Archive for June, 2019

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

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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.”