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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13 Jun 19

Director Chris Miller flags start of Han Solo movie filming with a Star Wars joke

Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in The Empire Strikes BackThe Force Awakens. Photo: Lucasfilm
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The original stars: Billy Dee Williams and Harrison Ford as Lando Clarissian and Han Solo.

Director Chris Miller has announced the start of filming on Disney’s Han Solo movie with a joke.

The director, who is making the Star Wars spin-off with fellow 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie director Phil Lord, has posted a pic of the clapperboard with the caption “Han First Shot”. Han First Shot pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/KReR6rgKFT— Chris Miller (@chrizmillr) January 30, 2017

It’s a reference to the old Star Wars debate about whether Solo shot first in the original movie – director George Lucas upset some purists when he changed a scene in a special edition to show the captain of the Millennium Falcon shooting Greedo after being fired at.

The tweet suggests Miller and Lord are bringing their sense of humour to a movie, which the clapperboard suggests is called Red Cup. A witty take on a brand of plastic cup in the United States called Solo, it’s clearly a temporary title that allowed the movie to attract less attention during scripting, planning and pre-production. No doubt there’ll be splashy announcement of the real title down the track.

It has previously been known just as Untitled Star Wars Han Solo Anthology Film.

Shooting in England, the movie centres on Solo’s “early scoundrel days” before he emerged as the charismatic smuggler with a price on his head who joins forces with Luke and Leia to battle the Empire in Episode IV.

Miller’s comic cheekiness gives heart for fans that Solo will be the irascible, wise-cracking rogue that everyone loved in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Alden Ehrenreich will play the younger Solo with Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Woody Harrelson as Solo’s mentor and Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones in an undisclosed role.

Chewbacca, Solo’s loyal buddy and co-pilot, will also appear, with speculation that Finnish basketballer Joonas Suotamo will take over from 72-year-old Star Wars veteran Peter Mayhew for at least the most physically-demanding scenes inside the furry suit. Han. First Shot. @chrizmillr love it. @starwarspic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/O0uBP0O3Py— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) January 30, 2017


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13 Jun 19

Our society is fraying. The problem starts with our political leaders

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: why isn’t he setting a better example? Photo: Rick Rycroft/AP Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Illustration: Dionne Gain

How moving it was to watch Malcolm Turnbull presenting the n of the Year awards last week. What impressive people they were. Made me proud to be an Aussie.

I can’t help liking Turnbull. At a show like that he’s all we could hope for in a Prime Minister. He looked the part and spoke it well. He was completely at ease, someone we can be proud to have represent us to the world.

In his introduction he said all the right things. The “extraordinary finalists” for the various awards – Young n, Senior n, Local Hero and n of the Year – “light the way for us – shining examples of our best selves”.

“Generous and compassionate, selfless, never daunted by seemingly impossible odds, brilliant, curious, entrepreneurial, innovative, building bridges to reinforce the mutual respect which secures our harmony and diversity.

“They include First ns and those who have dedicated their lives to working with them” – such as the wonderful Sister Anne Gardiner, who’s spent her life serving the Tiwi people on Bathurst Island.

“They include migrants and refugees who have fled horrors barely imaginable …

“Yet, however much we celebrate the remarkable, peaceful and diverse nation that we have built together, we always strive to be better. Our ns of the Year have always shown us how …

“Respect for women, respect for each other, in all our magnificent diversity, is the foundation on which our harmonious society depends, is the platform which enables every n to realise their full potential.”

And yet I confess that in the days since that proud night I’ve suffered a bad hangover. It seems our One Day of the Year has moved from April 25 to January 26.

We celebrate these “shining examples of our best selves” for one night and day before we revert to being far from our best selves for the rest of the year. We hunt up a handful of people who remain “selfless” so we don’t feel so bad about the self-seeking lives the rest of us lead?

Far from retaining a strong sense of community, of helping each other and working for the greater good, we live in an era of every person for themselves, where the material almost always gets priority over the social, where our ambitions centre on personal advancement rather than making the world a better place.

If our politicians – of both stripes – are so keen for us to be “generous and compassionate” as well as “respectful” and part of a “harmonious society” why aren’t they setting a better example?

What’s generous and compassionate about sending social security recipients bills for “debts” owed to Centrelink that you haven’t checked properly, then making them prove they don’t owe that much with payslips and other documents from past years that you hadn’t warned them to retain?

What’s “respectful” about treating invalids, the aged, and young workers down on their luck in such a way? What’s n about denying point blank there’s any problem with what you’re doing?

Why when you’ve gone out of your way to honour the place of First ns do you, the very next day, curtly brush aside their request that the white majority run to the huge inconvenience and expense of changing the date of Day? Respect, eh?

Do we honour the work of the Sister Annes because they salve our consciences? Thank God they’re willing to put themselves out, because the rest of us ain’t.

Some of us – including many in Turnbull’s own electorate – are the children or grandchildren of “refugees who have fled horrors barely imaginable”.

Much worse, apparently, than the way we’ve been treating refugees on Nauru and Manus Island.

Turnbull is right to say we’ve built a highly successful multicultural society.

Lately it’s been fraying at the edges, however, with intolerance of people with unfamiliar religious practices – women’s head coverings; halal – fears that all Muslims are terrorists, fears we’re being overrun by Asians, and downward envy of government help for disadvantaged Indigenous people.

But it’s not just that our political leaders fail to set an example, it’s that too often they seek partisan advantage from our moral weaknesses. Rather than seeking to calm our fear of foreigners they compete to pander to them. Let’s protect ourselves from the resurgent One Nation by aping their rhetoric, even their policies.

As for respect being “the platform which enables every n to realise their full potential” it’s sentimental claptrap – especially coming from a government that seems to have set its face against funding the nation’s schools on the basis of student need rather than established privilege.

It’s schools and pre-schools that should be “the platform which enables every n to realise their full potential”.

The most worrying message we got from the latest bad news on NAPLAN and PISA testing of students is the wide gap between our best and worst students and the large minority of kids the system is failing.

As Peter Goss, of the Grattan Institute, has demonstrated, we can go most of the way to needs-based funding quickly and without extra spending, provided we’re prepared to shift funding from the less-needy to the more-needy.

But that would require Turnbull to exhibit the undaunted, entrepreneurial and bridge-building character traits he so admires in others.

Ross Gittins is the Herald’s economics editor.


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13 Jun 19

I’m a Celebrity 2017: Wait, why is Kris Smith on our telly?

Kris Smith, the newest I’m a Celebrity arrival. Photo: Channel Ten The full cast of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here 2017, minus intruders Kris Smith and Tziporah Malkah Photo: Ten
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Ambassador-ing for Myer. Photo: Myer

Had Channel Ten formed Kris Smith out of clay, they couldn’t have found a more perfect contestant for I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!

He’s familiar to the readers of gossip mags, largely because he was married to Dannii Minogue. (By my estimate, Woman’s Day and New Idea have announced a combined 486 pregnancies between Dannii and Kylie. In fact, Kris and Dannii have one son, Ethan.)

He’s been in the crosshairs of the Daily Mail, after he missed a couple of gym sessions in 2015. (This resulted in paparazzi photos of him “showing off” his “fuller figure” while trying to sunbathe with his girlfriend.)

He played rugby league in England until injury forced his retirement, then became a model.

Now he’s a department store “ambassador” and his TV resume includes The Daily Edition, Celebrity Come Dine With Me, Football Superstar, a co-hosting stint on ‘s Next Top Model and a spot on Can of Worms.

Wait, Kris who?

If you’ve never heard of Smith, you’re among a legion of Tweeps who posting about “so-called celebrities” in the “wilds” of South Africa.

As I wrote last year, this is exactly what Ten wants. They bait us with a few “I can’t quite place them” faces, driving smart-arse Facebook posts, allowing them to flaunt their “social media metrics” to advertisers.

This can only be to Smith’s advantage.

Shock jock Steve Price is more famous/notorious. But this could leave him more vulnerable in the viewer voting stages.

Collingwood fans could help Dane Swan through to the final rounds – if Collingwood haters don’t knock him out first.

Having a lower profile in itself does not guarantee success on a reality show. If such a contestant swans in with airs and graces, Aussie viewers will swiftly evict them.

But Smith is a thoroughly decent chap; affable and lovely. Of his ex-wife, he says: “She is an incredible woman, always has been. I’ve always thought that from day one and I still think that now.”

Naturally, Channel Ten will think up creative and often ludicrous ways to make him take off his shirt. This will not harm his chances at all.

And just look at the list of previous winners from the UK version of the show. Apart from the year that Margaret Thatcher’s daughter won (seriously), all leap-frogged bigger names to claim victory.

Kris Smith?

He could be on our screens for a while yet.


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13 Jun 19

With legal bills growing, councils call for certainty

New local government minister Gabrielle Upton will have her work cut out for her managing the government’s council merger policy. With mounting legal bills and court dates imminent, councils are calling on the new premier to soon decide whether her government will proceed with pending amalgamations.
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At least six Sydney councils are due in court within the next month as they continue legal challenges to the mergers, with the bill footed by ratepayers surpassing $200,000 at most councils.

Woollahra Council, which has so far spent $850,000 on legal appeals, is expected to have a special leave application to the High Court heard in mid February.

But Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s promise to “listen to the community” has been viewed by some councils as a sliver of hope that the policy will be abandoned.

So too has the appointment of Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton to the local government ministry. Ms Upton once lent her voice to Woollahra Council’s anti-merger campaign.

On Tuesday, Ms Upton confirmed she, too, would consult with communities on the issue.

“It is early days but Premier Berejiklian has indicated that she wants to look closely at the issue. And on my part there is some learning and listening to do. Councils should be about local communities and serving their best interests. They deserve the best possible services and infrastructure.”

Within days of Ms Berejiklian’s swearing-in as the 45th premier of NSW, Woollahra mayor Toni Zeltzer​ wrote to the new premier requesting a meeting for a “fair and open hearing”.

Alluding to the declaration by Nationals leader John Barilaro that local government mergers in the bush would not be pursued, Cr Zeltzer called on the premier for equity of treatment.

“I wholeheartedly agree that any policy decision you make on the future of the proposed council amalgamations should be applied unilaterally,” Cr Zeltzer said in her letter last week.

The retirement of North Shore MP Jillian Skinner has raised the prospect of another by-election backlash akin to the coalition’ shock defeat in last year’s Orange by-election, where council mergers were regarded as a major factor.

The North Shore electorate incorporates parts of three council districts which are fighting the mergers – Mosman, North Sydney and Lane Cove.

Mosman mayor Peter Abelson​ said the government could expect the anti-merger voice to be heard “loud and clear” at the by-election, which may be held before the council’s Supreme Court appeal in April.

“There’s no doubt that if there were a by-election without this being sorted out there would be a very strong protest vote against the Liberals.”

North Sydney’s high-profile former independent mayor, Genia McAffrey, said she had been encouraged to run in the by-election by anti-merger campaigners, but would not contest the seat.

In Hunters Hill, where barristers for the council are preparing to return to court on February 22, mayor Richard Quinn called on government to end the uncertainty.

“It’s one of the fundamental issues Minister Upton is going to have to deal with. And I would hope she does deal with it first,” he said.

“The longer the government takes to resolve this, money is being spent by both the council and the government. It’s in all of our interests that it gets resolved asap.”

In October 2015, Ms Upton told an anti-merger rally in Double Bay she did not support the merging of Woollahra Council, but later reversed this stance in favour of the government’s position.


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13 Jun 19

Utzon vision eroded: Opera House building plans condemned

Outdoor events on the Opera House forecourt such as last year’s Crowded House concert have angered nearby residents. Photo: Mark Metcalfe Opera House chief executive Louise Herron Photo: Rob Homer
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A marquee erected outside the Opera House for Day festivities. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Opera House management have been criticised for violating the vision of the building’s architect Jorn Utzon. Photo: Jessica Hromas

The City of Sydney has joined the growing chorus of disapproval about plans to create a new function centre at the Sydney Opera House and convert a ballet rehearsal room into a kitchen.

Graham Jahn​, the council’s head of planning, development and transport, said the Opera House’s building plans would have an “unacceptable heritage impact”.

“It is in direct contradiction with Jorn Utzon’svision for the Opera House,” he said in the council’s submission objecting to the proposal.

The plans are part of the Opera House’s renewal program and include removing a marquee and building a larger function space on the northern broadwalk of the Opera House that will require the partial removal of curved walls and the permanent loss of the original restaurant.

“This is a loss to the community and to the significance of the place,” Jahn said.

He also said the function centre was a “clear violation” of Utzon’s design principles, which caution against introducing additional functions into the building beyond its original purpose.

The Opera House also wants to convert the ballet rehearsal room located beneath the Joan Sutherland Theatre into a kitchen for the function centre.

A temporary rehearsal room would be provided 150 metres away.

Jahn warns this proposal would also have an “adverse heritage impact”.

“Worse, it prioritises the function centre use over … the performing arts,” he said.

The new rehearsal room would be “remote” from performers’ dressing room and other facilities, Jahn added.

He described the relocation of the ballet rehearsal room as “unacceptable” given the Opera House’s world heritage listing and incompatible with its status as a world class performing arts centre.

Jahn also said the Opera House had “understated” the heritage impacts of moving the rehearsal room.

The City of Sydney’s concerns add to mounting criticism of Opera House management.

A proposal for sleepovers was described as “crass commercial exploitation” that would affect the reputation of the Opera House.

The staging of outdoor events such as last week’s Day concert has drawn the anger of residents of the nearby Toaster building.

Jorn Utzon’s architect son Jan has also expressed concern about outdoor events and “intrusive structures” erected on the forecourt of the Opera House.

Jahn’s submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, which is assessing the Opera House’s building plans, argues that Utzon’s intention that people could move freely around the building has been eroded over the years.

He also warns of a risk the Opera House’s “significance will be diminished by an accumulation of adverse impacts” caused by its various building plans under the renewal program, which received $202 million from the NSW government.

The Heritage Council of NSW’s Katrina Stankowski​ also criticised the relocation of the ballet rehearsal room, and noted the Opera House’s heritage consultant had not endorsed some of the proposed building works.

She said the removal of two walls that are significant structural elements of the Opera House’s podium would have an “unacceptable impact”.

The harshest criticism of the proposal came from a Kirribilli resident who said they could not use their lounge room or bedroom because of the noise of functions and events at the Opera House.

“This is already an extremely uncomfortable situation for me, and the Opera House’s request to assault my senses from a greater number of venues and with what will probably be greater frequency seems to me to be highly unfair,” the resident, whose name was redacted, said.

The resident also expressed concern about the building plans affecting Utzon’s architecture.

“To have that magnificent building’s lines ruined by vulgar commerciality would surely have Utzon turning in his grave,” the resident said. “While this is not the primary basis of my objection, I do believe that the City would be a lot better served by not further bastardizing such an iconic symbol.”

The Opera House will be given an opportunity to respond to submissions, with final approval of the project in the hands of the Planning Minister.

Opera House spokeswoman Jessica Gooch said there had been limited objections to the building plans given the number of people affected.

She said the Opera House’s eminent architects panel and conservation council supported the new function centre.

“The Opera House considers that it has addressed several of the City’s key concerns,” she said.


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13 May 19

Graham Anthony George Sloan murder trial for death of Windale woman Renee Mitchell

HAPPIER TIMES: The body of Renee Mitchell was found by walkers in Bangalay Reserve at Windale on November 12, 2014. Graham Anthony George Sloane has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but not guilty to murder. Picture: SuppliedA MAN accused of brutally murdering an aged-care worker and dumping her body in a Windale park has raised a defence of substantial impairment, claiming he couldn’t control himself at the time of the woman’s death.
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There is no dispute that Graham Anthony George Sloane, now 68, was the man who took Renee Mitchell, 38, from her kitchen while she was cooking dinner for her family on November 11, 2014, Newcastle Supreme Court has heard.

There is also no questionthat Mr Sloane took Mrs Mitchellto nearby Bangalay Reserve andstabbed her four times in the chest and once in the neck.

And it’s not disputed that those injuries caused her death and that Mr Sloane intended to kill Mrs Mitchell.

But what a jury will be asked to decide is whether Mr Sloane was suffering from an “abnormality of the mind” at the time of the killing, meaning his capacity to understand events, judge right from wrong or control himself wassubstantially impaired by mental illness.

If they make that determination, then the jury will be asked whether his capacity to control himself –which both sides acknowledge is the central issue to the case –was so substantially impaired that it would reduce what was otherwise murder to manslaughter, the court heard.

“Not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter,” a frail-looking Mr Sloane told a jury panel during his arraignment on Monday.

Barrister Janet Manuel, for Mr Sloane, told the jury of nine women and three men that Mr Sloane was showing “clear signs of mental illness in the days, weeks and months” leading up to Ms Mitchell’s death.

Mr Sloane had began telling people he was a stand-up comedian or a musician, that he was embarking on a national tour or heading overseas to “entertain the troops” and had even hired a “showbiz manager”, Ms Manuel said.

None of these things were true.

“But that didn’t stop Mr Sloane,” Ms Manuel said. “Because he not only spoke about these things, he acted on them.”

Mr Sloane bought thousands of dollars worth of musical and electrical equipment as well as a new car to use during the tour, making repeated visits to Musos Corner, Harvey Norman and a car dealership on the day he killed Mrs Mitchell.

During his opening address, Crown prosecutor Lee Carr submitted that, ultimately, the jury would reject the defence of substantial impairment and find that Mr Sloane had the capacity to control himself.

The trial, before Justice Helen Wilson, is expected to run for two weeks.


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13 May 19

Market volatility not as scary as it seems

Volatility on share markets can be a reminder to make sure you are in the right super fund investment option. Photo: Peter BraigStrap yourself in, 2017 is set to be “volatile” in financial markets. That’s the view of many fund managers and other investment experts, and you can see why it seems a pretty safe prediction.
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With Donald Trump in the White House, market-moving comments are just a presidential tweet away. A host of European nations also hold elections this year, which could open the door to more anti-establishment leaders, adding to the many unknowns in the world economy.

It’s easy to get the impression of a more turbulent world – which is reinforced by a 24-hour media cycle that naturally emphasises the more dramatic events.

But what’s the hard evidence that the financial world is more volatile than it used to be?

And if markets are becoming even more or a roller coaster, how does this affect your superannuation?

For all the talk about volatility, it is certainly not reflected in what market insiders call the “fear index”.

The VIX, or volatility index, is traded on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, and viewed as a global benchmark for volatility, because it shows the price investors pay to insure against wild market swings. Yet last week, the VIX fell to the lowest level in its 27-year history.

The VIX did spike when Trump was elected, but remained well below the recent 2015 highs reached when China’s sharemarket was tumbling, and even those highs were a fraction of the genuinely scary peaks of the global financial crisis in 2008-09.

The low level of the VIX suggests the recent market swings are more a case of share prices bouncing around, rather than investors being deeply uncertain or worried.

However, it is also true that investment returns for super funds have been getting bumpier.

SuperRatings has measured the rolling volatility over one and three years for balanced funds – where most of us have our super.

They did this by measuring the funds’ percentage change in returns, compared with its longer-term average. The message is that things did indeed get more volatile in 2015-16 financial year, after five or so years of greater consistency. Yet returns have still been positive, averaging 9.5 per cent a year over the past five years.

Yet it’s important not to overstate the significance of volatility for superannuation, the ultimate long-term investment.

SuperRatings chairman Jeff Bresnahan says market volatility itself is not necessarily a problem for super fund members – the more important issue is making sure you are in the appropriate investment option for your situation.

“If there is market volatility this year, which you would expect, the important thing for ns is that they are in the right investment option, and that’s the thing a lot of us don’t look at,” he says.

The basic rule here is that younger people, such as those in their 20s, can withstand greater volatility in their super fund because these short-term changes should be outweighed by longer-term gains.

“A 25-year-old with money in super can be 100 per cent in shares that bounce around like crazy for 12 months and it should not bother them,” Bresnahan says.

As you get closer to retirement, however, volatility can make a meaningful difference to the size of a nest egg you’re left with. The problem is that most people don’t think about whether they are in the most appropriate option, because most of us are not especially interested or motivated in checking out such things.

So while volatility might not be as scary as it can look on the news, it’s probably a useful prompt for people to ensure they are taking the right amount of risk with their savings.


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13 May 19

David Wotherspoon coronial inquest day two: Indigenous death in custody in Cessnock Jail

Cessnock Jail.
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INMATES at a mental health unit where an Indigenous man was found unconscious in 2013 were often kept locked down in their cells for 23 hours a day, Newcastle Coroner’s Court has heard.

David Wotherspoon, 31, was in a “safe cell” under constant video surveillance at Cessnock Correctional Centre on April 5, 2013, when two correctional officers found himunconscious with a cordaround his neck.

He never regained consciousness and died in John Hunter Hospital nine days later.

An inquest being held in Newcastle Coroner’s Court this week is examining a number of issues, including mental health treatment and referrals for inmates in custody, procedural, staffing and training practices, among others.

Mr Wotherspoon, who had a history of mental illness, self-harm and suicide attempts, was referred to the mental health screening unit (MHSU) at Silverwater on March 15.

But the inquest is exploring why that referral was delayed for nearly a week,leaving Mr Wotherspoon at Cessnock.

Laurel Kibble, a mental health nurse at Cessnock Correctional Centre at the time of Mr Wotherspoon’s death, was asked how much time inmates in that unit had outside of their cell.

“They were locked in their cell most of the time,” Ms Kibble said.

“It would vary, but up to 23 hours a day, I would estimate.”

When asked what effect that would have on someone with mental health issues, she replied: “It’s not good for someone’s mental health to be isolated for such long periods.”

The inquest heard on Tuesday that Mr Wotherspoon was not found to have any “suicidal ideations” at a risk intervention team (RIT) review only hours before he was found unconscious.

However, the team conducting the review was without a Justice Health representative, despite it being required under the guidelines.

The inquest, before State Coroner Michael Barnes, continues on Wednesday.


Link Category: 苏州桑拿会所



13 May 19

Celebrity charities just compete with all other charities – so why start one?

The Shane Warne foundation closed last year after it was revealed it was only donating 16 per cent of its income. Photo: Jesse MarlowDespite the enormous number of charities in the world, more are established every year – and many also disappear. n Charities and Not-for-profits Commission data shows that, since 2012, 8,500 charities have been registered and more than 13,500 have been revoked.
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Former tennis player Pat Rafter’s Cherish the Children Foundation, which closed in 2011, is just one of many examples of a charity that has come and gone. Rafter has a long history as a philanthropist. He donated half the prizemoney from his US Open wins to the Starlight Children’s Foundation as well as starting up his own foundation in 1999.

But, unable to compete against established foundations, Cherish the Children was forced to close.

Why, then, do so many celebrities attempt to start their own charity, when they add to an already fragmented and competitive sector?

Whatever the motivation, the stated rationale is often that this new charity can offer something not in the market. However, our research shows these charities compete head-on with other charities. The public sees them as near look-alikes. Sharing is caring?

Charities share supporters with other charities in line with their size. For example, a medium-sized n charity will share more of their donors with the Salvation Army or the Red Cross than with Parkinson’s .

We see the same pattern when looking at how charities share donors. We surveyed 570 ns who reported supporting 393 distinct charities. They gave to the Queensland flood relief and established charities, such as Cancer Council , during the 12 months to April 2011.

Examining many people donated to each charity (percentage of donors). the Salvation Army (32 per cent) and Red Cross (26 per cent) dominate the market.

They were followed by the Queensland Floods and Cancer Council (each 9 per cent), the RSPCA (8 per cent), World Vision (7 per cent), Vinnies and Guide Dogs (each 6 per cent), the Heart Foundation (5 per cent) and Oxfam (4 per cent).

The interactive graphic below shows donors support multiple charities, with sharing largely occurring as predicted, based upon the size of the charity.

[Story continues after graphic.]


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13 May 19

Low-priced IVF competition slashes margins at Virtus Health

Eggs are identified for retrieval in preparation for a sperm injection at a clinic in California. Photo: New York Times Low cost competitors have hit Virtus hard.
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Shares in fertility clinic operator Virtus Health slumped Tuesday following a profit downgrade as lower priced competitors muscle in on the industry.

In the process, it has become the latest in a growing list of former small cap market darlings falling out of favour as earnings have faltered. On Monday, for example, shares in construction services outfit Aconex dived 40 per cent on a profit warning.

Virtus shares were down 16.4 per cent at $5.19, after touching a low earlier of $4.98 as investors dumped the shares on the downgrade.

Monash IVF was collateral damage, with its shares marked down 10 per cent to $1.65.5c It is the second largest domestic player in the IVF market, with a quarter share.

In particular, Primary Healthcare has targeted the fat margins in IVF services, opening clinics in Melbourne, Sydney and more recently Brisbane, which appears to be causing problems for Virtus, the country’s largest IVF provider.

Last November, Virtus said it was experiencing weaker than expected IVF cycle volumes, and this morning it pointed to recent Medicare data for the December quarter which indicated a 6 per cent decline in volumes in the states in which Virtus operates.

Virtus confirmed its sales volumes fell 7.2 per cent in the December half, blaming low cost competition, most notably in NSW where volumes have slumped by 19 per cent.

“The level of this volume shortfall, should it continue in the second half will have a material impact on Virtus full year financial results compared to prior year,” it warned investors this morning.

“The exact level of the shortfall is highly dependent on fresh cycle activity in the second half of the financial year, and in particular, activity in the final quarter. We anticipate that volumes and margin in our [fertility clinics] in Queensland will come under pressure in H2FY17 as a result of increased low cost competition.”

Primary has made it clear the high margins on offer had drawn it to the IVF sector, with anecdotal evidence it can cost up to $10,000 per cycle. It’s most recent clinic was opened last November, in Brisbane.

Virtus has sought to meet some of the lower priced competition in the fertility market by competing head on, by unbundling some services, although analysts have warned that this could also serve to undermine margins.

Virtus has made a series of offshore acquisitions, expanding into Ireland, Singapore and most recently Denmark in a bid to reduce its reliance on the n fertility market.


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