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Mallee voters have more choice

The emergence of a candidate for the Family First party hasbolstered the number of candidates vying for the seat of Mallee to eleven.
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Voters have just three weeks in which to make their informeddecision on who they will vote for, before we head to the polls on Saturday,September 7 for the federal election.

Some in the electorate may believe having 11 candidates isfar to many, that it will only create more confusion. However, on the other endof the scale, it provides choice and healthy debate, all the right ingredientsfor a democracy.

The seat of Mallee has been held by The Nationals fordecades and with a big majority, but there are some who believe this will bereduced at the September election, others who are confident the seat will notonly be retained, but with an increased margin.

Perhaps the only let down for voters in Stawell is thatbeing part of such a vast electorate, stetching all the way up to Swan Hill, wedon’t tend to see or hear from candidates as much as we would if they lived onour doorstep.

That distance hasn’t prevented several of the candidatesfrom campaigning hard in areas like Stawell, where they know every vote isimportant and are aware how committed Stawell people are to ensuring we are animportant piece in the big Mallee jigsaw.

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When a screen is their world

Wired: Gabrielle Jamison with her children Marcus, William, and Georgina with their electronic devices. Photo: Steven SiewertToddlers are navigating technology at a rapid pace, but left to their own devices, some of these tech-savvy kids could end up in a dark and possibly addicted head space by adolescence.
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Psychologists say parents must pay attention to their children’s access to apps, online games and smartphones from a young age, to ensure they glean the benefits rather than the problems of our tech-heavy world.

The prolific nature of online gaming is such that psychiatrists in the US have listed Internet Gaming Disorder in their latest diagnostic manual, DSM-5, as a new condition warranting more research. They define it as a phenomenon where people become compulsively engrossed in online games, end up distressed and withdraw from other interests, education or jobs.

An Australian report on the impact of technology on young men’s mental health and wellbeing, by the federally funded Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre, shows males aged 16 to 25 are upping their average time online to three hours each day from two hours four years ago.

So when should parents become concerned? One Sydney pyschologist says children often move through obsessive stages for two or three months without being addicted. But sometimes a love of playing can morph into a serious problem.

The psychologist cited a case where a boy in primary school accrued $1000 on his parents’ credit card by buying simulated products in an online game he played for four hours a day, two of which were in bed at night while his parents thought he was asleep.

Brisbane teenager Caelan Reid has had a glimpse of the dark side of internet use. He realised how dependent he had become on gaming and the internet after spending a couple of months with the net constantly switched on. A week without electricity did the trick.

“When you start getting to days where you get into this cycle of staying up until 2am every night and you wake up feeling tired and that goes on for a month or two months, the time starts to blur and you start feeling trapped in that cycle,” he says.

Reid, 18, who hopes to pursue a career in gaming development, now tries to cut down his time online. He also wants to develop less-violent games.

Spending a lot of time online can be isolating and can lead to bad habits.

“I have definitely been there, but I am trying to go to bed at good times and eat better,” Reid says.

“It doesn’t make you feel good. It was definitely hard to step away from it . . . I would always do something to sort of pull me back in – even something tiny like saying ‘I’ll just check this,’ and that would escalate and cascade into being on the computer for a long time.”

Evidence is emerging that males of Reid’s age are the most likely to be online often, with 99 per cent of young men aged 16 to 25 in a Young and Well CRC survey reporting daily internet use. Internet use after 11pm increased to 63 per cent of young men in 2012 from 44 per cent in 2008.

The survey shows young men with significant psychological distress spend longer on the internet than their lesser-stressed peers, at more than 10 hours a day. They also accessed the net after 11pm six to seven nights a week.

Interestingly, these men also report being more likely to access health information and listen to music and play games with others on the net than their lesser-stressed peers.

While researchers don’t believe gaming causes depression, they say it can add to feelings of isolation for those who are already depressed, as they spend more time alone.

The key, researchers say, is for parents to teach their children to take advantage of the many upsides to internet and technology use, without becoming obsessed.

“Video games have been shown to positively influence young people’s emotional state, self-esteem, optimism, vitality, resilience, engagement, relationships, sense of competence, self-acceptance and social connections and functioning,” another report into video games and well-being by the Young and Well CRC says. “Emerging research suggests that how young people play, as well as whom they play with, may be more important in terms of well-being than what they play.”

Gaming researcher and psychologist Dr Andrew Campbell, of the University of Sydney, sees on average two to three gaming addicts a month, ranging in age from eight-year-olds to people in their 30s. People are classed as addicts once they become socially isolated and have a combination of symptoms such as taking no responsibility for creating a future; giving up education or work, spending maximum time indoors and losing sleep.

But he says there are many beneficial games for education, socialisation, behaviour and mind improvement, even though the games market is primarily pitched at 18- to 25-year-olds.

Simply giving kids phones or tablets without parental involvement is “no different to handing them a packet of cigarettes if you don’t explain the dangers”, he says.

“Think about what your child is looking at,” Campbell says.

“If you give them a tablet computer, make sure the program or the app they’re using is child-appropriate, has some educational benefit and they know it’s a reward. If you can do those three things, the child will not always expect it, they will know it’s a privilege and you as a parent will know they are getting something that’s actually beneficial to their education and social development.”

Campbell says parents should be aware researchers don’t believe games cause depression but that mental illness can lead to isolating behaviour and “gaming is an isolating behaviour”. Compulsive gaming is considered a serious mental illness once gamers are all-consumed and become socially isolated, depressed, anxious and stressed, he says.

“We’ve just got to look at how we use technology effectively so it doesn’t actually interfere with our health,” he says.

Black Dog Institute researcher Dr Bridianne O’Dea says the question should no longer be whether young people are spending time online but rather what they are doing online and is it helpful or detrimental, and what are the consequences for their daily functioning and well-being?

O’Dea, who completed her PhD on social networking sites and adolescent well-being, believes it’s too soon to introduce blanket policies that attempt to limit the amount of time young people spend online.

“Before we jump into saying who or what is responsible for problematic online use, we need to get a greater understanding of usage patterns, ” she says.

“For example, if a young person suffering from anxiety, depression or insomnia finds the internet to be a resourceful coping mechanism for their feelings, trying to limit their internet use could potentially be detrimental. It is important we try to understand the nature of their use and other issues which may be underlying this.”

Gabrielle and Michael Jamison, of Castle Hill in Sydney, and their sons William, 8, and Marcus, 10, and daughter Georgina, 13, possess two iPads, three iPhones, a computer and Nintendo games among them.

They apply usage limits for their children, particularly for Georgina, who, like her peers, wants to be connected on social media such as Instagram, Snapchat and Kik.

“Times have changed,” Gabrielle says. “It’s a real conflict between worrying about how much time they’re on there and knowing that they need it for homework. I know all the guidelines say don’t have computers in bedrooms, but they’re given a computer at high school and they have to do their homework on the laptop.”

Georgina says it’s tempting to go online daily. “Sometimes you just get distracted from homework and just take a break,” she says.

William and Marcus like playing on their devices but they also pine for outdoor time after school.

“I think our kids are fairly balanced with their technology use … they have some times when they’re on it a fair bit and sometimes we confiscate,” Michael says.

Georgina understands her parents need to control technology use. “It’s good because sometimes you get headaches and stuff,” she says.

Your children may have a problem if they:Seem happy online but angry offline.Focus on being online instead of doing homework or dining with family.Spend more time online than with friends.Refuse to admit how much time they are spending online.Lose sleep to go online.

Source: video-game-addiction.org

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Wild winds expose asbestos at Rockdale

Asbestos alarm: Monday’s high winds tore parts of the roof off Rockdale Council’s Bexley depot, exposing asbestos. Picture: John Veage.Yellow tape warning of asbestos surrounds part of Rockdale Council’s Bexley depot after Monday’s wild winds tore parts off the building’s roof.
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The depot is in Rye Avenue, Bexley, and sections of Preddy’s Lane at the depot’s rear have been taped off.

The asbestos was exposed when the roof lifted off.

A council spokesman said the exposed friable asbestos had been contained.

‘‘A tarp has been fastened onto the exposed area of the roof, professional asbestos removal contractors and a hygenist, who is monitoring the works, are remediating the site that will be operational by the end of the week,’’ the spokesman said.

Are you pleased with the council’s response to the asbestos threat?

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Heritage engine makes its way home to Wellington

The famous John Fowler steam engine locomotive is on its way home and will make a grand entry into Wellington on Saturday week at the Rotary Markets.
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Fowler committee chairman Cr Mark Griggs says the Fowler’s return is wonderful news to many people who have admired the old engine.

“Many locals and people within this region and around Australia would remember the engine running at different local events, and at other fixtures it visited back in the 1990s and 2000s.

Children used to get excited when they would hear the steam engine’s whistle in the distance and be out on the footpath to watch as it rolled closer, wave as it passed.

“I remember seeing plenty of adults doing the same,” Mr Griggs said.

“A specially-made trailer is currently being constructed so in the future, children and carers will be able to have rides in the trailer, towed by the Fowler.

“This will become part of the ‘Friends of the Fowler’ committee fundraising for wood supply and servicing,” he said.

“The engine is practically brand new since being virtually rebuilt from boiler to pistons.

“This was only achievable from a NSW Heritage Council grant of $50,000 matched by a dollar-for-dollar input from Wellington Council, which also contributed additional funding when it was discovered the machine was in more desperate need of a rebuild than originally thought.

“Ken Ainsworth from Ainsworth Engineering will be the official guest of the welcome home ceremony, accompanied a guest from the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo.

“This is going to be a big day for Wellington as the ‘Welcome Home’ mayoral civic reception coincides with the monthly Wellington Rotary Markets being conducted on the other side of the library,” Cr Griggs said

The mayor sends an open invitation to all residents of the Wellington Council area, and their friends, to witness the occasion.

The Wellington Antique Car Club members will be driving their old veteran and vintage cars to the area in support of this wonderful old steam workhorse of Wellington.

In Monday’s Times, a competition will begin with a chance to ride on the John Fowler on its grand entry into Wellington.

Just cut out the voucher and drop the entry form into the Times office in Percy Street.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

$5million promised for Albury hospital

Sussan Ley Sophie Mirabella
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THE Coalition will provide $5 million for a cardiac catheterisation lab at Albury hospital if elected on September 7.

The election promise was made this morning in Wodonga by member for Indi Sophie Mirabella and member for Farrer Sussan Ley.

They were joined by Albury Wodonga Health board chairman Ulf Ericsson and chief executiveDr Stuart Spring for the announcement.

The lab will mean local patients will be able to access treatment closer to home rather than having to go to Melbourne or Sydney.

The election promise follows a recent visit to Albury by shadow health minister Peter Dutton.

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Santos earnings hit by carbon tax

Santos earnings were squeezed by the cost of the carbon tax, which helped to push its tax bill higher during the half.
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The total tax bill rose to $192 million from $180 million a year earlier, it said, with the income tax component rising to $156 million from $136 million. Separately, Santos said it paid $36 million in to carbon-related costs.

Declines in output, offset by a rise in product prices saw Santos post a slightly higher June half net profit of $271 million, up from $262 million a year earlier. Revenue rose to $1.53 billion from $1.49 billion.

Output for the half declined 4 per cent to 24.5 million barrels of oil equivalent, which is forecast to recover slightly during the second half to 52-55 million for the full year.

The underlying net profit for the half declined to $251 million from $283 million. A steady interim dividend of 15 cents a share has been declared.

The group’s Queensland gas export project is 60 per cent completed, it said, with the capital cost estimated at $US18,5 billion.

‘’Operating cashflow will more than double’’ over the next three years, the group’s chief financial officer, Andrew Seaton, told analysts when discussing the results.

The company will consider either higher dividends or buy-backs once the PNG gas export project is commissioned.

The first gas for this project is to begin flowing in a matter of weeks, with commissioning due to commence during the final quarter of 2013, with the first gas to flow to customers from 2014.

Santos has a 13.5 per cent equity in this project, along with a 30 per cent share of one of the three Queensland export gas projects.The Queensland project is to be commissioned in 2015.

Santos also said the  slowing in resource sector spending has led to a hefty reduction in costs, averaging 15 per cent, and ranging as high as 30 per cent for some big ticket items.

It said it was seeing increased ‘‘competitive tension’’ between bidders, and it was also increasingly willing to dump long term suppliers ‘‘if they are not coming across on costs’’, the chief executive, David Knox said.

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Hardware store burglary charges

TWO men have been charged with burglary and theft after the Dahlsen’s store in Albert Street, Sebastopol was robbed early this morning.
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They were arrested by Ballarat police about 1.30am as they left the premises.

Both Ballarat men, aged 39 and 35, have been bailed to appear at Ballarat Magistrates Court at a later date.

Two men have been charged over a Sebastopol hardware store robbery this morning.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Flood watch for Mount Lofty Ranges and Lower South East

A flood watch for the weekendhas been issued on top of Fridays’s severe weather warning for South Australia.
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The Bureau of Meteorology predicted damaging winds up to 90 kilometres an hourto move across the State on Friday and by mid afternoon said the predicted rainfall will lead to stream rises in creeks and rivers of the Mount Lofty Ranges from Saturday.

The Flood Watch has beenissued for the Mount Lofty Ranges and Lower South East districts for Friday evening through to Monday night.

An SES spokesperson said there wasa risk of minor flooding in the Upper Torrens, Upper Onkaparinga and the Bremer catchments from Saturday through to Monday.

“There is also a risk of stream rises and localised flooding across the Lower South East district,” the spokesperson said.

“People living or working close to rivers or creeks should monitor the latest weather forecast and warnings and be prepared should flooding develop.”

On Friday the bureau advised ofa vigorous front expected tomove across the State during the day,reaching the eastern border area during the evening.

The warningadvised that people living in the Adelaide Metropolitan, Mount Lofty Ranges, Lower Eyre Peninsula, Eastern Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Flinders, Mid North, Riverland, Murraylands, Upper South East, Lower South East and parts of the West Coast, North West Pastoral and North East Pastoral districts may be affected.

Up-to-date warnings and further information on the expected weather can be found on thehttp://www.bom.gov.au/sa/warnings/.

This Flood Watch is a ‘heads up’ for possible future flooding and is NOT a Flood Warning.

During rising waters and wild weather the SES advises:

– Ensure loose items such as outdoor furniture, garden tools and children’s play equipment (such as trampolines and cubby houses) are put away or secured.

– Park vehicles undercover and away from trees.

– Stay indoors and away from windows and skylights when weather conditions are severe.

– Stay away from fallen powerlines (always assume fallen powerlines are live – they should be reported to SA Power Networks on 13 13 66).

– Never walk, ride or drive through floodwaters.

- Do not allow children to play near or in floodwater

– Shelter and secure pets and other animals, and check weather forecasts regularly and listen to local radio for updates.

A Flood Watch has been issued for parts of South Australia this weekend.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bulga battle far more complex

THE Warkworth Mine situation is far more complex then a group of villagers simply not wanting a mine next door.
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When the expansion was approved flaws in the environmental assessment were suspected, taken to court and proven to be flawed.

On these grounds the expansion was disapproved. The court determined it should never have been approved in the first place.

Now we have the virtually unheard of situation for a mining approval to be revoked.

Regardless of the outcome Rio Tinto Energy chief executive Harry Kenyon-Slaney has come out and said even if a successful outcome could be delivered through the legal system, it comes too late to save jobs.

What must be learned in this process is that assessment of every mining development must be meticulous.

The government must set clear rules.

If a mining development meets the rules it is approved. If it doesn’t it fails.

Before anyone gets too angry over the court result, think a little about the situation before starting to lay blame – those in Bulga village are far from the root cause of the situation.

Battle of Bulga

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Stawell Biarri Group appraisal day

STAWELL – Stawell Biarri Group for Genealogy will once againwelcome well known antique dealer and auctioneer Bruce Lowenthal to the StawellLibrary tomorrow to conduct an appraisal day.
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Bruce will be at the Stawell Library to conduct appraisalsbetween 10am and 4pm.

Members of the public are invited to attend the day and meetwith Bruce Lowenthal.

The public can take along any items they may believe to beof value, or that they have no idea if it is worth anything or not.

Obtain a written valuation and hear Bruce’s expertcommentary on all your treasured items.

Costs for valuation are $5 per item or three items for $10.Light refreshments will be available throughout the day.

Bruce Lowenthal, from Lowenthal Auctions in Port Fairy, hasbeen visiting Stawell to conduct appraisal days for many years.

A lot of people attend the day just to listen to Bruce’scommentary on items.

The antiques and collectables appraisal day is certain tocreate a great deal of interest.

Bruce Lowenthal will be back at the Stawell Library tomorrow providing appraisals on antiques and collectables.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.