Community development committee members seek answers from Tamworth Regional Council

MEMBERS of some of the community development committees (CDC) being dissolved want answers from Tamworth Regional Council.
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The Woolbrook, Bendemeer, Barraba, Attunga, Calala and Hanging Rock CDCs are among those to be disbanded, yet up to late last week had not received any formal notification, although at least one thinks the dissolution could have a silver lining.

Woolbrook CDC chairman Tony Haling said his group met last Thursday night to discuss it all and all were “fairly disappointed with Tamworth Regional Council”.

Mr Haling said he’d rung council and was told he couldn’t get a letter, as the minutes hadn’t been confirmed, but the minutes were already online.

He said council sent the group a letter on May 1 (received on May 8) to state many CDCs would be dissolved.

“I then didn’t hear a thing until Prime 7’s story on Bendemeer, and they’d found out the truth because they’d attended the meeting,” he said.

Bendemeer and Barraba said they also still hadn’t heard anything official from council.

The councillors believed communities would continue to have many opportunities to air their views or raise concerns with them under the integrated planning and reporting regime.

Mr Haling said council had kept four CDCs – Nundle, Kootingal, Moonbi and Manilla – but he didn’t know why they were chosen.

The Woolbrook CDC is now a hall and recreation reserve committee.

“They have restricted our capacity to put community issues to council, but we spoke to Walcha council and they’ve assured us we have their support as a 355 committee,” Mr Haling said.

“Robert Charlesworth said anyone can come to council with issues, but it doesn’t carry as much weight as a representative body.”

Bendemeer CDC chairman Nik Roudenko said its members were not happy with the decision.

“The principle is not a big deal if there is a better solution, but we haven’t heard a better solution,” he said.

Robert Charlesworth

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Royalties deferral key in Grange move

THE state government will defer royalties worth $500,000 over the next three years for Grange Resources.
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Deputy Premier Bryan Green revealed the deferral yesterday in a press release about Grange Resources’ decision to move its head office from Perth to Burnie.

Mr Green said the government’s royalties decision “was a key factor in securing the move”.

“This is a decision we didn’t have to think twice about.

“It is simply tremendous news for Tasmania and our mining industry,” Mr Green said.

“For a company of this size to move its headquarters to a regional centre is virtually unheard of these days”.

Mr Green said the decision was an enormously positive signal that Tasmania’s mining industry was open for business.

“With a market capitalisation of more than $220 million, Grange Resources is now the third biggest public company behind MyState and Tassal to have its headquarters in Tasmania.”

Mr Green said Grange would be relocating its headquarters from Perth, which will also secure more than 60 jobs at its corporate headquarters in Burnie.

“It is also great news for the 600 employees at Grange on the North-West Coast and the more than 400 contractors.

“Tasmania’s mining industry, particularly the heavily mineralised regions of the North-West and West Coasts, has an extremely bright future,” Mr Green said.

Grange Resources also announced to the ASX yesterday the company’s chief operating officer Wayne Bould had joined the board as managing director.

Mr Bould has been with Grange since 2008 and has more than 40 years practical and managerial experience in the petroleum, forestry and mining sectors.

Mr Bould is also the president of the Tasmanian Minerals Council.

He said yesterday the board’s decision reflected the strong confidence it had in the Tasmanian management and operations team.

“The move is a great coup for our region. It’s not too often that an ASX-listed company will relocate its corporate and listed office to a regional area such as ours.

“Importantly, the relocation will have significant benefits for Tasmania in securing Tasmanian jobs and providing a major confidence boost for the state’s economy,” Mr Bould said.

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Davidson takes Maitland reins

NEWCASTLE Hunters coaching stalwart Larry Davidson is not promising miracles but is determined to make a difference after agreeing to take the reins at the Maitland Mustangs for the rest of the Waratah Basketball League season.
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The long-serving former Hunters women’s and men’s mentor, who was the WBL women’s coach of the year in 2010, will replace David Richards, who resigned last week.

Luke Boyle, who filled the role of player-coach on Maitland’s road trip to Penrith and Sutherland last weekend, will remain as a player only but will help Davidson settle in at his first training session tomorrow night.

Apart from securing Davidson, former Hunter Pirates import Chris Brown has agreed to join the team as a player for the rest of the season.

The Mustangs have lost eight straight games and are second-last with a 1-11 win-loss record.

“It’s not going to be an easy task. They’ve got to play the top four teams, and one of them twice, so it’s going to a pretty tough second half of the season,” Davidson said.

“I just need to get to training to see what’s working and what’s not working, then maybe fine-tune a couple of things.”

When Darren Nichols resigned as Hunters coach six weeks before the WBL season started, Davidson stepped down as his assistant in a show of solidarity. The Mustangs offered the job to Nichols when Richards resigned but Nichols knocked them back and recommended Davidson.

“Nothing that transpired earlier in the year has influenced my decision,” Davidson said.

“Basically, I love coaching and I want to coach. That’s the bottom line, and Maitland has given me the opportunity to do that, and possibly turn their season around a little bit.”

Nichols wished Davidson every success at Maitland “but my heart is still with the Hunters”.

“I seriously considered it but after discussing it with my family, and thinking long and hard about it, I realised I still want to coach but I want to coach in Newcastle,” he said.

Davidson said one of his first tasks would be to appoint a leadership group including Boyle, younger brother Joel, and import Mitch Rueter.

“Hopefully that will make the transition to a new coach a little bit easier for the players,” Davidson said.

Luke Boyle expects the Mustangs to benefit from Davidson’s years of experience.

“It’s definitely one giant leap forward having someone of his calibre, and it will give us a very stable platform to build on towards next year and improving this season,” Boyle said.

Davidson said his appointment was for the rest of this season only and he would wait until the end of this year to discuss the prospect of continuing next season.

Davidson’s first game in charge will be against defending champions Norths Bears at North Sydney on June 15.

TOUGH TASK: New Maitland Mustangs coach Larry Davidson. Picture: Kitty Hill

Six development committees gone

SIX of 10 community development committees (CDC) across the Tamworth region have been disbanded.
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The Calala, Attunga, Hanging Rock, Bendemeer, Barraba and Woolbrook CDCs have been dissolved, because the council has changed the way it engages with the community and the committees are no longer considered the primary way of doing so.

Some residents also felt the committees were not representative of them, according to a report tabled to the most recent Tamworth Regional Council meeting, and recently-introduced provisions aimed at ensuring all residents had representation have been ineffective.

The report also said “the information submitted to council by these committees is generally not in alignment with council’s strategic direction”.

Council corporate and governance director Robert Charlesworth said the committees were formed following the 2004 council amalgamation, to maintain the involvement of the various communities in the new local government area, but the council had since gained an understanding of the communities’ expectations.

Mr Charlesworth said the community engagement changes were in line with the council’s community strategic plan, delivery program and annual operational plan.

For many groups there would effectively be little change, he said, but they would no longer operate as council committees, and the council would engage with all community groups.

He said the four remaining community development committees at Nundle, Kootingal, Moonbi and Manilla were retained for the time being, because they were structured differently in terms of the functions of council they held, but would be subject to review.

The 10 committees are among 45 Section 355 committees, groups to which the council delegates some functions, such as managing facilities.

Council general manager Paul Bennett told the council meeting Section 355 committees that worked well had a clear mandate and were “not trying to be all things to all people”, but when the CDCs were established many had a very broad scope.

Mr Bennett said committees that ran alongside the council and delivered what it mandated were needed.

Bendemeer CDC chairman Nik Roudenko said he was not opposed in principle to the disbanding of the committees if they were ineffective, but was annoyed at the poor communication between the council and the committee.

He and other members of the committee attended the council meeting and said they left exasperated and unhappy.

“It’s not the disbandment so much, I think it’s the feeling of ‘are we being listened to?’” Mr Roudenko said.

He said while there might have been residents dissatisfied with the committee, they did not approach the committee itself and instead took their complaints straight to the council.

He said the council did not then consult with the committee about potential problems and how they could be addressed.

While Mr Roudenko said the committee also should have improved its communication, the council had failed to involve itself properly with the committee.

Nik Roudenko

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Asbestos clean-up begins

UPDATE: Davcom guilty, fined $20,000
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THE clean-up has begun of asbestos dumped by sub-contractors in Ballarat working on remediating Telstra ducts and pits in preparation for the National Broadband Network.

A number of examples of improper disposal of dangerous asbestos revealed over the past week were yesterday in the process of being taken away.

Despite assurances from Telstra contractor Visionstream that disposal was correctly handled, workers in protective suits yesterday cleaned up a skip bin full of up to 60 bags of asbestos in Sebastopol.

Hertford Street car yard owner Gary Day said the skip containing deadly asbestos fibres was removed yesterday afternoon.

“They were all here in their you-beaut white spacesuits, there were guys out there everywhere,” Mr Day said.

Earlier this week, The Courier revealed that a property at the rear of Mr Day’s car yard was one of a number of areas where asbestos had been left uncovered by Telstra sub-contractors.

Mr Day believed the unsecured haul had been sitting there for weeks after being left by workers for Telstra sub-contractor Davcom.

A skip full of asbestos bags on Melbourne Road has also been removed from its location at the front of a sheet metal business.

The yard belonged to ABC Civil Group, a former sub-contractor for NBN Co Victorian contractor Transfield.

Telstra confirmed that Visionstream was responsible for organising the clean-up.

Both skips were left uncovered and contained bags that had aged from exposure to the weather.

Residents have also noticed efforts to clean up around the city.

On Monday, Webster Street’s Ray Borowiak found two pieces of asbestos within back-filled soil surrounding a Telstra pit on the nature strip outside his home.

Mr Borowiak said he was concerned workers remediating the pits had not taken away all broken asbestos pieces and had filled in the dug-out areas with the fibrous material.

After his story appeared in yesterday’s edition of The Courier, Mr Borowiak noticed a man walking around his neighbourhood checking for any residual pieces of asbestos around street-side pits owned by Telstra.

He said a piece he noticed embedded into the soil on Monday had been removed by this man, who used a long metallic tool to lift the pit lids.

Social media users have reported people arriving in protective clothing to clean up asbestos, as well as more cases of potentially unsafe dumping of white bags containing the material.

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Asbestos that was dumped in a skip in Hertford Street, Sebastopol, has been removed.

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Mixing language and martial arts

STUDENTS at St Philip’s Christian College Port Stephens are taking their interest in Japanese beyond the classroom to martial arts.
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The school of 700 pupils introduced the language to its curriculum in 2011 when it hired its head of Japanese, Stephen Grant, who had lived and worked in the country for 10 years.

Now the language is compulsory for students from kindergarten to year 8, and available as an elective for students in years 9 and 10.

Mr Grant said he hoped the subject would be available for students in years 11 and 12 from next year.

‘‘There are now kids in years 7 to 10 with higher proficiency than many senior students of Japanese in some other schools, especially in terms of Kanji [Chinese characters used in Japanese writing] knowledge,’’ Mr Grant said.

‘‘Learning any language is great for reflecting on your first language and rediscovering things like verbs – and encouraging kids to look at the culture too opens them up to a wider experience.’’

All students need to show proficiency in the language and culture to progress through the coloured belt grades in the school’s unique martial arts program.

‘‘When I came back from Japan I merged the arts of karate and Iaidō [sword-drawing] with the academic aspects of Japanese language and culture study,’’ Mr Grant said.

‘‘The idea is training a person to be an all-round citizen who can represent their region well and a disciplined person who does their best – it’s definitely more cultural than aggressive.’’

Mr Grant said he tried to connect the study of Japanese not only to sport through martial arts, but also to numeracy, science, social sciences and art.

CULTURE CLASH: Stephen Grant (centre), head of St Philip’s Japanese Cultural Society, and Thomas Priest, 13, watching as Yash Gurram, 14, and Grace Kim, 14, demonstrate some of their martial arts training. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Magistrate imposes strict conditions for Camperdown robbery accused

A CAMPERDOWN man allegedly involved in stealing an elderly man’s car at knifepoint was yesterday released on bail with strict conditions, including a $5000 surety and drug testing.
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Damien Searle, 27, of Wright Street, appeared in Warrnambool Magistrates Court to apply for bail after he was arrested and charged last Thursday.

Mr Searle is charged with armed robbery, burglary, theft, criminal damage and three counts of stealing vehicles.

Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt granted bail until July 30, with conditions Mr Searle undertake drug screening tests on the first and third Monday of every month, he report to Camperdown police, provide a $5000 surety, abide by a 9pm to 6am curfew and not go within 20 kilometres of Lavers Hill or Chapple Vale.

Detective Senior Constable Wayne Ryan, of the Warrnambool police crime investigation unit, said that police yesterday morning interviewed Mr Searle’s alleged co-accused.

That man, Jacob Evans, has been remanded in custody until July 30 charged with similar offences to Mr Searle.

Detective Senior Constable Ryan said Mr Searle had now made full confessions to his offending.

Mr Klestadt raised the subject of a surety and said Mr Searle would almost inevitably be sentenced to serve a significant term of imprisonment.

He said when Mr Searle got closer to a sentencing date he expected that the accused man would more strongly consider avoiding court.

Last week Detective Senior Constable Ryan said that on Saturday, May 18, Mr Searle and a co-accused went to Curdievale Road, Timboon, where they stole a Mitsubishi van.

He said they drove to Peterborough where they stole a flat-screen TV before driving to nearby Dawson’s Bush where they became bogged.

They also stole a quad motorbike from the Timboon district and put it in the van.

The quad bike was abandoned after being drained of fuel to put in the van, which was empty.

The offenders allegedly drove east until again running out of fuel near Lavers Hill on Saturday evening. Both the motorbike and van were yesterday described as insurance write-offs.

The duo then stole another quad bike and attempted to steal another vehicle at Chapple Vale, north-east of Apollo Bay.

About 10.30am on Sunday they allegedly waved down an elderly male driver in a Magna sedan and asked to be taken to Simpson. Shortly after a knife was produced and held to the throat of the driver.

When arrested last week Mr Searle took police to the Magna sedan, which was found at a disused Camperdown farmhouse hidden by trees.

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Shop owner appalled

TEAR it down!
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That’s the opinion of Wynyard businessman Scott Allsop on the traditional marriage billboard erected in the town.

The part-owner of Ace Motors said the sign did not reflect what the Wynyard community had to say on the topic of marriage equality.

“It just needs to be torn down immediately,” Mr Allsop said.

“It’s discriminatory, it’s disgusting, it’s no-one’s right to put something up like that.”

Mr Allsop drew on his own marital situation as a comparison.

“If someone told me not to marry my wife because we are of opposite sex, I would be very unhappy,” Mr Allsop said.

“As a business owner in this town, we don’t need this image.”

Mr Allsop wasn’t the only business owner unhappy with the sign.

TopShop owner Darrell Keegan was appalled that a sign advocating traditional marriage had been placed on his business without consulting with him first.

Mr Keegan signed a lease with LJthHooker with a clause stating that any sign that caused damage to the business would be removed.

Mr Keegan said this particular sign was put up by the landlords without consulting him first.

“I’m annoyed it hasn’t been taken down. It is offensive to some people.”

Mr Keegan has asked LJ Hooker to have the sign removed.

“It’s a slow process, though,” Mr Keegan said.

Braddon Greens MHA Paul O’Halloran urged the groups behind the billboard to consider the potential harm it could have on the community.

“I respect that everyone has a personal opinion on marriage equality, but I ask the organisations who sponsored this billboard to think about the harm and damage it will create,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“I am shocked that anyone would think this appropriate.

“As someone who grew up in a Christian household, my experience is that it is an institution of love, acceptance and tolerance – and I do not see how this fits,” Mr O’Halloran said.

The controversial sign at the corner of Goldie and Saunders streets, Wynyard, which has alarmed business owners. Picture: Grant Wells.

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Green space a ‘great idea’ for old station

A NEW idea has emerged for Griffith’s old police station block –and there’s not a gangster in sight.
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One of the driving forces behind a Don Mackay statue in Banna Avenue has called for a “sunken garden” to be built on the Ulong Street/Banna Avenue block as a major project to celebrate Griffith’s centenary in 2016.

The derelict site, on a prime parcel of CBD land, has been the subject of intense speculation in recent months amid calls for it to be turned into a “Mafia museum” or a museum honouring the city’s fight against organised crime.

But Allan Smith from Griffith Rotary, a key player in making the Mackay statue a reality, said such suggestions were “ridiculous”.

“It is completely unnecessary to give mention to the criminal shame of the past 35 years,” Mr Smith said.

“Perhaps the state government could grant it to the people of Griffith as a centenary gift.

“My preferred option would be for it to be converted to a sunken garden displaying sculptures, moss rocks, shade trees, paving, wrought iron gates and a complete waterfall feature.”

The idea has gained the support of former Griffith Concerned Citizens chairman Reg Fallon, who headed a group that stood against

organised crime following the Mackay murder.

“It’s a great idea and I think around the fountain we could have a display which tells the story of Griffith’s pioneers,” Mr Fallon, 86, said.

“Why would we want to feature the villains? I think it’s best we forget them.”

The block has sat vacant since the police station’s move to Railway Street and is currently the subject of an Aboriginal land claim.

Murrumbidgee MP Adrian Piccoli gave the proposal in-principle support.

“I think it’s important to have a bit of green space in the CBD and I like this idea,” he said.

“You could have some engraved sandstone with the story of the irrigation area and the soldier settlers and even a mention of the Mackay thing as part of our broader history.

“It would be very expensive and I’m not sure how it would be funded.

I’d certainly be doing whatever I could to get grants if it had the support of the community.

“It’s become an unsightly block and it’s been abandoned for far too long.”

The old Griffith police station

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Retirement village Staff say big changes ‘not needed’ at Bendigo retirement village 

MANAGERS of the Bendigo Domain Village are looking to make minor changes after an elderly resident went missing on Sunday.
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Eighty-seven-year-old Alan Hodge was missing for 17 hours in cold conditions after leaving the independent living complex.

He was safely found on Monday morning and was still recovering in Bendigo hospital yesterday.

Mr Hodge suffers from several medical conditions, including dementia.

A village manager, who asked not to be named, said staff would look at changing the way people were assessed as being suitable for the units.

“There are going to be no changes in the way we run the village because it’s independent living,” he said.

“There might be changes to the way we assess whether people are able to live independently in the village.

“At the moment, it’s up to them.

“But it’s also up to us to observe and make sure anyone who comes into the village is able to live independently.

“Sometimes someone comes in where one person is able to care for the other person. That’s OK, because they can still live independently.

“But if two people come in who are perhaps needing greater care, we will need to be more vigilant on that sort of thing.”

He said Mr Hodge was the oldest person in the village.

“Our average age would be people in their early 70s,” the manager said.

He said there were no plans to change gate opening and closing times, with residents able to “come and go as they please”.

It’s believed the person who found Mr Hodge visited him in hospital yesterday.

The Bendigo Domain Village retirement complex. Picture: Blair Thomson

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