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Opinion: Afterdark plan risks increase in grog-fuelled CBD violence

ANOTHER ROUND: Newcastle’s police and health officials have warned against watering down the city’s alcohol restrictions … why are they being ignored?THE nearly fatal head injuries suffered by a Lake Macquarie Roosters soccer player from a recent one-punch assault (Herald, 8/5)should be a sober reminder to those with a vested interest in weakening the life-saving package of Newcastle’s modest alcohol controls.
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Newcastle Council, the AHA and their supporters appear selectively deaf to the dire warnings from our town’s most trusted and respected senior police, health officials, University/HMRI researchers, 400 public and private doctorsthat Newcastle still has a problem with alcohol-relatedviolence with a rate of assaults in the CBD nearly 10times the NSW average.

These representatives rightly assert that reducing these unacceptable levels of alcohol-fuelled harms must be our collectiveNo.1 priority.

Why can’t those demanding a weakening in controls handle this inconvenient truth?

In my opinion, council’s proposed glossy Afterdark strategy is a nightmare.

I believe itpromotes longer and stronger drinking, a further increase in outlet density (a known predictor of alcohol harms) and the generation of more unacceptable noise and anti-social disturbances.

The council also appears to have failed to inform the Horton review that it has a pecuniary interest ina CBD pub –the Queens Wharf Brewery –from whichit receives rent as landlord.

The review inexplicablypreferred submissions from the council and the alcohol industry as well asa misleading change苏州模特佳丽招聘 on-line petition, over those of our above most trusted experts and a Hunter New England Healthsurvey of real community sentiment.

Short memories also extend to the new tourism boss pedalling the nonsensical alcohol industry line that the decade long variation in closing/lockout times and modest drink controls confuses patrons to anextent justifying weakening alcohol controls.

This is another example of vested interests king-hitting the golden goose.

It is precisely the integral package of conditions and reduced violence and crime that is the key contributor to the renaissance of our CBD, live music and 110 per cent increase in a diverse range of licensed restaurants, smaller bars.

The council’s Afterdark strategy and complex model to ‘incentivise’ all outlets with exemptions to sell more grog risks becoming a literal ‘overkill’.

Council appears to have abandoned the interests, safety and amenityof current and future inner-city families.

They take no account of the likely increase in offensive loud noise and conduct of highly intoxicated patrons migrating between more later trading licensed premises.

Council failedto enforce DA noise conditions against the Brewery.

Residents cannot expect any improvement in council’s double standard approach to enforcement and compliance given its placation of dominant alcohol industry interests.

The Newcastle community expects fair, impartial, inclusive and transparent civic leadership – supported by a strong and open governance process.

Inner-city residents and families have demonstrated their accommodation of reasonable change.

They don’t want a council that surrounds itself with advisors from only those who financially benefit from its untested alcohol harm preventionpolicies.

Tony Brown is avoluntary community advocate evidence based alcohol harm prevention

Maclaren, Wright poised for World Cup chop

Jamie MacLaren is yet to break his international goal duck after five games for the Socceroos.Is the highest scoring overseas-based n about to have his World Cup dreams dashed?
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And could a mainstay of Ange Postecoglou’s qualification run and the brightest Socceroos defensive talent also be heading for the scrap heap?

Bert van Marwijk will cull six players from his 32-man Socceroos squad on Tuesday to produce a group of 26 to take to Turkey for a pre-World Cup training camp.

And the signs are that free-scoring striker Jamie Maclaren, defensive stalwart Bailey Wright and left-back Alex Gersbach will miss the plane.

Should the Dutchman omit Maclaren, he’ll be leaving ‘s most in-form forward behind.

The 24-year-old scored a hat-trick for Scottish club Hibernian in a 5-5 draw with Rangers on Sunday night (AEST).

With eight goals in 11 matches, he’s found the net more times than first-choice striker Tomi Juric has all season.

With Tim Cahill barely within cooee of competitive minutes – let alone goals – this season, the Socceroos are crying out for goals.

Players were informed of their selection fates late last week after crunch selection meetings confirmed van Marwijk’s choices.

The delay in naming the 26-man group is down to a precautionary check on injuries from the weekend’s action.

So long as it hasn’t been announced, there’s room for a last-minute change of heart.

But Maclaren believes he won’t make the cut, and showed as much with a post on Twitter.

“Hat-trick on the Final day! Loved being apart of this special group of lads… time to switch off from Football and enjoy a holiday.”

Ex-Socceroos winger Robbie Slater told Fox Sports he understood Wright, 25, and Gersbach were also set for the axe.

Wright is the captain of second-tier English club Bristol City and one of the key figures in reaching the World Cup.

He played in a dozen qualifiers, including the successful play-off matches against Honduras and all three games at last year’s warm-up tournament in Russia, the Confederations Cup.

His omission – likely for untested centre-back Alex Susnjar – would be a high-risk gamble.

In dropping Gersbach, would be effectively locking in Aziz Behich to start at left-back – and benching one for the future.

The 21-year-old Gersbach has little experience with the national team but has impressed in his limited run-outs in a gold shirt.

There’s no doubt that in cutting the 32-man squad to 26, talented players will miss out.

With Mat Ryan the first choice, either Mitch Langerak, Brad Jones or Danny Vukovic will be axed as the squad’s goalkeepers are whittled down to three.

Two other outfielders will need to join Maclaren, Wright and Gersbach on the outer.

Likely exclusions include James Meredith, Josh Brillante, Apostolos Giannou, Andrew Nabbout or Nikita Rukavytsya.

Matt Alexander Stephenson to be sentenced for punch that left Ebo Whaleboat with fractured skull, permanent hearing loss

Ebo Whaleboat. IT was a “moment of madness” thatleft one man in a coma with a fractured skull and permanent hearing loss in one ear and his former mate facing a jail term.
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Matt Alexander Stephenson, 30, of Merewether, and Ebo Whaleboat were arguing outside a house in Mitchell Street, Merewether, in the early hours of April 2 last year when Stephenson threw “the fateful punch”.

The pair were heavily intoxicated after a night out witha group of mates and began arguing when they returned to the house.

Stephenson left the party and went home, but returned and confronted Mr Whaleboat.

“Come on let’s go out and sort this f—ing out,” Stephenson told him.

A witness said they saw the two men facing each other and arguing outside the house in Mitchell Street before Stephenson punched Mr Whaleboat to the left side of his head.

The witness told police they saw Mr Whaleboat immediately fall to the ground and heard a “loud crack”, according to a statement of agreed facts.

Distressed and crying, Stephenson placed Mr Whaleboat in the recovery position and called triple-zero.

“Come on mate,” Stephenson said. “Get up you will be right. Come on get up. I’m so sorry.” Mr Whaleboat was in a coma when he arrived at John Hunter Hospital and would remain that way for the next 72 hours.

Meanwhile, Stephenson was driven to the hospital so he could hand himself into police.Stephenson pleaded guilty to reckless grievous bodily harm, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

During a sentence hearing in Newcastle Local Court on Monday, barrister Peter Harper told magistrate Robert Stone it was a “moment of madness” that led to his client throwing the punch.

Mr Harper submitted that, given his remorse andprior good character, Stephenson could be appropriately dealt with by serving an intensive corrections order or a suspended sentence.

DPP solicitor Andrew Baker said a suspended sentence was not appropriate.

Mr Whaleboat read a victim impact statement in court, outliningfor Mr Stone how the “fateful punch” had drastically changed his life.

“I have lost myself in this whole process,” Mr Whaleboat said. “I feel lonely and disconnected from loved ones and every day I carry a burden to constantly adjust to my injuries.”

Mr Stone adjourned the matter until Friday to give his decision.

Wilkinson’s AFL racism complaint filed

Former Gold Coast AFL player Joel Wilkinson has said he wants to stand against injustice.Former Gold Coast player Joel Wilkinson’s complaint of systemic racism by the AFL has been filed to the Human Rights Commission (HRC).
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Wilkinson’s legal representatives, Shine Lawyers, electronically filed a 53-page complaint on Monday morning and it’s now in the hands of the commission.

The HRC will now handle a mediation process between both parties that is expected to take up to six to eight weeks.

If there’s no resolution Wilkinson, who played 26 games for the Suns from 2011-13, can decide whether the case goes to the Federal Court.

The 26-year-old rocked the AFL fraternity on Thursday when it was revealed he was suing the league for racial vilification and sexual harassment during his career.

Wilkinson was racially abused by Western Bulldogs rival Justin Sherman in his debut match as a 19-year-old in 2011. He was also vilified by a Collingwood member the season after.

He has alleged his career was taken from him and his rights were violated due to racism, religious vilification and racially-motivated sexual harassment.

“I am here to hold the AFL accountable and stand against injustice … this is extremely systematic across the AFL,” he told reporters on Thursday as he read out a public statement.

Wilkinson stressed he was looking forward to his day in court after prior talks with the league had broken down.

The AFL initially responded to the complaints by saying Wilkinson previously shared his experiences of racial abuse in videos produced with the league.

But Wilkinson said it was disrespectful to the gravity of the situation to deny his experiences and “claim one three-minute video was sufficient”.

Western Bulldogs president and prominent Melbourne lawyer Peter Gordon, often among the AFL’s fiercest critics, will act for the league in the case.

After Gold Coast delisted him at the end of the 2013 season, Wilkinson played two seasons in the VFL with the Northern Blues.

He pursued a career in the NFL and signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 but was cut after three months.

NSW treasurer admits GST reform difficult

The Productivity Commission will deliver its review of GST carve-up to Scott Morrison on Tuesday.Ending the annual row over how $66 billion of GST revenue should be shared between the states and territories will be difficult if no one is to lose out.
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But NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has been assured by Scott Morrison such reform will be his focus before the next federal election.

The federal treasurer is due to receive the final report and recommendations on how GST revenue should be carved-up from the Productivity Commission on Tuesday.

The commission handed down an interim report into changing the distribution mechanism – known as horizontal fiscal equalisation – last October, to which Mr Morrison said he wanted a proper fix rather than more “Band-aids and bolt-ons”.

Senior federal minister and former WA treasurer Christian Porter said it was the first authoritative report that found there are “significant deficiencies” in the present system.

Whether the recommendations will soothe the annual argy-bargy remains to be seen but any changes suggest if a larger slice of the GST revenue pie goes to one jurisdiction, others will lose out.

“It’s a very difficult area to get all the states to agree on something like the GST,” Mr Perrottet told Sky News on Monday.

“What I am willing to cop is a change that ensures NSW stops subsidising inefficient, particularly Labor states, that don’t embark on the bold reform that is needed.”

Problems surrounding the present system came to a head when WA’s share shrank to less than 30 cents in the GST dollar, even as the mining boom was ending.

As changes to a state’s performance take time to work through the HFE system and influence the revenue share-out, even now WA will only get 47 cents in the GST dollar next financial year while NSW gets 86 cents, the nation’s strongest state at present.

While the federal government has been forced to make several top-up payments to WA and Labor has promised a further payment should it win the next federal election, the Productivity Commission has said these are not long-term solutions.

It also found the present system means states and territories have a disincentive to undertake positive changes to their tax systems and make the most of the resources and minerals they have.

In its initial thoughts, the interim report recommended resetting the HFE system to a more “reasonable” standard, using the second strongest state or average as the basis of the carve-up rather than the strongest.

Employers should face criminal action for deliberate exploitation of employees, says NSW opposition

Scathing: Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James strongly criticised a labour hire company manager over a Scone abattoir ‘wage theft’ case.A LABOUR hire company’s exploitation of 10 workers at a Scone abattoir was further proof of the need for deliberate wage theft to be criminalised,the NSW Opposition said.
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Raying Holding general manager Zu Neng Shi underpaid more than $41,000 to 10 Chinese migrant workers who spoke little or no English, with one worker owed more than $10,000. He exercised “an element of practical control” over the workersby organising theiraccommodation and transport to and from the abattoir and isolating them from the n community, Federal Circuit Court Judge Robert Cameron found.

MrShi was fined $43,000 after Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James rejected Mr Shi’s argument he was unaware of n awards, and said the Raying Holding case was another concerning example of a “business operator from a culturally andlinguistically diverse background underpaying workers from within his own ethnic community”.

NSW Labor industrial relations spokesperson Adam Searle and Country Labor Upper Hunter candidate Martin Rush said the Scone case reinforced the need for stronger state laws when employers deliberately underpay employees and deny entitlements.

Reforms: NSW opposition industrial relations spokesman Adam Searle says NSW needs new laws to criminalise employer exploitation of workers.

A NSW Labor government would introduce new wage theft laws to crack down on businesses that exploit workers because “current penalties are not tough enough”, Mr Searle and Mr Rush said.

The laws would criminalise the deliberate failure to pay wages and entitlements, hold head franchisors accountable for the actions of franchisees and protect Sunday penalty rates in all state awards and agreements, they said.

Labor would also give workplace inspectors wider powers to undertake wage audits and introduce a licensing scheme for labour hire companies to ensure they comply with labour laws and provide safe, fair and reasonable work conditions.

Mr Searle said the Scone abattoir case and recent media exposure of widespreadunderpayment of workers at well known n companies was evidence of “systematic exploitation of workers” across NSW.

“We need stronger laws and better enforcementbecause there are still a number of unscrupulous employers that aren’t getting the message,” Mr Searle said.

Plan: Country Labor Upper Hunter candidate Martin Rush said the Scone abattoir case was proof of the need for a tougher penalty regime in NSW to protect workers.

Mr Rush said vulnerable Upper Hunter workers were being “cheated out of a staggering amount of wages by crooked bosses and it has to stop”.

“A Labor Government would see dodgy employers pay correct wages and entitlements to staff or face the consequences,” he said.

Judge Cameron found Mr Shi, who headed Raying Holding until it went into liquidation in 2015, forced two full-time employees to be classified as independent contractors and failed to provide employees with pay slips for more than eight months.

The record-keeping and pay slip contraventions were serious, Judge Cameron said.

“The failure to keep proper records and to provide employees with pay slips strikes at the heart ’s industrial law system because it compromises employees’ ability to monitor their employers’ compliance with industrial laws and the regulator’s ability to investigate breaches of industrial laws,” he said.

Mr Shi displayed no remorse and “misleadingly painted himself as a victim of circumstance”, Judge Cameron said.

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

Relaxed coastal living in Dudley EASY CARE: There is a low-maintenance yard surrounded by plenty of greenery.
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House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

LOADS OF LIGHT: The home has been designed to take advantage of its northerly aspect.

PRIVATE: The residence has multiple indoor and outdoor living spaces.

MODERN: There is a sleek white kitchen with stone benchtops, dish drawer and gas cooktop.

ROOMY: The residence was designed over two levels to make the most of the space available.

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

House of the Week: 4 Thomas Street, Dudley

TweetFacebookHe designed a lot of the houses in that area and our house was his last project.

Bonnie Gillies

“It’s low maintenance but it’s got a really nice use of space, and that’s my granddad’s input –he was all about the aspect of the house and designing it so it really made the most of that north aspect.That’s why it’s so nice and comfortable to live in,” Bonnie said.

“It’s such a nice space. It all faces north and the temperature in the house isbeautiful. It’s insulated really well, there’s no air conditioning but it always keeps that beautiful temperature.”

The gardens have also been an enjoyed feature.

“We really like tropical gardens so we planted lots of palms and tropical plants and it’s just so beautiful,” Bonnie said.

“When you walk up the driveway it’s a wall of palm trees and in the backyard as well, you look at this beautiful green wall of palms.”

Total Vic ban for deadly platypus nets

Yabbie nets which inadvertently kill platypus by drowning them will be be banned in Victoria.Victoria is banning a type of fishing net which has proven deadly for the state’s dwindling platypus population.
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The ‘opera house’-style nets – so named because its shape resembles the Sydney landmark – will be outlawed across all Victorian waterways from July 2019, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford announced on Monday.

“Opera house nets have been placing our platypus population at risk and so it’s time for us to embrace different fishing gear,” Ms Pulford said.

The nets have been a popular net for catching yabbies but inadvertently trapped platypus, drowning the air-breathing, web-footed mammals.

Already banned in or near public Victorian fishing holes, but permitted in private dams, the nets will be totally outlawed from mid-2019.

Victoria’s full-scale ban on the “cruel traps” has been hailed as a win for native species.

“It’s widely recognised that yabby traps cause animals an agonising death by drowning,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokeswoman Emily Rice said.

“And when mothers are caught, their young are left to starve to death, wiping out entire families.”

Department of Environment data recently revealed all 13 recorded platypus drownings in state rivers, streams, creeks and dams in 2017 were caused by illegally used set-and-forget nets.

Many platypus deaths also likely go unreported, meaning the true cost of opera nets is probably far greater.

Victorian fishers will be able to trade in the problematic yabby nets for a more wildlife-friendly trap, which needs to be manned.

Ms Pulford said trials showed the replacement nets would “catch just as many yabbies without impacting our precious wildlife”.

Fishers caught using opera house nets face a maximum fine of $38,000 or up to two years in prison.

Aust stands with Indonesia after blasts

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says n stands with Indonesia after suicide bombings.ns holidaying in Indonesia have been warned of the heightened risk of terrorist attacks after a spate of suicide bombings ripped through churches and a police headquarters in the country’s second-largest city.
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Surabaya is reeling after a car bomb exploded at a police headquarters on Monday, after a family of six blew themselves up on Sunday, killing 13 and wounding 40 Christians attending services at three churches.

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan kicks off on Tuesday, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s travel advice urges people to exercise a high degree of caution amid an increasing threat of further attacks.

The n government has expressed its condolences to the victims and their families.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says stands united with Indonesia.

“This threat is not going away and stands absolutely united with a very, very crucial friend in Indonesia to make sure we can work with the President and… the Indonesian government to keep their people safe,” Mr Dutton told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

“Evil has prevailed in recent hours.”

He said the fact women and children were involved in the church bombings was particularly “egregious”.

One million n holiday-makers travel to Indonesia every year.

Mr Dutton said Canberra would be doing whatever it could to support Jakarta.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong condemned the attacks.

“Such an attack has no basis in religion, and is an affront to peace-loving people of all faiths,” they said in a joint statement.

“It is particularly concerning to hear reports of the attacks being carried out by a single family, which murdered its own children.”

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said the incidents were a “sobering reminder” of the new danger posed by Islamic State fighters returning from Syria and Iraq.

“Significant threat to ns and westerners in SEA (South East Asian) region,” he tweeted.

Last year, the Philippines scrambled to quash a five-month IS insurgency in Marawi.

provided surveillance aircraft and has been training Filippino troops in urban combat.

Renewables: taking care of businessOPINION

Moren businessesare making the switch to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy than ever before. Businesses big and small are embracing renewables in record numbers, with commercial solar installations jumping 60 per centover 2016 and 2017, according to SunWiz. The reason behind this solar surge? Skyrocketing electricity and energy costs. Many business decisions to invest in renewable energy have been driven by a need to escape the nation’s historically high power prices and to protect against future energy price hikes.
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is home to exceptionally high electricity prices, driven up by massive over-investment in the poles and wires of the electricity network. High gas prices, a lack of competition and federal energy policy uncertainty have also played a role.

But the availability of low-cost renewable energy, like solar and wind generation is turning the tide for business. After all, we live in one of the sunniest and windiest nations in the world. is enjoying a renewable energy and battery storage boom, with more than5000 megawatts of projects such as wind and solar farms under construction this year. These projects will create 15,000 jobs, while also playing a role in driving down electricity prices.

Renewable energy has the power to reduce bills by providing businesses with electricity at a cheaper price than power from fossil fuels or the grid. Unlike expensive diesel and gas, the cost of renewable energy is still dropping, with the technology now so affordable that by building new wind and solar power plants businesses can significantly reduce their reliance on grid electricity. Renewable energy can protect businesses from volatile electricity prices.

Businesses are well aware of the benefits of renewable energy and they are leading by example. More than 130 major companies around the world have committed to going renewable, while 40 per centof non-energy businesses globally are considering investing in renewable energy and storage technology over the next 18 months. Aussie businesses are already investing significantly in renewable energy, especially solar. More than46,000 businesses have invested in solar, from food producers to warehouses, shopping centres to agricultural organisations, manufacturers to wineries. This has led to a doubling in the total capacity of solar installations on business since the start of 2016. Small business has been leading the way. Austchilli, ’s largest chilli farm in the Bundaberg region of Queensland and SCS Plastics in the regional city of Shepparton, Victoria have installed a 300-kilowatt solar systems. A survey commissioned by the n Renewable Energy Agency found nearly one in every two major companies are now using renewable energy.

Big business is also catching up. Far from being wiped off the map, the owners of South ’s Whyalla Steelworks is investing in more than 500 megawatts of renewable energy and storage to providea secure and affordable energy supply.

But that isn’t all. n consumers prefer businesses, products or services which are powered by renewable energy. ns would rather buy products from companies that use renewable energy, and three quarters think big business should be using renewable energy. ’s renewables boom is in full flight and smart businesses can sense the opportunity. Businesses at home and overseas are investing in renewable energy like never before because it simply makes good business sense.

Louis Brailsford is a Climate Council energy advisor.