Short Takes

GREG Hunt, well said (Letters, 1/5). I am a non-Knights supporter myself but my son is passionate about his Knights. I took the family to Wests at Mayfield for lunch on Sunday and as we were walking in the Knights players were getting off the bus and they were all laughing joking and mucking around as though they were undefeated this season. My son turned to me and said ‘why are they so happy when they have only won one game’. So you are right, it’s not a good look. Players need to take ownership of the way they are playing.

Colin Geatches, MayfieldWHY are supermarket employees always eager to serve people who want cigarettes but don’t seem to care if grocery shoppers are lined 10 deep at the checkout? I suppose smoker’s time is more valuable seeing they won’t have that extra 20 to 30 years to spare.

Steve Barnett,Fingal BayIN response to Graham Boyd (Short Takes, 2/5), I suggest he contact the person who, I believe, bought the Williamtown school from the NSW government at auction for $425,000 in 2012.

Stephen Kuehn,WilliamtownIF the housing affordability crisis was purely a supply and demand issue Imight believe Mr Fletcher from the Property Council. The environmental, social and tax-related constraints are real issues and cannot be brushed aside with rhetoric. The ‘market’ for property is not so much a balance of supply and demand; it is more of an imaginary tool used to shape opinion in the media.

Scott Cooper-Johnston,NewcastleBEFORE the government look at increasing university fees, how about showing how much is spent on public servants and advisers in Parliament House? Pollies need to clean up their own house first.

Barry Spaulding, CardiffACCORDING to the pamphlet I received from Newcastle council, it doesn’t matter when you paid your home insurance policy up to and including June 30, you will still have to pay the fire and emergency levy with your rates from July 1. So, effectively I paid the whole levy at the end April for three months’ coverage and people who are unfortunate enough to have their insurance due in late June are paying it for virtually nothing. I don’t understand the explanation in the council pamphlet about it being calculated by financial year. It would appear to imply that any levy paid has a backdated component to the start of the financial year in which the policy was taken out, which implies a cost prior to the property actually being insured. What it does mean is that those of us who have responsibly insured our properties will have to find extra money for our next rates bill.

Ann Ellis, MerewetherTO Keith Parsons (Short Takes, 3/5):All you have to do is keep your front door closed and the V8 Supercars won’t go through your home, simple.

Ken Stead, LambtonTHE POLLSWHERE should the Lower Hunter hospital be built?

Metford 39.8%,Kurri Kurri 60.2%

Short Takes

I THANK Stephen Kuehn for advising me that Gladys sold the former Williamtown school site to a developer (Short Takes, 4/5). Therefore Macca has the details of the current ownership in council records. Perhaps he could approach the developer with the request to demolish the derelict buildings which surely do not figure in any redevelopment proposal? Such action would benefit both Port Stephens and the wider Hunter in welcoming air travellers to our region.

Graham Boyd, The JunctionFURTHER to my letter and the one by John Alterator (Letters, 5/5). Ratepayers are probably not aware that the new fire and emergency levy is no longer a fixed amount but calculated on the value of your property. So if you have lived for nearly 50 years in a suburb that is now highly desirable, it’s going to cost you a lot more than what you were paying on your insurance policy. Surely the new fee should be a fixed amount for everyone. After all we are all going to get the same level of response.

Ann Ellis,MerewetherJARROD Mullen’s penalty is too harsh (‘All over’, Herald,4/5). Players convicted of drug dealing and assaults are still allowed to play the game. Jarrod was my favourite player and my heart is no longer with the Knights.

Gerard Mullit,Hamilton SouthSEEING on the news Lucy step down from the plane in the US with Malcolm and our Governor-General’s wife sitting beside him at Anzac Cove makes me wish I had married someone important.

ElaineRichards, Salt AshCOMPENSATION should be given to the East Enders for the inconvenience, like houses around Wickham transport interchange received for overtime noise. It’s only fair and then all of Newcastle could look forward to the Supercars.

Trixee Davidson,Kotara I AM not a Knights fan. But I will be the first to raise a glass if Nathan Ross earns a blue guernsey. He deserves one good luck.

Steve Barnett,Fingal BayTO Steve Barnett (Short Takes, 4/5): I think your commentsof the tobacco counter being a priority is a smoke and mirrors observation. The large multi-national supermarkets (to increase profits) now have a stranglehold on our everyday shopping needs and have reduced their checkout staff significantly over the years. Unfortunately due to technology and a monopoly the checkout attendant along with the tobacco users are a dying breed.

Brad Hill,SingletonTHE POLLSARE Hunter councils spending enough on infrastructure?

Yes 4%,No 79%,Some are, some aren’t 17%MESSAGEBOARDTHE Hunter Prostate Cancer Support Group is meeting again on Tuesday, May 9, at 2pm.The meetings are completely free and are held on the second Tuesday of each month at the Maryland multi-purpose centre, 207 Maryland Drive, Maryland. For information or [email protected]南京夜网.

Anxiety is all we’re achieving with exams

UNDER PRESSURE: The Australian education system’s reliance on exams as a measure of academic achievement has been blamed for causing anxiety among students.WHAT is wrong with our education system, when we continually place our students under such enormous pressure and stress?

Term tests, half-yearly tests, yearly tests and now NAPLAN tests.

Some pupils can cope at exam time, but many can’t and are totally stressed out by even the thought of having to sit for an exam.

Because of this, I don’t believe that exams as they are now provide a true indicator of a pupil’s ability.

I understand the Danish, for example, don’t believe in exams, and they currently rank as the top learning nation worldwide.

Time to relieve the kids of some of the anxiety attached to exams.

Robert Bernasconi,Rankin ParkCycle to end obesityTHE Cycle Safe Committee gathered outside a local high school for a video launch as a stream of parental drivers dropped off their single passengers. As we left there were just five bikes on the racks with parked cars all round the school. The rate of childhood “overweight or obesity” now approaches a third and teenagers are presenting with type 2 diabetes. Our most consistent exercise is what we do as we go about our normal lives.

Chauffeur parents are denying their children an opportunity for this incidental exercise as well as the social interactions and satisfying autonomy that comes with walking and cycling to school. The personal development teachers need to consider a recent report on 263,000 subjects, 40-69 years. It found those who regularly cycled to work reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death from all causes by nearly a half. No medical treatment can have the magical effect of simple regular exercise.

The Herald reports Lake Macquarie council is sitting on $97 million of developer funds available for community infrastructure (‘Cash stash’,Herald,5/5). When will council and state government join the dots? We need commensurate funding for infrastructure to make cycling and walking fun for children and reassuringly safe for their parents. The enormous long term health savings demand it.

Phillip Buckner,DudleyMembers get things doneIT is disappointing to see Phillip O’Neill wheel out the tired and false narrative that Labor MPs in the Hunter are occupying safe seats and, particularly when in opposition, are ineffective representatives (‘Time for our MPs in red zone to fire up’, Herald,8/5).

I know for a fact my local member, Yasmin Catley, spends every day representing our community’s views to the government.Certainly the government has often ignored the community, and ridden roughshod over the overwhelming majority to implement their own agenda. The closure of the Belmont Motor Registry is one example.

But there are a number of examples where Ms Catley, as a hardworking community representative, has worked hand in hand with the community to campaign on important issues.A coordinated community campaign, led by Ms Catley, helped save Lake Macquarie City Council from amalgamation in 2015. Ms Catley also fought very hard alongside the community to successfully save Point Wolstoncroft Sport and Rec Centre from privatisation.

Ms Catley’s continued representation and agitation has also resulted in the government dredging the Swansea channel on a number of occasions since the $2.5 million spend in 2014/15.

What this demonstrates is that despite being in opposition, local members can still be effective in advocating for their community.

John Buckley,President Swansea State Electorate Council of the ALPSchool voucher systemON the contrary William Hardes (Letters, 8/5), many taxpaying poorer families, particularly Catholics, choose private schools which are not profit-making concerns. Why do these schools, for example, accept children who cannot always afford to pay?

The taxes of lower-income families whose children attend government schools do not ‘prop up’ private education. Private school parents pay taxes for a public system they don’t use, plus school fees, saving our various governments billions every year, and, in effect, subsidising public education.

Governments outlay significantly more per government school student in terms of recurrent costs than per private student. The savings to the taxpayer represent the additional cost to government if private schools closed and all students had to attend public schools.Every working parent pays taxes and each child should receive the same amount of government education funding, regardless of school choice. This is why I favour a voucher system. If parents wish to pay extra that is their choice, and one for which their children shouldn’t be penalised.

Peter Dolan,LambtonCase needs reviewYOUR correspondent Renata Pepper (Letters, 8/5) expressed a concern I have, that the punishment dealt to Jarrod Mullen appears to be out of keeping with what has occurred with players caught with drugs over the last weekend.I have had over 50 years of close contact with Rugby League as an official and in my opinion booze and gambling are greater curses to the game and players than Mullen’s taking a banned medicine to help him get over an injury so he can get back on the field and help the Knights.It is time to review Mullen’s case

Frank Ward,Shoal Bay Providing an educationI THINK William Hardes is mistaken in how our education system works (Letters, 8/5).There are only a handful of schools in Australia run “for profit”. By law, government cannot provide funding for a school that operates for profit. In fact, several schools in NSW have recently had all funding stripped from them after they were found to be operating for profit. No Catholic, Anglican or similar school makes a profit.

Every child in a private school saves the taxpayer around $7000 per year. Total government funding per student to the public system is $16,000 vs less than $9000 to a private student. “Lower income families” don’t pay tax. The benefits that they receive – Family Tax Benefits and related supplements, childcare payments etc outweigh what they pay in tax by a considerable margin.

So, contrary to Mr Hardes’ assertions, it is higher income families subsidising everyone else –those paying net tax, supporting the inefficient public system and bankrolling their own children’s education.

A simple “thank you” would be polite.

Scott Hillard,New Lambton

Rossdog has his day with City call-up

CITY SLICKER: Wholehearted Knights winger Nathan Ross is excited to be making his representative debut. Picture: Getty ImagesDON’T tell Nathan Ross that City-Country is meaningless.

The wholehearted Knights winger will make his representative debut in the centres for City alongside clubmate Pauli Pauli against Country in Mudgee on Sunday.

“I am still pinching myself,” Ross said on Mondaybefore heading into camp.“This is the highest accolade in my football career.To represent City and receive a jersey so many of the greats have played in is an honour.”

The annual fixture, to be played for the last time, was thrown into chaos last week when Canterbury coach Des Hasler withdrew the Dogs’ star players from selection.

Cronulla boss Shane Flanagan and Cowboys counterpart Paul Green followed suit.

City coach Brad Fittler delayednamingthe squad on Monday as he worked the phones.

Paul Gallen, Matt Moylan and James Tamou spearhead a side which includes fringe NRL players Hame Sele, Joseph Paulo andJake Marketo.

“People might not hold it in as high a regard as they used to,” Ross said.“In my eyes, it is such a privilege to play for City in this game -agame that has so much prestige and history behind it.”

Ross said he felt“sorry”for players who had not been given“anopportunity to say whether they wanted to play or not play”.

“If Nathan Brown hadput a line through Newcastle players, I would have marched into his office and told him how much it would mean to me as a player and a person to represent City,” Ross said.

Traditionally, the Knights have dominated the Country Origin side, supplying up to six players. But this yearthey are without a representative for the first time since 2010.

However, the Knights have a strong presence in the other representative games being played this weekend.

Sione and Peter Mata’utia will team up for Samoa against England at Campbelltown on Saturday.

Twins Daniel and Jacob Saifiti line up for Fiji against Tonga at the same venue.

Sam Mataora and former Knight, now Western Suburbs Rosella, Uti Baker have been selected in the Cook Islands team to meet Papua New Guinea.

Rookie Sam Stone has been named in the second-row for the Junior Kangaroos’clash with New Zealand, which is a curtain raiser to the senior Test being played in Canberra on Friday.

Ross and Pauli will take the number ofKnightswho have played for City Origin to five. They followcurrent City assistant coach TonyButterfield,JamieAinscough andAdam Cuthbertson.

City selection was one of three goals Ross set for the season. In the pre-season, he wrote R1 (round oneselection) and CC (City-Country) on hiswrist strapping for each training session and game. He has since replaced R1 with 50, signifying 50 NRL games.

“I have ticked off thesecond one now,” saidRoss, who has scored six tries in eight games. “I couldn’t even make the Newcastle rep team in 2013. In 2015, I was selected for theNSW Cup residents team but was 18thman.I have only represented Newcastle at the NRL level. I want to go down there and see how other people prepare and the mentality they have. I plan to be a sponge and learn. I would also like to rub off on people in a positive way and bring what I learn back to Newcastle.”

Old copper may signal problems to come

LOST CONNECTION: Some residents have shared their issues since being connected to the National Broadband Network including, in some cases, a complete loss of service. I SYMPATHISE with Paul McLean of Redhead (Letters, 4/5) and hope that the two kilometres of copper wire that connects him to the node is new copper. If it’s as old as ours, I fear his current troubles are insignificant compared to what he can expect.

From our experiences, he can probably look forward to increasingly frequent short dropouts, progressing to failures lasting an hour or more, then complete loss of service. Whether he’s reconnected quickly will depend on the existence of spare working “pairs” in his 2km of cable. If none are available, he can look forward to a lengthy wait for reconnection – we’ve been waiting two months and counting. There may be new wire installed by late May – a senseless step, when fibre could have been used instead. But then, there’s not much sense in any of the NBN fiasco.

In response to Mr McLean’s pricing question, the last cost estimate I saw was $56 billion. Finally, Mr McLean’s provider should have been well aware that he had no hope of achieving 100Mbps over that length of copper wire. A discussion with the Telecommunications Ombudsman would be in order, I’d think.

Barney Ward, EdgeworthRail corridor commitments not metCOUNCILLORS must not resolve on May 9 to place the Planning Proposal to rezone rail corridor land on public exhibition.

At its meetingon October 13, 2016, the council resolved that certain vital commitments needed to be met by the government before the corridor could be rezoned.

None of thesecommitments appear to have been met.

These include: Development of a comprehensive evidence-based transport plan consistent with achieving council’s current transport targets;an update of the Regional Transport Plan with clear objectives to be achieved;a revised traffic report of traffic impacts in the CBD based on current and forecast land use and development projects;an integrated evidence-based transport plan setting out detailed operations for buses and ferries and light rail to conclusively establish that rail corridor land is not needed for transport purposes and;the parking strategy being prepared by Transport for NSW.

It isimpossible for the public to comment meaningfully on the rezoning proposal until these commitments have been met to the satisfaction of the public.

For the public to be forced tocomment on the Zoning Proposal without knowing whether these commitments will be met to their satisfaction is totally unacceptable.

Alan Squire,Convenor Hunter Transport for Business Development,NewcastleGood deal for studentsWHEN l see some university students literally and physically throwing their weight around simply because uni fees have gone up, all l see is a bunch of spoiled brats, expecting everyone to lay down at their feet, when things don’t go their own way.

Do they realise that hard-earned tax dollars help pay their education and only after achieving and earning from their profession do they need to help pay back, often only partof their higher education costs, interest free, over an extended period?

Do they realise they have yet to enter the real world, where people are responsible for their own actions and debts, where people borrow hoping to provide self employment, run the risk of failure with no walk away debt relief, as available in higher education? Yes they may add to important positions of higher intellect, but no more than a tradie, who does it tough.

I realise not all need correction, so maybe those that do will reconsider their actions in the future, and act more like an adult.

Carl Stevenson,Dora CreekRecognition for The StoreSO Parramatta gets the facade of a group of significant heritage buildings restored, with modern buildings occupying the surrounds. Newcastle, on the other hand, looks as if it will experience, yet again, wholesale demolition of a building which is a significant part of the city’s heritage. Not even the cosmetic restoration of a facade to acknowledge a popular movement which played a major role in the Hunter’s development. I refer to the cooperative stores movement and its epicentre, the old “Store’ building.

No one is suggesting the building is in anything but a poor condition and probably warrants demolition. And no doubt it occupies a prime site for redevelopment. But the heritage significance of the site deserves better than wholesale demolition.

The property is now in the possession of the government, so council’s hands are tied to some extent, but surely a proper evaluation of what remains and an acknowledgement of its past in the form of some degree of facade restoration is the least the building deserves. A site which has played such an important role in the lives of our forefathers deserves some recognition and respect.

Geoff Hassall,MarylandNo will to winTHANK you Greg Hunt (Letters, 1/5) and Colin Geatches (Short Takes, 4/5) for highlighting the carefree and happy mindset some of our Knights appear to have after games. Unfortunately it is not just our team but a habit I see in all sporting codes.

I personally didn’t have half the talent to play sport professionally. But I played as though my life depended on it and with all my heart. I didn’t get paid and when I lost I didn’t even speak to my teammates due to disappointment, let alone the opposition

As good as the new age parents think they are in being fair and nice with their kids they are taking away the competiveness and a will to win in the current generation. This is not only in sport but life in general.

They are now taught “it’s not about winning but having a good time”. So I’m sorry to say everyone the new “it’s OK” generation are here and only going to get worse. They don’t know how to compete. I think if professional sportspeople are paid to play at the best of their ability, to laugh it off after a game is insulting to not only themselves but their supporters and sponsors.

Yes be kind, thoughtful and lovely but please, please, please teach kids a will to win and be their best. If they don’t succeed, be honest and tell them the hard truth and try again.Bring back the yesteryearof tough love, honesty and having a bloody go.

Groiden Schammell,Hamilton NorthAll deserve careI AM a proponent of voluntary assisted suicide. This doesn’t mean all chronically or terminally ill people, regardless of their age, want to die.Scott Hillard (Letters, 3/5) appears to be advocating reduced health care for elderly patients. At least, that’s how his letter reads to me.

All human beings deserve quality health care regardless of age, sex, religion, life experience or life expectancy. I find any suggestion that quality health care be reduced to those who are going to die soon anywayabsolutely disgusting. If elderly or terminally ill people would choose, of their own free will and not hampered by psychological illness, to die then yes, I agree they should be afforded that right. However, if someone is 99 years old, bed-ridden and suffering a terminal illness and they choose to continue fighting for life, then they should be afforded the right and the health care, regardless of cost, to fulfil that right.

Despite Mr Hillard’s suggestion that the health budget is insufficient to afford these things, I remind him that the Medicare budget is fluid. It is determined by the amount of income earned by taxpaying Australians. Currently at 2 per centwith a 1.5 per cent surcharge, the income for the Medicare budget only continues to grow each year. The Medicare budget is separate to the health care budget. Now that has reduced but not because ‘the country can’t afford it’ but rather, because this government is focused on providing tax cuts to those who least need them and slicing and dicing the system that allows we lowly plebs to literally survive (as opposed to living) one day to the next.

TerrieWhite, Jesmond

Stone gets across national line

GREEN AND GOLD: Newcastle Knights forward Sam Stone. Picture: Getty ImagesSam Stone never made that many representative teams coming through the rugby league ranks, but the 19-year-old has made up for lost time after being named in the junior Kangaroos on Monday.

The Newcastle Knights back-rower, who made his NRL debut in this year’s opening round, will don the green and gold colours ofAustraliaagainst the junior Kiwis in Canberra thisFriday (3.15pm).

“It came as abit of shock to me,” the Valentine and Lakes productsaid.

“I haven’t played much rep footy before and I’m definitely very proud to play for my country. It’s an opportunity I couldn’t really pass up.”

Stone said he hoped his eight NRL appearances in 2017, including a try and 38 tackles in Saturday’s loss to the Gold Coast Titans, wouldhold him in good stead for his maiden international.

“I’m expecting it to be just as good as an NRL game,” Stone said.

“Everyone playing has proven themselves as great footballers so I think the pace and physicality willbe similar to that. And playing previously in some NRL stuff will definitely help.”

The 194 centimetre forward is now in camp but said he was looking forward to seeing a New Zealand tradition up close and personal.

“I’m pretty keen to see the haka, it’s something I haven’t seen before,” he said.

“But I’ll just try and soak everything up, throughout the whole week and game day as well.”

Stone’s brother Ben will play forMalta at Cabramatta on Saturday against Lebanon, including West Newcastle teammate James Elias.

–JOSH CALLINAN GREEN AND GOLD: Newcastle Knights second-rower Sam Stone scoring his second NRL try on Saturday. Picture: Getty Images

Short Takes

WHAT a fantastic smoke and mirrors trick Education Minister Simon Birmingham has come up with. He’s made restoring only some of the school funding Tony Abbott took away look like a funding boost. The real questions are why do taxpayers fund private schools at all? They are businesses, some turning over multimillion dollar profits. Why do taxpayers fund religious schools? Some of these institutions at the centre of a royal commission into child sexual abuse. If parents want their children to receive what they perceive to be a better education than the state provides they should pay for it themselves.

John Lawton,BelmontREGARDING unspent balances (‘Hunter councils ‘robbing’ communities with $192m cash stash’, Herald,5/5), one would think with all that money tied up good old Newcastle council could fix Shepherd Hill cottage for the Marine Rescue people, after all it’s two years on from the storm. Council pockets the dollars while a lifesaving volunteer group gets offered dumps.

Rod Wicks,Garden SuburbGONSKI has recovered from a near-death experience. It took the Liberals four years to almost kill it but under Mr Turnbull’s leadership it has been revived, apparently to good health. The man who had a political near death experience himself, Tony Abbott says the Libs will not be happy with Mr Turnbull’s remarkable effort. Neither will his mates when their elite schools get less funding. Under Gonski, the needy schools will get the funding they desperately need.John Howard killed the Disadvantaged Schools Program, Tony Abbott almost killed Gonski but Mr Turnbull has given hope to needy kids in under-performing schools. Threatened with private school cuts, I wonder what schemes Tony and his posh mates will dig up to derail this wonderful opportunity to truly advance Australia.

John Butler,Windella DownsAFTER a long and distinguished service to the community, the general manager of Lake Macquarie City Council has given plenty of notice regarding his pending retirement. This shows a strong business ethic, as well shows he is a true gentleman.This is a standard process within companies and governments, of employees giving plenty of notice regardingplaned retirement. So why are councillors Pauling and Baker “grandstanding” as well being disruptive within council on petty issues which are not in the benefit of the community?Or are they just being “negative” for the sake of being negative? I wish they would just get on and work within council in a constructive manner, which then will allow the true and legal process to apply.

Robert Bowne,Mark PointREGARDING comments by Eddie Boards (Letters, 5/5): Eddie, doubt if you could get the Tranport Minister to ride the Oscars to Hamilton. He has already stated he comes by road to Newcastle, not rail.

Colin Atkins, WyongTHE POLLSWILL the new King Street parking station hours alleviate parking pressure?

Yes 66.3%,No 33.7%

Harry hitting world stage

EARLY STARTER: Greta six-year-old Harry Preece has booked his place in the Australian junior team for a tour of America in July. Picture: Harry Preece Golf/Facebook

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

The Greta boy finished third in the six years’division at the Australian Junior Age Division Golf Championship atYeppoon in Queensland to earn selection in the national side to compete at theWorld Stars of Junior Golf in Las Vegas from July 16-20 andand the West Coast AAU Junior Olympics in Temecula Californiafrom July 23-27.

Typically, only the winner of the division earns selection but Preece was given dispensation because of his excellent total of120 (40, 43 and 37) for three rounds of nine holes on the modified par-36 course.

Preece’s dad and caddie, Justin, said itwas six shots better than the 2016 winner’s total and theInternational Junior Golf Association granted Harry a spot after a request from the Australian team. He said the two boys who finished ahead of Harry were not making the trip.

The opportunity came after Preece started lessons with Richard Mercer at The Vintage only six weeks earlier. Before that, theSt Philip’s Christian College, Cessnock, year onestudenthad already shown a strong interest in the sport.

“He wasn’t pushed into it, he just watched it on TV and from the moment he could walk he was picking up anything he could find and using it as a golf club,” Justin said.

“He got his first clubs when he was about 14 months old and he washitting balls in the backyard in his nappies.

“He kept going and by four he became the youngest to join the Jack Newton Junior GolfFoundation.”

Preece won his age division of theMudgee Open Junior Classic and was second in the Seaside Classic 9-hole section to a 15-year-old on a countback when he was five. He was second in aUS Kids Golf event at Bayview on the weekend.

Justin estimates the US trip will cost $12,000 and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover expenses.

** Waratah’sBrian Carmichael extended his lead in the Newcastle District Golf Association order of merit with a second win of the season as the Myall Cup returned from a 20-year absence on Saturday.

Brian Carmichael

Competing for the first time since winning the Charlestown Cup on March 11, Carmichael shot one-over 73, featuring three birdies in his final four holes,at Hawks Nest Golf Club to finish one stroke clear ofGreg Gillard (Hawks Nest) and Bryce Pickin (Charlestown).Carmichael won theCharlestownCup with a three-under 69.

In the Myall Cup stableford race, Hawks Nest apprentice greenkeeper Louis Steel won with 68 nett, two shots ahead ofhis boss, Ben Mills.

The Hawks Nest club washappy with the return event, which featured173 players, including those in the ladies division, but was keen to make it bigger and better next year.

Airport ready to look abroad after fit-out

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 fitted out 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.

Deamer targets Cessnock

Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer is out to maintain his impressive strike rate at Cessnock on Tuesday.

Jason Deamer

The former jockey is operating with almost a 20 per cent success rate over the past two seasonsand has five runners, including two last-start winners, at Cessnock.Lady Evelyn andNo Effort Needed race in the fourth. His others areBonita,Bon Amis andLady Montoya.

However, Deamer is under no illusions as the prolific winning regional stables of Paul Perry and Kris Lees again have dominant numbers throughout the seven-race program, along with James Cummings and Allan Denham.

Deamer, who does his team’s track work,was a regular rider for Jack and Allan Denham for many years at Rosehilland has made a successful transition to training.

“We’ve got some chances, nice progressive types and having a decent run, but it’s getting tougher to win up here, the fields are getting stronger, that’s for sure,” Deamer said.

Deamer’s imposing ally in his main focus, race four, a Nicholas Scanlon sponsored BM 55, 1570m, is racing great Robert Thompson, who rides consistent Lady Evelyn with 58kg. Chad Lever rides No Effort Needed.

“Lady Evelyn will need some luck from the draw, but leave that to Robert,” Deamer said. “The two Scone placings are strong form, and she went close at Taree.

“No Effort Needed has won here and is fitter third up.”

In the opening event, a Cessnock League’s Club class three, Bonita made it three wins from seven starts with recent success at Taree.

“She’s a progressive filly, really nice win first up, and she’ll take plenty of improvement from it.”

In the second event, a Business Basics Maiden, Deamer’s unraced gelding Bon Amis will be ridden by Lever. “He won a recent trial, did everything right and will benefit, but early days, not sure as we don’t know the opposition.”

Deamer is buoyed by the prospects of last start winner Lady Montoya in a Hunter Jaguar-Land Rover BM 55 (2125m).

“She’s a big strong progressive filly, confident she’ll handle the step up to ‘2100’ as she finished off well in a 1600m maiden. “She’ll also be fitter third up, but the test is coming up from a maiden to the next level.”

–Racing NSW