public.

Prince of Wales Hospital is one of four public hospitals that use the heater-cooler units.

The contaminated equipment was removed from Prince of Wales and St George Hospitals, as well as Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead as a precaution in August when NSW Health learnt of the risk from international authorities.

The units were also used in a number of private NSW hospitals and hospitals in other states and territories, including Queensland where the first M. Chimaera case in was detected.

The units, which control the temperature of the blood during the procedure, transmit the infection to the formerly sterile surgical area and the heart’s new implanted valve and graft. Investigators suspect the units were contaminated during their manufacture.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said NSW Health was watching for further cases at the Prince of Wales Hospital, after international clusters of M. Chimaera infection suggested that there was an increased risk to other heart surgery patients at facilities where an M. Chimaera case had been detected.

A total of 70 confirmed cases worldwide have been identified in patients who had  undergone open heart surgery in which the contaminated equipment was used. The infections were identified between three months and five years after surgery.

The first case was in detected in Switzerland in 2012.The first n case was detected in Queensland in 2016.

Several independent studies reported open heart surgery patients had developed post-operative prosthetic-valve endocarditis caused by the mycobacteria.

Symptoms of the infection could include fever lasting more than a week, pain, redness, heat, pus around a surgical incision, night sweats, joint and muscle pain, loss of energy and failure to gain weight, or failure to grow in children.

Dr Chant said NSW Health sent letters to patients who underwent open heart surgery between January 2012 and August 2016 informing them of the risk, symptoms and what to do if concerned.

“We also contacted private hospitals in NSW and have been advised that private hospitals in NSW that used affected equipment have also sent letters to their patients, informing them of the risk,” Dr CHant said.

“Patients have been asked to watch for M. chimaera symptoms – persistent fevers, increasing or unusual shortness of breath, and unexplained weight loss,” she said.

NSW Health has set up helplines for patients seeking further information.

Dr Chant also urged GPs and relevant specialists to go to the NSW Health website for the latest information.

In August NSW Health assured the public that the infection was rare and risk to patients was very low and there was no ongoing risk in NSW public hospitals.

Infectious disease specialist at the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission, Dr Kate Clezy said “the risk of infections to an individual patient is very small, but it’s important that we’ve alerted clinicians to the risk and put systems in place to reduce the risk further.”

NSW Health formed an expert panel of clinicians and representatives from the Clinical Excellence Commission, chief executives of Local Health Districts and Health Protection NSW once it was alerted to the potential infection risk.

The contaminated units were either cleaned and verified as clear of contamination or have been replaced with new units, NSW Health said.

A safety notice was issued to public and private health facilities on July 8, and updated on August 4, to notify clinicians of the very low risk of infection, the department said.

NSW Health and other jurisdictions are working with the n Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care to develop a national infection control guideline on minimising the risk of infection relating to the use of heater-cooler units.


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13 Jul 19

Key witness against Ron Medich, Lucky Gattellari, tried to extort ‘many millions’ from him

Michael McGurk, who was allegedly murdered by property developer Ron Medich. Photo: Supplied Ron Medich arrives for day two of his murder trial. Photo: Peter Rae
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The Crown’s principal witness against accused murder mastermind Ron Medich was recently charged with attempting to extort “many, many millions of dollars” from the property developer.

Mr Medich’s barrister Winston Terracini, SC, told a Supreme Court jury that this was the second time Fortunato “Lucky” Gattellari had tried to get money from Mr Medich, the first occasion being shortly after Gattellari’s arrest in October 2010.

Gattellari is serving a jail term for his role in the murder of Michael McGurk.

The 45-year-old wheeler-dealer was shot outside his Cremorne home in September 2009.

Mr Terracini said the defence case would be that Mr Medich, a 68-year-old property developer, had no involvement in the murder of his former business partner, Michael McGurk.

“The accused’s case will centre around criticism of the reliability and the honesty and, in some cases, the deliberate attempt to mislead you by the witnesses Gattellari and (Senad) Kaminic,” he said.

Mr Medich’s position, said Mr Terracini, was that he had never attempted to influence anyone to give wrong evidence and that he had never wanted Mr McGurk dead or his widow harmed.

The Crown alleges Mr Medich paid $500,000 to his then close associate Gattellari to organise the murder of McGurk, with whom Mr Medich had fallen out, and to later intimidate his wife Kimberley.

Haissam Safetli, an associate of Gattellari’s, pleaded guilty to both murder and intimidation.

When Mrs McGurk failed to settle the legal cases in which her husband and Mr Medich had been embroiled, Mr Medich is alleged to have instructed Gattellari to find someone to intimidate her.

The jury heard Mr Medich said of Mrs McGurk: “The bitch must’ve been part of this from the start. She is as tough as he was.”

Safetli was paid $100,000 to intimidate Mrs McGurk. He subcontracted the matter to an associate who happened to be a police informant.

On 8 August, 2010, with police watching, the subcontractor went to Mrs McGurk’s house to threaten her.

The first police officer to arrive at the murder scene told the court that McGurk was lying on his back, surrounded by hot chips.

Senior Constable Rebecca Pope said blood had pooled around his head due to a gunshot wound on the right sight of his head.

The jury heard that Mrs McGurk and several others had been trying, unsuccessfully to resuscitate McGurk.

According to the subsequent autopsy report, McGurk suffered lethal brain damage caused by a .22 calibre bullet.

The trial continues.


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13 Jul 19

Time for all the haters to reassess: Lion shows Nicole Kidman really can act

Nicole Kidman at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles this week. Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Nicole Kidman with Sunny Pawar, who plays the young Saroo, in Lion.
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Nicole Kidman with Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Nicole Kidman as author Virginia Wolf in The Hours Photo: Clive Coote, Paramount Pictures

It’s a strange conversation but I must have had it 10 times in the past month. Work colleagues, friends and just people you meet saying “yeah, I’d like to see Lion but I don’t like Nicole Kidman”.

The grievances are many. She’s too cold, she can’t act, she isn’t real. She’s over-rated. She’s only ever done a couple of good things. Maybe Dead Calm all those years ago. And To Die For.

And don’t get me started on The Hours, with all that glumness and the nose. And Moulin Rouge. And .

She’s only famous because of Tom Cruise. All that Scientology stuff is freaky. She must be getting so much work done. She’s too rich. She’s always in the magazines.

And I don’t even understand how she gets so many movies. What do all these famous directors see in her? She wasn’t even good in BMX Bandits. What was with that Eyes Wide Shut?

I’ve told the sceptics – every single one – to see Lion. Not just because it’s a really good film but it shows they are wrong: Kidman really can act.

Yes, it’s time for the haters – and there seem to be many as Lion has emerged as a Hollywood awards contender – to reassess.

Sometimes you get lucky with an Oscar nomination. You nail one powerful performance in a role that’s close to your heart and never get another opportunity like that again.

But Kidman now has a fourth Oscar nomination – best supporting actress for Lion – following best actress nominations for Moulin Rouge, a win for The Hours then Rabbit Hole. The same record as universally beloved Helen Mirren. Exactly the same as universally admired Geoffrey Rush.

People without talent – who weren’t even good in BMX Bandits – don’t jag all those Oscar nominations.

What we see on Lion is an intense, wrenching performance by Kidman as an adoptive mother dealing with one son torn being apart by an obsession about tracking down his lost birth mother and another one struggling with alcohol and drugs.

It’s definitely a supporting role in a film full of strong performances – including tiny Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel as Saroo Brierley at different ages – but who else could have played Sue Brierley as well? Only a top-tier actress.

No doubt all Kidman’s personal connections to the story contributed to the depth of the performance: both are n women who knew early on they wanted to adopt, did so then years later faced a test of the bond between mother and child – in Kidman’s case, thanks to the niceties of Scientolology’s break-up counselling.

The scenes between Kidman and Patel elevate Lion to the point where the second half of the story is as affecting as the first half when young Saroo gets lost in India. There’s a touching humanity – a realness – in both performances.

Cate Blanchett deserves her standing as the country’s greatest contemporary actress; her work in films, stage and television shows she is a blazing, brilliant artist. With seven Oscar nominations for two wins, she’s up in the pantheon among the all-time greats.

But, gee, Kidman now has to be recognised as not just a star but a great actress in her own right. If you want to measure these things, second only to Blanchett in a country that has produced so many terrific actresses over the years.

Many Hollywood stars keep playing familiar roles, breaking out every now and then into an extreme transformation that will attract awards attention. They might follow the old “one for the money, one for artistic credibility” formula.

But the best ones push in different directions all the time, choosing challenging roles. Blanchett does that. Kidman does too.

Since 2010’s Rabbit Hole, she has had hits with the family charmer Paddington and, in this country, the drama The Railway Man. She has also acted in more adventurous films for notable directors in different parts of the world, including Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, Olivier Dahan’s​ Grace Of Monaco and Chan-wook Park’s Stoker. And it’s fair to say they didn’t all work.

Just lately, as well as acting in the television series Big Little Lies and Top of the Lake, she has worked with such leading art-house directors as Sofia Coppola​ on the western The Beguiled and Yorgos Lanthimos on the drama The Killing of a Sacred Deer. They might not be hits either but they show Kidman is willing to roll the dice. Try something bold. Explore new territory.

So as she approaches 50 this year, let’s recognise Kidman’s talent and stop the hate.


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