Monthly Archives: August 2019

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OPINION: Governments divide into leaners, lifters too

JOE Hockey wants to classify Australians as either lifters or leaners, but how should we classify his government?
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A leaning government turns the boats back so that the Indonesians have to deal with refugees. A leaning government refuses to settle boat people in Australia and somehow expects Manus Island to cope with those found to be genuine refugees. A leaning government puts private contractors in charge of asylum detention centres so it is not directly accountable for their welfare.

The Minister for Immigration then leans on dozens of public relations flacks to protect him from criticism of – and adverse publicity for – the consequences of government policy. A leaning minister refuses to give the public the information it needs to judge that policy.

On the other hand, a lifting government would take its international obligations for asylum seekers seriously and ensure the fair treatment of all those seeking asylum in Australia.

A leaning government puts the burden of balancing the budget deficit on the most disadvantaged in society: the poor, the old, the sick, the disabled and the unemployed. A lifting government would tackle tax avoidance on the part of transnational corporations and wealthy citizens. It would reduce subsidies to the well-resourced mining industry. It would examine the fairness of superannuation tax benefits for the well-paid.

However a leaning government prefers not to antagonise the influential and powerful when it can lean on the weak and vulnerable and use an army of spin doctors to persuade people that it is for their own good.

A leaning government raises quick money by selling off government assets that previous lifting governments built up over decades, even though this means forgoing dividends and losing money long term. A leaning government assumes that private ownership and competition will be more efficient, without examining the evidence of past privatisations. A leaning government hands responsibility for pricing of essential services to the private sector and blames the carbon tax if prices escalate.

A lifting government would tackle global warming head on with direct regulation that spells out the necessary reductions and time lines in each industry. A leaning government hands over responsibility to the polluters and hopes financial incentives – whether a carbon price or subsidies – will motivate them to do the right thing. A lifting government would seek to lead rather than follow when it comes to greenhouse gas reductions. It would not wait till poorer, developing nations commit to reductions.

A lifting government would reduce coal exports rather than bludging off a polluting resource and building more coal export infrastructure in the hope that the coal will keep on flowing. A lifting government would seek more sustainable industries to support and subsidise, and ways to transition from coal to renewable energy within Australia.

A lifting government regulates and builds the nation and protects the vulnerable. A government of leaners deregulates and allows the nation to collapse into the shambles of a free market.

Professor Sharon Beder, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, University of Wollongong, herinst上海后花园/sbeder

OPINION: Time to cap CBD towers and let light shine bright

RETAIL SUPPORT: A new hotel on the harbour will add to the already substantial catchment. TOO often state and local politicians and officials, and a few developers, put a ‘‘take it – or leave it and get nothing’’ attitude to Newcastle’s future. This is patronising rubbish and should be rejected. We deserve better.
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Mystery and a lack of transparency surround the plan for high-rise in inner-city Newcastle. These proposals, a public/private partnership of the state-owned UrbanGrowth NSW and GPT, include three 15 to 20-storey towers that are excessively tall. They are far in excess of the existing height limits – by a factor of three.

The 2012 draft Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy (NURS) has worthwhile objectives and strategies for encouraging co-ordinated and appropriate development in the city, which everyone wants. It supports sensible development initiatives for the West End and Civic parts of the city, and kept low-rise in the heritage inner-city areas of the Hunter Street Mall and East End.

The community was shocked when a proposal seeking amendments to the NURS was released in March, allowing only two weeks for community consultation. These amendments were proposed simply to look after just two developers: GPT/UrbanGrowth NSW and the University of Newcastle.

In response to the revised NURS, high-rise residential use has replaced low and medium-rise mixed commercial and commercial development as the dominant proposed use of land in Newcastle’s heritage inner city.

Neither the developers, nor the NSW government, have provided a clear and compelling explanation of why high-rise towers are needed in the mall and East End. What is the financial modelling being used to determine their heights? Why 20 storeys and not 50, or 15, or 10? Why not retain the Newcastle LEP (2012) height limits of around eight storeys?

Development is booming in inner Newcastle within the existing planning controls of the 2012 Newcastle Local Environmental Plan and in accord with the 2012 NURS – and without excessive high-rise. The inner city has many beautiful low-medium rise buildings that can be, indeed are being, adaptively redesigned and sold to people who want to live in them, and enjoy the unique Newcastle vibe.

As well, a considerable number of unrelated developments have been completed within walking distance of the GPT/UrbanGrowth NSW site. These include numerous mixed-use and exclusively residential developments on the harbour, on the beach and in Newcastle city. There are two substantial new hotels about to start construction (one on the harbour, one on Newcastle beach). All of these developments add to the substantial catchment that will support quality retail in the area.

A question many people ask is: Will the high-rise tower proponents do the building themselves? Or do they intend cutting a special deal with the NSW government to change planning controls, maybe get their hands on taxpayer funds to grout the mine tunnels beneath the land, use their considerable muscle to clear the way for approved DAs – and then on-sell the project as a ‘‘shovel-ready’’ financial jackpot?

Newcastle has seen too many shonks do a midnight flit. Too often we have seen local businesses and local initiatives overlooked. There is a real risk that the region’s capital will be degraded by low quality high-rise apartment blocks that become high-rise slums owned by absentee landlords.

The planning instruments of the past 30 years, embodied in the NURS 2012, have given great weight to preserving this city’s remarkable inheritance and are the foundation for a prosperous future for the whole community.

The community group co-ordinating the campaign for sensible development in Newcastle’s heritage heart, the Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance (NICRA), has members from throughout the Hunter. We ask a simple question: Why is it necessary to overturn successful existing planning laws to allow high-rise development that risks the special character of the capital city of our region?

Pru Goward, the Minister for Planning and also the minister responsible for UrbanGrowth NSW, appears to have a conflict of interest as both the lawmaker and approver of developments (wearing her Minister for Planning hat), and as beneficiary (wearing her UrbanGrowth NSW hat).

Many residents and businesses in Newcastle feel pushed aside by outside developers, and by the current political culture of the city. It’s hard for ordinary community members to meet with Pru Goward, but she has the opportunity to break the trend of secret deals that plagues NSW politics, to listen to the community, to stick with the current building height limits that keep our city great.

Dr Geoff Evans teaches, researches and consults on sustainability in Australia and internationally. He is a member of the Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance (NICRA). NICRA has organised a public Q & A forum on July 25 at the Newcastle City Hall

Could you give up Facebook for 99 days?

Could you handle a 99-day Facebook fast? Photo: JustSo you’ve tried Dry July, Ocsober and maybe you even give up sugary temptations through Lent.
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But could you give up Facebook for 99 days?

“99 Days of Freedom” is a challenge set by Just, a Dutch creative agency, in direct response to Facebook’s controversial mood experiment which was made public last month.

Facebook’s experiment tested the theory that an individual’s happiness could be affected by the content they see online.

“99 Days of Freedom” turns the experiment on its head and asks whether people would be happier without Facebook.

Just art director Merjin Straathof said the initiative was spawned from an office joke.

“As we discussed it internally, we noted an interesting tendency … everyone had at least a ‘complicated’ relationship with Facebook. Whether it was being tagged in unflattering photos, getting into arguments with other users or simply regretting time lost through excessive use, there was a surprising degree of negative sentiment.

“Then someone joked, ‘I guess that the real question is, ‘How do you feel when you don’t use Facebook?’,” she said.

The non-profit initiative asks users to give up Facebook for a 99-day period, completing anonymous happiness surveys on days 33, 66 and 99.

Straathof said there was some debate about how long the experiment should be.

“If it’s too extended, participants will lose interest. If it’s too short, there’s no meaningful behavioural change to assess. In the end, we landed on a 99-day, hoping that such interaction will serve as a support group of sorts,” she said.

According to Facebook, the average user spends 17 minutes a day sharing, posting, liking and poking.

While giving away the social network may sound tough to some, the group says every participant will recieve something in return: more than 28 hours or 1683 minutes that would have been spent trawling the site.

“Our prediction is that the experiment will yield a lot of positive personal experiences and, 99 days from now, we’ll know whether that theory has legs,” said Straathof.

New Real-NRL structure dumps 23s

THE Newcastle Rugby League has handed down its vision for the next three years, a blueprint that chief executive officer Matt Harris hopes will increase player participation.
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The league’s board endorsed the recommendations on Tuesday night and the manifesto was distributed yesterday to the nine Real NRL clubs.

It follows a long process in which all clubs were interviewed about the challenges facing the competition.

Under the new structure, the unpopular under23s competition has been scrapped and open age will return to complement firsts and reserves.

‘‘There were a handful of players who were not able to get games at clubs because they weren’t at that reserve-grade level and were too old to go into the under23s,’’ Harris said.

‘‘There were a number who were lost to Newcastle and to Hunter [Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League] or had to sit out.’’

An under19s competition will replace the under18s.

Under17s will be reinstated at junior level.

Real NRL clubs will have to field sides in all four grades or face expulsion.

The pre-season competition has been scrapped after it failed to gain widespread support over the past two years.

The most radical change involves the relationship between the Real NRL clubs and their NHRL affiliates.

To improve what has been at times a frosty relationship between first- and second-tier teams, Real NRL clubs will be required to have representation from senior and junior affiliate clubs on their board.

Similarly, Real NRL clubs will be required to appoint a delegate to their affiliates.

For the first time the draws for the top flight and second division will be developed together so Real NRL clubs’ home games are not on the same day as their affiliates’.

Most Real NRL clubs have indicated a willingness to play home games on Saturdays.

That means most second-division games will be played on Sundays, and Harris hopes that promotes sharing of players and resources.

‘‘If the affiliate and their district club play on the same day in the same area, they’re in competition with each other, and that’s not in the best interests of football,’’ he said.

What is not addressed in the restructure is a plan to return to a 10-team competition.

Asked if the new structure, which covers the next three years, meant the league would not be unable to introduce a 10th team until at least 2018, Harris said: ‘‘Not necessarily, but in reality you could expect it will be closer to that than next year.

‘‘The soonest would be in maybe two years.’’

State of Origin LIVE: Qld v NSW

Blues fans show their support before game three of the State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: Getty Images Don’t expect the Queensland fans to stick around for the trophy presentation tonight if 2005 was any guide when Blues skipper Danny Buderus held the shield aloft in front of many empty seats. Photo: Steve Christo
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Can NSW make is a clean sweep?

State of Origin

Origin

Maroons fan Matthew Prentice poses for a photo before game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

State of Origin LIVE: Qld v NSW

Good evening folks. Welcome to our live coverage of Origin III from Suncorp Stadium. They say there’s no such thing as a dead rubber, although that’s a complete fib become I’m staring at one right now. However, we can probably tweak that to suggest most Origin dead rubbers are above the average dead piece of rubber. Remember 2009? I was only watching that this afternoon, carefully shielding the eyes of the children when I saw Brett White about to wind up and lay out Steve Price. Fiery encounter…. will we see anything like that tonight? With the ‘no punch’ rule, maybe not. But I just have a feeling all that rubbish, annoying little niggling throughout the series could really erupt tonight the first sign of a forearm to the face.

Weather report…. lovely night, chilly for Brisbane but that’s anything under 15 degrees. Not sure if it’s a complete sell out but I’d say there will only be a few hundred seats left. My predictions have been completely useless all series but I may as well try to shoot another fish with my last spear. I’ll say Queensland by 12 tonight, mostly on the back of Cooper Cronk’s return. Kid goes good.

Shout out to anyone reading from exotic destinations around the world. Let us know if where you are…. Dubbo doesn’t count as ‘exotic’, for the record.null

Who will win game three of the State of Origin series? http://t上海后花园/yaf4aJ6umNpic.twitter上海后花园m/XzWQsJ4BwX— SMH Sport (@SMHsport) July 9, 2014

Not long to go now folks. The Brothers Madden are singing for our/your/everybody’s pleasure now. At least it’s not Justice Crew, although they may as well be Bruce Springsteen if you happen to be my eight-year-old daughter. And if you are my daughter, go to bed. Back at the footy, we’re getting closer to the finale of the 2014 series. Game one here was a flat-out all-timer. Game two was, well, I’m not sure. Great outcome for NSW but the game never really soared I didn’t think. I’m just hoping we see some running rugby league here to ice the cake for the year.

Predictions? First one that says ‘pain’ wins one of the books from my desk. Not Juiced though.

Drama! Joel Madden tells the crowd he supports NSW. Benji? Wait for it… Queensland! That’s a serious conflict right there. I wonder if they have a ‘no punch’ rule? I was good mates with twins growing up and they used to punch on all the time. Great fun.null

Here is a walk down memory lane me with the boys after NSW last origin clean sweep #stateoforigin#NRLpic.twitter上海后花园m/oZwnjwahvX

— Adam MacDougall (@adammacdougall5) July 9, 2014

Not many spare seats at all here tonight. Maybe 51k and change? I got up to 49,000 and then the pies came out so I had to start again. Snap predictions right here:

Man of the match: Jarryd Hayne

Player that played well and you didn’t even realise he was out there: Ryan Hoffman

Player responsible for lighting the most fires in the village: Cooper Cronk

Did you know? James McManus is playing for NSW. IRL.

Most predictable step that nobody seems to predict: Justin Hodges (it’s off the right, if any players are reading)

G’day to Parso81 who is in Vietnam and watching from Vung Tao. Not riding a chinook, I presume. Maybe after the game. Enjoy mate! Weather update from your part of the globe?

The @LeagueHQ1 expert panel (two members pictured below) have their say on #Origin III http://t上海后花园/nRFTmoTFFZpic.twitter上海后花园m/jvX1ZEMZ36

— LeagueHQ(@LeagueHQ1) July 8, 2014