Letter: Ideal worth remembrance

Newcastle’s Remembrance Day ceremony.ONCE again we have a small school cowering to minority groups and receiving five minutes of fame.
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Carrington Public School has decided to ban prayers and hymns at this year’s Remembrance Day.

Reason, the school was overwhelmingly secular.

Has the school ever considered that the day is about our service people and their immense sacrifices in hellish circumstances, not some frustrated social engineers looking to make a personal stand and all the publicity that flows from that.

I would hazard a guess that in such dire times our Diggers sought comforts in a prayer or two, and who wouldn’t?

In recent times we have witnessed schools make arbitrary decisions from singing ‘‘baa baa rainbow sheep’’, to not being allowed to do cartwheels, no contact, and now this.

Seriously, we expect two things from our education staff, a good education and to remain safe and well.

Please do that and leave the life decisions to the parents.

Adam Hahn,

Newcastle


Explosives drama in Bookaar

A 50-metre exclusion zone was set up around a Bookaar house and officers from the Bomb Response Unit were called in from Melbourne to dispose of explosives.CAMPERDOWN police are makinginquiries after boxes of gelignite were located at a Gnotuk Road property on Tuesday.
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Senior Constable Tony Hassett said a sheriff attended to take possession of the property on Tuesday morning and when there found three firearms and boxes of Powergel containing about 20 sticks of explosives.

The sheriff contacted Camperdown police which led to a50-metre exclusion zone being set up around the house.

Officers from the Bomb Response Unit were called in from Melbourne to dispose of the items.

Senior Constable Hassett said the owner of the property was interstate.

The man aged in his late 40s or early 50s is a fencing contractor and licensed to use the explosives in the course of his employment.

It is expected the owner of the gelignite will be talked to by police and he could be charged with explosive-related offences.

Warrnambool detectives are carrying out further investigations.

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Gauge This lines up at Maitland for fourth week

Future Stars place getter Gauge This will run at Maitland Showground for the fourth straight week today.
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BEST BET: Gauge This, barely visible in the No.2 rug near the rail as it crosses the line for third place, will run at Maitland tonight.

The 21-month-old black dog will line up in the fourth event on the 10-race card for Greta-based ­trainer Walter Simmons.

Gauge This finished second last week over the same 400-metre distance after a 1-3 start to his career in the Future Stars series.

Gauge This won his Future Stars heat first up on October 23 in a time of 22.73 seconds before running third (22.63s) by a head and a neck respectively to Master Gee (22.61s) and Lord Licrick (22.62s) a week later in the final.

Today’s fifth grade race is worth $540 to the winner with Gauge This jumping from box three.

Maitland Greyhound Club sponsorship and promotions manager Fred Robertson said Gauge This (race four, number three) was his best bet of the day.

In other races Wallamba Buzz and Sir Redmond will be trying to make it three wins on the trot in sixthover 450m.

Two heats of the Maitland Mercury maiden series open the program today, masters events finish the card while a pair of 565m heats will also be held.

Race one jumps at 3.32pm.

Racing continues at Maitland tomorrow with another 10-event card.

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Sundowner focus on safety

Sundowner: Rural and remote women will be informed of farm health and safety measures during WMG Harvest Widow’s Sundowner.AS scores of farmers across the West Midlands busily prepare machinery and organise labour, spare a thought for the grain industry’s unsung heroes, the partners and wives of farmers.
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Local grower group, West Midlands Group (WMG) is hosting a Harvest Widow’s Sundowner on November 21 in recognition of the support women provide during harvest. The event will offer the region’s harvest widows time out from the farm and deliver timely education about farm safety in the home and around the property.

Silver Chain primary remote area nurse Jody Morton will ask the question, “farming is a healthy lifestyle: myth/fact?” and will touch on ways farming families can improve their health and safety and injury prevention options for incidents such as snakes bikes and all-terrain vehicles.

The tragic events associated with snake bites recently has prompted this warning ahead of summer.

Valerie Fowler, FEC will also give a short presentation on home safety for children and electricity.

WMG chief executive officer Anne Wilkins said the role women played in farming businesses such as farm health and safety was a key element in the success of the agricultural industry.

Often being a farmer’s wife is a lonely and thankless job so the WMG have developed a women’s committee to address the intrinsic issues that go with living and working in rural areas.

The presentations will be followed by a sumptuous array of canapes and drinks. There will also be free entertainment for the children and a sausage sizzle.


Protectionist to parade at Broadmeadow on Sunday

Punters from around the Hunter will have the chance to see Protectionist and the Melbourne Cup this weekend.
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NEW HOME: Protectionist with Jamie and Kellie Lovett.Picture by PERRY DUFFIN

The champion horse and the most famed trophy in Australian sport will be on display at Broadmeadow Racecourse on Sunday.

It will be run as part of a Newcastle Jockey Club [NJC] race meeting with a special function to mark the achievement of the Hunter-based owners, Belmont’s Jamie Lovett and Aberglasslyn’s Luke Murrell, from Australian Bloodstock.

“The NJC have been good enough to put on a function on behalf of the horse,” Lovett told the Mercury.

“We’re local boys and we’re very proud of the fact we are able to bring the cup to Newcastle.

“And obviously on Sunday it will be there for everyone to have a look at it, and the star of the show Protectionist will be paraded for the crowd.

“If you enjoy your horses he’s a ­magnificent horse to have a look at.

“It’s pretty special to be here in Newcastle to do that.”

WATCH THE VIDEO:Melbourne Cup champion Protectionist arrives in Hunter

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Warrnambool College girls fairytale dashed at final hurdle

BACK-TO-BACK matches proved a burden too big as Warrnambool College finished runner-up at School Sport Victoria’s (SSV) junior girls’ hockey finals.
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Warrnambool College lost its grand final to Melbourne’s Koonung Secondary College 3-0 at Footscray Hockey Centre yesterday.

The defeat delivered a disappointing end to a near-perfect day for the young side which featured a mix of years 7 and 8 students.

Warrnambool College opened with a 4-1 win against Brunswick Secondary College and backed up by beating Mildura’s Trinity Lutheran College, 4-1.

A narrow 2-1 win against the powerful Maribyrnong Secondary College, secured with two Kelsey Ratcliffe goals, clinched the grand final berth.

But the fairytale was not to be. Co-coach Lyn Lanman said Koonung had an extra hour of rest before the grand final which proved invaluable.

“We lost but I thought our kids played extraordinarily well. They (Koonung) had won all their games,” she said.

“Their first game was 12-0. I don’t know what the other games were but they won convincingly all day.

“Our kids did take it up to them. It was just fatigue in the end that they dropped away a bit.”

Lanman said Kelsey and Teri-Lynn Drummond led the scoring for the day. Full-back Jasmine Shears and goalkeeper Sam Jackway were also key contributors.

Naticia Varley also earned plaudits for her efforts in a variety of positions, depending on what tactics the coaches adopted.

“Whenever I needed to place someone in a different position, to create a change in strategy, she’d be the one who had to carry the load,” Lanman said.

She said the girls enjoyed playing hockey against girls their own age.

“In Warrnambool they’re often playing against older boys in mixed teams. They don’t get to shine as much,” she said.

The junior girls are one of three Warrnambool College sides chasing SSV hockey glory in the next fortnight. The intermediate boys are in action at Footscray today while the junior boys get their chance next Monday.

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Turning up the heat on canola

UNSEASONABLY hot weather reduced the yield potential of many Western Australian canola crops this year, but research could help deliver varieties with better heat tolerance in the future.
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Recognising that canola is vulnerable to heat stress, particularly at flowering time, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is supporting canola heat tolerance research at The University of Western Australia (UWA).

The research started in 2013 and is part of the National Brassica Germplasm Improvement Program which aims to provide canola breeders with advanced genetic material, incorporating new or improved traits, so Australian growers have access to cultivars that allow them to compete effectively on world markets.

“WA canola crops particularly in the northern and eastern grain-belt – suffered from heat stress this season and this is likely to happen again in future seasons,” UWA Institute of Agriculture and School of Plant Biology researcher Sheng Chen said.

“The damaging heat stress occurred when the canola crops were at the early flowering stage.

“Severe heat stress during flowering reduces canola seed yield and affects seed quality and next year we should have sufficient data to quantify the effect of heat stress on canola seed yield and quality.”

Dr Chen and his colleagues are in the early stages of screening more than 100 internationally-sourced canola lines from places including Europe, China and India in a bid to identify lines with good heat tolerance.

“We hope to isolate lines that are more heat tolerant than existing Australian commercial lines and which can be used in Australian canola breeding programs in coming years,” he said.

The heat tolerance trials are taking place in ‘controlled environment rooms’ (CERs) and in the field.

In the CERs, the canola lines are being subjected to five different temperature combinations at flowering time, including high temperatures of 25 degrees, 32 degrees and 35 degrees.

Dr Chen said it was too early to determine which canola lines had superior heat tolerance, but independent research led by Wallace Cowling at the UWA Institute of Agriculture had identified some heat tolerant lines of Brassica rapa, an ancestor of canola grown as an oilseed or vegetable crop in some countries.

Professor Cowling said the research involving Brassica rapa had been conducted at UWA since 2008, and had been supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project scheme and industry partners since 2011.

“The goal has been to find heat tolerance genes in Brassica rapa, as these could easily be transferred into canola lines by plant breeders,” he said.


OPINION: Need to encourage innovation

NEWCASTLE’S mayor needs to have the integrity of a true independent to avoid the squalid politics involving the major parties and vested interests.
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As mayor I will encourage dialogue between innovative staff and empower action that bypasses the entrenched bureaucracy that I believe is limiting creativity.

Senior management spends large amounts of ratepayer revenue, and this can be freed up for productive investment by rationalising.

I will immediately donate $15,000 from the mayoral allowance to attach solar panels onto council workshops, once elected. The Hamilton North gasworks would be perfect for a networking solar power station.

My vision of Newcastle is as a self-sustaining energy producer, delivering revenues back to the community. At present corporate energy marketers profit by selling us expensive electricity after buying it cheaply. If the council provided this service to the community at a similar commission, rates could be lowered, with the potential for installing local generating capacity.

One of the council’s largest expenditures is machinery, operating at a fraction of its capacity. While 24/7 building and maintenance is unfeasible, shared rostering with neighbouring councils would better utilise equipment.

Coal’s days are numbered and the declining price is largely due to the rest of the world moving away the high costs associated with using old polluting technology.

Globally the focus is towards cheap, clean renewables, which are now providing most of the growth in the energy market. Still our region continues to squander billions on coal speculation that’s becoming unviable.

Oddly, instead of governments leading the transition to new job-creating technologies in 3D printing and biotechnology, financiers and politicians are programming our city and country to fail. As industries close, Australia’s productive capacity is redirected towards developing short-term speculative greed.

The people of the Hunter won’t accept the substandard infrastructure that has been secretly planned.

City revitalisation must be debated in a transparent forum and council’s compliance should not be dictated by developers or by people in Sydney.

Ugly high-rise apartment blocks planned to blight our uniquely beautiful city are a scandal, and vacant buildings all over need occupying now.

The empty BHP site would be a more appropriate place to build the ‘‘Shanghai of the south’’. Anything’s possible.

I believe the council has not been encouraging artists and creative people.

Newcastle Community Arts Centre is threatened with closure, and this is a grim step further, after the art gallery fiasco.

Rail infrastructure needs upgrading, not destroying. In other cities, rail lines are trenched below ground and apartments built above operating lines – these are considered desirable homes for commuters.

Providing internet on trains could lessen working hours, and rail speeds need to be increased by running drones along the rails in front of passenger trains to relay real time data to drivers.

How many bridges were built over the Hunter Expressway without a flyover for Stewart Avenue? The congestion between Parry Street and Honeysuckle Drive traffic lights is ridiculous.

Newcastle’s dilapidation has been made by Sydney’s state government showing nothing but total contempt for the people of Newcastle.

Rod Holding is a removalist who ran for the seat of Newcastle in the 2013 federal election. He will stand as an independent in the lord mayoral byelection in Newcastle this Saturday.

Newcastle mayoral vote November 15: candidates forum

Mayoral vote: everything you need to know


G20 Brisbane 2014: World awaits Tony Abbott and Team Australia

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.At the beginning of this year, Tony Abbott was preaching hairy-chested government austerity at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Thanks to a Senate which, by majority, didn’t seem to share his view about the “debt and deficit disaster” left to him by Labor, and to declining iron ore prices, Abbott is operating on a budget with a bigger deficit, and greater debt, than projected by Labor, but he probably has a government doing better than it might have been.
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His Treasurer, Joe Hockey, is talking about being “very focused on maintaining economic momentum in the Christmas period and beyond” and is making something of a virtue of having no plans to raise further revenue or to impose further cuts on government spending.  For the moment at least, this is a government that is pump priming – which is to say spending – just to maintain the level of economic activity, with talk of the need for severe cuts to government expenditure, so as to liberate the potential of the private sector, put aside.

It’s not as if the economy is in deep trouble by international standards.  Annual growth seems to be about on target, and, perhaps in part because of the government’s frustrations in the Senate, the money being pumped into the economy has unemployment and interest rates at more or less satisfactory levels.

But there is a good deal of economic gloom not so evident at the beginning of the year. World economic conditions, which seemed on the improve, are now faltering, and unpredictable. The recovery that seemed evident in the United States seems to have stalled, and before delivering much of an improvement to employment, even the low-wage employment that is becoming more and more the norm there. Almost all of the economies of Europe, and all of the economies of our Asian trading partners, including China and Japan, have slowed or are going backwards.

The weakness around the world is reducing demand and prices for our raw materials, including iron ore. But it also bodes ill for business confidence and  investment, as well as for the government’s bottom lines.

All governments have less for investing in infrastructure, jobs, education and vocational training, and better health care. That’s quite apart from the reduced public spending imposed on particularly weak economies in austerity regimes that were conditions of rescuing governments from debt default.

The experience of the past six years has not yet justified the confidence of the cut-debt, deficit- and-public-spending school, that very tough doses of medicine kills the disease more quickly, and makes recovery quicker.  And, alas for those who hope that it will be proper recovery in the US that becomes the engine room of a fresh bout of growth – the American people have recently elected a congress devoted to reduced expenditure, and also in chronic opposition to whatever the President proposes.

Abbott and his ministers have invested considerable energy on bilateral negotiations designed to get more open markets with some of our trading partners, including China, Japan and Korea, but the benefits of such arrangements to us are unlikely to be obvious during the medium-term economic and political cycle, because trade volumes are likely to decline, even with greater access to markets. The most we can hope for in the short term, and even this is by no means certain,  is that our total export volumes, though lower, will be a higher proportion of the net imports of the countries  with which we have made such deals.

By no means does this undermine the general  desirability of seeking and achieving somewhat freer markets, but it does suggest that the government is not likely to see any immediate political or economic dividend.  Joe Hockey, on Adelaide radio on Tuesday, remarked that “I don’t think, from what I have been briefed, the free trade agreement with China, if it is going to be signed, is going to provide Australian businesses with massive opportunities in the second biggest economy in the world that we do not get today”.

He said that by way of partial distraction from the commonsense remark by Bill Heffernan that all of the benefits from a free trade agreement could be undermined by  movements in the Chinese-Australian exchange rate: the more probable given that China does not float its currency.

At this stage of the week, the government’s domestic propaganda focus is on constant repletion of the idea that Australia and the other OPEC economies  are the most dynamic in the world, and with the most economic potential.  America and China are anxious to maintain growth of APEC, and to reduce barriers to trade, and movements of labour, not only by bilateral agreements but with Trans-Pacific Partnership agreements. By week’s end, the action will have shifted to Brisbane, with Abbott hosting G20, again with a focus on kickstarting economies and getting serious growth in local economies and in world trade.  Around the table will be world leaders responsible, as Abbott said on Tuesday, for 85 per cent of world GDP, 75 per cent of world trade, and 60 per cent of the world’s population.

Abbott has high hopes. “There’ll be no hiding behind lofty words and motherhood statements   in Brisbane,” he said on Tuesday. “Each nation’s domestic growth strategy will have been peer-reviewed and then the strategies will be published for the world to see.

“These, together with the Brisbane Action Plan, will ensure that people back in each of the G20 nations will know, straight after the summit, exactly how their leaders propose to drive new economic growth and deliver new jobs. So there will be a domestic expectation upon leaders to deliver at home, and an expectation from fellow G20 leaders who have resolved to hold each other accountable.”

So there it is. Not a talkfest, but an opportunity for the top economies to show they can deliver.  The trouble is, of course, that each and every one of the 20 nations involved, including Australia, have been publishing peer-reviewed plans for getting their economies in order, and back into good growth, since forever.  But there is no sign that good intentions, or serious resolve, have made much difference. Even powerful authoritarian nations seem to have declining capacity to command their economies. And others have experimented with every known nostrum without much to show for it. Ask Japan, whose economy has been in the doldrums for more than a decade. Or China, which has little idea of which levers to pull at the moment, and no sure feel for when, where and how the landing will occur. Or the US, which has pumped billions into the nation’s arteries, yet can hardly detect a heartbeat.

It does not seem likely that Australia will be showing its leadership merely by telling the other nations to get the fundamentals right. One can, of course, continue to mouth slogans, for they are little more than that, about the key to recovery being the stimulation of sustainable private-sector led growth and employment, or respect for markets. Even China was saying this at APEC. It’s hard to imagine that the joint conference resolution, as likely as ever to be mostly pabulum, will be reciting from the Abbott mantra that “you can’t spend what you haven’t got; no country has ever taxed or subsidised its way to prosperity; and, you don’t address debt and deficit with yet more debt and deficit”.

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Kiwis will be on-song for final: Nightingale

Battered and bruised Kiwis winger Jason Nightingale at a media conference on Tuesday. Picture: GETTY IMAGESRUGBY LEAGUE
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Kiwis winger Jason Nightingale believes his team were on the “decline” heading into last year’s World Cup final before being ambushed by the Kangaroos as they look to overcome a mini-injury crises before the Four-Nations finals.

Australia played almost the perfect 80 minutes of football when it beat the Kiwis 34-2 to claim last year’s World Cup.

But Nightingale said his team was more confident to walk away as Four-Nation’s champions.

“We went in with a similar game against England [last year],” Nightingale said.

“It was a tough game against England. Our performances were starting to decline [at the World Cup]. In the semi final we didn’t play our best footy and in the final we were far from our best.

“We only beat England by a couple of points but we played really well. I see us improving. [The first game against Australia] really means nothing now. It wasn’t the final. This is a final. We can finish the tournament saying we beat the Australians once or we can finish it saying we won the Four Nations. There is a big difference between the two.”

The Kiwis have been rocked by injury woes after their brutal victory against England on Saturday.

In-form hooker Thomas Leuluai has been ruled out of the final with a shoulder injury, while Dean Whare (foot) has skipped training this week.

Tohu Harris (shoulder) is also in doubt with Gerard Beale and Bodene Thompson on standby for the injured duo.

Penrith utility Lewis Brown has been recalled to the interchange bench for Leuluai.

Warriors utility Leuluai started in New Zealand’s wins against Australia and England, but sustained a shoulder injury – as well as a badly gashed face – against England in Dunedin on the weekend.

Nightingale was also sporting battle wounds from the clash against England, with seven stitches needed to repair a cut forehead while both eyes remain bruised.

Nightingale said Leuluai’s injury would be a setback.

“He did a lot of great things for us.”

“For him not being able to back up is a shame. He is a great leader. Someone you get confidence out of,” Nightingale said.

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