Bishop blesses new buildings at St. Patrick’s Cessnock

St. Patrick’s Primary School Cessnock celebrated the official opening and blessing of its new Building the Education Revolution facilities on the last day of term two.
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The school received $2,149,955 to build a new multipurpose hall, library and classrooms and put on a special afternoon to mark the occasion, with readings, prayers and musical performances by the students.

The event was attended by Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Fr. William Wright, Cessnock Parish Priest Fr. Tony Potts, several Sisters of St. Joseph, past principals and staff of St. Patrick’s, representatives from the Catholic Schools Office, parents and community members.

Bishop Wright performed the blessing of the buildings and also declared the new facilities open in the absence of Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon.

Mr. Fitzgibbon was due to fly back from Canberra that morning but his flight was delayed due to poor weather. He was said to be very sorry that he could not make the ceremony at his former primary school.

Mr. Fitzgibbon said the new buildings will provide benefits to students for many years to come.

“The BER is a $16.2 billion investment in the nation’s future and is delivering modern facilities to more than 9500 schools in metro and regional communities across the country,” he said.

“It is the single biggest investment in Australian schools in our history.

“Projects like the multipurpose hall, library and classrooms at St Patrick’s Primary School are making a real difference by improving the learning environment for our children.

“This is an historic investment in the modernisation of our schools and we will continue to see the benefits of this program for many years to come.”

BLESSING: Bishop of Maitland, William Wright blesses the new building at St. Patrick’s School.

NEW FACILITIES: St. Patrick’s captains Charlie Willis and Mali Unahi with Bishop William Wright after the opening and blessing of the new building.

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Redland ready for Paralympics

FOUR Redland athletes are in London ready to compete at the Paralympic Games, which kick off early tomorrow morning (AEST) and run for two weeks.
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Wellington Point goalballer Meica Christensen, 23, who has a visual disability, will captain her side at the games.

The team is ranked eighth in the 10-team competition but Christensen said their preparation put them in a strong position to beat the top two teams, China and the US.Goalball is open to athletes with a vision impairment.

All players wear blacked out goggles and the aim is to roll a bell-filled ball into the opposition’s net.

The first match for the goalballers is against Japan on Friday, August 31, at 6pm AEST before a game against Canada on Sunday, September 2 at 7.15pm and against the US on Monday, September 3 at 3.30am AEST.

The team will also have a 9.30pm game against Sweden on Tuesday, September 4, before the quarter finals start at 6pm AEST on Wednesday, September 5.

Cleveland swimmer Daniel Fox, 21, will compete in the 100m backstroke, in which he is ranked No.3 in the world, the 100m breaststroke and his pet event, the 200m freestyle, in which he broke the world record in March.

He will take to the pool for the 100m backstroke on Friday, August 31 at 6.30pm with the finals the next morning.

He will be in the pool again on September 2 for the 200m freestyle heats at 6.30pm with the finals on September 3 between 8.30am and 11.30am.

The finals will be televised in Queensland on ABC One.

Target shooter Bradley Mark from Alexandra Hills and Wellington Point’s wheelchair rugby player Cameron Carr are also competing at the games.

Carr, 35, who was part of the team to win silver at the Beijing Games in 2008, was co-captain of the successful Steelers team that beat Japan five-nil in Sydney in May.

First up, the Steelers play bronze medallists Canada on Thursday, September 6, at 4am AEST (Wednesday, September 5 at 7pm in London).

That night, they play Sweden at 11pm and, on Friday, September 7, at 8.30pm AEST they play Belgium before the semi-finals start on Saturday, September 8.

It will be the first games for 55-year-old rifle shooter Mark who will compete in the 10m air rifle prone on Saturday, September 1, at 6pm with the finals at 9pm AEST.

He will also compete in the standing rifle category, which starts at 6pm on Sunday, September 2, with the finals that night.

Wellington Point goalballer Meica Christensen, 23, who has a visual disability, will captain her side at the games.

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Gulgong’s ‘Burloo’ in trucking Hall of Fame

Gulgong truck driver Rodney “Burloo” Bowden has been inducted in the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.
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Mr Bowden was one of 130 inductees honoured for a lifetime of service at the annual Hall of Fame reunion on Saturday.

PAT ON THE BACK: Gulgong truck driver Rodney “Burloo” Bowden was inducted into the National Road Transport Hall of Fame on Saturday. 280812/Bowden,Rodney

Mr Bowden was born into the transport industry.

He is the son of Cyril Bowden – a pioneer of the industry in outback NSW.

Along with his brothers, Mr Bowden began working for the family company at the age of 18 when he started carting sheep and cattle across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Now 54, he has covered many of Australia’s roads and is still driving today.

But it’s the company of fellow drivers that Mr Bowden said he enjoys most.

“I mostly remember the great camaraderie of truckies,” he said.

“Many trips would see drivers pulled over for a spell, cooking a feed before they continued to make a mile.

“We always looked out for each other and always offered a helping hand.”

Now in its 17th year, the National Road Transport Hall of Fame reunion attracts nearly 1000 people each year, who travel from around Australia to celebrate the contribution of their colleagues, friends and family.

Organiser Liz Martin told ABC Rural Radio the reunion also aimed to raise the profile of the transport industry, which she said rarely gets the recognition it deserved.

“The trucking industry doesn’t get its rightful place in history,” she said.

“It sits on the periphery of every other industry.

“What I really love about the induction, it’s such a cross section of the trucking community, old blokes who have never had a pat on the back for what they’ve done.”

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Threat to kill charge for Spring Gully man

A SPRING Gully man will front court this morning after allegedly threatening a Bendigo shopkeeper with a knife yesterday.
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The 40-year-old man has been charged with making threats to kill and four counts of theft.

He has been remanded to the Bendigo Magistrates Court today for a possible bail application.

Meanwhile, a Melbourne man will face court today after allegedly stealing a car in Kangaroo Flat last night.

Police say they saw the 42-year-old driving erratically in the stolen vehicle. He has been charged with theft of a motor car and four counts of theft from a motor car.

He has been remanded to appear at the Bendigo Magistrates Court today.

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Hinch fights for right not to vote

Derryn Hinch outside court today. Photo: Justin McManusRadio broadcaster Derryn Hinch appeared in court today to fight for his right not to vote.
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The 3AW personality was appealing against a $155.40 fine for failing to vote at the November 2010 state election.

Hinch, representing himself, told the Melbourne Magistrates Court he had been campaigning for years against compulsory voting in Australia.

He had never voted in his life and said today’s case was a timely, not frivolous, one given new laws had recently been passed in Federal Parliament to target 1.5 million Australians who are entitled to vote but are not on the electoral roll.

The Electoral Commission now has the power to enrol electors, or update their details, by using reliable third-party information.

Hinch told the court that almost 180,000 people did not vote in the 2010 state election, so he was not alone in his opposition to voting. He believed compulsory voting was undemocratic and unconstitutional.

“If people cannot be banned from voting, I believe people cannot be banned from not voting. If I have acquired the right to vote, I have also acquired the right not to vote.”

Hinch said people in the United States, Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand did not have compulsory voting so why here in Australia?

“Why are Australians treated like children?”

Hinch said those who did not vote often had no idea who was standing for office or even when elections were on.

He claimed another reason he should not be forced to vote was because journalists and commentators had to be seen to have no allegiances.

Hinch had interviewed every Prime Minister since Gough Whitlam and they had all known he did not vote for them or vote against them.

At the end of his submission, Hinch said he was reminded of a woman in Arkansas 40 years ago who replied when asked why she had not voted: “I never vote. It only encourages them.”

Magistrate John Lesser asked Hinch why he did not simply cop the fine and keep his principles intact.

But Hinch said that if you cop the fine, the system continues and “it’s a bad system”.

Ms Janine Hebiton, for the Victorian Electoral Commission, said that leaving aside the philosophical issues Hinch had raised, “the law requires people to vote” and everything he had said did not form the basis of “relieving him of the burden to vote”.

Mr Lesser reserved his decision and adjourned the case to September 18.

Voting has been compulsory in Victorian State elections since 1926.

According to the Victorian Electoral Commission, those enrolled to vote must vote in all federal, state and local council elections and statutory polls. Those aged 70 or more are excused from voting in local council elections.

The fine for not voting is $70. Hinch’s fine of $155.40 included penalties for taking the case to court.

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Attention guests: it’s a motel, not a bordello

The curious case of a sex worker who sued a motel which had banned her from entertaining clients in their rooms piqued my interest this month.
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The hooker known as Karlaa took the owners of the Drovers Rest Motel in the mining town of Moranbah to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and sued them under the Anti-Discrimination Act.

She lost the case last year but won it on appeal earlier this month and is now seeking $30,000 compensation.

The story goes that the Gold Coast prostitute – just one of hundreds descending on booming mining towns across Australia – used the motel 17 times over two years to service clients.

When the motel owners, Evan and Joan Hartley, realised what she was up to, they barred her from the premises.

Which, as a South Coast motelier, seems perfectly reasonable to me. Surely, it is incumbent on us to look after the amenity of our business and the welfare of our guests. After all, they booked into a motel, not a bordello.

And there is a distinction between a quick liaison – which is not uncommon – and multiple partners coming and going.

We have come to recognise the trysters. They arrive early afternoon, register as Mr and Mrs Smith, pay cash and request a discreet room. A few hours later they are gone.

And then there are the occasional call girls. Late one evening we observed a black car pull up outside the motel. A sharply dressed man got out and patrolled the street, before signalling back to the car.

A woman in a tiny, tight outfit and high, high heels emerged, tottered across the car park and disappeared into a room.

The pimp waited. An hour later she returned and they drove away.

Most guests understand that sexual encounters may be part of the motel experience and even double brick walls sometimes fail to muffle the noise.

This particularly irritated an uptight young corporate lass last year. She was not a happy customer when checking in, and was furious when checking out.

“This has to be the worst motel I have ever stayed in,” she railed. “I had poor mobile phone reception, there was no Foxtel, the internet kept dropping out and then the couple next door had sex at three in the morning. I could hear everything. It was disgusting.”

She was shaking with rage. I apologised without really knowing what I could do about the sex part. But I did regard the elderly gent and his wife who booked out soon after with new respect.

However, this is very different to a prostitute setting up shop in a room. Guests don’t expect to have a brothel next door and would have every right to complain about the all-night shenanigans.

Karlaa argued that her use of a bed was no different to someone using the phone or internet for business.

She said: “Not everyone would choose to do the job I do, but it’s not right that they can treat me like a second-class citizen. They wanted me to go away, but I am a tenacious little terrier and I would not give up.”

Queensland’s attorney-general, Jarrod Bleijie, has said he will support an appeal against the Drovers Rest ruling, adding that “the government stands on the side of business owners and supports their ability to make decisions about what does or does not occur on their premises”.

That sounds like common sense will prevail, that the motel industry will get the green light to flash the red light when molls move in.

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Patel to be released from prison

Former Queensland surgeon Jayant Patel.Former Queensland surgeon Jayant Patel will be released from prison after he was granted bail ahead of an expected retrial.
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Earlier today the High Court quashed the convictions of the man nicknamed Doctor Death by the Australian media.

Dr Patel was convicted in 2010 of three counts of manslaughter and one count of grievous bodily harm over operations at the Bundaberg Hospital, where he worked as a surgeon between 2003 and 2005.

But the High Court today ruled that a miscarriage of justice had occurred on the 43rd day of Patel’s 58-day trial, when the “prosecution radically changed its case in a way that rendered irrelevant much of the evidence that had been admitted”.

The court ordered Dr Patel’s convictions and seven-year jail sentence be set aside.

It will be up to Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions Tony Moynihan whether to embark on a new trial. A spokesperson for Mr Moynihan today said he wanted to carefully consider the judgment of the High Court before making any decision.

In a bail hearing before Justice Martin Daubney at the Supreme Court this afternoon, the DPP did not oppose bail.

Dr Patel’s defence team argued the bail conditions were “exactly the same” as the conditions he faced while on trial in 2010, and that the $20,000 surety lodged at that time remained in place.

Under his bail conditions, Dr Patel will have to report to police three times a week, must not contact any witnesses, cannot leave Queensland without consent and cannot leave Australia.

Dr Patel’s passport remains in the possession of justice authorities.

Speaking outside court, Defence lawyer Arun Rangia said Dr Patel had heard about the High Court verdict while he was watching television in jail.

Mr Rangia said he had had a short conversation with Dr Patel.

‘‘He was emotional at the news,’’ he said.

Mr Rangia said there was some paperwork to be completed, but he was hopeful Dr Patel could be released from jail as soon as this afternoon.

Indian-born and US-trained Dr Patel, 62, had pleaded not guilty in 2010 to the manslaughter of James Phillips, 46, Gerry Kemps, 77, and Mervyn Morris, 75, who died following surgery performed by him.

He had also pleaded not guilty to the grievous bodily harm of Ian Vowles, whose bowel he removed in October 2004.

Reviewing the original trial, the High Court bench found that the Crown case against the surgeon originally focused on Dr Patel’s surgical skills and post-operative care, alleging he had been “grossly negligent in all aspects of his treatment of the patients”.

However on the 43rd day of the trial, the High Court found, prosecutors changed the scope of their case, narrowing the focus to “whether the surgical procedure in each case should have been undertaken”.

This occurred after it became apparent that the surgeries “had in fact been performed competently enough”, the High Court ruled.

It ruled that evidence the prosecution had introduced about the surgeries and post-operative care before it changed its case was therefore no longer relevant and had been prejudicial to Dr Patel.

At the time, trial judge Justice John Byrne told the jury:

“It is critical to appreciate that this trial is not about botched surgery. Instead, it is about surgery performed competently enough. There may have been an imperfection or two in some of the procedures. If so, the mistakes did not, it seems, adversely affect patients.

“It is not how the [appellant] performed surgery that matters in these four cases.

“What matters is his judgment in deciding to commend the surgery to a patient and, having obtained patient’s consent, in taking the patient to theatre to perform it.”

However, the High Court ruled the “prejudicial effect on the jury was not overcome” and “a substantial miscarriage of justice occurred”.

Dr Patel was extradited to Queensland from Oregon in 2008, after he was allegedly linked to 17 patient deaths.

He faced manslaughter charges relating to three of them: oesophagectomies on both Mr Kemps and Mr Phillips, and a major colon operation on Mr Morris.

After being convicted in 2010, Dr Patel immediately appealed to the Court of Appeal of the Queensland Supreme Court on the grounds a miscarriage of justice had resulted from the change in the prosecution case, an appeal he lost.

That judgment was today overruled, along with the original guilty verdicts.

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REVIEW: Streep, Jones all class

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones turn a potentially humdrum story about a couple seeking marriage counselling into a good-humoured crowd-pleaser. HOPE SPRINGS
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Rated M ★★★ and a half

Stars: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell

Director: David Frankel

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are the perfect combination as the seemingly mismatched couple of dulcet Kay and gruff Arnold in the comedy Hope Springs.

The movie could be a humdrum story about a couple seeking marriage counselling, but Streep and Jones spice it up with their charm and humour, particularly Streep’s coy smiles at the right moments.

In their 31st year of marriage, Kay and Arnold are stuck in a rut. Actually, it’s more of a rut for Kay, while Arnold seems untroubled by the fact they haven’t had sex for four years or that he falls asleep every night in front of the TV, watching golf.

Kay’s had enough (and hates golf) so pays for an intense week-long marriage counselling program to bring the romance back.

Arnold begrudgingly goes along, complaining about the cost of everything – even the cafe meals – and that Hope Springs has only one bar of mobile phone coverage.

The couple turn to Dr Bernie Feld, played by Steve Carell, whose deadpan delivery also provides many funny moments.

“It feels like we’re living in the house together but we’re two workers bunked in the same room; actually we’re not even in the same room,” Kay tells Feld.

She is crushed by Arnold’s lack of affection and Streep portrays these emotions brilliantly – from the moments of hurt in feeling unattractive through to the shy smiles when there’s finally some progress in the counselling.

There are many failed attempts along the way where Arnold and Kay attempt to get things back on track and although the story is predictable, the humour and fantastic portrayal of emotion lift the movie to a higher level.

“I think I would be less lonely if I was alone,” Kay laments.

One amusing scene sees Kay going alone to a bar while Arnold visits a museum after a falling out. Kay confides to the woman behind the bar and the result is a hand count of how many people at the bar aren’t getting any sex. Seems Kay isn’t the only one.

The clever mix of wit makes this movie relate to all relationships – not just those who have been married for a long time.

While it’s a story about 50 or 60-somethings, there’s plenty for all ages to enjoy and it’s Streep and Jones at their best – together.

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Dumping on Gong won’t be tolerated

On June 6 this year the Mercury revealed that Lend Lease and the Port Kembla Port Corporation had struck a deal to use up to 600,000 tonnes of material from Sydney’s Barangaroo construction site for land reclamation at Port Kembla.
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Our exclusive report also revealed that the excavation site was peppered with contamination “hot spots” containing high concentrations of copper, zinc, lead and chemicals.

Under the deal, Land Lease would save millions of dollars in disposal costs but also be responsible for testing the soil before it left Barangaroo.

The Mercury was loudly criticised for ringing the alarm bells and we were told that everything would be OK and no contaminated soil would find its way to Port Kembla.

Well, guess what? Everything is not OK and contaminated soil has found its way to our port.

An inspection by port and Environment Protection Authority (EPA) officers has discovered the first 15,000 tonnes to land at Port Kembla contains asbestos.

How could this happen when we were assured that stringent testing would take place before any soil was moved to Port Kembla?

EPA chair Barry Buffier said he was disappointed by the situation. So he should be because it has only heightened the fears of unions and residents who have been unhappy with the arrangement from day one.

There are serious health risks surrounding the deal.

The soil should be loaded back onto the ship and returned to Sydney, where Lend Lease can organise its safe disposal. The people of Wollongong will simply not tolerate our city being used as a dumping ground.

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Elderly pedestrian in critical condition

The scene of an accident involving a pedestrian at Kenny St, WollongongAn elderly man is in a critical condition after being hit by a car in Kenny St, Wollongong, this morning.
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An ambulance spokesperson said the man is believed to have suffered a head injury.

Paramedics treated the man, believed to be aged in his 70s, and he was transported to Wollongong Hospital.

Police crews also attended and are now investigating the incident.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Wollongong police on 4226 7899.

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