Archive for December, 2018

University researchers score $11m

By admin | 杭州桑拿

JOHN MAYNARDTHE University of Newcastle has been awarded almost $11million in Australian Research Council funding for projects ranging from psychology and Aboriginal history to domestic violence.
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The outcome, which places the university ninth in Australia, will deliver funding to support 27 research projects.

Professor Daichao Sheng, of the school of engineering, secured the university’s largest grant, receiving almost $800,000 to undertake a study on the mechanics of hard soils and soft rocks and their influence on the stability and serviceability of buildings.

Professor Simon Dennis, head of the university’s school of psychology, was awarded $750,000 for a project to develop a model of episodic memory, the category of memory that allows people to recall specific experiences, events and times.

The project will apply the model to both adult and child development data, enhancing understanding of when episodic memory develops.

Indigenous historian Professor John Maynard from the university’s Wollotuka Institute attracted $600,000 to examine the history of the NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board in 1883-1969. It will support understanding of the impact of the board, the legacy of which remains relevant.

Conjoint Professor Lyndall Ryan, of the school of humanities and social science, received $500,000 to generate insights into how intimacy and violence affected the development of colonial settler cultures, and the legacy of these cultures.

Dr Brett Turner received $570,000 for a project exploring the potential impact of climate change and sea-level rise on Australia.

Deputy vice-chancellor research and innovation Kevin Hall said the research funding was an excellent result given the strong competition.

“Today’s announcement … is testament to the exceptional quality and breadth of research at the University of Newcastle, and the excellence of our researchers,” Professor Hall said.

Racing critics told to get off high horses

By admin | 杭州桑拿

ANIMAL LOVER: Willow Park Stud owner Glenn Burrows. Picture: Simone De PeakTHE backlash over the death of Melbourne Cup horses Admire Rakti and Araldo has shaken the Upper Hunter horse industry.
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Willow Park Stud owner Glenn Burrows – a horseman of almost 35 years who lives and breathes thoroughbreds – has sympathised with the shattered teams who cared for the horses, and gone into bat for the industry saying that ‘‘no one wanted to see anything bad happen to them’’.

Cup favourite Admire Rakti ran last in the race and died afterwards in her stall of acute heart failure.

Araldo was spooked by a punter waving an Australian flag and became entangled in a fence, shattering his pastern bone.

Mr Burrows is ‘‘disgusted with the attitude of some people’’ who are lashing out at the industry and claiming that it is full of cruelty and animals that are mistreated.

He said the negative comments on social media showed the people who wrote them obviously ‘‘knew so little about the whole industry’’.

‘‘They are just blindly having these radical comments without any foundation,’’ Mr Burrows said.

‘‘If they fully understood the industry, then fine, have an opinion. But until such time, shut up.

‘‘The horse industry is not a job, it’s a lifestyle – because so much time and effort goes into it.

‘‘A lot of the staff I’ve got here are on very average money and they’re doing it for the love of the animals.’’

ANIMAL LOVER: Willow Park Stud owner Glenn Burrows. Picture: Simone De Peak

Mr Burrows left school at 16 to work in the industry after becoming ‘‘besotted with horses’’ and said he would love to live the life of a racehorse.

‘‘If I died and got the chance to come back, I’d love to come back as a thoroughbred racehorse because we care and love them so much 24 hours a day, seven days a week,’’ he said.

Australian Racing Board chief executive Peter McGauran agreed the tragic deaths ‘‘understandably raised questions in the wider community’’. But assuming the annual death rate was 125, as claimed by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, the fatality ratio was only 0.07per cent out of 189,259 starters in 19,511 races.

He said the fatalities were ‘‘unpredictable despite the care of stable veterinarians and regulatory veterinarians on duty at every race meeting in Australia’’.

And most autopsies found there was ‘‘no detectable pre-existing condition’’.

He said the industry was ‘‘amongst the most regulated and accountable industries’’ in the country and the board was ‘‘proud of our animal welfare standards’’.

The coalition protested at Flemington after the deaths, saying the industry had extensive animal welfare problems.

It has launched a ‘‘Horse Racing Kills Campaign’’ to highlight its position and called for two-year-old racing and whip use to be banned.

It reminded punters that the two deaths on Tuesday followed that of Melbourne Cup runner Verema, who died after last year’s race.

Newcastle rail: Conspiracy theorists remaining on track

By admin | 杭州桑拿

How serious is Labor when its says it wants to stop “greedy developers”?► Rail corridor bill looks set to fail
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►Planning hearing to open

I’M yet to hear of a more sensible measure to placate concerns about the truncation of Newcastle’s rail line emerging from the recent corruption inquiry into political donations – and to silence conspiracy theorists.

But Greg Piper’s bill to prevent development of the rail corridor for uses other than passive recreation, cafes and community spaces seems destined to go without the support it needs to become law.

One would think if removing the heavy rail and installing light rail along part of the corridor was not an elaborate ruse for handing over the rest of the land to developers to erect soaring apartment towers, then the Baird government would just back the independent MP’s bill.

And if Labor was serious about stopping the “greedy developers”, why not lend its support?

But in state politics, commonsense rarely applies.

Governments typically don’t like private members’ bills, as they tend to look foolish for not coming up with the idea in the first place.

And Labor, still campaigning against the removal of the rail, won’t want to lose one of its key arguments – that the government is cosying up to developers after a number of them filled the Liberal Party’s coffers with illegal donations ahead of the last election.

The ALP would also be reluctant to help Piper when it still hopes to take back his seat some day, even if his bill is aimed at protecting the community’s interests.

If the government won’t back the bill, we need it to explain what will happen to the corridor land, before it closes the heavy rail in less than two months.

And before we start listening to the conspiracies.

Newcastle and Hunter linetrain schedule off the rails

By admin | 杭州桑拿

TRAINS on the Newcastle and Hunter line have only had a 90per cent punctuality rate four times in the past 15months.
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Data obtained from the state government shows February, May, June and August were the only months since July last year when punctuality reached 90per cent or more.

The system recorded 93.6per cent in February, 92.8per cent in May, 90.7per cent in June and 92.9per cent in August.

In March punctuality dropped to 78.2per cent – the lowest figure since March 2012 when trains were only punctual 76.5per cent of the time.

The data analysed trains that arrived in Newcastle CBD between 7.30am and 9.30am and departed between 4pm and 6pm Monday to Friday.

They were logged as ‘‘on time’’ if they arrived at the final destination within six minutes of the timetable.

Commuters were unable to access this publicly available data on the Sydney Trains website for more than seven weeks, leaving them unaware of the Newcastle and Hunter line’s performance record since July 2013.

It was the only line in the network where data had been omitted from the website.

The Newcastle Herald approached Transport for NSW in September to alert them about the issue and was told in a statement by a TrainLink spokeswoman that there ‘‘was an error with the Hunter line data on the website and that is being addressed’’.

But six weeks later the data had not been uploaded.

It finally appeared late last month after the Newcastle Herald again contacted the department and requested the data.

‘‘Unfortunately some of the recent data had been omitted, but [it] has now been updated,’’ a TrainLink spokeswoman said.

She said the service was ‘‘committed to delivering customers safely and on time’’ and commuters were kept informed when train services were disrupted through announcements at stations, on trains and via the internet and social media.

Save Our Rail president Joan Dawson has criticised the department for its failure to upload the information immediately.

She said the 78.2per cent punctuality recorded in March showed the government ‘‘was not committed to providing a reliable and punctual service’’.

Whiz kids James Punch and Flynn Starrettexcel in maths challenge

By admin | 杭州桑拿

WINNERS: James Punch and Flynn Starrett with their awards. Picture: Phil Hearne
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HUNTER whiz kids James Punch and Flynn Starrett have added their names to an illustrious list after taking out the top prizes of this year’s Newcastle Permanent Primary Schools Mathematics Competition.

James, a year 6 student at Tenambit Public School, and Flynn, in year 5 at New Lambton Public School, sat the 35-question exam along with 16,000 students from schools across the Hunter, Central Coast, Northern Rivers, Mid-North Coast, New England and Central West. The sections included problem solving with fractions, percentages and decimals, algorithms, numeration, Roman numerals and prime numbers.

Some of the questions were inspired by local or topical events, with queries about the change received from buying a Newcastle Knights hat, Lake Macquarie hosting the International Children’s Games in December and the score required to average 80percent in a mathematics test.

Newcastle Permanent chief executive Terry Millett praised the students’ hard work and presented them with a shield to recognise their achievement.

‘‘Both James and Flynn have done a tremendous job topping the Hunter and taking out the shield for their schools,’’ Mr Millett said. ‘‘It’s clear the students have a true gift for mathematics, I’m sure we will see great things from them both in the years to come.’’

The competition, which began in 1981, challenges students to do without using calculators, rulers or geometrical instruments.

‘‘Newcastle Permanent recognises mathematics as a fundamental life skill and the ongoing support from local schools also highlights the importance of numeracy and literacy,’’ Mr Millett said.

Greg Piper’s bill to protect Newcastle rail corridor fails to win support of major parties

By admin | 杭州桑拿

The Newcastle rail corridor east of Stewart Avenue.► Comment: Conspiracy theorists remaining on track
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► Planning hearing to open

NEITHER the government nor Labor look likely to back Lake Macquarie independent MP Greg Piper’s bill to protect the Newcastle rail corridor from development after the heavy rail line is truncated.

But Premier Mike Baird says the government will consider measures to ensure the community is ‘‘comfortable’’ with its Newcastle city centre revitalisation project.

Mr Piper has introduced the bill and is expected to bring it on in Parliament on Thursday.

Under the provisions, development on the rail corridor between Wickham and Newcastle would be limited to public open space, areas for passive recreation, kiosks, cafes and amenities or public transport.

That would allow cycleways, gardens and parks, walkways, pedestrian overpasses and public art installations, with development consent from the city council.

Mr Piper has said it would honour the original rhetoric from the government that the land would remain for public space or new transport.

But since deciding on a light rail route that would traverse only part of the corridor the government has not ruled out some form of development on the vacant land, although it has said it does not support high rise.

Members of the government, including Mr Baird, have held discussions with Mr Piper about the bill, but it is understood the Coalition partyroom did not favour supporting it.

Mr Baird said on Wednesday his government understood Mr Piper’s concerns.

‘‘What we’re determined to do is have the community proud of the processes … that this is their project,’’ he said.

Asked if that meant the government wouldn’t back the bill, he said ‘‘we’re in discussions with Greg’’.

Labor said the bill was only a ‘‘plan B’’ when the government should not go ahead with the truncation in the first place.

‘‘If the government has no plans to develop the corridor then why isn’t it backing this bill?’’ Labor transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said.

The rail line is due to be closed for truncation on December 26.

By MICHELLE HARRIS

I’M yet to hear of a more sensible measure to placate legitimate concerns about the truncation of Newcastle’s rail line that have emerged in the wake of the recent corruption inquiry into political donations – and to silence the conspiracy theorists who were there all along.

But Greg Piper’s bill, to prevent development of the rail corridor for uses other than passive recreation, cafes and community spaces once the trains are gone, seems destined to go without the support needed to make it through NSW Parliament and into law.

One would have thought that if removing the heavy rail and installing light rail along part of the corridor was not an elaborate and expensive ruse for handing over the rest of the land to developers to erect soaring apartment towers, then the Baird government would just back the independent MP’s bill to prove it.

And if Labor is serious about stopping the ‘‘greedy developers’’, why not lend its support?

But in state politics, commonsense rarely applies.

Governments typically don’t like private members’ bills, as they tend to look foolish for not coming up with the legislation in the first place.

And Labor, still campaigning against the removal of the rail, won’t want to lose one of its key arguments – that the government is cosying up to developers after a number of them filled the Liberal Party’s coffers with illegal donations ahead of the last election.

The ALP would also be reluctant to help Piper to such a victory when it still hopes to take back his seat some day, even if his bill is aimed at protecting the community’s interests.

In practical terms, if the government doesn’t back the bill then it won’t make it through the lower house.

And if it won’t do so, then it needs to hurry up and explain what will happen to the corridor land, before it closes the heavy rail in less than two months and before we all start to listening to the conspiracies.

NSW Chief ScientistProfessor Mary O’Kane to speak at Cessnock coal gasforum

By admin | 杭州桑拿

Professor Mary O’KaneTHE NSW Chief Scientist will be invited to address a forum on coal seam gas in Cessnock, after councillors voted on Wednesday night to hold the forum.
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The council will invite Professor Mary O’Kane – as well as representatives from AGL, Professor Garry Wilgoose from the University of Newcastle and coal seam gas opponents – to address members of the community about the controversial mining practice.

In July last year councillors voted to defer a decision on the forum until after the report from Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor O’Kane was released.

That report – published in October – found that although there was a ‘‘concerning culture’’ of coal seam gas regulatory agencies not ensuring industry compliance, many of the challenges posed by the industry ‘‘can be managed’’.

On Wednesday some councillors suggested there was no need for the forum since the council has already expressed it’s opposition to the mining practice.

But Greens councillor James Ryan said it was important to give the community an ‘‘up-to-date perspective’’ on the issue.

While Cr Ryan said he believed coal seam gas posed ‘‘unnecessary risks’’, he said all sides of the debate would be able to be heard.

Parts of the Cessnock local government area are covered by a petroleum exploration licence owned by energy company AGL – what it calls its Hunter Gas Project.

In the past that’s made it a contentious issue for a town on the doorstep of the Hunter valley wine region.

But while councillors were waiting for the chief scientist’s report, the state government did much of the job for them.

In October last year the NSW government released its draft amendments to the Strategic Planning Policy which introduced a two kilometre residential exclusion zone around coal seam gas project. It saw AGL revise its estimates on gas reserves from more than 400 petajoules to zero.

The company claims it is committed to the Hunter Gas Project, and in June said it had a ‘‘long-term commitment’’ to the Hunter Valley and ‘‘planned to be here for many years to come’’.

Sydney Flames scorch Canberra Capitals in WNBL

By admin | 杭州桑拿

Canberra captain Abby Bishop top-scored, but a red-hot performance from Sydney guard Katie-Rae Ebzery led the Flames to a second consecutive WNBL win over the Capitals in three weeks.
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While Bishop kept the Capitals in the contest with a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds, Ebzery dominated with 26 points in Sydney’s comfortable 76-60 win.

The Flames led for all but the first two minutes of the match and held a 55-48 lead at the half. While Bishop hit a hot streak in the third term to drag the Capitals within two points midway through the period, Sydney put on the after-burners with a 21-12 closing quarter.

Bishop is in desperate need of some back-up, with superstar forward Lauren Jackson still sidelined after hip surgery.Capitals coach Carrie Graf has said Jackson will return to the court “well before Christmas”, but there are only eight games remaining before the new year, which is well past the midpoint of the season.

It was almost a lone hand from the Capitals skipper, Bishop, with Alice Coddington the only other Canberra player to hit double-figures in scoring as the Caps shot a meagre 33 per cent for the match.

In contrast, Ebzery had some fine support from her Sydney teammates, Rohanee Cox grabbing 9 points and 13 rebounds, while import Paris Johnson (11 points, 7 rebounds) and  3 assists) and Tahlia Tupaea (12 points) chipped in from the bench.

The Capitals are yet to string back-to-back wins together from their five games this season, having also lost to Sydney by three-points in Canberra last month.

The loss drops the Capitals out of the WNBL’s top four with a 2-3 record, although they get a chance for redemption against the West Coast Waves at the AIS Arena on Sunday.

SYDNEY FLAMES 76 (K Ebzery 26pts, T Tuaea 12) bt Canberra Capitals 60 (A Bishop 29, A Coddington 10, S Talbot 9) in Sydney.

Thoroughbred horses not inbred or mistreated, says vet

By admin | 杭州桑拿

When a thoroughbred barrels toward the line at the Melbourne Cup, its half ton frame lifts off the ground entirely, propelled only by four thin legs. An enormous heart is pumping 60 litres of blood around its body for it to reach speeds of 65 kilometres per hour.
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These multi-million dollar machines are the product of more than 200 years of careful breeding. Some break down spectacularly – such as Admire Ratki on Tuesday or Verema in last year’s Cup.

But vets and breeders have rejected suggestions thoroughbreds are bred without concern for their welfare.

“It’s an incredibly well controlled industry; the horses are looked after very, very well,” said Dr Leanne Begg of Equine Veterinarians Australia.

Dr Begg said thoroughbreds were not like purebred dogs with congenital weakness and diseases.

“Dogs just have to look pretty, most of them,” she said. “These horses have to get out there and perform.”

She said claims horses were put down when no longer valuable to owners were “rubbish” and that only untreatable injuries ended in euthanasia.

“Because they are 500 kilogram animals and you can’t make them lie down on a bed to recuperate, there are some upper limb fractures that we cannot fix.”

Les Young, executive director of Thoroughbred Breeders NSW, said injuries such as catastrophic leg breaks were rare and could occur off the track as well.

Mr Young said breeders responsibly balanced risks, such as the chance of internal bleeding, against racing ability.

“Some of the best blood lines we have in thoroughbreds have been descended from animals that were themselves bleeders,” he said.

Thoroughbreds date back to the crossing of Arabian horses with English broodmares in the 1700s. Today, all males can trace their lineage back to just three sires – the Godolphin Arabian, the Darley Arabian, and the Byerley Turk.

A 2011 study of 467 thoroughbreds, published in the journal Animal Genetics, found a “worrisome” increase in inbreeding among thoroughbreds over the past 20 years, as “big book” stallions bred with greater numbers of mares.

But Dr Begg said she had never treated an injury related to inbreeding and that the industry’s ban on artificial insemination formed a natural constraint.

“A small amount [of inbreeding] probably does occur but not a very great degree at all.”

Ward Young, a Coalition for the Protection of Race Horses spokesman, said it was hard to establish clear links between racing deaths on the track and breeding problems.

But he said the industry was breeding more horses than it needed, with little concern for their welfare.

“It’s ultimately the horses that are paying if they are not good enough to make it to the track and end up at the knackery,” he said.

“The horseracing industry is not willing to foot the risk that they might breed a horse that’s not competitive and then look after it for the rest of its life.”

Hunter Stadium boss says it will be all right on the night as new turf laid for Saturday match

By admin | 杭州桑拿

‘It will be all right on the night’ ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne
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ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

ROLLING ALONG:Workers continue to lay turf at Hunter Stadium on Wednesday. Picture: Phil Hearne

TweetFacebookJaliens said he was ‘‘very keen to see what’s been going on and how it looks’’ but had faith in the company installing what Henderson described on Monday as ‘‘ready-to-play turf’’.

‘‘They’ve had a long time to prepare everything so I’m pretty confident that everything will look very good and we can have a good match on it,’’ Jaliens said.

The process of ripping up the old pitch, voted the worst in the A-League last season by the captains of all clubs, began after the Newcastle Knights played their last game of 2014, almost two months ago.

Rolls of turf, which are one metre wide by 10 metres long and will cover the 11,000-square-metre playing arena, had to wait for the old grass to be removed and a drainage system installed.

The Jets had been hoping to practise on the pitch on Friday, but it is understood that training may be replaced by a ‘‘walk-through’’ to get a feel for the new conditions.

Henderson said on Monday that the turf was ‘‘designed to be put down and you can virtually play on it that day or the next morning’’.

A crowd of at least 10,000 is expected to pay close attention on Saturday.