Tourism increase

22/07/2018 // by admin

COULD Singleton become the main gateway to the Hunter Valley vineyards?
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Broke Fordwich could be one of the big benefactors from an increase in visitors to the region.

That’s the thoughts and hopes of Singleton Council and local tourism operators after the Visitor Information and Enterprise Centre recorded a five per cent increase in visitors compared to this time last year.

The past two months were compared with last year and it showed a correlation between the opening of the Hunter Expressway and an increase in visitors.

With Singleton being the final stop on the highway and the vineyards only a short drive away, instead of just passing through the town, people are making a day out of seeing all there is to offer in the area.

“We’ve experienced an uptake of visitors to our region and we think it has a lot to do with the opening of the new Hunter Expressway,” Broke Fordwich Tourism Association president Eden Anthony said.

“Hopefully this leads to more employment and an increase in midweek traffic to the vineyards.”

Council is working to create more interest in Singleton and it’s surrounds through the revamp of its visitsingleton南京夜网 website.

“We have a unique opportunity to capitalise on the growing domestic market. With award-winning wineries, restaurants, events and accommodation just minutes from our town centre, the future for Singleton’s visitor economy looks bright,” Singleton Council general manager Lindy Hyam said.

Studies by Roy Morgan show that Australians are increasingly planning on holidaying with almost 58 per cent of intended holidays expected to be in Australia in the next 12 months.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

OPINION: Amateur hunting hopelessly ineffective

22/07/2018 // by admin

By David Shoebridge, Greens Member of the Legislative Council
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In reply to Gary Mallard’s opinion piece regarding”Greens deception over anti-killing stance”

In his defence of the blood-sport of amateur hunting Mr Mallard claims campaigns against amateur hunting fail to address effective control measures for introduced species.

Unfortunately for the pro-hunting lobby, the evidence is clear that amateur hunting is in fact hopelessly ineffective at controlling introduced species.

The government-funded “Game Council” received more than $15million of government funding to lobby for amateur hunting and license more than 20,000 amateur hunters to hunt in the twomillion hectares of state forests the government approved for hunting.

The data produced by the Game Council to show its “success” was an annual tally of animals that its licensed amateur hunters had killed.

The figures from 2009 to 2013 are as follows:

These figures show that, on average, a licensed amateur hunter in NSW killed just one introduced animal a year, and most often that was a rabbit.

None of the hunting carried out by amateur hunters in NSW is coordinated or incorporated into a pest management plan, but is instead determined by the ad hoc preferences of amateur hunters.

Amateur hunters kill hundreds, or in some cases a few thousand, introduced animals from populations that are in the millions.

The evidence is that Australia has about sevenmillion foxes, 18 million cats, threemillion goats, millions of rabbits and between fourand 24 million introduced pigs.

Introduced animals have such large populations primarily because they have extremely high reproduction rates with a large “doomed surplus” each year.

This means most young do not survive to adulthood, but those that dobreed at such high rates they fully replace last season’s population.

Killing small numbers of a given population will therefore have no effect, as other animals, whichwould otherwise have died from the range of natural causes, then fill this niche.

The proportion of a population that needs to be removed to achieve an overall reduction in population from one year to the next is as follows:

When you look at just one species, such as cats, the inevitable failure of amateur hunting is easily demonstrated.

To effectively control the population, 57 per cent would need to be removed to have fewer cats in an area the next year.

The Game Council’s own figures show that the combined effort of amateur hunters in 2013 removed a total of 290 wild cats from millions of hectares of public forest, from a population estimated in the millions.

Amateur hunting took only a tiny fraction of feral cats from the already “doomed surplus”.

Their removal has made not one jot of difference to the wild cat population anywhere in NSW.

The same analysis can be applied to every species of animal killed by Game Council-licensed hunters.

Apart from small areas of land thatare subject to intensive, scientific and professional animal control programs, over the rest of the country introduced animals are controlled by their environment.

Competition for food, for habitat and natural predation keeps their numbers in check, not hunters.

Putting to one side the almost inevitable cruelty of amateur hunting practices such as pig-dogging and bow hunting, the evidence backs up our call for an immediate end to state-sanctioned and taxpayer-subsidised amateur hunting in our public forests.

* Tables fromInvasive Species Fact Sheet, “Recreational Hunting NSW: claims vs facts”

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Signs of ringworm in animals

22/07/2018 // by admin

RINGWORM: An example of the fungal infection STORY: Ringworm cases on rise in cats, dogs
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RINGWORM is a fungal disease which creates scaly skin with a red outer rim.

The infection spreads through contact, and can be transferred from cats and dogs to humans.

Typical areas of infection in animals are the face, paws, ears and tail, and the infection often results in hair loss.

Scabs and crusts are often formed.

Common treatments include tablets and antibiotic antifungal creams.

Bendigo vet Max Tori said it was important pet owners sought treatment for their pets.

Some cases of ringworm will naturally cease, while others require multiple treatments. Environmental management is also important.

Vets recommend pets are well-groomed and regular brushing will help remove fungal spores.

Vacuuming also helps to remove contagious hair from flooring, and it’s recommended the bedding of infected animals is thrown away.

Pets should also be kept isolated from other animals.

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OPINION: Interventions in birth need to be challenged

15/02/2019 // by admin

AUSTRALIA has high rates of medical and surgical intervention during birth, especially in private hospitals.
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While these interventions can be harmful if overused, people working in the private sector have argued they have resulted in better health for babies. Research using a large population-based sample shows this is not so.

Birth interventions include labour being induced, the mother being given an epidural, birth by caesarean section, the use of forceps or a suction cup on the baby’s head for delivery, and a surgical cut to the perineum to make the vaginal opening wider.

Such interventions should only be used where there is a medical need. And since they create new risk, women should be told about the benefits and risks of the intervention before it takes place.

In 2012, we published research showing low-risk women having their babies in private hospitals in NSW had much higher rates of obstetric intervention than those giving birth at a public hospital.

Expecting mothers are categorised as low-risk if they are under 35 years of age, have a full-term baby (37 to 42 weeks) with normal birth weight, do not smoke and have no medical or obstetric complications. The latter include high blood pressure, diabetes, a previous caesarean section, twins or breech birth, among other things.

Looking at data from 2000 to 2008, we found only 15 per cent of low-risk first-time mothers in private hospitals had a normal vaginal birth without intervention compared with 35 per cent in public hospitals. Overall, first-time mothers had a 20 per cent lower chance of having a normal birth in private hospitals compared with public hospitals. When we published our findings, privately practising obstetricians defended their intervention rate, recognising it was high, but noting it was worth doing to save babies’ lives. This makes perfect sense, but we wanted to know whether there was any evidence for this position.

The result was a paper we have just published in BMJ Open. We looked again at low-risk women giving birth in NSW between 2000 and 2008. This time, we examined problems that required medical attention following birth and re-admission to hospital within 28 days, as well as the rate of intervention at birth. We also looked at stillbirths and infant deaths up to 28 days following birth.

We found babies born in private hospitals were more likely to be born before 40 weeks gestation (as they are more likely to have their labour induced or have an elective caesarean section before 40 weeks) and they were more likely to have some form of resuscitation at birth.

They were also more likely to have a problem following birth and to be readmitted to hospital in their first 28 days for birth trauma, hypoxia (lack of oxygen during birth) jaundice, feeding, sleep or behavioural difficulties, and breathing problems.

All may be associated with higher rates of medical intervention. They also lead to a longer stay in hospital following birth, and separation of mother and child.

There was no difference in the death rates between babies born in the two types of hospitals.

But why had the obstetricians responding to our 2012 report thought their higher rates of intervention had been saving babies’ lives?

Part of the reason might be a 2009 paper that concluded better health for babies born in private Australian hospitals. This research had only looked at one data set (we looked at five) and did not control for important risk factors, such as low birth weight, which can lead to more deaths and medical problems in the baby.

And there is an even bigger problem with wider ramifications. A recent Queensland study showed a significant number of pregnant women are not consulted in decision-making about the medical procedures they undergo, or informed of their risks and benefits.

This can lead to trauma and disempowerment and can affect how mothers connect with their newborn babies. Some women are so traumatised, they become depressed and even develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Women about to give birth should question interventions to assess whether they are necessary. For those with low-risk healthy pregnancies, private obstetric care in a private hospital, with higher rates of intervention, may lead to avoidable problems for babies.

Hannah Dahlen is professor of midwifery at the University of Western Sydney. Sally Tracy is professor of midwifery at the University of Sydney. This article ran on The Conversation

OPINION: Coal industry decline in Hunter inevitable

15/02/2019 // by admin

FEDERAL member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon responded to the recent loss of 500 more jobs in Hunter mines by saying the region would be an economic “basket case” if the coal industry is withdrawn.
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He is ignoring the fact that the industry is withdrawing anyway, and that we need a government willing to support the diversity of the Hunter economy and help coal workers transition to a low carbon future.

The coal industry is facing decline, and communities are bearing the costs of an industry that is ignoring economic logic. While the list of proposed coalmines and expansions is long, internationally the price of coal is falling – this oversupply of coal is to blame for these job losses.

Reports of a structural decline in coal and the risk of stranded assets are becoming daily news items, as demand for our coal from both India and China slows.

In our communities, farmers, winemakers, horse breeders, rural business people, workers, parents and grandparents are calling on governments to recognise that our future does not lie in coal, and that we need to plan ahead for a diverse and sustainable economy that is not reliant on mining.

Mining is not in the top five employers in the Hunter. It is ninth (at 5 per cent) behind healthcare and social assistance (13 per cent); retail; manufacturing; construction; education and training; accommodation and food services; public administration and safety; professional, scientific and technical services.

The price of coal has dropped from $US130 a tonne in 2011 to $US81.50 now. At least half of Australia’s mines operate at a loss when the price of coal is below $US87.

The coal industry has responded with attempts to improve “efficiency” by up to 25 per cent. Between August 2012 and August 2013, 11,000 jobs were lost nationally. It is clear that the times of having a well-paid, lifetime job in the mines are over.

International demand for coal is declining. Japan, our key long-term customer, is pushing the downward trend in coal prices.

Xstrata Coal has locked in a contract for the power station operator Tohoku Electric Power Company, setting the benchmark for export coal that indicates there is little hope for any price recovery.

Australia is vulnerable to these changes, as has been highlighted in a recent report by academics from the University of Oxford.

They note that the impact of the numerous mining projects proposed here will put further downward pressure on the price of coal, and that we are at risk of creating a swath of stranded assets if we do not plan properly.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis highlighted a decline in demand for coal from India, and said coal projects proposed for the Galilee basin were likely to be financially unviable because of this.

They expect India to follow China’s lead and move towards renewable energy, which is becoming increasingly cheaper – the cost of solar in India has fallen 65 per cent in three years.

Much of the recent growth we’ve seen in exports from the Port of Newcastle was an expansion into the Chinese market.

In 2008-09 our coal exports to China were 3.75 per cent of the make-up of exports.

Now they are nearly 20 per cent.

Yet China is moving away from coal.

Campaigns in China by communities concerned about air pollution have led to the Chinese government setting solid targets for reducing coal consumption, with 12 of 34 provinces committing to controlling the use of coal.

These provinces cover 44 per cent of China’s total coal consumption.

The NSW and federal governments here ought to heed these warnings.

Lee Rhiannon is a Greens senator

REVIEW: Boy&Bear

15/02/2019 // by admin

TIGHT UNIT: Boy & Bear at Newcastle Panthers. Picture: Max Mason-HubersBOY & BEAR
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Newcastle Panthers

May 17

THE club was bursting at the seams with Boy & Bear fans. There were young children in miniature rock T-shirts clutching parents, loved-up teens holding hands and adults who seem to span every walk of life packed tightly into the large auditorium.

There was even a smattering of old-timers throughout the crowd, likely the original indie rock fans from the early 1980s.

The Sydney five-piece’s second studio album, Harlequin Dreams, was recorded in Sydney and reached number 1 on the ARIA albums chart in its debut week.

And for good reason.

The band strikes you as talented musicians first and famous second, with their obvious musical skill and glowing passion for their smooth, folk-inspired rock sounds.

Band members David Hosking, Tim Hart, Killian Gavin, Jonathan Hart and relatively new addition David Symes each appeared on stage bathed in an orange glow, while Electric Light Orchestra’s Evil Woman played in the background.

They launched headfirst into the set with a lively spirit and vibrancy.

The crowd joined in on the harmonies of Rabbit Song, crooning along with the impressed band.

‘‘Can I just say, I had no idea so many people liked us!’’ said singer Dave Hosking between songs, which was met with screams of approval and applause.

The set slowed as title track Harlequin Dreams begun, with Hosking bathed in purple howling beautifully to the heavy bass line. The number was a welcome contrast in tempo from their earlier upbeat songs.

Lead single from the second album, Southern Sun, reinvigorated the crowded room once again with the catchy electric guitar riff in the chorus.

Three songs from the end of the set, the band announced to a slightly crestfallen crowd that they did not perform encores.

Fans who hoped to hear arguably the band’s best-known song, a cover of Crowded House’s Fall At Your Feet, were disappointed.

As the crowds poured out the doors there was more than one bewildered fan wondering why the rendition, which came in at number 5 on 2011’s Hottest 100, wasn’t on their set list.

REVIEW: APIA Good Times Tour

15/02/2019 // by admin

From left, Camilleri, Sayer, Clapton and Morris.APIA GOOD TIMES TOUR
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Civic Theatre

May 17

FOUR legends on one stage – Russell Morris, Joe Camilleri, Richard Clapton and Leo Sayer.

A packed house, most in the Apia target range (‘‘Celebrating over-50s, living at their best’’ as Glenn Ridge spruiks in the pre-gig video blog), rolled up for a trip down memory lane and the artists did not disappoint.

Backed by the Apia Good Times Band, the boys lifted the roof from start to finish, proving legendary. The songs are certainly soundtracks to multiple generations, but what really cuts it is the live experience.

All four vocalists command the room, riding on the power of a smokin’ backing band in full stride midway through their 18-date tour.

Morris opened with a couple of new tunes (Black Dog Blues, Van Diemen’s Land) before time travelling back to the Real Thing, Sweet Sweet Love and Wings Of An Eagle.

Joe Camilleri (Ain’t Love the Strangest Thing, Harley and Rose, Certified Blue) really impressed before taking it to another level when joined on stage in a surprise visit from Vika Bull for a pumping rendition of Never Let Me Go and Chained To the Wheel.

Clapton took over after the break.

His signature sweet growl contrasted neatly from the earlier performances on anthems like Lucky Country, Girls on the Avenue, Deep Water and a new one off his latest album, Harlequin Nights, Dancing with Vampires.

Leo brought it home with a cavalcade of his hits including More Than I Can Say, When I Need Love, Thunder In My Heart, Dreaming (which he co-wrote with Cliff Richard), and You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.

Yes it was nostalgic, but it’s fair to say the room was humming for nearly three hours.

The four stars and Vika reunited for a finale of tunes including Hush, Shape I’m In, I Am An Island and Good Times.

By the end of it there was no doubting everyone on and off the stage had.

There was a Newcastle connection in the form of bass player Mitch Cairns, who used to play with local bands Qwake and Fumi Boca.

He’s since gone on to perform with many Australian legends and has produced Morris’s latest Aria winning albums, Van Diemen’s Land and Shark Mouth.

Snapper fans on natural high (23/5/14)

15/02/2019 // by admin

FISH OF THE WEEK: Adrian Callaghan wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this 21-kilogram longtail tuna caught while spinning for tailor off the rocks north of Hawks Nest. ‘‘What a surprise,’’ Adrian reported. ‘‘We could see a bait ball and thought we might get a few tailor from underneath. The tailor were absent, however, this fella made the trip a memorable one. How hard do they go off the rocks!!!’’ A HUGE high pressure system over the east coast of Australia has provided outstanding fishing conditions this week and the snapper have responded, according to Jason “One For” Nunn, from Fisherman’s Warehouse.
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“We’ve been seeing snapper up north and in local waters, and coming off the rocks. Not big fish, but good numbers,” he said.

“We’ve seen them at Flagstaff at Swansea Heads, up to 42 centimetres this week, and coming off Blacksmiths beach too. Inshore reefs are producing as well.”

Jason has a theory that the increase in snapper action may be put down to the decrease in professional fish trapping.

To quote Billy Joel, he may be right, he may be crazy, but guys have been getting them.

Ben Hayes got a nice pair off Newcastle recently and Rickie Turner scored one off Stockton beach.

BEN HAYES

RICKIE TURNER

But the biggest by far was this 16-kilogram snapper caught by Albany local Nathan Brown off the rocks in WA on May 12.

MONSTER: Albany local Nathan Brown with his 16kg red hooked off the rocks at Albany.

It measured 112 centimetres and was just shy of the Australian record of 18.4 kilograms.

Getting back to the weather, experts are tipping we may be heading into an El Nino phase and if the current conditions hold up we’ll have had the most 20-degree days in May on record.

Salmon find lake

AFTER a lean couple of years, the salmon are back bigger than Ben-Hur in Lake Macquarie.

The “Marks Point Marksman”, Patrick Nunn, and good mate Justin Worley have been working them over in Salts Bay.

The boys got 15 last Saturday using the ever-reliable Casper Clears with the deadly little resin heads. The biggest went 3.1 kilograms.

Unlike previous years, the salmon have entered the lake and have started to spread out over to Belmont Bay, right along the edge and south down Gwandalan/Pulbah Island way.

Porcupine fun

OFFSHORE out wide has been lifeless apart from the antics of the boys on Newcastle Game Fishing Club boat Rocket, who may well have kicked off a tradition to be known in future as the “Porcupine Challenge”.

Jason was with NGFC member Steve Norris.

“We didn’t see a fish all day, and we did a lot of miles,” Jason said.

“We were in 300 fathoms, 40 miles offshore, no boats, no birds, no nothing, except this four-inch puffer fish that happened to get hit dead centre in the head by a 14-inch marlin lure and big 11-0 hook as we trolled by.

“The unluckiest toad in the ocean. I turned to Steve and said ‘you truly are the champ’. He called me names I can’t repeat. So I said ‘I’m getting our boat, Running Bear, out here next year and we’ll have a Porcupine Challenge.’ It was a bit of fun on a slow day.”

Jason reports water temp was 23.8 degrees on the Shelf but the further out you went the worse the colour got.

Dollies boom

ON a more encouraging note, the inshore reefs have been firing.

There’s a bit of current about, but anglers have been getting perch, kings and trag off Terrigal. Meanwhile, the FAD off Swansea continues to attract dolphin fish.

It’s been one of the best years for dollies – they’ve been hanging around now for nearly five months.

Bream real studs

EVERYBODY is talking about the quality of bream this year – real studs.

“Allan McMaster fished Cave Beach and got bream up to 38 centimetres on worms this week,” Jason said.

“Steve Mason got 16 in two days through the week, some nice trevally and a flathead.

“They all made comment about the width of the bream, all travelling bream with travel fat.”

Tuna about

AS our Fish of the Week shows, there’s longtail tuna about off local rocks.

Broughton Island has been firing for snapper, and there was a bit of a buzz last week about some local lake anglers who got smoked by kingfish off Moon Island.

Lizards flat out

THERE’S good numbers of sand flathead around inshore reefs, according to Cameron Judd.

He fished the sand edges last Saturday with Brett Hayes and ended up with around 30 in an hour, all around 45 centimetres.

“I said to Brett they must be lying on top of each other down there, they were so thick.” Cam said. “When we got back to the cleaning tables there were a few other people with good catches of flattys from up Redhead way so they must have been on everywhere.”

Paul Lowe got this nice flathead in Lake Macquarie.

Outing winners

NINETEEN people fished the Budgewoi Fishing Club outing last weekend, with 82 fish recorded, weigh master Graeme Morgan said.

“The winners were deep sea John Rappa, estuary Bill Ingram, secret weight Allen Friend, female winner Kathy Dixon and junior winner Cody Ison.”

John Rappa

Around the traps

MATTHEW Burgess, from Kurri Kurri, caught a three-kilogram bonito at Stockton breakwall on a bait jig chasing yellowtail. Tom Sherwood got a seven-kilogram jew in Lake Macquarie on soft plastics. And three-year-old Anna James got a 73-centimetre flathead in the lake with minimal help from her dad.

Matthew Burgess

Tom Sherwood

Anna James

Canberra coach Tara Steel looks to ‘get one back’ against rival Arawang

15/01/2019 // by admin

Canberra coach Tara Steel insists the team is ”not putting too much weight” on a win over arch rival Arawang on Friday night.
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But she admitted their recent grand final history and a chance to ”get one back” for the loss in last year’s decider will spur her side on.

The top two sides in the ACT State League will do battle on Friday, with the victor taking a giant step towards the minor premiership.

They have clashed in the past three grand finals, with Canberra victorious in 2011 and 2012 before Arawang turned the tables last year.

Having initially billed this season as a rebuilding year, Steel said her side was relishing turning from the hunted to the hunter.

“Every game we go out in we treat with the same level of respect and intensity, [but] the history between the two teams does add that extra bit of motivation,” she said.

“Definitely, coming off the grand final loss last year, we’re still looking to get that one back. When we played them earlier this year [45-35 loss] we were fairly depleted.

“I’m not putting too much weight on the game in regards to the outcome, but it gives us a good indication of where we’re at.”

Canberra boasts the best attacking record in the competition, but Arawang is the defensive benchmark, led by Melina Saunders and Nat Jones.

Arawang coach Kim Symons admitted it would be a handy psychological blow if it was to beat Canberra for the second time this season before finals begin in a fortnight.

“I’d love to be able to walk into the finals with two wins to nothing against them – we’ll be going in with guns blazing,” Symons said.

“Last year Canberra had that advantage over us and come finals time we turned it around. It’s an advantage but you don’t rest on that.”

In other matches Belconnen and South Canberra will continue their dogfight for the fourth and final playoff spot, against Queanbeyan and Tuggeranong respectively.

All matches begin at 9pm at the Netball ACT Centre in Lyneham.

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Save for university now to avoid crippling debt, experts warn

15/01/2019 // by admin

PM defends daughter’s scholarshipAbbott says cannot guarantee university fees won’t doubleChristopher Pyne smuggled past students at Sydney Uni
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Parents should start putting money aside to fund universities degrees if they want to spare their children crippling debt burdens, academics warn.

“I would start saving now,” says Monash University’s associate dean of education Lucas Walsh.

Professor Walsh expects the federal government’s proposed changes to higher education could result in substantially larger university debts in some areas for students.

University graduates will most likely be subject to higher rates of interest on their loans under the reforms.

Interest rates will be pegged to the government bond rate instead of inflation with a cap of 6 per cent, up from 2.9 per cent currently.

And Professor Walsh says these larger debts could mean graduates delay major life choices, including starting a family or buying a home.

In the changes outlined in the recent federal budget, fees will be deregulated, allowing universities to charge as much as they want for courses.

But Education Minister Christopher Pyne said university students are misguided about the federal government’s education reforms

”University students will not be paying double the fees they are paying now,” he told Fairfax Radio Network on Friday morning.

”They are very misguided and spreading a great deal of misinformation.”

Although students will not have to pay back their loans until their pay reaches a threshold, Professor Walsh says their debts will be accumulating interest while graduates struggle to find jobs.

He says the workforce is becoming more “fluid” with stable, long-term jobs increasingly difficult to find.

“As a consequence I think it could affect the paying power of these students to repay their loans.”

Grattan Institute higher education program director Andrew Norton says course fees will rise on average but prices at private universities will almost certainly decrease.

He says the international student fee market in 2013 offers a rough guide to what domestic students can expect to pay for courses at the higher end.

His analysis of estimated maximum fee rises shows that student contributions to a law degree could go up 129 per cent to $22,415 a year.

An arts degree could rise by 159 per cent to $15,223 annually for domestic students.

However, he stresses there will be cheaper options available.

But students should make their own decisions about university education, he says.

“I’m still inclined to think these students are adults. They should be making adult choices about how much they spend and not expect their parents to pay for it,” he says.

And students should think carefully about the benefits of expensive courses particularly if there are cheaper alternatives for similar qualifications. “If you don’t get much, don’t pay it.”

But Smith Family general manager Anton Leschen says it is fanciful to think many parents have money to spare for their children’s future education.

“They’re focusing on transport costs, rising living costs. They didn’t have enough money to put aside previously,” he said.

Melbourne University higher education lecturer Emmaline Bexley says some parents may need to choose between independent schooling or setting aside money for tertiary education.

Dr Bexley points to US research that shows people with student loans are retreating from the housing market.

Last week Bloomberg reported that young people who weren’t saddled with college debts had taken out more mortgages than “student-loan borrowers”.

Bloomberg said the decline in “home-purchase ability” for people with student loans was an example of how education debt was dragging on the US economy.

Here the federal government wants to introduce measures to increase scholarships for disadvantaged students. But some university leaders have cited fears that children from middle-class families – who are unlikely to be eligible for hardship scholarships – could be priced out of university education.

But Mr Pyne said the students were wrong thinking the reforms would make universities accessible only to the rich.

”Not when you can borrow every single dollar up front from the Australian taxpayer and not pay it back until you’re earning over $50,000 a year and at the lowest interest rate that you’ll ever get for a loan in your entire life time,’’ he said.

Mr Pyne said middle-class families would not be priced out of tertiary education because of higher fees and higher rates of interest.

”That is just wild speculation. In my reforms to higher education we are massively expanding the number of providers who can access the Commonwealth government subsidies for students, that means there will be an adrenalin shock into the market. And if universities charge exorbitant fees, they won’t get any students,” he said.

He also said the Commonwealth scholarships program wais being expanded and there would be more opportunities for first-generation university goers.

Have you started saving for your child’s tertiary education? Let us know.

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Weekend planner: May 24-25

15/01/2019 // by admin

Africa Day Sunday. A celebration of African Unity with live music and dance performances, food stalls, market stalls and hair braiding. Free, 1pm to 5pm, Islington Public School.
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3 Village Art Festival Saturday and Sunday. The first of its kind, a four-day celebration of the arts held at the three picturesque and historic villages of Paterson, Vacy and Gresford situated in the Paterson and Allyn River Valleys. At each village visitors can enjoy art, photography, sculpture, woodwork, market stalls, vintage car and bike displays, children’s activities and entertainment and side trips to an eclectic mix of rural highlights. Free.

The French Film Festival Saturday and Sunday. See films Belle and Sebastien, The Finishers, The Past, Blue Is The Warmest Colour and What’s In A Name?. Tickets $15 for a single session, or $12 for Alliance Francaise and Newcastle Film Society members. Weekend passes available. Tower Cinemas, Newcastle. newcastlefrenchfilmfestival.weebly南京夜网.

Dungog Duathlon Saturday and Sunday. A cross-country run followed by a mountain bike ride that finishes with a cross-country run. Choose from a long course – 10km run, 40km ride, 6km run – or short course, 6km run, 12km ride, 0.5km run. Arrive on Saturday from 2pm for registration, Australian Bike Throwing Competition, carbohydrate dinner and country music. Race starts from 8am on Sunday. Individual entry $75, short course entry $65, team of two entry $120. Dungog Showground, Dungog. dungogchallenge.org.au.

Gem and Mineral Auction Saturday. The Hunter Valley Gemology Club’s annual event. Rock specimens, gemstones and finished cabochons for sale. Free, 11am, clubrooms, 1 Maize Street, Tenambit.

The Wardrobe Exchange Sunday. Secondhand ladies clothing, shoes and accessories, as part of the Weekend To End Women’s Cancers, with money raised to benefit Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Free, 10am to 2pm, Edgeworth Community Hall.

Bubbles On A Sunday: Winter Fashion Sunday. Bubbles on arrival followed by scrumptious high tea with a winter fashion parade. $45 per person, bookings essential. Sala’s Function Centre, 298 Hillsborough Road, Warners Bay.

World’s Biggest Car Boot Sale Sunday. Sponsored by Ray White Maitland, this community market and garage sale will have more than 300 stalls with toys, tools, books, games, craft, antiques and collectables to raise funds for Hunter Life Education. Music, dance, Big Dog and Healthy Harold. Free, 8am to 1pm, Hunter Stadium.

Expresso Sunday. Celebration of faith, art and music will welcome Matt Anslow, an activist for refugees and people without a voice, who will perform and share his experiences. 6pm, free, The Dungeon, Adamstown Uniting Church, corner Glebe and Brunker roads, Adamstown.

Art Zone Saturday. Trained tutors encourage young participants to experiment with materials and learn new skills in a fun environment. Students aged 9 to 12 years old from 10.30am to 12.30pm, students aged 12 to 16 from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. $180 per student per term, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, First Street, Boolaroo.

Between The Lines Saturday. A comedy/drama with original live music about four very different women, each of whom have a story hidden beneath the surface. Written and directed by Maureen O’Brien, stars Kathleen Newman, Amanda Rietdijk, Cherie Mackinnon, Abby Hobson and musician Greg Russell. Tickets $15, bookings essential on 4954 8575. 2.30pm to 4.30pm, Cardiff Library.

The Centenary Centre Meet The Curators Saturday. Celebrate all things antique, vintage, rustic and industrial and meet those behind the centre’s 31 stores and welcome new stores Hunters Vintage Traders, The Vintage Spot, Nanna Had That. Retro music, food and lucky door prizes. 2pm to 5pm, 29 Centenary Road, Newcastle.

Southlake EcoHealth Expo Sunday. Join Permaculture Hunter, the Morisset and Peninsula Sustainable Neighbourhood Group and the South Lake Macquarie RSL for a festival of environmental health and personal well-being. Guest speakers Antoinette Balnave and Tom Farrell Institute Professor Tim Roberts, as well as a range of hands-on eco-skills workshops and information stalls. 10-4, free, Masonic Hall, 54 Yambo Street, Morisset. sustainableneighbourhoods.org.au/ecohealth-expo.

Hunter Valley Caravan, Camping, 4WD & Fish Show, Maitland Showground, Maitland, Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 9am to 4pm. Adults $15, aged pensioners $11, children 16 years and under free.

Hunter Valley Caravan, Camping, 4WD & Fish Show Saturday and Sunday. Visitors can escape the everyday just by researching how and what they would like to escape in. Choices are endless with tents, camper trailers, slide-on, caravans and motorhomes to suit all lifestyles and budgets. Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 9am to 4pm. Adults $15, aged pensioners $11, children 16 years and under free. Maitland Showground, Maitland.

En Plein Air Sunday. Learn under professional guidance about creating landscape drawings and paintings in the tradition of en plein air. The course of four weekly three-hour sessions is $100 per person. $30 for a casual attendance. 1pm to 4pm, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, First Street, Booragul.

Dine 4 Charity Saturday. A night of fun and entertainment from singers, dancers, a magician, auctions and raffles. Fund-raiser for Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation and Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance. 6.30pm to 11.30pm, tickets from the venue, Cessnock Leagues Club.

Biodynamic Workshop Saturday. Led by experts Hamish Mackay and John Priestly, participants learn the philosophy, theory and how-to of biodynamics farming and gardening. Fill and bury cow horns, get hands on with compost making and create the cow-pat-pit. $135 per person or $210 per couple, includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. 9-5, Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard, 712 Wollombi Road, Broke.

Tallavera Grove Vineyard Tour Saturday and Sunday. Guided vineyard tour including wine tasting. 10.30am. Costs $12. Bookings essential, 4990 7535. Tallavera Grove, Mount View.

Blues and Burgers Saturday. A celebration of the harvest hosted by Macquariedale Organic Wines. Gourmet burgers prepared by chefs from Mojo’s Restaurant. $45 per adults, $20 children. Noon, Macquariedale Organic Wines, 170 Sweetwater Road, Rothbury.

Hunter Writers Centre Poetry Group Saturday. Attend for one week before deciding whether to join the group. 10am to 2pm, Theatrette, City Library, Laman Street, Newcastle.

Savour The Flavour Saturday and Sunday. The small group tasting includes eight wines ranging from classic old vintage wines from the cellar contrasted with some more recent vintage cellar door exclusives such as Shepherd’s White Semillon. $47 per person, bookings essential 1800 677 366, 11am and 2pm, Wyndham Estate, 700 Dalwood Road, Branxton.

Handmade In The Hunter Saturday. 9am to 3pm. Kevin Sobels Wines, corner Broke and Halls Road, Pokolbin.

Hamilton Clock Tower Markets Saturday. 8am to 2pm. James St Plaza, Hamilton.

Maitland Harvest Markets Saturday. 8am to 1pm. Maitland Showground, Maitland.

Lake Macquarie Farmers Markets Saturday. 8am to 1pm. Speers Point Park.

Newcastle and Hunter Vietnam Veterans Inc Market Sunday. 7am to 1pm, Wickham Park, Islington.

Hopscotch Sundays Market Sunday. 9am to 2pm, Broadmeadow PCYC.

Baby and Kids Market Sunday. 9am to noon, Broadmeadow Basketball Stadium.

Adamstown Markets Sunday. 7am to noon. Corner of Glebe and Brunker roads, Adamstown.

Newcastle City Farmers Markets Sunday 8am to 1pm. Newcastle Showground, Broadmeadow.

Art Systems Wickham Vera Zulumovski, Reflection of the Dark Beast, to May 25.

Back to Back Galleries Connections, sculptures by Robyn Outram and Cathe Stack, to May 25.

Cooks Hill Galleries The Autumn Collection, to June 2.

Finite Gallery Kiss My Arts 2, an exhibition that will also be a fund-raising event for MS Australia. To June 1. Caves Beach.

Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery First Class 13, to June 1, Click: Schools In Focus, to June 1, Janet Laurence: A Case Study, to July 20.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery Groovin: The Story of Groovin the Moo, to May 25, The Three Os: Orban, Olsen and Ogburn, to June 29. Dick Watkins: Love of Women, to July 13. Nola Jones, to July 13.

Maitland Gaol Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles All Tied Up, an exploration of ties and neckwear and the place they have played in social interaction and identity, to July 20.

Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre Annette Bezor: Iconic Works 1997-2013, The Kevin Tester Retrospective, Miniatures XVII. To June 15.

Newcastle Art School Night, Diploma in Visual Arts Exhibition, to May 29.

Newcastle Art Gallery Novocastria to July 13.

Newcastle Art Space The Seven Painters featuring works by Jennifer Finnie, Patricia Williamsz, Michael Bateman, Malcolm Sands, Sarah Knights, Neville Cottee and Andrew Finnie, to May 25.

Newcastle Region Library Shaun Tan: The Lost Thing exhibition to June 3.

Timeless Textiles Akin by Meredith and Rae Woolnough, to June 15.

University Gallery Instantiating Ideas of Limitless Space by painter Lucila Nalvarte Maddox, to June 7.

Watt Space Gallery Watt Space 25th Anniversary Open Show, to May 25.

Newy parkrun Saturday. Starting at 8am at 1 Arnold Street, Carrington, it’s a 5km run in the area near Throsby Creek. Register before first run (parkrun南京夜网.au/newy).

Newy parkrun Saturday. Starting at 8am at 1 Arnold Street, Carrington, it’s a 5km run in the area near Throsby Creek. Register before first run (parkrun南京夜网.au/newy).

Futuro Financial Services Race Day Saturday. Thoroughbred racing, with the option to dine in Cheval’s Restaurant. Gates open 11.15am, $10 general admission, Broadmeadow Racecourse.

Ice hockey Saturday. Newcastle North Stars take on Canberra Brave. 5pm, tickets $20 adults or $15 kids, Hunter Ice Skating Stadium.

A Streetcar Named Desire A fading Southern belle tries to escape her past when she stays with her sister and brother-in-law; tense drama by Tennessee Williams. Woy Woy Little Theatre, at the Peninsula Theatre, Woy Woy. Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm, until June 1; plus 2pm Saturday matinee May 31. 4344 4737.

Argyle House Saturday, L00ve featuring Kagz, Fuel, Jace Cordell.

The Bradford Saturday, Secret Society. Sunday, the Gunswingers.

The Brewery Saturday, Troy, Mardmax, DJ Dola. Sunday, Love That Hat, Perry Carter, DJ Ules.

Cambridge Hotel Saturday, Free Your Mind with Northlane, Thy Art Is Murder, Veil Of Maya, Volumes and Make Them Suffer.

Catho Pub Sunday, Viagro.

Charlestown Bowling Club Saturday, Original Sin: The INXS Show.

Civic Theatre Newcastle Saturday, It’s Dark Outside. Tuesday, Djuki Mala (Chooky Dancers).

Great Northern Hotel Sunday, Dead Letter Circus.

Grand Hotel Saturday, Tim Rossington, Jazz. Tuesday, Jazz with Holly Clayton Group.

Grand Junction Hotel Saturday, Melody Pool, Ahlia-Rain. Sunday, Zoe K.

Kent Hotel Saturday, Rubber Bullet. Sunday, Moose Preservation. Tuesday, Poker. Wednesday, Trivia.

Lizotte’s Newcastle Saturday, Abby Dobson. Sunday, The Idea of North. Wednesday, Hats Bennett, Jack Dawson, Matt Semmens, the Dockadoras.

Newcastle Panthers Sunday, the Wiggles.

Shinnies Hotel, Boolaroo Sunday, Leadbellies.

The Small Ballroom Saturday, She Rex, Lepers and Crooks. Wednesday, Happy Club featuring Closure In Moscow.

Stag And Hunter Hotel Saturday, Bluesbombers.

Warners Bay Hotel Saturday, Misbehave. Sunday, Troy Kemp. Wednesday, Trivia.

OPENING

Kochadaiyaan 3D (MA15+) Indian Tamil computer-animated period film. (Event Cinemas Glendale)

Son of God (M) The story of The New Testament.

X-Men: Days of Future Past 3D (PG) The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history.

Sunshine on Leith (PG) Rab (Peter Mullan) and Jean (Jane Horrocks) are busy planning their 25th wedding anniversary, but a revelation from Rab’s past threatens to tear the family apart. (Event Cinemas Newcastle)

The Trip to Italy Rob Brydon has been commissioned by a newspaper to go on a driving tour of Italy from Liguria to Capri, following in the footsteps of the great Romantic poets. (Event Cinemas Newcastle)

ADVANCED SCREENING

Maleficent 3D The events that hardened the villainous Maleficent’s heart and drove her to curse young Princess Aurora.

NOW SHOWING

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 3D (M); Bad Neighbours (MA 15+); Belle (PG); The Book Thief (M) (Reading Cinemas Birmingham Gardens); Caesar and Cleopatra (Avoca Beach); Chef (M); Chinese Puzzle (M) (Event Cinemas Newcastle); Dora Snow Princess and Paw Patrol (G) (Hoyts Charlestown); The Finishers (PG) (Avoca Beach); Godzilla 3D (M); The Grand Budapest Hotel (M); Healing (M); Heaven is for Real (PG) (Reading Cinemas Maitland); The Invisible Woman (M); The Lego Movie (PG); Lalaloopsy Ponies: The Big Show (G); The Man From Cox River (Avoca Beach); Muppets Most Wanted (G); My Sweet Pepperland; The Other Woman (M); Mr Peabody and Sherman (PG); Wadja (PG) An 11 year old girl pursues a simple dream of one day owning a bicycle. From Saudi Arabia and subtitled in English.

SAVE THE DATE

Destination Port Stephens, along with its whale cruise operators and Karingal Preschool, are inviting the public to celebrate the end of Japan’s whaling program in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary by forming a 100-metre long outline of a humpback whale on Sunday, June 1 on the western end of Shoal Bay Beach at Port Stephens at 11am. Participants are eligible for half-priced whale watching cruise from 1pm on the day.

TAKE NOTE

Paul Greene and the Other Colours perform songs from their new album One Lap Of The Sun at Lizotte’s on Thursday May 29, showcasing a style that shifts effortlessly from folk to soul, skiffle and back.

Barack Obama forced to address deaths, cover-up claims as Veterans Affairs scandal grows

15/01/2019 // by admin

Washington: US President Barack Obama has been forced to address allegations that as many as 40 military veterans died while waiting for treatment at a Veterans Affairs facility and that administrators sought to cover-up long waiting lists.
Nanjing Night Net

“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonourable, it is disgraceful and I will not tolerate it, period,” said Mr Obama

after he met with the Veterans Affairs secretary on Wednesday and one of his senior aides, who he had attached to the department during investigations.

The potentially devastating scandal has spread from revelations about deaths and cover-ups at one facility in Phoenix and investigators are now looking into 26 Veterans Affairs facilities.

“I know that people are angry and want swift reckoning,” he said. “I sympathise with that. But we have to let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened.”

Mr Obama has made care for veterans a pillar of his administration after having campaigned on the issue in the lead-up to the 2008 election, which came after a scandal over the neglect of wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington.

Mr Obama has spent much of his second term hosing down potential scandals, ranging from revelations of widespread data-harvesting by the National Security Agency to investigations into claims the State Department attempted to cover-up the events surrounding the terrorist attack on the US diplomatic facility in Benghazi.

And even though Americans remain divided over the causes and effects of more than 10 years of war, nothing unifies the nation so much as its regard for veterans.

As the November mid-term elections approach, many Republicans are seeking to lay blame for the Veterans Affairs’ poor care and cover-ups at the door of the White House, and even link the healthcare reforms known as Obamacare to the brewing scandal.

“This administration’s ineffectual response has created a crisis of confidence in our veterans’ community,” said Senator John McCain. “We need answers, leadership and accountability, none of which we’ve seen from the Obama administration to date.”

A columnist in the conservative National Review wrote: “No one is suggesting that such scandals are widespread in the general health-care system. But they should serve as a warning sign of what could happen as the pressure to ration, inherent in all government-managed health care, is applied to the general population.”

Mr Obama said some Veterans Affairs staff had already been put on administrative leave and that anyone found to have falsified records would be held accountable. He also announced a wide-ranging review into the department’s administration.

Its workload has been significantly increased by the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the recognition under the Obama administration of veterans of the Vietnam War suffering from long-term illnesses caused by the spraying of Agent Orange.

Agent Orange alone took up 37 per cent of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s claims-processing resources nationally from October 2010 to March 2012, The Atlantic reported.

Though Veterans Affairs had funding increased from $US100 billion ($108 billion) in 2009 to $US154 billion this year, claims for assistance jumped from 423,000 in 2009 to 883,000 in 2012.

According to The Atlantic’s analysis, the organisation could not expand fast enough to meet demand, even with the increased funding.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Rolf Harris trial: prosecution due to end its case

15/01/2019 // by admin

London: The prosecution was due to wrap up its case against Rolf Harris overnight, with a story which it claims shows him again taking advantage of his celebrity status to molest a young girl.
Nanjing Night Net

A pair of witnesses on video link from New Zealand were expected to testify over an encounter in Hamilton in 1991, where Harris was appearing at a British Paints promotion.

A 15-year-old girl who was passionate about art attended the promotion, and Harris offered to give her a hug, prosecutor Sasha Wass, QC, said in her opening statement two weeks ago. But when he stepped towards the girl he put his hand into her blouse and touched her breast, and also squeezed her bottom.

The court was also due to hear, via video link, from the woman’s mother, who said she confronted the entertainer after he rubbed against her at the same event.

The character witnesses in this case have shown Harris had a ”persistent pattern of sexual offending” over 30 years, Ms Wass said.

On Wednesday two Australians took the stand in Southwark Crown Court to testify about Harris’ behaviour in the make-up chair at Channel Seven, where he used to host a variety show in the 1980s.

The make-up artist said she had been hired for a day’s work at Seven, and worked wearing baggy denim shorts.

Soon after she started to do Harris’ makeup she felt his hand on her left leg, up under her shorts, over her bottom and up to her waist.

”He was really fast, it was slide hand up, slide hand down,” she said. ”I turned around and looked at the mirror. My first thought was ‘oh my God, I can’t believe he works with children’.”

She had to regularly touch up his makeup once he was out in the studio, and about two dozen times he did the same thing, she said.

She later complained to a female supervisor. ”I told her what had happened to me: ‘The dirty old man groped me all day and I was really pissed off’.

”I found out [afterwards] from makeup artists he was called ‘the octopus’,” the witness said. ”He was all hands.”

Defence counsel Sonia Woodley, QC, put it to the witness that the encounter ”simply didn’t happen”. The witness just laughed in response.

The court also heard from Tony Porter, a retired Australian actor who had worked with Harris on his variety show Rolf at about the same time.

He said he had seen Harris in a makeup chair when a makeup artist leaned over in front of him to do his face.

”Both arms shot up and he went to tickle her up … he went straight for her breasts,” Mr Porter said. ”[He] made like a lascivious noise with his mouth.”

Mr Porter said it was clear from the woman’s reaction that she did not welcome the approach.

Horseplay, innuendo and sexual suggestions were common between TV personalities and people in roles such as makeup, he said, but ”it was totally unknown for someone to reach out and grab somebody’s breasts … the first thing I said when I got home, I told my wife ‘you’ll never believe what I saw Rolf do tonight’.”

Ms Woodley asked Mr Porter if he had been upset by Harris, and he said once Harris had come up to him when he was telling jokes to the TV show audience and said out of the side of his mouth ”mate, I’ll do the funny stuff, OK” and walked away – but he took it as a backhanded compliment.

Mr Porter and the makeup artist were character witnesses for the prosecution case. Their stories did not relate to specific charges against the entertainer.

Harris, 84, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecent assault against four complainants.

The trial before Justice Nigel Sweeney continues.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.