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Monthly Archives: September 2019

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Roberts earns shot at league’s best

Please enable Javascript to watch this videoTYRONE Roberts is clearly in no mood to surrender the Newcastle Knights’ No.7 jersey without a fight.

Two weeks ago, after Roberts was unceremoniously hooked by Knights coach Wayne Bennett and spent the final 11 minutes of the round-21 clash against Brisbane watching from the bench, there was speculation he had played his last game for the immediate future.

Roberts’s replacement, veteran Craig Gower, helped Newcastle conjure up two late tries and an 18-all draw.

It was enough for some to declare Gower had usurped the 22-year-old as Bennett’s first-choice playmaker.

But when Newcastle ran out against Cronulla last weekend, Roberts was in the starting team and Gower’s spot as fresh reserve had been filled by the returning Kurt Gidley.

Possibly that was because Gower was nursing an injury. Perhaps Bennett felt he needed a regular goalkicker in what shaped as a tight game.

Whatever the rationale, Roberts responded with a crucial try in Newcastle’s 18-14 win and an all-round performance that suggested he intends to continue his unbroken streak of 38 games in the top grade for the Knights.

He will hardly have a better chance to underline that message than in the next seven days.

Tomorrow he lines up against Melbourne Storm’s Test halfback, Cooper Cronk.

Six days later he will be in Townsville pitting his skills against North Queensland champion Johnathan Thurston.

If Roberts can break even against the NRL’s two finest playmakers, it can only help his chances of featuring in the big games ahead at the business end of the season.

Asked this week about the challenge of opposing Cronk, Roberts acknowledged the 2012 Clive Churchill medallist was a ‘‘competitor’’ but added: ‘‘Being a young dude, I always want to play against the best, and I’ll do the same against JT and every weekend.’’

Roberts said Newcastle knew what to expect from Cronk tomorrow.

‘‘He’s pretty straightforward. He takes on the line, he’s pretty structured and everyone knows what he’s going to do,’’ Roberts said.

As for the competition provided from within his own club by 35-year-old Gower, Roberts has done his best to ignore it for the past two months.

‘‘As long as I do my job every week, I don’t need to worry about a challenge at the moment,’’ he said.

‘‘Gowy is a good mentor.’’

Newcastle pushed Melbourne in a 16-14 loss at AAMI Park, but the premiers have been in ominous form in their past two games, smashing Canberra 68-4 and then overpowering South Sydney 26-8.

The Knights have lost all four games this season against top-four opposition but should have momentum behind them after their great escape against the Sharks.

As is always the case when they play the Storm, Newcastle’s chances will hinge on their ability to handle Melbourne’s swarming defence.

‘‘It all starts in the middle of the field, trying to slow their big boys down,’’ Storm lock Ryan Hinchcliffe said on the club’s website. ‘‘Big [Kade] Snowden and guys like Jeremy Smith, who are very strong and dangerous players.

‘‘If we can slow them down, that will take [Danny] Buderus out of the game a little bit, and also Jarrod Mullen’s kicking game is a huge strong point for them.

‘‘We’ve got to be really tough in the centre of the field and that will limit guys like Darius Boyd and Dane Gagai, who are really dangerous when they give us space.’’

Tyrone Roberts

Plan to deny asylum seekers court reviews ‘illegal’

A FEDERAL opposition plan to deny asylum seekers access to courts to review their claims is “plainly illegal”, law experts say.

POSITION: Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, right, talks to the media with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in Melbourne yesterday.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is proposing to remove the Refugee Review Tribunal and instead, task a single case officer to review failed refugee claims.

“This is our country and we determine who comes here,” he said in Melbourne yesterday, echoing former Coalition prime minister John Howard on asylum seekers in 2001.

Immigration Minister Tony Burke said Mr Abbott was being “mean just for the hell of it”.

“If the only appeals mechanism available because you’ve abolished everything else is the High Court we end up with a legal situation – which no one would wish for – which is where each and every appeal has one place.”

But Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison wanted to get rid of Labor’s “tick and flick” approach to asylum assessments.

The current review system was flawed because 80 per cent of “no decisions” were being overturned, he said.

Under the Coalition plan, people deemed not to be refugees would be removed far quicker than at present.

Asylum seekers would still have access to the High Court but wouldn’t be able to take their cases to tribunals or Federal Court, Mr Morrison said.

But refugee law expert and Australian National University professor Penelope Mathew said denying access to judicial review would fail.

“I do not see the High Court accepting that,” she said.

“This is just recycling punitive policies that actually haven’t achieved the deterrence and it is just plainly illegal.”

Migration law expert Marianne Dickie agreed Australia would not be able to stop cases being reviewed in federal courts.

The Human Rights Law Centre said the “cruel” opposition plan violated international human rights law.

Mr Abbott’s plan would impact the 32,000 asylum seekers who had already reached Australia by boat but were yet to be processed.Under the proposal, they would be processed faster and if found to be genuine refugees, offered temporary protection visas.

Mr Burke said people who got on boats under Labor’s policy did not get Australian visas at all.

“So the only possible reason to make an announcement like they’ve made today is through political desire to look tough and mean just for the hell of it.”

Mr Abbott was confident his government would limit asylum seeker boats to three arrivals a year in its first term.

“I will regard myself as having succeeded very well if we can get back to a situation of having three boats a year,” Mr Abbott said.


Rudd dismisses claims policy made on run

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has defended his economic plan for northern Australia after it emerged senior Labor ministers were left out of the loop on the policy.

ON THE TRAIL: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd kisses 10-month-old Jemima at Westfield Carousel in Perth yesterday. Picture: Andrew Meares

Employment Minister Bill Shorten and Resources Ministers Gary Gray only learnt about the proposal on Thursday – the day Mr Rudd announced it in Darwin – raising concerns that he was making policy on the run.

Mr Gray, who represents the West Australian seat of Brand, was keen to allay concerns it would drain skills and jobs from other parts of the country to the Northern Territory.

“There is a lot of time to work out the details,” Mr Gray said.

Visiting Perth yesterday to announce a new oil and gas research facility, and visit a shopping centre, Mr Rudd said he stood 100 per cent behind the policy to provide a 10-percentage-point corporate tax break for NT firms and boost funding for the Ord River scheme.

“The ministers I’ve been working with most closely recently on this policy have been the Treasurer, the Finance Minister, and of course our broader leadership group,” Mr Rudd said.

“You would expect that during an election campaign . . . when the final product of a policy is put out, that the ministers are informed of that at that time.”

The Prime Minister said the Coalition was running a distraction campaign on Labor’s internal processes to divert voter attention from its “plan” to cut health and education.

Asked if they were in his sights for budget savings, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey didn’t rule it out.

“I’m not going to give any on-the-run guarantees. I don’t do that,” Mr Hockey said.

Mr Abbott was more direct, saying he would be “spending money more wisely” in health and education, but said he didn’t intend to make cuts in those areas.


TOPICS: From sands of time

PETER Lovett had nearly forgotten what he and his friends found in the 1960s, until he opened the paper.

Back then, Mr Lovett was a teenager. He and some mates, as mates do, had parties in the Nobbys dunes. They lit fires.

‘‘We’d go up on Nobbys Beach and cook weenies,’’ he said.

‘‘Then one night we came across a large plaque.’’

It was fixed to a block that felt like sandstone, and it was inscribed.

‘‘The writing was about Macquarie Pier, and something about a governor.’’

The friends planned to heave the block out the front of the Nobbys pavilion and leave it there, but it was too heavy. So it stayed in the dunes to be reclaimed by the sand.

As luck would have it, investigators are in the process of using radar to peer beneath the ground for foundations of the pier.

They’re especially keen to find the foundation stone that Governor Macquarie laid in 1818. That’s why Mr Lovett rang us.

One man is very interested.

The first thing you should know about Gionni Di Gravio is that if he ever finds the foundation stone, he won’t be surprised if it’s in someone’s garden.

‘‘If it shows up in someone’s backyard, then great,’’ the Coal River Working Party chairman told Topics.

‘‘If anyone remembers hauling it home as a souvenir, I’ve got archaeologists ready to dig. Now’s the time to say something.’’

If there’s one thing we’re bad at in Newcastle (besides transport, parking, retail, air quality and civilised public debate) it’s preserving our artefacts.

In the 1970s for instance, Newcastle City Council pulled hundreds of gravestones from Christ Church Cathedral park and used them as landscaping rocks at Blackbutt Reserve.

Mr Di Gravio has heard whispers of plaques lodged deep within the Nobbys breakwall, and the 1817 foundation stone of Christ Church Cathedral was salvaged by workers following the 1989 earthquake.

We’ve put Mr Di Gravio in touch with Mr Lovett. It might lead to nothing, but it could be a step towards finding the stone.

Magpies feel the heat

A READER reports the first magpie swoop of spring. Except it’s winter.

The angry seasonal messenger clattered into our correspondent’s helmet yesterday as he pedalled the cycle track behind Hunter Stadium. He’s OK, folks.

‘‘We’re in mid-August,’’ says our reader.

‘‘Earliest I can remember it happening.’’

A scan of Herald files backs him up. A swoop was documented on August 30, 2011 but they are rarely a factor until September.

Warmest July on record. Funnel webs waking early from hibernation (shudder). Can we talk about climate change yet?

Speaking of extremes, while fire tore through parts of the Hunter, the thermometer at Col Maybury’s place in Kurri yesterday morning read minus 3 degrees.

‘‘But I am prepared to bet it’s the last,’’ Col says.

‘‘Frost, I mean.’’

A ditty for them all

WE asked for songs for politicians, and one reader dedicated Joe Dolce’s Shaddap You Face to the Opposition Leader, then reconsidered.

‘‘Perhaps I’m doing him a favour and it should be exactly the opposite,’’ she said.

‘‘Must find a song that conveys Go for it, Tone, spruik away.’’

Phil Mahoney put some thought into this. Carter Edwards, a 2HD presenter, composed a ditty a few years back that went: ‘‘It don’t matter who you vote for, they’re gonna get you’’.

‘‘That’s for all of them,’’ Phil says.

Duty chaplain Father George Mainprize with Christ Church Cathedral’s foundation stone under glass. Picture: Phil Hearne

Alarm over Hunter paramedic shortage

THE Hunter has fewer intensive care paramedic teams than its Central Coast neighbours despite having almost twice as many people.

Figures released to the Newcastle Herald indicate there are two intensive care crew units in the Hunter for its population of more than 500,000 people compared with three on the Central Coast for its population of about 300,000.

A former Central Coast health board director and paramedic has called for a restructure of the allocations, saying it disadvantages Hunter residents when there’s an emergency.

His call has been backed by the paramedics union, which says both areas are dramatically understaffed when it comes to specialist intensive care paramedics.

Both have identified a need for dedicated six-man intensive care crew units on west Lake Macquarie and in the Rutherford-Thornton area.

The Ambulance Service of NSW said there were 65 intensive care paramedics by headcount in the Hunter compared with 50 on the Central Coast.

It said the closest appropriate crews were always deployed and it amended rosters to cater to demand.

Stephen Hogeveen, of Cooranbong, is a former intensive care paramedic, station manager and Central Coast Health board director.

He said in the Hunter dedicated six-man intensive care crew units were stationed at Hamilton and Cardiff, with stand-alone intensive care specialists at various stations.

On the Central Coast specialist crews were at Point Clare, Bateau Bay and Toukley.

Six-person units mean there is always a two-man team available for each shift.

Mr Hogeveen said under the present system the Hunter was not being served efficiently.

‘‘Why are the citizens of the Hunter treated like second-class citizens,’’ he said.

‘‘The best of care could be easily provided to many more by simple redistribution of already available staff.’’

Health Services Union Hunter ambulance sub-branch president Peter Rumball said the Central Coast should ideally have about four units and the Hunter four or five.

Mr Rumball said there had been no increase in specialist paramedic units in the Hunter since 1981.

‘‘It’s all about politics, not patients,’’ he said