Monthly Archives: May 2018

$1.7b cut to school funding

THE state government has announced the biggest cut to education in 20 years, a move expected to affect all school students.
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Last week NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced a $1.7 billion cut in funding for public, Catholic and independent schools and TAFE institutions.

Almost 1800 school teachers, TAFE teachers and support staff will lose their jobs, while TAFE fees will increase by 9.5 per cent and government subsidisation of some courses will cease.

The Hunter’s federal Labor MPs Joel Fitzgibbon, Jill Hall, Greg Combet and Sharon Grierson have condemned the decision.

In a statement, they said it would lead to less teachers, textbooks, computers and support staff in schools, meaning students could face bigger class sizes, increased school fees and a drop in teaching standards.

The NSW Teachers Federation has labelled the state government a “disgrace”.

The federation said school teachers in classrooms would “apparently” be left alone for now, but teachers providing essential support in curriculum and other areas were under threat.

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Backyard patch up

Boolaroo resident Robynne Phillpott outside her home. Boolaroo resident Robynne Phillpott outside her home. Photo by Mark Connors.
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Boolaroo resident Robynne Phillpott outside her home. Photo by Mark Connors.

ROBYNNE Philpott’s grassy yard in Boolaroo could be likened to a patchwork quilt of varying colours and textures.

It is the end result of the lead abatement works carried out by the administrator of the former Pasminco lead and zinc smelter, Ferrier Hodgson.

The company is completing a $60 million soil decontamination and remediation across several Lake Macquarie suburbs, including Boolaroo.

Mrs Philpott, a proud Boolaroo resident of 17 years, is not happy with the way the lead abatement works have left her property.

She signed up to the scheme to make her property safer, as she often babysits her five grandchildren in her home.

“I asked the contractors if they were laying buffalo and they said yes,” Mrs Philpott said.

However, when she returned home later that day, she found kikuyu grass laid instead.

Mrs Philpott said she felt she no longer has the “beautiful backyard” she once had.

“I’m not asking for something I already didn’t have,” she said.

“After I rang them they said they couldn’t afford to redo it again.”

Ferrier Hodgson deed administrator Peter McClusky said he felt as though the company had fulfilled its obligations to remediate the property.

“There is nothing we can do in this case,” he said.

“As far as we are concerned we have completed the job.”

Earlier this month The Star reported that Ferrier Hodgson backed down its stance on another Boolaroo resident after refusing to test their soil.

Despite the resident signing up to participate in the lead abatement scheme, Ferrier Hodgson claimed the resident did not correctly fill out all of the necessary paperwork.

Ferrier Hodgson has now commenced testing on the property after several weeks of delays.

Lake Macquarie City Council declined to comment.

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New fitness trend sweeping Wollongong

Bokwa is a new fitness craze that is a fun cardio workout that anyone can do. Picture: ROBERT PEETBokwa is as easy as knowing your alphabet – literally.
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The new fitness craze is based on participants drawing letters and numbers with their feet while performing an energetic and fun cardio workout.

Qualified Bokwa instructor Michelle Cooley says there is even a YouTube clip of a three-year-old and six-year-old getting down with the moves, showing how easy it is to get into the Bokwa groove.

And what sets Bokwa apart from other fitness crazes is that it especially caters for youngsters and the hearing-impaired, with instructors also using universal sign language in the workouts to make it easy for everyone to follow.

“There’s nothing like it … a lot of people are trying to compare it to Zumba but there’s nothing like it where you’re using letters and numbers,” says Cooley, who is an instructor at Fivestar Martial Arts & Fitness at Albion Park Rail.

“You can make it as easy or as intense as you want to, you just need to be willing to try it.

“My eight-year-old does it with my 83-year-old grandmother.”

Cooley, who has been instructing Bokwa classes for about two months, has just returned from a weekend Bokwa certification in Sydney with Los Angeles-based Bokwa creator Paul Mavi.

The former professional ballroom and Latin dancer has also completed a week of intensive training with Mavi in San Diego earlier this year and is presently one of four Bokwa instructors in NSW.

Cooley says the classes are perfect for getting youngsters moving and she expects a Bokwa Bounce Foundation to start soon in Australia, following on from the UK where schools are linking with instructors for weekly lessons.

And if the pattern continues, there will also be Bokwa Cycle, Bokwa Step and Bokwa H2O in Australian gyms soon.

Cooley says the use of numbers and letters in Bokwa makes it as much of an educational tool as it is fun exercise for kids.

“It’s going to get kids in schools moving,” the busy mum of four says.

“And in the world we live in where technology rules, kids aren’t exercising enough.”

And the sign language used by the instructors for participants to follow the moves makes it an ideal exercise for the hearing-impaired.

“It’s opening an avenue for everyone,” Cooley says.

There are eight levels in Bokwa – with level eight described by Cooley as “insane, crazy”.

“It comes down to confidence – the more confident you are the more you can let loose,” she says.

Classes are done to popular music and the one-hour workout is great for cardio fitness.

“It’s perfect for those who are wanting to get fit or want to just lose a kilo or two,” Cooley says.

She first learned of Bokwa after attending a fitness convention in Sydney in April this year.

“It’s going to take the world by storm because it’s just so simple,” she says.

“If you think you can’t dance, then Bokwa is for you; if you can move and you can spell, then you can Bokwa.”

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Doctor push gets Nats’ nod

THE National Party is backing Charles Sturt University’s Doctors for the Bush campaign.
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Delegates at the Nationals’ Federal Conference carried a motion on Sunday to support CSU’s proposal to establish a new medical school to address chronic doctor shortages in rural and regional Australia.

CSU vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Vann welcomed the very public commitment.

“The endorsement of the Nationals is important to show the government that rural and regional Australians are united behind this very important initiative,” he said.

“This follows news that more than 21,000 Australians have signed up on Facebook as supporters of Charles Sturt University’s planned medical school.

“While we remain hopeful that the current Government will fund this initiative in the next federal budget, it is important for rural and regional communities to know that the Nationals are committed to this initiative.”

Prof Vann believes there is a growing recognition across all political parties of the serious impact that the rural doctor shortage has on the lives of families and individuals.

“There also appears to be an increased awareness that people will not live in rural towns, let alone move here, if they can’t get access to a doctor when they need one,” he said.

“The commitment by the Nationals follows mounting evidence that current rural medical education strategies are not working, and that we need to focus more of our resources on rurally-based and delivered programs if we are serious about addressing rural doctor shortages.”

Prof Vann said Rural Health Workforce Australia has also recently reported that after more than a decade of predominantly city-operated rural medical education programs fewer than five per cent of Australia’s medical graduates are entering rural practice, despite claims that these programs would help solve the rural doctor shortage.

Charles Sturt University is running a Doctors for the Bush campaign, which has been backed by The National Party.

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Names were known, now it’s official

BATHURST’S new council was officially confirmed yesterday morning with the Declaration of the Poll.
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However, by then those who had been successful well and truly knew who they were.

Returning councillor Monica Morse was so thrilled to have taken the ninth and last spot on council that she was the only councillor who made an appearance at the proceedings.

Bathurst Regional Council general manager David Sherley was also on hand to witness the declaration by Bathurst district returning officer Stuart Evennett.

He said he would be putting the elected representatives to work straight away.

“I’m looking forward to working with the new council,” Mr Sherley said.

He said the mayoral election will take place at 5pm tomorrow, then a meeting will be held on Monday at 5pm to elect councillors to the many and varied committees council is represented on.

The first meeting of the new council will be on September 26 from 6pm.

In declaring the poll, Mr Evennett acknowledged the excellent work done by the many polling officials and his office staff.

He said the elected candidates will represent the Bathurst region until September 2016.

Mr Evennett said the informal vote of around seven per cent in this council election was higher than the last state election, which could have been due to confusion about the more complicated ballot paper, particularly the above-the-line and below-the-line voting.

He said it was not uncommon for people to put a one above the line, but then vote for candidates below the line as well.

Others only listed a couple of candidates below the line instead of the mandatory five.

“Some people couldn’t follow instructions,” Mr Evennett said.

He added that those people who only voted below the line did not follow the candidates’ how to vote material, but sent their preferences in every direction.

He said, instead, it appeared they looked for the names they knew.

Last local government election the votes were sent to Sydney for counting, but doing the counting locally this year meant a result was known much sooner.

DECLARED: Cr Monica Morse and district returning officer Stuart Evennett yesterday. 091712cvote

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Million dollars worth of machine

BATHURST people will no longer have to travel for an MRI.
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Bathurst’s first MRI machine, weighing six tonnes and costing more than a million dollars, arrived at PRP Diagnostic Imagery yesterday.

It was lifted into the practice by crane and a specialist team from Hi-Tech Asia Pacific are currently working to install it.

It took two riggers, four Hi-Tech Asia technicians and three crane operators to get the machine in place.

The building next door to the Bentinck Street practice was purchased to house the new equipment.

It will be sharing the space with the nuclear medicine camera which was purchased by the practice two years ago.

The room containing the MRI machine, which is essentially a huge magnet, has been lined with copper to stop outside interference.

Installing the equipment is a delicate process and it will be a month before it is operational.

To put the scope of the equipment into perspective, the earth’s magnetic field is 0.5 gauss. This MRI machine creates a magnetic field of 15000 gauss.

PRP radiologist Dr Mich-ael Jones said MRI is an important part of medical imaging, used particularly for neurological, spinal and musculoskeletal imaging.

He said the number of MRI scans being carried out across the country has been steadily rising.

Dr Jones said the new piece of equipment completes the complement of scan technology the practice offers the people of the Bathurst region.

However, he said the greatest benefit will be felt by patients who currently have to travel to Orange or Sydney for MRI testing.

He added that there are also long waiting lists for the equipment based in Orange.

“It’s a different type of scan that uses magnetic and radio waves, not radiation,” he said.

“But its main benefit is the exquisite high resolution detail of soft tissue it provides. It is fine detail that counts in medical imaging.”

He added that there are a large number of radiologists at PRP who are experts in MRI technology.

They will be supervising and reporting the scans.

Dr Jones said the new equipment is a Medicare licensed scanner so patients will be covered by Medicare.

This Medicare funding was announced in last year’s budget as part of the expansion of MRI services.

“PRP is a big enterprise now, which has to be great for the city of Bathurst,” Dr Jones said.

Chief radiographer David Adams said the arrival of the new equipment was very exciting for the practice.

“Realistically no-one will have to travel outside Bathurst to have imaging done,” he said.

NO MORE TRAVEL: Chief radiographer David Adams and radiologist Dr Michael Jones with Bathurst’s first MRI scanner. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 091712cmri1

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Hurricanes come up short in grand final

Group 20 rugby league
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Under 18s

A MIGHTY comeback by the Bidgee Hurricanes fell agonisingly short as the group’s newest entity missed its first grand final trophy by two points on Sunday at EW Moore Oval.

Facing the tough Tullibigeal Lakes United, the young Hurricanes went down 24-22 after storming home in the last 15 minutes.

However, early mistakes and handling errors, and two restart kicks going out on the full had the Hurricanes behind the eight ball all day.

“You can’t afford to drop that much ball, make that many critical errors,” coach Michael Thomas said after the game.

While the Sharks scored early and had the run of play, the Hurricanes hit back in the 15th minute through Tom Webb and Keiran Cates’ conversion give them the lead. While the Sharks scored twice more, their tries were split by one to Tim Hillam to ensure the scoreboard was close to the break with TLU leading 14-12.

Mistakes from both sides started the second half and then, with the Hurricanes attacking, a long pass was intercepted and the resulting scrambled try-line play ended up with TLU scoring to go ahead 20-12.

The Hurricanes restart went into touch on the full, but both sides went into attack mode.

The Hurricanes held TLU out and were themselves held up in goal. The Sharks forwards Dyllan Phillips and Jayke Stevenson started making big metres and eventually the Hurricanes defence crumbled out wide and a deft flick pass put the Sharks over in the corner and a 24-12 lead.

Despite again kicking out on the full, the Hurricanes put their heads down and were twice rewarded by being held up in goal. Ben Nakubuwai and winger Jed Noonan kept the Sharks defence on their toes and eventually Webb scored his second after strolling through a hole.

The Hurricanes were finishing full of run and used a TLU knock on to get good field position before Jesse McDonald was able to stretch out in a tackle to score. However, Cates missed what would normally be an easy conversion and the Hurricanes trailed 24-22. With five minutes left both sides threw everything in to attack and defence, pouncing on mistakes, but unable to capitalise and the score remained unchanged.

“I was pretty impressed with the lot of them,” Thomas said. “Tom Webb really stood up, led the side around, young (James) Rappley stood up. In general I really think they all stood up. Considering that much dropped ball, I think we had a good comeback.”

Thomas had a simple message for his players after the game.

“Just to hold their heads high,” he said.

“Then we regroup and stick together and we go again next year, starting the pre-season nice and early. I’m actually pretty proud of their efforts.

“We’re a bit disappointed, but they’ve just taken it in their stride. They’ll be right.”


TLU 24 (tries: Braden Davis 2, John Harris, Steve Tracey, Ben Manton; goals: Tyson Dutton, Braden Davis) d Bidgee Hurricanes 22 (tries: Tom Webb 2, Jesse McDonald, Tim Hillam; goals: Kieren Cates 3)

Best on ground: Len Bertoldo Medal � Dylan Phillips (TLU)

TIM Hillam barges through the TLU defence and falls over the line for the Hurricanes’ second try in the under 18s grand final.

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Storm rolls in

A storm forecast for Sydney this afternoon is rolling in. The Bureau of Meteorology predicts rain andthunderstorms this evening mostly from the west.
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The Weather Channel reports severe thunderstorms have sparked up across NSW with a warning for hail and heavy rainfall in parts.http://www.weatherchannel南京夜网.au/WeatherMap#NSW/Sydney-Metro/SYDNEY

Dark skies: Steve Tyson of Iconic Photography took this shot near KFC at Engadine earlier this afternoon.

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Courting trouble: Rossiter seeks AVO

ILL-FEELING between former Orange councillor Fiona Rossiter, and council candidates Brian Wood and Cyril Smith has moved to the courtroom.
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Yesterday both parties appeared in court before Orange Local Court magistrate Terry Lucas, after Mrs Rossiter lodged an apprehended violence order (AVO) against both men.

Solicitor Andrew Rolfe handed up a number of statements to Mr Lucas outlining his client’s complaints against Wood and Smith.

They were represented in court by solicitor Anne Thompson.

“There have been no violence or threats,” she told the court as Mr Rolfe made application for the AVO.

Mr Rolfe requested the court consider interim orders on behalf of his client, telling Mr Lucas witness statements formed part of the application for an AVO to be taken out against the two men.

However Mr Lucas said he was not prepared to make a decision yesterday.

“It is going to take more time than I have today,” he said.

Following an adjournment the parties returned to the courtroom where the magistrate told Mr Rolfe no interim orders would be issued against Wood and Smith yesterday.

He set down a date in October for a hearing on the AVO application.

The direction made by Mr Lucas means the statements will be reviewed at the next court appearance.

Mrs Rossiter served two terms on Orange City Council but did not stand at the last election.

Mr Smith and Mr Wood are both members of the Orange Ratepayers’ Association.

ADJOURNED: Fiona Rossiter’s bid for an AVO against two members of the Ratepayers’ Association was adjourned.

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Tide’s turning for popular pollies

FEDERAL politics is entering a very interesting 12 months.For most of the past two years, mediacommentators – and the general public – have assumed it was not a question of who would win the 2013 federal election, but by how much.
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Julia Gillard, as leader of a minority government under constant attack from the opposition and conservative media, saw her personalpopularity slide to record lows.

At the same time, opposition leader Tony Abbott was riding high in the polls, though there was always a feeling that his numbers had more to do with the antipathy towards his political rivals than any real warmth towards him.

A key to the government’s sliding popularity was its backflip on the introduction of a carbon tax and its refusal to admit that both the prime minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan hadpromised before the election that a carbon tax simply would not happen.

That gave the opposition the fuel it needed to portray the government as dishonest and apuppet of The Greens, and it was that portrayal that saw the government’s popularity plummet.

Well, all that seems to be changing.

Two polls published yesterday showed the gap between the major parties has now closed, and Julia Gillard has streaked ahead of Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister.

Concerns that the opposition was placing all its election hopes in a single basket – attacking the carbon tax – appear to be coming back to haunt them now.

That’s not to say it is all good news for Ms Gillard, though.

She is still far less popular as Labor leader than former PM Kevin Rudd, and former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull remains much more popular with the public than Mr Abbott.

The question for both major parties is, how much stock can they put in these polls?

Parties can’t afford to react to every single poll, but there are now real trends showing over the past few months.

Is it too late for a Rudd versus Turnbullelection in 2013? Only time will tell.

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