Monthly Archives:April 2019

ADAMANT: Newcastle MP Tim Owen, at the Civic station, says the Wickham interchange will go ahead and will give the public a better transport system.EDITORIAL:Solvingthe rail challenge

Lake concerns over Newcastle renewal plan

THERE would be no going back on the decision to terminate the Newcastle line at Wickham, Newcastle MP Tim Owen said on Monday.

Mr Owen was responding to comments from the Save Our Rail group, which said it was horrified that Planning Minister Brad Hazzard wanted to see the plans and implementation of the Wickham interchange by the March2015 election.

‘‘The decision has been made on the public transport system that is going to support the urban renewal strategy for Newcastle,’’ Mr Owen said.

‘‘While we are very understanding that people do have some concerns, we can assure people that the public transport system we will put in will be better than what is currently available.’’

The co-ordination and delivery group, set up to oversee the implementation of the urban renewal strategy, held its first meeting last Friday.

The group discussed options for access corridors and landscaping along the existing rail corridor as well as options for the future development of the East End, the Civic Precinct and the West End.

‘‘One of the key things that was discussed was that this group is charged with reporting back to cabinet by the end of this year with a prioritised development [plan] for the city of Newcastle in line with the urban renewal strategy,’’ Mr Owen, who observed the meeting, said.

The Newcastle Herald reported yesterday that the Save Our Rail group had asked to meet NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell.

A spokesman for the Premier said the group had last requested a meeting on February21, which was declined.

‘‘We have had no further contact with them,’’ he said.

“Members of the community are invited to have their say on the urban renewal plan on the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s website until March17.”

Trio to represent community viewon panel

GENTLEMEN’S Outfitters owner David McElwaine, former Newcastle Herald general manager Julie Ainsworth and Maitland lawyer Alan Arnold are the three community members of an eight-member group chosen to implement the government’s decision to cut rail services at Wickham.

Hunter Development Corporation spokesman Luke Mellare said the ‘‘co-ordination and delivery group’’ had a budget of $5million to commission the reports and investigations needed to turn the government’s decision into a concrete plan by the end of the year.

Mr McElwaine was the Newcastle business representative, Ms Ainsworth the Newcastle community representative and Mr Arnold the Maitland community representative.

Mr Mellare said the group was chaired by Infrastructure NSW chief executive Paul Broad, who was also chairman of the development corporation.

The other members were Newcastle deputy lord mayor Brad Luke and the directors-general of two government agencies, Transport for NSW and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

Development corporation manager Bob Hawes, is an ‘‘ex-officio’’ group member.

HUNTER patients’ spending on prescription medications has increased more than 30 per cent in the past five years, government figures show.

Figures released from the federal Department of Health and Ageing show Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Hunter patient contributions went up from $35.91 million to $46.85 million between 2007 and 2012.

The figures, collated using Hunter postcodes, have some technical exclusions, meaning the actual dollar figures are likely to be higher.

It follows Newcastle Herald reports that pharmacies were making millions of dollars each year because of an 18-month lag between when the pharmaceutical industry disclosed price drops on medications and adjustments in PBS subsidies.

A Department of Health and Ageing spokesman said the price disclosure cycle was designed to allow the government to collect 12 months of sales information.

‘‘There is also a six-months analysis and processing period,’’ he said.

‘‘It is important to strike the balance between allowing new products to establish a market and ensuring taxpayers benefit from that discounting.’’

The spokesman also responded to criticisms of the maximum prices that consumers can pay, called co-payments.

Some health economists have suggested they have increased beyond inflation.

‘‘Since 2009, both the general and concessional co-payment and safety net thresholds have been indexed in accordance with the movement of the Consumer Price Index,’’ he said.

‘‘Many of the medicines subsidised by the PBS cost a great deal more than the co-payment amount.’’

In response to suggestions the PBS safety net thresholds were the same for singles and families, he said the arrangements were not designed to discriminate against single people ‘‘but instead to support those households that collectively need to spend a large amount on medicines each calendar year’’.

‘‘The government regularly reviews the threshold levels to make sure they are set appropriately,’’ he said.

UNSTOPPABLE: Aku Uate is congratulated on one of his three tries. Picture: Peter Stoop The Knights’ Chris Houston, James McManus, and Anthony Quinn just after McManus scored a try. Pictures: Max Mason-Hubers and Peter Stoop

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

Pictures: Peter Stoop and Max Mason-Hubers

NEWCASTLE coach Wayne Bennett expects some NRL rivals will be looking over their shoulders after the Knights trounced Wests Tigers 42-10 in a stunning season-opening display at Hunter Stadium on Monday night.

Winning their first home game of the season for the first time since 2009, the Knights scored seven tries to two to outclass the Tigers and displace Parramatta at the top of the table on points difference.

The Knights conceded the first and last tries last night but scored seven in between as they dominated possession and field position for long periods of both halves to keep the Tigers on a tight leash.

Led by Willie Mason and new signings Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith, the Knights pack outmuscled the Tigers up front, allowing playmakers Jarrod Mullen, Kurt Gidley and Darius Boyd to create multiple scoring chances on the edges.

Powerhouse right winger Aku Uate scored three tries and fellow outside backs James McManus and Dane Gagai bagged a brace each.

‘‘There will be some people looking over their shoulders, but we haven’t made a statement,’’ Bennett said.

‘‘I didn’t have any great expectation except that we play well, and we played well, so we got some rewards. Our ball control was really good, and they were on their game which was great.’’

Adam Blair’s converted try in the sixth minute gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead, then Tim Moltzen scored after the final siren but the Knights had clocked off by then. Newcastle recovered from their early lapse to lead 24-6 at half-time and that blew out to 40-6 after McManus scored his second try from Mullen’s cross-field bomb in the 55th minute.

Though he was not getting carried away, Bennett said the players were entitled to enjoy their first-up win before they start preparing for what should be a much tougher test against fellow first-round winners Manly at Brookvale Oval on Sunday night.

‘‘Let’s get ourselves sorted out here, get over our knocks and bumps and first game of the season and we’ll worry about Manly later in the week,’’ he said.

Mullen set up three tries and, after piloting his first kick out on the full, kicked astutely in general play to shade Boyd and Uate for man-of-the-match honours. He suffered a wrist injury trying to fend off Braith Anasta and Aaron Woods in the 64th minute and Bennett replaced him one minute later as a precaution.

‘‘I wanted to keep Tyrone [Roberts] out there for a while,’’ Bennett said.

‘‘It’s a long season in front of us and I was just trying to rotate guys around positions a little bit. The game was won.

‘‘We started to get a little bit scrappy towards the end there but that was OK.

‘‘We did so well for 70minutes, so I’m not going to waste time talking about the last 10.’’

Gidley, who played just five games last season due to a shoulder injury, said the performance was exactly what the Knights wanted to kick off their campaign after they suffered a 15-14 extra-time loss to the Dragons in the corresponding game last year.

‘‘I know how hard everyone works in the off-season, and 12 months ago we worked really hard and there were obviously expectations and it was a huge disappointment when you lose your first game,’’ Gidley said.

‘‘We worked extra hard this off-season and trained really good this week, so it would have been a huge letdown if we disappointed ourselves and our fans.

‘‘It was a good night, and it’s on to next week now.

‘‘We didn’t go away from our game plan. I suppose when you get off to a bad start, you can go a bit crazy and make error after error, but we stayed to our plan so that was good.

‘‘There’s a lot of experience in our pack now, and those guys were leading the way so it’s certainly good to play behind them.’’

The Tigers had endured an emotional build-up dealing with the suicide of promising young prop Mosese Fotuaika two weeks ago but coach Mick Potter made no excuses for their poor performance.

‘‘Those things happen, and how unlikely it is, it’s part of life. Things occur and you get on with it and you try to put it in the back of your head,’’ Potter said.

‘‘But there’s no excuses … I don’t think as a group that we performed to our best.

‘‘It was disappointing. In a lot of areas we could have done better, so the scoreline doesn’t read very well. I thought early, everything was going to plan but we slowly deteriorated and we came up with errors, we came up with some silly penalties and we conceded a lot of possession, and you just can’t do that against teams.

‘‘In saying that, we need to fix up some areas in defence as well. We can’t concede tries like we did.’’

● Defending premiers Wests Tigers scored two tries three minutes apart midway through the second half to overcome the Knights 22-12 in the NYC curtain-raiser.

HUNTER men are among the country’s fattest. They smoke more, drink more alcohol and suffer higher rates of some cancers, but men’s health programs in the region have all but disappeared.

Seven years ago there were 35 agencies in the Hunter targeting better health programs for men, but only a handful remain. Over the same period, scheduled events for Men’s Health Week have dwindled from about 10 to just one.

A lack of funding is among the key causes of the decline in services, but so too is the fact that many of the agencies who once focused on men’s health issues are now focusing in different areas.

The issue will top the agenda at a two-day seminar being held in Newcastle from Thursday. The first of its type held in Australia, the Engaging Men training seminar has been organised by the Men’s Health Forum NSW and will bring together key agencies to discuss how to better tackle declining health services in the Hunter region, and how those agencies might work more collaboratively.

It will target the general health of men, their relationships, young men, their community involvement, and specific areas such as sexual health, spirituality and mental health.

‘‘The Hunter has a long history of doing good things in the area of men’s health,’’ author, health educator and president of the Men’s Health Forum NSW Greg Millan said.

‘‘But since 2005 we’ve fallen into a bit of a hole. The focus has almost disappeared.

‘‘A lot of funding now goes to things like the Men’s Shed project, which is great, but we’re not seeing the big funds designated to specific health programs.

‘‘We need to get these agencies working together again or we’ll continue to see the health of men in the region deteriorate further below the state and national average.’’

Among the key experts attending the forum is Dr Elizabeth Celi, a leading national voice on men’s health issues, psychologist and author.

It will be staged at Crowne Plaza, Newcastle.

So close to the ultimate prize in 2012, Hawthorn look well-placed to contend again in 2013. The Hawks have added celebrated key backman Brian Lake and sturdy mature-aged utilities Matt Spangher and Jonathan Simpkin to their roster, addressing concerns about their defence and depth. The season-ending knee injury to playmaker Matthew Suckling is a major blow, but the Hawks have the quality of squad to cover for the loss of such an individual. The missing link may already be in their ranks – can inspirational captain Luke Hodge defy another year’s interrupted preparation to play a key role in 2013?


On paper, the addition of elite key defender Brian Lake is a godsend, releasing pressure from promising, but still developing, tall Ryan Schoenmakers and/or reliable stopper Ben Stratton, and allowing Josh Gibson to become an influential ‘third-up’ tall and creative rebounder. Suckling’s absence means Shaun Burgoyne may spend more time at half-back and wing than at the stoppages, where he was so influential late last year. Grant Birchall and Brent Guerra are solid gold locks as the other two small to medium options. The need for speed may dictate that Jonathan Simpkin, Taylor Duryea or Xavier Ellis assume ball-carrying duties at times. If all the talls are fit, the vexing choice could end up being between Stratton (189cm) and Schoenmakers (193cm), with the composition of the opposition attack dictating which young backman gets a game.

Smokey: The big surprise here could be that a well-performed young backman like Ben Stratton or Ryan Schoenmakers (who both played every game in 2012) could miss games if everyone stays fit. With so many experienced options struggling for a position, be wary of picking smokey defenders.


Stalwarts Brad Sewell, Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell pick themselves. Luke Hodge is a champion, but doubts remain over how much of the season his body can endure. Liam Shiels has established himself as a midfielder of consistent quality. Shaun Burgoyne reminded his club and the football world of his elite capabilities around the stoppages late last season, but he may be required elsewhere. Outside that, there could be opportunities for newcomers with skill and flair. Bradley Hill (five games in 2012) has the pace, ball-winning ability and current form to gain a starting role; ex-Cat Jonathan Simpkin has the body and attitude deserving of a prolonged trial at AFL level; and Isaac Smith (pace), Xavier Ellis (footy smarts) and Shane Savage (run and carry) are all worthy of places, giving the Hawks enviable midfield depth.

Smokey: Bradley Hill has been nurtured like a well-bred colt, given a taste of the big time last year before thriving on a full pre-season. His pace, evasive abilities and vision have been matched by renewed consistency of output in pre-season, earning him the right to a starting role in round one.


The forward line is another division where it is a case of “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”. Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead are the natural tall targets; Gunston the classic third ‘lead-up’ foil; Cyril ‘Sizzle’ Rioli the freakish evasive genius; and Luke Breust is the goalsneak (30 goals in 17 games in 2012). The remaining position will be contested by liverwire crumber Paul Puopolo, high-leaping defensive veteran Michael Osborne, versatile ex-Swan and Eagle Matt Spangher, and promising lightweight Shane Savage. With Brendan Whitecross sidelined by a knee injury and Osborne still recovering from his major knee injury of last season, there could easily be room in the 22 for all of Puopolo, Spangher and Savage in round one. Spangher’s versatility and height will keep him popular early, but he is yet to prove himself over the course of a full season. At 195cm, he will be a threat to Gunston as the third tall if the ex-Crow’s form falters.

Smokey: Matt Spangher has remarkable agility for a player of his height. He appears to have been pencilled in for a forward role early on, but the idea that he can also play back could ensure he keeps getting a game.


Guerra Lake GibsonBurgoyne Schoenmakers Birchall Lewis Mitchell Hodge*Rioli Franklin BreustPuopolo Roughead GunstonHale Sewell ShielsHill Smith Spangher Simpkin

On the fringes:

Ben Stratton, Shane Savage, Xavier Ellis, Max Bailey, Jed Anderson, Kyle Cheney, Michael Osborne, Taylor Duryea.

Stratton or Schoenmakers should not miss too many games, unless the Hawks have a blessed injury run; Savage and Ellis will be in competition with Hill, Simpkin, Smith and Spangher and should also get plenty of opportunities. Oft-injured Max Bailey has long been Hawthorn’s first ruckman of choice, but may have to fight his way past David Hale, who had such a fine 2012. Tenacious youngster Jed Anderson impressed in pre-season and could follow the Bradley Hill model, being blooded off the subsitute bench in perhaps a half a dozen matches. Osborne is an underrated competitor and would be thrust into the mix for a small forward’s role if and when he is fully fit, expected to be a month or so into the season.

Injured (in doubt for the start of the season):Luke HodgeBrendan Whitecross (knee, expected back late in the season)Alex Woodward (knee, season)Natthew Suckling (knee, season)Michael Osborne


Hawthorn’s stellar yet underrated half-back Grant Birchall is a fine defender, and an elite rebounder. His penetrating left foot can help orchestrate intricate manoeuvres deep in defence, or send searing 60-metre bombs deep into attack. Hard-running, a good spoiler in the air, brave and tough, versatile… Birchall is the ideal modern back flanker and at the peak of his powers.

Grant Birchall, 252012 Average: 88.42012 Games: 20SP: 8 C: 7 A: 9

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.