Archive for: ‘January 2019’

Mayor criticised over her $270 childcare bill

14/01/2019 Posted by admin

Holding firm: Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said she had no choice but to take her daughter with her on the overseas trip.THE state’s local government minister has hit out at the “wasteful” use of public money afterreports Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmescharged ratepayers $270 for childcare while on an overseas junket.

But Cr Nelmes has defended the decision, saying the trip was taken “at very short notice” during school holidays and that she “wouldn’t have been able to attend” without taking her nine-year-old daughter.

News Corporation reported on Thursday thatCr Nelmes billed ratepayers forone day of childcare for her daughter while on a council trip to Singapore last year, despite the council’s chief executive warning her to consider how the expense would fare against the “pub test”.

In an email to Cr Nelmes’ office the council’s interim boss Frank Cordingley warned the lord mayor to “consider how this request would pass the “pub test”.

“In terms of how the ratepayers of Newcastle would regard her actions of taking her daughter with her on an overseas trip to attend a conference, and was then “minded” at the ratepayers expense while the Lord Mayor attended the conference,” Mr Cordingley wrote.

The decision has drawn criticism from her opponents on council, with Brad Luke, a Liberal Party councillor, sayinghe didn’t think it was an appropriate use of ratepayers money.

“I don’t think the averageperson would say that it’s appropriate, it’s as simple as that,” he said.

But Cr Nelmes defended the decision, saying she had no choice but to take her daughter with her on the trip and that she was “pretty confident” the $270 billwas the only time she had used a carers expense in the current term.

Under local government expenses rules, Cr Nelmes is allowed to claim up to $6000 a year in childcare costs.

Cr Nelmes has three children, and told theNewcastle Heraldshe had used her carer allowance while attending meetings in previous terms “when the kids were very young”.

She said she would not have taken her daughter on the trip if it was not school holidays at the time.

“I can’t just ask my husband to take a week off work because I have to go away on council business,” she said.

Asked about the claim the NSW local government minister Gabrielle Upton said; “ratepayer funds should never be wasted on unnecessary expenses”.

“The community has a right to set high expectations for their councils to spend ratepayers’ money appropriately,” she said.

The ministerstopped short of saying she would order an investigation, saying concerned ratepayers could lodge complaintswith the department.

Planning and Assessment Commission rejects Drayton South Coal Project

14/01/2019 Posted by admin

ANGLO American has failed yet again to convince the Planning and Assessment (PAC) to approve its Drayton South Coal Project.

This means the project, located between Singleton and Muswellbrook, has now been rejected by PAC on four occasions – two reviews and two determinations.

The new open cut was expected to extract 75 million tonnes of coal over a 15-year period using existing infrastructure of Anglo’s now closed Drayton mine.

No doubt the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA) will be asking the question of the NSW Government: will they allow Anglo to submit another proposal for their site that neighbours two of the world’s most prominent studs, Coolmore and Godolphin (Darley).

On each of the four rejections, PAC stated the reason it would not approve the new open cut mine was dueto its impact on the studs and the entire Upper Hunter Critical Industry Cluster (equine).

The two studs have spent millions fighting this project since it was first proposed in 2012.

They have been supported in their campaign by HTBA and associated entities.

At the most recent PAC public hearing, held in Muswellbrook last year, Godolphin general managerHenry Plumtre said his board wastired of seeing monies being spent fighting this project and there was a real threat Godoplhin, along with Coolmore, would exit the Hunter.

Darley already owns a substantial breeding establishment in Victoria.

In addition to the threat of them leaving the Hunter, other potential entrants have also chosen not to invest in the region due to the threat posed by mine expansion.

And PAC, in the latest determination, agrees there is a real risk Coolmore and Godolphin would seek to protect their reputation and business interests by leaving the Hunter Valley

PAC determination review public hearing in Muswellbrook 2016

The latest PAC determination, chaired by Paul Forward, states – in its final report –the project is likely to create significant negative impacts on the preferred landuses identified as animal boarding (a new PAC termfor horse agistment and breeding) or training establishments.

PAC identifies the vast difference between the two neighbouring landuses open cut mining and horse breeder, saying this difference makes direct comparisons challenging.

“However, the commission finds that the established thoroughbred equine operations are sustainable in the long term and are a key to the equine Critical Industry Cluster (CIC),” the report says.

“Whereas the project has a finite lifespan of 15 years and would not be central to the sustainability of mining as a preferred landuse.

“The commission considers that this is an important and relevant distinction in evaluating the public benefits of the development.”

PAC was also concerned about the increase of dust and or a reduction of air quality and the risks its posed to equine health.

In fact it rejected Anglo’s claim there would be no adverse impact from dust on equine health.

Anglo has repeatedly used the Edinglasssie thoroughbred stud which is located on land near and owned by BHP Billiton’s MtArthur open cut as an example of a successful equine operation adjacent to a mine.

However PAC says it does not rely on this information regarding Edinglassie’s operationin its determination of the application.

“We welcome the PAC’s decision to refuse Anglo American’s latest proposal for a coal mine on the Drayton South site. We are very grateful to the PAC for its thorough analysis and comprehensive refusal of this mine. “ Dr Cameron Collins, President Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association said

“After four PAC’s finding against this mine, all recommending or making findings of refusal, the NSW Government needs to put an end to community uncertainty and rule out any possibility of entertaining another application for a coal mine on this site.” Dr Collins said

“Whilst the PAC has refused Anglo’s latest Drayton South application, there is nothing to stop Anglo American, or any future owner of the site, from lodging yet another application. The process is endless and unnecessary. The Government, with a stroke of a pen, can end the uncertainty by putting a SEPP on this site to prohibit future mining.” Dr Collins said

“We are very relieved at the PAC’s findings and rejection of a mine on the Drayton South site. We are also very grateful to the many thousands of people who have supported our campaign and work.

“We now need certainty for our industry to invest in its future. We call on the new Berejiklian Government to end the land use conflict in the Hunter, put a SEPP on the Drayton South site and act immediately to permanently protect the Hunter’s multi-billion dollar thoroughbred breeding industry – by establishing appropriate buffers so that all industries in the region can confidently grow and prosper. This will give certainty to all parties, and allow the region to grow in a diversified and sustainable manner.There are no more excuses for inaction.” Dr Collins said

Natural Ability on show

14/01/2019 Posted by admin

Ever So Natural went close to winning last year and is even better condition in 2017.*Sponsored by Racing NSW

EVERSo Natural ran third in the grand final of the Country Championships at Royal Randwick last year and is back for another tilt at the title in 2017.

With 19 runs under his belt and a maximum of 20 allowed, the Cliff Bashford-trained gelding just scrapes in to make the criteria.

“He went so close last year and was literally beaten by a nostril,” Bashford said.

“I followed that up with a short preparation through winter but he didn’t perform on the heavy tracks.

“He’s better than that so I decided to save him for another shot at The Country Championships.”

Ever So Natural’s campaign is off to a strong start.

Lumping 61.5kgs, he made light work of his rivals in the McGuigan BMW Country Championships Preview (1208m) at Port Macquarie on February 11.

With apprentice Chelsea Ings at the reigns, the five-year-old flew home from last at the turnto win by a length.

“She found a good lane out wide and I think it was a pretty good effort,” Bashford said.

“Several of those horses will be in The Country Championships Qualifier at Taree and I can’t see them turning the tables on him.

“He is pretty close to his peak now.”

The racing conditions of the Country Championships stipulate set weights and as a class four horse, Ever So Natural will carry 57.5kgs.

“He gets in pretty well at the weights and drops 4kgs from Port Macquarie,” Bashford said.

“He has to draw a gate now as you can’t get too far back at Taree because it isn’t a long straight.

“Eight or inside would be ideal.

“We also want a good track. Storms are forecast leading up to the race but I hope the bureau has it wrong.”

Leading Sydney jockey Glyn Schofield has been booked for the ride.

He is one of several metropolitan hoops making the trip up on Sunday.

In the lead up to races Bashford doesn’t work Ever So Natural too hard.

“I don’t gallop him much as he doesn’t need a lot of work,” he said. “He is a good horse to train though.”

Ever So Natural is owned by Bashford’s daughter, Donna Barsley, and they’ve enjoyed the ride the horse has taken them on.

“Last year’s Country Championships final at Randwick was fantastic,” Bashford said.

“He jumped from barrier 12, went straight to the back, was held up on the turn and still managed to work home strongly for third.

“He is better than he was last year and if he can repeat that performance he will go close again.”

For everyone’s sake, let’s talk about sex

14/01/2019 Posted by admin

Meeting hundreds of new people during Orientation Week and parties marks the start of the university year for many from next week.

But it is terrifying to think that these social gatherings may come with the threat of sexual assault.

At the end of last year, the discovery of hordes of internal police documents revealed reports of rampant sexual assaults and harassment in university dorm rooms, corridors, libraries and car parks.

Female students reported being grabbed at random, raped in bushes and molested in university swimming pools and bathrooms.

Unfortunately, this is not surprising. New research released this week by Our Watch’s youth campaign, The Line, reveals that 1 in 5 young people (aged 12-20) thinkit’s “normal”for a boy to put pressure on girls to do sexual things.

Of the 1000 young people surveyed, 1 in 5 also believed that if a young man wants to have sex with a young woman, it’s up to the woman to make it very clear she doesn’t want to.

In addition, we know that if a woman is sexually assaulted, 1 in 5 of the same young people will hold the victim at least partly responsible for the unwanted sex if she is drunk or affected by drugs.

A total of 15 per cent believe the same thing if the woman is wearing revealing clothing.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – there is some good news in all of this.

Young people are telling us that they are craving reliable information about sex and relationships.

However, with a lack of guidance from parents and family members, they are instead turning to popular culture to get it.

I’m sure most people will agree that many music videos, online games and pornography do not portray women in a realistic manner.

Nor do they show thevalue of respectful relationships.

For example, a review of the most popular porn uncovered that 88 per cent of scenes included acts of physical aggression.

And in 94 per cent of those cases, the aggressive acts were directed at female performers.

Young people may also feel pressured to live up to certain outdated social expectations of being a man or woman.

Many young men believe they must be the ones who initiate sex, be sexually active and even aggressive.

Meanwhile, many young women believe that they are expected to be passive, nurturing and do what they can to “make boys happy”.

So, we need to step up. We need to have awkward conversations about sex and consent with the young people in our lives.

Yes, they might squirm. We’ll probably do the same.

But the fact remains that parents, carers and family members are some of the most trusted sources of information young people will ever have access to.

A few years ago, the National Union of Students indicated that 67 per cent of female students suffered an unwanted sexual experience. And 31 per cent had sex when they were, or felt unable to give consent.

It’s up to us to try and change these statistics. It’s up to all of us to help make university a safer experience for the people we know and love.

Mary Barry is the chief executive of Our Watch, the national organisation to prevent violence against women and their children.

Drayton South’s final rejection by planning commission

14/01/2019 Posted by admin

ALL IN VAIN: Drayton South has again had its consent refused by the Planning Assessment Commission.THE NSW Planning Assessment Commission has again refused consent to the Drayton South Coal Project, saying it considers it “not in the public interest”.

The decision has beenwelcomed by the thoroughbred stud industry and by environmentalists but will disappoint the coal industry, its employees and its supporters.

The PAC said coal company Anglo American had sought consent to extract 74.9 million tonnes of coal over 15 years, employing 500 mineworkers directly and supporting the indirect employment of another 980 people more during the life of the mine.

Although the commission recognised the financial contribution of the coal industry to the state economy, it said “a unique sent of circumstances does exist due to the proximity between the project and the thoroughbred operations of Coolmore and Godolphin” horse studs.

Although Anglo American said Drayton South could be developed without impacting on either stud, the commission said there would be “key effects” on its neighbours from “air quality, blast noise and reputation”.

The commission noted that mining and equine operations were “co-existing at this current point in time” but it believed the proximity of Drayton South would “tip this relationship out of balance to the detriment, and ultimate decline of the internationally recognised Hunter Valley equine critical industry cluster”.

The Newcastle Herald is seeking comment from Anglo American but the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association welcomed the decision, saying it vindicated its opposition to the project from the start.

The breeders’ association is also calling on a Bickham style permanent stay on Drayton South by having the NSW government enact a site-specific State Environmental Planning Policy or SEPP on the area to permanently prohibit open-cut coalmining.

Bickham was a mine proposed for a riverside site near Scone that was rejected in 2010 and permanently stayed using a SEPP.

Read the full story in Friday’s Newcastle Herald.