Nationals hit the campagn trail

NATIONAL Party member Ann Thompson’s rise has been rapid indeed.
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Ten days after joining the party which she says looks out for the interests of country people she was chosen to carry its colours in the March State election. The Lithgow city councillor, former deputy mayor, business owner and mother

could not say whether there were any other candidates in a pre-selection process which began in July.

But ever since she began considering running for Parliament last year, and stood aside in the mayoral elections, she faced a stark choice between standing as an independent or joining a party.

She wanted to send a message to the Sydney-based Labor Government which had failed to deliver quality jobs, better road access and two high profile industries to the Central Tablelands.

“My decision to join the Nationals was based mainly on where I could make the most difference and the answer was in a party.”

And so it was after some discussion with the chairman of the Nationals’ Bathurst electoral council, Peter Pilbeam, who in July mooted a high profile Bathurst businessman as the Nationals’ ideal candidate, that Mrs Thompson got the nod.

Currently a TAFE teacher with work, family and sporting connections in Bathurst she said she was far from unknown west of Lithgow.

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Matchmaker reform after wife’s murder

SEOUL: South Korea will set up a taskforce to reform the international matchmaking business following the fatal stabbing of a Vietnamese woman by her mentally ill husband, officials said.The taskforce will be staffed by officials from the ministries of justice, gender equality, culture and foreign affairs, the prime minister’s office said.It will discuss measures ranging from changing how international marriage brokerage businesses are run to helping foreign spouses settle in Korea.Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc, 20, was beaten and stabbed to death by her 47-year-old husband on July 8, eight days after she arrived in the southern port city of Busan.The man told police he had heard a ”ghost’s voice” urging him to kill her when they quarrelled. He had been treated 57 times for schizophrenia since July 2005.The Prime Minister, Chung Un-chan, called for tighter control over international marriage brokerages and a budget increase for facilities supporting multicultural families.Ms Ngoc’s family will receive 30 million won ($28,000) in compensation, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.More than a third of South Korea’s fishermen and farmers who married last year chose foreign brides, some because they were unable to find local women happy to live a rural lifestyle.Official figures show that of 1987 marriages to farmers and fishermen in 2009, 35 per cent of the brides were immigrants: 47 per cent from Vietnam, 26 per cent from China and 10 per cent from Cambodia.Activists say some foreign brides, coaxed by false promises or deceptive advertising, end up with spouses who are poor, ill, alcoholic or just difficult.Agence France-Presse
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Editor’s response

BEFORE responding to Mr Perram’s comments, it is important to stress that the Western Advocate raised the questions in response to very serious claims made by neighbours of the woman believed to have been killed by a dog.
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The neighbours claimed that they had complained to Bathurst City Council because the dogs had attacked other pets and created a sense of fear in the neighbourhood.

The Western Advocate fully expected council officers to be sensitive to questioning because of the seriousness of the claims and the fact that Mr Perram was not in Bathurst

when the tragedy took place but, even allowing for this, there seemed to be a deliberate attempt not to directly answer questions.

When a reporter first contacted a council officer he was told the officer could not comment.

The reporter then went to this officer’s superior, Mr Sherley, who told the reporter he had instructed the first officer not to comment on the issue.

It is the right of council’s senior staff to implement whatever policies they deem appropriate in relation to their staff.

We simply reported the fact of the matter, that staff had been instructed not to talk to the media. I fail to see how this is misleading.

MORE: Read today’s Western Advocate.

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Restaurant manager asked for cash to fake residency papers, court told

The Department of Immigration is investigating the owner of two Indian restaurants in western Sydney over claims he repeatedly accepted large payments to falsify documents for migrant workers seeking permanent residency.In an unfair dismissal case before Fair Work Australia, a former chef at the Tribeni and Kashi Indian restaurants, Nandalcumaran Krishnakanth, claimed his employer, Saai Bose Pty Ltd, had asked staff to pay between $1300 and $12,000 for help in gaining permanent residency.In return for the money the company’s director at the time, Arun Bose, would fill out fake skills certificates showing that the staff had completed the 900 hours of work experience needed to apply for permanent residency, the commission was told.Mr Krishnakanth said Mr Bose also asked for money to provide glowing work references to assist in the application process.”Mr Bose would say, ‘Pay me $1300 and I’ll give you the certificate that you worked as a chef and performed certain duties’,” Mr Krishnakanth told the tribunal.The certificate would be provided whether the person had worked for the restaurant or not, he said.The commission was also shown an extract of Mr Bose’s time and wages record in which four months of records appeared to have been filled out at the same time.The commissioner, deputy president Peter Sams, said the entries were ”most suspicious” and appeared to have been back-dated.Mr Bose denied the allegations, stating that nothing was falsified and all legal requirements were met during his time as director.He sold the company last year and it is now in liquidation.”There was one 457 [visa] employee who claimed unfair dismissal,” Mr Bose said. ”He was making stories.”Fair Work Australia has referred the matter to the Department of Immigration, which has mobilised staff from a number of different units to investigate. The investigation will also include allegations that staff were underpaid and denied some entitlements.”These are allegations which the department takes very seriously,” a spokeswoman said. ”In the case of alleged criminal activity we would bring any allegations we find through the appropriate courts.”The department revealed it had already been investigating Saai Bose’s involvement in the operation of the 457 visa program. Issues under review included the payment of superannuation and providing sufficient time for learning and development.This month a former student of the now-defunct Sydney International College of Business was found guilty on two counts of supplying false documents and sentenced to 200 hours community service.A migration agent, Maher Itani, said that rorting of the system was common until the laws were tightened recently.”People just find a restaurant, give them a few bucks and get a certificate,” said Mr Itani, who owns the migration agency Access Australia.
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Organiser blamed for deadly Love Parade

German state authorities on Wednesday accused the organiser of last weekend’s Love Parade techno festival of major security breaches which may have led to the crush that killed 21 people and injured more than 500.The organiser’s security officials failed to properly control the entrance area where the victims were crushed, according to North Rhine-Westphalia’s Interior Minister Ralf Jaeger and the state’s chief police controller Dieter Wehe.”Security did not fulfill its duty,” Wehe said while presenting the key findings of a preliminary police investigation at a news conference.It was unclear if 150 staffers who were supposed to be posted at the entrance area were really present, Wehe said, adding: “But it is a fact that the existing security detail was insufficient.”When the organisers couldn’t control the flow of tens of thousands pouring into the event area in Duisburg, they eventually turned to the police for help, he said.Interior Minister Jaeger said the organiser, Rainer Schaller, failed to stop the flow of people into the tunnel when the situation was already tense at the entrance to the festival grounds.”The organiser did not fulfill the requirements of his security concept,” Jaeger told journalists.Schaller, for his part, has fought back against the accusations of wrongdoing, noting that his security concept received official city approval.”Without the official stamp of approval we never would have let the Love Parade take place,” he was quoted as saying in the Bild daily on Wednesday.The preliminary report also left many unanswered questions regarding the responsibility of the Duisburg municipality, who was responsible for overseeing the event.Wehe said the final authorisation providing all organisational details was only passed on to police on Saturday after it repeatedly requested it. The authorisation allowed a maximum of 250,000 people in the area, even though organisers expected many more.German media estimated that as many as 1.4 million people attended the event.Prosecutors have opened an investigation into negligent manslaughter, but have not yet identified suspects.The death toll, meanwhile, rose to 21 on Wednesday after a 25-year-old German woman died overnight from her injuries, Duisburg prosecutors’ spokesman Rolf Haferkamp said.Sydneysider Clancie Ridley, 27, was among the people killed.More than 500 people also were injured in the crush at a jammed tunnel that was the lone entrance to the festival grounds.A memorial service for the victims will be held on Saturday with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff attending.AP
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Nazi suspect indicted over murder of 430,000 Jews

A suspected former Nazi death camp guard has been charged with participating in the murder of 430,000 Jews and other crimes during the Third Reich, German prosecutors said on Wednesday.Samuel Kunz, 88, was informed last week of his indictment on charges including participation in the murder of 430,000 Jews at the Belzec death camp in occupied Poland, where he allegedly served as a guard from January 1942 to July 1943, prosecutor Christoph Goeke in Dortmund said.Kunz is also charged with murder over “personal excesses” in which he allegedly shot a total of 10 Jews in two other incidents, Mr Goeke said.Kunz, who is No.3 on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of most-wanted Nazi suspects, lives near the western German city of Bonn. When reached by phone, he said he did not want to talk about the allegations and hung up.Kunz was not detained because officials who interviewed him think that he will not try to flee the country, a person familiar with the case said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to reveal details of the investigation.Mr Goeke said the case has been sent to the state court in Bonn, where officials were considering whether and when to hold a trial – a standard procedural step in Germany.Bonn court spokesman Matthias Nordmeyer said the court did not want to comment now on the case.Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said Kunz participated in the so-called Operation Reinhard to eliminate Polish Jewry.”The indictment of Samuel Kunz is a very positive development,” Mr Zuroff said from Jerusalem.”It reflects recent changes in the German prosecution policy, which have significantly enlarged the number of suspects who will be brought to justice.”Mr Zuroff said Kunz had never previously been on trial over his alleged Nazi-era past and that his name first came up in investigations connected to the trial of John Demjanjuk.Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, 90, is on trial in Munich on charges of being an accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland. He denies he was ever a camp guard.Prosecutors allege that both Kunz and Demjanjuk, a retired Ohio car worker who was deported to Germany from the US last year, trained as guards at the Trawniki SS camp.AP
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Wikileaks: we don’t know source of leaked data

Wikileaks’ editor-in-chief claims his organisation doesn’t know who sent it some 91,000 secret US military documents, telling journalists that the website was set up to hide the source of its data from those who receive it.Julian Assange didn’t say whether he meant he had no idea who leaked the documents or whether his organisation simply could not be sure. But he did say the added layer of secrecy helps protect the site’s sources from spy agencies and hostile corporations.”We never know the source of the leak,” he told journalists gathered at London’s Frontline Club. “Our whole system is designed such that we don’t have to keep that secret.”And while Assange acknowledged that the site’s anonymous submissions raised concerns about the authenticity of its material, he said Wikileaks had yet to be fooled by a bogus document.The 39-year-old Australian was at the Frontline Club, the hub of London’s media set, for the second time in as many days to outline his site’s mission and methods – and defend it from charges that it endangered lives by putting mountains of classified information in the public domain.US officials say the massive online disclosure may have put soldiers and operatives in danger, and the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and the FBI have all stepped in to investigate.President Barack Obama said the leak of classified information from the battlefield “could potentially jeopardise individuals or operations”, while Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Baghdad that there was “a real potential threat there to put American lives at risk”.US officials are worried that the raw data may prove useful not only to the Taliban but to hostile intelligence services in countries such as China and Russia who have the resources to make sense of such vast vaults of data, said Ellen McCarthy, former US intelligence officer and president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.Former CIA director Michael Hayden described the mass release as a big gift to America’s enemies.”If I had gotten this trove on the Taliban or al-Qaida, I would have called it priceless,” he said. “If I’m head of the Russian intelligence, I’m getting my best English speakers and saying: ‘Read every document, and I want you to tell me, how good are these guys? What are their approaches, their strengths, their weaknesses and their blind spots?'”Back in London, Assange agreed that the files offered insight into US tactics.But he said that was none of his concern, and he noted that his website already carried a copy of the US Special Forces’ 2006 Southern Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Manual, among other sensitive US military documents.”We put out that stuff all the time,” he said.He seemed irritated when a member of the audience pressed him on whether he believed there were ever any legitimate national security concerns that would prevent him from publishing a leaked document.”It is not our role to play sides for states. States have national security concerns, we do not have national security concerns,” he said.”You often hear … that something may be a threat to US national security,” he went on. “This must be shot down whenever this statement is made. A threat to US national security? Is anyone serious? The security of the entire nation of the United States? It is ridiculous!”He said he wasn’t interested in the safety of states, only the safety of individual human beings.”If we are talking a threat to individual soldiers … or citizens of the United States, then that is potentially a genuine concern,” he said.Assange cast a bit of light on the way his organisation operates, describing an online submission system “like nothing else you’ve ever seen”.”We encrypt all the information, it is routed through protected legal jurisdictions, multiple servers,” he said.But, to the amusement of the audience, the former computer hacker said one of the best ways to submit classified material remained the international postal system.His comments also offered insight into his own motivation, referring to a statement he gave to German newspaper Der Spiegel in which he said he “loved crushing bastards”.He said the comment wasn’t meant in jest, describing himself as a combative person who likes “stopping people who have created victims from creating any more”.Assange also expressed disdain for the military, alluding to a statement attributed to Albert Einstein, a noted pacifist, which describes soldiers as contemptible drones and attacks patriotism as a cover for brutality and war.He scoffed when the Frontline’s moderator spoke of teenage British soldiers “giving their lives” in Afghanistan.”To what?” he asked.AP
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Schwarzenegger forces California workers to take leave

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a fiscal state of emergency, requiring most state employees to take three days of unpaid leave a month until a new budget is enacted.Mr Schwarzenegger said the state, which faces a budget deficit of $US19 billion ($21 billion), is on the verge of a “fiscal meltdown” and could be forced to issue IOUs starting next month to avert a new cash crisis.”Our cash situation leaves me no choice but to once again furlough state workers until the legislature produces a budget I can sign,” he said in a statement.He said the state had already taken “extraordinary measures to conserve cash”, such as deferring payments to schools and other local governments but that the crisis was deepening with no state budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year expected soon.The “furlough Friday” starting in August requires state employees to take three Fridays a month off without pay until the state gets a new budget and the state’s finance officials certify that it has enough cash to meet its obligations.Exempt from this are employees in agencies involving public safety, including the California Highway Patrol and Department of Fire and Forestry Protection; and in revenue generation, including the Franchise Tax Board, which collects tax receipts.With the most populous US state hit hard by the economic crisis and lower tax revenues, Mr Schwarzenegger earlier this year proposed a budget that would call for spending cuts of $US12.4 billion and sharply reduce funding for services designed to help the state’s poor.Mr Schwarzenegger said the cuts were necessary to close a huge projected deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1.The former actor-turned governor has refused to raise taxes to narrow the shortfall and described his proposed cuts to spending as “painful” but essential.A budget crisis last year pushed California, which would have the world’s eighth largest economy if it were a country, to the brink of bankruptcy, sending the state’s credit-rating plunging and forcing it to start paying bills with IOUs.Analysts and legislators say California’s seemingly eternal fiscal gridlock is a consequence of the state’s constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass a budget or raise taxes.AFP
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Oil slick too quick as fears rise over impact

OIL from the BP blowout is degrading rapidly in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and becoming increasingly difficult to find on the water surface.”The light crude oil is biodegrading quickly,” the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jane Lubchenco, said.However, both the near- and long-term environmental effects of the release of several million barrels of oil remained serious and to some extent unpredictable, she said.”The sheer volume of oil that’s out there has to mean there are some pretty significant impacts. What we have yet to determine is the full impact the oil will have not just on the shoreline, not just on wildlife, but beneath the surface.”Her assessment came as the outgoing chief executive of BP, Tony Hayward, caused fresh US anger after he complained he had been ”demonised and vilified” after the disaster.The comments by Mr Hayward, who resigned on Tuesday after his handling of the Gulf of Mexico disaster was heavily criticised, drew renewed criticism from Washington as BP struggled to restore its reputation.”I don’t think that a lot of people in any country are feeling overly sorry for the former CEO of BP,” the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said.Politicians called on BP to renounce any claim for a tax refund following reports it planned to cut its US tax bill by $US9.9 billion ($10.9 billion), about half the amount pledged to aid victims of the disaster, by deducting costs related to it.Mr Hayward’s departure was a drastic move by the oil giant to rebuild its image in the aftermath of the spill, which is set to cost the British group $US32 billion.Mr Hayward was also the target of anger over his decision to snub a US Senate hearing into BP’s alleged role in the release of the Lockerbie bomber.Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat, said the hearing, scheduled to take place today, had been postponed after witnesses, including Mr Hayward, had refused to attend.The Washington Post, Agence France-Presse
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Negatives worth a fortune, but family smells a rat

FRESNO, California: Old glass negatives bought by a painter for $US45 at a garage sale a decade ago have been authenticated as the work of the photographer Ansel Adams and are worth at least $US200 million ($223 million), the owner’s lawyer says.However, the family of the photographer, who died in 1984, is sceptical about the claims, with one associate saying it was an ”unfortunate fraud”.Rick Norsigian, 64, a painter and antiques collector, said that after he bought the glass negatives he noticed they resembled Adams’s photographs of Yosemite National Park.A lawyer for Mr Norsigian, Arnold Peter, said a team of experts he had assembled had concluded the 65 negatives were from Adams’s early work, which had been believed destroyed in a fire in 1937.”These photographs are really the missing link,” Mr Peter said. ”They really fill the void in Ansel Adams’s early career.”Adams is best known for his striking black-and-white photographs, mainly landscapes of the American west.An art appraiser, David Streets, conservatively estimated the negatives’ value at $US200 million, based on current sales of Adams prints and the potential for selling reproductions.One of the experts, Patrick Alt, said he believed the glass plates were shot by Adams because ”there was no one else other than Ansel in that time period doing this quality of work”.But not everyone is convinced. Matthew Adams, the photographer’s grandson and president of the Ansel Adams Gallery, said there is ”no absolute proof as to who did take them”.Mr Norsigian’s lawyer said handwriting experts had identified writing on the negative sleeves as that of Adams’s wife, Virginia. But Matthew Adams said there were inconsistencies in the handwriting and a lot of misspelled Yosemite place names.”She grew up in Yosemite. She was an intelligent, well-read woman. I find it hard to believe she would misspell those names,” he said.”It’s an unfortunate fraud,” said Bill Turnage, managing director of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. He said he was consulting lawyers about suing Mr Norsigian for using a copyrighted name for commercial purposes.Tribune Media Services,Associated Press
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All 152 aboard die as Pakistani jet crashes into mountains

ISLAMABAD: A passenger jet crashed into the hills surrounding Pakistan’s capital in poor weather yesterday, killing all 152 people on board and blazing a path of devastation strewn with body parts and twisted metal wreckage.Officials said initial Interior Ministry reports that five people survived the crash were wrong.Local TV footage showed twisted metal wreckage hanging from trees and scattered across the ground on a bed of broken branches. Fire was visible and smoke rose from the scene as a helicopter hovered above. The army said it was sending special troops to aid the search.”I’m seeing only body parts,” Dawar Adnan, a rescue worker with the Pakistan Red Crescent, said by telephone from the crash site. ”This is a very horrible scene. We have scanned almost all the area, but there is no chance of any survivors.”The search effort was hampered by muddy conditions and smouldering wreckage that authorities were having trouble extinguishing by helicopter.GEO television reported yesterday evening that the flight recorder had been found.The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, but the Defence Minister, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, said the government did not suspect terrorism.The Airblue plane left the southern city of Karachi at 7.45am for a two-hour scheduled flight to Islamabad and was trying to land during cloudy and rainy weather.Airblue is a private service based in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, and yesterday’s flight was believed to be carrying mostly Pakistanis.The crash site covered a large area on both sides of the hills, including a section behind Faisal Mosque, one of Islamabad’s most prominent landmarks, and not far from the Daman-e-Koh resort.At the Islamabad airport, hundreds of friends and relatives of those on board the flight swarmed ticket counters desperately seeking information.Pakistan last suffered a fatal air crash in July 2006, when a Pakistan International Airlines Fokker F-27 suffered engine problems and struck a power line after taking off from Multan, in Punjab province, killing 45 people.In 1989 a PIA Fokker F-27 crashed in the Karakoram Mountains, killing 54.Associated Press, Bloomberg
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Airport ‘hostile’ to women

TWO female air traffic controllers have accused their government-owned employer of allowing ”extreme” sexual discrimination and bullying, with claims a manager told one of the women to have an abortion with a coathanger.The women are seeking more than $1 million each in damages from Airservices Australia as part of an action in the Federal Court in Melbourne.”What the proceedings I think will do is to shed some light on a workplace culture that has been extraordinarily hostile [to women],” said their lawyer, Josh Bornstein, a principal at Maurice Blackburn.Mr Bornstein said a separate action would be brought in the Human Rights Commission.Both women, Jacki Macdonald and Kirsty Fletcher, have been long-time employees of the male-dominated Airservices Australia at Melbourne Airport. The women say they were exposed to pornography that a manager distributed around the office and suffered regular bullying and abuse.They also allege they were denied access to training and professional development, were belittled for being pregnant and were the victims of false allegations. When they both separately complained in April and May 2008 they were ignored.In a brief statement, a spokesman for Airservices Australia did not reject or respond directly to the claims. ”The matter is being taken seriously by Airservices management. Our investigations have only just been completed and the matter is in the hands of respective legal advisers,” he said.Ms Macdonald, who fought back tears as she spoke yesterday, said she had worked for more than 18 years at the organisation and the harassment had caused her and her family great distress.She said when she told a manager she was pregnant in 1996, he told her that did not suit the roster and that he had ”a coathanger in the back of his car”. When she later complained she was told the manager had had ”a bad day”.That manager has been sacked, but Mr Bornstein said it was too late and other senior managers should have done much more.
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Cracks appear in historic building

The historic headmaster’s residence of old Bathurst Public School in Howick Street has been evacuated by TAFE personnel after a large crack developed in the structure, most likely caused by the drought.
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Acting Bathurst TAFE campus manager Patrick Healy said there is no indication at this stage how serious the problem is and staff using the building have been moved out as a precautionary measure. Small pieces of internal plaster have been dislodged.

The building is classified by the National Trust. It’s also an item of heritage on Bathurst City Council’s Local Environment Plan and is on the National Estate Register of the Australian Heritage Commission as part of the Technical College annex group.

Department of Public Works engineers are preparing a report to determine the extent of the damage and what remedial action is appropriate.

Despite being cordoned off, Mr Healy said the historic building is not in imminent danger of collapse.

Bathurst City Council is to acquire the headmaster’s residence and the adjacent school building to house the Somerville Collection of fossils and minerals and establish a world class museum.

Bathurst City Council director of corporate services David Sherley said council does not yet own either building – the site transfer has not taken place and TAFE up until the crack appeared, still used the headmaster’s cottage.

Mr Sherley said council has undertaken extensive work in the former school building, but has not yet started work renovating the headmaster’s cottage.

“The issue of the cracking was raised with them [TAFE]. What they’re doing with respect to that, I don’t know,” Mr Sherley said.

He would not be drawn on the prospect of council taking responsibility for the building knowing it has developed this large structural crack.

“We would be very interested in seeing any reports about the cracking,” he said.

Margaret Glen of the National Trust said the building was of great historical significance to Bathurst and efforts must be made to restore the building.

She said discussions she had with senior council officers indicated the building could be saved.

Ms Glen said the area bounded by Howick, William, Russell and George streets was particularly significant to Bathurst and the old schoolmaster’s residence was one of the important buildings remaining in that precinct.

The building is adjacent to the old school (built in 1876) on one side and the former site of the Bathurst School of Arts Hall (later the City Theatre) where the 1896 People’s Convention was held.

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