Federal nuclear liability to hit deficit – National

OTTAWA – A sudden $2.4-billion revision to Canada’s nuclear liabilities has crept up on Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and substantially deepened the deficit for the current fiscal year at a time when he is trying desperately to whittle it down.

Analysts say there is probably enough wiggle room in the government numbers this year to absorb the $2.4 billion without throwing Flaherty’s longer-term deficit reduction plans too far off course.

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    AECL victory over Nordion pushes down nuclear medicine company’s stock

But the Opposition is suspicious of the timing of the discovery, suggesting the Conservatives are playing with budget numbers to mask their lack of oversight of environmental liabilities.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. quietly announced Tuesday night that the expected long-term cost for cleaning up its nuclear program has surged to a total of $6 billion, up dramatically from the $3.6 billion currently on the books.

AECL said the increased liability will go straight to Ottawa’s bottom line, adding to the deficit for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

AECL said previous estimates were out of date and the indirect costs of disposing of radioactive waste over the next 70 years have climbed.

“The main reason for the liability adjustment is an increase in the indirect costs attributed to the decommissioning and waste management over the period of up to 70 years of the program,” says the AECL.

But cleanup costs should not be taking the government by surprise, said the NDP’s natural resources critic Peter Julian.

“It shows a profound inability to take the right management decisions to see what liabilities exist,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

It’s no coincidence that word of the large increase in liability is emerging just before Flaherty tables the spring budget, says Peter DeVries, an Ottawa-based consultant and former senior official at the Finance Department.

“They want to book it now, in 2012-13, because the year is nearly over. They want to get it out of the way,” DeVries said in an interview.

The 2012-13 fiscal year ends March 31 and the $2.4 billion will show up as a one-time hit on the government’s books for that year only — even though the money won’t actually be spent for years.

“It’s a year that is not important in terms of hitting their deficit target in 2015-16. They want to make sure they have got as complete a liability as they can come up with, and book it completely to get it out of the way,” DeVries said.

“The sooner they book this liability, the less of a chance it will spill into 2015-16.”

Indeed, before the AECL news, the federal government was probably on track to come in a couple of billion dollars ahead of where they had projected last fall, added Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Derek Burleton.

“Based on this year’s fiscal monitor results, they may have some wiggle room.”

So even though the revised AECL liability will set them back $2.4 billion, Ottawa is better off booking it this year than next year, he said.

That’s because economic growth is projected to slow more than Ottawa had expected next year, eating into federal revenues and making it difficult for Flaherty to get ahead, Burleton said.

Flaherty had previously projected a deficit of $26 billion for this fiscal year and many had expected him to beat that projection by a couple of billion dollars. Now that the increased AECL liability has been thrown into the mix, he will probably be close to his initial $26 billion when he tables the budget Thursday, Burleton added.

By dumping the full cost into the 2012-2013 fiscal year at the last moment, the Conservatives will then try to argue that they made huge progress in deficit reduction in 2013-2014, the NDP’s Julian added. But in reality, the 2013-2014 deficit will be smaller mainly because the AECL charge was a one-time hit.

Budget details will be made public Thursday, although it was not immediately clear whether the new AECL liability would show up in the budget documents.

For years, the federal government did not carry any liability for the inevitable cost of cleaning up nuclear waste.

But in 2005, officials began the process of trying to put a price tag on decommissioning, managing and safely disposing of AECL’s radioactive waste. That led to the $3.6-billion liability that was on the books last year.

Since then, expected costs have been rising around the world because of higher safety standards, a better understanding of decommissioning and low interest rates, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said in a statement.

So Ottawa ordered a second review in mid 2012, AECL said.

“Our government has a long-standing commitment to clean up historic radioactive waste sites for which it is responsible,” Oliver said in a written statement, pointing out that many of the liabilities date back decades to the beginning of Canada’s nuclear program.

“We remain committed to cleaning up these historical waste sites,” he said.

If that’s the case, then Canadians should brace themselves for more big liabilities down the road, said Greenpeace Canada’s nuclear analyst, Shawn-Patrick Stensil.

“Cost overruns are typical in the nuclear industry. With a place like Chalk River, which is a mess, I think we can expect many more,” Stensil said, referring to AECL’s headquarters in Ontario.

He says government number-crunchers have been struggling to get a grip on the cost of decommissioning for more than a decade, and it is now time to have a full, public airing of the issues and price tags involved.

Ottawa is in the midst of restructuring AECL and will issue incentive-based contracts for safe, efficient clean-up of nuclear waste, Oliver said in his statement.

He said the hit to Ottawa’s books would have been even worse if AECL had not kept their liability analysis up to date.

“This has allowed the government of Canada to discover this increase in costs earlier, which in turn has allowed us to formulate plans earlier. We will continue to take the actions necessary to protect Canadian taxpayers while ensuring that Canada continues to benefit from a strong nuclear sector,” Oliver said.

AECL has long been a drain on Ottawa’s finances, requiring billions in subsidies over the years. But it’s certainly not the only cleanup that will cost the government dearly.

Last spring, the federal environment auditor took the government to task for not setting aside enough money to deal with contaminated sites.

Scott Vaughan found that Ottawa would be facing at least $7.7 billion in cleanup costs but had only set aside a fraction of that amount of money.

AECL said that confirmation of its most recent calculations still need to be verified by its board, external auditors and the Office of the Auditor General.

©2013The Canadian Press

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Airplane Etiquette – BC

Many people hate flying and it’s not because they’re scared, but the annoying travelers that drive them crazy 30 thousand feet in the air. I have gone over the basics before…looking behind you before you recline your seat, giving the arm rest to the person stuck in the middle, and so on. But, there are definitely more travel faux pas out there and to make sure you aren’t the offender the next time you travel.

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Starting with being an overhead compartment hog. More and more people are choosing to carry-on to avoid checked luggage fees. Fill up the space under the seat in front of you first, if you can. Then use the bin that’s directly over your own seat.

Well, forget a child kicking the back of your seat, an adult fidgeting with the seat in front of them can be just as bad.Jamming your book, oversized water bottle and snacks into that seat pocket is super annoying to the person sitting in front of you and ends up poking them or shaking their seat.

This is also a problem with the new touch screens some planes have in the back of their head-rests. The rule here is to take care when placing items in the pockets and gently press on the touch-screen.

I’m a huge advocate for keeping kids occupied on the plane, but it’s important to make sure this is done quietly. Kids playing games together is great, but shouting and horseplay is not so fun for the passengers around you. Parents – make sure you control the noise level. This also goes for video games or portable DVD players with sound. Pop the headphones in or turn the volume down.

The next offender is the frequent bathroom tripper. Now I know when nature calls, well, it calls. But if you are someone that needs to get up to use the washroom frequently, do your other seat mates a favor and book an aisle seat. Getting up many times to let you in and out can be super annoying. Especially if your neighbors are trying to sleep.

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Australia respected Chretien on Iraq: Howard – National

OTTAWA – The United States may have been upset and disappointed by Canada’s refusal 10 years ago to join its coalition to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

But Down Under, no one was surprised when then-prime minister Jean Chretien decided against sending Canadian troops to join those from the U.S., Britain and Australia.

Former Australian prime minister John Howard says he understood Chretien’s aversion to sending his country to war without a United Nations Security Council resolution.

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And although Howard didn’t agree, he respected the decision.

Howard offered that insight in a recent interview as the first decade since the U.S.- and British-led invasion of Iraq passed into history Wednesday.

Howard’s view differs sharply from the American reaction, which the then-U.S. envoy, Paul Cellucci, said days after the invasion amounted to “disappointment and upset that Canada is not there for us now.”

As for Howard — who contributed Australian special forces and fighter jets to the invasion — there were no hard feelings when it came to Canada.

“As far as Canada was concerned, I knew — given Jean Chretien’s attitude — that Canada was not going to join,” Howard told The Canadian Press in a recent interview in Ottawa. “I respected that decision. That was his right. That was his call.

“I didn’t have arguments with him about it.”

A decade later, the decisions taken by world leaders on the Iraq question have had political ramifications.

For Chretien, it elevated his battered legacy in Quebec, the most anti-war province, as he prepared to end his four-decade political career.

For former U.S. president George W. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair, the citizens of their own countries have judged them harshly because of the high death toll. Their longtime political opponents now in hold power in their respective countries.

Almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq and 30,000 wounded. More than 100,000 Iraqis were killed.

Australia got in — and out — of Iraq remarkably unscathed. No Australians were killed in the initial invasion. In the years to come, a total of three Australian military personnel would lose their lives in Iraq.

“We were very fortunate,” Howard said. “We’ve taken some casualties in Afghanistan, but nothing like the casualties that Canada has taken. Canada has taken very high casualties in Afghanistan, very high.”

Howard said he knew Chretien well and enjoyed his company, even though the Canadian was further left on the political spectrum.

“We talked very frankly,”Howard recalled “He had a different view.

“He had a view that you shouldn’t do anything except with the authority of the Security Council. And that’s a view that a lot of people, more on the centre-left, hold now.”

But Howard said if you wait for the Security Council to act on important matters, “you wait interminably” because of the veto powers of the permanent members.

That view of the UN fits hand-in-glove with the one held by the current Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper and his cabinet ministers have snubbed and attacked the UN over the years. They have criticized the Security Council’s inability to deal with the Syrian crisis.

In 2003, the American decision on Iraq had one very notable, vocal supporter in Canada — Harper, then the leader of the opposition Canadian Alliance.

Harper told the House of Commons that Canada should have stood with its American ally.

In October 2008, Harper backed down from that when pressed during a televised leaders’ debate during the federal election campaign.

“It was absolutely an error,” Harper said. “It’s obviously clear the evaluation of weapons of mass destruction proved not to be correct.”

Harper and Howard, kindred political spirits, are good friends.

Harper drew lessons from Howard’s record of three majority election victories, prior to winning power himself in 2006. Later that year, Howard became the first foreign leader to call on the newly elected Conservative prime minister in Ottawa.

Almost two weeks ago, Harper and Howard had a private lunch in Ottawa.

Howard said he and Harper have discussed Iraq “in a general way,” but he wouldn’t divulge specifics.

Instead, he shifted the interview back to Chretien.

“We had a friendly relationship, although we had different views on a number of issues — not a lot of issues. When you get to head of state, head of government, the differences dissolve a bit. I enjoyed working with him,” said Howard.

“But philosophically, I’m obviously much closer to Harper.”

To this day, Howard said he has no regrets about contributing to the Iraq coalition, even though the main justification — relieving Saddam of his supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction — has been discredited.

“The intelligence was not doctored. It was not made up. It wasn’t based on lies. It didn’t turn out to be accurate. But intelligence can never be there beyond a reasonable doubt. If you wait for perfect proof, you get another Pearl Harbour don’t you?”

Howard said he doesn’t know how history will judge him, but he thinks it was been too hard on Bush.

“I thought Bush was courageous. I never felt Bush got the credit for keeping America free of another attack,” he said.

Howard was in Washington when the 9-11 attacks occurred. On Sept. 10, 2001, he met Bush.

“When this attack took place, the thing that preoccupied everybody was when and where the next attack would take place,” Howard said.

“It was in that context that Bush’s attention was focused.”

©2013The Canadian Press

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Needle in banana found in child’s lunchbox at St Paul’s Gateshead, parents told to cut up fruit

FOUND: The needle was hidden inside a banana. Picture: Andrew Quilty. A CHILD at a Newcastle primary school hasdiscovered a needle inside a banana packed in their lunchbox.

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The studentfrom St Paul’s Gateshead luckily discovered the fruit was contaminated before biting into it. The child alerted teachers and police were called.

Detectives from Lake Macquarie LAC were sent to the school to investigate the incident and have removed the banana for further tests.

“The school is sending a message to all parents to tell them what has happened,” a spokesman from the Diocese of Maitland Newcastle said.

“The student is okay and police have been called.

“We will be trying to get parents to cut up all fruit before it is sent to school.

“At this point it is the sensible thing to do.”

The discovery follows the widespread contamination, which started two weeks ago when a Queensland man found a sewing needle in a strawberry.

On Saturday the contamination reached the Hunter Region when ayoung Woodville girl found a needle in a punnetof Wallace Road Berries strawberries from Coles Green Hills.

Police are warning the public of the serious penalties associated with deliberate fruit contamination.In NSW, the maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years imprisonment.

An investigation, which is now being led by Queensland Health, was launched on Wednesday September 12.

Inquiries to date indicate the contamination affects three brands ofstrawberries– “Berry Obsession”, “Berry Licious” and “Donnybrook” – which were sold across Australia, including NSW. These three brands have since been recalled.

While police have received reports of potential contamination impacting otherstrawberrybrands, consumers are advised they are believed to be safe to eat, but to be sure, cut the fruit before consuming.

So far, NSW Police Force has received more than 20 reports of contaminatedstrawberries, which have been seized for forensic examination.

Police are urging anyone who has purchased contaminated product to take the punnet to their local police station immediately for triage and forensic examination.

If any member of the community is concerned about the integrity of the product they’ve purchased, it may be returned to the point of sale.

All relevant information is being collated in each state and provided to Queensland authorities to assist with their ongoing investigation.

Police have also received reports of contamination of other types of fruit, including another banana and an apple, which are being treated as isolated incidents.

While you’re with us, did you know The Herald is now offering breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up-to-date with all the local news – sign up here.

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Ciraldo set to coach Panthers in 2019 NRL

Penrith look set to install Cameron Ciraldo as head coach for next year but they club continues to be linked to Ivan Cleary.

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Panthers boss Phil Gould on Wednesday suggested that Ciraldo would remain in charge of the club for the 2019 NRL season after guiding the side through the final six weeks as caretaker coach.

The 33-year-old was handed the reins after Anthony Griffin’s sacking four weeks out from the finals and Gould said the club had no reason to bring in anyone else.

However speculation that Cleary could make a sudden exit from the Wests Tigers to return to the foot of the mountain won’t die down.

“I don’t see any need to change anything we’ve been doing for the last five or six weeks,” Gould said on the ‘Six Tackles with Gus’ podcast.

“I’ve been very impressed with Cameron Ciraldo and the academy staff and we threw everything in our academy at the NRL preparation.

“They did an outstanding job, I was really impressed with them.”

Ciraldo has a contract to be on the club’s coaching staff for next season and it was reported on Wednesday that the board had rubber-stamped him taking on the top job on a fulltime basis.

The club’s move to oust Griffin so late in the season resulted in speculation Cleary was set to exit the Wests Tigers, with two years still to run on his contract.

Cleary subsequently stated his promise to “honour” his deal with the joint venture, however, has since refused to answer questions.

It was also reported that the Panthers are readying to offer Cleary the role for 2021 – which is viewed by many as an attempt by Penrith to force the Tigers’ hand to release him.

Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe did not return AAP’s calls though the club has, until this point, flatly refused to entertain the idea of Cleary leaving early.

NRL clubs are not allowed to negotiate with players more than 12 months before their contract expires.

The NRL said that chief operating officer Nick Weeks was set to examine a request from some clubs to alter the laws governing coaching negotiations so that they be brought in line with those that regulate player rules.

Gould denied knowledge of any negotiations between Cleary and his club.

A return to the Penrith job, from which he was axed in 2015, would allow Cleary to team up with his son Nathan, who is expected to sign a rich multi-year contract extension.

The NSW playmaker has reportedly been offered a lucrative deal until the end of 2023.

“No confirmation but I’m confident we’ll get a deal done and he’ll be at Panthers for a fair while,” Gould said of Nathan Cleary.

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Circa 1876 and Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley win major regional awards

The Hunter Region fared well at this year’s NSW Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering HOSTPLUS Awards for Excellence.

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TOP OF THE CLASS: Circa 1876 executive chef Trent Barrett.

The winners were announced at a gala dinner at Sydney’s Luna Park on Tuesday.

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley took out a major award, being named theregional NSW winner of the caterer of the year category.

Circa 1876, of Pokolbin, was named regional restaurant of the year. To put that in perspective, the Sydney winner wasTetsuya’s.

In the NSW Regional Restaurant Awards,Newcastle’s Nagisa Japanese Restaurant won the Asian restaurant category and Circa 1876 took home the contemporary Australian restaurant (formal) award.

Il Cacciatore Restaurant at Pokolbin was named best Italian restaurant andBaumé, also at Pokolbin, was named best new restaurant.

Esca Bimbadgen Restaurant was best restaurant in a winery and best tourism restaurant and the now-closed Barcito, of Hamilton, took home the specialty restaurant award.

Table 1 Espresso won the NSW regionalconsumer vote and honourable mentions went to Sandgate’s Caterforce (small caterer) and Lovedale Bar at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley (beer cafe/wine bar).

The national winners in some categories will be announced next month.

Restaurant & Catering Australia chief executive Juliana Payne congratulated the individuals and businesses recognised as part of the Awards and praised their contribution to the NSW hospitality industry.

“The quality of all entries to this year’s Awards for Excellence was outstanding and we are disappointed that we can’t acknowledge more businesses for the feats of culinary excellence that they have displayed,” she says.

“It’s fantastic to see the enormous passion of all business-owners as well as their staff whose daily hard work and dedication goes into producing an unforgettable culinary experience.

“This sense of passion and pride is what truly makes the hospitality sector in NSW stand out and makes the Awards for Excellence a special event.”

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It’s time the public claimed National Park as green, open space

HIGH-RISE CITY: “In less than a decade there’ll be a crying need for some green open space within short walking distance of all these soon-to-be city homes,” the author says. Picture: Simone De Peak .Have there ever been so many cranes swinging across Newcastle’s skyline?

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The place is booming with residential developments.

There are apartments everywhere, and the city’s West End is no exception.

There are apartments already on top of Marketown Shopping Centre.

Nearby, there are blocks going up next to the Travelodge and others planned for next door to Central Plaza (the old, expanded Latec House).

There are more slated for the Wickham end of Honeysuckle and around what some of us used to call the Bank Corner.

There will be hundreds of apartments, individual dwellings without the sniff of a back yard or a street in which to play.

Nowhere to lie under the shade of a tree or feel the grass between your toes.

In less than a decade there will be a crying need for some green open space within short walking distance of all these soon-to-be city homes, and about the only place left is National Park.

The part of the park closest to these developments is the north-west corner, bounded by National Park, Parry and Smith streets, just north of the athletics track and the croquet courts.

It covers 19,500 square metres, or almost 2 hectares (5 acres in the old money), and presently it isa disgrace to the city.

The lease on the National Park Street tennis courts ran out years ago, and there’s now more than an acre of abandoned asphalt, a club house frequented by the graffiti crowd and a couple of old blokes sleeping rough.

Even worse is the Smith Street side, with the burnt-out shell of the old Life Without Barriers building, abandoned sheds and other structures, and, of course, the inevitable asphalt.

The graffiti boys have been busy there too.

Then there’s the overgrown, dilapidated and fenced-off eyesore that is the former sensory garden at the corner of Parry and Smith.

The only part of this whole area still apparently in use, but under a lease, is Wal Young House, the present home of the District Bowls Association.

I say “apparently in use” because a walk-by this week suggests it might have been abandoned too.

A huge grassed parking area for a few bowls officials.

Just over two years ago, our city council distributed the glossy brochure National Park Development Lease, complete with artists’ impressions (haven’t we seen a lot of those lately?) of huge paved areas with people mysteriously walking dogs and kicking balls.

And more buildings whose purpose is far from obvious.

The council doesn’t seem to have been overwhelmed with proposals or interest in the intervening years, and there’s an obvious reason.

The land is community land and is zoned RE1: public recreation, and nothing else.

It can’t be sold, and can’t be leasedfor very long either.

Isn’t it high time this very valuable (some would say priceless) piece of the city was finally put to the use for which it was intended?

That isas green open space for use by all the public, and particularly the new residents who will soon call the West End home?

Some of these new residents might even have kids.

The Americans have a saying: “You can’t fight city hall”.

Well 34 years ago, I and a group of supporters did.

I sued the City in the Land and Environment Court over the asphalting of too much of National Park, mainly for netball courts.

Residents from the neighbourhood and across the city joined the campaign and kicked the tin in the hope of preserving a morsel of green space in the inner city.

It settled with the city’s promise of no more asphalt.

The future use of National Park ought to be a no-brainer: transformingthis precious part of the city for passive recreation and green, open space.

Carl BoydCarl Boyd is an inner-city resident with a long standing interest in environmental issues. He was the Plaintiff in Boyd v Newcastle City Council and Newcastle Netball Association, NSW Land and Environment Court, 1984.

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TiNA’s into its third decade, but it’s lost none of its edge

Out of the ordinary: Crack X director Mel O’Dell says the call-out was for new ideas, new performances. Picture: Jonathan CarrollThis Is Not Art (TiNA) will bring the vibrant energy of the national emerging arts scene back to the heart of Newcastle for its 21st year.

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The festival kicks off on Thursday, September 27, and runs through Sunday, September 30.

The early years of the festival, originally directed by Marcus Westbury, founder of Renew Newcastle, were developed within the walls of squats and long-forgotten buildings such as the Performing Arts Newcastle (PAN) building on Auckland Street. The festival name was taken from a piece of graffiti on the side of Latec House on Hunter Street, which at the time was the tallest building in Newcastle.

In those formative years, TiNA had a distinct renegade energy that reflected the local DIY scene of the late ’90s. It was intent on celebrating the ideas and work of artistic communities that weren’t accepted into the wider Australian arts institutions or festivals.

Now entering into its third decade, TiNA has become one of the leading emerging arts festivals in Australia. Produced by Octapod in partnership with longstanding co-presenters National Young Writers’ Festival (NYWF), Crack X Festival and Critical Animals, the festival has become a space to experience new experimental performance, engage in critical discussion, and connect with emerging arts practitioners.

Octapod director Christina Robberds says that as a festival intent on injecting culture into cityscapes, development of TiNA has been in direct response to the changes in Newcastle’s cultural and physical landscape. As Newcastle changes, so does TiNA – forever responding to its urban environment.

“I’ve been involved with TiNA for a number of years now and it’s been exciting to watch the local and national arts ecology develop. I love that TiNA has ‘grown up’ alongside the city’s revitalisation,” Robberds says.

“One thing that never changes though is the diversity of voices involved. The programming is always fresh and at the forefront of the emerging arts scene,”Robberds says.

More music: WE DON’T DANCE co-producer Sebastian Phelan.

CIVIC PARK PRECINCTOne notable difference this year is the smaller footprint. The festival will be centred on the Civic Park precinct, having developed new relationships withNewcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle City Library and Watt Space Gallery. There will also beevents hosted further afieldat The Lock-Up, Softys in Islingtonand Newcastle Beach.

Despite having “grown up”, TiNA still promises to pack a dynamic punch. The 2018 program is filled to the brim with the usual unexpected delights. Visitors might discover an installation in the Christ Church Cathedral cemetery, slip into a late night reading at Newcastle City Library (Thursday and Friday) or explore “ultra-positivity” through an interactive performance at Watt Space Gallery.

Local artist and Crack X Festival director Mel O’Dell says their programming has maintained a focus on experimentation.

“This year Crack X asked for new performances and new ideas. Applicants could be an established artist trying something new or an emerging artist trying something for the first time.”O’Dell says.

This year TiNA will also be joined by special guests WE DON’T DANCE, a Newcastle-based music and collaborative arts collective. WE DON’T DANCE co-producer Bastian Phelan says they are excited to be reintroducing a healthy does of local music to the festival, which hasn’t seen a music stream since the departure of Electrofringe and Sound Summit.

“I’ve been attending the festival since 2004. I’m a musician and writer. I missed being able to see really interesting music at TiNA and the sense of community that going to gigs creates,” Phelan says.

Phelan also explains that music has been a great medium to engage the local creative community.

“One of the main reasons we formed was to create an opportunity for more local representation in TiNA. Newcastle has such a strong music scene, with collectives such as Banshee and the Y Project putting on regular gigs, this felt like a good way to include more Novocastrians,” Phelan says.

“We want locals to feel like TiNA is their festival. As well as being an opportunity to work with and meet artists from all around Australia.

“For me it’s always been a super fun exciting weekend to meet and make friends with other artists. In the art world those friendships are really important.”

Program highlights Diversity is ever present: Octapod director Christina Robberds.

Other program highlights include the Last Fridays – TiNA Takeover at the Newcastle Art Gallery on September 28.Co-presenters Critical AnimalsandCrack X,alongside special guests WE DON’T DANCE, will be filling the gallery with installation art, poetry performances and live music. National Young Writers’ Festivalwill also be presenting events nextdoor at the NewcastleLibrary.

Another offering, ART HOUSE, sees Crack X join forces with Softys, a home turned maker space in Islington (20 Maitland Road), to curate an evening of circus, poetry, music and performance.

As a longstanding breeding ground where Australian artists are able flex their creative selves in front of a supportive and engaged audience,festival alumni include names such as Benjamin Law, Clementine Ford, John Saffran, and The Herd. You just never know who you might get to see at the beginning of their bright career.

Sneak peekSeventeen. Art House (Softys, 20 Maitland Road, Islington), Sept 29, 7-8.15pm. Swimming carnivals. Blue light discos. Messy buns. Legs and shorts and sun. It’s the aftermath of high school, it’s the relationships you made, and how they fall apart in the decade afterwards. Expect puberty. Expect poetry. Expect to be reminded of everyone. The showis fiction and distils two years of writing, thinking, and feeling after a terrible real-world event in which ahigh school friends was murdered by another friend.A 15 minute performance of poetry and music by Eleanor Malbon and Hannah Lord.The Best Book I (N)ever Read. Newcastle Library. Sept 27. 5-6pm. Four writers (Rafeif Ismail, Dan Hogan, Rebecca Jessen, Alexandra Neill) have a confession to make. Tolstoy? Haven’t read it. Infinite Jest? Nope. The collected works of the Brontes? Not them either. Four writers dust off their to-be-read stack and discuss the classic books they’ve never read.Full program at thisisnotart.org

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Concussion strikes Aust ace Gardner again

Ashleigh Gardner is in good spirits despite yet another concussion, which has put one of the world’s most aggressive batters in doubt for Australia’s season-opening Twenty20 against New Zealand.

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Gardner was struck on the helmet by a bouncer during an intra-squad match last week on the Gold Coast.

Australia’s international summer of cricket starts at North Sydney Oval on Saturday week, when the Seven Network will broadcast a women’s trans-Tasman T20 on its main channel following the AFL grand final.

Gardner, who has now suffered four concussions in the space of 20 months, may be forced to sit the landmark fixture out.

Cricket Australia will adopt a conservative approach with the the 21-year-old, who played rugby league in her junior days and has a concerning history of head knocks.

“She’ll bounce back. She’ll be fine and she’s really looking forward to this summer,” Alyssa Healy said of her Australia, NSW and Sydney Sixers teammate.

“She got a pretty sharp bouncer … it’s not ideal, pretty poor timing.

“The beauty of Ash is that she doesn’t let it faze her too much. She’s still going to attack the short ball.

“Which is probably the way you want to attack it, get on the front foot and face it head on.”

Gardner produced one of the highlights of the past summer, smashing a women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) century off just 47 balls.

The star allrounder will miss the start of the women’s domestic one-day competition, which begins on Friday when NSW face Queensland on the Gold Coast.

Healy is upbeat Gardner will return against New Zealand.

“It would be a massive blow (if she doesn’t play). Ash is such a dynamic and exciting cricketer, a real game changer,” she said.

English fast bowler Katherine Brunt struck Gardner’s helmet during the previous summer’s Ashes series then again in the WBBL. Both blows resulted in delayed concussion.

“That’s too many (concussions); it’s quite bad,” Gardner said earlier this year.

“There’s been so many people hit in the head and they don’t get concussed and I’m like, ‘How do I get concussed every time I get hit in the head?’

“It’s quite funny how people’s heads react differently.

“I don’t want to be thinking about getting hit in the head – it plays in the back of my mind if it happens – but obviously you don’t want to be thinking about it.”

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Coach Goodwin wins battles with demons

Simon Goodwin is in his second season as head coach of Melbourne’s AFL team.In a rehab clinic with drug addicts and sex addicts, Simon Goodwin had hit rock bottom.

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He was a dual AFL premiership player. A multiple All Australian. A triple club champion. And a gambling addict.

In 2007, Goodwin was caught by the AFL betting on a game the previous season while an esteemed Adelaide player.

Goodwin was fined $40,000, half the amount suspended, and ordered to undergo an eight-week rehabilitation program.

Which is how he found himself in a room with, among others, two sex addicts, two drug addicts and a shopping addict.

Goodwin described being caught gambling by the AFL as the most embarrassing moment of his life.

But it also saved him.

“If I hadn’t hit rock bottom, who would have known where it could have taken me,” Goodwin said in 2008.

“I feel fortunate that it occurred when it did … I have said to my wife and a few other people, the fine of $20,000 was probably the best 20 grand I’ll ever spend in my life.”

Goodwin told of his “emotional torture” when addicted to gambling.

“I was ready once I hit rock bottom with what happened in the AFL to go into rehab,” he said.

Until then, Goodwin, on the surface, was living a charmed life.

As a brilliant young sportsman, Goodwin co-captained South Australia’s under-19 cricket team.

But he opted for football and was selected by the Crows in the 1996 pre-season draft.

In just his 10th AFL game, as a 20-year-old in 1997, he played in a premiership. He won another flag the following year.

Goodwin claimed the first of five All Australian jumpers in 2000, the same year he won the first of three club champion awards.

But scratch the surface, he was battling demons.

His grandfather was an alcoholic until beating the bottle later in life.

And Goodwin’s parents separated when he was four-years-old.

“Obviously as a child, I was scarred and traumatised to some degree by the separation, which put me in a high-risk category,” Goodwin said in 2008.

In December 2005, Goodwin apologised for threatening a newspaper photographer.

He was among Crows players drinking at an inner-city holte in Adelaide, on the same street as The Advertiser newspaper offices.

The newspaper sent a photographer to snap pictures from the street outside the pub. Goodwin saw him and confronted him.

“If you run any photos, I will f***ing kill you,” Goodwin said, according to the photographer.

Goodwin maintained he didn’t threaten to kill but apologised for threatening harm.

“I reacted in a manner which is unbecoming … it was a response that is unnatural to me,” he said at a media conference a day after the incident.

Most people agreed.

But darker times loomed.

In 2006, Goodwin’s Crows were beaten in a preliminary final by West Coast – after which, he was understood to have placed a bet on the Eagles to win the grand final.

Few knew it was the act of a gambling addict.

“I remember numerous times waking up and sitting on the end of the bed saying ‘why am I doing this?'” he said in 2008

“And 10 hours later having another crack at it.”

Those comments came after being appointed Adelaide captain, a role he filled for three seasons until retiring at the end of the 2010 season.

Within a month, Goodwin was named an assistant coach at Essendon.

He would spend four seasons with the Bombers, a period including the club’s 2012 supplements scandal which resulted in 34 players being banned for a year.

Goodwin was among five Essendon staffers who reportedly admitted to the AFL and Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority investigators they had received injections and oral supplements by the program’s designer, Stephen Dank.

Goodwin was never charged or penalised.

In August 2013, he took over as Essendon’s caretaker head coach for one game after the 12-month suspension of James Hird.

At the end of the 2014 season, after serving as a senior assistant coach to Mark Thompson, Goodwin left Essendon to join Melbourne as coach Paul Roos’ right-hand man.

Roos hatched a succession plan with Goodwin, who in 2016 was named as Melbourne’s head coach, taking effect the 2017 season.

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Netball: Australian Diamonds get revenge over England in Newcastle Test

FOCUSED: Australian goal attack Stephanie Wood in action in the Diamonds’ victory over England in their Quad Series Test match at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night. Picture: Marina NeilAustralia were out for revenge and that is what they exacted in a thrilling 52-47 Quad Series win over England in front of a packed Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night.

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It was the first time international netball had been played in Newcastle since 2012 and the 4500-strong crowd were treated to a nail-biting game played at a frenetic pace.

When the countries last met, the Roses stunned the world to beat the Diamonds by one goal in the Commonwealth Games gold medal match on the Gold Coast in April.

Leading into the rematch, Australian vice-captain Gabi Simpson said the Diamonds had “a fire in the belly” and were focused on avenging the loss.

But it was England, who were missing key shooter Jo Harten through injury, asserting authority on the game early.The Roses shot out to a 4-1 lead after three minutes and were ahead 14-11 at the first break.Australian coach Lisa Alexander made a tactical change at quarter-time, bringing on Liz Watson at centre for Kim Ravaillion.

The change paid dividends for the Diamonds, who were able to find more space, particularly out wide.

Diamonds goal shooter Caitlin Bassett scored four unanswered goals midway through the second period to take Australia into a 19-17 lead.England staged a late surge, scoring three in row to lock the game at 24-24 with 90 seconds left in the second quarter.

But Australia won the ball after goal shooter Kaden Corbin, who came on for Natalie Haythornthwaite at the first change, missed a shot and Brown was able to score under pressure as the whistle blew to give the Diamonds a two-goal buffer at 26-24 at the main break.

The Diamonds made some crucial turnovers in the third quarter and shot out to a seven-goal lead six minutes into the third period.They maintained control and were ahead 41-34 at three-quarter time after edging their way ahead with several two-goal hauls in that period.But the game went down to the wire with England scoring seven consecutive goals in the middle section of the final quarter to bridge the gap to two goals, down 44-42 with seven minutes remaining.

But Bassett’s three-goal haul with four minutes to go gave the Aussies breathing space and they were not headed from there.The crowd erupted as the final whistle blew.

The match was played 11 days after a pre-season basketball clash between Andrew Bogut’s Sydney Kings and the Illawarra Hawks was embarrassingly abandoned at the 11th hour when it was ruled to be too slippery and dangerous for play, leaving thousands of spectators in attendance fuming.But there were no issues on Wednesday night.

Australia beat South Africa 61-44 in the opening match of the series in Auckland on Saturday while the Roses downed New Zealand 52-39.The Silver Ferns defeated South Africa 61-37 on Tuesday night.The Diamonds take on the Kiwis in Melbourne on Sunday after England play South Africa.

UP AND AWAY: Australian goal shooter and captain Caitlin Bassett battles for possession on Wednesday night in the Test match against England at Newcastle Entertainment Centre. Picture: Marina Neil

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Dining ReviewMawson Caves BeachLiz Love

BEAUTIFULLY BALANCED: Crispy skin duck breast with beetroot and fetta tart. Pictures: MJK CreativeSince the 1960s the Mawson Hotel has been a much-loved local watering hole.

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The hotel is no more. Instead, on the site, a local family have transformed it into an apartment complex, complete with an IGA, and a restaurant that pays homage to the past.

It also celebrates its beachside location with a correspondingly casual and contemporary Australian menu.

You can come for coffee, or a wine, for breakfast or lunch; and now you can also come for dinner on Friday or Saturday night.

The place is almost full and buzzing at 1pm on Sunday, with families and couples; a broad demographic. I’m glad we’ve booked.

The menu is correspondingly all encompassing, with something for everyone.

Kids are treated with respect and can choose between grilled or fried chicken or fish, lamb sausage or lasagne. The first three come with chips, and vegetables or salad.

It is impressive that the vegetables are seasonal; Brussel sprouts, broccolini and Dutch carrots.

The sprouts and broccolini are vibrantly green and just the right side of al dente and surprisingly get a modified thumbs up from our 10-year-old grandchild. At least she does try some.

I suggest they offer kids sprouts the way they come with some of the adult mains; deliciously roasted with slightly charred edges.

Be sure to check out the specials and seafood board.

Today there are oysters prepared several ways, seafood marinara, beer battered dory, pan-seared mackerel or crispy skin duck breast.

SNAP TO IT: Try the chilli crab.

Crispy skin duck breast ($28) with beetroot and fetta tart was a little disappointing; the skin fell short on the crispy stakes. On the other hand, the flesh is pinkly moist and sits on a bed of beetroot puree with a disc of pastry on the side and a scattering of fetta cheese all round; a deconstructed tart. This dish is beautifully balanced; rich duck, earthy beetroot, tangy cheese and flaky pastry.

Roasted winter sprouts lift the pan seared mackerel ($30) to a new level.

Flaky, white, golden crusted fish, tangy grilled lime, sweet roasted winter sprout halves and this year’s go-to vegetable, roasted cauliflower. Yum.

Or, from the regular lunch menu you could choose char grilled peri peri chicken which comes with smashed chats, mint yoghurt and a simple leaf salad ($26).

The marinade of hot chilli, spicy paprika, ginger and garlic make this Portuguese dish a real winner.

Minted yoghurt helps cool the palate.

There are just three house made desserts; apple crumble with ice cream and custard ($14), brownie with toffee chocolate sauce and nut crumble ice cream ($15), and panna cotta with seasonal fruit jam ($12).

Or you can also choose from a selection of cake, cheese cake and pastries in the refrigerated cabinet.

SEAFOOD SPECIAL: Squid salad.

Panna cotta is one of those deceptively simple dishes that needs to be served on the day it’s made to be perfect.

There should be a definite wobble, which is only seen if it is turned out. Too much gelatine or a longer storage time makes it easier to turn out of the mould, but you lose the wobble. Here, the chef has compromised and served it in a glass. It’s creamy and smooth but just a little firm.

Today’s topping is a strawberry jelly, rather than jam. Not sure about the point of the garnish of a fine dehydrated slice of blood orange except as a good texture contrast.

Thumbs-up goes to the service staff; prompt, friendly, even though the place is almost full. And to the kitchen as well that knows kids don’t like waiting and gets their orders out very promptly.

Caves Beach already has the Caves Beach Hotel. The Mawson Café and Restaurant is a worthy complement.

Quick BiteWhat:Mawson Caves Beach,5/3 Mawson Close, Caves Beach; 4972 1813Chef:Brendan RueWines:Small wine list of mainly Australian wines; seven by the glass.Hours:Weekdays and Sundays, 7am to 4pm; Friday and Saturday, 7-11.30pmVegetarian:two Mawson bowls; cheese platter.Bottom line:lunch for two with two mains and two desserts, without drinks, less than $90.Wheelchair access:excellentDo try:Pan seared mackerel if available.

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Sisters of slain WA grandmother ask ‘why’

The grieving sisters of a Perth grandmother who was killed along with her daughter and three grandchildren have travelled from New Zealand and Queensland to see their accused murderer face court.

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Anthony Robert Harvey, 24, allegedly used a blunt instrument and knives to kill three-year-old Charlotte, two-year-old twins Alice and Beatrix, and his wife Mara Lee Harvey, 41, at their Bedford home last week.

He then allegedly murdered his mother-in-law Beverley Ann Quinn, 73, when she came to visit the next morning.

Harvey appeared briefly in Perth’s Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court via videolink from a Pilbara prison on Wednesday, when the case was adjourned until January 2 while his defence lawyer obtains reports and disclosure from the prosecution.

Ms Quinn’s sisters Wendy Frost, from Russell Island in Moreton Bay, and Maureen Devereux, from Wellington, held back tears as they spoke with reporters outside court.

They said they mainly came to Western Australia to support grieving relatives but also felt they had to come to court.

“It’s our road to closure,” Ms Frost said.

Asked how she felt seeing Harvey, Ms Frost said: “It’s not legal what I’m thinking”.

“I am very, very angry.

“We don’t talk about him if we can help it”.

She spoke lovingly of Ms Quinn, who went to the Bedford house almost every day to help and would have turned 74 next week.

“My sister Beverley would not hurt anybody,” she said.

“She was a loving, wonderful mother, she was a wonderful sister. She would do anything for anybody. She was so kind.

“Mara was following in her footsteps and those poor wee babies did not deserve to die. And I just want to know why – we all want to know why.”

Ms Frost said she wasn’t sure if she and her sister would remain in Perth for Harvey’s next court appearance.

“We just have to wait the outcome of the police doing their investigation – we want to make certain that they do it absolutely thoroughly so that whatever retribution this guy has to suffer, it is the maximum,” she said.

Ms Devereux said the family would eventually come to terms with their loss.

“We will have to go on but they will always be there. I’ll never forget,” she said.

Ms Devereux said she was left “dumbfounded” by the horrific crime.

But the family had been overwhelmed by support from the public, including flowers and toys left outside the house, and a stranger who left her a note on the flight over offering any help she might need while in Perth.

“We say thank you very much for your support.”

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