Hope for hospital near expressway

PLEASE RECONSIDER: Rod Doherty and Alan Gray at the Hunter Expressway’s Loxford interchange, which they say would provide ideal access for a new Lower Hunter hospital to be located nearby.Proximity to the Hunter Expressway should have been the key factor in deciding the site of the new Lower Hunter hospital, local business and community representatives say.
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Kurri District Business Chamber president and Ward D councillor, Rod Doherty says the new hospital should be located near the Hunter Expressway, not at Metford, where the NSW Government plans to build the hospital.

And according to Cr. Doherty, the newly-available Hydro site at Loxford would be the ideal location.

Cr. Doherty has written to Premier Mike Baird and health minister Jillian Skinner to express the business chamber’s belief that the Metford site is a “poor decision and not based on sound geographic and population growth information”.

Despite the NSW Government announcing the Metford site in August last year, the chamber’s Kurri 2040 Steering Committee has not written off the idea of the new hospital being built along the expressway corridor.

“Many of the Lower Hunter and Upper Hunter hospitals are greater than 100 years old and cannot cope with the 21st century population growth, which is moving north-west to places such as Cessnock, Kurri Kurri, Lochinvar, Branxton and Singleton Shire,” Cr. Doherty said.

“With the completion of the Hunter Expressway and the recent announcement of the Hydro Aluminium Smelter closure freeing up some 2000 hectares of developable land, we believe the decision needs to be revisited.

“The location of the Hunter Hospital at Metford is right beside a major coal train transport route for the foreseeable future and would expose the hospital to coal dust contamination.”

Local Health Advisory Committee member, Alan Gray said the new hospital has been talked about for at least 10 years and that the GretaCamp was the preferred site before Hydro became available.

Mr. Gray said the former aluminium smelter site ticks all the boxes – it’s flood-free; not undermined; has power, water and gas and is close to the expressway, giving it good access to all Hunter, Port Stephens and Central Coast towns.

It would also be the ideal site to build an emergency services precinct – another of the Kurri 2040 committee’s 10 Big Ideas.

Cr. Doherty said he doesn’t expect anything to happen before the State election in March next year.

“Once the dust settles, all bets are off,” he said.

The government announced in August last year that it had chosen the former PGH Bricks site at Metford – a 40-hectare Crown land site – as the home of the new Lower Hunter hospital.

But while in Maitland last week, the Premier refused to commit on whether construction will begin on the new hospital before the state election in March.

Mr. Baird said during a visit to the site on Wednesday that he expected the hospital to be complete within five years.

However, he said there was still no date for construction to begin.

When asked whether ground would be broken before the election, Mr. Baird said the important point was that the government had committed to building the hospital.

“Let’s wait until we get to the final position of the planning,” he said.

“We want the work to be done but the truth and reality is that the hospital will be built, that’s the exciting thing.

“The timing and schedule will be announced once the [planning] work is done, but we need to finalise that work and then we will announce it.

“My expectation is the hospital will be delivered in a five-year time frame.”

Hunter New England Local Area Health CEO Michael DiRienzo said the master plan for the site would be completed by the end of 2014.

Member for Cessnock, Clayton Barr said the opposition has concerns about the site selection process and will be reassessing the process if they are re-elected in March.

“We’re concerned that the site was chosen for political convenience, as opposed to the needs of the area.

“It needs to be built properly and in the right space,” Mr. Barr said.

“They are making an error from day zero, just because the land was cheap.”

Mr. Barr said the Hunter Expressway is the “aorta of the Hunter” and that building the new hospital near it would be a logical decision.

***

Meanwhile, the increase in traffic on Frame Drive, Abermain since the expressway’s opening has led to a 10-tonne load limit being applied to the bridge.

Cessnock City Council installed signage last week advising of the bridge’s new load limit.

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Tributes pour in for Deadly Awards founder Gavin Jones

DEVASTATING: Gavin Jones will be remembered as an inspirational person, and a champion for Aboriginal Australia.
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Source: Goulburn Post

Jake KeaneGavin Jones: 1966-2014THE community is reeling at the loss of Vibe Australia founder and Aboriginal rights advocate Gavin Jones, found dead at his Goulburn property on Saturday morning.

Described as a crazy genius, a visionary and shining light, Mr Jones was the founder and director of Deadly Vibe Magazine, a national publication whose staff operated predominately from Montague Street offices.

Tributes flow in for Gavin Jones – visionary and leader

He established the annual Deadly Awards – an Australiawide event dedicated to showcasing the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Mr Jones was 47.

Police would not comment on his death in detail, but confirmed a brief was being compiled for the coroner.

The news stunned both the Goulburn community and those further afield.

We’ve lost a great man & trailblazer in Gavin Jones. He gave voice to contemporary Aboriginal culture. Sorely missed http://t.co/QwmqtUZl9T

— Warren Mundine (@nyunggai) July 14, 2014″Indigenous Australia has lost a champion this week. Vale Gavin Jones, he will be sadly missed…”

Troy Cassar-Daley”Gavin was the most generous, humble, warm-hearted man I have ever had the privilege of calling my friend…”

Cr Alfie Walker

Member for Hume Angus Taylor said “Goulburn, Indigenous Australia, indeed all of Australia, will mourn him and miss him.”

“I got to know him as an incredibly decent, visionary, caring and passionate individual and leader,” he said.

“He was a gem, because he was able to lead and inspire others, as few can. His primary motivation was to make a difference to the world around him.”

Details of Mr Jones’ funeral were yet to be finalised at time of going to press.

Those suffering from depression or anxiety are encouraged to phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Mensline on 1300 789 978.

Herald Breakfast – July 16

MORNING SHOT: Herald photographer Peter Stoop caught this rural vista near Testers Hollow.Weather: Clearing morning rain in Newcastle (19 degrees) and Scone (17 degrees) with similar conditions in Maitland (18 degrees).
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Traffic: No reported delays on Hunter roads.

Trains: Trackwork means buses replace trains between Scone and Muswellbrook, leaving Scone 10 minutes earlier than the timetabled trains to meet services at Muswellbrook. Trains run as normal from Muswellbrook to Newcastle.

Beachwatch:The wind willstart out from the north before turning to the west and freshening while the swell is from the east-south-east around half to one metre. Wave conditions will be a bit uneven in the morning but will clean up during the afternoon.

DICK McGUIGAN: BOWLING CLUB SHOOTING SURVIVOR:IT was in a cold and barren Sydney courtroom when shooting victim Dick McGuigan bravely stood in front of one of two men who tried to kill him and eyeballed his attacker.‘‘May I inform the court that the perpetrators of this crime may have ruined their own life, but I am determined that they will not ruin mine,’’ he said.

TOURIST ROUTE PLAN TO KEEP HUNTER TOWNS ALIVE:A new tourist route will be created for the towns the Hunter Expressway has left behind.Cessnock councillor Rod Doherty said concern had been raised about the expressway ‘‘bypassing the many small towns and villages on back roads between Freemans Waterhole and the Upper Hunter’’.

NEWCASTLE POOLS LIKELY TO GO PRIVATE: ALL five of Newcastle’s inland public pools appear certain to be leased out to private management with a final decision set for next Tuesday.

US EXPERT TO TESTIFY IN TODDLER GONORRHEA CASE:A SEXUAL health expert will be flown from the US next month to testify at the committal hearing of a Hunter man accused of sexually abusing his three-year-old daughter who contracted gonorrhea.

MAN TO FACE COURT OVER ALLEGED MURDER ATTEMPT WITHAXE, CROSSBOW:A MAN will face court on Wednesday after allegedly attempting to murder another man at Somersby with an axe and crossbow on Tuesday.

WYEE REHOMING CENTRE FOR GREYHOUNDS: GREYHOUND Racing NSW hope a Wyee facility will become a key resource in its fight to give dogs a post-racing future.The governing body yesterday unveiled the Playhouse Pet Motel as a rehoming centre for former race dogs as part of its Greyhounds as Pets (GAP) program.

KNIGHTS SEASON “HARDEST OF WAYNE BENNETT’SCAREER”:Knights coach Wayne Bennett does not feel let down by former owner Nathan Tinkler.

THURSTON TO WEAR ALEX McKINNON’S #16:CHAMPION Queensland and Australian playmaker Johnathan Thurston will wear No.16 for the Cowboys against Cronulla on Friday as a tribute to injured Knight Alex McKinnon.

REAL NRL WRAP: RD 13VIDEOCATCH up on Real NRL Round 13 with Josh Leeson and this week’s guest, Newcastle Rugby League chief executive Matt Harris.

Banning sniffer dogs at music festivals could be valuable: experts

Drug-taking festival-goers are more likely use ecstasy or methamphetamines rather than cannabis if sniffer dogs are present. Men in white coats: Art Vs Science don’t pretend to have a plan, but no one seems to mind. Photo: Erik Bergan
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Drug-taking festival-goers are more likely use ecstasy or methamphetamines rather than cannabis if sniffer dogs are present. Photo: Viki Yemettas

Trialling a sniffer dog-free music festival could be a valuable experiment, according to drug safety and policy experts.

It follows the plea by Australian band Art Vs Science to abandon the use of drug-detection dogs at this month’s Splendour in the Grass event to reduce the number of “panic” overdoses.

“Automatically you will cut out the number of hospitalisations due to people panicking upon sight of the dogs and ingesting their whole weekend’s supply of drugs,” guitarist Dan McNamee wrote on the band’s Facebook page.

A study of 500 New South Wales festival-goers conducted by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre during summer 2014 examined how sniffer dogs influenced their behaviour.

Lead researcher Caitlin Hughes said 62 per cent of respondents said they would take drugs either way, but that the presence of sniffer dogs would prompt two key changes.

“There was a 13 per cent increase in the number of people who said they’d use at least some of their drugs outside the venue, rather than using them all inside,” she said.

“The other big change was a 40 per cent increase in the relative amount of consumption of ecstasy, methamphetamine and other drugs, as opposed to using cannabis.”

Dr Hughes said other studies had shown dogs found it easier to sniff out marijuana than other party drugs.

“So they’re switching from cannabis to ecstasy and methamphetamine for reasons we think are to do with reducing their potential risk of detection by the dog.”

Dr Hughes said sniffer dogs had become a default strategy for police around the country, and a trial could discover if there were better options.

“Given there are a lot of other police strategies that could be deployed at festivals, such as collaborative policing approaches, we suspect that the answer may be yes, and that they may offer a safer form of policing at high drug use settings,” she said.

“There’s certainly been a lot of consternation about this issue, so some sort of experiment might be a good idea…. but I’m not sure if police would be happy to participate.”

National policy manager for the Australian Drug Foundation Geoff Munro said the organisation was concerned about hospitalisations resulting from people swallowing their drugs to avoid being caught.

“We would support police and festival organisers using other measures to keep festival goers safe and healthy during the event,” he said.

“[The ADF] knows that the reality is that many people do take drugs at music festivals, so we need to all work together to make sure people come home safely.”

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Police seize guns, explosives, drugs at Belmont

LAKE Macquarie police have seized firearms, prohibited drugs and stolen property after a Belmont raid on Tuesday.
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Special Operations Group investigators have been making inquiries into prohibited drug supply in Belmont and at 1pm on Tuesday, police searched a house in Evans Street.

Police will allege the search resulted in the seizure of amphetamine, cannabis and other drug paraphernalia as well as three unregistered rifles and an unregistered pistol.

They also allege four dismantled unregistered pistols, a loaded pen gun, firearm parts, ammunition, a taser, home-made explosives, fireworks and two stolen motorcycles were found.

It is further alleged they found the remnants of a clandestine drug lab.

No one was home during the search and investigations into the matter are continuing.

Police are urging anyone with information about this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Car clue in Cedar Pocket torso investigation

Witnesses believe they saw a Nissan Micra in the area where a human torso was found in Cedar Pocket. Photo: SuppliedPolice investigating a baffling case where a burnt human torso was found on the side of a rural Queensland road have identified a car seen in the area prior to the body being found.
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Investigators believe a small orange, gold or bronze Nissan Micra hatchback was seen in the area prior to the discovery of the remains in Cedar Pocket, about 17 kilometres east of Gympie.

The car was seen by witnesses near the Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach areas on September 19 last year before the body was found at 6.27pm that evening.

The driver of the car has been described as a middle-aged Caucasian woman of medium build with blonde/brown hair.

The torso was found decapitated, with both arms removed below the elbow.

Detectives are yet to identify the victim, but DNA testing on the remains has revealed that the deceased is a man aged between 40 and 80 years old, who was likely to be more than 183 centimetres tall with a solid build.

Forensic examinations showed the man had been taking prescription medication named Quinine. Earlier this year, police said they were trying to contact GPs and pharmacies to find further clues on the man’s identity.

Police also found a burnt beach towel at the scene.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at crimestoppers南京夜网.au.

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Queensland needs 100 new schools: Planning Commission

The Schools Planning Commission has mapped the hotspots in need of new schools over the next 20 years.The Schools Planning Commission has determined more than 100 new schools will probably be needed across the state in the next 20 years – and it is already failing to take into account about 38,000 students.
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Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek tasked the commission with mapping Queensland’s growth areas and returning with a plan of where new schools would be needed and when.

But the most up to date statistics it had to use were from 2011. And in three short years, the estimates have blown out even further.

“What you are seeing…is a final determination for new schools over the next 20 years, commission chair Bob Quinn said. “Already, I have to say because of the change in data that has come from the Bureau of Statistics, it is somewhat out of date.”

“We are 38,000 students short of our estimates at the moment.

“The latest numbers signed off by the Treasurer, only about a month ago, means that there is a another 38,000 students coming into this state over the next 20 years.

“So you can see how important this process was. These maps will be updated every 12 months from recommendations that we’ve made to the minister and from there, all of the stakeholders will be continued to be involved in terms of where they are planning new schools, what type of new schools, what the time frame will be, how large they’ll be.

“So there will be a sharing of information like there has never been before to make sure that very scarce resources aren’t wasted as we build into the future.”

The plan covers suburbs of the Gold Coast, such as Robina, as well as growing regional areas such Cairns, Mackay and Beaudesert.

A funding model for the new schools is still to be worked out. The government has 11 new schools in the pipeline, which will be finished in the next couple of years. Ten of those were funded through a public-private partnership model with The Plenary Schools Consortium.

Under the PPP, the consortium builds the schools in exchange for a 30-year maintenance contract with the government.

Mr Langbroek said the hows and whens of building the new schools, estimated to be between 99 and 119, with up to 83 primary schools and 36 high schools, would be determined at a later date. But he reiterated the importance of the commission, working together with the government and independent and Catholic schools sectors to ensure needs were met quickly and, at the same time, some areas were not inundated with unnecessary facilities, while others faced over-crowding.

He said the change to the statistics indicated how “volatile” the Queensland population-growth figures were.

“As we have already heard, there are 38,000 new children, prospectively, then we might have planned for before,” he said.

“We need to make sure that just in certain areas there might be some changes….we need to be able to look at the data, see where we are now and make sure we adapt for the future.”

For more information head to www.education.qld.gov.au/schools/schools-planning-commission.

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Price of love: the real cost of tying the knot

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT: Grant Hopson and Amanda Brodbeck were floored to find out how much a wedding costs these days. Photo: Barry Smith 101213BSD03Source: Northern Daily Leader
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LOCAL love-birds on the quest for the perfect wedding are forking out an average of $54,294 to tie the knot.

Bride to Be magazine’s most recent Cost of Love survey results show the total cost of the average Australian wedding is now a heart-stopping $54,294 – almost the same amount as the respondents’ average annual income.

In the past decade alone the cost of a wedding has almost doubled, according to Bride to Be editor Sarah Stevens.

Tamworth’s Amanda Brodbeck fiance Grant Hopson are in the process of planning their dream wedding.

The couple will say “I do” in front of about 100 guests at the picturesque Tangaratta Vineyard in November.

Like many modern brides,Ms Brodbeck said she was shocked to find out how much it would cost to turn her envisaged nuptials into reality.

“Gee wiz it’s pricey,” she said.

“Just everything in general.”

Even with “a bit of help” from both sets of parents, the cost of their special day is still smarting, Ms Brodbeck said.

“My parents are doing the traditional thing, buying my wedding gown, and my partner’s parents are contributing towards the bar and things like that, but it’s still ridiculous. It’s really a deposit for a house,” she said.

The 28-year-old has set a budget of $25,000 for the momentous occasion, excluding the honeymoon, but concedes they will probably go over it, as some things, such as lasting memories, are priceless.

“I don’t think you can budget for photography. It’s such a big thing to be able to look back on your special day in 50 years,” Ms Brodbeck said.

“I didn’t want something cheap, I wanted to make sure I get great photos.”

Although it is going to cost the couple a mint, Ms Brodbeck said she would not have it any other way.

“Every girl dreams of being a princess for the day and that’s what I’ve always dreamt of. Having the big white dress, beautiful flowers and the big cake. I’m loving it, I love (planning) it. I just can’t wait for the day to be here so I can see it all come together,” she said.

Expulsions skyrocket as schools won’t cop it anymore

Expulsions skyrocket as schools won’t cop it anymore Public Schools NSW director for Albury, Peter Smith, believes the rising number in suspensions and expulsions does not reflect deteriorating standards of behaviour. Pictures: DYLAN ROBINSON
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Parent Philip Evans does not believe suspensions and expulsions reflect a high rate of trouble in public schools. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

Parents Joanne Moir was confident the higher suspensions kept her children safe. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

TweetFacebookSource: Border Mail

THE number of students expelled from Riverina schools has skyrocketed from two to 20 in two years, new NSW Education Department data has revealed.

The jump in expulsions coincided with an increase in those students suspended from Albury schools and the district that runs from Mulwala to Jingellic.

There were 149 Riverina students suspended in 2012 for more than four days, an increase on 138 in 2011 and 133 in 2010.

The data did not reveal the number of expulsions in Albury and district.

The results also reveal most students were being suspended for physical violence and persistent misbehaviour.

Public Schools NSW director for Albury, Peter Smith, said the figures were not a reflection of worse behaviour but of schools taking steps to provide greater safety.

“It’s a small number when you think about how many students there are,” Mr Smith said.

Although students had been expelled, Mr Smith said it did not mean they were excluded from the system.

“Just because they are expelled from one school doesn’t mean we wipe our hands of them,” he said.

“The department works with students and families to find a suitable alternative.

“If they are expelled from one school, they might be able to go to another school, a behavioural school or TAFE.

“We have a responsibility to find an education avenue for each student.”

One Border parent yesterday said he did not believe the rise in suspensions and expulsions reflected problems in public schools.

“I think you get truancy and people misbehaving in all schools,” Philip Evans said.

Pam McMillan said she supported suspension and expulsion as punishment.

“There should be more of it,” she said.

“I’m not surprised there are more kids being suspended when you see the way they sometimes react to situations and how agitated they can get.”

Ms McMillan said students were given too many chances.

Joanne Moir said she was confident suspension kept her children and others students safe.

“There needs to be discipline for action,” she said.

“I think in-school suspension is a better idea because it’s less like a holiday.”

Mr Smith said suspensions were not an easy way out for students.

“They are given work to do, which their teachers follow-up,” he said.

“It’s done that way so teachers have time to put measures in place to better accommodate them.

“It’s better to take action to assist students to modify behaviour than do nothing.”

Clive Palmer deal saves Tony Abbott’s reforms

ClivePalmerto support FOFA changes:The PUP gives a win to the government while the Greens and consumer group are worried of future financial disarray from the water down regulations.
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The Abbott government has rescued its financial advice laws through an 11th hour deal with the Palmer United Party but the changes have drawn harsh criticism for increasing red tape and diminishing the rights of investors.

The regulations will allow financial planners associated with banks to continue to receive payments for directing customers towards the banks’ own products.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann revealed in the Senate that the government had agreed with the balance-of-power senators to introduce further protections as a condition of their support for the unravelling of changes made under the previous Labor government.

It capped a tumultuous few days during which Labor tabled the government’s reforms against its wishes and Clive Palmer said negotiations with the Coalition were not taking place when they obviously were.

The deal, first reported by Fairfax Media on Tuesday, caught Labor and the Greens by surprise and saw them attempt to block the changes with a motion of disallowance in the Senate.

The final Senate vote of 31-34 for disallowance meant the attempt to strike down the changes failed.

Labor has argued its Future of Financial Advice reforms were aimed at stopping the kind of fraud that ruined the retirement plans of investors who sought the advice of the Commonwealth Bank’s financial services arm and lost their life savings.

Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer has struck a deal with the Abbott government to wind back reforms to financial advice laws. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

In a letter from Mr Cormann to Mr Palmer, the government agreed to require financial advisers to act in the best interests of their client and prioritise their client’s interests ahead of their own.

It also requires advisers to disclose to clients any payments they receive from product providers, give clients the right to return financial products under a 14-day cooling-off period, and change instructions to their adviser if they experience a change in their circumstances.

The regulations also specify that any instructions to alter or review instructions must be in writing, signed by the client, and acknowledged by the client.

The government has also agreed to establish an “enhanced public register” of financial advisers, including employee advisers, which includes a record of each adviser’s credentials and status in the industry.

The head of the government’s financial system inquiry, David Murray, expressed dismay on Tuesday that there wasn’t already a public register of approved financial advisers.

His inquiry recommends a register and higher trading standards.

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari slams the wind back of financial advice laws in the Senate. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The chief executive of National Seniors, Michael O’Neill, said the deal would do nothing to help investors or fix problems in the industry.

“On the surface it adds nothing to the issue at all, except potentially another layer of red tape, which was the reason why the government made its changes to start with. This was a grubby deal and Clive Palmer has treated older Australians with contempt the way he’s dealt with this today,’’ he said.

The head of the Financial Services Council, John Brogden, said the amended regulations would make financial advice more accessible and affordable. David Whiteley, of the Industry Super Association, said the changes would not prevent bonuses and other forms of conflicted remuneration being paid to financial advisers.

SMH

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