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.

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Former Fiji PM faces 12 criminal charges

AUCKLAND: The former Fijian prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry has been charged with a dozen crimes relating to money laundering and tax evasion.Mr Chaudhry, who was held hostage for 56 days before being deposed as Fiji’s leader in a nationalist coup in 2000, appeared in court yesterday, charged with 12 offences, a Fiji police spokeswoman, Ema Mua, said.It is alleged he held up to $400,000 in a Commonwealth Bank of Australia account and $50,000 was given to his daughter in Australia without procedures being followed.The 12 charges, which date back to just after the 2000 coup, include providing false information to the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority.Mr Chaudhry appeared in Suva Magistrate’s Court, represented by his son, Rajendra Chaudhry, a lawyer. He heard the charges but was not required to enter a plea. He was released on bail and will reappear in court next Friday.”He’s to surrender his travel documents, passport and he’s to report in to the nearest police post to his home every Thursday,” Ms Mua said.Mr Chaudhry was briefly finance minister in the current military-led government of Frank Bainimarama, during which time an independent audit cleared him of any wrongdoing in relation to his overseas financial dealings.He was Fiji’s first Indian leader when he was elected prime minister in 1999 and was overthrown a year later in a coup led by George Speight. While Speight held Mr Chaudhry and his government hostage, the Fiji Military Forces took power, declared martial law and installed an interim prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, who a year later won the post in a democratic election.Mr Chaudhry was the leader of the Fiji Labour Party until 2008 and controversially backed Commodore Bainimarama’s bloodless coup against Mr Qarase in 2006.Australia has been one of the harshest critics of Fiji since Commodore Bainimarama led the coup and stalled democratic elections, which were initially promised for 2009 and have now been pushed back to 2014.Already-frosty relations between the two nations heightened this week when Australia and Fiji became embroiled in a bitter spat over whether a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group should proceed in Fiji.Fiji believed the meeting would lend some credibility to its regime, while Australia thought the meeting would undermine efforts to pressure Fiji to return to democracy.The meeting went ahead. Australia and New Zealand were the only nations in the region not in attendance.Australian Associated Press, Agence France-Presse
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Scott Group 10 coach

GROUP 10 coach Dave Scott will work closely with the group’s newest representative side to help develop young players in the group.
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Scott was reappointed to the position of Group 10 senior coach at the group’s annual general meeting on Sunday, after he led the side to victory over arch-rivals Group 11 last season.

Scott said one of his main jobs will be to help new Group 10 under 21s coach Mitch Luka any way he can to ensure promising players get the best opportunity to shine.

“I am pretty happy with the appointment and I will be doing a lot of work with Mitch Luka and the under 21s, giving them more opportunities to impress,” Scott said.

“It’s a pretty big step from juniors to seniors and this is a positive move.”

Scott was one of the advocates of the introduction of another tier of representative football and he said the likes of Panthers players Christian Luyks, Josh Bateup and Jake Newstead are the ones to benefit most from the decision.

“For a lot of the young fellas it will be a great experience for them to get a run with this side to see how they go and how they handle the step up,” he said.

“It (the under 21s side) was an idea that came out of me and Rock (group president Paul Rossiter) sitting down and talking and it’s great to see it come about.”

Group 10 will play trial matches against Groups Nine and 20 before the start of the Group 10 season and Scott said it was a positive move.

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Lyme mystery ticks all the boxes

It is less than a third of the width of a human hair but it has created a furore in Australia, dating back decades.According to the federal government, the microscopic Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, known for spreading lyme disease, does not exist in Australia.It insists that those diagnosed must have been bitten by infected ticks while travelling in Europe or the United States, where lyme is common. That view is based on a 16-year-old study by Sydney researchers who found no evidence of Borrelia burgdorferi in more than 12,000 ticks collected from the length of the NSW coast.The team, led by Richard Russell from the department of medical entomology at Westmead Hospital, did not even find ticks carrying bacteria which could cause a lyme-like syndrome. ”The family of ticks is not here. They weren’t here then and they wouldn’t be here now,” says scientist David Dickeson, who took part in the study.But that view is challenged by victims who insist they have caught the disease within Australia. Some, such as Mualla Akinci, whose husband Karl McManus died last week from lyme complications, want recognition for sufferers and more advanced testing procedures. Others, such as Anthony Brown, who contracted the disease from an infected dog, want a public health campaign to warn people of the dangers.”People with lyme disease are being misguided, mistreated and ignored,” Akinci says. ”They are being left in the corner to suffer and die. Nobody wants to know about them and I don’t understand why.”Formerly fit and healthy, McManus, 44, was bitten by a tick while working on the set of Home and Away in Waratah Park, and in the months before his death could no longer lift his head or swallow and was using a message board to communicate.His claim for workers’ compensation was rejected by the insurers Employers Mutual, who wrote to him: ”You have not suffered lyme disease due to the course of your employment … as the diagnosis has not been confirmed and there is no known or proven case in Australia.” Its decision was based on a medical report by the physician Peter Slezak, a Sydney medico-legal consultant.But only months earlier Akinci was told her complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission about her husband’s treatment at Hornsby Hospital could not be investigated because there were no lyme disease experts in Australia.”So if we have no lyme disease experts here, how was it decided he didn’t have lyme disease?” she asks.Anthony Brown, 54, from rural Victoria, tested positive for lyme disease in 1988 after a friend, travelling with a dog, visited him from Cairns. Brown, a special needs teacher, had never travelled overseas – he’d never even been to NSW – but the visiting dog was riddled with ticks.”I lived a very quiet, contained lifestyle, but a few weeks after that dog arrived I was very, very sick for many years.”His case was so unusual that his GP wrote about it in the Australian Family Physician journal in 1990.But experts still remain divided on the disease’s legitimacy in Australia. NSW Health concedes the tests to diagnose lyme are ”technically complex” and rarely definitive, and ticks here could be carrying unknown infections which manifest similarly to lyme disease. Dickeson agrees: ”There are ticks out there carrying things no one knows about.”But for now he remains certain lyme is not among them. ”I test a couple of thousand people a year and get a positive result about once a month. And I can tell you that every one of those had a travel history to the northern hemisphere.”We’ve never had one person who contracted it locally.”For Akinci, her husband’s funeral yesterday marked the beginning of a long campaign.She is selling her $2.5 million Turramurra home to fund a lyme disease research foundation and has a message for the authorities: ”Stop telling people this doesn’t exist before someone else dies.”
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Council states its position

In response to the headline in Saturday’s Western Advocate “Council refuses to answer dog attack questions”, there are a number of inaccuracies that need to be addressed. Council did not “refuse” to answer the list of questions but supplied responses as detailed below and considers the issue of animal control with due responsibilities under the Companion Animals Act 1998.
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Firstly, Council’s position with regards to the Lyal Street attack was clearly explained to three Western Advocate journalists and every effort was made to provide as much detail as could be reasonably expected given the circumstances.

The article is completely incorrect in stating that “no comment” was offered by Council on these questions and is irresponsible in its representation of this complex issue.

Reporters were told that obviously more details would be available once the police investigation and Coroners reports were completed but at this point (Friday afternoon) Council was only able to make general statements and provide factual information on its animal control policy – as were supplied.

The comment that David Sherley “had instructed his staff not to speak with the media” is misleading and does not reflect an understanding of accepted media protocol for a government organisation.

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Byron boomers prove you can stop the music

Byron Bay’s ageing baby boomer landlords have cut the town’s financial throat by banning festivals that have attracted thousands of young visitors since the 1980s.The mayor, Jan Barham, said gen Y visitors had been ruining the town. ”Lifestyles are being impinged upon, people are being kept up all night by partying in the street, by people defecating on lawns,” she said.Proof that Byron Bay has lost one of its biggest money spinners comes this Friday when 30,000 music and arts fans gather for the annual Splendour in the Grass festival, not at its usual Byron Bay home but in Woodford on the Sunshine Coast.Ed Ahern, president of the Byron Bay chamber of commerce, said the town’s free-thinking spirit had morphed into saying no to everything. ”A small group of vocal, anti-anything residents have literally taken about $25 million out of our community economically, not to mention the youth jobs, community involvement, cultural vibrancy and world class entertainment.”Splendour in the Grass promoters battled for four years to move from Belongil Fields in Byron Bay to a larger, more suitable piece of grazing land they bought in Yelgun in northern Byron Shire. A trial event this year was thwarted by a successful Land and Environment Court challenge, forcing the event to move north of the border.Court documents cite environmental concerns over the Yelgun site but the reality is that Byron has been trying for years to push away large events such as Splendour and Bluesfest.Residents have long complained about revellers behaving anti-socially.The owners of the Yelgun site proposed up to 18 event days a year on the site which, Cr Barham said, ”was the tipping point”. She has drafted an events policy that will make it difficult for large festivals to call Byron Bay home.”The idea of more of the same made us wary of being characterised as just a party town or attracting one demographic.”The Minister for Tourism, Jodi McKay, has expressed concern that the policy has gone too far and will deter other events such as the Byron Bay Writers Festival.Meanwhile, the Queensland government and the town of Woodford have welcomed Splendour with open arms.”The Byron Bay region has one of the highest per capita employment rates in the creative industries outside Sydney and Melbourne,” said Russell Mills, chief executive of Northern Rivers Tourism.”Creative cultural events are part of the appeal of our region, even if in a subliminal way. There wouldn’t be real vibrancy if it weren’t for tourism.”However, the issues in Byron Bay run deeper than excrement on the lawn.Cr Barham said the town had struggled against corporations to ”remain special so that 1.5 million visitors can enjoy what we have”, but was running out of generosity.Mr Ahern said the anti-visitor mindset had let Byron Bay down.”This place should be like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon but it’s absolutely disgusting,” he said. ”There isn’t a toilet in town you’d send your mother, daughter or wife to, there isn’t a garden bed that isn’t full of gravel. We want some forward thinking people. We should be leading the world in green outcomes but instead we just say no to everything and it’s all that negative energy from people who are stuck in the ’70s.”
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Coles yet to play his ace

BATHURST professional Gavin Coles is not willing to rest on his laurels despite achieving his lifelong dream of securing a USPGA Tour card.
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Coles secured his first tour card last week after finishing 13th on the money list at the completion of this year’s buy南京夜网 tour.

Coles’ immediate thoughts when he secured his card was how he can compete with the world’s best golfers on a regular basis to make sure he held on to his card for next season and beyond.

Coles is aware he will need to continue working hard on his game to be successful on the world’s top tour and he will be working with coach Gary Edwin as much as he can over the summer.

“It’s just another step. Just because I got my tour card I wasn’t going to get carried away,” he said. “My coach was over there for the whole week and we said (after the event) ‘this is what we need to improve, we need to check a few things, we need to do a few things with your ball, your swing and improve your putting and chipping.

“I don’t know what I’m playing in next year. I haven’t spoken to my manager yet, but it’s just improving on what I’ve done this year.”

The 34-year-old said the best thing about what he’s done is that he has done it his way without any outside help.

“I sort of did it with no (financial) help. My wife and I have done it all on our own. That’s one good thing about it – we haven’t had people shoving money in our pockets to play and it’s been good.”

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Lure of booms leaves home renovators with fewer trades

Home owners can expect renovation costs to soar with the mining boom and an expanded broadband network to lure tradesmen away from residential work.Several trades, including bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers and tilers, are already in short supply but the electrical trades have warned of a severe drought from 2012 when the demands of the broadband and mining sectors are expected to peak.”We are quite concerned that in two to four years’ time it is going to impact on the electrician who comes to your house – prices will go up and [tradesmen] will be scarce,” the chief executive of Master Electricians Australia, Malcolm Richards, said.While the impact of the second mining boom will be greatest in Queensland and Western Australia, an ”untold number” of tradesmen will be lured from NSW, he said.Availability of electricians fell in the three months to March although average prices increased only 1.7 per cent, according to the Housing Industry Association’s quarterly trades report.The National Electrical and Communications Association recommends contractors charge $92.43 an hour but Master Electricians’ research suggests rates are slightly lower. ”In the next five to 10 years we’ll see a drop off due to an ageing workforce,” HIA’s director of workforce development, Nick Proud, said.Since the onset of the global financial crisis, the number of new apprentices has declined sharply and the first-year drop-out rate is at a 10-year high – about 33 per cent. A further 40 per cent leave to become unskilled labourers who can command higher rates although with fewer long-term career prospects.”Currently there isn’t a shortage [of tradesmen] – because of the global financial downturn a lot of companies have downsized,” Mr Richards said. The challenge is to retain apprentices.The electrical industry is set to benefit most from repairing the government’s botched home insulation scheme for the next year, after which home renovations are expected to return to pre-2009 levels.Australians spent $29.5 billion on renovations last year, up from $18.2 billion in 2000, according to research by IBIS World. ”The value of the work being done is rising faster than the employment,” said Michael Wilson, a senior analyst at IBIS World.He said a softening in property prices would slow home renovations and possibly delay interest rate increases. ”If you’re not going to get your return on investment it’s less alluring … to renovate or upgrade for sale.”Stavros Kotsireas has struggled to find tradesmen to renovate his home in Brighton-le-Sands.”Each trade I would ring at least three guys. I would insist on them coming out [to quote]. Some would try and negotiate a cost over the phone and that didn’t gel with me.” Eventually he found an older plumber who completed the bathroom for one-third of the price others had quoted.The $43 billion broadband network is expected to support up to 32,000 building and construction jobs. The opposition has said it would scrap the network in favour of a mix of public and private investment if it wins the election. On Tuesday Labor announced a $3 million National Trade Cadetships scheme for a more seamless transition into apprenticeships.
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