Don’t shy away from standing up to China, US envoy urges

Donald Trump’s new national security strategy aims to give Australia and other allies in Asia greater self-confidence in standing up to China by vowing the United States is “not going anywhere”, his acting ambassador says.
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The strategy, which President Trump released on Monday night Australian time, paints a stark picture of China as a strategic competitor to the US. Beijing and Moscow, it states, “challenge American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity”.

James Carouso, the US charge d’affaires in Canberra, acknowledged the strategy was a “document of hyperrealism” that accepted the world was a very competitive place.

But he also stressed that it expressed a firm commitment to US alliances and to a continued US presence in Asia – a pledge that will be well-received in Canberra – despite some commentators’ assessments that the US will pull back from the region.

“It’s a full-throated endorsement of the idea that any comment about us pulling back from the region is not only exaggerated, it’s just wrong,” he said.

He said the US was seeking a co-operative relationship with China.

“But we believe neither ourselves nor our allies should shy away from speaking clearly and forthrightly about policies which we’re concerned about, including increased tension in the region,” he said.

The message to countries in the Indo-Pacific region included an “assurance that we are not going anywhere so perhaps they will feel a little bit more self-confident when they want to disagree with China on something”.

The release of the strategy comes a week after the Turnbull government unveiled its new laws to curb foreign interference, notably by China. Mr Carouso declined to comment on how these laws fit with the US strategy towards China. The US strategy raises the issue of Chinese theft of American intellectual property through universities – an issue that is also causing concern in Australia.

The 55-page document is the latest in the five-yearly national security strategies that the US Congress mandates each administration must release. It draws heavily on Mr Trump’s “America first” approach to foreign policy, though while it states allies should do more to help, it also emphasises the value of alliances to the US.

Mr Trump’s rhetoric, which has in the past castigated close allies for not doing enough, has caused nervousness in some Western capitals. Along with China, the strategy singles out Russia as a strategic headache, diverging noticeably from Mr Trump’s frequent reluctance to criticise the regime of Vladimir Putin.

Mr Carouso said neither Russia nor China had the strategic alliances that the US enjoyed, which gave it a huge advantage in magnifying its power in the world.

“This a document of hyperrealism. We can be co-operative, but the world is a very, very competitive place. This paper lays out clearly that the goal is to ensure that the global power tilts in favour of the US and its allies,” he said.

This would involve military and economic influence, “recognising that our competitors are trying to do the same thing”.

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Why you shouldn’t be spraying your spiders this summer

Many homeowners are disappointed to find spiders return to their property within a few weeks of spraying with insecticide. Photo: Kitty HillSummer in Australia conjures images of long days lounging at the beach, slurping dripping icy-poles, and discovering spiders on the veranda.
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Homeowners’ first instinctmay be to pick up the phone and call the fumigators.

But many people are often disappointed to find an army of eight-legged fiends have returned to the battle scene within a few weeks of spraying with insecticide.

Sam Yehia, owner of Sydney Best Pest Control, says that this disappointment is usually due to a lack of information provided to customers.

“Customer service is important. Some technicians turn up to [a customer’s] door and don’t explain to the customer what they are going to do… and afterwards the expectations. It’s pest control, not pest eradication,” Mr Yehia said.

“If you can’t spray a spider, you can’t kill it. When it come to funnelwebs, wolf spiders, or mouse spiders – ground spiders – you won’t ever completely get rid of them with just spraying because they roam around hunting.”

Macquarie University post-doctoral researcher Lizzie Lowe says spraying gardens with broad spectrum insecticide destroys the eco-system, allowing only the “hardiest” of pests to flourish with unlimited resources.

“People may want to eradicate everything in the backyard, but you shouldn’t actually want every insect in your garden dead. You want to have the good guys to help control the bad guys… so you don’t have these massive outbreaks of creatures,” Dr Lowe said.

Black house spiders and cockroaches are the most common critters to return after fumigation, according to Dr Lowe.

Both Mr Yehia and Dr Lowe agree that, generally, spiders do more good than harm in the backyard.

“Spiders eat flies, moths and flying insects that could bother you in your garden, or juvenile forms of these bugs like caterpillars who are eating your plants,” Dr Lowe said.

“I think a lot of people think that every spider is out to get them. In Australia, we have over 8000 species of spider and only two that will kill you, and they haven’t killed anyone in 40 years.

“A lot of people who report spider bites are often misdiagnosed and haven’t actually seen a spider. In the case of the white-tail spider there is noevidence that they have a flesh-eating venom; usually these wounds are bad becauseofbacterium that comes in afterwards.”

Mr Yehiarecommends dealing with spiders without upsetting their natural habitat by cleaning the gutters, and changing white outdoor lights to fluorescent lights to avoid attracting spider-food like moths and mosquitoes.

To keep redback spiders away from children, he suggests putting their toys in a plastic bucket of water overnight.Homing two chickens in the backyard to hunt and eat ground spiders, like funnel webs, also prevents against infestations without disrupting the eco-system.

If you are going to spray for spiders in your home, he says to “avoid spraying bushes or the fence line to avoid [unnecessarily] harming the spider life”.

When it comes to redback spiders, though, Mr Yehia says it’s important to spray for them in newly built homes, as they usually “come from brick work”.

“If you let them build up too much, they can go into the weep holes of the house, up into the roof, and back into the house,” he said.

“The most important thing is that, whoever does the pest control, that the roof gets dusted – most insects, whether they are cockroaches or spiders live in the roof.”

Fuel efficiency standard ‘would save billions’

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gives a press conference at 1 Bligh Street to announce his cabinet reshuffle on 19 December 2017. Photo: Jessica HromasMotorists will save more than $500 a year on fuel if the federal government acts on a proposal to introduce a new fuel efficiency standard.
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The finding, contained within the Turnbull government’s long-awaited review of climate change policies, projects economic benefits of up to $14 billion if the new standard is fully implemented by 2025.

Savings would be made to household budgets through all new small cars being required to run on cheaper, more efficient fuel, while the economy would pocket $50 per tonne of carbon not released into the atmosphere.

Australia is playing catch-up on the policy that environmental groups have been calling for since at least 2014, with two of the world’s largest car markets – Japan and the US – already implementing restrictions and encouraging manufacturers to build cars for their markets worldwide.

Cars are by far the largest contributors to Australia’s transport emissions according to new figures released by the Department of Environment and Energy on Tuesday, making up to half of all transport emissions per year.

The Department of Environment and Energy found Australia could take better advantage of new technology allowing for the creation of low-carbon fuels from waste products such as plastics and timber off-cuts, while also exploring ways to use this fuel on planes and ships.

But fuel-powered cars could be on the way out by the time the policy is fully implemented after the review found the number of electric vehicles on Australian roads is expected to soar from 0.3 per cent of all new vehicles in 2020 to 15 per cent in the following decade.

If the extraordinary rate of growth is realised it will put more than 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

Tuesday’s assessment from the government suggests Australia’s overall emissions are flat-lining, but omits crucial figures that show the country would have to go into an emissions nosedive to meet its target of a 28 per cent reduction by 2030.

“Emissions per person and the emissions intensity of the economy are at their lowest levels in 28 years,” the report found.

Figures released in a separate data wave and quietly uploaded to the department’s website shows Australia will be more than 140 mega tonnes above its target by 2030 at the current rate of growth.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Sydney his priority through the national energy guarantee was “to keep energy affordable and reliable at the same time as meeting emissions reductions”.

The review allows for increases to baseline emissions when businesses require it and takes pro-market approach to environmental policy.

“We will meet our 2030 target and we will do so without compromising economic growth or jobs,” the report states.

“This would see baselines increase with production, supporting business growth. Conversely, if production falls, the baseline would automatically fall in proportion.”

Greens climate change spokesman Adam Bandt labelled the report “pure propaganda”.

“The public shouldn’t be paying polluters to keep on polluting,” he said.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott welcomed the findings and said it was time for the country to meet its international targets.

“After a decade of petty politics what Australia needs now is a bipartisan focus,” she said.

“The states as well as federal political leaders must work together not just to get the policies right and meet our targets, but to give businesses the long term policy certainty they need to plan and invest in innovative and more efficient technologies.”

The government is expected to develop next year a long term emissions reduction strategy to meet its 2020 and 2030 targets.

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State ministers reach stalemate over Murray-Darling Basin plan

A three-state ministerial council has been unable to break a political stalemate on the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
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Ahead of the meeting, Basin Community Committee member Russell Pell was optimistic the discussion would be about “constructive ideas – not political grandstanding”.

But after the meeting, that’s exactly what NSW and Victoria’s water ministers accused their South Australian counterpart Ian Hunter of doing.

“Today South Australia pretty much tried to hold hostage, or blackmail, the NSW and Victorian communities,” Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville said.

The three ministers are at loggerheads over a plan to move 450 gigalitres of environment flows upstream to South Australia.

NSW Water Minister Niall Blair said communities would be “decimated” by the loss.

“We are not going to allow NSW communities to be held to ransom for political gain in South Australia,” he said.

“That’s what we’ve seen today, politics over policy, politics over the environment, politics over communities.”

A December 2017 review found farmers in the Goulburn Murray irrigation district were paying $20 million more per year for temporary water.

Farmer and Australian Dairy Industry Council chair Daryl Hoey said there were ongoing frustrations at the lack of progress on the plan.

Committee for Greater Shepparton’s Sam Birrell said the industries were reaching a tipping point.

“I worry five years down the track we’ll have a water crisis, a food crisis, industry struggling and what are we going to do about it?” Mr Birrell said. “Industry is under real threat.”

Albury major Kevin Mack said it was not good enough that South Australia was asking other states to “suck eggs” and adopt an unsustainable plan.

Councillor Mack said it was time for farmers, and those who represent them, to stand up for their industries.

“I can’t believe people in Canberra are making such ridiculous decisions … states need to step up and say ‘Enough is enough’,” he said.

“The [Murray Darling Basin Association] and ministers need to get their stuff sorted, it’s getting ridiculous.”

Mr Hunter said meetings would now be occurring “offline” between individual states rather than as a group.

He asked all federal ministers from South Australia to support a disallowance motion to prevent previously agreed upon points passing until the issue had been resolved.

“Today just confirmed our deep suspicion that NSW and Victoria never planned to deliver on the 450 gigalitres plan,” he said.

“They only wanted the down-water requirements.”

The Border Mail

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Kelly O’Dwyer: from ‘serial detachment’ to public service minister

Kelly O’Dwyer minister for Revenue and Financial Services at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 13 December 2016 Photo: Andrew Meares Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Treasurer Scott Morrison and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 20 October 2015. Photo: Andrew Meares
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NewsZed Seselja in his office with artwork, Winter Western Turville by Alexander Jamieson at Parliament House. 28 July 2016Photo by Rohan ThomsonThe Canberra Times

Malcolm Turnbull’s new public service minister has previously accused Canberra public servants of “serial detachment” from the rest of Australia, advocated for job cuts and proposed formal employment exchanges with the private sector.

The surprise appointment of Kelly O’Dwyer to replace Michaelia Cash representing public servants and women in the Turnbull ministry is set to see a significant reorganisation among federal departments, coming as ACT senator Zed Seselja takes on the role of assistant minister for science, jobs and innovation.

The Higgins MP – a former staffer to Howard government treasurer Peter Costello – advocated in 2013 for “devolving power” away from Canberra-based departments and agencies, suggesting big business believes the public service does not understand the impact of policy or Australia’s economic realities.

“Business complains that the public service “doesn’t get it” -whether it’s what impact a policy change will have in practice, or what’s going on in the “real economy”,” Ms O’Dwyer wrote in an Australian Financial Review opinion piececoinciding with Canberra centenary celebrations.

“Ditto, not-for-profits. And for voters on the home front – after all, Canberra’s definition of a traffic jam is two cars within five metres of one another on Capital Circle.

“With its commitment to Australia’s future and despite undoubted talent within its ranks, the public service also gets frustrated at not understanding why its perfect theoretical solution won’t fly.”

The change offers the chance for a reset with the public service, in contrast to the hardline approach brought by former ministers Senator Cash and Eric Abetz, the bitter response to more than 15,000 job cuts and the government’s tough new workplace policy.

Ms O’Dwyer, minister for revenue and financial services, wrote in 2013 the size of the federal government workforce should be reduced to limit centralised decision making.

“Since 2007, the number of federal public servants has risen by about 20,000, yet many decisions would be better left to local communities and agencies on the ground, rather than made in Canberra.

“Devolving power removes obvious information costs between Canberra and the rest of Australia and delivers greater responsiveness to local needs.”

She said the Coalition shouldn’t put “all of our eggs in the smaller government basket”, arguing for six-month to three-year exchanges between departments and private firms to promote new insights and “more commercial” advice to government.

Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood called on Ms O’Dwyer to deliver a new approach.

“This is an opportunity for the Turnbull government to change tack and abandon its destructive and counter-productive approach to the Commonwealth public sector,” she said.

“Kelly O’Dwyer should turn away from the ideologically driven war on public sector workers that’s been waged by Michaelia Cash and Eric Abetz before her and instead adopt a pragmatic and constructive approach to dealing with the public service.”

“I will be seeking to meet with Kelly O’Dwyer at the first available opportunity to discuss the deep challenges facing the public service and the people working with it to deliver services and public policy.”

Ms O’Dwyer said she was looking forward to getting briefed on issues within the public service, and would have more to say afterwards.

Hume MP Angus Taylor moves from assistant minister for cities and digital transformation to the new Home Affairs mega portfolio, in the new role of Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity.

Michael Keenan will take Mr Taylor’s former role overseeing the Digital Transformation Agency as well as taking over from Alan Tudge as Human Services Minister.

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Former racing minister appointed to $250,000, four-year term on board of Racing NSW

Former racing minister George Souris has been appointed to the board of Racing NSW on a four-year term during which he will be paid more than $250,000.
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Mr Souris, a former leader of the NSW Nationals and member of the Order of Australia, was racing minister for three years under former premier Barry O’Farrell.

Mr Souris, 67, retired from politics before the 2015 state election after being dumped from cabinet in a 2014 reshuffle announced by then Nationals leader Andrew Stoner and incoming premier Mike Baird.

Shortly before he was dumped from cabinet, Mr Souris announced a $10 million grant to establish The Championships thoroughbred carnival at Randwick and Rosehill racecourses.

On Tuesday, Racing Minister Paul Toole, the Nationals MP for Bathurst, announced Mr Souris’ appointment to the Racing NSW board.

“As a former NSW minister for racing, Mr Souris brings a wealth of racing knowledge and experience,” Mr Toole said.

Mr Souris will be paid $63,000 a year in the role. This will come on top of his taxpayer funded parliamentary pension worth more than $150,000 a year for life.

Mr Toole also announced the reappointment to the Racing NSW board for one year of former Labor racing minister Kevin Greene.

Mr Souris served in the NSW Parliament as the member for Upper Hunter for almost 27 years.

In May last year, he was appointed president of the Library Council of NSW – an unpaid position – by then arts minister and Nationals leader Troy Grant.

The following June he was made a member of the Order of Australia for services to the NSW Parliament and the community of Upper Hunter.

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The Oils burned bright

EMPHATIC: All three of the Herald’s music writers believe Midnight Oil at Hope Estate stole the show on this year’s live scene. Picture: Jonathan CarrollHUNTER music fans wereblessed in 2017.
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We welcomedmusic legends Bruce Springsteen,Midnight Oil, ColdChisel, Cat Stevens, Alice Cooper, Nick Cave and Stevie Nicks to our stages armed with their memorable hits, alongsiderising stars like Violent Soho, Tash Sultana, Dune Rats and Wil Wagner, who injected verveinto the scene.

The Newcastle Herald’s music writers and photographerswere there among the masses capturing the action.

1.MIDNIGHT OIL,Hope Estate, October 21​They came. They saw. They conquered.

When it was announced in 2016 that Midnight Oil were reforming for their first full-scale tour since 2002 there were skeptics.

Could a band of 60-somethings stilloperate with the same ferocious high-octaveenergy they were renown for?

Could frontman Peter Garrett sing those songs with the same political convictionafter his controversial career as a federal Labor minister in the Rudd and Gillard governments?

Any lingering doubts were emphatically erased within a minute of their opening track Redneck Wonderland.

The Great Circle Tour wasn’t promoting a new album, it was simply a celebration of one of Australia’s most iconic bands, who had last performed in Newcastle in 2002.

Thecapacity 19,000 crowd at Hope Estate responded accordingly. They were absolutely ravenous for The Oils.

The Hunter was always a great supporter of Midnight Oil, dating back to their formative days in the late ‘70s andGarrett remembered.

“Hello to all our friends from the Ambassador [nightclub],” he said.“If you’re under 40 then you don’t know why you’re cheering.”

Everyone knew why they were cheering throughout the two-hour, 22-song set list, whichwas peppered with genuine classics.

Beds Are Burning,Blue Sky Mine,Forgotten Years,Dreamworld,The Dead Heart,Power and the Passion,Best of Both WorldsandKing of the Mountain–the pace was frenetic and the crowd sang their lungs out.

Many of those songs, tired from years of high-rotation on commercial radio, were reborn through thebuzzsaw-like guitar ofJim Moginie and Martin Rotsey and by Garrett’s energy.

Fellow Herald writers Jim Kellar and Lisa Rockman also listed Midnight Oil as theirbestshow, leaving nodoubt who burned the brightest in 2017.

2. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS,Newcastle Entertainment Centre, January 22​ SHAMAN: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds even made the Newcastle Entertainment Centre feel intimate. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The Newcastle Entertainment Centre, not so affectionately known as “The Shed”, can be a graveyard for some artists.

International acts like Placebo and Ace Frehley learnt that lesson this year.

But Nick Cave was special. He created an intimacy that was experienced even at the back of the grandstand through his dark and marvelously intense brand of music.

It was no mean feat given the bleak and melancholic moodof Cave’s last album Skeleton Tree, which dominated the set list.

It felt like a religious experience.Like a mad-eyed preacher bellowing from hispulpit, Cave leaned over the guard rail to passionately sing into the faces of the true believers. The audience replied likeevangelical Christians.

“Can you feel my heart beat?” Cave screamed during Higgs Bosom Blues.The front row almost could.

That’s not to discount The Bad Seeds. While they predominantly let Cave consume the limelight, they are a terrific band.

The grey-bearded Warren Ellis’shredding on theviolin was hauntingly visceral.

3. ALL OUR EXES LIVE IN TEXAS,Lizotte’s, June 11THIS was the year’s great surprise. I knew the all-girl folk-country foursome would be good after hearing their terrific debut albumWhen We Fell, but I didn’t expect sucha riotously funny and entertaining performance.

All Our Exes Live In Texas are Elana Stone (accordion), Georgia Mooney (mandolin), Katie Wighton (guitar) and Hannah Crofts (ukulele), who have each obtained individual success in Sydney’s folk scene.

Together they are a certified super group. Each able to deliver beautiful vocals and harmonies to accompany their rich and melodic folk andblue-grass.

Presentation is key for The Exes. While the majority of their tracks delve into dark territory likeThe Devil’s PartandI’m Gonna Get My Heart Cut Out, they brightened the evening with theircheeky brand of humour.

Much like The Spice Girls or Beatles they constantlyplayed off each other, whether it be telling stories about accidentally breaking grand pianos or watching R-rated reality TV shows backstage.

4. VALERIE JUNE,Dashville Skyline, September 29 STUNNING: Valerie June on stage at Dashville Skyline. Picture: Josh Leeson

The Dashville audience knew instantly they were hearing a different kind of artist.

Tennessee’s Valerie June is like a lost relic from the 1930s, melding gospel, folk, blues and rock. HerAppalachian-flavouredvocal walks at tightrope between heart-warming sweetnessandear-piercing, but June never trippedat Skyline.

“I’ma long way from home, but you people and this place is sure making me feel at home,” June told Dashville.

June’s third albumThe Order Of Timeis one of the best roots albums released in 2017 and the set was dominated by thatnew material like the hypnoticShake Downand vulnerableAstral PlaneandWith You.

Throughout June danced and gyrated in her peculiar and unique style. There’s no one like Valerie June.

5. GRINSPOON,Cambridge Hotel, August 31​ CHAMPIONS: Grinspoon delivered an evening of punk-rock nostalgia. Picture: Paul Dear

Loud, brutal, euphoric and riff-heavy. Grinspoon’s 20-year celebration of their debut albumGuide To Better Livingwas everything their fans craved.

The Cambridge was a heaving mass of late 20s and 30-somethings, eager to relive an album which soundtracked their rebellious and angry teenage years. Some creaking middle-aged legs even managed a mosh or two.

Fans weren’t disappointed. The Grinners smashed throughChampion,Post Enebriated SocietyandSickfestwith the same ferocity they conjured up back in 1997.

Frontman Phil Jamieson is a much-improved vocalist and showman and he threw himself into the set of alternative rock classics.

With his eyes hidden behind a long emo fringe, the 40-year-old orchestrated the audience like a puppeteer, while wearing that trademark smirk.

Whether or not Grinspoon’s reunion will be long-lasting, theGuide To Better Livingtour proved Phil and the lads have fuel to burn.

6. JAPANDROIDS,Small Ballroom, July 15​ PRIMAL: Japandroids guitarist Brian King belting it out at the Small Ballroom. Picture: Paul Dear

Rock’n’roll at its most primal is guitar and drums played with real intensity.

Canadian garage-punk two-piece Japandroids are all about primal rock’n’roll. Their sound could be described as Bruce Springsteen if The Boss played punk rock.

Japandroids’ most famous songThe House That Heaven Builthas the lyrics“If they try to slow you down/tell them all to go to hell” –which perfectly sums up their mission statement.

Guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse never slowed down. They whipped themselves into a sweat-soaked frenzy during their 17-song set.

Neither King orProwse attempted to wow their audience with acts of virtuosity.

Their currency of trade was intensity.

Kingstrangled the neck of his guitar and thrashed away in a distorted fuzz of power chords. Riffs and solos were not required.

Unfortunately the Small Ballroom was only three-quarters full because a band as powerful as Japandroids deserved better.

7. COLD CHISEL,Newcastle 500 Supercars, November 25 SUPER-CHARGED: Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes led the show during Cold Chisel’s historic set at the Newcastle 500. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

A sea of 20,000 punters packed into Newcastle Foreshore Park was a sight to behold.

Toss in an illuminated Fort Scratchley to the east and a setting sun over the harbour in the west, and you had the recipe for a magical evening.

And Cold Chisel delivered, like only they know how. There was no quarter given, no time for flamboyant showmanship –this was a get-down-and-dirty rock’n’roll show.

Chisel are often unfairly maligned as a “bogan” band. This leads to many people and critics overlooking just what talented performers they truly are.

No one who attended the Newcastle 500 Supercars’ entertainmentmain event were left questioning Chisel’s musical credentials.

While Jimmy Barnes’ vocalsscreeched and croaked at times, you couldn’t doubt his effort. The sweat poured from his face.

Ian Moss’guitar work was immaculate, peeling off bluesy riffs and solos.

Pianist Don Walker and the engine room provided the stable backbone and freely allowed Barnes and Moss to hog the spotlight.

All the hits were covered.Flame Trees,Khe Sanh,Cheap Wine, Shipping Steel, Bow RiverandChoir Girl.

The only disappointment was noStar Hotelto provide thequintessential Newcastle pub-rock experience.

8. WIL WAGNER,Small Ballroom, February 17“How is my guitar still plugged in?” Wagner frantically asked from within a scrum of 30 punters surrounding him on stage.

It was an incredible spectacle of rock’n’roll craziness. After whipping up his audience with solo renditions of his best Smith Street Band material, Wagner proceeded to end the set withYoung Drunkbefore about 30 punters stormed the tiny Small Ballroom stage.

Amazingly Wagner finished the song and amazingly the tiny stage didn’t collapsein what was a thrilling conclusion to a powerful evening.

Wagner is a hulking man, with his face framed by a scraggy mo-free beard and wild hair. He looks like half this audience. Endearingly ordinary.

The nervous voice and Wagner’s lack of pretense further adds to his likability.

But when Wagner sang he was powerful as he belted out Smith Street Band classics likeDeath To The Lads,Ducks Fly TogetherandSurrender.

Two months later Wagner would be joined by his Smith Street Band colleagues at Maitland’s Groovin The Moo, butthis solo Small Ballroom show offered a far more thrilling rock’n’roll experience.

9. THE CHURCH,Lizotte’s, December 5 FAITHFUL: The Church were preaching to the true believers at Lizotte’s. Picture: Paul Dear

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of watching a show at Lizotte’s knows the Lambton theatre is a music-lover’s dream in terms of sound quality and ambience.

However, often the venue doesn’t attract bands intending to showcase their full electric arsenal. The Church did in December for two sold-out shows and it was an incredible display in musicianship.

WhenMarty Willson-Piper left the ‘80s psych legendsin 2013 it seemed impossiblehe could be replaced.

However, ex-Powderfinger guitarist Ian Haug proved that he has the musical chops to step into Willson-Piper’s shoes.

Haug was brilliant on the opener,Aura.He was free to express himself on the fret board more flamboyantly than the more muscularPowderfinger ever allowed.

Unlike most of their contemporaries, The Church are still producing forward-thinking new material.

Several cuts off their impressive 2017 albumMan Woman Life Death Infinitywere performed without losing momentum or the crowd’s interest.

Steve Kilbey’s transformation into a more engaging frontman has also been part of The Church’s continuing appeal.

As the two-hour 19-song set progressed Kilbey became more and more expressive, sensing the energy rise from the audience.

Old fans were kept happy withUnder The Milky Way,Reptileand a compelling version ofTantalized, before the crowd-pleasingThe Unguarded Momenthad people dancing in the aisles.

10. THE LIVING END,Cambridge Hotel, March 10 PURE ENERGY: The Living End’s Chris Cheney tearing up the Cambridge. Picture: Marina Neil

One of the greatest developments in the Newcastle music scene over the past year has been the expansion of the Cambridge Hotel’s glasshouse band room.

Increasing capacity to 700 people and installing a state-of-the-art sound system has led to various bigger-name artists performing at the Newcastle West venue.

One of those acts was The Living End.

Are you ever too old to shout out The Living End’s classic teenageangst anthemPrisoner Of Society?

You know the onewith the prophetic lyrics, “Well we don’t need no one to tell us what to do,” and then “’Cause I’m a brat/And I know everything/And I talk back/Cause I’m not listening to anything you say.”

The sold-out Cambridge crowd of mostly 30-somethings delivered a resounding “no” to that question when the rockabilly three-piece closed the set with their rebellious hit.

Earlier in the evening Chris Cheney and his bandmates showed off their incredible musicianship. Cheney is a guitar-lover’s dream. A combination of dexterity, finesse and power.

While it’s fair to say The Living End’s newer material was fairly under-appreciated, the passion for their hits likeRoll On,White NoiseandWest End Riotguaranteed a raucous energy in the room.

JIM KELLAR’S TOP 51. Midnight Oil, Hope Estate, October21:Every song held a memory for someone in the audience. Every song seemingly holds a lyric that, once released, it can never be forgotten.

2. Bruce Springsteen, Hope Estate, February 18:The legendary entertainer hardly let up on his full throttle rock, finishing with a magical acoustic version ofThunder Road.

3. Violent Soho, Groovin The Moo, April 29:Their songs of remorse, meaningless love, lost lives, the detritus of wasted living were delivered with scorching power. They ignite fearful energy. Full of testosterone, the angst of youth.

4. The East Pointers, Unorthodox Church of Groove, March 24:An hour and a halfof sheer joy, about as upliftinga musical experience as you could ask for.

5. William Crighton,48 Watt St, May 27:To say he’s capable of taking an audience to another level is not an understatement. The acoustic-driven show cut down the barriers between artist and audienceto only the air between them.

LISA ROCKMAN’S TOP 51. Midnight Oil,Hope Estate,October 21:It was a privilege to witness songs of passion and protest being performed live so many years down the track. The sound quality was spot on and the production both moving and electrifying. Peter Garrett was mesmerising and the crowd was completely in his (often splayed) hands.

2. Nick Cave & Bad Seeds,Newcastle Entertainment Centre,January 22:Dark, brooding, stormy and violent, this was as close to a religious experience someone who doesn’t go to church can experience. The light and shade of Cave’s brilliance draws you in and takes you on a journey.

3. Tina Arena, Civic Theatre, September 12:Asurprise hit. I knew she could sing, of course, and that she had numerous hit songs to her name but as a performer she blew me away. She never missed a note, joked with the crowd as if we were sharing a beer,and yet carried herself with grace and poise.

4. The Pretenders,Bimbadgen,November 11:Stevie Nicks was the headliner, but for me, Chrissie Hynde stole the show. Thatwoman rocks.

5. The Eurogliders, Newcastle Entertainment Centre, December 3:Fronted by the hilarious, zany andtalented Grace Knight, Eurogliders came out firing and didn’t drop the ball once. It is easy to forget how many great songs they had on the charts in the’80s. I certainly had, but still found myself singing along to every word.

Life after coal: leadership needed for a fair transition

NEW COURSE: The Hunter is no stranger to change, and now it has to ensure there is a supported transition away from coal, the author says. Photo: Simone De PeakThis week the new chair of the Port of Newcastle, Roy Green, began his tenure talking about the need for the port to diversify away from coal. As he said; “Clearly the long term outlook for coal is a threat to the Port and Hunter region, but it is also a huge opportunity”.
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Professor Green’s statements were based on solid evidence. On Tuesday the International Energy Agency released data showing global coal consumption falling. In the past two years there has been the greatest fall in demand, in absolute terms, since the agency began recording data.

In that time there has been a massive global shift away from coal by financiers, investors and insurers. Just in the past week AXA, ING, BNP Paribas, the NAB and the World Bank have moved money away from fossil fuels such as coal. In the Hunter, AGL recommitted to closing the Liddell Power Station and replacing that capacity mainly with renewables while restating its commitment to never invest in coal again.

So why is 350.org Australia interested? 350 Australia is a national charity focused on educating and informing people about climate change and its impacts. We are deeply connected in the Australian community and have 70,000 active supporters. 350 Australia wants to see a transition from coal to renewable energy sources. But we want that transition to occur fairly. This “just transition” needs to become a priority for our governments, federal, state and local.

Professor Green was in Newcastle during the transition from steelmaking in the 1980s and 90s, as was I. That is still considered a successful approach delivered by government, business and the community. Over about 15 years we saw the steelmaking workforce decline significantly and the rest of the regional economy grow. By the time the steelworks closed the region was predominantly a services economy led by the health and education sectors.

For many, the loss of the steelworks seemed inconceivable in 1980. Yet, from today’s perspective, it was a natural evolution. The same will occur with the decline of coal in the Hunter.

For a good transition to occur we need positive leadership, more vision and a collaborative approach. This is about people and looking after them and their families.

Here is the reality. The shift from coal is global and being facilitated by the incredible rise of cheaper renewable energy and the urgent need to clean the air in cities in China and India. Commitments to the Paris Agreement are also part of this shift, but the real drivers are price and pollution. We cannot close our eyes to these facts or we will be left behind. That helps no-one.

It is time for us to get together and chart a fair transition. Let’s promote those sustainable industries that are strong and growing. Let’s invest in opportunities like a big renewable energy sector in the Hunter. Let’s invest in our people, providing training and career advice for those who will be directly affected by the transition.

The Hunter has done this before and can do it again.

And, the Hunter can help provide the template for the transition that will be going on in many other parts of Australia and the world.

350.org Australia is keen to work with the Port of Newcastle and the people of the Hunter to ensure there is a fair, supported transition away from coal, to be active participants in an exciting future.

Glen Klatovsky is deputy CEO of 350.org Australia. He lived in Newcastle in the 1990s and has family there still.

In Rohingya crisis, doing nothing could be a crime

Bangkok: The United Nations human rights chief has raised the possibility of Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi being charged over atrocities against Rohingya Muslims.
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Zeid Raad al-Hussein said whether genocide has been committed would need to be decided by an international court but judges could consider the “crime of omission”.

“That if it came to your knowledge that this was being committed, and you did nothing to stop it, then you could be culpable as well for that,” Prince Zeid told the BBC, referring to the Nobel laureate who was swept into power in 2015.

Suu Kyi has been widely condemned for her government’s failure to protect 1.1 million Rohingya while refusing to acknowledge that any atrocities have been carried out by her country’s military.

Zeid’s comments came as a new 30-page Human Rights Watch report reveals that a massacre in a village called Tula Toli in the country’s Rakhine state on August 30 was pre-planned and killings and rapes there were systematically carried out, leaving several hundred dead, far more than previously known .

Human rights lawyers say they intend to initiate international court action over the massacre, the worst known atrocity among many that has forced almost 650,000 Rohingya to flee Rakhine for Bangladesh since August.

On Monday, Fairfax Media published the shocking testimony of a 40-year-old survivor of Tula Toli whose three month old baby was pulled from her arms and slashed to death, before she saw her seven children, her husband and his two brothers executed.

Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said interviews with 18 Tula Toli survivors now in Bangladesh shows “soldiers carried out killings and rapes of hundreds of Rohingya with a cruel efficiency that could only come with advance planning.”

The report describes in detail how Myanmar soldiers trapped villagers along a riverbank and proceeded to kill and rape men, women and children and torch the village.

Zeid also told the BBC that Myanmar’s military leaders, including Army chief, Senior General Aung Min Hlaing, could face genocide charges because the gravity and scale of the events in Rakhine require a “response by the international community.”

He said “it wouldn’t surprise me in the future if a court were to make such a finding on the basis of what we are seeing.”

Zeid’s reference to Suu Kyi is a slapdown for many of her supporters who defend her inaction, claiming her power is limited by the military.

Zeid said he spoke with Suu Kyi when his office published a report in February documenting appalling atrocities committed during an episode of violence in Rakhine in October 2016.

“I appealed to her to bring these military operations to an end,” he said.

“I appealed to her emotional standing … to do whatever she could to bring this to a close, and to my great regret it did not seem to happen.”

Zeid criticised Suu Kyi for refusing even to acknowledge the term “Rohingya” which Rakhine Muslims use to self-identity.

“To strip their name from them is dehumanising to the point where you believe anything is possible,” he said.

Zeid said he believed Myanmar’s military was emboldened because the international community took no action after violence erupted in Rakhine in 2016.

“I suppose that they then drew a conclusion that they could continue without fear,” he said.

“We we then began to sense was that this was really well thought out and planned.

梧桐夜网dfat.gov419论坛/jointappeal

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

Dungog and Port Stephens councils hold merger talks

Dungog Mayor Tracy Norman, left, in front of one of Dungog’s many wooden bridges, which contribute to the council’s substantial infrastructure maintenance backlog.DUNGOG ratepayers arefacinga substantial rise in rates over the coming years after their council’s initial approach to Port Stephens Council to reinvigorate the push for a council merger was rebuffed.
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The mayors of both councils confirmed that a meeting was held at the Port Stephens council chambers on Monday, with adelegation from Dungog presentingPort Stephens councillors with afinancial synopsispromoting a merger.

The previouscouncil proposed a merger with Dungog in February last year, butPort Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer said there was no longer an appetite on the Port side tomerge.Cr Palmer said there was room, however, for exploring the potential for shared services between the two organisations, starting with information technology (IT) systems.

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer

Dungog Mayor Tracy Norman, who led her shire’s delegation, said Dungog ratepayers had been asked their views on a merger at the September local government elections that voted in a new council.

“In that ballot,54 per cent of residents asked us to enter into discussions with Port Stephens Council,” Cr Norman said.

“And this was a meeting that we requested to take their pulse to see whether they had an appetite for a merger.

“I had previously held informal talks with the Port Stephens Mayor, Cr Palmer, and it became evident that if there was not an appetite for a merger, then there was a shared services model that we could develop. They are happy with that idea. It was a very amicable meeting in a good neighbourhood spirit. We both want the best for our own communities.”

Dungog council was involved in threemerger proposals as part of the Coalition state government’s Fit for the Future local government reforms, which have proved to be one of its most controversial policies.

Reacting to an electoral backlash, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced an end to forced mergers in regional NSW in February this year, just a month after replacing Mike Baird in the state’s top job.

After initially saying she would move ahead with forced mergers of Sydney councils, that policy, too, was scrapped five months later, in July.

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Port Stephens proposes merger with Dungog

No merger decision for Dungog

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Berejiklian dumps regional council mergers

Dungog ratepayers vote for Port Stephens tie-up

The Coalition had been working on local government reform since its election in 2011, starting witha three-year review of local government and the involvement of the state’s main regulator, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, in working out which councils were financially“fit for the future”.

In October 2015, the tribunal recommended that Dungog merge with Maitland, saying both councils were unfit to stand alone. Then, two months later, in December, the government proposed a merger of Dungog and Gloucester councils: Gloucester was later absorbed into the newMid Coast Council with Taree and Great Lakes.

Then, in February 2016, Port Stephens–in a move to counter a proposed merger with Newcastle–applied to merge with Dungog.

Although an immediate decision on Dungog council’s future was averted by the scrapping of forced mergers, the council remains in a difficult financial position.

Cr Norman confirmed the council had run deficit budgets for a number of years, and a substantial rate rise would be needed if it was to eat into its infrastructure backlog.

Council papers show that an“improvement plan” on the books last year proposed an increase in general rates of 13 per cent a year for six years–a cumulative rise of 108 per cent–to meet the government’s Fit for the Future benchmarks.

On this, Cr Norman said:“We had been asked to fill in a proposal to make us Fit for the Future by 2020 and as a result of that, we would have had to have that sort of rate increase to get to that position of meeting their benchmarks.

“But I think the government realises this is a hard thing to do, and larger time frame is a better idea.”

An“overview” document from Dungog’s perspective, distributed at Monday’s meeting, said the state would likely contribute $15 million in grants to a merged council.

Dungogwas“working on new revenue streams” and was reviewing its Section 94 developer contributions plan, which“will allow us to access more funds towards site-specific projects”.

A rural lands strategy was“imminent”.

“We will be taking a special rates variation to our community early next year and will apply for this to come into effect in the 2019-2020 financial year.”