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Monthly Archives: June 2019

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Star helps Kurri get over the line

KURRI Kurri hired gun Mark Khierallah would consider it mission accomplished if the Bulldogs win their next two games and book a berth in the Newcastle Rugby League semi-finals.

The man known as ‘‘Killer’’ will play his second-last match for Kurri today in the competition’s fiercest derby against the Goannas at Cessnock Sportsground.

He will return to France after the final-round game against Maitland next Saturday to begin pre-season training with Toulouse Olympique.

Kurri Kurri officials had hoped to extend his loan deal to cover the play-offs, but Toulouse want Khierallah fit and rested for their season opener on September 22.

The Bulldogs are fifth on the ladder, ahead of Maitland on for-and-against by a point.

Wins over Cessnock and Maitland will guarantee a spot in the five, but one will leave them relying on other results to go their way.

‘‘If I can get the boys over the line in the next two games, I’d consider that I’ve done as much as I could possibly do, then it’s just up to the boys from there on,’’ Khierallah said.

‘‘I think they’re preparing for it. It was always a big call if I was to stay for the finals.’’

Since arriving from Toulouse on loan in round nine, Khierallah has been a revelation at five-eighth.

Along with fullback Nathan Ross, he has injected class in the Bulldogs backline.

‘‘There’s plenty of talent there to cover me,’’ he said.

‘‘George [Ndaira] is there and BJ [Ben Jeffries] as well.

‘‘We’re starting to get a roll on, and everyone knows their job, so it’s made my weekends a whole lot easier.

‘‘Whoever slots in there, I’m sure the boys will help him out and do whatever we do every other week.’’

Today’s Coalfields derby will be the home farewell for Goannas local team of the century winger Chris Pyne, and it could also be the last game local coach of the century Todd Edwards holds the clipboard at Cessnock Sportsground.

During Edwards’s tenure at Cessnock the Goannas have had the wood over their neighbours. But he said he has never seen a stronger Kurri Kurri side on paper.

A priority for the Goannas will be containing Ross, who cut Macquarie to pieces last week.

‘‘You’ve just got to be honest up the middle with Rossy,’’ Edwards said.

‘‘You know he’s coming and we know what he’s about. He’s a class player, and that’s why I tried hard to get him here.

‘‘We know what we’re in for, so we’ve got to be squeaky clean and not cut corners.’’

He said there would be a strong focus on his side’s kicking game to limit Ross’s impact.

‘‘That’s an area of our game that isn’t strong, so it’s got to be good tomorrow,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve got some things in place and we know what we’ve got to do to negate him.’’

Kurri’s Mark Khierallah will return to France before the finals. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

EDITORIAL: Time for covered wagons

A SENATE inquiry into the impacts on health of air quality in Australia has backed the Newcastle Herald’s call for the covering of coal rail wagons.

As a first response, the peak body for mining in this state, the NSW Minerals Council, has attacked the report as ‘‘Greens dominated’’ and ‘‘predictably anti-mining’’.

Arguing there is no evidence in the report to show how the committee ‘‘has logically come to its recommendation’’ to cover coal wagons, the minerals council cites long-term monitoring by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, which found coal accounted for less than 14per cent of fine PM2.5 particles in the air at Mayfield.

In contrast, the committee cites a submission it received from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to say that mining for coal accounts for 27per cent of PM2.5 particles in Newcastle, rising to 66per cent in the Upper Hunter.

In debates such as this, the temptation to ‘‘cherry pick’’ the statistics that best suit a particular argument can be difficult to resist, but there is no doubt – in 2013 – that particulate emissions can have a negative impact on human health. What’s more, as the EPA submission states, fine particulate emissions have risen by at least 20per cent in the past 20years, largely because of increased coalmining in the Hunter Valley.

In its chapter on coal, the committee report recognises the economic benefits of coal but says covering coal wagons is one of the ‘‘concrete steps’’ the industry should take to minimise its impact on communities.

The minerals council says the recommendation to cover the wagons ignores the evidence that shows coal dust from trains to be a relatively small source of particulates. In its submission to the inquiry, it argued against covering wagons, saying it would be ‘‘extremely expensive’’ and have ‘‘little or no effect on dust and air quality near rail lines.’’

As the committee noted, things appeared to be different north of the border, with the Queensland Resources Council acknowledging that chemical ‘‘veneering’’ of coal loads had significantly reduced dust emissions.

Whether coal companies like it or not, history shows that environmental standards tend inexorably to tighten. A ‘‘social licence’’ to operate is an important part of doing business in the 21st century.

Inevitably, it comes down to a simple proposition. We do not allow the relatively tiny amount of coal that is hauled on our roads to be moved uncovered. Why, then, should we allow it on rail?

IAN KIRKWOOD: Monotony and missteps

I DON’T know if they slipped something into the water, but the second week of the election campaign seemed a lot quieter than the first.

Despite a plethora of politicians criss-crossing the country from Corangamite to Capricornia, and from Forrest to Fraser – or Fowler – very little of consequence seemed to eventuate.

Sunday night’s soporific leaders’ debate set the tone. The biggest controversy to emerge from the first, and possibly only, head-on clash of the campaign between the incumbent, Kevin Rudd, and the likely victor, Tony Abbott, was that Kevin ‘‘cheated’’ by taking notes into a supposedly ‘‘no-notes’’ arena.

Mr Rudd said he needed notes because there was a limit to how many of Mr Abbott’s ‘‘three-word slogans’’ he could remember without help.

But he was outdone in the (well-rehearsed) wit stakes by Liberal Senator Mathias Cormann, who said: “Last night Tony Abbott was looking like a leader; Kevin Rudd was looking like a reader.”

Score that as snappy slogans 1, Rudd 0.

As the days progressed – slowly – anyone looking for policy prescriptions would have been sorely disappointed. Time and again, Mr Abbott opened his mouth to say something serious only to put his foot in it.

First, on Monday, came the now infamous ‘‘suppository of wisdom’’ line.

‘‘No one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom,’’ Mr Abbott said to an audience of Liberal Party faithful in Melbourne.

Veteran Liberal MP Philip Ruddock, who is travelling with Mr Abbott as a campaign mentor and minder, reportedly ‘‘squirmed’’ at the reference.

The next day, smooth Tony was at it again, with his appraisal of the ‘‘sex appeal’’ of the Coalition’s candidate for Lindsay, Fiona Scott.

Asked what Ms Scott and a former Liberal holder of the same western Sydney seat, Jackie Kelly, had in common, Mr Abbott said: “They’re young, they’re feisty, I think I can probably say they have a bit of sex appeal, and they are just very, very connected to the local area.”

As if that wasn’t enough, the media pack also realised the Liberal candidate for nearby Greenway, Jaymes Diaz, was in the crowd.

Mr Diaz scored national coverage for all the wrong reasons in the first week of the campaign for a failure to know anything about the Coalition’s six-point asylum-seeker policy.

So, coverage of Tuesday’s campaigning was reduced to endless repeats of the Abbott-Scott moment – including her somewhat surprised reaction as his words sunk in – together with footage of Mr Diaz hightailing it for the safety of a campaign car.

On the surface, you’d have to score those events as negatives for Mr Abbott, who is already fighting to overcome an image of himself as supposedly too ‘‘blokey’’ for the Lodge.

Yes, I know I’m winding the clock back 30years to 1983. But being blokey never cost Bob Hawke too many votes, and he left Abbott in the shade when it came to inappropriate comments about women.

More relevantly, though, the real impact of Mr Abbott’s comments is that they focused almost all of the prime-time attention on him, and away from the message Kevin Rudd is still desperately trying to sell.

I’m not saying that was the Coalition’s plan all along – ‘‘get Abbott out there to make a fool of himself and we’ll suck all of the air out of Kevin for the day’’.

But it certainly wasn’t how Labor would have wanted this week to go.

And the ALP sure didn’t need former leader Mark Latham sticking his bib into things by suggesting Mr Abbott must have had ‘‘beer goggles’’ on to say what he said about his candidate.

For a man who writes insightfully about Labor in his regular newspaper columns, he certainly is a loose cannon in front of a microphone.

Newcastle Airport fine slammed

THE lack of a ‘‘pick-up’’ zone at Newcastle Airport is hitting motorists in the pocket, with some being charged more than $500 for stopping illegally to collect visitors to the region.

Michael Graham, who runs a storage-tank business at Tomago, collects employees from the airport at least once a week and said the parking situation was resulting in ridiculous fines and ‘‘price gouging’’ by the Port Stephens Council.

Mr Graham was fined $506 last month for stopping in a disabled zone to pick up an employee.

‘‘The vehicle was stopped for less than 10 seconds whilst the employee jumped in the car,’’ he said.

‘‘If that cost me $50, I’d think ‘fair enough’, but $506 is steep for five seconds and no disruption to traffic.’’

A council spokeswoman said there was no tolerance to illegal parking in disabled access spaces across NSW.

Over the past 12 months, rangers have issued 280 fines at Newcastle Airport, with 13 of those for parking illegally in disabled spaces.

Mr Graham said when he arrived, there was no free parking, other than near the departures area, which was clogged with cars.

Newcastle Airport aviation and business development manager David Nye said there was no pick-up zone because the airport did not have expansive terminal frontage.

‘‘We are looking at a plan within the next six months where we will be able to create space at the front of the terminal for a free pick-up zone,’’ he said.

Mr Nye said the airport discouraged people from stopping in front of the arrivals area because it was often congested.

‘‘We offer $2.50 parking for 30 minutes within walking distance to the terminal,’’ he said.

The airport announced on Tuesday another 60 car spaces in its Silver 1 and 3 parks near the terminal.

Michael Graham intends contesting a $506 fine for illegally using a disabled parking space at Newcastle Airport.

Housewife with higher purpose

PROFESSIONAL psychic Jackie Gillies and rock star husband Ben have swapped the Newcastle beaches for the bright lights and microscope of reality television in Melbourne.

Mrs Gillies, who married the Silverchair drummer two years ago in Newcastle, began filming The Real Housewives of Melbourne last month and is emerging as the livewire to watch.

But the psychic, who has a two-year-waiting list for clients, is not afraid of being scrutinised on television.

‘‘I’m a very secure person,’’ she said. ‘‘I think every human being is worried about being judged but you must continue to be who you are and be yourself. I need to do my readings; my higher purpose is helping others.’’

One fan Mrs Gillies had no problem securing was her husband Ben.

The drummer and now frontman of his own, called Bento, has been supportive of his wife appearing on the show and regularly plugs the program on Twitter.

‘‘Proud of my lady,’’ he tweeted this week.

Thirty-three-year-old Mrs Gillies has continued to operate her psychic business in Melbourne and said that while she misses the Newcastle beaches, the couple are enjoying the cafes and bars of Melbourne.

‘‘We were moving to Melbourne anyway before I was approached to do the show,’’ she said.

‘‘Ben wanted a creative outlet for the second album for Bento. We are like gypsies; we live in the moment.’’

The couple, who formerly lived in a house at Merewether overlooking the beach, have also started their own line of signature cocktails in Melbourne.

Mrs Gillies said she was a huge fan of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills TV show and is excited to be a part of the Australian version.

‘‘So far, so good,’’ she said of the show.

‘‘All the women are beautiful and intelligent and successful in their own right.’’

The Real Housewives of Melbourne will feature six housewives, including co-founder of the Liberty Belle Skin Centre Andrea Moss and top Melbourne barrister Gina Liano, who enjoy the lavish and pampered lifestyle of Melbourne.

‘‘What woman doesn’t love to shop?’’ Mrs Gillies said.

Jackie Gillies.