Industrial heritage buildings on BHP site to be demolished

The Medical Centre, or Ambulance Station, is one of the heritage buildings to be demolished on the old BHP site. THEY’VE been part of Newcastle’s industrial heritage for almost 100 years, but they will soon be bulldozed to allow for the decontamination of the old BHP steelworks site at Mayfield.
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Almost 12 months since the Newcastle Herald revealed their likely fate, and despite a campaign to save them, the old medical centre, patterns store and master mechanic’s building on the BHP site will come down.

The Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association, led by a group of former BHP workers, was successful in getting an interim heritage order over the old buildings last year.

But state Heritage Minister Rob Stokes has backed the Heritage Council which determined the buildings had no state significance.

The minister has now revoked the interim order and the privately-run Port of Newcastle is clear to demolish the buildings.

The Master Mechanics Office is also set to be removed.

Association president Bob Cook was overseas yesterday and unavailable for comment, but the group’s vice president Aub Brooks said the decision was disappointing.

‘‘It’s just a bloody shame,’’ Mr Brooks said.

‘‘My view is a personal one and I don’t want to sound morbid, but people lost a lot of good mates in that medical centre and a lot of people were treated there, so there’s a big emotional attachment to it as well.

‘‘The old buildings are in pretty good shape so I just don’t understand why they can’t be re-used in some way.’’

The old patterns store lacks any great architectural merit, but its historic value is in the materials used to build it in 1917.

The art deco medical centre and the ornate mechanics office both remain in good condition.

The old patterns store lacks any great architectural merit, but its historic value is in the materials used to build it in 1917. The sandstone came out of Duckenfield House at Morpeth – a residential mansion built in the early 1800s.

Port of Newcastle said the sandstone will be kept and preserved, but the buildings will be removed to allow for complete remediation of the site.

Mr Brooks is currently leading the charge for a permanent memorial to be built on the Mayfield site to honour those workers who were killed while working for BHP. The memorial itself is being constructed off-site and Mr Brooks is hopeful that it might be installed before June 2 this year when BHP marks 100 years of operations in Newcastle.

It is possible that some of the sandstone from the patterns house will be incorporated into the memorial.

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David Warner told by Cricket Australia boss to ‘stop looking for trouble’

Greg Baum: David Warner should restrict aggression to his batting
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Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland says he is satisfied that David Warner’s “speak English” run-in with India’s Rohit Sharma was not racially motivated but has told the fiery Australian opener he needs to “stop looking for trouble”.

Warner was fined 50 per cent – $3028 – of his match fee from Australia’s win over India in Melbourne on Sunday night by the ICC, and on Monday New Zealand great Martin Crowe led an outcry calling for steeper punishment for on-field abuse.

The incident was the latest in a summer of often in-your-face confrontations involving Australian and Indian players, and not for the first time Warner, a noted antagoniser, was front and centre.

In no uncertain terms he has been told to pull his head in by Sutherland.

“I have spoken to David to understand what happened in the incident with Rohit Sharma yesterday and to remind him of his responsibilities as an Australian cricketer and a role model,” Sutherland said.

“He has worked very hard on his leadership and behaviour over the past 12 months and I have told him very clearly that instances like this only serve to set back the progress he has made. Quite simply, he needs to stop looking for trouble.

“This is the second time he has been before the ICC match referee this season and that’s twice too often.

“From my discussion with David, I am satisfied that his comments to Rohit Sharma were not racially motivated. That said, I have reminded him that he needs to carefully reconsider the manner in which he approaches these sorts of situations in the future.”

The flashpoint in Melbourne comes amid reports that the ICC will clamp down heavily on sledging and on-field abuse during the World Cup.

Sunday’s episode began in seemingly innocuous circumstances after Sharma took an overthrow from an errant Warner throw.

Warner was seen to mouth to the Indian century-maker the words “Speak English” after the Australian instigated a confrontation, but argued in a radio interview on Monday that he was simply telling Rohit he could not understand him.

“When I went over to say something to him, he sort of said something in their language and I said ‘speak English’ because, if you’re going to say something, understand that theoretically I cannot speak Hindi,” Warner told Sky Sports Radio.

“I did the polite thing and asked him to speak English, therefore he did and I can’t repeat what he said.”

Warner added that he had been “in the wrong … I shouldn’t have engaged him”.

The 28-year-old has tried to clean up his image after his well-publicised dramas, revelling in his new life as a family man and a cleanskin as well as one of the world’s most prolific batsmen, and the altercation with Sharma is a blow to those efforts.

It had been Warner who before the fourth Test in Sydney had called for a truce on “send-offs” for opposition batsmen. The altercation with Sharma was not in that category but was similarly ugly.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann said his team’s aggressive approach meant they were bound to “teeter pretty close” to the line of what was acceptable, and said Warner would be spoken to.

“David is an aggressive character, and we support that,” Lehmann said. “We’re just making sure he does the right things on the ground. He knows that anyway, better than most, so we’ll work with him with that.”

That isn’t enough for Crowe, who slammed Warner for his “thuggish behaviour” in a column for ESPNCricinfo and called for the introduction of yellow and red cards in cricket. If a player receives two yellow cards, resulting in a red as in football, they should be banned for six months, Crowe argues, echoing concerns previously aired by Ian Chappell that there is destined to be an on-field punch-cup if authorities do not make a stand.

“My concern in the immediate future will be that Warner will be in the centre of an ugly on-field fight during the upcoming World Cup,” Crowe wrote.

“Warner can play, but he is the most juvenile cricketer I have seen on a cricket field. I don’t care how good he is: if he continues to show all those watching that he doesn’t care, he must be removed, either by Cricket Australia or definitely by the world governing body.”

By coincidence Warner’s combatant from the Birmingham Walkabout in 2013, Joe Root, was England’s designated player to speak to media on Monday ahead of their match against India at the Gabba.

Asked about the Warner-Sharma incident and Crowe’s concerns, Root said: “There have been a few things that have happened over the last six months and that is not good for the game. But I can’t really see it going that far to lead to a punch-up … it’s not ice hockey.

“I think someone would have to be in a really bad place to do that.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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Compliance order issued for Mitre 10Wyong

Doug EatonA MITRE 10 hardware store that opened in a nursery last year without Wyong Shire Council approval, and while Wyong mayor Doug Eaton was a director of the company behind it, is the subject of a Fire and Rescue NSW emergency fire safety order after an inspection in late December.
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Fire and Rescue NSW’s fire safety assessment unit will return to the Big Flower nursery at Ourimbah on Wednesday to check on compliance with an order issued on January 6 requiring ‘‘clear paths of travel’’ through the Eaton and Sons Mitre 10 hardware store and the maintenance of exit signs.

‘‘Fire and Rescue NSW will then determine if any fire safety matters need to be reported to Wyong Shire Council,’’ a spokesman said.

The inspection came nearly six months after the hardware store opened on June 1 as a tenant inside the nursery, without council approval, only days after a development application was lodged and while Mr Eaton was still a director of Eaton and Sons.

Wyong council is yet to consider the company’s application to change the use of part of the nursery to allow a hardware store after complaints from the public. Eaton and Sons also has outlets at Cessnock, Singleton and Cooranbong.

The development application was lodged after Ourimbah residents wrote to the council and the Office of Local Government to query why the Mitre 10 store had not been advertised, or the subject of an application to the council.

‘‘We have no objections to a Mitre 10 store in this area, what we do object to is the way this has been done,’’ wrote residents’ spokeswoman Diane Willard to the Office of Local Government on June 14.

In an email from China, where he is leading a Wyong delegation meeting with a Chinese university about establishing a Wyong campus, Mr Eaton said he had resigned as a director of Eaton and Sons ‘‘quite a while ago’’, and it was ‘‘my understanding…the applicants believed, on the basis of legal advice, that no DA was required’’.

An Australian Securities and Investments Commission search showed Mr Eaton became a director in February 1981 and resigned on June 20 last year. He remains a company secretary.

Big Flower nursery owner Chris Boes said Mr Eaton approached him in late 2013 about Eaton and Sons taking over part of the nursery site to run a hardware store.

In November Mr Boes lodged a second development application with the council, seeking an amendment of the Big Flower’s original approval in 1991 to include the word ‘‘hardware’’ in the list of merchandise that can be sold from the site.

Mr Eaton is Wyong Council’s longest serving councillor. He was first elected in 1991.

He is in his fourth term as mayor after stints in 1996-97, 2010-11, and 2012-13, and has degrees in commerce and law from the University of NSW.

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Another ‘pitchsider’ tossed out of SCG as cricket authorities crack down on betting at games

Cricket authorities’ bid to eradicate so-called pitchsiding from their venues took another twist during the first match of the triangular one-day series with an Indian national evicted from the SCG.
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The man was removed early on in the Australia-England match on Friday after being suspected of using his phone to transmit ball-by-ball information.

Fairfax Media understands he also had tickets in his possession to the remaining games of the tri-series, which continues with England playing India at the Gabba on Wednesday.

The spectator’s ejection in Sydney comes less than a month after another another man, 30-year-old British national Rajiv Mulchandani, was charged with alleged trespass offences.

He was found to have re-entered ANZ Stadium, for a Big Bash game between Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder, only days after being issued a ban notice from the Sydney Olympic Park precinct when tossed out of another BBL game between the Thunder and Brisbane Heat. Mulchandani had also been evicted from the Sixers’ match against Melbourne Renegades at the SCG on December 19.

The appearance of another individual suspected of engaging in the activity will have police, security and cricket anti-corruption officials on further alert for the rest of the tri-series, which returns to Sydney on Australia Day, and then for the upcoming World Cup.

Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council are taking a hardline stance against pitchsiding – or courtsiding, as it’s referred to in tennis – and the transmitting of play-by-play information, and are having anyone they believe to be involved removed from grounds under their terms and conditions of entry.

Pitchsiding essentially involves a spectator using an electronic device to bet live in-play from a venue and using the slight difference in overseas broadcasts to potentially gain an advantage over other punters or bookmakers.

Mulchandani was due to appear at Burwood Local Court, Sydney,  on Wednesday.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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DVD REVIEWS: The Equalizer, The Boxtrolls, If I Stay, The Infinite Man

DON’T MESS WITH HIM: Denzel Washington stars as Robert McCall in The Equalizer.THE EQUALIZER (MA 15+)
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Roadshow, 132 minutes

NOMINALLY based on the 1980s’ TV series with Edward Woodward, this gruesome, overlong action thriller from the modestly talented Antoine Fuqua (Olympus Has Fallen) is clearly conceived as the first in a series designed to do for Denzel Washington what the Taken films did for Liam Neeson.

Where Neeson is a professional, grumpy old man, Washington’s gimmick is his easygoing, shooting-the-breeze manner – though his character, Robert McCall, also displays lovably quirky obsessive-compulsive traits, such as using a stopwatch to time how quickly he can kill people.

We first meet this paragon of complexity as a retired CIA agent living anonymously in Boston. Isolated after the death of his wife, he spends his leisure hours in a diner reading classics such as The Old Man and the Sea, which handily doubles as a metaphor for his own lonely heroism.

Another customer at the diner is a husky-voiced underage sex worker (Chloe Grace Moretz) whom he befriends; when she’s menaced by Russian gangsters, it’s his cue to start dishing out ultra-violence once more.

The early scenes with Moretz have the creepy sentimentality associated with Taken’s Luc Besson (the actual screenwriter in this case is Richard Wenk, an action specialist whose credits include The Expendables 2).

Thankfully, her character vanishes once she’s completed the task of setting up the plot, which winds up pitting McCall against an articulate yet deadly Russian sociopath named Teddy, played with some flair by New Zealand actor Marton Csokas.

Besides being an elf in The Lord of the Rings, Csokas has appeared in many Australian films – but you may not recognise him at first, given Fuqua’s technique of shooting him from below so that he looms ominously and lighting his face so every line stands out in harsh relief.

This sort of visual jazziness lends a moderate amount of interest to a film that remains both leaden and absurd.

Fuqua and cinematographer Mauro Fiore opt for a bourbon-and-mahogany colour scheme and play various tricks with reflective surfaces, including a digitally enhanced zoom into McCall’s glistening eyeball as he contemplates how best to dispatch his foes.

If you like spotting allusions to Edward Hopper and watching villains get stabbed with power tools, there’s a fair chance you’ll enjoy The Equalizer a lot more than I did.

Rating: ★★

– Jake Wilson

Universal Sony Pictures, 97 minutes

THE American animation studio Laika has a mixed track record: its 2009 Neil Gaiman adaptation Coraline was truly imaginative, the recent ParaNorman a relative dud.

In general, though, its mock-Gothic stop-motion productions have a richness of texture that’s a welcome alternative to the streamlined style of Pixar.

Directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable, Laika’s latest offering, The Boxtrolls, is more steampunk fantasy than fairytale.

YOUTHFUL UNDERDOG: A scene from the imaginative animation film The Boxtrolls.

The setting is Cheesebridge, a fantastical city resembling 19th-century Paris rebuilt on a steeply sloping island, with narrow tenement blocks looming over winding cobbled streets.

Beneath these streets dwell the Boxtrolls, snot-coloured little monsters who gobble creepy-crawlies and wear cardboard boxes that double as hiding places when they’re scared.

Loosely based on a book by British children’s author Alan Snow, the convoluted plot has the flavour of Dickens or Victor Hugo.

The human hero, known as Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead Wright), is kidnapped as a baby and raised by the Boxtrolls to believe he is one himself.

Above ground, the legend of his disappearance encourages paranoia among Cheesebridge citizens, allowing crazed pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) to pose as the city’s saviour.

In short, this is good subversive kids’ stuff in the tradition of Joe Dante and Tim Burton, championing freaks and youthful underdogs while portraying adults, especially those in authority, as corrupt, foolish or deranged.

There’s also some genuinely witty dialogue, especially the philosophical exchanges between henchmen Mr Pickles (Richard Ayoade) and Mr Trout (Nick Frost).

Rating: ★★★

– Jake Wilson

20th Century Fox, 107 minutes

I MUST admit, I asked myself the same question a few times as I watched the doe-eyed Chloe Grace Moretz wander aimlessly through this rather morbid teen romance.

Of course, I did stay but I have to say it was a rather insipid experience with little drama and an absence of anything resembling an inspiring character.

Moretz plays 17-year-old Mia Hall, eldest daughter in a homely family of musicians-turned-cheesy good folk. There’s ex-drummer dad (Joshua Leonard), ex-groupie mum (Mireille Enos) and little brother Teddy (Jakob Davies), who could have come straight from the set of The Brady Bunch.

Cerebral and an obsessively talented cello player, Mia feels like she’s the odd one out in the family, and when she starts dating Adam (Jamie Blackley), who is the lead guitarist in a fast-rising local rock band, she has trouble fitting into his world, too.

When a terrible car accident puts Mia and her family in hospital on the critical list, we witness Mia’s out-of-body persona both following events at hospital and remembering her romance with Adam.

Neither storyline is particularly absorbing – the teen dating plot following a well-established trajectory of make-up-break-up-repeat, and the hospital plot overly focuses on following Moretz floating in white in various stages of bewilderment.

DOE-EYED: The watchable, ethereal Chloe Grace Moretz stars in If I Stay.

Though Moretz is ethereal and highly watchable, there’s little of any real substance for her – or any other of the cast – in the banal script that Shauna Cross has crafted from the young-adult novel by Gayle Forman. Watch out for young Brit talent Jamie Blackley – he certainly makes the most of his time on screen, even in the most cliched scenes.

Director R.J. Cutler maintains as much interest as possible by cross cutting between plots, but really, there’s no hiding dull slush, even when you throw in a few good songs and some classic cello.

Rating: ★★

– Simon Weaving

Madman Entertainment, 85 minutes

I SAY it with love, but time-travel cinema is the perfect genre for nerds. Stories that double back on themselves, developing into closed systems, nearly always seem like mirrors of the kind of mind that obsesses over detail while ignoring the bigger picture.

A first feature from Australian writer-director Hugh Sullivan, The Infinite Man is part of this solipsistic tradition, as well as a demonstration of what an inventive filmmaker can do on a low budget with a single location and a cast of just three.

Josh McConville plays Dean, a control-freak inventor who heads out with girlfriend, Lana (Hannah Marshall), for a weekend away that he’s planned step by step. But the beach resort where they stayed the previous year appears to have shut, and things worsen with the arrival of Lana’s old boyfriend, Terry (Alex Dimitriades).

Luckily, Dean has brought along a time machine, allowing him to turn back the clock and start again. Like a writer composing draft after draft, or a filmmaker in an editing suite – significantly, Sullivan edited this film – he treats the past as a text to be tinkered with endlessly until he finally gets it right.

The film pitches itself as a cute rom-com, but also as a study of male obsession, a topic broached with some self-awareness. This is a promising film rather than a successful one.

Sullivan needs to find a co-writer: though visually he’s more talented than most Australian directors, his would-be witty dialogue is atrocious, and characters no more than sketches.

Rating: ★★

– Jake Wilson

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Greens ramp up rail risks, push to reverse truncation

TESTED: Cr Michael Osborne with transport spokeswoman Mehreen Faruqi. Picture: Jonathan CarrollGREENS NSW transport spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi stepped off the Sydney train and into a downpour of rain at the temporary transport interchange at Hamilton station.
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On Monday the NSW MLC made the journey from Central Station to Hamilton to see for herself how the interchange, which opened on January 5, was working.

‘‘I have come out here today to investigate really disturbing concerns from the citizens of Newcastle about the chaotic transport situation since the rail line has been cut,’’ Dr Faruqi said.

‘‘And especially the risk to pedestrians and those being dropped off and picked up at the train station.

‘‘Now I have seen it with my own eyes. It is absolutely nightmarish … it is unacceptable and quite extraordinary.

‘‘It is extremely dangerous and risky for pedestrians and those who drive in to drop passengers off.’’

The Newcastle Herald has previously reported criticism of the temporary transit interchange by independent traffic engineers for its lack of pedestrian crossings, among other issues, within close proximity to the station.

Dr Faruqi said there was inadequate shelter getting off the train and onto shuttle busses and to cross the road near the interchange was ‘‘to put your life at risk’’.

‘‘This is not acceptable … we will ramp up the campaign and make sure the Baird government reverses this decision to cut the Newcastle rail line and stop putting people’s lives at risk,’’ she said.

According to Dr Faruqi, the cost of stopping rail truncation, even after so much investment had already taken place, would still be less than the cost of continuing.

And while Dr Faruqi had no figures on hand to support this claim, she said the cost was not just monetary but included inconvenience to commuters, safety and the loss of services.

Newcastle Greens councillor Michael Osborne said the Newcastle Greens were not opposed to light rail.

‘‘We have always said we would consider a light rail solution but the light rail solution should go in first,’’ he said.

‘‘There is no reason we can’t have the existing service all the way to Newcastle and if we want to look at a light rail solution we should be looking at connecting up the university with the hospital with the beaches and looking at an integrated system and not a short shuttle system that is going to make things worse,’’ he said.

Dr Faruqi said she would now write to the Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian outlining her concerns.

While in Newcastle Dr Faruqi also met with activists and said the campaign to stop rail truncation would continue to gain momentum.

‘‘We are developing a plan to stand strong and will not stop until the decision is reversed,’’ she said.

Editor’s note: The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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Youth theatrical group Hunter Drama triumphant in US debut

TRIUMPHANT: Three members of Hunter Drama TRIUMPHANT: Three members of Hunter Drama
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TRIUMPHANT: Three members of Hunter Drama

TRIUMPHANT: Three members of Hunter Drama hold the trophy.

THEY were the first drama group from outside the US to perform in the major festival – and ended up being singled out from about 4500 competitors.

Hunter students put Newcastle on the map on Sunday night – American time – after winning most outstanding production at the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta.

Hunter Drama artistic director Daniel Stoddart said they performed a 15-minute version of the The Little Mermaid Jr, which they had already put on at the Civic Theatre in October.

Please enable Javascript to watch this video‘‘We were one of eight groups to be awarded most outstanding production, meaning 29 students stood out from 4500 competitors,’’ he said.

HUGE DEAL: The venue of the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta.

‘‘The judges said they really liked our fresh approach to it and that they’d never seen it done that way before.

‘‘They liked our honesty and our genuine performance.’’

Mr Stoddart said that it was the first time a group of performers from outside the US had been involved in the festival, let alone won.

He said he had heard about the opportunity and thought he’d check to see it was possible to enter.

‘‘Young people of the Hunter need to go beyond our borders to put the Hunter region on the map,’’ Mr Stoddart said.

He said the arena the students performed at was 20 times the size of the Newcastle Entertainment Centre.

He said the students, aged eight to 18, had met an executive producer from Disney, a Glee cast member and even the man who wrote the song Let It Go from Frozen.

‘‘It’s been absolutely amazing; the buzz over here is incredible,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve never seen anything like this before – the kids are so elated.’’

Little Mermaind Jr to recreate film’s magic at Civic Theatre

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Workers unpaid as labor hire company folds

The workers were recruited by Raying Holdings to work at Primo Australia’s Scone abattoir. A LABOUR hire company that underpaid 10 international workers more than $40,000 at Primo Smallgoods’ Scone abattoir will be fined for workplace breaches while other workers look set to lose more than $150,000.
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The Fair Work Ombudsman sued Raying Holding Pty Ltd and Zu Neng Shi for breaches of the Fair Work Act including failing to pay minimum wages, overtime and loadings, as well as not providing pay slips or maintaining proper records.

The 10 workers were recruited by Raying to work at the abattoir from 2011 to 2013 with the underpayments ranging from $347 for one worker through to $10,257 for another.

The company has gone into liquidation and did not defend the proceedings or provide an address for court documents to be served.

The Ombudsman told the court that the outstanding $41,647 had been ‘‘rectified’’.

The meat workers’ union’s Newcastle secretary, Grant Courtney, said the union welcomed the decision, but added that other workers would remain out of pocket.

‘‘While the judgment mentions the 10 workers who were compensated, a further 30 union members employed by Raying have lost hope of receiving their underpayments, which is in excess of $150,000, due to the company going into liquidation,’’ he said.

‘‘Raying Holding is just one of many unscrupulous labour providers engaged by meat giant Primo who have been or are under investigation by the meat union relating to similar breaches.

‘‘The most recent labour hire company [New Bridge Trading] who provided labour to Primo that was being pursued in the Federal Circuit Court by the union went into liquidation owing 19 international workers $123,000.

‘‘The meat union has overwhelming evidence that suggests over the last three years, hundreds of international workers engaged by labour providers at Primo Scone are being or have been underpaid.’’

The general manager of Hunter Valley Quality Meats, the company that operates the abattoir for Primo, Peter Allen, said the company ‘‘would never condone unethical or illegal employment practices either directly or indirectly through labour hire agencies’’.

‘‘We have assisted the Fair Work Ombudsman with their investigations in this case and fully support them in this action,’’ Mr Allen said.

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Fears family pet taken for dogfighting

Elroy, who was stolen from his Paxton home. A PAXTON family fears their bulldog was stolen for dog-fighting purposes at the weekend after hearing about a string of thefts of particular breeds, including a pigging dog, in the area.
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Brendon Clark is now calling on the person who took their beloved Elroy to give him back, no questions asked, after discovering his property’s wire fence was “snipped” in various places on Sunday morning.

This latest theft comes after hooded men were seen stealing three French bulldogs from a home in the Toronto area last week.

Mr Clark said he’d also heard of a pigging dog being taken from a Millfield property last weekend.

“We’ve heard this area has had a lot of dogs stolen over the past year,” he added.

Mr Clark, who has reported the matter to police, said he believed someone took Elroy, an Aussie bulldog, between 2.30am and 6.30am from Millfield Road.

He said it was concerning because six months earlier their Alaskan Malamute, Maya, disappeared for a few hours and returned aggressive and scared.

“She’s a completely different dog since that happened,” Mr Clark said.

This prompted him to spend thousands of dollars upgrading his fencing so passersby could not open their gate to let the dogs out – but this time someone has used bolt cutters or pliers.

Mr Clark said if Elroy, 17months, was stolen for dog-fighting purposes he would be useless because he “had a gentle nature”.

“He just loves people and wouldn’t hurt anyone,” he said.

“My one-year-old son’s first word was Dad and his second word was Elroy.”

Mr Clark said he bought Elroy for $2000 and was planning to use him as a stud– another possible motive for taking him.

“We can only hope it is for something like that,” he said.

“We’ve reported his microchip as stolen to council so there’s no point trying to sell him unless you offloaded him for cheap through the black market.

“I’d just plead with someone to give him back; we’re gutted and devastated as a family, it is just a feeling of emptiness.”

Last year the Newcastle Herald reported that an organised underground dog-fighting ring was operating in Port Stephens, with thousands gambled on fights ever few months.

Society of Companion Animal Rescuers president Sue Barker, who lives in the Hunter, said that dog-fighting rings “were definitely happening”.

“We see the dogs that are in a terrible state because of it,” she said.

“The motive is money.”

Ms Barker highlighted Barnsley, Karuah, bushland in the Watagan Mountains and the Central Coast as areas she’d been informed had held dog-fighting meetings.

Central Hunter acting crime manager Detective Inspector Mitch Dubojski said police had not received recent reports about dog fights or anything similar.

“If there are people in the community who have information relating to it we encourage them to come forward, either through the police station or Crime Stoppers,” he said.

“We do work hand-in-hand with the RSPCA and often go out to properties and assist them.

“A lot of police are animal lovers and we won’t tolerate violence against animals.”

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Hockey: new year brings new approach and long range vision

150-year stare: Treasurer Joe Hockey has been looking into the future. Photo: Alex EllinghausenHockey plans for 150-year life expectancyHockey’s ‘Sarah Palin moment’: Shorten
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Alaskan Sarah Palin reputedly could see Russia from her house but that’s nothing to Joe Hockey’s telescopic vision which allows him to see a staggering 150 years into the future.

Actually, Palin’s foreign policy credentials were an embarrassment but she didn’t utter the phrase attributed to her, merely noting that Russian territory is visible on a good day from US (Alaskan) soil.

Similarly, Hockey was strafed on social media on Monday for claiming on 3AW that Australians born today will live until they’re 150. Again, he said no such thing. Rather, he said it was “remarkable that somewhere in the world today, it is highly probable, a child has been born who will live to be 150”.

Remarkable yes, but “highly probable”? Well, experts will differ but some say it is very possible. After all, many people have lived well past the century mark already with one or two making into the 120s. Who can gainsay medical technology or assert that it will not advance sufficiently over such a huge slice of time?

It is a marker however of how poorly this government is travelling (largely under the dead-weight of Hockey’s first budget as it happens) that the Treasurer’s words are so breezily misquoted, his argument, so unhesitatingly pilloried.

Yet his logic is sound. As the Intergenerational Report to be released in February will no doubt warn, Australia is facing a demographic dilemma. Already burdened with a structural revenue shortfall against permanent spending obligations, the continued ageing of the population will only make that shortfall worse.

The number of Australians paying income tax to support those no longer working and paying no income tax is declining, and it won’t be addressed simply by jacking up the retirement age.

Greater life expectancy is unalloyed good news but it must be tempered against the massive public policy implications in health-care and housing costs for people living for decades into retirement with all the quality-of-life requirements that entails.

Politically speaking, Hockey, who struggled to sell his budget strategy last year, faces his own temporal challenge: he must animate the future in the public mind in order to prevail in the present. That’s an irony for a government dragging its heels on climate change because its full effects are not yet apparent.

While the 150-year-life may seem fanciful, Hockey hopes to make the case for action now to address problems that will only get worse if not confronted.

Luckily for the government, he is no Sarah Palin. But cabinet leaks, and backflips on barnacles suggest 2015 is off to a shaky start.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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