‘Millennials’ key to value adding apple products

July 18th, 2018

YOUTH TARGET: Chief executive of one of the world’s largest apple processing companies, Klaus Gasser, says looking to the demands of the Millenials will be the future.APPLE producers need to tap into the appetites of Millennials in order to capitalise on future prosperity in the industry, says the head of one of the world’s biggest apple processing companies.
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Vog Products chief executive Klaus Gasser addressed the international trade show Interpoma in South Tyrol, Italy, last week on the cultivation, storage and marketing of the apple.

Vog Products is one of the largest apple processing companies in the world. Every day the company processes 120 trucks of apples, or 4000 tonnes. It exports and has customers in all markets across the world.

“Consumers are more increasingly asking for certification, they don’t mind asking for these attributes,” he said.

“They are concerned about proteins, organic products and fair trade.”

However, he said taste was still highly important and influences what varieties of apples are bought by consumers.

“They [Millennials] are informed, they know the products, know the contents, they want to try new things and they are very health orientated,” he said.

“They want quality over quantity and are ready to pay more.”

Mr Gasser said in the key export markets for Vog Products, such as the UK, the US and Asia, apple consumption was declining.

However there was some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of alternative value added products.

Products such as pre-cut fresh apples to use as snacks will and have worked well in US markets, for consumers looking for healthy and easy access to the fruit.

“They are washed, healthy and perfect from the viewpoint of health and safety, and consumers like them,” Mr Gasser said.

However there was one particular type of product Mr Gasser believed the apple industry could really shine – cold pressed juices and as an ingredient in green smoothies.

“In nearly all of these products there are apples,” he said.

“There is huge potential here for apple based products, we need to decide where we want to go.”

Caitlin Jarvis is a guest of the Italian Trade Agency for Interpoma 2016, that is held on November 24-26 at Bolzano, South Tyrol.

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

Caravan park on council agenda

July 18th, 2018

AN initial step towards the return of a caravan park on the Murray River will be brought before Albury Council early next year.
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Albury councillor Murray King is following through with his plan for a caravan park on the Murray River.

Cr Murray King’s pre-election commitment for a riverfront caravan park in the city was brought before council on Monday night with unanimous support for staff to identify possible options and locations.

They have been set a February 28 deadline for the report with Cr King also hoping to have the facility built within close proximity to the Albury CBD.

“We came to the election that we would be looking to develop a (recreational vehicle) park in the local area,”he said.

“As I’ve said previously Albury is a river town that doesn’t have a recreational vehicle park.

“Most river towns from Albury to South Australia have caravan parks or recreational vehicle parks on the banks of the Murray.

“Development of this type of facility would increase tourism exponentially and promote the townexponentially.Albury needs this type of facility.”

Albury’s riverside Noreuil Park played hostto campersfrom 1929 to the early 1980s.

But caravans were removed amid concerns aboutflooding and falling tree branches.

The recent election campaign when Cr King floated the caravan park idea also coincided with one of the worst floods in recent memory which included the evacuation of theRiverdeck Cafe.

Cr King said everyone should be involved in the consultative process in response to queries raised by Cr Graham Docksey as to whether the park would also be a free recreational vehicle site.

Cr Alice Glachan also hoped the report could consider whether the park would be owned and operated by council or privately run.

General manager Frank Zaknich said due to the short timeframe the report would only provide some “preliminary insights”into what could happen.

“Obviously it won’t go into a lot of detail, but it will give councilessentially an understanding of what the potential options and locations are,”he said.

Mayor Kevin Mack sought clarification on whether a caravan park had been previously investigated by council.

Mr Zaknich said no detailed work had been done.

“The Murray River Experience master-plan did identify a site in proximity to the Murray River, but not the other criteria of being in close proximity to the CBD.”

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

Dr Sanders’ long service recognised

July 18th, 2018

Well-respected local GP, Dr David Sanders, has been honoured for more than 35 years of service to the communityat the prestigious 2016 NSW Rural Medical Service Awards (RMSA’s). The RMSA’s recognise GPs who have provided long-standing medical service to the people of rural, regional, and remote NSW. Two of his sons, and his wife, werethere toshare the special moment during adinner held in Sydneyon Saturday, November 26.
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HONOURED: “It is rare for rural doctors to be formally recognised for the outstanding contribution they make to their community,” CEO Richard Colbran says.

Rural Doctors Network (RDN)CEO, Richard Colbran, said Dr Sanders has made a significant contribution to his rural community by providing high quality continuity of care.“This award provides a unique opportunity for the people of Singleton to acknowledge the difference that Dr Sanders makes to the health and well-being of the community,” he said. Dr Sanders practices at Fairholme Surgery, and is also a visiting medical officer at Singleton District Hospital, providing anaesthetic and obstetric services. This can sometimes be a balancing act, that is, working in a general practice and at the hospital, but it is a satisfying one. He says he particularly enjoys obstetrics –thebranch of medicine and surgery concerned with childbirth and midwifery. “Although there are some terrifying moments, it is a lot of fun,” he says. “Being a rural GP and getting the opportunity to treatpatients from when they are young throughout thelifespan has also beenrewarding.”Dr Sanders came to Singleton in 1981 after returning from working in England for two years. Back then he came with a five-year plan after advertising his extensive skills in the newspaper -and getting 35 different job offers. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Other achievements: inaugural board member of the original Hunter division of GP,and on the GP advisory committee of the cervical cancer screening program -for Hunter and, then for NSW; a GP supervisor for family medical program trainees, medical students, and John Flynn Scholarship students; qualified in open cut mine rescue, and is medical commander for the Hunter Valley under the NSW Disaster Plan. This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Parramatta’s Semi Radradra faces arrest after he failed to show up to a domestic-violence hearing

June 20th, 2019

PARRAMATTA star Semi Radradra faces arrest again after he failed to show up to a domestic-violence hearing at a Sydney court because he was in Fiji.
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A clearly displeased magistrate Tim Keady revoked the Eels winger’s bail and said a warrant for his arrest would be released on Thursday unless a satisfactory explanation was given.

The 24-year-old was supposed to attend a one-day hearing at Parramatta Local Court on Monday but flew to Fiji last Wednesday due to his father’s illness, according to lawyer Murugan Thangaraj SC.

Mr Thangaraj provided a letter from a doctor in Fiji, which said Radradra’s father suffered from asthma and pulmonary tuberculosis and required further medication.

PLEASE EXPLAIN: Semi Radradra

But Mr Keady was unconvinced, saying the father had clearly been on treatment for some time.

“There’s nothing in [the letter]to indicate any reasons for non-attendance,” he said. “Certainly nothing which could justify sudden departures from Australia.”

Mr Keady demanded more compelling evidence by Wednesday or Radradra’s arrest warrant would be released. “He knew how serious the matter was,” the magistrate said.

Radradra pleaded not guilty in July to two counts of common assault and one of assault causing actual bodily harm, all domestic violence-related charges.

The charges relate to alleged attacks on his estranged partner, Perina Ting, in December 2014 and May 2015. Prosecutors initially tried to postpone Monday’s hearing because two of their witnesses would be interstate.

Radradra’s legal team opposed that application, and it was refused last Tuesday – the day before the winger flew to Fiji.

His bail conditions were eased on October 11 to allow overseas travel for work and family commitments, but that freedom expired on Monday, the court heard.

His hearing was postponed until February, with the case to return to court in December.

Obesity, alcohol, and cigarettes identified as big problems in the Hunter Region

June 20th, 2019

RAYMONDTerrace and Sconearethe fattest suburbs in the state, with 70.8 per cent of adults recorded as overweight or obese, new data shows.
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TheAustralia’s Health Trackers reportshows people in theHunter Region generallyeattoo much, drinktoo much, and smoketoo much, but where they live influences how much.

The report,developed at Victoria University with the public health information and development unit at Torrens University, wasreleased by theAustralian Health Policy Collaboration last week.

The Health Trackers map showedMount Hutton and Windale had 69.2 per cent of itspopulation recorded as overweight or obese, with Lemon Tree Passage and Tanilba Bay close behind at 68.7 per cent.

Newcastle suburbs such as The Junction and Merewether reported the lowest levels of obesity in the region at 57.4 per cent, against thenational average of63.4 per cent.

Hunter GP Dr Damian Welbourne was not surprised Raymond Terrace was named one of the most overweight and obese suburbs in NSW.

“Many people in our community experience socioeconomic disadvantage, and with that, often comes a fear of going to the doctor due to the associated cost and possible further action required,” Dr Welbourne said.

“Health literacy is also inadequate in our area, so people have difficulties knowing where to turn for support. They tend to wait until there are quite a few problems before realising things are serious,and problems like obesity are not a quick fix.”

Dr Welbourne said the“long-standing freeze”of the Medicare rebate exacerbatedthe problem, as it added to thegrowing out-of-pocket expenses for the patient.

But there were initiatives, such as bulk-billed health assessments for 45-49 year olds, available that could help GPs guidepatients.

“They may not realise the importance of taking the time to check on their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes risk, skin cancer risk or other factors,” Dr Welbourne said.

“During this health check, they may gain some valuable tips on how to lose weight, quit smoking, or increase their physical activity – all with no out-of-pocket expense.”

In the greater Hunter area, the Muswellbrook region recorded the highest number of people drinking alcohol at “risky” levels at 27.5 per cent, followed by Hamilton and Broadmeadow at 25.7 per cent andBranxton, Greta and Pokolbin at 25.3 per cent.

The national average was 18.2 per cent.

Kurri Kurri and Abermain had the highest number of smokers at 25.1 per cent in the region, followed by Mount Hutton and Windale at 24.9 per cent, and Cessnock at 24.5 per cent. This wasagainst the national average of 12.8 per cent.

Tamworth recorded the highest number of smokers in NSW, with 29.6 per cent.

Experts tell visitors to steer clear as notorious Fingal Spit returns in all its glory

June 20th, 2019

Warnings and the killer sand DEADLY: The notorious Fingal Spit at Port Stephens has quickly re-formed since being washed away in June, prompting warnings about instability. At least 15 people have been killed there. Picture: Tim Connell.
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DEADLY: The notorious Fingal Spit at Port Stephens has quickly re-formed since being washed away in June, prompting warnings about instability. At least 15 people have been killed there. Picture: Tim Connell.

DEADLY: The notorious Fingal Spit at Port Stephens has quickly re-formed since being washed away in June, prompting warnings about instability. At least 15 people have been killed there. Picture: Tim Connell.

DEADLY: The notorious Fingal Spit at Port Stephens has quickly re-formed since being washed away in June, prompting warnings about instability. At least 15 people have been killed there. Picture: Tim Connell.

TweetFacebookTHE famed Fingal Spit, a deadly beauty which has claimed 15 lives as well as being responsible for Lara Bingle, has made another grand entrance.

After being washed away during June’s storms, some experts predicted the photogenic stretch of sand connecting Fingal Bay with the island may remain missing for years.

But the prevailing conditions have been perfect for a quick rebuild, and the magnificent spot where Ms Bingle, now Mrs Worthington, stood and asked the world where everyone was, has returned in all its glory.

But the warnings remain, with locals gentling reminding tourists that at least 15 people had been swept to their deaths from fast moving currents, sometimes not even knee deep.

“You could drive a truck along it at the moment,’’ well-known resident and author John “Stinker” Clarke said on Tuesday.

“But I would never be promoting anyone to walk along it.

“Steer clear, people.

“It’s just so dangerous, there have been umpteen deaths over the years and we don’t want any more.

“And that big southerly swell we had pounding us over the weekend could have destabilised it even more.’’

In November 2013, a Sydney man was swept away and drowned while trying to wade across the notorious formation.

A friend survived.

The spit is thought to have formed in the “Maitland Gales”of the 1890s, when pounding swells tore apart a thin spine of vegetation.

Knights have abstained from joining the rebel clubs hoping to overthrow John Grant

June 20th, 2019

UNDER SIEGE: ARL Commission chairman John Grant THE Newcastle Knights have abstained from joining the rebel clubs hoping to overthrow ARL Commission chairman John Grant, saying they are in an “invidious” position and need to remain neutral.
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Along with Gold Coast Titans, the Knights are under NRL ownership and, as such, Newcastle chairman Brian McGuigan said the club could scarcely become involved in an uprising against the governing body.

“You can’t bite the hand that feeds you,” McGuigan told the Newcastle Herald.

The Titans have also declined to join the coup against Grant, triggered afterlast week’s summit in Sydney at which the code’s most powerfulofficialinformed the clubs that a memorandum of understanding –proposing an increase in funding to 30 per cent more than the salary cap –had been withdrawn. Initially all 16 clubs were unanimous in signing a vote of no-confidence in Grant.

But McGuigan said that, with the benefit of hindsight and after many phone calls, both the Knights and Titans decided they could not support the boycott.

“The Titans are in similar position to us, and we have agreed that we will abstain from voting on this issue,’’ McGuigan said.

“It’s just invidious for us to proceed. At the same time, we’ve done that with the goodwill of the remaining clubs, who have been very understanding of our delicate position.’’

McGuigan said he had spoken at length with Grant but no pressure had been applied to the Knights, either from the ARLC or their fellow clubs.

He was hopeful the Knights and Titans could play the role of “circuit breakers” in the impasse.

“The NRL have been unbelievable supporters of the Knights, and I think they also have of the Titans,’’ McGuigan said.

“They have not put us under any pressure to do one thing or the other.

“They have allowed us to make ourown decision.

“I’ve spoken to John a number of times over the last few days, and he has neverasked us not to sign with the other clubs.

NEUTRAL: Knights chairman Brian McGuigan

“He’s been very honourable and…to their great credit, the clubs agreed that it was intolerable for us.

“Everybody, the Commission and the clubs, understands how invidious it is for us to be in the position we are in.’’

McGuigan said he could also empathise with the disgruntled clubs, who had been expecting a significant increase in their annual grants.

The funding model, which was agreed to by both parties last year, was set to deliver an extra $100 million to the 16 clubs per year.

But Grant argued that they could no longer afford it, sayingother issues deservedprecedence, including grassroots investment and a sinking fund to support struggling clubs.

The Commission was trying to schedule peace talks for later this week, but McGuigan said it was likely that most clubs would“probably boycott” any such meeting.

“The clubs were offended, and rightly so,’’ McGuigan said.

“Initially when I agreed to sign the letter, with the other clubs, supporting the removal of the chairman, I thought it was a strategy.

“But after speaking to Rebecca [Titans chairwomanRebeccaFrizelle], and realising the ramifications,we explained to the other 14 clubs that we would abstain from the recommendation, and they agreed with us.’’

Newcastle harbour, Port of Newcastle, a day in the lifephotos, interactive

June 20th, 2019

Newcastle’s working harbour – a day in the life | photos, interactive No matter what the weather, tug boats work in the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak
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Daily life in Newcastle’s working harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Pacific Dawn sneaking past Nobbys Lighthouse on dawn as an early morning swimmer takes a dip at Nobbys Beach. Picture: Simone De Peak

The Pacific Dawn arrives in Newcastle harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Busy morning on the harbour as a tugboat assists the Pacific Dawn as it arrives in Newcastle harbour and the Ferry leaves for Stockton. Picture: Simone De Peak

An early morning jogger looks on at the Pacific Dawn as it arrives in Newcastle harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

The Pacific Dawn leaves Newcastle, with a view of a rainbow. Picture: Simone De Peak

Daily life on Newcastle harbour, fishing on sunset. Picture: Simone De Peak

Blue swimmer and mud crabs can be found in the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

In our harbour, there’s a smorgasbord of fish to find, from hairtail, bream, jewfish, flathead and mullet to prawns. Picture: Simone De Peak

Fisherman Phil Blanch is a third generation fisherman. Picture: Simone De Peak

A fisherman’s net. Picture: Simone De Peak

Fisherman Phil Blanch has been fishing for 36 years. Picture: Simone De Peak

Ferry deckhand Alex Sutherland loves the people he meets and cruising the harbour every day. Picture: Simone De Peak

Commuters on the Newcastle Ferry, departing Stockton for Newcastle. Picture: Simone De Peak

Morning commuters on the ferry from Stockton to Newcastle. Picture: Simone De Peak

Thee view looking from the back of the ferry towards Stockton. Picture: Simone De Peak

Ferry deckhand Alex Sutherland greeting passengers. Picture: Simone De Peak

Robert Kelly described the work of the multibeam echosounder. Picture: Simone De Peak

Senior hydrographic surveyor with the Port of Newcastle Robert Kelly. Picture: Simone De Peak

Hydrographic surveyor Darren Stocker on a survey vessel which monitors the depth of the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Hydrographic surveyor Darren Stocker on a survey vessel which monitors the depth of the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Tugs helping push a boat out of the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Tug boats working in the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Tugboat working in Newcastle harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Tug boat working in the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Diver Doug Wilson takes a dip. Picture: Simone De Peak

Stand-by diver Tyne Smith helping diver Doug Wilson prepare to go underwater. Picture: Simone De Peak

Harbour diver Doug Wilson packing up after his dive. Picture: Simone De Peak

Dustin Besse and Doug Wilson inspecting harbourside development. Picture: Simone De Peak

Senior Constable Gavin Newton conducting marine safety compliance and random breath testing as Stephen Penfold and his dog Brandy enjoy some morning fishing. Picture: Simone De Peak

Sergeant Justin Harrison leads his team of six water police officers. Picture: Simone De Peak

Newcastle Marine Police conduct the same duties as police that patrol the streets, expect on the water. Picture: Simone De Peak

Senior Constable Gavin Newton conducting marine safety compliance and random breath testing out in the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Sergeant Justin Harrison with Senior Constable Gavin Newton and Constable Jon Clarke patrolling the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

A seal basking in the sun on a buoy near Newcastle breakwall. Picture: Simone De Peak

People sit on large rocks at the end of the Stockton breakwall as a seal floats on its back waving its flippers. Picture: Simone De Peak

Svitzer tug master Ben Holder with chief eningeer Col Shilton taking a ship out of the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Svitzer tug master Ben Holder helps to steer a ship out of the harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Gerard Inkston, deckhand assisting a boat which about to leave the Newcastle Port after being filled with asphalt. Picture: Simone De Peak

Gerard Inkston, deckhand and Col Shilton, chief engineer assisting a boat which is about to leave the Newcastle Port after being filled with asphalt. Picture: Simone De Peak

Dredging of the Port of Newcastle to maintain deep water access to the port. Picture: Simone De Peak

Destiny Sculpture at Dyke Point in Newcastle Harbour. Picture: Simone De Peak

Port of Newcastle CEO Geoff Crowe feels lucky to have Newcastle’s greatest asset in his hands. Picture: Simone De Peak

View from Nobbys Lighthouse of a fishing boat heading out on dusk. Picture: Simone De Peak

The view of Newcastle breakwall from Newcastle Lighthouse. Picture: Simone De Peak

Yachts out late on a Friday afternoon. Picture: Simone De Peak

Pelican’s take in the view looking across to Orica on sunrise. Picture: Simone De Peak

Dredging of the Port of Newcastle to maintain deep water access to the port. Picture: Simone De Peak

Newcastle Lighthouse comes to life as the last of the days light goes. Picture: Simone De Peak

Newcastle Lighthouse comes to life as the last of the days light goes. Picture: Simone De Peak

TweetFacebookWorking Harbour full story hereLife on Newcastle harbour isn’t easy – it can be wet, cold, dirty and often lonely.

But, for Fullerton Cove fisherman Phil Blanch, there is no better place to be.

And he’s thought that for the 36 years he’s been fishing.

His opinion is echoed by the many other harbour workers. Ferry deckhands, harbour divers, marine police, tug masters, hydro surveyors and even the Port of Newcastle CEO all agree – it’s great to work on the harbour.

As the morning sun rises over the water and a brisk breeze drifts around the harbour, even when it carries a sometimes-pungent smell of fish, it’s hard to disagree.

The way of life is what Phil loves most about his job.

“It’s a beautiful spot to be in, you can’t beat it: it’s a lifestyle,” he said.

“Imagine in the spring when the sun comes out and it’s crystal and warm – there’s no better place to be,” he said.

A fisherman’s day can start as early as 3am and can continue long into the night. It depends what you’re catching, what season it is and whether there’s competition about.

“It’s a hard life,” Phil says with a chuckle as he clasps a fish captured in his net and throws it into a bucket.

In our harbour, there’s a smorgasbord of fish to find, from hairtail, bream, jewfish, flathead and mullet to prawns and blue swimmer and mud crabs.

Phil is a multipurpose fisherman with multiple licenses, allowing him to catch fish, prawns and crabs.

But, it comes with responsibility.

“Tourists take everything, but commercial fisherman try to respect the industry,” he said.

“The popularity of hairtail fish really, really hurt the industry this year.”

It’s not just the tourists Phil needs to watch out for. There’s competition among commercial fishermen too. He says you’ve got to be careful on the water, especially leaving crab traps out, because there’s thieves about.

Fishing is like a game, Phil says, you never know who has already been on the water before you.

“It’s a shhh kind of game,” he said.

And it’s a game that, according to Phil, is in your blood. A third generation fisherman himself, Phil says on those freezing, lonely nights it can be hard, but there’s something special about being on the water alone, with nothing but fish to keep you company.

“I love the fresh air, the water does something to you. It’s like a campfire you just want to sit and watch.

“You don’t earn no money, but it’s beautiful being out in the water, plus you get to eat fresh seafood.”

Although it’s a competitive industry, it doesn’t stop fellow fishing mates from having a yack on the water.

“There are many other blokes you run into and you end up sitting there and talking for an hour,” Phil said.

“But, it’s not just the blokes that come up to you, the pelicans do too.”

Phil remembers an inquisitive dolphin peering about in the harbour once upon a time.

He says it used to come right up to the side of the boats, and it stuck around for about four years, but then disappeared.

“It was marvellous, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

In fact, in his time as a fisherman, there’s been more than a few times where he’s seen the unexpected.

He’s put nets out and retrieved pistols, rusted safes and the usual items like shopping trolleys and car parts.

“It’s a funny little industry,” he said.

“Every day is different, it beats being inside all day.”

And that sentiment is echoed by harbour diver David Purser. Much of David’s life has been spent under or on top of water and he says there’s a certain amount of nerve you’ve got to have to be in that line of work.

He’s been working on Newcastle harbour since 1973 and says while the equipment and safety requirements of the job have changed, the job itself has stayed the same.

David owns marine structure and rehabilitation company Harbourworks and together with his three-man team, they do everything from underwater welding, to underwater carpentry and even cutting steel two inches thick underwater.

“Anything that is in the water and under the water, we work on,” David said.

Their work is labour intensive and requires a certain level of fitness, especially because they can be underwater for up to four hours carrying a 12kg helmet on their head, an oxygen tank on their back and specialist tools in their hands.

“The divers have to do push ups regularly to keep up their shoulder strength,” David says with a smirk.

Today, divers go through diving schools, but in the earlier days, David said you learnt by getting a job on the harbour, which is exactly what he did.

He started by cleaning the bottom of ships while they were in the harbour. But, his love for the water started much earlier than that.

“I spent my life on the water, I was a spear fisherman beforehand,” he said.

“We’ve all spent our lives on the water because to do this job, you have to be water orientated.”

You also need to have a lot of confidence in what you’re doing, because most of the time, you’re working with about half a metre of visibility.

“If you can see your hands, that’s a good thing,” he jokes.

“People ask us about running into sharks while we work, but we can’t see them either.”

A lot of the work the divers do is in complete darkness. Doug Wilson has been a diver for 10 years and said he developed a familiarity with the work his hands needed to do.

“It’s definitely hard work, you’ve got to have a certain amount of nerve” David said.

“But, we go to work each day and it’s never the same.”

The Knights have signed Kayln Ponga to a four-year contractpoll

May 20th, 2019

KNIGHTS chief executive Matt Gidley said speculation about the size of Kalyn Ponga’s deal had been “wildly exaggerated” after Newcastle confirmed on Monday they had signed the teenage sensation for four years.
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Reports havesuggested the North Queensland 18-year-old, who has appeared in only two NRL games, would be paid up to $3.6 million by Newcastle over five seasons. The tenure of the contract is actually one year less than that, running from 2018 until the end of 2021, although the Knights will attempt to convince Cowboys officials to grant Pongaan early release so that he can move south before next season kicks off.

“If it was just about the money, Kalyn would not have come to Newcastle,’’ Gidley said.

“There was plenty of other interest out there in him.’’

Ponga visited Newcastle on the weekend to put pen to paper, two weeks after agreeing to terms.

Gidley said there had been some “very initial” discussions with North Queensland about the possibility of expediting his release.

Cowboys coach Paul Green has already indicated he wants the utility back to see out his contract and spend 2017 in Townsville.

“As it stands, we are excited about Kalyn joining us in 2018,” Gidley said in a club statement.

“Should the Cowboys decide to release Kalyn before the conclusion of his contract, we would certainly welcome him to the club at an earlier date.”

Gidley said Newcastle had salary cap space to accommodate Ponga in 2017 if that chance arose.

Speculation has been rife for the past two weeks that Newcastle had beaten a host of rival clubs and codes to secure the services of the hottest prospect in rugby league.

Knights legends Andrew and Matthew Johns and Danny Buderus all played a role in convincing Ponga to join the back-to-back wooden spooners.

“There is no doubt Kalyn is a very talented and exciting young player and his signing is definitely a coup for the club,” Knights coach Nathan Brown said on Monday.

“We look forward to further developing his talent and welcoming his family to Newcastle.”

NEW RECRUIT: Kayln Ponga has signed a four-year deal with Newcastle.

Short Takes

May 20th, 2019

MEANWHILE, back at the farm, Donald certainly trumped all his opponents to win the game and take out the pot, but he only played the hand he was dealt. When all the cards are on the table, he could be the ace in the hole to make the good ol’ US of A trumps again.
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Ron Elphick, Buff PointFOR many years Derryn Hinch bragged that he didn’t vote, because it was his “democratic right” not to. Then with a criminal record, he runs for the Senate, and gets elected. Please explain.

Mick Miller, Salamander BaySHED no tears for Fidel Castro,a murdering tyrant the likes of Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara. The left, theABC luvvies, the Greens, “clever people” elitists in academia, showbiz, etc – along with all the “chaff head celeb set” members – will all be wailing and breast beating over the death of a tyrant.

Howard Hutchins, Chirnside ParkTHE latest proposed route for V8 Supercars race travels through a heritage conservation area deemed only suitable for ‘passive entertainment’. Has the council considered a heritage impact statement for this event? It appears it is a case of the council having one rule for residents and another for private companies.

Pauline Kilby, Newcastle EastFOR years we have heard of the plans GPT had for transforming the Hunter Street mall and how it all hinged on the removal of the rail line. Now twoyears after the line’s demise they are walking away from these plans. Could it be they now realise that they have driven visitors out of the CBD by removing this valuable infrastructure?

Lance Makings, CardiffWITH the death of Fidel Castro, the CIA will no doubt be instigating covert operations in Cuba, whilst the US administration will push trade embargoes in exchange for concessions. Watch this space.

Dennis Petrovic, RutherfordTOO many companies are reliant on 457 visas – even in Newcastle. Have been employed at one stage by one in hospitality industry andhave long been conflicted. Tony Abbott eased conditions – why has it taken Bill Shorten so long to wake up?

Sue Perkins, Adamstown HeightsTHE POLLSHave you given up on the Jets?

Yes 57%, No 43%Do you think their is a connection between mining and seismic activity?

Yes 69%, No 31%Do you support plans to build a helipad at Trinity Point?

Yes 44%, No 35%, Don’t care 18%, Unsure 3%MESSAGEBOARDA REUNION of former employees of the BHP Engineering Technology Drawing Offices will be held at Wests Cardiff on Friday, December 2 from 11am,with lunch at the bistro at noon. For further information, please call Noel James on4957 4714.

Kaine Geoffrey Jones pleads guilty to manslaughter of 56-year-old tourist Graeme Wilton at Mannering Park

May 20th, 2019

GUILTY: Kaine Geoffrey Jones has admitted to killing Graeme Wilton following a road rage incident at Mannering Park. Prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to manslaughter and dropped the murder charge. Picture: Darren Pateman.A MARTIAL arts boxer has admitted killing a 56-year-old tourist after punching him to the ground in a road rage incident at Mannering Park.
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Graeme Wilton was on a two-year trip around Australia with his wife when his late afternoon walk was interrupted by a screeching utility on December 12, 2013.

Behind the wheel was Muay Thay boxer Kaine Geoffrey Jones, who had already punched another man in the car park of a Central Coast shopping centre less than six months previously.

Victim Graeme Wilton.

Witnesses were to tell police they saw Mr Wilton bang his palms on the bonnet then raise his hands in the air.

They allege the older man threw his hands into the air and walked along the driver’s side of the car, speaking in the direction of the driver when Jones got out and punched Mr Wilton to the head, causing him to fall back and hit his head on the bitumen.

Jones then did a burnout within metres of Mr Wilton’s body and took off at speed.

Mr Wilton regained consciousness and was taken to Wyong Hospital, before being transferred to Royal North Shore intensive care unit where he was placed in an induced coma and underwent two surgeries to reduce the swelling on his brain.

He died on February 10.

Jones was due to face a murder trial in Newcastle Supreme Court on Monday before prosecutors accepted aguilty plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

In doing so, Jones has admitted killing Mr Wilton and will remain behind bars until his sentencing proceedings are heard on Wednesday.

He has told police that Mr Wilton “ran out in front of the road, in the middle of the road, and I tried to get around him, but he side-stepped in front of me, so I locked the car up and he slammed his hands on the bonnet”, court documents have revealed.

In the documents tendered when he was committed for trial, Jones also said Wilton assaulted him before Jones got out of the car and punched Mr Wilton.

Less than six months earlier, a man needed dental work to re-align his teeth after he was punched repeatedly by Jones in the car park of Westfield Tuggerah.

Letters to the Editor: Tuesday, November 28, 2016

May 20th, 2019

BRAVE: Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson is to be admired for his integrity, says reader Olga Parkes.
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I WONDER how many people, Anglican or not, feel proud, as I do, of Bishop Greg Thompson.

In particular for his courage and integrity at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?

I believe he is a shining example of honesty and courage.

Thank you Bishop Greg.

Olga Parkes,New Lambton HeightsMarriage meaning is clearFOR John Sorensen (‘Searching for the meaning of marriage’, Letters, 25/11), the historical meaning of marriage is outdated and archaic. But even in the ‘updated’ definition of marriage that he quotes, the ‘some jurisdictions’ where marriage specifically means a union between a man and a woman are actually most of the world.

Just over 20countries out of more than 190 have same-sex ‘marriage’, only one of the 10most populous countries, only one country in Africa, no country in Asia and, in our part of the world, only New Zealand.

Historically, the word ‘marriage’ sometimes is qualified, as in polygamous marriage or incestuousmarriage, but the concept of sexual complementarity has been constant.

Because ‘marriage’ derives from the Indo-European root word ‘mari’ or young woman, it makes no sense to use the word to describe a relationship between two blokes.

‘Matrimony’, coming from the Latin ‘mater’ for ‘mother’ and ‘monium’ meaning state or condition, means motherhood and family. It can only be a man-woman thing.

Peter Dolan, LambtonMessage of thanksI AM writing this letter in response to John Sorensen’s piece (Letters 25/11), that married heterosexual grumpy old man.John, that was a beautifully crafted and thoughtful letter.

It doesn’t raise any new issues regarding same gender marriage other than that of semantics (as you say).I, like you, found similar definitions of marriage in the dictionaries I perused, and you are right. The meaning of marriage can be taken various ways depending on the belief of the readers and the culture from which they come.Thank you John.

Les Field, WickhamHitting the wrong noteI CAN’T understand why the Reserve Bank feels the need to reassure the Australian public about the new $5note.

Apart from the fact that vending machines won’t accept them, I can’t see a problem with them.

So why are they advertisingto sell it to us when we don’t really have a choice. Seems to me it isanother example of a waste of Australian taxpayers’ dollars.

Neil Meyers, Warners BayWho’s paying the bill?ON my regular drive to the beautiful Nelson Bay area, I come across two or three large electronic billboards warning me – “Caution trucks turning left.”

These are located just before and after the Newcastle Airport turn-off and have been in operation for at least six months.

As a result, the dual lane carriageway has been reduced to 60kmh from 80kmh. As yet, and I travel the road very regularly, I have not yet seen a truck turning left.

I find it surprising that I have to be warned of a truck turning left on such a road. Surely drivers, even those with poor eyesight, can see such a large vehicle? Who is paying for these signs? They can’t be cheap.

It seems to me that it is a case of using a nuclear bomb to boil water.

Paul Sutcliffe,Fern BayBad bag decisionA TERRIBLE decision was made last week whenthe NSW Baird government refused to join South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, ACT and the Northern Territory in banning single-use plastic bags.

About fivebillion of the these bags are handed out each year, 150 million polluting our environment. About 95 per centof dead birds’ stomachs have been found to contain pieces of plastic. Even third world countries like Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania have banned them.

This is a slap in the face for the hundreds of Lake Macquarie citizens who signed petitions and sent letters to the NSW government to act on this critical issue. I call on all Hunter members of NSW parliament to get the Baird government to reverse its decision and ban single-use plastic bags.

We need also to get Coles and Woolworths to act as Aldi and Bunnings have done. It is time for customers to bring their own bags or buy a reusable one – we can do the right thing even if Baird can’t.

Stephen Noel Dewar, TorontoCheck the clauseVIC Miller is at it again, telling councils how to run meetings (“Counting the votes”, Letters, 25/11) using generic rules that don’t necessarily apply to local government.

Where does the Local Government Act “direct that the mayor votes asmayor, not as a councillor at council meetings”?

He also admits that ”there is nothing inthe Local Government Act saying how this (mayoral) vote is to be used”.

Has he read Part M, clause 67 (“Casting Vote”) of Newcastle council’s code meeting practice (which must be compliant with the act)?Keith Parsons, NewcastleIGNORING THE SIGNSIT seems that most motorists who frequent the intersections of Glebe Street andBurwood Road in Kahibah don’t realise that the ‘Stop’ signstill means exactly that.

The other day whilst attempting to cross (on foot) the aforementioned intersection, I watched as seven vehicles went blissfully east through the signs, and acouple more decided to go through the sign going west.

Taking my life in my hands, I wended my way to a little safety island.

A queue had banked up on the lot going west, not stopping because they had to but waiting for the others going through.I managed to squeeze myself between two cars, raised my hand andsmiled as I mounted the footpath.

Perhaps in future I may carry a banner which reads ‘Stopmeans STOP’, or like the olden days when someone walked in front of a vehicle, waving a red flag.

In all sincerity, I worry that someone won’t be quick enough to dodge these thoughtless drivers.

Daphne Hughes, Kahibah

When should you put up your Christmas tree?

April 20th, 2019

Photo: iStockDecember 1 is the day when everyone is allowed to put up their Christmas tree.It’s tradition, right? Bad luck to go early?
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The Obamas already have their tree, but won’t flip the lights switch until later this week. Boy and girl Scouts were selling fresh Christmas trees at Bunnings on the weekend. If you went by the timing of supermarkets, your tree would have been up for three months already.

Actually, the rule is, there is no rule. Only the rule you grew up with.

Monash University Professor GaryBouma, sociologiston religiousdiversity, saysfamilies and individuals abide by the traditions of Christmas that they grew up with as achild at home.

“It really is what you grew up with, but for some of us it is alsowhen you have the time to throw the thing up,” Professor Bouma said.

He said thetradition of resisting putting up the tree beforeDecember 1 is a strong one in Australia, but not everyone abides by it.

Many Christians will only put up decorations on the night beforeChristmas Eve and never during Advent, which began on Sunday, November 27 this year.

“Traditionally, for many Christians,Advent is a time offasting – none of this extra food that we do normally inAustralia- and you can’tsing Christmas carols,” Professor Bouma said.

“But in Australia I’ve noticed that the partying starts about now,” he said.

He said the Christmas tree was essentially unknown in Britainuntil Prince Albert, a German, brought it to the masses. At the time, periodicalslike theIllustrated London Newsbegan describing the royal tree in intricate detail.

At the White House, President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will “flip the switch”on December 1, but took delivery of their huge tree on November 25, giving others the right to start thinking about doing the same. It isn’t always on December 1 though, last year it was December 3 – making it the first Thursday in December.

So when should thetree that takes up a lot of space in your lounge room come down?

For some, the tree must come down by January 6 – or the Epiphany when the three kings are said to have arrived. What exactly happens if you don’t pull the tree down by thenisn’t clear. Some sayhobgoblins will come to wreck your house for an entireyear if you don’t pull it down by then.

“There is a largetraditionofChristmastrees coming down by theEpiphany, but that is not true in France. InFrance, it starts amonthofcelebrations and eating,” he said.

The Epiphany heralds the arrival of thegallettederois- the cake of kings – apastry and marzipan affair baked in rings.

Professor Boumasaid the tradition of pulling down trees in Australia by January 6 might be because of the warmer climate.He saidin Europe and America the trees would often stay up well afterChristmas, until they driedout and became a fire hazard. He said those trees were heavily hydrated compared to Australian fresh Christmas trees, which grew under drier conditions.

“They are bad enough when they are new and full of juice but they dry out and become tinderbox,” he said.

For others it is when they get tired of the cat attacking the tree and pulling off the decorations.

Professor Bouma said the good thing about the great Christmas tree dispute is that it makes for lively conversations.

​”I don’t want tocomplainabout Christmas tradition crossing civilisations. People will have disputes about local variations and this enriches conversations and traditions that families find terribly important,” Professor Bouma said.

Brisbane Times