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Short Takes

A FRESH produce market at Maitland is an excellent proposal and a return to the days of the earlier Maitland Markets (‘Mayor cautious about produce market’, Herald, 2/4).It is an essential facility for Maitland and for our Lower Hunter Region.For our best health, we all need fresh fruit and vegetables, we do not need supermarket produce squeezed from farmers at ridiculously low prices, picked too early to retain the semblances of ripeness, or imported from around the world.The comments by Mayor Blackmore are completely inappropriate from a region which has always produced excellent fresh produce.
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David Stewart, Newcastle EastIT hashappened.I’m down the rabbit hole andwith the program.We’ll pay heaps on shiny new Defence toys so we can’t afford health andeducation improvements. We’ll bash the unionsbut reward those nice banks andbig corporations for their wealth-siphoning deals. We’ll write off millions as bad debts because people can’t afford their higher education loans, while we cut university funding andgo for fee deregulation. We’ll keep on trashing TAFE so we can play the scandal plagued vocational education sector game.I’m there. Why can’t the premiers get it?

Lorraine Yudaeff,Fern Bay.WAYNE Ridley (Short Takes, 6/4) asks “what is the government doing bringing in 12,000 Syrian refugees for humanitarian reasons?”. The short answer –the right thing.

Glen Coulton, Marmong PointWITH the hike in private health insurance going through the roof, I remember the good old days when you could claim it on your taxation. I believe it also applied to your superannuation.

Daphne Hughes, KahibahIF they build a freight bypass at Hexham maybe they could put the new Newcastle tram out there too. That way it wouldn’t be blocking the traffic and you could go from one end of town to the other almost as quick as when we had a train.

Ed Matzenik, MaitlandTHEpromise of light rail in Newcastle is a myth. The government is going to change hands twice before anything happens, withmany more dollars in consulting fees spent. All we need is someone smart enough in government to work out it would have been more cost effective to leave the heavy rail .

Alan Hicks, MayfieldWHAT’Sthe go with all this “previous government” rubbish?Don’t care what happened before, you’re in government now just sort it out.P.S. How much fun are the trams going to be in 2019? A journey to nowhere. Thanks Bairdy

Darryl Horne,Waratah​THE POLLSAre you happy to lose parking in the city for the light rail line?

Yes 30%,No 70%Would you rather shop at local markets than supermarket stores?

Yes 89%,No 11%

Fitting the light rail vision to a city’s reality

IN the words of Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance, the state government is “cracking on” with its plan to use light rail as the centrepiece of its plan to transform Newcastle’s central business district.
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It’s a visionthat the Newcastle Herald has endorsed – albeitwith some reservations–since it was first announced by Mike Baird, back when he was treasurer in a Coalition government led by then-premier Barry O’Farrell.

These reservations –natural enough given the scale of the project, and the politics that have swirled around it and the city in recent years –were given short shrift on Tuesday by Mr Constance, who urged people to “stop being so negative”.

That’s fine for Mr Constance to say, and it’s a minister’s job to promote his government’s policies.But the longer the light rail has been in the planning, the greater the opportunity there has been for people to think more closelyabout its implications, and about whether the government’s prescription is the right answerfor a peninsular city witha much lower population density that is usually the case for places served bylight rail.

More information aboutthe operational side of the Newcastle system willbe available on Thursday, when the government releases itsReview of Environmental Factors. But MrConstance made it clear that this reportwould notcover a lot of associated but important information, such as how the light rail fits into the broader landscape of urban renewal. Nor has the government seen fit to release a business case for light rail, a decision that has only encouraged the doubts of those who fear the project risks becoming an expensive white elephant.

That said, it is worth remembering that light rail has been successfully introduced into various medium-sized cities around the developed world, often against substantial initial opposition. As faras the Herald can tell, this early opposition has tended to fade away, with the travelling public embracing the new mode of transport, and the cities in general enjoying the consequentialurban renewal.

Mr Constance is promising ample consultation in the months ahead, but he also made it clear that the decision to install light rail has been made once and for all, and will not be revisited. Given the cost, and what’s at stake, this is one decision the state government must absolutely get right.

ISSUE: 48,202

Laying it all on the line over light rail plan

EMBRACE IT: Transport Minister Andrew Constance talks light rail in Newcastle on Tuesday. Picture: Marina Neil.
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ACCORDING to Transport Minister Andrew Constance,if you have a different opinion to the state government on light rail you’re being negative(‘Driven out’, Herald, 6/4).

If the government had accepted the bureaucrat’s report and used the heavy rail corridor, there would be surplus funds to burn to extend light rail almost everywhere.

But no, that’s being negative.

Besides, what a waste of the only land in the city area not subject to mine subsidence problems.

One day we might learn what this government has in mind for this valuable corridor.Meantime, we are asked to also embrace council mergers without access to the KPMG experts report.

Age of enlightenment and transparency indeed.

Penton Sutcliffe,CorletteMess, MinisterANDREW Constance says “we’re not spending over half a billion dollars here to build public transport that no one uses”. Nonsense.That’s exactly what they are proposing.

Getting people out of their cars requires fixing the broken Newcastle public transport system. That means many more buses, routes that are more direct and more frequent than at present, and buses that take people to railway stations. It also means an expansion of the rail network to cover more suburbs.

The light rail proposal, even if it goes ahead, is largely irrelevant because it covers only a short section of a typical commute. You can get people onto public transport with a better bus system, but if you force them off the bus for the final stretch then they will go back to cars.

The only good short-term solution is to move public transport back onto the rail corridor. That won’t be as good as restoring the heavy rail, but it would be a start.

Peter Moylan,GlendaleReclaim the corridorIT is commendable that the governmentacceptsthatlight railismore effective whenit runsin a dedicatedcorridorfree from motortraffic.

Given thatthe existing rail corridor isavailable andwould be ideal to carry light rail vehicles separate from road traffic,the government could movenow, to installthe light rail systemin the existingcorridor,without waiting until 2019.

Howeverthe government is still persistingwith Hunter and Scott streets as the ‘dedicated corridor’ for light rail.

LeakedDocument 71predicts significant increases injourney time which will deter commuters and force them into carsadding to traffic congestion and parking problems.

There will be substantial disruption to business during construction of light rail.Transport for NSW recommended that light rail in the corridor would be far superior and cost about $100 million less.

The independentexperts report failed the Hunter-Scott streets project on 7 out of 9 criteria for success.

Iftheexisting corridorisdedicated for light rail then the street trees, cycling, wider footpaths, parking and street diningcould be introduced to Hunter Street.

The problemswill only go away if the government usesthe corridor to Newcastle Station for light rail.

Only two tracks would be necessary for light rail on the corridor.There could be scope for some reasonable development beside or over the rail tracks.

In the interests of improving thesituation for more stakeholders, compromise will be necessarybut the outcomes will be better.

Alan Squire,Hunter Transport for Business DevelopmentWill we be strandedOUR town now has significantly reduced capacity to move large numbers of people via public transport in and out of the foreshore precinct and parks, our beaches, our city workplaces, our university city campus, our law courts, our theatres, our gallery and museum and other inner city venues.

I was interested to learn that the proposed Newcastle light rail sets have the capacity to move just 200 passengers per vehicle movement.

Contrast that with theeight-car NSW TrainLink V sets which have an approximate capacity of 2000 passengers, depending on configuration.Assuming a large event in the city area is being held, that’s 2000 people that could have been using heavy rail into Newcastle Station who will now have to transfer to a vehicle that can hold just 200 people.

With pretty pictures and poetry Newcastle has been conned.

Nick Rippon,NewcastleA little bit moreWHY terminate Newcastle’s light railat Pacific Park, just one block further than our former railway station?

If it was extended to Parnell Place at the end of Scott Street, people could more easily walk to Nobbys Beach especially surfers with theirboards, Fort Scratchley and the Newcastle Ocean Baths

I hope the Minister for Transport will consider this.

Suzanne Martin, NewcastleBridge brakesDOES anyone know what is happening with the second bridge being built at Tourle Street?

There weretwo mounds of dirt placed along the sides of the road, both sides of the river, before Christmas and nothing since.

It has been designated as a roadwork zone and 60kmh speed limits have been brought in from the Mayfield side of the existing bridge and halfway along Cormorant Road atKooragang.

It is slow enough as it is with the bottleneck of two lanes going into one on the bridge but restricting the speed to 60kmh only slows the traffic flow even more and no work has taken place in four months.

Brett Lee, NewcastleOwl and the pussycatIN response to the powerful owl story (Topics, 5/4) , some yearsago I had a young male cat who was always bringing home these headless possums.

I remember picking up at least fiveover a fairly short period of time.I was furious with him and was going to have him put down, but as things turned out he died of pneumonia which the vet couldn’t understand as he was a really strong and healthy cat.

So it seems that I may have wrongly blamed poor puss. RIP Gizmo.

Olwyn Edmonds, Eleebana

Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis feels backlash after joining ALP attack on council mergers

Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on a visit to Sanctuary Point Public School last week. Photo: Robert Peet Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Turnbull government MP Ann Sudmalis is under pressure from angry rank-and-file Liberals in her south coast NSW seat after she publicly supported an ALP-authored motion “condemning the Baird government for its arrogant and ill-considered [council] merger proposal”.

Just days after Liberal Party members in Western Australia rolled sitting MP Dennis Jensen, some Liberals in Gilmore have told the local newspaper, the South Coast Register, that Ms Sudmalis could be disendorsed during a vote in April.

Gilmore Liberals have reached out to senior factional bosses, complaining that Ms Sudmalis has been “increasingly problematic and ineffective” since becoming the hand-picked successor to former Gilmore MP Joanna Gash, now the mayor of Shoalhaven.

But Fairfax Media understands that Ms Sudmalis is safe from disendorsement due to the close proximity to the next election and the likelihood that influential state Liberals in that area, Gareth Ward, the Kiama MP and Transport Minister Andrew Constance are both considering a tilt for Gilmore in 2019.

The South Coast Register quoted a senior local Liberal as saying a move on Ms Sudmalis during a vote to accept her unopposed nomination was “very much a live option” but a senior party source said it would not succeed.

“Even if the federal conference was to do that, in the current circumstances she would be saved by state executive,” said a source.

Ms Sudmalis told Fairfax Media that she stood by her criticism of forced council amalgamations, which would see Kiama and Shoalhaven merged and Shell Harbour and Wollongong merged.

“People here are quite negative about the merger proposal and I have to reflect that in my job as their federal member. It has not been well received at all,” she said.

Any move on Ms Sudmalis would hinge on branches loyal to Mr Ward and NSW Speaker Shelley Hancock, who holds the state seat of South Coast, and that is unlikely to happen.

But Ms Hancock did not hold back in her assessment of Ms Sudmalis’ decision to support the anti-amalgamation motion proposed by former Labor councillor Bob Proudfoot during a weekend protest rally. The motion stated: “This public rally condemns the Baird government for its arrogant and ill-considered merger proposal, and directs Mr Baird to withdraw it forthwith. The rally also calls on local member, Shelley Hancock, and Mayor, Jo Gash, to show greater support for their communities’ desire to reject the amalgamation.”

Ms Hancock said: “She should confine herself to talking about federal issues such as cuts to health funding. She should explain why Malcolm Turnbull appears to be turning his back on public education funding.

“She should perhaps talk about funding for the new bridge over the Shoalhaven and federal funding for highway upgrade. And she could talk to the electors about her position on marriage equality.”

“There was nothing courageous about seconding a vitriolic motion condemning the Baird government. It was a trap and Ann has fallen into it.”

Ms Sudmalis said she had “chatted” to Ms Hancock since the Speaker made those comments.

“All families have discussions and you talk issues over and resolve them. The Liberal family is no different,” she said.

It is understood that the Liberal Party was polling Gilmore residents over the weekend and the ructions have not gone unnoticed by Labor.

A swing of 5.3 per cent would result in the seat changing hands and polling suggests that the ascension of Malcolm Turnbull was not as well received as in urban seats. Ms Sudmalis backed Tony Abbott in September’s spill.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Her Money: dealing with credit card debt

Jo Pugh from Brunswick East ran up a $20,000 in credit card debt, cut them all up last year, and is now halfway through paying them off. Photo: Simon O’DwyerJo Pugh’s spiral into credit card debt began when she was a 20-year-old student.
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Earning only about $200 a week, and on a youth allowance, a bank approved her for a credit card with a $7000 limit.

“I guess I wanted to have the freedom to be able to spend a little bit more freely just for the sake of being social,” Jo, now 27, says.

“I maxed that out really quickly and ended up in this pattern of paying the minimum repayment every month and then feeling like that money was mine.”

Aiming to clear the debt, Jo applied for another credit card with an interest-free balance transfer, and then another.

Finally, she took out a $7000 personal loan – and despite the fact she says she wasn’t living particularly extravagantly, her total debts had mounted to about $20,000.

Credit cards are one of those areas where the figures are always mind-boggling. Telephone numbers, even of the mobile variety, do not even begin to tell the story.

Last year, Australians whacked $24.4 billion on their credit cards, up from $21.9 billion the year before. By December, total outstanding balances on credit cards stood at $52 billion, and nearly two-thirds of it, or $32 billion, was accruing interest. Comparison website finder南京夜网 estimates that the average credit card balance at the end of last year stood at just over $3000. This suggests cardholders are paying hundreds of dollars in interest a year.

A lot of people pay off their bill each month and never pay interest charges, but sadly many do not and subject themselves to astronomical rates of interest – typically anywhere between 15 per cent and 20 per cent. Indeed in some horrendous cases, mounting credit card debts end in bankruptcy. A Fairfax article a couple of weeks ago told the story of a Melbourne couple in their early 40s, whose failure to pay an $18,000 credit card debt ended in eviction from the family home.

Adele Martin of Firefly Wealth warns her clients to rein in their spending as soon as they stop paying off their credit card balance in full each month. “As soon as you can’t repay your bill each month, you are living beyond your means,” she says.

For clients who have already accumulated debt on their plastic, Martin uses her tried and trusted two-step plan. First, she gets them to build up a buffer of at least $1000. This will be used for emergencies so that those who are trying to pay off their debts don’t start adding to them when they get hit with an unexpected repair bill.

“The buffer, or emergency fund, is so that people don’t start to build up their debt again. This can easily happen if there is nothing to fall back on and it can become a vicious cycle. Psychologically it gets too difficult and people feel like giving up,” Martin says.

The second step involves transferring the balance to an interest-free card and making a plan to pay off the debt within the interest free timeframe – usually between 12 and 18 months.

The repayment plan inevitably involves taking a knife to a client’s expenses, but the Firefly adviser says it is not a difficult task. She can usually find about $3000 of annual savings in clients’ budgets by looking at items ranging from mobile telephone bills to gym memberships.

Gym memberships that are not being used are cancelled. Clients who have Foxtel are encouraged to consider streaming services such as Netflix, which can reduce their home entertainment bill from about $120 a month to about $10. Martin suggests that clients also hunt around for better deals on energy bills and mobile phone plans, particularly if they are breaching monthly caps for calls and the like.

For clients with more serious credit card balances, more drastic action is needed, as it can be hard to find a bank that will offer an interest-free period. In some cases, clients might have to look at moving in with their parents or getting a housemate. In addition, they need to look at their earnings. It might be time to ask for a pay rise or find a way of earning additional income.

But it has to be done. Credit card debt – and the stress that can come with it – can snowball if not kept in check, as the family from Melbourne discovered.

After a trip overseas last year, Jo knew things had to change, and she cut up her cards. “I don’t know why it took me so long to do that,” she says.

Back at university, and working as a waitress, she has halved her debt in a little more than a year, and hopes to be in the black within two years.

“As soon as I get paid, I’m putting money on all of them rather than waiting until due dates.”

Jo says she hasn’t made any significant lifestyle changes, apart from working more.

“I still feel pretty overwhelmed, particularly when I think about the amount of money that has essentially been blown on interest.”

The information in this article should not be taken as financial advice. Please consider your personal circumstances before making any financial decisions.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Unlicensed builder jailed and fined $15,000 after deceiving consumers

Michael Issa, fined and jailed after trading as an unlicensed builder. Photo: Supplied The initial stage of Anila’s laundry conversion. Photo: Supplied
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“The plumber laid down the plumbing work and the concrete base and then there was there was no progress at all:” Anila, who engaged Mr Issa’s service in her Baulkham Hills home. Photo: Supplied

An unlicensed builder, described by the Fair Trading Commissioner as “a menace best avoided”, has been sentenced to 12 months in jail and ordered to pay more than $40,000 in fines and compensation.

Michael Issa, of Greystanes, was pursued by authorities after two incidents in which he traded falsely through company names Instyle Developments and First Class Group NSW.

In acts described by the magistrate as “egregious”, Mr Issa lured a consumer into a building contract with no intention of undertaking work, accepted $15,000 as a deposit, before vanishing and disconnecting his phone.

His second victim paid him $11,000 for various works in her Baulkham Hills home, before conducting a licence check and discovering he was a fraud.

“It was just a mess,” said Anila, who was pregnant with her third daughter at the time she engaged Mr Issa’s services.

“The main thing we wanted was for our laundry to become a functioning bathroom. The whole point was to have the laundry done before I had the baby.”

As well as the laundry conversion, she had requested a variety of plumbing and lighting works around the home.

“When he started the laundry he took a deposit of $6000, then we discussed a second payment of $5000 upon half the work completed and then another $4350 when all work was completed.”

At the time Anila was unaware that the deposit Mr Issa was requesting was well in excess of the permissible 10 per cent of the total contract price for building contracts worth more than $20,000.

“He just kept delaying everything. We had a demolished laundry, then the plumber laid down the plumbing work and the concrete base and then there was there was no progress at all…just excuse after excuse.”

After calling Fair Trading, Anila was advised to check Mr Issa’s license number, at which point she realised he had an expired license for waterproofing only.

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe described Mr Issa’s behaviour as dishonest and evasive.

“He deceived people, he has so far refused to give victims their money back and he is a menace best avoided,” he said.

Anila said she and her husband and still waiting for the money they are owed, but she said the point of filing the complaint was never to get the money back.

“Our main concern was that he didn’t do this to anyone else. If we get the money back, that’s good but the lesson is learnt.”Homeowners in NSW have been paid out $63 million in the last three financial years, to remedy sub-standard work after their builder died, disappeared or went insolvent.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

RBA leaves official cash rate at 2pc

The RBA has kept rates steady for a 10th straight meeting. Photo: Nicholas RiderThe Reserve Bank of Australia has kept the official cash rate at a record low 2 per cent for a 10th straight meeting, but warned that the recent strong rise in the Australian dollar could “complicate” the economy’s transition.
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In a statement following the central bank’s meeting on Tuesday, RBA governor Glenn Stevens said low inflation would facilitate another rate cut if that were necessary.

“Continued low inflation would provide scope for easier policy, should that be appropriate to lend support to demand,” Mr Stevens said, in a carbon copy of the previous month’s statement.

While the decision to keep rates unchanged was widely expected, analysts were speculating that the governor would show some concern about the recent steep rise in the Australian dollar’s exchange rate, which gained nearly 12 per cent from its January lows to a peak of US77.23¢ last week.

Mr Stevens duly added a paragraph to this month’s statement, noting that the currency had appreciated “somewhat”.

“In part, this [the recent rise] reflects some increase in commodity prices, but monetary developments elsewhere in the world have also played a role,” he said, referring to recent monetary easing by other central banks including the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank, as well as the decision by the US Federal Reserve to reduce the pace of interest rate hikes.

“Under present circumstances, an appreciating exchange rate could complicate the adjustment under way in the economy,” he added.

But anyone hoping for a stronger “jawbone” was disappointed and the Australian dollar shot up by about half a cent to the day’s high of US76.32¢, before falling back in late trade to around US76¢.

“The market was looking for some intensification of rhetoric on the currency, and the RBA went some way to meeting expectations,” said JPMorgan head of interest rate strategy Sally Auld.

“But with the currency only around 1.5 per cent overvalued relative to fair value at present, it was never likely that the RBA would deliver an aggressive shift in rhetoric.”

Bets on future rate cuts fell slightly, with markets pricing in a 29 per cent chance of a cut at the May meeting, moving up to a 58 per cent chance in July.

If the Reserve Bank were to cut rates it would be because the global economy was deteriorating or because the dollar kept running on despite and ahead of fundamentals such as commodity prices, said CommSec chief economist Craig James, who expects rates to stay on hold “for the foreseeable future”.

“The Reserve Bank governor said there was the risk that the Aussie dollar was getting ahead of itself. But no doubt the Reserve Bank believes that this is a temporary phenomenon,” Mr James said.

But if the currency were to defy expectations of coming back from current levels, then the RBA’s discomfort would grow, Ms Auld said.

“However, the case for any policy response will take time to build and will be contingent upon both persistent over-valuation in the Australian dollar and evidence of weakness in activity data,” she said.

“This implies any easing, should it be forthcoming, is a proposition for the second half ot 2016, and today’s statement is consistent with this view.”

Apart from the comments on the exchange rate, there were only minor changes to the April statement from last month’s.

ANZ head of Australian economics Felicity Emmett said the RBA seemed slightly less worried about the global outlook, while domestically there was little change to the characterisation of the economy.

Mr Stevens noted that “the available information suggests that the economy is continuing to rebalance following the mining investment boom”.

“Looking forward, while the RBA’s concerns over the global outlook seem to have abated somewhat, the strengthening of the dollar and the resulting implications for the non-mining recovery will be important to watch,” Ms Emmett said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

April 2015 superstorms one year later: PHOTOS

April 2015 superstorms one year later: PHOTOS Massive waves can be seen over the top of the Newcastle Ocean Baths. Picture: Simone De Peak
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Four trees are down on one block in Wickham. Pic: Kate Miller

Stroud. Pic: Julie Farley

Floodwater at Stroud. Pic: Rosemary Laing

Merewether’s David Smith shared this close call after a tree fell.

Pic: Megan Saul.

Reader Alyssa Gray says her family are okay after the storm damaged her house and car severely. Pic: Alyssa Gray

A brick wall has tumbled in Islington. Pic: Shane Quill

New Lambton. Pic: Darren Pateman

Scenic Drive. Pic: Darren Pateman

Pic: Michael Albury

Storm damage at Karuah. Pic: Torsten Landwehr

Figs down in Laman Street. Pic: James Vadas

Pic: Jeff and Karyn Realph

Pic: Jeff and Karyn Realph

A fallen tree in Broadmeadow. Pic: Darren Pateman

The Hunter is waking up to severe storm damage. Pic: Darren Pateman

A roof lifted at Hamilton South. Pic: Darren Pateman

A damaged sign outside Hunter Stadium. Pic: Darren Pateman

Tiles off a roof in Cooks Hill. Pic: Cameron White

Damage at Karoola Road, Lambton. Pic: Max Mason-Hubers

Damage at Karoola Road, Lambton. Pic: Max Mason-Hubers

Damage at Karoola Road, Lambton. Pic: Max Mason-Hubers

Damage at Karoola Road, Lambton. Pic: Max Mason-Hubers

Flooding in Carrington on Monday night. Pic: Chris O’Brien

Tree down in Birrell street, and Chapman Street, Shortland. Photo: Kay Ing.

A tree crashes onto a car at Parry Street. Pic: Max Mason-Hubers

A tree crashes onto a car at Parry Street. Pic: Max Mason-Hubers

A tree crashes onto a car at Parry Street. Pic: Max Mason-Hubers

The Raymond Terrace Road crash scene. Pic: Marina Neil

Readers are reporting trees down and storm damage at the University of Newcastle residences. Pic: Brittany Hitch.

Pic: Jamie-Lee

Pic: Jamie-Lee

Two boats come together at Gosford breakwater. Pic: Joanne McCarthy

Damage on Zaara Street Newcastle. Front doors of no.19 and the roof off the building next door is in the pool. Picture: June Parkin

Damage on Zaara Street Newcastle. Front doors of no.19 and the roof off the building next door is in the pool. Picture: June Parkin

Damage on Zaara Street Newcastle. Front doors of no.19 and the roof off the building next door is in the pool. Picture: June Parkin

Damage on Zaara Street Newcastle. Front doors of no.19 and the roof off the building next door is in the pool. Picture: June Parkin

Damage on Zaara Street Newcastle. Picture: June Parkin

House split by tree in Rankin Park. Picture: Darren Pateman

House split by tree in Rankin Park. Picture: Darren Pateman

A tree in my neighbour’s yard. It’s on power a line and car trapped underneath. Picture: Christine Wilson

Laman Street, Newcastle: Gold Subaru trapped under trees. Picture: Kimberly Rigby

Laman Street, Newcastle: Gold Subaru trapped under trees. Picture: Kimberly Rigby

Laman Street, Newcastle. Picture: Kimberly Rigby

Laman Street, Newcastle. Picture: Kimberly Rigby

Laman Street, Newcastle. Picture: Kimberly Rigby

Laman Street, Newcastle: Gold Subaru trapped under trees. Picture: Kimberly Rigby

Tree on an apartment on Bousfield Street, Wallsend. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Ulambi Cresent blocked off by a fallen tree, another about to fall any minute on the same street. Tried calling SES line is busy. Picture: Meagan

Tree fallen on the roof of a house on Peppercorn Crescent, Fletcher. Picture: Hossein Rahimpour

A sign warning of raw sewage contamination due to flooding at GeorgeFarley oval Wallsend. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Trees down between Peppercorn Crescent Fletcher and Minmi Rd. Picture: Hossein Rahimpour

Trees down between Peppercorn Crescent Fletcher and Minmi Rd. Picture: Hossein Rahimpour

Main Road Cardiff. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Lisa McClure

Picture: Lisa McClure

Civic Park, Newcastle. Picture: Andrew Wilshire

A Lake Macquarie jetty is consumed by the swollen lake. Picture: Hugh Robson

Cyclone floods Swansea backyard. Picture: Sylvia Lee

A fallen pine tree at Redhead. Picture: Darren Pateman

Yule Road, Merewether Heights. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Sylvia Lee

Picture: Sylvia Lee

Picture: Sylvia Lee

Hunter Street, Newcastle. Picture: Rosemary Milsom

Beauford Hotel Mayfield loses its sign. Picture: Rosemarie Milsom

Maitland Road, Mayfield. Picture: Rosemarie Milsom

Fallen trees block lane in Mayfield. Picture: Rosemarie Milsom

Tree branches in overhead power lines at Russell Road, New Lambton. Picture: Simone De Peak

Police block Currawong Road, Cardiff Heights. Picture: Simone De Peak

A tree over a car on Main Road, Cardiff. Picture: Simone De Peak

The Red Rooster Chicken on Main Road Edgeworth gets blown away. Picture: Simone De Peak

A billboard blown down at Hunter Stadium. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A billboard blown down at Hunter Stadium. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A car crushed by a tree on Arcadia Ave in Arcadia Vale. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A car crushed by a tree on Arcadia Ave in Arcadia Vale. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A car crushed by a tree on Arcadia Ave in Arcadia Vale. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

This used to be 38 The Corso at Saratoga until it was hit by a huge falling tree. Picture: Joanne McCarthy

Civic Park, Newcastle. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Civic Park, Newcastle. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A shelter smashed at Wangi Wangi. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A tree fallen across a car on Parry Street, Newcastle West. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Swell on Lake Macquarie at Wangi Wangi. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Tree falls across Vita Cafe at Wangi. Picture: Jason Gordon

Lake surges across the public jetty in Dobell Park at Wangi. Picture: Jason Gordon

Picture: Craig Smith

Picture: Craig Smith

Picture: Craig Smith

Picture: Craig Smith

Picture: Craig Smith

Picture: Craig Smith

Cars crushed by trees in Maryland. Picture: Brian McCowen

Cars crushed by trees in Maryland. Picture: Brian McCowen

Tree and wires down on house in Lexington Parade Adamstown Heights. Picture: Darren Pateman

Very frothy at Newcastle Beach. Picture: Michael Rae

Newcastle Ocean Baths: Kerry Smith of Toronto gets caught in a wave. Picture: Simone De Peak

Foam from waves blow oaver the Newcastle Beach promenade. Picture: Simone De Peak

Newcastle Beach is completely coevered over. Picture: Simone De Peak

Strong winds flatten signs in Newcastle. Picture: Simone De Peak

Foam completely covers Newcastle Beach. Picture: Simone De Peak

East Maitland the corner of New England Hwy and Chelmsford Drive. Picture: Eleshia Howell

Vehicles crushed by trees at Wholesale Traders Newcastle, Clyde st Hamilton Nth. Picture: Darren Pateman

Vehicles crushed by trees at Wholesale Traders Newcastle, Clyde st Hamilton Nth. Picture: Darren Pateman

Vehicles crushed by trees at Wholesale Traders Newcastle, Clyde st Hamilton Nth. Picture: Darren Pateman

The scene at Kurri. Picture: Mark Sneddon.

A boat half submerged in Pelican. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A boat half submerged in Pelican. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The waterfront at Warners Bay. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The scene at Branxton earlier today. Picture: Mike Lowing

The scene at Branxton earlier today. Picture: Mike Lowing

The scene at Branxton earlier today. Picture: Mike Lowing

Tree damage in Lachlan Road Cardiff. Picture: Ashleigh Chappell

Tree damage in Lachlan Road Cardiff. Picture: Ashleigh Chappell

Tree damage in Lachlan Road Cardiff. Picture: Ashleigh Chappell

Tree damage in Lachlan Road Cardiff. Picture: Ashleigh Chappell

Freeman’s Drive Cooranbong. Picture: Tania Rossiter

Close Street Wallsend. Picture Danielle Nicoll

Laman Street Cooks Hill. Picture Meg Olsen

Singleton. Picture Paul Sharp

Boys bodyboard at King Edward Park. Picture: Darren Pateman

Boys bodyboard at King Edward Park. Picture: Darren Pateman

Stroud Showgrounds. Picture: Marina Neil

Stroud Showgrounds: Caravan and 4WD that was washed bout 100 metres to this location. Picture: Marina Neil

The damage caused when a surge of water rushed the home of Graeme and Robyn Arkinstall. Picture: Marina Neil

The damage caused when a surge of water rushed the home of Graeme and Robyn Arkinstall. Picture: Marina Neil

Water across the East bound lane New England Highway at Maitland. Picture: Peter Stoop

A man and woman rescued after their 4WD was stranded on Paterson Road, Woodwille. Picture: Peter Stoop

A man and woman rescued after their 4WD was stranded on Paterson Road, Woodwille. Picture: Peter Stoop

A man and woman rescued after their 4WD was stranded on Paterson Road, Woodwille. Picture: Peter Stoop

A man and woman rescued after their 4WD was stranded on Paterson Road, Woodwille. Picture: Peter Stoop

A man and woman rescued after their 4WD was stranded on Paterson Road, Woodwille. Picture: Peter Stoop

A man and woman rescued after their 4WD was stranded on Paterson Road, Woodwille. Picture: Peter Stoop

Brown Street in Dungog, the house of one the deceased in today’s floods. Picture: Marina Neil

Dungog road, near the intersection where four homes were washed away in flood waters. Picture: Marina Neil

Dungog near the intersection of Hooke Street near where the four homes were washed away in flood waters. Picture: Marina Neil

Damage along Maitland Road Mayfield. Picture: Simone De Peak

Dangar Park Maitland Road. Picture: Simone De Peak

Locals gather outside the Bank Hotel in Dungog. Picture: Marina Neil

Dungog: Angie Hobman and John Edwards lost their home, it used to be behind the fire truck seen her in the background. Picture: Marina Neil

Dungog: Colleen and Stephen Jones lost everything but managed to save their three dogs. Picture: Marina Neil

Hargrave Street Carrington. Picture: Simone De Peak

A very flooded Hunter expressway at 12:52pm today. Picture: Supplied

A flying trampoline. Picture: Georgia Phillips

A flying trampoline. Picture: Georgia Phillips

A flooded yard in Telarah. Picture: Tony Edmunds

Government Road, Nelson Bay. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Government Road, Nelson Bay. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Nelson Bay Road, Salt Ash. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

King Edward Park, Newcastle. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Yule Road, Merewether Heights. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

A fallen tree narrowly misses the house in Adamstown Heights. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

A collapsed retaining wall at Nelson Bay Bowling Club. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

A collapsed retaining wall at Nelson Bay Bowling Club. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

A man trying to dig a drain on the corner of Fingal and Magnus Street, Nelson Bay. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

A tree down at the Arts and Craft Centre, Nelson Bay. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Riverside Park flooded by the Hunter River, Raymond Terrace. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Ocean froth washes across Shortland Esplanade at Newcastle Beach on Tuesday night. Picture: Ian Kirkwood

Ocean froth washes across Shortland Esplanade at Newcastle Beach on Tuesday night. Picture: Ian Kirkwood

Big seas tear through Newcastle Ocean Baths. Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Darren Pateman

Murray’s Beach. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Flooding on the corner of Wills Street and Lakeside Drive in Swansea. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The Farley underpass. Picture: Courtesy of the Maitland Mercury.

Water from Lake Macquarie inundates the Swansea Fisherman’s Co-op. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

From ABC Newcastle’s Facebook page: Maitland Vale Road at Lambs Valley. Photo courtesy of Cherie at Lambs Valley

Picture: Selwyn Cox

Picture: Selwyn Cox

Picture: Selwyn Cox

Picture: Selwyn Cox

Picture: Selwyn Cox

Sarah Murray sent in this shot of Vincent St, Cessnock.

TweetFacebook Throwback Thursday: April 2015 superstorms Nearly one year on after the deadly April 2015 superstorms, we look back on the photos of the storms that ripped through the region.On April 21 last year superstorms hit the Hunter leaving a trail of devastation as cyclonic winds and walls of floodwater pounded the region. Nearly one year later, we look back to the photos taken during the storms.

South China Sea: Australia involved in Balikatan war games amid warnings

Bangkok: Australian military personnel, including special force commandos, are taking part in three-nation war games near the flashpoint waters of the South China Sea that have riled China.
Nanjing Night Net

China’s state newsagency Xinhua warned “outsiders” against interfering in South China Sea territorial disputes as the 12-day exercises got underway in the Philippines.

Xinhua warned that tensions in the region have risen to a “tipping point” and “some specific nations take delight in sowing seeds of discord between China and rival claimants, and boosting their military presences and patrols to thwart China in the name of safeguarding the freedom of navigation.”

“However, a provocation so fear-mongering and untimely as such is likely to boomerang on the initiators,” Xinhua said.

Australia has sent 86 military personnel, including 30 commandos from the 2nd Commando Regiment, to the annual war games called Balikatan that are hosted by the United States and the Philippines.

An RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and crew will also participate.

In a show of force amid concern about China’s growing assertiveness in the region three Japanese war ships also docked at Subic Bay, the Philippines’ strategic port, the first to include a Japanese submarine in 15 years.

Japanese defence officials will attend the exercises only as observers but the US Defence Department announced last week that Washington is in talks with Tokyo about Japan participating in future joint drills.

Wing Commander Bill Talbot, commander of the Australian contingent, said Australia’s involvement confirms Canberra’s “friendship with and support to the Philippines while maintaining good interoperability with US forces assigned to US Pacific Command.”

Australia last year donated two heavy landing aircraft to the Philippine Navy which has one of the weakest militaries in the region.

Australian personnel will be involved in a mock amphibious landing exercise as well as doing humanitarian work.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter is to fly to the Philippines next week, reinforcing a newly signed defence pact with Manila that will see US troops regularly deployed to five Philippine bases.

Mr Carter will observe live-firing from a US war ship of high mobility rockets that the US deployed for Balikatan, which means “shoulder to shoulder” in the Philippine language.

The rockets are designed to shoot down aircraft.

China, which lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea, has been building airstrips and structures, including radar systems, on reefs and islands in the waterways through which US$5 trillion of trade passes each year, sparking international concern.

The US has responded by conducting what it calls “freedom of navigation” patrols, sailing ships near disputed islands to underscore the right to freely navigate the seas.

Adding to tensions, a decision is expected soon from a UN-backed tribunal on a legal challenge by the Philippines to China’s territorial claims.

Balikatan has evolved from past counter-terrorism manoeuvers against Islamic extremist groups in the southern Philippines to simulations of retaking and protecting territory as disputes with China have escalated in recent years.

This is the third time Australian forces have participated in the exercises.

Lieutenant-General John Toolan, commander of US Marine Corps forces in the Pacific, told reporters in Manila that Balikatan would help US allies improve maritime security and maintain regional stability.

“Our alliance is strong. The United States is committed to this relationship and these are not empty words…peace in south-east Asia depends on our cooperation,” he said.

Almost 10,000 military personnel will be taking part in the exercises which are centred around air bases just 230 kilometres from disputed waters.

Other claimants to parts of the South China Seas are the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Women celebrate health and happiness for National Prevention Week

Layne Beachley: “I love my 40s.” Photo: Brook Mitchell Dame Quentin Bryce, who became Australia’s first woman governor-general at 65. Photo: Bradley Kanaris
Nanjing Night Net

“What is done or learned by one class of woman, becomes by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women,” said Elizabeth Blackwell, who, in 1849, became the first female medical doctor in the US.

Blackwell was 28 when she became a doctor, but thankfully, given people aged 65 and over are Australia’s fastest-growing age group, it’s not just the young women showing us what’s possible.

At 72, American Margaret Ringenberg flew around the world. At 75, cancer survivor Barbara Hillary became one of the oldest people, and the first black woman, to reach the North Pole.

Quentin Bryce was 65 when she became Australia’s first woman governor-general while Julia Gillard was 48 when she became our first woman prime minister.

Of course there are thousands more ordinary women who do extraordinary things each day to change our future. Many of them are older women showing that life is just beginning in our middle age.

In fact, a recent survey found that Australians over 50 rate themselves as healthier and happier than 25-year-olds.

If we take care of ourselves, health can be the common property to all of us as and we can rise in ourselves as we rise with age.

Consider, for instance that the risk of heart disease, which affects about 200,000 Australian women each year, can be slashed by 80 per cent through lifestyle changes.

Or that more than three million Australians suffer anxiety and depression, with woman accounting for the vast majority of this figure.

The idea to ensure mental and physical health through prevention was highlighted at the launch of National Prevention Week on Tuesday morning.

A campaign by Prevention magazine to highlight the importance of healthy lifestyle choices in women over the age of 40, the launch had prominent Australian women taking to the stage to discuss health and happiness.

“If you find something little that gives you joy or makes you smile and it’s not hurting anyone, just do it,” said author Tara Moss, offering her hint for mental wellbeing.

Former Home & Away and mother Ada Nicodemou, who turns 40 next year, said she aims to have a little time to herself each day through exercise, sitting down to have a cup of coffee or eating a piece of cake.

“If you’re not going to be kind to yourself, you’re not going to be around to look after anyone else,” she says in Prevention’s latest issue. “That’s why overall wellness is so important and, for me, all about balance. A balance between eating well, exercising, sleeping, having a laugh, catching up with family and friends, living a full life but not obssessing over any one thing.”

Melissa Doyle adds in the magazine:

“[At 45] I have more opinions, more experience and I feel stronger. So what if I have lines when I smile? If people judge me on that, then that’s their problem. I’m braver in so many areas. And really, isn’t that what the spirit of positive ageing is all about?”

Indeed. Champion surfer Layne Beachley agrees.

“I love my 40s,” said the seven-time world surfing champion and founder of Aim for the Stars foundation. “It’s a great time for women because we can become a lot more comfortable in our skins, our thoughts and opinions.

“We’ve established our tribe and have a greater sense of belonging and knowing. I embrace age. They say it’s a number, but it’s also a mentality, physicality and emotionality … if that’s even a word.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.