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Rabbitohs defeat Manly in NRL

BIG WIN: The Rabbitohs celebrate Chris McQueen’s try last night. Picture: Getty ImagesSTAR fullback Greg Inglis made a triumphant return from injury as South Sydney came from behind to beat Manly 22-10 at Gosford last night.
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Inglis scored under the posts with just over 10 minutes remaining in a tight contest between two of the NRL’s genuine contenders.

Dylan Farrell crossed out wide in the 78th minute to complete the scoring.

Tries from Jamie Lyon and Jorge Taufua helped Manly open up a 10-6 lead.

Lyon opened the scoring after just three minutes with Glenn Stewart orchestrating the move with a sweet pass to Daly Cherry-Evans, who outpaced Bryson Goodwin before passing inside for his skipper to finish.

It looked an ominous sign for the faltering Rabbitohs, who had lost their previous two matches to slip off the top of the ladder, but their giant forward pack cranked into gear after a slow start to create a try for Chris McQueen.

The Queensland back-rower used all his skills from his days as a winger to jump high and grab an Adam Reynolds kick with two hands and dive over from close range.

Reynolds levelled the scores with the kick, but it was Manly who went in at the break with the lead through Taufua.

A swift move from the Sea Eagles saw the ball spread wide to the left and the powerful winger barged over Reynolds and the onrushing Inglis to touch down.

The try left Inglis, who had only just returned from a knee injury suffered in the Origin decider, writhing in agony.

However, he was able to return to action and play a defining role.

Souths got their noses in front after the break with a converted try to winger Nathan Merritt.

Souths’ Jeff Lima was placed on report for a spiteful ankle twist on Anthony Watmough, who made a shock return to action after initially being ruled out with a knee injury.

In last night’s other match, Eels star Jarryd Hayne suffered a thigh injury as the Broncos kept their slim finals hopes alive with a 22-12 win at Suncorp Stadium.

Appeal leads to jail sentence

A MUSWELLBROOK man who stormed his former partner’s home and bashed her in pursuit of her new boyfriend has been jailed after the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that a sentence he received earlier this year was inadequate.
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Anthony Eckerman, 27, escaped with a suspended jail term after he pleaded guilty to an aggravated break and enter, but the Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the leniency of that sentence.

The Court of Criminal Appeal ordered Eckerman to serve two years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 14 months.

The sentence started in March, but Eckerman only entered custody on Thursday.

Eckerman had threatened to “punch the s— out of” his former partner’s new boyfriend the day before he arrived on her doorstep at 3.30am on June 23 last year, Justice Derek Price said.

She and the boyfriend were woken by Eckerman tapping on their bedroom window before the woman went to the front door.

She refused to let Eckerman in before he tried to slide open a window. He then kicked in a window and walked through it, cutting himself and spilling blood over his hands and the window sill, the court heard.

Eckerman then went in search of the boyfriend who snuck out of the house and rang triple-0.

When Eckerman couldn’t find the boyfriend he grabbed the victim by the throat and punched her in the head while demanding that she tell him where the boyfriend was.

Police arrived minutes later, but Eckerman refused to let them in until his former partner unlocked the front door before she ran and hid.

Eckerman told police, “F— off, you dogs, this has nothing to do with you.” Eckerman was eventually arrested.

Justice Price said he did not understand how the sentencing judge could find that the offence was less frightening for the victims because it was being carried out by someone they knew.

“‘When women [and men] enter into a new domestic relationship they are entitled to do so without the threat of violence from a former partner, ” Justice Price said.

Eckerman will be eligible for parole next May.

Knights have always had a place in the Storm

IT is hard to imagine two more contrasting rugby league cultures.
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One is the big country town at the mouth of a coal-mining valley, which for decades has been a nursery of champions – where, in the glory days, players attracted so much hype and adulation that some felt they were living in a goldfish bowl.

The other is Australia’s second-largest city, where the 13-man game will probably always be an alien entity, no matter how many grand finals are won. Where players can wander the streets anonymously, knowing that they are small fish in a very large pond.

Yet there has been an affinity between Newcastle and Melbourne that dates back to 1998, the inaugural year of the NRL’s only Victorian franchise.

The Storm’s foundation squad included no fewer than seven players with Newcastle connections: former Knights Robbie Ross, Brett Kimmorley, Paul Marquet and Rodney Howe; and three others from the defunct Hunter Mariners in Scott Hill, Richard Swain and John Carlaw.

Ross, Kimmorley, Marquet and Howe were in the starting team 12 months later when the Storm scored a stunning grand final triumph against St George Illawarra.

In each of Melbourne’s three subsequent victories in title deciders (two of which were discredited because of salary cap breaches), there has been a Novocastrian influence.

Clint Newton made a mid-season transfer to Melbourne in 2007 and scored a try in their 34-8 win against Manly. His teammates included another ex-Knight, Anthony Quinn, who scored a double.

Likewise, Valentine-Eleebana junior Brett Finch returned to haunt Parramatta in the last game of 2009, which the Storm won 23-16.

And last year Knights discard Richie Fa’aoso described himself as ‘‘one of the luckiest blokes ever to play rugby league’’ after his sixth game with Melbourne was their 14-4 grand final win against Canterbury.

Scone product Todd Lowrie was also in that team.

Other ex-Knights to have made homes south of the border include Ben and Luke MacDougall and Adam Woolnough. This season, Junior Sa’u has played in four games for Melbourne, while former Newcastle under-20s prop Mitch Garbutt has made three appearances for the Storm.

And the traffic has not been one way. Among the big names who have travelled the reverse route are Kirk Reynoldson, Ben Cross and Jeremy Smith.

Then there are Marquet, Quinn and Robbie Rochow, who have all moved from the Knights to the Storm and back again.

Marquet holds the unique record of having been a foundation player, and premiership winner, with both clubs.

When the Knights host Melbourne in tomorrow’s blockbuster showdown at Hunter Stadium, he will be happily sitting on the fence.

‘‘I’m not real worried who wins, as long as it’s a good game,’’ Marquet told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘They’re two great clubs and I’m an Old Boy of both, so I’m just happy to have been associated with them.’’

Marquet, the workhorse back-rower from Raymond Terrace, joked that Melburnians ‘‘couldn’t give a rat’s arse’’ about the Storm in his day.

‘‘But that was probably the best part about it, in some ways,’’ he recalled.

‘‘The boys don’t get pestered or harassed if they go out … plus it was a nice, tight-knit club because all the players were from out of town, so they had a lot of family functions and things.’’

Asked how he enjoyed life in Melbourne, Marquet replied: ‘‘I loved it.

‘‘Probably what helped me was there were so many Newcastle boys there.

‘‘There were seven of us there in that first year. I reckon that really helped us starting up a new club.’’

Paul Marquet.

Clint Newton.

Richie Fa’aoso.

Anthony Quinn.

OPINION: Costs are high for the unblinking eye

CCTV is always popular with politicians.
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WATCHING YOU: CCTV can be effective but it has significant drawbacks.

It’s a visible legacy of political patronage. Television news and popular culture depictions mean that we are all very familiar with CCTV.

Both major political parties support greater use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems in public places.

As part of the $40 million National Crime Prevention Fund, the Australian government recently allocated funding for CCTV across the country.

The Coalition has promised $50 million for safer streets, including funding for CCTV.

Given this investment and the ongoing costs of a CCTV system, it is timely to consider whether CCTV is effective.

The best-available evidence suggests that CCTV systems are not very good at preventing crime in public places, but can assist with police investigations.

Many assumptions are made about public-space CCTV systems that often are not reflected in reality.

These systems have to contend with a number of conditions that compromise their effectiveness in preventing crime.

Motivated offenders will conceal themselves or offend outside of the camera range. Intoxicated offenders care little about the presence of cameras.

Some offences, such as drug dealing, can be difficult to detect on camera.

Illegal activities conducted in view of unmonitored cameras do not result in police intervention and busy police cannot attend any more incidents detected by the cameras.

Given these and other factors, the best available international research suggests that public-space CCTV systems have a modest crime-prevention benefit.

Few comprehensive Australian studies have been undertaken.

The most significant evaluation in Australia (conducted by Bond University) concluded that CCTV detects rather than prevents crime in public places.

While more research is needed, the existing research evidence is not very positive in relation to crime-prevention outcomes.

Where results are more promising is in helping police investigations – after the offence has happened. CCTV footage can place an offender at a scene, show the movements of a victim prior to an offence and rule out particular lines of investigation.

CCTV footage can be very useful when witnesses are intoxicated or when there are conflicting stories about an incident. Offenders have been apprehended and have accepted guilt on the basis of good CCTV footage.

It is difficult to defend a claim that an offender was not in a particular location at a particular time behaving in a certain manner when good footage clearly places them at the scene and participating in a criminal act.

But to ensure that good footage is captured, a number of technical and operational requirements must be met.

Unlike systems that have fixed cameras that just watch a particular entry or exit point, public-space CCTV systems need to watch over large areas with high pedestrian traffic. They need to operate effectively in harsh sunlight and moonless nights. They need to be in locations of criminal activity but not to be blocked by trees, bus shelters, awnings or other structures. Surrounding lighting needs to be upgraded to make pictures clear.

They need to be monitored so that police or security personnel can be directed to an incident, allowing a quick response. Footage needs to be of a quality that can be used in court and stored long enough for police to be able to access it during their investigation.

A fully functioning public-space CCTV system is expensive. Not just expensive to install, but to maintain. While initial funds might come from the Australian government, it is often the local council that is then responsible for the ongoing management of the system. The biggest ongoing costs come from monitoring the cameras.

Having a person or people watching the cameras 24 hours a day, seven days a week is a costly exercise. Over the life of a system, these ongoing costs will add up.

Large councils will often spend more than a million dollars each year on running their CCTV system.

Once a system is installed, it is very difficult to remove. Even if there are substantial falls in crime in the area, local politicians will be unwilling to shelve the system.

There is always pressure to expand the system, with requests for more cameras to be added. Additional cameras mean allocating extra resources. When political parties throw money at these systems, it is rarely recurrent funding. Once the election is over, it will be ratepayers that cover the ongoing costs for decades to come. This should make us stop and think hard about the merits of CCTV in public places.

Garner Clancey is a lecturer in criminology at Sydney University.

OPINION: The science is in: we need to raise the bar

DOESN’T science just happen anyway? Can we leave science to the scientists who know it better? If you have no opinion or interest in how we live our lives and how our future will develop then maybe the answer to these questions is yes.
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But if ever you worry about genetically modified plants, global warming, nuclear and alternative energy, drug-resistant diseases, coal seam gas, mobile phone radiation or a raft of other issues that face society, then some appreciation of science and its impact on our lives is essential to evidence-based decisions rather than emotive and sometimes irrational outcomes.

This week has been Science Week, a great opportunity for the community to engage with science and to showcase the University of Newcastle’s outstanding research and teaching.

While there is broad community interest in science, there are few opportunities to get up close and personal to real science and its outcomes.

However, there is a basic question behind this – is Science Week run just as a publicity exercise to justify the existence of science funding or is there a real problem to be addressed?

The position paper titled Science, Technology, Engineering land Mathematics in the National Interest: A Strategic Approach launched last week by the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, focused on the four main needs in Australian science – education, knowledge, innovation and influence.

Our students are losing their competitiveness against international benchmarks and international research benchmarks are forever rising to challenge our efforts.

The University of Newcastle has strived over its relatively short history to meet these challenges and has an outstanding record of achievement.

In research it has 14 areas of science that have been independently judged to be at or above world standard and the university as a whole is ranked very highly in the class of universities under 50 years of age.

These research standings attract high-performing researchers to Newcastle to inject valuable knowledge and skills into solving local problems, while also making discoveries that have both national and international impact.

The university’s webpage (http://www.newcastle.edu.au/newsroom/research-and-innovation/news/spotlight-science ) gives you a chance to discover more detail from 19 case studies where science in conjunction with medicine and engineering are making a real difference to our lives and those of the world around us.

The University of Newcastle has one of the most comprehensive and integrated outreach programs of any university in Australia and the world.

Activities have been developed that aim to not only interest students in science but also show them that they have a role to play in this exciting and challenging career opportunity.

These programs, which have been developed to promote interest and engagement in science and mathematics in primary and secondary students, have been so successful that some have expanded nationally and attracted both national and international prizes for their achievements.

If your children or grandchildren have been involved in the SMART program, the Science and Engineering Challenge, the Scientists in Schools, Mathematicians in Schools, Experimentfest or a range of other activities supported from the university, then they are the beneficiaries of a wealth of experience and research that provides them with better choice opportunities than students in other regions.

Another focus is the strategy developed by science, mathematics and education staff to create new educational methods used to train future mathematics and science teachers.

There are a number of research projects under way to develop new methods of instruction to build a more exciting and instructive school experience for students that will address the issue of declining participation in schools.

Science Week is not meant to be the only time the community engages with science but this showcase is designed to renew participation and engagement.

At any time of the year find out more about science – participate and even corner a scientist to ask them what they do and why they do it.

They are only human and would love to tell you more.

Professor John O’Connor is the head of the school of mathematical and physical sciences at the University of Newcastle.

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.
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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.
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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.

AAP

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.
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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.

AAP

TOPICS: From sands of time

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