Monthly Archives: July 2018

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Murray Goulburn to shut plants, write off farmer loans

Murray Goulburn’s dairy plant closures in Victoria and Tasmania will achieve up to $50 million in annual savings from 2019RELATED COVERAGE:

Drastic action to fix MG’s `fundamentally unfair’ situationACCC launches legal charges against Murray GoulburnMurray Goulburn discloses losses, ASIC and ACCC investigationsMurray Goulburn staff to walk off job at RochesterMURRAY Goulburn Co-operative has announced it will close its manufacturing facility at Rochester as part of a dramatic plan to slash costs.

The Rochester facility will start its staged closure in August in anticipation of it being shut down by the third quarter of financial year 2018.

Facilities at Victoria’s Kiewa and Tasmania’s Edith Creek will also close, with about 360 employees to lose their jobs across the three sites.

The reaction► More than 100 people will lose their jobs at Rochester: “It’s not just the farmers, it’s the whole town,” Donna Sextonsaid.“We had heard talk for a long time. The hierarchy at Murray Goulburn didn’t value Rochester.”

► Koroit spared in MG’s closures:Murray Goulburn’s Koroit plant, the company’slargest milk processing plant,has escaped the axe in the company’s urgent reaction to falling milk supply and profits.

►Young families who will lose their income stream when Murray Goulburn closes its Rochester plant: Carmen Moon said her husband, Stacey, worked at the dairy processing plant for about five years and his income supported their four children. It was their only way of paying off their two mortgages since Ms Moon gave away work to raise the children.

►Tasmanian Deputy Premier calls Murray Goulburn “appalling corporate citizen”:Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff has described in Parliament the closure of the Murray Goulburn Edith Creek plant as “a real kick in the guts for the people of Circular Head”.


In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Murray Goulburn said: “These decisions are a continuation of efforts to address MG’s cost base, improve efficiencies and ultimately increase earnings and farmgate milk pricing.

“Once completed the closures are expected to deliver an annualised net financial benefit of $40 million to $50 million. MG anticipates a net financial benefit in FY18 from the closures of approximately $15 million.”

The decision comes as a result of Murray Goulburn’s asset and footprint review.

MG has announced conclusions of asset and footprint review. All documentation available on our website. Access here:

— Murray Goulburn (@DevondaleMG) May 1, 2017

Chief executive Ari Mervis said it was a difficult outcome to reach.

“At MG we are acutely aware of the impact that our decisions will have on our various stakeholders, including the communities in which we operate,’’ he said.

“We are committed to ensuring that we provide our affected employees with appropriate levels of support and the recognition that they deserve during this period of transition.’’

Mr Mervis said the company would would provide career transition and redeployment services to employees.

He said it would also work withfederal and relevant state governments to leverage existing programs.

“These have been difficult decisions to make, however they are necessary steps on the journey to ensure the future strength and competitiveness of Murray Goulburn,’’ he said.

“A strong MG is of fundamental importance to the Australian dairy industry and these decisions are necessary to lay the foundation for the future.”

On Friday the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it would take the milk processor to court, a year after Murray Goulburn slashed farm gate milk prices and forced farmers to pay backmoneythey had already received.

The fight to save Qld’s rare desert fish

A herculean effort is under way to save the world’s last population of a critically endangered fish found only in the middle of Queensland’s most arid country.

In thestate’s dry interior, 140 kilometres north-east of Longreach, lies Edgbaston Reserve, the last known home of one of Australia’s rarest fish, the red-finned blue-eye.

The reserve, sited on little more than 8000 hectares,is home to dozens of species of plants, animals and invertebrates found nowhere else in the world.

And the red-finned blue-eye lives in a spring found in a landscape shaded in brown hues and decorated with the pastel greens of saltbush, spinifex and gum trees.

Freshwater ecologist Rob Wager looks over the last known natural population of red-finned blue-eye in the world. Photo: Drew Creighton

It may appear desolate yet theextreme landscape bristles with life -an iconic Australian collection of flora and fauna.

The focus of a major conservation push is thesmall desert-dwelling fish, which can survivein artesian springs intwo centimetres of water.

Conservation is a hard fight and one not often won. When Fairfax Media reported on the wild populations of the red-finned blue-eye five years ago, three populations remained.

Now there is one left.

But it is not all bad news.

Scientists working to preserve the species are well on their way to developing 10 artificial populations in a decade-long plan to ensure that if the worst happens, the fish will survive.

The endangered red-finned blue-eye Photo: Adam Kerezsy

In a world first, the artesian springs have beenreplicated.

Using a bore water pipe to connect an artificial dam to the Great Artesian Basin, scientists led by Bush Heritage’s freshwater ecologist Rob Wagerhave recreated these micro ecosystems.

“It’s not captive breeding, the idea is to recreate all the critical elements of the environment they require,” Mr Wager said.

The red-finned blue-eye is thought to be a remnant of a time when the interior of Queensland was a massive inland sea.

Across the millennia, it is believed the evolutionary path taken by the fish enabled it to adapt to a shallow life, losing size in fins used for moving up and down.

The fish grows up to three centimetres and as a young fish its eyes are blue with a vibrant yellow body.As the fish matures the fins blush with red.

“The genus isScaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis;it means red-finned fish from springs, but the ‘scat’ part at the front, well, some unkind people have suggested it means ‘fish that swims in shit’,” Mr Wager said.

“It was certainly like that in the ’90s when the springs were impacted by stock and ferals. But we’ve come a long way since then.”

Now, with the incursion from stock and feral animals under control, every other survival hurdle pales in comparison to the threat posed by a predatory fish that grows no larger than six centimetres.

A world-first replica artesian spring is planted with a “pioneer species” of plant to help create an ecosystem for the red-finned blue-eye. Photo: Drew Creighton

The predator goes by the common names of gambusia or mosquito fish. It comes from the springs of North America and was introduced into Australia to manage mosquito populations.

In Darwinian terms, the gambusia is the fittest. It can live outside spring systems, unlike the red-finned blue-eye.

It also breeds quicker than the blue-eye, gives birth to live young and the young are aggressive.

“When we discovered blue-eyes, there were seven or eight springs that the fish lived in. Those springs form the basis for our counting of wild populations,” Mr Wager said.

“They got there by themselves, however they did it and we’re counting down, we can’t count any lower.

“At that time they may have been wild populations, but they were already invaded by gambusia, so it was just a matter of time.

“Essentially once gambusia move into a spring, the blue-eyes’ days are numbered.”

In 2016 the last natural population faced its biggest threat when heavy rain collapsed a part of an earthen wall used to protect the spring from incursion by gambusia.

Preservation of the reserveEdgbaston Reserve is a picturesque former sheep station bought by the environment charity Bush Heritage for the purpose of protecting the springs and the red-finned blue-eye.

On 8100 arid hectares, 15 plants and more than 20 species of wildlife have been discovered.

The 2016-2017 summer was so oppressive, the scientific team said it was cause for celebration when the temperature dropped below 40 degrees at midnight.

What used to be a shearing shed now functions as the base for scientists including Rob Wager, the man tasked with, among other conservation projects, reversing the imminent destruction of the red-finned blue-eye.

“If Bush Heritage didn’t buy this place, the blue-eye would be extinct, full stop,” Mr Wager said.

Also on the reserve is David Coulton.Aholdover from the previous tenants, he started his career on Edgbaston as a sheep shearer and is now tasked with upkeep on the reserve.

When the station transitioned to a reserve he was in charge of pulling down much of the agricultural operation, including sheep and cattle yards.

The red-finned blue-eye in a spring that has been destocked of invasive species and re-modified from and livestock drinking point. Photo: Drew Creighton

The reserve welcomes a range of different professions to the premises each year.

One of these people was Shannon Murphy, an artist who came to the reserve with a passion for communicating science through art.

On any given day, she can be found collecting samples of stone and clay to make pigments for painting or specimens of plants and animals to draw with the help of a microscope.

University of Queensland PhD candidate Renee Rossini studies the “small things”, invertebrates such as the myriad snails in the springs.

Her focus at the reserve for her PhD was the ecology of macro-invertebrates in the Great Artesian Basin, “anything from one centimetre and down”.

Volunteers are a key component of the preservation of the reserve as they are in much of Bush Heritage’s more than nine million hectares of protected land.

Tom Sjolund is one of those volunteers. An expert in video surveillance, Tom tinkers with old phone cameras, solar panels and lines of code to create necessary tools the reserve wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

His latest creation is a solar-powered, underwater motion detection camera.

Watch and wait This spring holds the last known population of red-finned blue-eye. Photo: Drew Creighton

A flood breach in the outer wall of the spring where the last natural population of red-finned blue-eyes live could have been disastrous for the fish.

The invasive gambusia fish are excellent at travelling via floodwaters and have been observed in drying pools outside the protective fencing, centimetres from populations of blue-eyes.

It is possible flooding in 2016 may have carried gambusia into the spring.

The spring, full of endemic species, much of them threatened, will be under close surveillance to make sure the worst has not happened.

Tom Sjolund’s underwater camera was developed for this purpose as well as for monitoring the general behaviour of life in the spring.

No two springs are the same, each a microcosm of life with many plants and invertebrates different to those in springs only kilometres away, so genetic diversity can be a worry.

On top of that, the fencing around protected populations has also given rise to fears of inbreeding, as populations cannot move freely when the landscape floods.

Rob Wager and Tom Sjolund set up a remotely operated camera to observe the last natural population of red-finned-blue-eye. Photo: Drew Creighton

He has hopes that one day they may find the “golden egg”to remove the threat that is gambusia.

“I think about it all the time, it can be all-encompassing. You wake up in the middle of the night with a mad idea to create a robot with laser eyes that can kill gambusia,” Mr Wager said.

Less wild but still a long shot is a greenish-brown blob found in abundance in the last natural population’s springs.

The blob is a newly described type of cyanobacteria, which contains cyanotoxins that may affect certain fish including the gambusia.

“There are 100 reasons why it can’t be possible. We rely on partners to be able to test these things.

“This spring is right in the centre of gambusia territory and this cyanobacteria is only in abundance in this spring.”

Freshwater ecologist Rob Wager looks over the last known natural population of red-finned blue-eye in the world. Photo: Drew Creighton

Rob’s passion for fish started early, his mother’s manual for keeping fish his earliest introduction.

He first visited Edgbaston Reserve as an officer for the DPI in the 1990s to examine the fish and list it as endangered.

The fish is now listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list as critically endangered and made the list of the top 100 most endangered species.

As to why Rob chose the red-finned blue-eye as the focus of his work and why it was important, his answer was a little more ambiguous.

“This fish is amazing, it’s in the middle of the desert, in an absolutely unique environment, there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world,” Mr Wager said.

“They are a part of the ecosystem and I would hate to think of a time when gambusia replace them.

“It’s the epitome of a tough Aussie battler and it’s hanging on, it’s worth giving it a go.”

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

Land for 10 bucks!

LAND: Richmond Shire Council Mayor, John Wharton, hopes the $10 land ballot will attract new residents to the area. Photo: Samantha Walton.A small town in north-west Queensland is selling 800 sqm blocks for $10 apiece.

With 10 blocks up for grabs in Richmond, available land will be designated through a ballot.

In 2013, Richmond Shire Council applied to access crown land from the state government, in a hopeto attract new residents to the town.

“Richmond is situated on the mighty Flinders River, where there is water and good soil. Farmers are on their way and we are continually receiving interest in property around the area,” Mayor John Wharton said.

“The ballot opens up another area of town, it allows people to move to Richmond at a minimum cost and opensthe market for potential young home owners.

“The average block in Richmond is about 2000 sqm, so the blocks are a little small for land in this country, but we will probably combine two blocks together.

“Council will provide power and water to the blocks, includingsealed road access.”

Although it only cost $10 to apply in the ballot, there is still certain criteria that needs to be met to enter.

The ballot entrant must be an Australian citizen, be an individual (no corporate), have pre-approvedfinance of $200,000 and build a two bedroom homewithin two years.

This is not the first time Richmond Shire Council has conducted a ballot, selling dollar blocks in 2013.

“Previouslywe had 3000 people apply and32 went into the ballot as some didn’t meet the criteria,” Cr Wharton said.

“Last time we opened 10 blocks. There are now fourhouses, sheds and a bus on those blocks, in which those owners are paying rates.”

Natural Resources and Mines Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham said the land transfer was the first step in an innovative strategy to encourage more new residents.

“Following a decline in real estate activity in recent years, Richmond Shire Council saw an opportunity to use the land in a $10 ballot to combat their declining population,” Dr Lynham said.

“The most appropriate use of these state-owned land parcels is residential, so this is a practical way of helping to support one of our regional communities.”

Entries will close around July with the ballot being announced in the new year.

North Queensland Register

Dramatic change to HECS to affect 200,000 graduates

File photo: iStockUniversity graduates will be forced to pay back their HECS debts when they start earning just $42,000 a year and student fees will rise by 8 per cent under the Turnbull government’s higher education changes.

The package presents a more measured approachthan the Abbott government’sdisastrous 2014 budget – which proposed the full deregulation of university fees and a 20 per cent funding cut – but still carries political risk for the Coalition and will be difficult to get through the Senate.

The lowering of the HECS repayment threshold – down from the current $55,874 – is more dramatic than expected and will see almost 200,000 extra graduates dragged into the repayment system. The threshold was previously legislated to fall to $52,000 in coming years.

Universities will also be hit with funding cuts through a 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend in the package, designed to save the budget $2.8 billion in total over the next four years.

The changes, unveiled by Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Monday night, will also for the first time link university funding to success in completion rates, student satisfaction and employment outcomes.

Describing the package as “fundamentally fair”, Senator Birmingham said the changes would more evenly distribute the costs of education between students, taxpayers and universities.

If the package is legislated, a series of staggered fee increases will start from next year that will see the cost of a degree increase by 7.5 per cent by 2021.

Fees would increase by a maximum of $3600 for a four-year course, with students paying 46 per cent of the cost of their degree on average – up from 42 per cent currently.

The cost of four-year teaching and nursing degrees would rise by $1250 to $27,800 while the cost of a six-year law degree would rise by $3900 to $71,900.

This shows Labor’s warnings of “$100,000 degrees” under the government’s policies were scaremongering, Senator Birmingham said.

The lowering of the HECS repayment threshold – which applies to all student loans, including for vocational courses – will see low-income earners begin repaying their debts far earlier in their careers.

But repayment rates will be changed so students only start paying back 1 per cent of their income when they earn $42,000 with repayment rates rising in line with income.

Graduates will start paying back 7 per cent of their income when they hit a salary of $84,513 rather than $91,426 currently.

In a speech to university and business leaders on Monday night, Senator Birmingham said the new repayment threshold was 20 per cent above the minimum wage.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham says the new university reform package deserves to pass the Parliament. Photo: Louise Kennerley

“This proposal is fair, measured and modest,” he said.

“At a repayment rate of just 1 per cent an employee will pay back just $8 per week of the student loan that funded the university degree.”

Change was needed because outstanding student loans have tripled since 2009 and now stand at over $52 billion, he said.

The government will also make 7.5 per cent of university course funding contingent on performance.

This will first relate to being more transparent about admissions requirements before being extended in 2019 to new metrics such as course completions and graduate outcomes.

As revealed byFairfax Media on Monday, funding for dentistry and veterinary science degrees will be increased through new loadings.

Contrary to speculation the Higher Education Partnership and Participation Program – designed to help disadvantaged students succeed at university – would be axed, the government will instead embed it into legislation.

Permanent residents and New Zealand citizens will no longer receive subsidies to study at university and will have to pay full fees. But they will now be able to defer their fees through student loans.

New scholarships for postgraduate courses will be introduced and $15 million allocated to the establishment of new regional study hubs.

Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said raising student fees and cutting university funding showed the government was “out of touch”.

The Gillard government announced a 3.25 per cent efficiency dividend on universities in the 2013 budget to help pay for its Gonski schools package.

National Union of Students president Sophie Johnston said: “Students can’t understand why this government continues to force students to pay for their budget … what we are seeing is a reverse Robin Hood – taking from the poor to support the rich.”


Newcastle edges towards international flights

WELL-PLACED: The board and chief executive of Newcastle Airport are in advanced talks with airlines about bringing international services to Newcastle. Work has begun to fit out the airport’s customs and immigration offices.WORK has begun to fit out customs and immigration offices atNewcastle Airport, aninvestmentthe NSW government says willbringHunter passengersnearerto overseas flight services.

The upgrade to ready theairport for international flights is worth $1.9 million, andfulfils a stategovernmentcommitment, revealed by the Newcastle Herald in 2015,to contribute $850,000.

The terminal will be fitout in line with the modern expectations of border agencies, with security technology, IT upgrades,passenger screening equipment and furniture for agency staff.

After opening a$14.5 million terminaltwo years ago, the airport’s board is well-placed to court airlines that flyintoAsia and the Pacific, chief executive Peter Cock said.

“Our discussions with the airlines to start direct international services to and from Newcastle Airport in the past two years have been hampered by the fact that our terminal infrastructure simply wasn’t ready to accept international flights,” Dr Cock said.

“While completing this project doesn’t guarantee international flights will start from Newcastle Airport in the near future, it does mean that from an infrastructure perspective we have done everything we need to do to prepare our terminal for international flights.”

While no airlineshavecommitted tointernational flights into or out of Newcastle, the airport’s boss wants a serviceto the “hub” of Auckland, as well asThailand and other parts of South-East Asia.

“When this project is finished we will be one step closer to being ready for international flights,” he said.

“In the meantime we will continue to lobby the airlines to provide the air services our region deserves.”

For now,airlines remain coy about Newcastle.

“VirginAustraliacontinually reviews its network but we have no plans to introduce international flights from Newcastle at this time,” a Virgin spokeswoman said.

AirNew Zealand told the Herald, “we have no plans to fly to Newcastle at this time,” while requests forcomment from Fiji Airways and Jetstar were unsuccessful.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said fundingfor the terminal upgrades –shared withNewcastle and Port Stephens councils –would deliver security, passport and “border force equipment” for direct international flights.

Mr Constance said the airport’s wider redevelopment would bring as many as 180 jobs during the construction and 375 after that, numbers Port Stephens state Labor MP Kate Washington labelled“gilding the lily”.

Cardiff construction firm Kingston Building will carry out the works.

Newcastle Herald

Royal family releases new photo as Princess Charlotte turns two

Princess Charlotte appears to be thrilled at the prospect of her impending second birthday in this new photo taken by her mother, the Duchess of Cambridge. Photo: HRH The Duchess of Cambridge via Getty ImagesMario Testino and co better watch their backs – the Duchess of Cambridge has once again moonlighted as theofficial royal photographer and captured a new image of Princess Charlotte to markhersecond birthday.

The artist formerly known as Kate Middleton photographed her daughter in April at their country compound in Norfolk.

Prince George plays with his father, Prince William, in a 2015 photograph released to mark his second birthday. Photo: Getty Images

The image was released by the palace on Monday evening ahead of Charlotte’s second birthday on May 2.

“Their Royal Highnesses would like to thank everyone for all of the lovely messages they have received, and hope that everyone enjoys this photograph of Princess Charlotte as much as they do,” a spokesperson said.

The photo shows the toddler wearing a lemon cardigan and white collar shirt standing in a hayshed.

Princes Chrlotte poses for a photo in May last year.

Her love of bubbles, or “pops” as she reportedly calls them,has been well documented over the past two years,however, it appears sheep may be her new favourite thing, as suggested bytheblue lambs embroideredall over her sweater.

Else sheperhaps took the opportunity to show hersupportfor the wool industry, something hergrandfather Prince Charles, is anadvocate of.

Charlotte appears to have inherited her mother’s glossy hair genes, withhersun-kissed, brunette, shoulder-lengthlocks neatly brushed and pinned to the side in the photograph.

Unlike her brother, who hammed it up for his close up at the same age, Charlotte appears more reserved in front of the camera. She instead hasadoptedsomething resemblinga stiff upper lip -the Windsor’s default facial expression.ForPrince George’ssecond birthday image, (also captured by the Duchess)heleaped from William’s arms with adazzling grin.

It is understood the Duke and Duchess will host abirthday party for Charlotte at Anmer Hallahead of her turn as a flowergirl for her aunt Pippa Middleton’s wedding on May 20.

Charlotte has not made many public appearances -her first official job was during the royal tour of Canada late last year.

She was last seen with her parents at Christmas time as they made their way to church near the home of her grandparents Michael and Carole Middleton in the Berkshire village of Bucklebury. It is understood she will begin nursery school later this year.

Her parents have spoken of her numerous times, withWilliam confirming to BBC Radio 2she enjoys watchingPeppa Pigwhile Catherine has reportedly said the fourth in line to the throne was born to rule.

According toPeople, the mother-of-two told Samantha Burge, wife of Warrant Officer Class 2 Chris Burge,the princessis the boss of the household she shares with fatherPrince William, and four-year-old brother Prince George.

“She said that Charlotte is growing up really fast. She is the one in charge,” Burge said.

Hunter BreakfastMay 2

Picture: @jjamesbooth/InstagramWeather: Partly cloudy in Newcastle, Nelson Bay (both 24 degrees),Raymond Terrace, Toronto andWallsend (25 degrees).

Traffic: A diesel spill near Sparks Road on the M1 is affecting southbound traffic. The nearby service centre is closed to oversized vehicles as a result.

Trains: The 6.42am Gosford to Hamilton service was cancelled due to mechanical repairs. The next service is the 7.12am Gosford to Hamilton.Passengers should allow additional travel time, listen to announcements and check indicator boards.

Beachwatch: Cool morning with a chance of some more fog,so light offshore.Surfs small with calm conditions along the coast.The shorebreaks on the low tide will be the best chance of a wave before the incoming tide fills most beaches.Swells from the SSE at 0.5 to 1m.Winds light N/W before swinging S/W to South during the afternoon.Locally try Nobbys,Alley,Cliff and Merewether.Towards high,Cowrie and Bar Reef.Stockton and Birubi to the north.Redhead,Hams and Catho to the south.It’s still good in for a swim with clean water and warm current.Nobbys,Bar Beach and Merewether are patrolled.Water temp 20C.

Hunter headlinesTHE Hunter’s rail manufacturing industryhas “disappeared without a whimper”, and needs a government to develop the political will to “bring it back from the dead”. Read more.

It was only fitting that on Wild Koala Day, Port Stephens Koalas had an “extremely wild” creature in care. Read more.

IN February, an “unforeseen rain event” ruined a section of freshly resurfaced road on Freemans Drive.Now the weather is too cold to repair it. Read more.

WORK has begun to fit out customs and immigration offices atNewcastle Airport, aninvestmentthe NSW government says willbringHunter passengersnearerto overseas flight services. Read more.

Cruise operators expect humpback whales willbegin making an appearance in Port Stephens ‘any day now’. Read more.

HEALTH Minister Brad Hazzard says the state government is “happily looking at” a proposal to relocate the plannednew Lower Hunter hospital to Kurri Kurri. Read more.

A MAN accused of driving at police and leading officers on a pursuit before crashing into a police car at Cameron Park on Sunday night has been refused bail in Toronto Local Court. Read more.

THE region’s most vulnerable young patients will now receive life-saving treatment at the John Hunter Children’s Hospital’s newPaediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Read more.

THE state government has ordered a review of clinical care needs at a Stockton disability group home after the death of one resident and the hospitalisation of another. Read more.

University graduates will be forced to pay back their HECS debts when they start earning just $42,000 a year and student fees will rise by 8 per cent under the Turnbull government’s higher education changes. Read more.

IT was the sound that really gave Newcastle the “ships” – the blast of a hornon repeat every 30 seconds. Here’s why.Read more.

Slimmed down forward Pauli Pauli, with a handful of reserve grade games under his belt,was one of five bolters named in the City side to take on Country in Mudgee on Sunday. Read more.

JUST six weeks after having his first golf lessons, six-year-old Harry Preece earned the chance to represent Australia in two US tournaments. Read more.

DON’T tell Nathan Ross that City-Country is meaningless. Read more.

Regional newsVIC:Daisy Roffe-Silvester and Lillian Tai are milk sisters. Also known as a milk-kinship, milk siblings are not related by blood but were nursed by the same mother….read on.

QLD:Two Australian saltwater crocodiles have successfully been exported to an aquarium and underwater zoo in Turkey. Rob, a five-metre long male crocodile, and Mrs Rob, a three-metre long female, had been caught in the wild as rogue crocodiles.

Emily Roffe-Silvester with Daisy, 11 months, Miranda Fullerton with Inara, 18 months, and Sandy Tai with Lillian, 18 months. Picture: Kate Healy.

VIC:Single parents on welfare have little to no chance of finding an affordable rental home in Bendigo,new data has revealed. Anglicare Victoria’s rental affordability snapshot showed just two per cent of rentals in regional Victoria were within range fora single person receiving parenting payments.

A pair of 50-year-old Aussie crocs have taken a ride on a big jet plane.

NSW:Police have recovered one of two luxury cars that were stolen from a Helensburgh home while the owners were sleeping. On Thursday police pulled overa white BMWin south-western Sydney, after vehicle checks drew it to their attention….the Audi is still missing.

There was not one property in the region a single parent on a Newstart allowance could afford, the survey found.

National news►Port Macquarie paramedic Scott Duffy says five years ago he didn’t know about ice but now he attends about one incident a week…read on.

Stolen – a white BMW and a black Audi

►A man has used a knife to threatenan employee at a bottle shop before he stole cash and ran from the store. Tasmania Police attended the report of an armed hold-up at a Claremont bottle shop about 8pm on Monday…the attendant was not harmed but was distressed by the incident.

►Australia’s greatest basketballerhas described the “nightmare”of weaning herself off the painkillers and sleeping pills she depended on during her career. Shetold the ABC’sFour Cornersprogram she turned to the medications to meet her contractual obligations in the world’s best basketball leagues.

Paramedic Scott Duffy has been in his role for 19 years and said paramedics at most at risk of being assaulted when attending ice related incidences.

National weather radar: Australian basketball legend, Lauren Jackson. Photo: Getty Images

FACES OF AUSTRALIAIt was a nervous but excited Isaiah Firebrace who took his first steps on the Eurovision stage in Kyiv this week as he preparesto sing for Australia at the prestigious song contest.

Pundits got their first glimpse of the Echuca-Moama teen’s performance on Monday, Australian time, one that will see him sing from atop a rotating turntable.

International media quizzed the 17-year-old on everything from his time onThe X Factorto his stint supporting former Eurovision performer Jessica Mauboy.

He was quick to endear himself to local journalistsby speaking in Ukrainian and saying he would like to visit a Kyiv school…story and video here.

Echuca-Moama teen Isaiah Firebrace.

Dungog votes “No” to a merger

Cr Nancy Knudsen speaking at the council meeting.Dungog Shire Councillors have narrowly voted against a motion to merge with Port Stephens Council.

Instead, a council delegationof the General Manager, Mayor and Deputy Mayor will seek more information on the proposed Port Stephens merger, investigate Maitland Council’s views on a potential merger, approach the Boundaries Commission about potentially splitting the shire andnegotiate with the State Government on Dungogretaining its independence.

The council also voted toconduct a poll at the next council electiontogauge the opinion of residents on the issues.

There was standing room only in theDoug Walters Pavillion last night as the council considered its future during a two hour Extraordinary Meeting.

Close to 200 people attendedwith 160 people inside the room and many more spilling onto the verandah of the hall.

Before the councillors debated the issue, community members addressed the meeting for five minutes each raising points for and against the merger.

The lack of a PA system to hear the speakers and cramped conditions created tension among some audience members.

Nigel Waters from the Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association and Ryan Palmer, President of the Port Stephens Business Chamber, both spoke against the merger proposal with Port Stephens.

Mr Waters said he believed the issue should go to a plebiscite.

“Let the people speak on it,” he said.

“I wouldn’t wish our council on our worst enemies let alone our friends in Dungog.

Dungog resident Sally Corbett spoke on rates, infrastructure and solutions and said there had been a“constant barrage of misinformation”on the issue.

JanetHayes from Dungog Clarence Town branch of the Country Women’s Association said her branch had voted to support the merger.

She acknowledged the“tough position” of the councillors but asked them to“step up and be a little bit brave” and support themerger.

Cr Glenn Wall moved the recommendation from the Council’s General Manager,Craig Deasey, that the council agree to the voluntary merger proposed by Port Stephens Council in March–subject to government financial support for the new entity.

The audience erupted into applause when he told the meeting “if we don’t do it tonight, it will never happen”.

But his motion, seconded by Cr Stephen Farrow, was defeated 4-5.

This sparked a walk out by a large number of the audience, clearly disgruntled by the decision.

Mayor Harold Johnston, CrStephenFarrow and Cr Tracy Norman supported the motion.

Cr Nancy Knudsen who had earlier foreshadowed an amendment then moved a six point motionwhich was passed 6-3.

Voting in favour of the motion were CrKnudsen, Cr Linda Bowden, Cr Tony McKenzie, Cr Robert Booth, Cr Tracy Norman and Cr Neville Bale.

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

Violent Soho proves their place

Viceroy by Violent SohoIt doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if the rest of the world appreciates Violent Soho. Australia does, and that’s enough. That’s the point.

It’s a cold, starry night on a paddock on the edge of farmland suburbia and this Brisbane foursome has been chosen to close the night on the main stage.

The rules are tame, probably due to the youthful crowd: lights out by 10pm, no encore. But still, in 45 minutes you can get more than a taste of what makes this band so appealing.

They carry the swagger of rebellious rock ‘n’ roll with all the class afforded to the mission. “Motherf –––in’” spews loudly from the mouth oflead singer of Luke Boerdam within seconds of his arrival. And “f ––-” features all night. Why? Why not.

After more than a decade of toil together, they are tight on stage. Their songs of remorse, meaningless love, lost lives, the detritus of wasted living are delivered with scorching power. They ignite fearful energy. Full of testosterone, the angst of youth.

Anthems of anger, shouted out in full voice, twirling heads of hair rolling round and round.

They’ve got great songs in spades: Viceroy, Like Soda, Dope Calypso, Saramona Said,Covered in Chrome.

You don’t get five songs on the JJJ Top 100 unless someone is listening.

There are so many ways to describe life. As they say in Like Soda:I don’t mind.I don’t care.I’ll just say whatever.We don’t mind.We don’t care.We’ll be here forever.

Its’ a cry, not necessarily for help, just for what it is, like a graffiti line on a surf club wall.

Here we are, bustin’ to grow up, spinning our minds, trying to figure life out.

Welcome to the club.

Turkish delight as crocs take flight

Two Australian saltwater crocodiles have successfully been exported to an aquarium and underwater zoo in Turkey.

Federal Department of Agriculture staff worked hard to meet the importing country’s requirements.

Rob, a five-metre long male crocodile, and Mrs Rob, a three-metre long female croc, made the journey.

These two had been caught in the wild as rogue crocodiles, before calling the Koorana Crocodile Farm in Rockhampton home for decades.

The crocs departed Brisbane last month, transited Singapore and arrived in Turkey, before passing Turkey’s biosecurity requirements.

The department’s head of veterinary services delivery, Dennis Way, said a great deal of work went into facilitating this rare export, including certifying the reptiles’ health and welfare and negotiating export terms with Turkish counterparts.

“Exporting eight metres’ worth of crocodiles is no mean feat, but our team snapped to it and made it happen,” Mr Way said.

“This export involved placing the two sedated salties in a bespoke crate each complete with climate control and safety measures, before they were trucked from Rockhampton to Brisbane Airport.

“They then boarded a flight to Singapore, accompanied by the Turkish zoo’s curator and a zoo animal transport agent to monitor their welfare and health.

“In Turkey they again underwent a veterinary examination to ensure they met Turkey’s biosecurity requirements.

CROCS SHIPPED: A pair of 50-year-old Aussie crocs have taken a ride on a big jet plane.

“Our staff worked with their Turkish counterparts to ensure they were satisfied the crocs met their importing requirements, underlining the reciprocal nature of biosecurity.

“Rob and Mrs Rob will now be exhibited as a pair at a soon–to–be–opened Underwater Zoo.

“This state of the art zoo is part of the new Boulevardi mall—the largest in Istanbul which was inspired by the Dubai Mall.”

Katherine Times