Macadamias go from boutique to boom

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DATA COLLECTION: Macadamia growers have been told to take a professional approach to their businesses for the future of the industry.
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PROFESSIONAL growers will help propel the Australian macadamia industry forward.

That was one of the key messages to come out of the Australian Macadamia Society (AMS)’s March MacGroup and Food Heroes forum in Bundaberg last week.

Held at the Queensland Department of Agriculture’s (QDAF) Ashfield Road research station, the afternoon and evening event was jointly hosted by the AMS, and the Queensland Country Life in conjunction with Good Fruit & Vegetables magazine.

More than 100 industry representatives, including growers, gathered to hear the latest marketing, levy, expansion, crop and financial updates.

The figures listed for the macadamia industry would make many other agriculture sectors envious.

Over the past six years the Australian macadamia industry has enjoyed an 8 per cent annual growth while the average gross income is more than $17,000 per hectare.

Within that, the Bundaberg region has been achieving a 12pc annual growth for the same period, catapulting it to being the largest macadamia-producing region in the country.

According to the AMS, production is in the final stages of going from a boutique to a professional industry.

In his address to the gathering, AMS chief executive officer, Jolyon Burnett, announced the 2017 crop forecast at 54,000 tonnes nut-in-shell (NIS).

Australian Macadamia Society CEO, Jolyon Burnett, says solid growth and reinvestment has put the industry in good standing for the future. Picture: Lucy Kinbacher

“I’ve been looking around and I reckon it’s in the trees, whether it ends up in the silos or not is another matter,” Mr Burnett said.

“That depends on the weather from here on in and how good you guys are at your harvest.”

“But that’s a great result. That is the third year of steady, four to five per cent, year on year growth, and that’s coming at a time just when the industry needs it.”

He said the industry’s expansion was to be celebrated but it was pertinent to keep in mind the increased output from other countries such as China, Kenya and particularly South Africa.

“South Africa has been down for the last couple of years due to drought. They were probably 10,000 tonnes down in 2016. We’re not sure yet how much they’ll be down in 2017 but they will still be off the pace a little bit I believe,” Mr Burnett said.

“Any of you that have played cricket or rugby against the South Africans, you know that they will bounce back.

“They have been planting strongly in South Africa so there is a chance we could see a 60,000t crop come out of South Africa in 2018.”

The global demand for macadamias is such that Mr Burnett said increased global production was not something to be feared.

“We have been held back as a global industry over the last five, six or seven years, by lack of supply,” he said.

“If you look at the new products in terms of ice-creams, bakery products, cereal products, that have occurred with other nuts where supply is strongly growing, in macadamias, we’ve missed out on that.

“The marketplace is looking for confidence and supplies there. We’ve got to be confident we can back ourselves to direct our supply to the highest value markets.”

AMS productivity development officer, Robbie Commens, shared similar thoughts.

“The South African crop is a good thing for you and your macadamia business this year; it’s a challenge for you and your business going forward for the next five to 10 years,” Mr Commens said.

“We want that crop to be able to develop new products. We want more muesli bars, we want more ice-cream, we want less of a reliance on the kernel snack market.”

Mr Commens said the industry is experiencing an incredibly rare circumstance in agriculture where an increase in price has accompanied an increase in production.

GOING PRO: Australian Macadamia Society productivity development officer, Robbie Commens, says the sector is moving from a recreational to a professional industry. Picture: Lucy Kinbacher

“Let’s pause for a moment, realise the opportunity the industry has and take that long-term, professional focus going forward,” he said.

“We want professional growers and professional macadamia businesses.

Mr Commens said it wasn’t particularly about the size of orchards but encouraged tree owners to ask themselves if they were a professional grower or a recreational grower.

“The thing professional growers have in common, is a mindset,” he said.

“They’ve got that long-term business focus; they review data; look at what the possible scenario is going to be; develop a strategy and put it into action.”

Other topics covered during the afternoon included farm management deposits (FMDs), financial markets outlook and marketing strategies.

The information session was followed by afternoon tea then a field walk to look at the small tree – high productivity initiative, with a dinner held in town that evening.

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Just wild about dog control

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MAN ON THE LAND: Bathurst Merino Association ewe competition winner Murray Wykes of “Mount Top”, Euchareena takes part in a “forum in the sheepyards” on judging day.LAST Sunday’s meeting of Turon Wild Dog Control Group was very well attended and producers across their region are united in the attempts to control wild dogs that continue to kill livestock.
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Once again, Local Land Services ranger Paul Medway gave up his Sunday to help the group.

A few key points that were made at the meeting were:

A deputation from the group will request a meeting with senior management of Central Tablelands LLS in the very near future.A training day for users of 1080 baits and/or ejector baiting tools will be held on Friday, April 21.This year’s group baiting day will be held in early May.The Chemcert accreditation does not enable use of the canine ejector tool.The Turon meeting heard many reports of sightings and photos of marauding wild dogs on River Hills properties.

All landholders in the area are urged to join the control group.Don’t forget that wild dogs also kill lots of young birds and defenceless baby wallabies.

Please ring Jodie or Mal Healey is you wish to join the community group.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: The Turon Wild Dog control group is erecting these signs on roadside lands across their region.

Roo-locationA LANDHOLDERfrom just west of Bathurst city tells me that in his area there are more kangaroos than rabbits destroying crops and pastures.

He suggests that some kind soul might like to relocate the hundreds of ’roos from his place.

Aerial sprayUPPERMacquarie County Council will be carrying out an aerial weed spraying program during March in the area covering Bathurst Regional Council, Blayney, Lithgow and Oberonareas.

The main target weeds are blackberry and serrated tussock and landholders who wish to register for the spraying program should do soASAP with the County Council on 6338 2875.

The spread of blackberry bushes is obvious across our district as many landholders are inclined to only operate drive-through management and many don’t seem to own either weed spray equipment or a mattock.

Vale, WendyTHE recent death of Wendy Stocks took away one of Bathurst’s most valued community volunteers as she has worked tirelessly in that area for decades.

The Stocks family followed dairying pursuits and Wendy and husband Wally were always ready to assist friends and family when the going was tough.

She was a member of the Daymond family at The Lagoon and travelled by bus to Bathurst High School in the early 1950s along with many of us who have remained friends for at least 60 years.

Drying timesEACH day our lovely Central Tablelands looks sadder and drier and it’s really obvious that a big percentage of surface water supplies on farm hasevaporated.

A lot of hay and grain feeding is now taking place and some difficult decisions on stock selling or agistment are being made.

There is still a lot of the autumn growing season ahead of us but prospects for general rain are not promising in the medium term.

Staffers at Central TablelandsLocal Land Services have arranged a “dry weather planning” workshop at Bathurst LLS on Friday,March 24 from 9.30am to 3pmand some useful advice and opinions should be given.

Bookings [email protected]论坛.

Poll positionsONGOING discussions that involve persons who may intend to seek election at Bathurst Regional Council are reaching an interesting stage.

Several ladies’ names have beenmentioned as well as a few gentlemen who aren’t usually in the spotlight.

My suggestions are limited but I would like to see the Windradyne Whisperer raise his hand for election as he seems to know much more of the workings of councilthan any councillor.

Lachlan certainly doesn’t need any encouragement but he has done a lot of bowling at council and 2017 could be a great time to go in to bat.

Diary datesFriday, March 24: Stanford poll hereford sale, 50 young bulls and30 commercial heifers.The sale book has a practical explanation of cattle EBVs. Please collect yours at rural outlets.Friday, March 24:Local Land Services dry weather management strategies,Bathurst LLS 9.30am-3pm. Bookings by March 20 toBrett Littler on 6378 1708.Wool reportTHE wool market continued to rise this week with the fine merinos up 50c/kg.

The medium merinos were up around 25c/kg and the 21 to 22 microns were firm to a little cheaper.

Crossbred wools also saw rises of around 25c/kg asthe northern market indicator finished the week on 1605c/kg, up 23c/kg.

Merino cardings continue to break all records,finishing the week on 1231c/kg while fine merino locks this week made over 1000c/kg greasy, levelswe have never seen before.

Sales next week will see 10,279 bales on offer in Sydney, 22,661 bales on offer in Melbourne and 10,731 bales on offer in Fremantle.

MarkHorsburgh, TWG Landmark

Laugh linesA WELL-dressed lady on the tourist coach looked down her nose at farmer George and said: “I am surprised that your bull doesn’t have horns.” George told her: “Some bulls don’t have horns lady, and most cows don’t have horns at all.” The lady sniffed: “That is quite interesting, MrFarmer.” Then George added: “Of course, lady, you’re not lookin’ at a bull at all. That’s me horse.”

***

THEcop stopped our farmer friend on the highway and presented the breathalyser. Farmer asked what it was and was told: “It’s a bag that tells you when you’ve had too much to drink.” Our farmer said: “Gawd, eh,I used to be married to one of them.”

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‘A bad joke’: Warning sounded on endangered species in NSW

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Photographs shows the clear felling of the Leard Forest and construction of Whitehavens’ ?? Maules Creek coal mine near Boggabri. Greenpeace activists opposed to the mines’ construction have an established tree sit in place to stop the felling of the endangered forest and?? are surrounded by?? mine security and police rescue units.Photographs by Dean Sewell. S.M.H. News.Taken Sunday 1st June 2014.?? das140601.001.001.send.jpg Photo: Dean SewellDespite almost 60 per cent of NSW’s mammal species and a third of the birds on the endangered list, the Berejiklian government is persisting with conservation schemes that amount to a “bad joke”, critics say.
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A report, titled Paradise Lost has found biodiversity offset schemes between 2005 and 2016have failed to deliver outcomes promised by developers of mines and other major projects.

Of eight case studies where the destruction of habitat was permitted in exchange for protection elsewhere, the results of two studies were found to be “adequate”, and five others “poor”, according to the Nature Conservation Council, which compiled the report. For the Boggabri/Maules Creek area, which has two huge open-cut coal mines, the outcome was found to be “disastrous”.

In the latter case, miners will clear about 4000 hectares – more than half of the Leard State Forest, which is home to 36 threatened species including the diamond firetail and the masked owl – the report said. More than a quarter of this area is made up of critically endangered box-gum woodland.

Not only are the offsets of uncertain permanence, they are outside the Brigalow Belt South bioregion and are not of equivalent vegetation condition, the report said. And while the proponents have done surveys in the offset areas, they have not made that information available.

“It’s a crude mechanism for letting developers kill threatened species while claiming they are good environmental stewards,” council chief executive Kate Smolski said. “It’s a bad joke.”

The failings include the absence of “no-go zones” for areas with high conservation values, the dilution of “like-for-like” protections, and allowing miners to generate “credits” for rehabilitation. The Environment Minister also has discretionary power to “discount” obligations.

The survey noted the government had engaged Martine Maron, a University of Queensland offsets specialist, to review its program but her “scathing” assessment could only be obtained under freedom of information laws. (See summary of her review here.)

“The reliance on protecting habitat that is already there in exchange for habitat loss is worrying and, of course, the net outcome in that case is just less habitat,” Professor Maron told Fairfax Media. “It risks normalising ongoing biodiversity decline.”

In a 2015 paper, Professor Maron found offset baselines being used across Australia assumed an annual loss of vegetation of 4.2 per cent, or more than five times the recent loss rate.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the government was still consulting on its draft Biodiversity Assessment Method, adding that the scheme would set a standard of no net loss of biodiversity.

“It has been peer-reviewed and it draws on the latest science,” Ms Upton said. “It requires proposals to be designed to first avoid and minimise impacts on biodiversity.”

But Mehreen Faruqi Greens environment spokeswoman Mehreen Faruqi said offsets had become “one of the biggest scams in NSW”.

“Even if we accept the flawed concept that serious ecological damage can be offset, the NSW government has massively lowered the bar for mining companies and big developers,” Dr Faruqi said. “It’s now an attitude of: ‘No offset? No worries, just pay it into a fund’.”

Labor’s environment spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said the “watered down” policy was “disregarding environmental standards and destroying biodiversity”.

For its part, Maules Creek mine developer Whitehaven rejected the report’s assessment.

“We stand by our offsets package and, more importantly, so do the independent state and federal government authorities that approved it,” a spokesman for the miner said.

Stephen Galilee, chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council, said offsets had “increasingly strengthened in recent years, particularly with the introduction of the Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2016”.

“Increasingly complicated offsets schemes have significantly narrowed the impacts that can be offset and increased the costs of offsetting,” he said. ‘Horse-trading’

David Paull, a former Office of Environment and Heritage project manager, said the setting of offsets was “a horse-trading affair” in which the proponent emerges “with as few concessions as possible”.

For instance, in the plan to expand Peabody Energy’s Wilpinjong mine, which was examined by Mr Paull, the developer wants several “get out of jail” cards for destroying 354 hectares of native woodland.

More than half of the land is home to the endangered regent honeyeater bird.

The cards include paying $660,000 to Taronga Zoo for a targeted release of captive honeyeaters into the wild, and the use of “credits” earned for mine rehabilitation with no indication the work was additional, he said.

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Brumbies players fight for futures despite uncertainty

Brumbies training 14th March 2017. Josh Mann-Rea. Photo by Karleen Minney. Photo: Karleen MinneyACT Brumbies duo Ben Hyne and Josh Mann-Rea say being stuck in contract limbo will not distract from a mission against the NSW Waratahs, despite officials delaying decisions on Super Rugby’s future.
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The ARU organised a phone hook-up with Australia’s five franchises on Tuesday to debrief the clubs on plans to reinvigorate the competition.

The ARU remains tight-lipped about whether one Australian franchise will be cut or if there are plans to rejig the confusing 18-team, four conference system.

It is believed the meeting didn’t solve any issues and uncertainty off the field will continue for the coming weeks as SANZAAR and the ARU weigh up their options.

On the field the the Brumbies play against the Waratahs in their only derby between teams this season and it should be hyped as a desperation game.

Instead, players are caught in the middle of the off-field drama after the ARU asked Australian teams to postpone contract talks with any non-Wallabies players until a Super Rugby decision is made.

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???It leaves players like Hyne and Mann-Rea in the anxious position of playing for their futures without knowing if there will be a etam in Canberra next year.

Hyne is keen to continue his career rise after playing two games for the Brumbies while hooker Mann-Rea, 36, will keep playing for as his body allows him to.

However, neither have been able to gauge their contract prospects and it is not known when they will have a clear picture for 2018.

If one Australian team – either the Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels or Western Force – it will leave more than 30 players searching for new homes.

“It’s a decision that I can’t do anything about, nor can anyone else in the playing group or the coaches,” Hyne said.

“It’s up to SANZAAR and how they handle the situation. In terms of coming off contract, you get on the field each week trying to impress and improve to get re-signed.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to do for the Brumbies or if it goes south, strong performances on the field will go in your favour.

“Even the boys that are contracted might have to go elsewhere, it’s not just guys who are trying to come on to the scene. It’s no good.”

Mann-Rea made his Super Rugby debut as a 31-year-old and has established himself as the Brumbies’ first-choice rake after the departure of Stephen Moore.

Mann-Rea, who drives more than hour just to get to Brumbies training every day, joked his country lifestyle in Harden helped him avoid all of the talk about Super Rugby’s future.

“We can’t help that decision so we’re just focusing on playing good footy and trying to win the conference this year,” Mann-Rea said.

“It’s a hard one, it’s something SANZAAR and World Rugby are trying to figure out a way to make it work.

“I think {Super Rugby] is pretty good. It’s a tough comp and I think the five teams work in Australia.

But Mann-Rea conceded the players wanted more Australian derbies. The Brumbies play the Waratahs and the Force just once each this year.

“Local derbies are always good, I think they’re good for Australian rugby,” Mann-Rea said.

“I’m a big one for Aussie derbies. It gets a bit of pride back in the state so I’d like a few more if it’s possible.”

The Brumbies can continue negotiations with their Wallabies stars, including Tevita Kuridrani, in the hope of re-signing them for next year.

The Brumbies will also push ahead with their coaching recruitment plans as they brace for the departure of Stephen Larkham at the end of the year.

Former Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill started his new job on Monday as general manager of professional rugby and pathways and will take charge of the Brumbies’ recruitment and retention.

Waratahs captain and former Brumby Michael Hooper jumped to the defence of the Canberra side’s future on Tuesday as he prepares to play his 100th Super Rugby game.

“From being a part of the [Brumbies], it has a rich history and people are very passionate about our capital territory having a team,” Hooper said.

“So I’m not sure what going to happen but the Brumbies is a strong club and one that you would like to see continue in the comp.

“I think Australia can have five teams in the competition. We want guys having as much chance to wear a Wallabies jersey as possible so I’m all in favour of having five teams.”

SUPER RUGBY ROUND FOUR

Saturday: NSW Waratahs v ACT Brumbies at Allianz Stadium, 7.45pm.

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Wagga economy on the brink of a perfect storm

The overwhelming majority of Wagga’s most successful business people are convinced the stars are aligning for the local economy.
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Seventy-four per cent of the city’s largest employers believed the city’s economic outlook was “good” or “excellent”.

Soaring business confidence, record agriculture profits and vital infrastructure construction mean Wagga’s economy is on the brink of a perfect storm.

At the same time as close to three in four local business people believe the local economy is taking off, another key indicator of Wagga’s prosperity – the agriculture industry – is staring down record profits.

Riverina’s large-scale crop farmers are gearing up for one of their best seasons in two decades, thanks to an exceptional spring, a bumper grain harvest and soaring livestock prices.

Beef prices have nearly doubled in real terms in the past three years to values not seen since before the 1970s cattle market crash and sheepmeat demand is surging.

The average broadacre farm is tipped to reap a cash income of $216,000 this financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Only 4.5 per cent of Wagga’s 30,589 labour force is unemployed as of January, which is the second lowest unemployment rate outside Sydney bested only by the Hunter Valley.

Committee 4 Wagga’s (C4W) survey of its members, who are collectively responsible for more than 4,500 local jobs, emphasised the importance of the looming levee bank upgrade and council’s ability to attract a commercial partner to build the Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RIFL) hub.

Heightening the levee bank was ranked the city’s most important project because the current one-in-sixty-year protection limits property developer’s access to finance and jacks up insurance premiums for homes and businesses.

Insurance premiums for the 10,020 properties in the central precinct have gone up between 300 and 400 per cent since the city was evacuated in 2012, from an average of $1000 to $5000.

The looming upgrade will protect Central Wagga against a one-in-100-year flood event – or a 11.3 metre high river – and protect North Wagga against a one-in-20-year flood – or a 10-metre high river.

Construction of the heightened levee bank is set to start within months, although the project has been mired by wildly different quotes – millions of dollars apart – from the state government and a council-commissioned quantity surveyor.

“Retailers, residential developments and industrial developments in east Wagga – where it’s prone to flooding – are all effected by the high flood risk rating,” C4W CEO Chris Fitzpatrick said.

The city’s freight and logistics assets have been flagged as a key lure to attract metropolitan businesses pushed out of Sydney by urban sprawl and skyrocketing land prices.

New roads at Bomen will spark new industrial development, but a rail hub is tipped to triple investment.

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Barlow says Dockers’ delisting ‘rips your heart out’

A rejuvenated Michael Barlow has spoken candidly of his hurt at the way his Fremantle career finished, saying it “rips your heart out a bit” to be told he was no longer required by the Dockers after seven seasons.
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The 29-year-old midfielder, picked up by Gold Coast as a delisted free agent last October, has been a pre-season star for the Suns, averaging more than 26 disposals a game, and will be a key to a recast midfield this season.

Barlow has a point to prove to his old club after being delisted by the Dockers at the end of last season, despite finishing eighth in the best and fairest after a serious shoulder injury restricted him to only 13 games.

“I’m really disappointed with the way it ended,” Barlow said. “That there wasn’t a little bit of a tree branch extended to say, ‘We might want to keep you on.’

“It’s looking a guy you really respect [Fremantle coach Ross Lyon] in the eye, and they say you’re no longer required. It’s a bit of a check to the ego when you get delisted.”

Barlow was dropped to the WAFL for two games early last season, but produced some of his best football after being recalled in run-with roles on the likes of David Zaharakis, Daniel Rich and Steele Sidebottom, also picking up 43 possessions in Fremantle’s win over Port Adelaide.

But Barlow had the AC joint in his left shoulder shattered in a collision with Geelong’s Lincoln McCarthy in round 17, and missed the rest of the season. It was then he was told that, with the Dockers going younger, he would be one of the first casualties.

After a nervous wait during the trade period, during which he rang Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade and asked to be given an opportunity, the Suns picked him up as a delisted free agent.

Barlow is still puzzled by the abrupt change of heart from his old club. “It was a really tough couple of weeks that trade period, essentially because I had this injury with some potential to go the other way and not allow me to keep going,” he said. “There was the timing of that, then a bit of bitterness that I was 28 and essentially kicked out the door for being too old. And it rips your heart out a bit, because you know what you have to offer.

“I had probably one of the best patches of my career for six or seven weeks, and a pretty significant injury which stopped it. That might have played a part, but at the end of the day you can’t dwell too much on what’s happened.

“They [Fremantle] have got a four-year plan, and Ross has got a little bit of security in his contract …

“[Moving] was the best thing that could have happened for me. I was really keen to move on regardless. But it’s made me a better person being at that club for a long time.”

Barlow believed he was playing football with more freedom at his new home.

“I think there’s a little bit more flexibility in the game plan here,” he said. “I just feel like the attacking side of the game here is really encouraged, and I reckon ‘Rocket’ has got that 100 per cent right, when you look at the list and see who we’ve got at our disposal, we’ve got some of the best athletes and natural players in the competition, so you want to harness that.”

The midfield veteran said the idea of being part of a club looking to make a name for itself from the ground up was exciting.

“We want to really rip the roof off this joint here, and I reckon we have the potential to in a short time. It will work here, and I want to be part of it,” he said. “If I can assist that push for this club to become a powerhouse, that would be pretty fulfilling.”

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City of Melbourne councillor loses seat in unprecedented decision

The Age, News, 24/08/2016, photo by Justin McManus. Team running in the Melbourne Mayoral Election. L-R Richard Foster, Nic Frances and Brooke Wandin.A Melbourne councillor has lost his position – and lord mayor Robert Doyle handed a powerful voting majority – in an unprecedented decision by the state’s administrative tribunal.
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Michael Caiafa, a trader at the Queen Victoria Market, has been declared a “victim of circumstance” after a voting recount and subsequent decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The recount was set in motion after it was discovered that the woman elected as Melbourne’s first Indigenous councillor, Brooke Wandin, was ineligible to stand because she did not live in the municipality.

Mr Caiafa and Ms Wandin will be replaced by former Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Nic Frances Gilley and Susan Riley.

Mr Gilley stood on Ms Wandin’s “An Indigenous Voice on Council” ticket, but only received 14 direct votes.

Ms Riley, a former deputy mayor and publishing entrepreneur, stood on Cr Doyle’s ticket but only received 48 direct votes.

Mr Caiafa received 332 direct votes.

Ms Riley’s election delivers the Doyle team a 6-5 majority on the council.

The loss of Mr Caiafa from the council is a blow to a grassroots campaign against the council’s controversial development of the Queen Victoria Market.

Mr Caiafa ran on the ticket of former politician Phil Cleary, who is lobbying against the $250 million revamp. The group received more than 5600 votes.

Ms Wandin’s “An Indigenous Voice on Council” ticket received just 1628 votes.

In handing down his decision, Justice Greg Garde sympathised with Mr Caiafa, who has been serving as a councillor since last October’s local election.

“His conduct has been exemplary,” he wrote.

“He has done all that an elected councillor can do since he was declared elected. His position is affected by the actions of another candidate over whom he had no control, and for whom he has no responsibility.”

A lawyer for Mr Caiafa argued to the tribunal that is was unfair to retain votes for the “An Indigenous Voice on Council” because in order for the group to exist it needed two members.

The exclusion of Ms Wandin left it with one.

Mr Caiafa is seeking legal advice about whether he should appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. He argued the decision did not reflect the will of the voters.

However the tribunal ruled that it was important that the will of those who voted for the Indigenous Voice Group also be respected.

As a result, the group’s remaining member, Mr Frances Gilley, has been elected. He received just 14 direct votes.

Mr Gilley said his original intention was not to get elected himself, but to help Ms Wandin achieve enough votes to become the first Wurundjeri woman on council.

He said would seek to reform eligibility criteria for Aboriginal people.

“I can use this term to look at how all Indigenous people across the state could have the right to stand on their land for council,” he said.

A City of Melbourne spokesman said “we have been informed of Justice Garde’s decision and are currently considering its implications”.

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Funnel-web risk on Mid North Coast

Keep an eye out: Funnel-web spiders are frequent in Port Macquarie, especially around koala corridors. Photo: Getty Images
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NAMBUCCA Valley residents are urged to take caution around their homes, and at parks and grass areas around the Mid North Coast.

It is likely that you will notice holes in the grass or in trees and logs, which oftenhousesthe deadly funnel-web spider.

Funnel-webs make their burrows in moist, cool, sheltered habitats, like under rocks, in and under rotting logs, some in rough-barked trees.They can be found in higher numbers around koala corridors.

They are commonly found in suburban rockeries and shrubberies, in lawns or other open terrain. A funnel-web’s burrow characteristically has irregular silk trip-lines radiating from the entrance to trap prey.

Unlike some relatedtrapdoor spiders, funnel-webs do not build lids to their burrows, which is another telltale sign when identifying a spiderhole. Redback spidersare also common at this time of the year.

Spider bites are best considered in three medically relevant groups: big black spiders, redback spiders and all other spiders.

Big black spiders are funnel-web spiders and any large black-looking spiders that may be a funnel-web spider. Patients bitten by big black spiders must be managed as a medical emergency.

Redback spiders are fairly easy to identify and their bites do not cause rapidly developing or life-threatening effects but many cause significant pain and systemic effects.

All other spiders in Australia are more or less harmless.

There are 40 different types of funnel web spiders located up and down the east coast of Australia.

Like many funnel web spider species, both sexes of the ‘Port Macquarie funnel web’ have a shiny black carapace, dark brown to black legs and abdomen.

ThePort Macquarie funnel web should be treated with care as its venom is slightly more toxic than the Sydney funnel web.

If bitten, wrap with a compression bandage and immediately dial triple-0.

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Zelic backs national second division as important pathway for Canberra

Former Socceroo Ned Zelic sees a proposed national second division as a crucial pathway for Canberra talent to make it to the elite level – similar to the one that kick started his glittering career.
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But only if it’s done right.

Zelic started with Sydney Croatia in the now defunct National Soccer League, but returned to his native Canberra to play for Canberra FC, who had a team in the NSW state league.

It was a case of one step back to take two steps forward for the now 45-year-old who said that ability to remain in Canberra and still play at a higher level where he could be seen by scouts got his career going.

That career included a UEFA Cup final and the German Bundesliga title with Borussia Dortmund.

Fairfax Media revealed National Premier League clubs, led by those in Melbourne, were looking to set up the national second division on their own and were meeting in Melbourne on Monday.

Canberra FC have indicated their interest in being part of the venture, provided it was financially viable for them.

Zelic urged all involved not to rush and to make sure they set it up so that it was sustainable because it was such an important step for Australian soccer.

“You have to do something down the track to give all these clubs underneath the A-League the opportunity to progress,” he said.

“There has to be a framework there where success is pretty much guaranteed.

“I’m all for it. If you look around the world, the different lower tiers and what’s happening in different countries it just boosts the appeal of football in every single country.

“I’m on the side of 1000 per cent sure that it’s going to work and not a case of let’s do it and if it breaks down at least we tried. That doesn’t help anyone.”

Zelic said Football Federation Australia needed to be involved in the set-up of the second division, which would be created from NPL clubs in capital cities around the country, but he was unsure what the governing body’s plans were.

It would sit below the A-League and ideally have promotion and relegation – both up to the A-League and down to the various NPLs.

But Zelic felt the introduction of relegation into the A-League could terminate some of the clubs.

“The only stumbling block I see is going up to A-League and clubs going down, because these clubs now in the A-League they’ve pretty much been built on no relegation,” he said.

“That’s in their blood stream and there’s a lot of talk if one of those clubs got relegated then they’d just fold, which I see as realistic.

“The last thing I want to see is there be a second division and if there’s no promotion then there’s nothing to gain.”

Even if there wasn’t promotion and relegation between the A-League and the proposed second division, Zelic felt it would still be an important stepping stone for Canberra kids.

The FFA has kiboshed any chance of Canberra having an A-League any time soon and Zelic said the talk of the AIS soccer program shutting down would be another blow to talent in the nation’s capital.

“Look at the kids here in Canberra, what do they do? They have to go interstate to play state league, for example NSW or Victoria, if they want to get closer to A-League,” Zelic said.

“It’d be a different pathway when you’re talking about a second division.”

Meanwhile, former Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid has joined the FFA women’s committee, which is a sub-committee of the FFA board.

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

Why has the drift to private schools come to an end?

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Private schools are among the things economists classify as “positional goods” – they reveal your position in the pecking order. Photo: Michele Mossop

It’s drawn little comment, but the decades-long drift of students from government to non-government schools has ended.

Figures released by the Bureau of Statistics last month show that 65 per cent of our 3.8 million students went to public schools in 2016, the same proportion as in 2013. If anything, the public-school share is creeping up.

The non-government share divides between Catholic systemicschools with 20 per cent and independent schools with less than 15 per cent. I’ll refer to both as private schools.

But the public schools’ 65 per cent today is down from 79 per cent in 1977.

Let’s start by trying to explain those many years of drift before we wonder about why it’s stopped.

When Ipsos Public Affairs asked people why they thought other people sent their kids to private schools, the most commonly cited reasons included the higher standard of education (50 per cent), the better discipline (49 per cent), the better facilities (46 per cent), the size of classes (43 per cent) and because it’s a status symbol (40 per cent).

Almost uniquely among other developed countries, Australian parents have a much higher proportion of private schools to choose, and have been given greater freedom to choose between government schools.

Successive federal and state governments have seen greater parental choice between public and private as a virtue, and have encouraged it by increasing their combined grants to private schools at a much faster rate than their funding of public schools.

But I have my own theory on why so many people have opted for private schooling. I think a lot of it gets down to parental guilt.

These days families have much fewer children, which means parents take a lot more active interest in their kids’ schooling than they did when I was the last of four.

And these days both parents are more likely be in paid work – meaning they have more money to spend, but see less of their kids thantheirparents did.

So what more natural than for parents to believe that, in their decisions about how to spend their income, ensuring their kids get the best education possible should have high priority.

And what’s more natural in our market economy than to assume that the more you have to pay for something, the higher quality it’s likely to be.

It’s the old male cop-out, spread to women: I may not see as much of my kids as I’d like to, but I’m working night and day so I can afford to give them the best of everything.

The more materialist you are, the more you’re inclined to judge a school by the quality of its facilities – gyms and swimming pools, music, art and drama theatres – than by the quality of its teachers.

Of course, the former is, as economists say, much more “observable” than the latter.

But whatever people give as their reasons for preferring private schools, you’ll never convince me they’re not well aware of the status they gain by sending their kids to private schools, especially independent schools.

Private schools are among the things economists classify as “positional goods” – they reveal your position in the pecking order.

But what’s changed? Why has the drift to private schools come to an end?

One possibility is that the slow wage growth of recent years has made it harder for parents to afford private school fees.

This may be particularly the case for independent schools, where the rate of increase in fees from year to year bears little relationship to rate at which teachers’ salaries are rising.

Nor does the rate at which government grants have been growing seem to have had much effect in slowing the rate at which independent school fees have grown. (The extra government grants may have gone into improving schools’ facilities.)

My guess is that, as economic textbooks predict, independent school fees rise according to what the market will bear. They judge how strongly demand for their product is growing relative to supply by the length of their waiting lists.

In any case, keeping the cost of independent schooling high is an essential element in maintaining its status as a positional good.

Another possible contributor to the end of the drift to private schools is the decision of state governments – particularly NSW governments – to increase the numberof places at selective schools. Why pay fees when you can get what you want inside the government system?

As a parent who’s had one of each – independent and selective – I can assure you selective schooling works well as an (intellectual) positional good.

But there’s one last possible contributor to the end of the trend to private schools: maybe parents are realising that paying all those fees doesn’t buy your kid superior academic results along with their old school tie.

Julia Gillard’s My School website has done little to encourage greater competition between schools (a silly idea she got from economists), but it has provided a fabulous database for education researchers.

Various researchers have used it to demonstrate that the best predictor of children’s academic results is the socio-economic status (including level of educational attainment) of their parents.

And when you take account of parents’ socio-economic status, there’s little evidence that kids of similar backgrounds do any better academically at one kind of school than another.

Ross Gittins is the Sydney Morning Herald’s economic editor.

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NRL hails most attacking start to season since 2018

More points have been scored in the opening two rounds of this season than in the history of the 16-team NRL competition.
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For the first time since the inception of the 16-team competition in 1999, more than 720 points have been racked up over the opening two weekends of the season.

The reduction of interchange from 12 to eight in recent years has contributed to the attacking style of football that has crept back into the sport after a period dominated by defence.

The impact of the smaller, faster players was minimised during the 12-man interchange system, however players such as Anthony Milford, Shaun Johnson and Mitchell Moses have been allowed to impose their stance on a game when the forwards tire.

A total of 723 points have been scored in the first two rounds, 136 more than the same period two years ago.

“While it is still early in the premiership we are certainly encouraged by the point-scoring trends,” NRL head of football Brian Canavan said.

“We have seen some incredible attacking football over the first two rounds and that has resulted in more tries and more points, which ultimately is what our fans want to see.”

The NRL has also introduced a number of football reforms that have contributed to the increase in points scored.

The introduction of the shot clock and scrum clock has resulted in more fatigued players given the additional time spent with the ball in play.

The time-out called in the last five minutes of games after conversions has also allowed for more game time. There have been two golden point games to start the season and Canavan believes the closeness of the competition has only added to the excitement.

“Importantly, we have also seen some incredibly tight scorelines – half of all of the games played so far have been decided by eight points or less,” Canavan said.

“So while we have seen more attacking football and more tries, the closeness of our competition remains.”

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

Plan for small town’s big future

Related: Marong plan in question
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THE first draft of a plan that will aim to provide for Marong’s populationto balloon to 8000 will be considered by City of Greater Bendigo councillors on Wednesday night.

The draft Marong Township Structure Plan sets out the land uses and development of the area and will be incorporated in the City of Greater Bendigo planning scheme.

Marong’s population has already grown from about 300 in 2011 to an estimated 900 people, and the report to council says the township is expected to reach 8000 residents in 25 to 30 years’ time.

The draft plan says future expansion of the township is restrained by several factors, among them a broiler farm to the west,possible highwaybypasses to the north and west, andthe proposed business park to the south-east.

Other challenges include areas along Bullock and Fletchers creeks being subject to flooding, heavily vegetated land in the north and south-east, constraintson the provision of reticulated water, and poorly drained land on Landrys Lane.

But the plansays opportunities to shape future developmentlie in theoriginal layout of the townand certainexisting features, the proposed bypasses and the reintroduction of passenger rail services.

It is proposed the township will grow predominantly to the east, with growth to the south not expected to extend further than one kilometre from the original boundary.

Recommendations outlined in the plan include the development of northern and western bypasses to remove traffic from the township, the reinstatement of the train station and passenger services, planning for the “appropriate provision of commercial services”,the development of the Marong Business Park, and improvements to recreation facilities and the High Street streetscape.

The draft plan outlines a two-stage planning and development process.

The first stage would see 500 to 600 more houses built overeight to 12 years.

The second would support expansion to the south and east, but the report to council says this stage would not begin until the western bypass was completed, and the northern bypass and passengerrail services wereguaranteed.

Pending council approval, the draft will go out for public comment for seven weeks from March 20. Listening posts will be held at Marong Community Hall on March 26 from 2pm to 4pm, March 28 from 7pm to 8.30pm and April 30 from 2pm to 4pm.

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Ex-partner defends Sydney woman found dead in house with son

At 9am on Monday, Matt Davis received a message from his former partner, the mother of his child.
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Stacey Docherty told Mr Davis, who had planned to take their son to the park, to come to her place in Sydney’s east later that afternoon.

She would leave the door open for him.

After he finished work and arrived at the Hillsdale unit about 1pm, his door knocks went unanswered and his world collapsed around him.

Inside were the bodies of Ms Docherty, 38, and their four-year-old son Seth.

Scribbled over the walls was a mess of barely decipherable messages written in blood.

Police said on Tuesday they were still keeping an open mind as to whether a third person was involved in the mother and son’s death or if it was a case of murder-suicide.

Former professional skateboarder Mr Davis conceded that, while his former partner had anger issues, she was a “beautiful mum” who loved Seth dearly.

“She really did love Seth, she put him first before herself all the time,” he said on Tuesday at his eastern suburbs home.

Ms Docherty moved from New Zealand to Australia more than a decade ago and worked as a nursing assistant in Sydney.

She spent five years in a relationship with Mr Davis, who said he stayed close to Ms Docherty and Seth, often visiting them at the Grace Campbell Crescent unit.

Most recently, Mr Davis said his former partner was feeling the stress of a separate relationship break-up and having to find somewhere new to live.

Neighbours and police were also aware of Ms Docherty’s volatile behaviour. Last year she smashed the windows of three of her neighbours’ cars after a dispute about parking.

Mr Davis said he had spoken to Ms Docherty about her anger and encouraged her to get more support.

“She could’ve received more help, there could’ve been more help for her in regard to her anger and frustrations at the world,” he said.

Despite the possibility that Ms Docherty killed their son before ending her own life, Mr Davis wasn’t angry.

“I can’t begin to fathom really what made her make the decision she did,” he said.

“Obviously I wished she called me or let me know she was having these feelings so I could have left work and been there to try to help sort it out and to not be in the position I am in now.

“But she didn’t.”

In a sign she was looking forward, Mr Davis said Ms Docherty agreed on the weekend to negotiate a custody agreement for their son.

NSW Family and Community Services was in contact with Ms Docherty, Mr Davis said, but she always promised she would never do anything to harm Seth.

“Stacey never actually said to me anything or said to me she had suicidal thoughts,” he said.

“She vowed to me constantly that she would never do anything to hurt Seth. And I knew she wouldn’t, she was very protective of him in regards to other people.

“I just want people to know that I love my son and I love Stacey in my own way and that we did our best to try to be good parents to him.

“He deserved more than what happened to him.”

Initially police were concerned about a strong smell of gas in the apartment complex on Monday afternoon. However, investigators have since ruled out that it contributed to the mother and son’s death.

Mr Davis has encouraged people with concerns about their loved ones’ mental health to speak up.

“Even if you feel intrusive, be intrusive,” he said. “Because the outcome is this and it is painful and it is shocking.”

Lifeline 13 11 14; MensLine 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

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