December 4, 2018

Comments Off on MOVIE REVIEW: Focus

MOVIE REVIEW: Focus

GRIFTERS: Nicky (Will Smith) agrees to teach Jess (Margot Robbie) the tricks of his trade.FOCUS (MA)
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Stars: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adrian Martinez

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Screening: general release

Rating: ★★★★

A ROMANTIC caper movie is a delicate invention. If it’s nourished with the right mix of wit, ingenuity and sexual chemistry, you remain on the side of the con artists, whatever the nature of their scam. If not, you couldn’t care less.

It’s a lesson well understood by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writer-directors of Focus. They set exactly the right tone as well as tweaking the plot with enough twists to keep your brain engaged. And it looks good.

Co-starring with Will Smith is Australian actress Margot Robbie, consolidating the career boost she got from her role in The Wolf of Wall Street.

His is the hard part. He’s playing the all-knowing conman to her eager apprentice – a role which could really set the teeth on edge in the hands of the kind of star who lets his ego show. But Smith keeps down the condescension levels.

He also sweats sufficiently during the plot’s suspense points to indicate the presence of a fully functioning nervous system.

It’s not exclusively a star turn. Smith and Robbie are surrounded by a supporting cast equipped with their own stock of slick lines. Ficarra and Requa have worked with both Jim Carey and Steve Carell and they’ve assigned a prominent role to another funnyman, Adrian Martinez. He plays Smith’s tubby chief lieutenant and, as you might expect, he turns every conversation into a comedy routine – always a high-risk undertaking. Here he carries it off.

Smith’s character Nicky Spurgeon, a professional conman, is picked up one night by Jess Barrett (Robbie) in the rooftop bar of a ritzy Manhattan hotel. Inevitably, they go back to her room, where their supposedly romantic encounter is revealed to be a scam as she and an accomplice make a clumsy attempt to steal from him.

He’s intrigued enough to seek her out the next morning and give her an impromptu but convincing tutorial in picking pockets. He then agrees to hire her as an ‘‘intern’’ and teach her the art of the grifter in New Orleans, shown in a smoothly executed montage and with by a soundtrack that converts it all into choreography.

From New Orleans to Buenos Aires, the script goes on laying on plot reversals so that you’re never sure what’s real and what isn’t.

And this raises a new challenge. Bamboozle an audience too often and you can lose them altogether. Yet Ficarra and Requa have laid the groundwork well, giving you such a good time that you’re ready to overlook the implausibilities because you’re enjoying the company.

And that, in the end, is what a good caper movie is all about. If you’re thoroughly – and elegantly – conned, and entertained, you can forgive the perpetrators almost anything.

 

December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Greens push to legalise abortion in NSW

Greens push to legalise abortion in NSW

Greens want action on abortion: In NSW, the major parties support a woman’s right to choose, but not a change to the status quo. Photo: SuppliedThe Greens will push for abortion to be removed from the Crimes Act in NSW, and for the harassment of women entering and leaving abortion clinics banned.
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While Tasmania and Victoria have legalised abortion, in NSW the major parties support a woman’s right to choose, but no change to the status quo.

Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne, said discrimination against women has no place in the law, and NSW politicians have the power to remove it.

“I know from the Tasmanian experience how important this reform has been, so it’s time for the women of New South Wales to be treated with the same respect,” she said.

The balance of power in the NSW upper house is held by the anti-abortion Christian Democrats, and Labor has argued abortion reform risks backfiring.

Women in NSW can access abortion under the 1971 Levine district court ruling, which found abortion was legal if there were economic, social or medical grounds to avoid a serious threat to the woman’s physical or mental health.

But Michael Permezel, of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said abortion law reform was needed in NSW.

“The Levine precedent doesn’t give full clarity to health professionals. A clear law is preferred to relying upon a precedent that can be interpreted in different ways,” he said.

NSW Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi said: “Women deserve better than having their reproductive rights and health fall in a grey area of the law.”

She called for the formation of a cross-party working group to progress abortion reform in the next NSW parliament.

Ms Faruqi described the foetal rights bill Zoe’s Law as a “close call” for NSW women, after it passed the lower house but then lapsed.

“We simply can’t keep waiting to campaign against the next piece of regressive legislation. We must get on the front foot to safeguard women’s rights once and for all,” she said.

Accessing abortion was a problem for women in regional areas, who had to travel long distances to the city, or face privacy intrusion as protestors picketed local clinics.

The Greens want a 150-metre privacy zone around clinics. Protest-free zones were introduced in Tasmania.

Mr Permezel said the harassment of patients had become a particular problem in Albury.

“We think that it is really important that the privacy of women attending clinics should not be impinged upon by those who take a contrary view,” he said.

 

December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Jaguar National Rally 2015Photos

Jaguar National Rally 2015Photos

John and Lynnette Lynn, from Carlingford in NSW, with their stunning 1965 Series 1 E Type Jaguar in the Jaguar National Rally at Royal Park. Picture: GEOFF ROBSONJOHN Lynn can claim he has one of the best Jaguars in Australia and that it belonged to former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating.
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Mr Lynn and wife Lynnette, both of Carlingford, Sydney, are in Launceston with their series 1 4.2 E-Type as part of the Jaguar National Rally.

The 46th rally saw more than 100 Jaguars parade from the Country Club Tasmania at Prospect to Royal Park yesterday, where they were displayed for most of the day.

Mr Lynn’s beauty was a drawcard at Royal Park, which was fitting given it won the top award at the national rally in Melbourne last year.

Jaguar National Rally 2015 | Photos National Jaguar Rally.Photo by Geoff Robson

National Jaguar Rally.Photo by Geoff Robson

National Jaguar Rally.Photo by Geoff Robson

National Jaguar Rally.Photo by Geoff Robson

National Jaguar Rally.Photo by Geoff Robson

National Jaguar Rally.Photo by Geoff Robson

National Jaguar Rally.Photo by Geoff Robson

National Jaguar Rally.Photo by Geoff Robson

National Jaguar Rally.Photo by Geoff Robson

TweetFacebookHe said the car was built in December, 1965, shipped to Australia in January, 1966 and first sold in June, 1966 to Dr David Smith.

‘‘I’ve been trying to chase its history,’’ Mr Lynn said.

‘‘We met its first owner Dr David Smith and he told us he had sold it to Paul Keating.

‘‘He also gave us the original duty stamp receipt.’’

The receipt showed the Jag originally cost $3100.

Mr Lynn paid $70,000 for it in 2007 from a Shannons Sydney Motor Show Auction.

He hadn’t seen the car before he bought it, as he and Mrs Lynn were overseas and put in an absentee bid.

‘‘It was in running order. It was tired and needed some help, but it was driveable,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve fixed it up gradually over the past four-and-a-half years.’’

While Mr and Mrs Lynn love their car, they don’t drive it often and even had it brought to Tasmania in a sealed container.

‘‘I enjoy working on it and keeping it clean, but beyond that it’s too special and worth too much money,’’ Mr Lynn said.

Mr Lynn said he loved the camaraderie of national rallies and that he would love to claim the outright winner in Concours d’Elegance and the best sports car in d’Elegance awards again.

 

December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Police crack down on drug drivers

Police crack down on drug drivers

POLICE are vowing to crack down on the Hunter’s drug-affected drivers after identifying the region as a major hotspot for motorists being impaired by illicit substances.
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Figures show 14 deaths over three years have occurred in accidents across the Hunter where at least one driver was drug-affected, with police charging 161 people last year with driving under the influence of drugs.

The Hunter has the third highest rate of drug-driving in NSW and has been identified as such a hotspot the state’s top traffic cop will unveil a statewide operation in Newcastle on Friday. Operation Impairment kicks off at Newcastle Show this week and will continue through 21 regional shows and other major sporting events as senior police up the ante in educating the driving public about driving with drugs in their system.

Traffic and highway patrol commander Superintendent Stuart Smith said there was a misconception the drug-driving issue was something that happened in the metropolitan areas.

Figures show 78per cent of road fatalities where at least one driver was impaired by illicit substances occurred on a regional or rural road.

‘‘That is the misconception and that is where we need to be proactive in identifying hotspots and then impacting on those hotspots,’’ Superintendent Smith said.

‘‘It is about stopping high-risk driving behaviour. These people are a high-risk on our roads and they need to know they are at a high-risk of being caught.’’

Operations before Christmas, saw as many as one in every four Hunter motorists tested, being found to have illicit substances in their system.

Drug-testing is a lot more targeted than random alcohol testing, and the state ratio was about one positive every 26 tests last year.

In 2013, the ratio was one in every 47 tests.

‘‘We can keep on writing out tickets all day but it is about engaging with the community and having the road safety talk,’’ Superintendent Smith said.

‘‘This is about broader education.’’

 

December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Volunteer Fire Brigade Victoria torchlight procession 2015Photos

Volunteer Fire Brigade Victoria torchlight procession 2015Photos

Firefighters light up the night Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING
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Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

Torchlight procession of local and visiting Fire Brigades.Picture: PETER WEAVING

TweetFacebookSPECTATORS lined the streets of central Bendigo to enjoy the atmosphere at the Volunteer Fire Brigade Victoria torchlight procession.

Firefighters from all across Victoria took part in the march.

The procession was part of the VFBV’s State Urban Championships, which will be held at Weroona Oval until Monday.

 

December 4, 2018

Comments Off on DFAT lodges complaint about treatment of Bali nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

DFAT lodges complaint about treatment of Bali nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

Myuran Sukumaran is surrounded by masked security personnel upon arriving at Cilacap airport. Senior Commissioner Djoko Hari Utomo with Myuran Sukumaran. Photo: Kompas TV
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Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten attended a dawn vigil for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran yesterday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

AFP denies it has blood on its handsPolice chief’s Bali nine ‘happy snapIndonesia flags death penalty moratorium at UN

The federal government has called the Indonesian ambassador to complain about the “lack of dignity” shown to Bali nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran during their transfer from Bali to Nusakambangan island, where they will be executed.

Photographs of a smiling police chief alongside the Australians on a plane during their transfer prompted the complaint, but a senior source said the complaint also referred to Indonesia’s excessive use of force, the military presence and “the lack of dignity that was shown” to the prisoners.

The source said Indonesia’s decision to surround Chan and Sukumaran with military-style security for the transfer had been perceived in Australia as a pointed, deliberate display of force.

Hundreds of masked and heavily armed security personnel took a handcuffed and shackled Chan and Sukumaran to Nusakambangan on Wednesday, shadowed by Sukhoi fighter jets equipped with missles.

On the same day, a Nigerian drug smuggler was transported in a small van.

Indonesian ambassador Bapak Nadjib Riphat Kesoema was telephoned by a senior official from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Thursday to deliver the complaint, because he was in Perth.

He will be called in to DFAT to receive the complaint in person upon his return to Canberra.

The embassy in Jakarta is also lodging a complaint with the Indonesian government.

The police chief featured in the photographs, Senior Commissioner Djoko Hari Utomo, told Fairfax Media earlier on Thursday that he was trying to raise the spirits of the Australians and had no idea the photo was being taken.

“It was not a selfie moment,” he said.

He said he was patting the men’s shoulders and urging them to “Be tough, be strong, and keep going”.

Chan looked stunned in the photographs, which were leaked to local media.

Earlier on Thursday, a prisoner swap suggested by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop in a last ditch bid to spare the lives of the Bali nine ringleaders was deemed “unthinkable” by Indonesia’s Attorney General.

And Defence minister Ryamizard Ryacudu even suggested Australia execute Indonesian drug smugglers.

Ms Bishop raised the prospect of a prisoner swap with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi on Tuesday.

The deal could involve three Indonesians in prison in Australia over their role in an infamous 1998 drug bust.

However Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo said a prisoner swap was irrelevant to Indonesia’s plans to execute Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

“What is certain is that it has never been done and is unthinkable,” he said.

“Other countries must obviously respect the Indonesian law enforcement.”

Mr Ryamizard told news website detik上海龙凤419m: “If the Indonesians are drug smugglers just execute them too so it’s equal. If there was a swap the Indonesians would be executed here but there is no guarantee the Australians would receive the death penalty.”

The 10 condemned prisoners who have been earmarked for the next round of executions will be given 72 hours’ notice of their deaths.

Their families, lawyers and consular staff will be able to visit them until 6pm on the night of the executions, which typically take place just after midnight.

The condemned men will also be granted one last wish, such as the choice of a final meal, provided it is considered possible by the Indonesian prison authorities.

Chan and Sukumaran will be expatriated to Australia after their deaths.

Matius Arif Mirdjaja, a pastor and close friend of Chan’s who has travelled to Cilacap to see the men, was told he could not visit on Thursday.

He said on Tuesday he had visited Chan at Bali’s Kerobokan jail and told him to make sure he made contact with a senior priest on his arrival.

“[Chan replied] I’d be better accompanied by family. You’re family.” Arif said.

He said the prosecutor’s office in Cilacap was still waiting for the embassies and families to provide the names of their preferred religious counsellors.

Arif said Chan and Sukumaran had looked okay when he saw them on Tuesday.

Sukumaran was still preparing for an exhibition of his paintings to be held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Kuta on Saturday.

“Myuran was even joking with me saying, “You have to help with the exhibition.”

At that time they were unaware they would be transferred to Nusakambangan the following day.

Chan’s mother Helen and brother Michael and Raji, Chinthu and Brintha Sukumaran, Myuran’s mother and siblings have all arrived in Cilacap with other family members and supporters.

Arif said hope was not lost. “We will never say goodbye,” he said.

 

December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Corporate giants to front Senate over bribery

Corporate giants to front Senate over bribery

Sam Dastyari in the Senate. Photo: Alex EllinghausenSome of corporate Australia’s top figures, including former executives from BHP Billiton and Leighton Holdings, are set to be called to a Senate inquiry and grilled about allegations the firms bribed foreign officials.
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In a move likely to alarm boardrooms across the nation, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, along with key crossbenchers and the Greens, will launch a Senate inquiry into the alleged corrupt practices of Australian companies overseas and why some firms appear to be getting away with paying bribes to win contracts.

Senator Dastyari on Thursday night named  former Leighton Holdings boss Wal King, who was the most senior official in the company during some of its allegedly corrupt dealings in Iraq and other  countries.

Senator Dastyari said the  dealings allegedly involved the payment of tens of millions of dollars in bribes to win an oil pipeline contract.

“David Savage was the former senior executive who allegedly approved bribe payments [and] David Stewart was the former CEO who allegedly was told of the bribery but did not act,” he told the Senate. Mr King, Mr Stewart and Mr Savage have previously denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Dastyari also flagged that an inquiry would target the BHP-Billiton managers who oversaw allegedly improper payments and gifts given by the firm in Cambodia and as part of its sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “This will not be an inquiry simply into Leighton Holdings, but Leighton Holdings serves as a powerful case study for foreign corrupt practices and how the powerful can exploit the system,” Senator Dastyari said.

“There will be other examples, including the allegations BHP attempted to bribe Chinese officials.”

The Senate inquiry follows Fairfax Media articles about questionable  overseas behaviour by a range of companies, as well as what Senator

Dastyari has described as Australia’s substandard anti-foreign-bribery regime.

“Australia urgently needs to reform both its legislative framework and its approach to enforcement,” he said, pointing to the far more effective anti-bribery schemes in the United States and the United Kingdom.

In his speech before the Senate, Senator Dastyari also described the allegedly questionable dealings of Leighton subsidiary, mining giant Thiess, in India and Indonesia.

He also said he had obtained documents which “suggest that Leighton’s subsidiary was paying Indonesian commandos and paramilitaries to do their dirty work during an industrial dispute with indigenous workers”.

Senator Dastyari said he would “invite” Mr King, Mr Savage, Mr Stewart and other executives to appear before the committee.

But he also warned that he would “use every power available to me through the Australian Senate to ensure that the allegations of corrupt behaviour by Leighton Holdings are properly aired”. Senate inquiries can summon people to appear before it.

The AFP has recently ramped up its attack on Australian firms engaging in foreign bribery, but key investigations have been delayed due to the difficulty meeting the high evidentiary bar.

In an exclusive interview, former federal court judge Roger Gyles – who was recently appointed by the Abbott government to review the nation’s terrorism laws and who also chairs the local branch of corruption watchdog Transparency International – has also called for changes to Australia’s foreign bribery laws.

The key change needed, said Mr Gyles, was moving the burden of proof from prosecutors to those who have been shown to have made payments to foreign officials. If the company cannot show a payment is legitimate, then a case may be proven.

“Australia’s record of enforcement in this area has been poor and in addition to increasing our law enforcement in this area, the most important thing is to get our legislation in order,” Mr Gyles said.

The AFP has been investigating Leighton for almost four years without a result, while allegations about BHP Billiton were first raised with the AFP in 2009 but not acted upon because US corruption investigators were already probing them.

The BHP-Billiton investigation remains unresolved in the US, with the AFP poised to begin its own inquiry once US authorities take action.

Fairfax Media has previously published company documents which suggest Leighton Holdings paid bribes in Iraq and elsewhere 2009 and 2012.

 

December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Loop the Lake 2015:

Loop the Lake 2015:

Loop the Lake 2015 Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Cyclists at the end of the ride at Speers Point Park. Picture Jonathan Carroll
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Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Cyclists at the end of the ride at Speers Point Park. From left, Carlos Arredondo, John Innes, Bill Bunting, Donald McStay, Michael Hines. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. From left, Kim McLellan and Kerry Dally, starting their bike ride. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Cyclists starting their bike ride. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Ten year old Zara Ambler-Davis, at a drink stop at Belmont South. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Cyclists at the start. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Cyclists at Teralba. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Donald McStay, has a drink a the drink stop, Belmont Soutth Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Cyclists at Warners Bay. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from Loop the Lake 2015, organised by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, on Sunday. Cyclists at Warners Bay. Picture Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebookCYCLING enthusiasts from across the state have descended on Lake Macquarie for the annual Loop The Lake ride.

The Rotary Club of Warners Bay organised the event, in which about 1700 riders, from children to 80-year-olds, made their way along the lake’s edge to Speers Point Park.

Club president Kerry Hayes said cyclists on Sunday could choose from an 85-kilometre route that kicked off from Speers Point Park at 7am, a 50-kilometre route that began at Morisset or a 16-kilometre route that started from Belmont.

Participants could also choose to start their ride at any time and from any location around the lake.

‘‘It was a fantastic turnout,’’ Ms Hayes said.

‘‘We’ve been running this event for 18 years and we had people come up to us telling us they’ve done every ride and that they’ll be seeing us again next year.’’

The registration fee of $50 online, or $60 on the day, included fruit, muffins and water, a meal at Speers Point Park and entry to Speers Point Swim Centre.

Proceeds are given to the John Hunter Children’s Hospital, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children and other national and international charities.

The event was not timed, with all participants receiving a badge and a certificate.

Picture by Instagram user brianmaxlow

 

December 4, 2018

Comments Off on Indigenous community angry at Saddleback Ridge mining decision

Indigenous community angry at Saddleback Ridge mining decision


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LAST STAND: Aboriginal elder Kevin Taggart says Saddleback Ridge is important to him. Picture: Peter Stoop

Bulga to continue fight against mine

A RECOMMENDATION to allow Rio Tinto to mine through the previously protected Saddleback Ridge has broken Kevin Taggart’s heart.

‘‘It was our last stand,’’ the Aboriginal elder said, after the Planning and Assessment Commission recommended the controversial Mount Thorley-Warkworth extensions for approval on Thursday.

‘‘It doesn’t mean a lot to a lot of people, but it means everything to me,’’ Mr Taggart said.

In January, with the assistance of Lock the Gate, Mr Taggart wrote to the commission requesting it meet with the Wonnarua Traditional Custodians group.

Elders wanted to give the commissioners a tour and explain the culturally significant landscape elements that Mr Taggart believed were ignored in the project’s cultural heritage assessment.

The bushland holds spiritual and physical pathways that lead to the Baiamai Caves and Yengo Flat Rock sacred sites.

‘‘It was a lookout, a place of harmony and protection,’’ Mr Taggart said.

‘‘Once a connection goes, everything goes and it just keeps happening. There will be nothing left.’’

A Rio Tinto spokesperson said no issues regarding any particular cultural heritage significance of Saddleback Ridge were raised during the consultation process.

We ‘‘consulted extensively with the Registered Aboriginal Parties [of which there are more than 80 groups and individuals] to the satisfaction of Office of Environment and Heritage,’’ a spokesperson said.

Based on consultation with the registered groups, the company has established the Wollombi Brook Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Conservation area at Warkworth mine.

But Lock the Gate Hunter co-ordinator Steve Phillips has raised concerns that Aboriginal representatives were misled into thinking Saddleback Ridge was already lost.

From the cultural heritage working group meeting minutes, it looked like the representatives were led to believe the only hope they had was to sign off on the mine’s proposed conservation area, Mr Phillips said.

He said the statements made at the meeting were misleading.

‘‘Saddleback Ridge is not a write-off,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s been no approval to mine there.’’

Asked why he did not participate in the cultural heritage process, Mr Taggart said internal fractures within the Wonnarua clan had made it difficult.

‘‘I’ve learnt a lesson over that,’’ he said.

‘‘All I want to see is our culture saved and our people get looked after.’’

 

December 4, 2018

Comments Off on American trio make big splash at Hurricanes

American trio make big splash at Hurricanes

HOT IMPORTS: Nikola Vavic, centre, flanked by Justin Parsons and Connor Virjee. Picture: Marina NeillTHE world championship ambitions of the Hunter’s American imports is driving the Hurricanes from wooden-spooners to a first National Water Polo League finals appearance.
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Goalkeeper Justin Parsons, centre-back Connor Virjee and driver Nikola Vavic have starred in the Hurricanes’ dynamite start to 2015, which included a club-record four wins from four games on the difficult Western Australia road trip last weekend.

The run lifted Hunter to six wins from 10 matches and sparked dreams of a maiden play-off position before a double-header against second-placed Drummoyne Devils this weekend at Lambton Pool.

Parsons, 24, and Vavic and Virjee, 22, have proven key players for Hunter in the early rounds, along with former Lake Macquarie junior and Australian squad member Daniel Lawrence, who also joined the club this year.

Lawrence said the form of the American trio had given the squad belief they could make club history.

“They are a very big factor of why I think we will play finals this year,” Lawrence said. “Without them it would be very difficult.”

Parsons is from the University of California, Berkeley, while Vavic and Virjee are from fierce rivals the University of Southern California.

While all three were keen to see Australia and experience a different style of water polo, they also have higher ambitions.

HOT IMPORTS: Nikola Vavic in action. Picture: Marina Neill

Vavic is a member of the extended American squad, Parsons played for his country at junior level and Virjee has been in national training camps.

All have hopes of gaining selection in America’s squad for the world championships in Russia from July 24.

“That’s why we are out here, to keep playing and stay in shape if the opportunity comes back around,” Parsons said.

Vavic has been the most impressive of the trio and was keen to use the stint to push his claims for national selection.

“I definitely need to improve my defence and play a bit smarter down the stretch,” Vavic said. “As a team, we’re not playing four quarters.”

Drummoyne, who have five wins from six games, boast Australian team player Mitch Emery and former Aussie Shark John Hahn.

“They are going to be a quick team and we’ve got to be on our game,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence is also the women’s coach and said they would be at full strength for their matches against Drummoyne, who have one win from six games.

The men play 5pm Saturday and 1pm Sunday. The women play 3.30pm Saturday and 11.30am Sunday.

Meanwhile, Gordon Marshall has joined former Hunter Hurricanes product Nathan Power in a 16-man Australian squad to prepare for the March 30 to April 4 FINA World League Intercontinental tournament in California this month.

Marshall is vying for a position in a 13-man final team for the tournament.

HOT IMPORTS: Nikola Vavic, centre, flanked by Justin Parsons and Connor Virjee. Picture: Marina Neill