14 Jan 19

Taree milk price forum and ACCC inquiry: farmers to share their anguish

Milked dry: Nabiac farmers Phillip and Jason Schneider will attend the ACCC inquiry into milk prices in Taree at noon next Tuesday, February 7 at Club West. WHEN Phillip Schneider would welcome primary school studentsto his farm they had one big question: ‘why do you get paid so little for your milk?’.
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“I couldn’t answer the question, but they could: greed,” said the Nabiac based farmer.Thesefarm tours were many years ago,andhad to be stopped due to the tragic loss of a grandchild to a rare tumour and subsequent poor health for Phillip.

But this question remainsand will be one of many taken to then Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiryinto milk prices inTaree at noon nextTuesday, February 7at Club West.

Phillip, 62, has been a farmer for 48 years. His farmmilksaround 70 cows, which produce between 25 to 50 litres a day to milk supplier Parmalat.

In January,Parmalatannounced a two cent reduction on last year’s price, with farmers now told to expect an average price of 44.1 cents per litre in 2017.

“Twenty five years ago we were getting 54 cents –we need that all year around,” Phillip said.

“It’s tough, there’s no two ways about it. We can’t afford a flood or drought.”

Phillip saidthe latest dry period is the worse he’s experiencedin 48 years and the recent rain ‘saved’ them.

With other farmersin the area already make the tough decision to close down, the thought has crossed the family’s mind but for Phillip he couldn’t imagine leaving.

“What else would I do? I’ve built so much here, I don’twant to sell, I wantthis to be for my grandchildren.”

Phillip prides himself on his milk quality and has won district and State awards and is consideredin the top five per cent of for quality.

“I still try and run the farm the same–but it just gets tighter and tighter. I’m not cuttingcorners but it’s not easy,” Phillip said.

Due to a spine disease Phillip can no longer milk andhis son Jason is handling the milking.

Phillip does the farm work and helps care for Jason and his wife Kylie’s three children, as Kylie is an intensive care nurse.

Phillip said they are a strong unit as a family but he feels for those desperately struggling in the area.

“People come to meetings in tears,” he said.

“Wives have to be on suicide watch for their husbands.Things shouldn’t be in that position.”

Phillip and Jason will attend the inquiry.“It’s a start, it might not help us, but it’s a start in the right direction.”


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14 Jan 19

Scot MacDonald exits the Hunter, stage right

Great Scott, we’ve lost a decent bloke Scot MacDonald in thongs and trousers at the Bogey Hole. Pictures: Jonathan Carroll.
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Scot MacDonald in thongs and trousers at the Bogey Hole. Pictures: Jonathan Carroll.

TweetFacebookHerald on Monday as saying she wants to end Novocastrian “negativity”.

The thing is, one person’s negativity is another person’s positivity. Who decides what’s negative?

Sometimes when this Topics correspondent writes anews story, a person being interviewed will say: “Is the story going to be positive?”.

“Positive for who?”, wereply.

How do you define what’s positive anyhow? Some might say having citizens stand up for their rights, speak their mind and criticise, question and challenge governments,public officials, corporations, bullies and anyone in power is a positive thing.

But some politicians appear to want the people to be obedient, compliant stooges. We’re not saying Catherine thinks this. But if Novocastrians want to be “negative” about stuff they don’t like, that’s their choice. This isn’t China, North Korea, Russia or Saudi Arabia.

If Catherine is a politician worth her salt, she’ll accept criticism and respond constructively, hopefully withpassion. If she makes her argument well, some critics might even change their positions.

Vladmir Putin is a master of propaganda. He’s also known for murder and mayhem.

It’s been interesting to watch the hyper-sensitive Donald Trump berate and denigrate journalists in the US who write critical articles about him.

We’ve seen the same thing happen here, even at a local level. It’s not uncommon for politicians and senior bureaucrats to become dictatorial, autocratic and domineering.

Some of them panic like scared little children when they’re criticisedin the media.

They appear to want total control and domination. They probably have total control over everyone else in their life. Not being able to control pesky journos and activists hurts their fragile egos and stokes their inner rage. Or does it just upset their inner child? (You know, daddy didn’t love them and mummy didn’t hug them).

If only everyone was like the sycophantic acolytes and propagandists that surround them, hey?

Mind you, some journos can fall under the manipulative control of pollies and others in power. They get fed “exclusives”, which sometimes leads to an informal, unspoken arrangement that these same journos won’t publish stories that criticise their sources. You know the drill – don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

It’s a cunning and devious way to stifle dissent. This is turning into a bit of a rant, isn’t it?

Anyhow, our point is, here at Topics, we urge citizens to express themselves. And we urge journos to report without fear or favour. And maybe Catherine could lay off on the positive psychology stuff.

Geez, now we’re feeling a bit self-righteous. Politicians must know that feeling pretty well.

Double NegativeWe just read Scot MacDonald’s last press release as the Hunter’s parliamentary secretary.

“I also urge the Hunter Labor MPs to move beyond their approach of negativity and protest,” he said.

No Scot, noooooooooo.


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14 Jan 19

Why Coober Pedy is the opal of the Chinan desert

Coober Pedy lives on. Photo: Kirsten RobbCoober Pedy is a different world.
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In fact, it looks so much like a far-off desert planet that it has stood in forMars in a series of Hollywood blockbusters. The pink sandstone formations rising out of the red dirt, framed by a sapphire blue sky, create anethereal beauty easily mistaken for outer space.

Dotted around the 100-year-old mining town, halfway between Adelaide and Alice Springs, are the abandoned props from those films: a dilapidated spaceship here, paper mache aliens there. The eerie celestial monuments punctuate the red streets alongside discarded mining equipment and weathered opal shop signs.

Why Coober Pedy is the opal of the n deserthttps://nnimgt-a.akamaihd苏州夜场招聘/transform/v1/crop/frm/GJZ5TVpAk84wrTzsQfLQRB/731c026e-c664-447c-80a8-d5b3baf14767.jpg/r2_0_618_348_w1200_h678_fmax.jpgNSW: Welcome to the opal capital of the world and the strangest town in .2017-02-04T13:30:00+11:00https://players.brightcove苏州夜场招聘/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5297719634001https://players.brightcove苏州夜场招聘/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5297719634001Welcome to the opal capital of the world and the strangest town in .

CooberPedy’s heydayis well behind it and it seemsfrozen in the ’80s –the last opal boom. Mining has declined sharply since the ’90s, as the old guard dies off and the town transitionsinto its new life as an offbeat tourist attraction.

But why would tourists travel into the guts of the n desert to visit a mining town past its peak? Perhaps to see for themselves the most peculiar part of all, and the thing most ns know about Coober Pedy: people here live underground.

Inside a Coober Pedy “dugout” house. Photo: Kirsten Robb

Digging itIt gets hot in Coober Pedy, really hot. The kind of heat that beats down on you, and then blows around you like you’re standing in a convection oven.

And it doesn’t make for a lively streetscape. On a 50 degree day – yes, they have those here – the whole town shuts down as people hunker down in ‘dugouts’.

Literally built into the side of the red and white mounds rising out of the otherwisethe barren plains, dugouts can be recognised by the thin pipes sprouting from the rocky knolls. They’re for ventilation and are covered in mesh so snakes don’t drop down into theliving room. The wide, older-style air shafts have been phased out because drunk miners used to fall into them walking home from the pub.

The air vents from an underground home. Photo: Mark Kolbe

“The old miners, when they came here, they realised they couldn’t live in a tin shed or a tent because you’d die, it’s too hot,” says miner John Dunstan, who’s been in the opal game for over 50 years.

“A lot of the old original dugouts, the miners actually tunnelled down a little drive into their mine and lived in there … later on they started buildingunderground homesand it’s the same principle – just a tunnel going into the hill and then some rooms.”

A large modern dug out. Photo: Kirsten Robb

Life undergroundAbout 65 per cent of the 1800 to 3000 people in town (much of the population travels, so it’s hard to get an accurate reading) live in dugouts. While many older ones are cramped, narrow spaces that would send a claustrophobic’s heart rate north, most of the modern ones are large, open and styled like any modern home.

“We’ve got four different doors you can get out of our place – there’s plenty of light, plenty of windows,” says Mr Dunstan.

Walking into a dugout on a 40 degree day, it’s easy to understand exactly why people want to live underground. It’s the kind of heat relief you get walking into an air-conditioned shopping centre: so noticeable that out-of-towners make an audible sigh of relief.

Coober Pedy miner John Dunstan found an $85,000 opal in his pantry. Photo: Kirsten Robb

Generally, heating or cooling isn’t needed – it stays about 25 degrees during summer scorchers and winter nights when it drops to minus two. It can be 36 degrees at midnight and residents sleep with a doona.

The older-style dugouts were built by hand. Explosives tore through rocks and homeowners would then pick and shovel them out. These days, tunnelling machines do the work and businesses trade on building them, although there’s not that much space for new homes – there are only so many rock formations left to carve out.

The bedrooms, usually at the back of the house, are so dark that dugout residents keep a torch next to their bed in case of power outages (which happen frequently in summer, thanks to the above-ground residents thrashing their air conditioners). Cool, dark and silent, any Coober Pedian will tell you it’s the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have.

“You don’t actually know dark until you’ve been in a dugout at night,” teacher Elyse Kowald says.

The sun sets at The Breakaways, just outside of the Coober Pedy’s town centre. Photo: Kirsten Robb

It literally pays to renovate in Coober PedyEverybody here bristles at the suggestion that dugouts are claustrophobic.

Real estate agent Misty Mance, of Lin Andrews Real Estate (the only agency in town), regularly sells dugouts and says people quickly fall in love with life underground.

“I had a family earlier in the year, when they first came to town their little boy, about 3 or 4, was very scared, he didn’t want to go underground,” she says.

“Two months ago they bought a family dugout from me and their kids love it … it was just that initial taking him to friend’s houses, getting him used to being underground, and now the little fella won’t look back.”

Signs still warn tourists of the literal pitfalls of the town. Photo: Kirsten Robb

Ms Mance says real estate has taken a bit of a dip in recent years as the opal boom has wound down. You can pick up a dugout anywhere from $130,000 to $250,000.

But houses here can actually make you money. When Mr Dunstan was renovating his home (by digging out new rooms from the side of the rock) he found an $85,000 opal – simply because his wife asked for a pantry.

Dugouts actually make better use of space than an above ground home, because if you need to fit a bulky TV cabinet or sofa, you can just blow out a customised hole in the wall.

Alien remnants from the film Pitch Black. Photo: Kirsten Robb

Opal dreamsSince 1915, people have been looking for opal in Coober Pedy. After World War II, a flood of European miners came, trying their luck on the opal fields. And you need luck to find opals.

Opal mining is so difficult and relies on such chance that companies don’t bother with Coober Pedy. If they tried to mine here, they would go broke. Opal mining is exclusively the domain of hard-working individuals.

But the lifetime miners – those who witnessed the town’s booming nightclub and 24-hour restaurant days – have gotten old. And despite a big resurgence in opal prices, due to interest from China and India, they rarely pass the difficult trade down to their kids.

John Dunstan’s opal shop on the main strip of Coober Pedy. Photo: Kirsten Robb

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve had hardly any new opal miners coming to town;it’s mainly us older blokes, still hanging on,” says Mr Dunstan.

Dimitrois “Jimmy the runner” Nikoloudis, a lifetime miner known to all in town, believes the “golden age of Coober Pedy” mining is long gone.

“In my years, the average mining age would have been something like 25 years of age.The average today would probably be 69-70,” Mr Nikoloudis says.

“It has become a tourist attraction, about 10 per cent for miners and 90 per cent for the tourists. The mining? It’s just history now, we talk about it.”

Kirsten Robb travelled to Coober Pedy courtesy of SA Tourism


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14 Jan 19

Cake expert scores US appointment, Valentine’s Day dining and businesses changing handsNIBBLES

TALENT: Michelle Smith, of Cake Craze in Warners Bay, has been selected to teach the finer points of cake making and decorating in the US later this year.
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Michelle Smith says she is “still in shock” after learning on Sunday that she had been selected toteach at two of the biggest cake shows in the US in October: Confetti Fest Cask Show in Seattle, and The America’s Cake Fair in Orlando.

Michelle operates Cake Craze at Warners Baywhichspecialises in wedding cakes, dessert products, cake decorating classes and decorating supplies.

“I’ll be teaching a couple of different classes which includevarious techniques like stencilling, lustreand ruffles,” she told Food & Wine.

“I set the goal for myself last year that I would like to teach overseas and put Cake Craze on the map, so I sent some emails and put myself forward and presented class ideas to various shows in the US. I was so excited when they liked my ideas and wanted to book me for the classes.”

She will teach this class at her Warners Bay shopon April 29 and 30. The cost is $250 per person andconsists oftwohalf days from 10am to 2pm. Bookings can be made at cakecraze苏州夜场招聘.au.

Love is in the airFor all the lovers out there, a gentle reminder. Valentine’s Day is on February 14 and many Hunter restaurants are willing to help you impress that special person in your life.

Sprout Dining, upstairs at the Crown & Anchor, is offering a three-course dinner for $68 per person, which includes a cocktail or beer on arrival. February 14 seatingsbegin at 6pm.

Hobarts by Lesley Taylor, at Wests New Lambton, will be openfrom 6pm for the special occasion. Aset menu will offerhouse-made breads, amuse bouche, two entrees and a main course followed by Hobarts’ signature dessert, The Monet. The cost is $85 person.

The Stag & Hunter Hotel is offeringtwo-for-one desserts on February 14 while The Cheesecake Shop is introducing The Couple Cake.Perfect for two, this mud cake is coated with silky smooth pink truffle chocolate, then finished with a chocolate glaze drip and topped with two strawberries. At a cost of $19.95, it canbe pre-ordered instore or online at cheesecake苏州夜总会招聘.au.

Restaurant Botanica at Spicers Vineyards Estate is offering a three-course menu, complete withFrench champagne, petit fours, tea and coffee. The cost is $95 per person, bookings on 6574 7229.

Nanna Kerr’s Kitchen at Pokolbin is offering a four-course dinner, kicking off at 5.30pm and at a cost of $99 per person. Children are welcome ($49 per child) and dietary requirements can be catered for, if advised at the time of booking.

Chinese New YearBillabongs Restaurant at East Maitland Bowling Club is celebrating Chinese New Year on February 12 with an evening of Chinese culture –think traditional lion dancing, martial arts and oriental dancing.Doors open at 5.15pm and bookings are essential on 4934 5590.

Black Sheep newsAmie Golding has decided to pass on her beloved Black Sheep Cafe & Bar to new owners. To say it was a labour of love for Amie is an understatement.

On Facebook she wrote the following: “The Sheep was a personal goal for me. I wanted to create an environment and brand which is about honouring humans who are determined to better the world as individuals or part of a collective.

My goal was created and it’s time to pass Sheep over to someone else who can help it grow and blossom. Black Sheep was a huge endeavour for one person and I can openly admit that.

“I have learnt that you should always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you … I’m stepping out and taking this time to relax and see what else I’m able to create or other opportunities there are to offer.”

Time to partyMayfield’s Barrio 2304 is celebrating its seventh year in business on February 4 and you’re invited. For $35 per head you get beer or wine on entry, finger food and a DJ mixing tunes. Text 0423 265 692 to book.

High TeaOn the first Sunday of every month The Lucky Hotel will host a High Tea in its divine Champagne Room. The first High Tea will be held this Sunday, February 5, 2pm to 4pm. The cost is $39 per person which includes sweet and savoury canapes and coffee or tea. For $49 you will also receive a glass of sparkling wine on arrival. Bookings essential on 4952 8888.

New deli ownerPork Ewe Deli in Mayfield has a new owner. Samantha Glover opened the doors to the popular deli on Tuesday and is looking forward to meeting both regular customers and new faces.

Previous owner Shannon Davis has turned her attention to raising a family.

Glover has worked in the hospitality and Hunter wine-making game for many years and describes herself as a “tragic foodie from way back”. She told Food & Wine it would be business as usual at Pork Ewe Deli because “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. More on Samantha and Pork Ewe Deli in Food & Wine soon.

Table 1 expandsMerewether cafe Table 1 Espresso is branching out to Warners Bay.

Table 1 Espresso Warners Bay will open at the former Brown Dog restaurant, on The Esplanade in Lake Village Arcade, looking out over Lake Macquarie.

Owner George James says he’s “nervous, scared and losing sleep trying to organise another cafe” but can’t wait for it to open. He picks up the keys this week, will do some minor renovations and open in mid-to-late February. He is also looking for staff.

The cafe will be open for breakfast, lunchand, down the track, for dinner.


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14 Jan 19

Questions over Dungog, Maitland, Port Stephens mergers as Gabrielle Upton installed as Minister

Dungog Shire Mayor Cr Harold Johnston.Questions have been raised over whether proposed council mergers will go ahead, after a shake-up inside the NSW Government that introduced new blood in decision-making positions.
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But Dungog Shire Mayor Harold Johnston says the appointmentof a new Premier, Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister have made the situation more confusing.

New Premier Gladys Berejiklian named former Attorney General Gabrielle Upton as Local Government Minister, after a reshuffle of Cabinet on Sunday.

Ms Upton takes the place of Nationals MP Paul Toole who, along with former Premier Mike Baird, had beenweathering a storm of criticism from councils and communities across the state that had possiblemergers looming over them.

Ms Upton was sworn-into office on Monday.

Dungog Shire Council is at the heartof two merger proposals –one with Maitland and the other with Port Stephens –after it failed to classify as “fit for the future”.

A spokesman for Ms Uptonwould not comment on the Dungog merger proposalswhen contacted by Fairfax Media on Monday.

Questions about whether mergers wouldproceedintensified after Sunday’sreshuffle, which came little more than a week afterDeputy Premier John Barilaro, who became the Nationals leader in November,said his party would stand against further forced council mergers in regional areas.

Cr Johnston has previouslyexpressed a desire for Dungog to remain a stand-alone entity, despite the challenges the local government area faces.

He said on Monday that the change of minister and government leadership had not given him heart that a merger proposals would be quashed.

“We know what the National Party is saying about no more forced amalgamations but we don’tknow whether that’s the policy of the government, so we really have to wait and see,” Cr Johnston said.

“It’s added to the confusion. I hope it’s done in a prompt way so we have a direction. I think the community is tired of it, the council is tired of it –we just want to get on with it.”

The Mayor of Maitland, Cr Peter Blackmore.

The Mayor of Maitland, Cr Peter Blackmore, said it was“still early days”.

“The new Cabinet was only announced on Sunday and these sorts of decisions will have to go before a full Cabinet before a final decision is made,” he said.

“At this stage I think they are just flexing their muscle and testing the water.

“As far as Maitland Council is concerned we are down to business for the new year with the view that mergers are on the back burner and there are other things that are more important to concentrate on.”

Local Government NSW –the peak body for the state’s councils –welcomed the announcement that Ms Upton would be the new minister.

“I previously commended the Premier on her commitment to running a government which will take more time to listen the community, and I believe this appointment is a key step towards that,” President Keith Rhoades said.

“Deputy Premier and National Party Leader John Barilaro has spoken out strongly in defence of regional councils, saying it as time to end forced amalgamations in the bush. He’s listened to the community, and I am confident the new Minister will do the same.”


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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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12 Dec 18

Letters to the Editor: Saturday, February 4, 2017

TENSION: and the US have long enjoyed a close relationship, but a heated call between the new US President and Malcolm Turnbull could be a game-changer.
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HOW long will be silent before the madness that is Trump is called out for what it is? Is the offshore resettlement of 1000 refugees (yes, I said refugees not illegal immigrants) so vital that we will bow and scrape to a manwho is clearly determined to suppress the voices of all who oppose him?

Yes, our relationship with the US is important but so is our sense of decency and sovereignty.We can resolve this domestic issue of Nauru and Mannus – close the camps (yes, camps notprisons) and re-home these refugees in .

Our leaders need to stand their ground and show that is also an important player in the world economy.We are not to be ridiculed and mocked.

Draw a line in the sand Mr Turnbull, a bully is a bully is a bully.

Don’t let become a victim.

Kim Smith,AbermainShow day, for the kidsI WAS unhappy to read the Newcastle Show was struggling to stay open.I found it shameful to read the former state Labor Party in 2008 abolished the Showground Trust giving the management to Venues NSW.

I think the Hunter Business Chamber has a mean-spirited attitude because they deny the kids a public show holiday.

I would support Brett Gleeson, president of the Show Association, handing an application into Newcastle council for the public show holiday, as the Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said she still would support the show holiday, if an application was made by the association.

I reckon it’s time Newcastle council send a submission to the NSW government to bring back the assets, apply for a grant to update the show and re-establish the Newcastle Showground Exhibition Centre Trust.

In my opinion the kids are No. 1 and they need the show more than ever. In this day and age the kids are spending too much time in cyberspace and are becoming socially isolated and need a good dose of social interaction. There is no better way but to go to the show. Fun, fun, fun is good medicine.

Maureen O’Sullivan Davidson,SwanseaAll allowed an opinionIN response to Cheryl Daniel (Letters, 31/1) who statedthat, regarding the scare mongering of the Save Our Rail protesters, that my opinion doesn’t count because I live at Mayfield. I guess that in some ways I represent most of the population of Newcastle and I do expect to have an opinion and respect Cheryl’s right to have an opinion too.

I was commenting on the fact that all of the confusion that was predicted when the rail line was removed simply did not happen and most Novocastrians do not see that our city has been decapitated.

I also fail to see that Mr Baird can be blamed for more late trains and breakdowns from Scone and Dungog.

I believe that it was Voltaire that once said something like “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

That’s a democracy. And the people of Mayfield are allowed an opinion too.

Denise Lindus Trummel, MayfieldAnd then whatI WONDER if all those thousands of people who scream and march in protest against immigration controls – I believe 90 per centof whom are women – will take responsibility when our welfare system is overloaded and the government cannot pay pensions, unemployment benefits, subsidise crèches, give rental allowance, and so on – which of course will happen.

Will they take responsibility for their actions when bombs explode in schools and violence gets out of control on the streets and rape becomes a ‘normal’ occurrence?

It is easy to protest when you don’t have to be held responsible for the end results of your actions.

Tom Edwards, Wangi WangiThink of the childrenIT’S so good to know the Newcastle Herald is determined to protect our children (“Scripture suspension call over ‘dead animal dissection’ lesson”,Herald,31/1).

Hopefully soon there will be articles about the safe schools program, insisting it’s removed because it certainly doesn’t protect our children.

Also I hope to see an attack on the media about the sexualisation of children and TV stations that broadcast M-rated programs on free to air TV during times when children are likely to be watching TV.

I know that many will be concerned about the amount of violence and killings that are shown as indicated by recent concern about some SRE lessons.

Helen Walkom, HillsboroughEducation for tolerance​I AM surprised and disappointed that someone so committed to social justice such as Rod Bower seems to be advocating the removal of SRE in public schools (‘Scripture in schools ‘needs to be reconsidered’: priest’,Herald,1/2).

Father Rod should volunteer an hour out of his busy week and accompany one of the many SRE teachers in his area and see what happens in class. He may spend a half-hour or so in a world much bigger than a world of moribund secularism, where God can be discovered, explored and learned about.

Students that I have taught in SRE over nearly 20 years have been thoughtful, respectful and tolerant of other beliefs during class time.

SRE helps students discover that there is a big world out there that God has been involved in throughout human history.

A tolerant, secular society would never ban SRE in schools.

Michael Deal, WinghamCondition not understoodIN reference to the article ‘Fight to beat trauma’, (Herald,2/1)I wanted to let Michelle know she is not alone in her battle with PTSD and workers’ compensation.

I am a victim of a violent attack, at school two years prior, with a PTSD and depression diagnosis. Both the employer and the insurer have very little understanding of how the psychological injury affects daily life, yet despite having no certificate of capacity they still put pressure on you to return.

This continual harassment only makes the PTSD worse and prevents you from getting better. I have lost everything. Which part don’t they understand?

Name supplied, Warners BayLetter of the weekThe Herald pen goes toSue Leask for her letter about religious education.


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12 Dec 18

Short Takes: Monday, February 6, 2017

DEAR online service providers. I appreciate that call centres in far flung places like India and South Africa are cheaper but please note: English is my first language and only language. I have problems understanding Indian. Lots. Please speak to me in English, or put me onto an English speaker.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Andrew Whitbread-Brown, Cardiff HeightsMUNDINE gave Green a boxing display. Love him or hate him he’s a class boxer. Not many in history of boxing have turned pro after a month.

Mark Sheerin, Hamilton SouthELDER abuse in residential aged care is a bigger problem than most realise. There is no reason for anyone to be silent about this abuse. Abuse can be reported to the aged care complaints commissioner: 1800 550 552. They say silence gives consent.

Richard Ryan, Summerland PointWHY all the whinging about Trump’s wall? It’s already been proven to work. The Great Wall of China has been there for over 600 years and, from what I’ve heard, there’s no illegal Mexicans living up that way.

Eddie Niszczot,ThorntonTO add to the confusion of motorists not stopping at the Stop signs at Burwood Road and Glebe Street, Kahibah,someone has erected another two Stop signs, at the intersections of Hexham Street and Kahibah Road, Kahibah. I can only surmise that these will be ignored, or are invisible. Three vehicles in front of me drove straight through. I consider these new signs dangerous.

Daphne Hughes,KahibahWHAT a shemozzle. The deal between someone it’s claimed is President of the United States and our own Prime Minister turns out to be a dumb (not done) deal. Surely it would be auspicious for to reassess our alliance. Historicallywe’ve more than repaid America for its WWII contribution. New Zealand seem to be doing well with their more arm’s length relationship.The saddest part of all this however is those poor people on Nauru, hanging on a cliff’s edge.

Anne Phillips,WallarahANTHONY Mundine says he will be remembered as the greatest when I think he may be remembered as a hypocrite. Living behind gates in a multi-million dollar home, Anthony is suckling of the advantages a multicultural growing country brings. He had the chance to bring a nation together and be a champion for indigenous people but he chose to put a wedge as deep as he could.

David Finn, Warners BayTHE POLLSSHOULD building heights be lifted in Nelson Bay?

Yes 56%,No 44%DO you think children are aware of the funding differences between schools?

Yes 59%,No 41%MESSAGEBOARDBELMONT View Club will meet on Wednesday, Feburary 15, at 10.30am at Central Charlestown Leagues Club. New members and visitors welcome.

Phone 4951 1524.


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