Mahalia Barnes, Prinnie Stevens visit

April 28th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

MAHALIA Barnes showed good friend Prinnie Stevens the sights of Newcastle yesterday in the lead-up to the pair performing in the city in November.
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Since being cast as rivals on the television show The Voice, Barnes and Stevens have been working on their duets record. Come Together will be released on October 5 through Universal Music Australia.

The duo have been friends for 12 years and are more relaxed and comfortable working together than against each other.

‘‘My daughter was the flower girl at Mahalia’s Thailand wedding,’’ Stevens said.

‘‘We love working with each other and other singers and sharing that experience. Any professional singer knows singing is not a competition,’’ Barnes added.

Their friendship is testament to the women recording 12 songs in five days for the new album.

The covers were recorded with the backing of a full band, which consisted of Barnes’s touring outfit The Soul Mates and included a horn and string section.

Barnes regularly performs with her band at Lizotte’s Newcastle and has also been known to appear at the venue with her father Jimmy and uncle Mark Lizotte – aka Diesel.

Lizotte provides guitar and backing vocals on his track All Come Togetheron the album.

Despite having worked in the same industry circles in Sydney, the women come from very different backgrounds.

‘‘I’m the only one in my family who is a singer. At least no one can tell me how to do things,’’ Stevens joked.

Barnes said their duet record was the idea of Universal boss George Ash, inspired by the reality show’s battle round. The concept grew legs when the pair were reunited – with Barnes’s father Jimmy – to perform River Deep on the finale.

ALL COVERED: Mahalia Barnes, left, showing good friend Prinnie Stevens the sights of Newcastle yesterday. Picture: Simone De Peak


Beam me up, UC

April 28th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

Helsinki’s colourful Futuro In need of some TLC – University of Canberra’s Futuro
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I’ve never set foot in a spaceship before (who has?!), so it’s with a sense of trepidation that I approach the metallic, domed structure that recently ‘‘landed’’ at the University of Canberra campus. As I get closer, the full moon reflects off the dome’s outer shell with dazzling effect, while a band of black and yellow ‘‘Do not enter’’ tape flaps waywardly in the breeze. But for the tan bark garden bed and surrounding gum trees, you’d be excused for thinking it was a scene from some B-grade sci-fi set in Nevada’s UFO hot spot, Area 51.

Eventually I conjure up enough courage to duck under a cracked window, complete with burn marks (perhaps from a crash landing?), scurry up through the airline-hatch-like entrance and into its inner sanctum.

It’s like entering another world – literally. Inside it feels much bigger than it looks on the outside – similar to Doctor Who’s time travelling machine, the Tardis. The ceiling is painted with a mural of rockets, planets and other celestial objects and the curved walls are punctuated by oval-shaped windows at precise intervals. As I creep over to one to peer outside, a tapping sound startles me. It comes from behind.

I turn around, half expecting to come face-to-face with a probe-wielding ET or at least a student prankster in alien mask. Thankfully it’s neither, rather its John Greenwood, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Design at University of Canberra, with whom I’d arranged to meet. I just wasn’t expecting him to creep up on me like that.

‘‘Well, what do you think?’’ John says. ‘‘It’s in need of a little TLC, but we’re so lucky to have it here in Canberra.’’

While many simply refer to it as the ‘‘UC spaceship’’, its formal name is a futuro. And John, clad in a T-shirt sporting an image of one and carrying a photo of a renovated futuro he recently visited in Helsinki, is clearly a fan.

John begins to rattle off the dimensions and design features of the prefabricated buildings which were the brainchild of Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late 1960s. ‘‘All futuros are four-metres high by eight metres in diameter and are composed of polyester plastic and fibreglass,’’ he says.

‘‘Believe it or not they were initially designed as a ski cabin that would be quick to heat and easy to construct in rough terrain as they can readily be transported to remote locations by helicopter in one piece or dismantled into 16 pieces.’’

But with the heightened interest in space travel in the late ’60s, ‘‘many people bought them as homes, and they’ve also been used as everything from unique cafes to brothels,’’ explains John. Mmm, I bet they used the marketing line – ‘‘for an experience out of this world!’’

Due to the onset of the oil crisis in the 1970s and rising material costs, only 96 futuros were ever manufactured and ‘‘this is one of the best known survivors in Australia,’’ John explains. ‘‘It’s one of only about three in the public domain in the world.’’

The futuro’s surprisingly spacious interior isn’t the only similarity with the Tardis. Just as the Time Lord has been reincarnated a number of times (I’ve lost count – is it nine?), so too has Canberra’s futuro and although there’s no evidence of it ever being used as a brothel (yet!), UC student Erika Ceeney has put together a potted history since it first landed in Canberra 40 years ago.

Erika’s research reveals that the futuro (initially baby poo yellow in colour) was delivered to Canberra in 1972 (probably from a manufacturer in New Zealand) where it was displayed at the Building Materials Exhibition Centre in Maryborough Street, Fyshwick. Apparently it had a very modern fit-out with a bedroom, curved kitchenette, curved seating and a small bathroom. ‘‘The purpose was probably to test its viability in the Australian market,’’ Ceeney speculates. ‘‘Presumably due to a lack of interest, even though a licence to produce futuros was  purchased by an Australian company, none were ever produced in Australia.’’

According to Erika’s speculative trail, it then flew off to a private farm in Sutton before touching down at the Macquarie Slide Swimming Centre (by which stage it had apparently been painted red). But just like Doctor Who regularly encounters missing time, so too, it seems, does Canberra’s futuro. ‘‘No one seems to know for certain where it was between 1991 and 1997 when it landed at the Canberra Space Dome (Planetarium) and Observatory in Dickson. ‘‘There are reports it was parked at a southside shopping centre for a year or two, but I’m yet to receive any photographic evidence,’’ Erika says.

What is known for certain is that it featured at the Planetarium as an audio visual centre (painted silver by now) until the centre closed in 2008. A fire in 2010 destroyed much of the Planetarium, but the futuro escaped with minor burn damage and was later donated to the University of Canberra where a committee is yet to decide its fate.

‘‘I’d like to see it restored and the inside of it used as a space that students from UC could use creatively,’’ Erika says. ‘‘Hopefully the uni will source some funding to get something like that happening.’’

I don’t know about you, but I reckon it would turn a few heads if the futuro mysteriously appeared one night in the middle of Lake George. Look at the attention a herd of zebra sculptures on the lake bed created a few years back. Imagine what a brightly coloured, glowing spaceship would do.


UC Futuro: Located on campus at University of Canberra near Zierholz Brewery.

Can you help? Have you got any old photos of the Canberra futuro – especially pre-1997? Perhaps you’ve got memories of it at the Macquarie Slide and Swimming Centre (did it have water flowing through it?), or elsewhere in Canberra? Please let me know.

Did you know? In the early 1970s, a futuro took pride of place in Darwin – that was until Cyclone Tracy ‘‘launched’’ it into oblivion in 1974.

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

TEN years ago, Nathan Shand played in a premiership for Panmure.
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Today he has the chance to play in a second flag with his beloved Bulldogs.

“I am excited and a bit nervous,” Shand said.

“It’s been a good build-up.”

Kolora-Noorat is Panmure’s opponent today.

A decade ago, it was Merrivale.

That day the Bulldogs ran out 30-point winners, adding the 2002 premiership to their 2001 flag.

Shand, then 21, played on a wing.

It’s where he will line up today at Warrnambool’s Reid Oval.

On the field, Shand, Tim Condon and Sean James are the three remaining links to that 2002 premiership.

The chance to play in another grand final for Panmure almost slipped from Shand’s grip.

Shand hurt his neck earlier this season.

It was an injury he described as “the worst injury I have had in my career”.

He spent 10 weeks on the sidelines, came back through the reserves and returned to play seniors against Kolora-Noorat in the Bulldogs’ second semi-final loss.

“I didn’t think I’d get back and play this year,” he said. “I was lucky a gap opened up in the team.”

Kolora-Noorat won that match, wrestling premiership favouritism off Panmure.

“We were a bit off that day and they were on,” Shand said.

“It’s about winning the ball in the middle, that old cliche.

“They are skilful, speedy and smart footballers.

“They have been there before and know what to do. It’s up for us to counter that.”

Shand, a right-footer who tries to “fill the gaps” and run “as much as the old legs can”, said if the weather conditions today were wet and windy, both sides would adapt.

“We both come from grounds with similar ground conditions,” he said.

“We live up the road from each other so we’re all farmers and have trained and played in the wet.

“It will be an even contest no matter what the weather.”

A father of four young daughters and Hawthorn fan, Shand said he would probably step aside from senior football next season but would remain at the club and possibly run out with the reserves.

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Panmure midfielder Nathan Shand has recovered from a neck injury to play in today’s grand final.

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

MILDURA is in no way disadvantaged by having a privately-run public hospital, says Victorian Health Minister David Davis.
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Mr Davis, who has been oddly silent and absent from Mildura as negotiations between the State Government and Motor Traders Association of Australia (MTAA) Superannuation continue over the future management of Mildura Base Hospital, today breaks his silence by writing exclusively for Sunraysia Daily.

In a wide-ranging opinion piece, Mr Davis:

SPOKE of his want for the best possible services and facilities possible for the people of Mildura;

PRAISED the performance of the hospital’s private managers, Ramsay Health Care;

TALKED up the government’s $7 million commitment to expanding the base hospital;

DEFENDED his record of visiting Mildura and meeting with community representatives, despite not having visited our city since August 2011 and only twice in two years;

COMMITTED to visiting and speaking with hospital staff in “future months”; and

DEFENDED his appointment of a six “prominent” community members to the hospital’s community advisory board, which he claimed had “direct input into the running of the hospital”.

The advisory board model has come under attack in recent times, with former members and others labelling it “constrained” and “lacking teeth”.

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Saturday’s Sunraysia Daily 08/09/2012.

Peter Crisp

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


Cold comfort of life on the fly

April 28th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

Next shift … mine industry workers begin the commute from Perth to Port Hedland.The diesel mechanic Tim Touihri does one of the longest work commutes on earth, from the capital of Indonesia to a speck in the red earth of the Pilbara.
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To get to BHP Billiton’s Yarrie iron ore mine where he has just worked for a straight fortnight, he left Jakarta at 6pm on a Monday for Bali, arriving in Perth at 4am the next day before taking a plane north to Port Hedland. Then it was a four-hour bus ride to the mine and a rest before he could start his first 12-hour shift.

This is the life of the FIFO, the fly-in fly-out worker.

For this Tunisian-born Australian, the resources bonanza means that losing his executive chef job in a Denpasar restaurant during the tourist slump that followed the Bali bombing has not been disastrous. He can support his wife and three children in Jakarta and live with them for the one week off in three that he is not at the mine.

”It’s the way of destiny,” he said, rushing to his plane.

To take the same flight as Touihri from Perth to Port Hedland is to trace the course of Australia’s resources rush, source of so much affluence.

”Who would have ever thought 15 years ago when we were still talking boom and bust that it would be Western Australia that would underpin the stability of the Australian economy and that it would be a regional environment like the Pilbara that would be the very heartbeat of what keeps us secure?” says Lynda Dorrington, who runs community projects in Port Hedland.

The flight starts in Perth, a boomtown thick with construction cranes and over-priced hotels, and ends in the quaint, over-burdened airport at Port Hedland where the lavishly lit 24/7 seaport groans with activity like a beast at night as it lives up to its record as the world’s biggest for bulk exports.

The local state Labor MP, Tom Stephens, who was born in Sydney, jokes that most of his electorate has been dug up and shipped to China. Port Hedland, soon to celebrate its 115th anniversary, is a hub by dint of the five-fingered bay the local Kariyarra people named Marapikurrinya, meaning ”hand pointing straight”.

Where once squatters shipped out their sheep, the port last financial year shifted nearly 247 million tonnes of shipments, an increase of 23 per cent on the previous year. And although BHP Billiton recently shelved its $18.2 billion plan to extend the outer harbour, the port’s shipments are still expected to rise by 40 million tonnes next year.

When the Herald visited, 32 ships lined the horizon waiting to enter port. Once that would have been the sign of a maritime strike. Today it summarises the urgent hunger for our bounty, Stephens says.

”It’s not like a boom through which we are passing. A boom has a sense of something that goes ‘boom’, whereas this has been 10 years of a sustained anthem,” he says.

This explains why on any weekday there are at least 4000 FIFO workers like Touihri around the town of 24,000 permanent residents that has grown cocky enough to apply for city status. It has borne the benefit and been the brunt of the Australian north-west’s part in fulfilling China’s industrial needs, drafting workers from around the nation to live in the nearby desert.

Waiting at Perth airport for his flight to the BHP mine at Coondewanna, Reid Jones, a 29-year-old rigger in his fifth year as a FIFO worker, is a benefactor and also a cynic who says everything relentlessly rotates around company profits. He says he feels like a cog in a profit machine as mines keep churning out iron ore, gold and copper round the clock.

Mining companies may be pulling back from long-term plans but the workers are still furiously flying in and out. And though they may cost more than $2 a day, their lives are tough by Aussie standards.

”There are no Christmas holidays … Christmas Day and other religious holidays are just another hot day in the desert,” Jones says. And the pay is not always higher than elsewhere, but long hours and regular income are guaranteed.

”Everything is provided: T-shirts, helmets, glasses. All you have to do is wash your clothes and get to work on time. That’s the crucial one,” he says.

The industry operates on 12-hour shifts with machine-like precision around which the lives of FIFO workers and innocent Port Hedland bystanders alike are shaped.

Its small airport – where traffic has grown by 278 per cent over the past six years to more than 440,000 passengers a year as FIFO workers transit on peak weekdays – failed to cope on the day the Herald flew in. There were lost bags and, according to one complainant, lost workers as the arrival board failed to announce our flight had landed.

Inflated prices are the next shock for visitors – the All Seasons hotel self-serve restaurant was charging $39 for a dozen oysters kilpatrick and $30 for a Thai chicken curry. A very modest room, worth $90 to $100 in a NSW country town, cost $500 a night.

”That’s standard in the Pilbara. I paid the same in Newman at the weekend and at Karratha,” says the Port Hedland mayor, Kelly Howlett, who is standing as state Labor candidate at the March election after Stephens retires.

Real estate prices are higher than Sydney or Melbourne, with ordinary bungalows commanding more than $1 million. A standard three-bedroom Port Hedland house costs about $2300 a week in rent, while locals wanting to start a shop or business have little chance of finding a building to operate from, she says.

”If someone is asking $2500 for a rental property and a mining company just comes in and says I’ll give you $3000 a week, and takes that property, local people do get a bit disgruntled because they can see that the companies can offer more and can take up those opportunities and it lowers the choice,” she says.

”The pressure comes when you go to the shop to buy bread and the local camp has come and bought all the bread and there’s no bread left.” That happened at Woolworths one morning recently.

Accommodation is so short that the Immigration Department has leased its infamous detention centre to the Malaysian company Auscorp for worker housing. Orange and pink bougainvillea twines around the spiked steel fence that once confined restive asylum seekers.

”It’s clearly never going to get utilised for a detention facility [again] unless Australia suddenly stops selling iron ore,” Stephens says.

Local councillor Arnold Carter, who has spent 50 of his 84 years in Port Hedland and as an accountant was involved in the first iron ore boom of the 1960s, thinks the FIFO phenomenon has splintered the town because exhausted workers from elsewhere passing through do not engage in community life.

”You don’t see the children with fly-in fly-outs. You don’t see the family reunions … That’s what I miss most walking down the street,” he says.

Goldsworthy, the first mining town built in the Pilbara, had a population of 3000 that included spouses and children, where bars and tennis courts were run by volunteers, he says.

Carter says he asked a BHP executive why the company did not build houses in Port Hedland for its workers. Fifteen houses would cost $15 million and he could buy a loader for shifting iron ore onto ships for that, earning the company money rather than tying it up, the executive answered.

To Carter, the FIFO phenomenon is mostly about cost-cutting, as companies based in Australia compete with Brazil and Africa to provide the cheapest product to China.

Stephens, however, believes mining companies use it to ensure their workforce is ”docile” and not heavily organised in unions. He knows companies reject his theory but as he approaches retirement at 60, he is prepared to speak out against the FIFO phenomenon.

He is scathing of studies that resources companies cite showing that FIFO does not harm workers. ”This is not the lifestyle of joyous, happy people, or joyous, happy communities,” he says, after many conversations on planes with FIFOs.

”[I know] from the grumbling about the constant repetition of the family break-ups, the people who describe themselves as being trapped into these lifestyles; having lost their family, their dependence on that income to then start the next one. They become dependent on a lifestyle that is not conducive to happiness.”

The FIFO practice, he says, has spread to the port, railway and power station workers who could be living in Port Hedland. The failure to develop remote towns like this is symbolic of state and federal government neglect, he says.

The recruitment firm Hays, which conducts monthly interviews with workers, recently reported that FIFOs complained of missing important family occasions because of rigid rosters and lost privacy through shared bedrooms and bathrooms.

However, despite the downside to the madness for iron ore, many Port Hedland residents take hope from living in the midst of this gangbuster economy, according to Howlett.

”People feel they’re a part of it. I recently met some plasterers who’ve moved over from NSW. They were all living together in a caravan. They’ve managed to secure a house. They’ve got plenty of work now … Whatever sector you look at, there are so many opportunities once you’re in,” she says.

The community worker Dorrington says a surprising number of young people come to make a quick buck and stay to start families. ”This very wild, almost cowboy type of environment is a pretty exciting place to be,” she says.

While Carter would like FIFOs to join in for that ride, he can understand that school fees and capital city mortgages drive their temporary lives in the Pilbara.

”People have these visions of improving their lifestyle. I’d probably do the same myself,” he says.

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

A NEW logo and a splash of colour are all part of a wider plan for the Warrnambool Art Gallery to become the best gallery of its size in Victoria.
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And the staff have set themselves 1000 days to do it.

A new five-year strategy, bright new branding and a new attitude to arts and culture are the driving forces behind the push.

“The gallery has a renewed focus and energy in our community, and the new brand reflects that,” its director John Cunningham said.

“We want people to discover and explore arts and culture in Warrnambool and using this bold new brand to invite people in is part of our plan to be more accessible to people.

“We want to become less of a known and more of an unknown. We want to be fun. The new gallery will be stimulating, cutting edge and lead by great ideas. We want to push the boundaries and get people talking.”

The bright orange WAG brand uses the initials of the Warrnambool Art Gallery.

“Orange is a youthful colour and the new name gives us a mischievous feel. There is nothing static about the logo, it can be used in a different number of ways to show any number of different things. It will be constantly evolving.”

Splashes of colour have already been added to the gallery, with the room previously housing the permanent collection turning from a shade of deep red to a bright and vibrant grass green, with new Victorian era-inspired embossed wallpaper.

The Alan Lane Community Gallery will become an educational space and a bookcase and orange reading furniture have been brought in to encourage people to stay a while.

“The first exhibition in the front gallery in its new role is Aboriginal artefacts, with the focal point being a beat-up Volvo station wagon.

“Local aboriginal elder Robbie Lowe senior told a story of how a local farmer would put stones from his paddocks in a beat-up old car.

“So we brought in a car and filled it with aboriginal stone artefacts. The car was repainted in bright orange and features an abstract artwork of local scenes.”

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

IT WILL be the largest congregation of heritage paddlesteamers and riverboats Mildura has seen for many years at the PS Melbourne Centenary River Festival tomorrow.
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The PS Marion, PS Industry and PS Oscar W from South Australia met up with the PS Adelaide from Echuca, the PS Melbourne from Mildura and the PS Ruby from Wentworth for the Jewels at the Junction event yesterday.

They will be joined by up to 30 other

privately-owned boats for the centenary festival tomorrow.

“The Renmark departure looked fantastic with only five boats – if you times that by seven, the flotilla will be a spectacle not to be missed,” said Lyn McKenzie from the PS Melbourne.

“The PS Melbourne Centenary River Festival will be a reunion as well as a celebration and will be the first time many of the major boats have been together in over 80 years.”

The grand flotilla will arrive at the Mildura riverfront at 10.30am, heralded by the Mildura District Brass Band.

Short cruises will commence at 12.30pm on board the five major heritage

paddlesteamers – the PS Melbourne, South Australian vessels the PS Marion from Mannum built in 1900, the PS Industry from Renmark built in 1910, the PS Oscar W from Goolwa built in 1908, and from New South Wales the PS Ruby from Wentworth built in 1907.

“With the PS Adelaide being the oldest existing operational, original wooden-hulled paddlesteamer in the world and with the many other vessels attending, you could say there will be over 1500 years of history collectively in the one spot at the event, which is not only unique, but quite amazing,” said Rob Bowring, chairman of the PS Marion.

“Our volunteers on board are looking forward to reaching Mildura and the festivities.

“We saw a large crowd wave us goodbye at Renmark and I am sure we will see many more people on Sunday,” said PS Industry chairman Dave Nattrass.

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Saturday’s Sunraysia Daily 08/09/2012.

CELEBRATION: E.J. Thorp, captain of PS Oscar W from Goolwa, catches up with Frank Tucker, captain of PS Industry from Renmark, by the Darling River, Wentworth. Picture: David Sickerdick

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

AUSTRALIA is in the midst of a wellbeing boom, thanks to a surge in the value of the population’s collective know-how.
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The Herald-Lateral Economics Index of Australia’s wellbeing, which measures improvements in welfare on a range of indicators – not only economic output – rose nearly four times more quickly than gross domestic product during the past year. This wellbeing boom has been driven by a marked increase in human capital, or collective know-how, which is a key component of the index. This more than offset sluggish growth in another key component – national disposable income – which has been crimped by falling commodity prices.

The estimated value of the nation’s wellbeing reached $343 billion in the June quarter, a rise of 3.9 per cent or $13 billion. It was the index’s fastest quarterly increase since it was first published last year.

The annual growth rate of the index, which takes account of income, know-how, the environment, health, inequality and job satisfaction, accelerated to 14.3 per cent.

Gross domestic product figures, released by the Bureau of Statistics this week, revealed annual growth of 3.7 per cent.

The wellbeing index has been growing at more than twice the rate of GDP growth for six years, thanks mainly to the improvement in the value of the nation’s combined knowledge – its human capital. Nicholas Gruen, the chief executive of Lateral Economics and lead author of the index, said the strong growth in the value of human capital augured well.

“The index shows that our ability to invest in ourselves is not only paying dividends but at this stage, it’s outweighing some of the bad news that’s arriving via the declining terms of trade and problems in the global economy,” he said.

A jump in the total amount of adult formal education underpinned the improvement in human capital. Lateral Economics estimates the rise in formal adult qualifications in the labour force grew by $19 billion last financial year. There was also strong growth in children’s participation in early schooling and continued growth in secondary schooling which lifted the nation’s know-how. “The

development of know-how through early childhood development, schooling and training is building up human capital at a faster rate than our purchasing power has been increasing,” the quarterly report on the index said.

One of the biggest surprises since the release of the index in December is the rise in the value of the population’s know-how.

National disposable income grew by a fairly subdued 0.7 per cent in the quarter and 2.6 per cent in the year. This made a positive contribution to wellbeing but because it was not evenly distributed, inequality was a small drag on wellbeing. The health component of the index also took away from national wellbeing, mainly because of the growing costs of obesity.

Inequality and health have been a small but consistent drag on wellbeing over the past year. The index components that assess natural capital and job satisfaction have had little impact on wellbeing over the past year.

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

NEARLY $300,000 will be cut from the Country Fire Authority’s budget in the Grampians area as part of statewide austerity measures, according to a leaked CFA memo.
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The United Firefighters Union (UFU) said the measures planned for the Grampians include cuts to training, not filling non-essential positions and issuing recruits with second-hand protective clothing.

The union said it received the leaked memo from the state opposition and the Grampians cutbacks were an example of the $41 million that was being taken from the CFA’s budget across the state.

More than 1000 firefighters and support staff from both the CFA and Metropolitan Fire Service will rally against the cuts in Melbourne next Thursday.

The state government said the cuts would not affect frontline firefighting, but the union said they had already had an impact on public safety.

The union said Thursday’s rally was just the start of its campaign to save members’ conditions and defend the fire service.

UFU secretary Peter Marshall said more than 1000 people were expected to join a march from Trades Hall to Parliament House, including paid and volunteer firefighters and support staff from throughout the state.

Mr Marshall said the cuts were an insult to the memory of the 173 people who died on Black Saturday in 2009 and went against the recommendations of the bushfires

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

The recent release of the draft Transport Masterplan could mean regional NSW will spend 20 more years in the transport wilderness, writes Alex Claassens, secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.
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In the lead-up the 2011 state election I visited a number of NSW regional towns to hear first hand what local councillors, community groups, businesses and transport workers saw as the top transport priorities for the next five years and beyond.

We held forums in five major towns to nut out what the transport issues and challenges were and what kind of solutions we could come up with collectively.

We invited the people who work in the system, who catch the trains and buses, who operate businesses that rely on freight – essentially the people who know best what works and what’s needed in transport infrastructure and services in their local communities.

An outpouring of great ideas came from the forums which we gathered into a submission togovernment.

In the Northern Tablelands the focus was clear – introduce a regular passenger service between Tamworth and Newcastle and increase investment in rail freight infrastructure.

This week, to great fanfare, the draft NSW Transport Masterplan was finally released by the NSW government. Running to 370 pages, it is hailed by the premier as a 20-year vision for transport which “will deliver for major cities and rural and regional areas.”

As such, you’d expect it to include concrete timelines and funding allocations. You’d expect it to include the services and infrastructure local communities have been fighting years for. After all wasn’t “fixing public transport” one of the Coalition’s mandates for election?

Disappointingly the commitment to rural and regional NSW in the much awaited Masterplan can be summed up in four words: roads, roads and more roads.

Highway upgrades, town bypasses and road freight initiatives are listed as the highlights for our regional cities and towns.

For the New England this equates to some road upgrades of the New England Highway near Tamworth, overtaking lanes south of Tamworth, pavement reconstruction on some of the Newell Highway and a Moree bypass. There is some recognition of the increase in freight over the next 20 years butno moves to take some of that off the road.

The need for investment in rail freight is overlooked, as is any concrete funding commitment to any of the listed priorities nor a timeframe for delivery.

This will be a seen as a huge missed opportunity to every single person who contributed to those forums we held and to the many, many residents in this community.

Rail infrastructure is currently limited by capacity constraints and the increasing number of trucks being forcing onto local roads is placing pressure on existing infrastructure and affecting road safety.

Investment in the north-south inland rail freight corridor should have been a priority to deliver an economic boost for regional areas throughout NSW and get some of those trucks off our roads.

As demand for freight transport increases, investment in rail infrastructure – not just more roads – will become more urgent. It’s disappointing Barry O’Farrell’s grand new plan doesn’t recognise this.

There is hope. The transport plan is only in draft form and the community has until October 26 to comment. Let’s make sure ourvoices are heard so we don’t have to wait another 20 years for regional NSW to be given priority.

The recent release of the draft Transport Masterplan could mean regional NSW will spend 20 more years in the transport wilderness, writes Alex Claassens, secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union. Photo: Fairfax

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