ROCKY COAST: Carl Young is in Sea Wall, which will be staged by Stooged Theatre with another short play, Dead Centre, in January. WHEN the double bill of short plays, Dead Centre and Sea Wall, premiered in Melbourne in 2015, the staging company, Red Stitch Actors Theatre, was nervous about how reviewers and audiences would react.
Each of the plays has just one actor on stage for 35 minutes and the performers – one a woman, the other a man – have to keep watchers gripped.
However, the company’s initiative was rewarded, when the show, which toured to Darwin, Brisbane and Sydney after its Melbourne run, won raves from all who saw it.
Andrew McInnes, a Newcastle-raised actor and director who is now based in Sydney, saw the double bill there and recommended it to Newcastle company Stooged Theatre, which focuses on strong plays that might not otherwise be seen in the Hunter.
Stooged is staging Dead Centre and Sea Wall at Newcastle West’s Catapult Dance Studios from January 13 to 21, with Claire See in Dead Centre and Carl Young in Sea Wall, and Andrew McInnes directing.
Claire See, who went through Merewether High School with Andrew McInnes, is now a London-based actress who has been on stage in venues including Shakespeare’s Globe and has appeared in BBC television series and films made in Britain.
When she heard that Stooged was staging the double bill, she recorded an audition and forwarded it to the company. She usually returns to Newcastle to spend Christmas with her family, but put the visit off until late December-early January so she could appear in Dead Centre.
The double bill had an interesting origin. Red Stitch was keen to stage Sea Wall, written by English playwright Simon Stephens in 2008, and asked Australian playwright Tom Holloway if he would write a similar length work that would include references to people and situations mentioned in that play. Holloway, who was friends with Stephens, won his approval.
The woman in Holloway’s Dead Centre, Helen, has migrated to Australia to escape a troubled background in England. But when she takes a trip to Uluru, in Australia’s Red Centre, people and issues she has tried to forget return to her mind.
Alex, the man in Sea Wall, had a long and initially enjoyable relationship with Helen, but problems they encountered in coastal areas, especially when visiting a relative in France, created difficulties.
The double bill, staged at Catapult’s spaceat 880 Hunter Street, can be seen on Saturdays, January 13 and 20, at 7.30pm, on Sundays, January 14 and 21, at 5pm, and on Friday, January 19, at 7.30pm.
PICTURE PERFECT: William Crighton will return to the Tamworth Regional Art Gallery on January 25. Picture: Paul DearHIGH PRAISE The last time William Crighton performed at the Tamworth Regional Art Gallery inJanuary, the late greatmusic journalist Iain Shedden rated the performance within his “all-time top-10.”
“Once in a lifetime a gig surpasses all expectations, slapping you in the face with its grace, majestic singing, the quality of the material,” Shedden wrote. Crighton returnsto the venue on January 25 forthe Tamworth Country Music Festival, this time joined by award-winningAboriginal artistGawurra.
KERBSIDE STOMPAnother Newcastle musicianamong the local contingent heading up the New England Highway for the Tamworth Country Music Festival will be James Bennett. The country troubadourwill perform at The Pub and The Welders Dog (January 22) and The Southgate Inn (January 23) plus at a series of busking shows in Peel Street from January 21 to 26.
HATS OFFLet’s give amassive round of applause to Kim Churchill and the Grand Junction (Junkyard)Hotel forhelping out six-year-old leukaemia-sufferer Kane Ransom. On November 22 it was discovered Kane hadrelapsed after being in remission for18 months. Tentickets to Churchill’s January 11 show at the Junkyard and a $600 bar tab were auctioned off on Thursdayto assist with Kane’s medical expenses.
HAPPY DAYS The summer party vibes will be pumping at Mayfield’s Stag and Hunter Hotel on January 5 when Sydney’s The Kava Kings drop by.The Kava Kings recentlybegan work on their third album with producer and Eskimo Joe guitaristJoel Quartermain and are expected to previewseveral new tracks at The Stag.
DONE DEAL: Teenage whiz kid Riley McGree (centre) will join the Jets on-loan from Club Brugge for the remainder of the A-League campaign. Picture: AAP ImagesNEWCASTLE have secured midfiedler Riley McGree on loan from ClubBrugge but the teenage whiz kid will not play for his new club until late January because ofcommitments with the Australian under-23’s in a tournament that Jets coach Ernie Merrick believes serves no purpose.
Asreported by The Herald on Monday, McGree will join the Jets for the remainder of their A-League campaign as an injury replacement for Jake Adelson.
The 19-year-old returned to Adelaide from Belgium on Monday and will be in Newcastle next week for testing.
However, he and new teammate Nick Cowburn will head to China on January 3 with the Australianside to contest the under-23 Asian Football Confederation Championships.
The Jets duo are among 15 A-League players in the squad. Joe Champness, Ivan Vujica and Lachlan Jackson are on standby.
The final of the tournament, which is being held outside a FIFA international window, is on January 27. If Australia progress to the top four, the players will miss five A-League games.
The tournament is not a part of the qualifying cycle for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Merrick questioned its value.
“For me it is a tournament that means nothing,” Merrick said. “I coached a Hong Kong side at this tournament and it is a very average tournament. It doesn’t seem sensible to take players away for as much as five A-League games. To me it would have made more sense to take good quality players who are on the fringes of the first team, but not getting a game. They would have benefited andwe would have benefited.
“If it was a qualifying tournamentor crucial to preparing for the next Olympics, I would understand, this is neither.”
Australian under-23 coach Ante Milicic, who did not select more than three players from any club,said the tournament would provide experience at a significant international competition.
“It is time we respected FIFA windows and it’s time we respected A-League clubs, given the amount of money the owners are investing,” he said. “Weare continually being compromised by tournaments that aren’t that worthwhile.”
Merrick is looking forward to McGree’s contribution to the second-placed Jets when he returns from China.
“Riley is an exciting young player who will offer a lot to our side,” Merrick said. “He likes to getforward, he can play wide but he can also play in a holding role – he gives us plentyof options.What I particularly like about him is that he is very good one-on-one in tight areas in the middle of the ground.”
“He’s at one of the biggest clubs in the Belgian First Division and I think just beingaround that sort of environment after his last season (in the A-League) will only be ofbenefit.”
Martin Parkinson, secretary of the department of prime minister and cabinet speaking in support of White Ribbon Day. Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Dr Martin Parkinson greets Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as he arrives to address the Australian Public Service in the Great Hall at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 20 April 2016. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Dr Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, during the Close the Gap 10th Anniversary Parliamentary Breakfast at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 10 February 2016. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Martin Parkinson, secretary of the department of prime minister and cabinet speaking in support of White Ribbon Day.
Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Martin Parkinson has labelled federal government mandated caps on public service employment a “blunt instrument” for management, calling for new thinking on workforce capability and headcounts in Canberra.
The nation’s most senior public servant also said implementing the National Party-led plan for forced relocation of government agencies to the regions would be based on detailed business cases, and defended careful spending of taxpayer funds for external consultants in the bureaucracy.
Two years after being appointed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to head the 152,000-strong federal workforce, Dr Parkinson said in an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media that public servants needed to better know the needs and expectations of Australians, describing planning for 2045 and beyond remained as a key challenge in 2018. Latest public service news
On public service staffing, he said consideration of fluctuations of a few hundred people at any time was not sensible.
“I don’t think headcount is the right measure,” he said. “The question is really does the APS have the capability set it needs to deliver for the challenges Australia faces in the next quarter century?
“If it does, that’s great. If if doesn’t, what capabilities is it missing or is it short of? Are those things you can buy in or do you have to breed them yourself?
“If you look at the service and say data analytics is really going to be central to improving outcomes, do we have sufficient capability? Answer: absolutely not.
“Do I fix that by increasing headcount by 500 people? Actually, if I’ve got to find more data analysts and I’ve got 152,000 people, is going to 152,500 going to make any difference? It’s actually about prioritising what skill sets you need.”
This month a national auditor-general’s report showed the Coalition’s moves to cut 15,000 public service jobs coincided with a doubling in spending on private consultants with specialist skills.
Consultancy contracts established because of “need for specialised or professional skills” grew to more than $500 million last financial year.
Dr Parkinson said departments shouldn’t need to call in consultants for “core business” but effective use of external talent was justified, including for specialist work in irregularly timeframes.
“Where there’s a situation where I just need a fresh pair of eyes to have a look at this and just do a robustness test, just check that we’re on track, I think that’s totally legitimate, [a] traditional role of consultants.
“If I have a concern, it’s about some parts of the service relying on consultants to do what should be their core business because ultimately we deal in ideas, and that can be a policy idea, it can be the delivery of that through a program… or it can be the regulation of it through oversight arrangements.
Dr Parkinson attracted headlines this month over comments critical of former prime minister Tony Abbott’s management of the APS, but has described 2017 as a year of significant achievement for government agencies, including on Indigenous affairs, the national marriage survey and advice on the dual citizenship saga.
As federal cabinet considers plans for forced relocations of government departments and agencies away from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, Dr Parkinson said Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Treasurer Scott Morrison were carefully focused on business cases for the moves.
“The question is how much of the public service should be optimally outside of Canberra? You can’t make that decision at a meta level.
“You’ve got a range of places that have already moved because the business case makes sense for them. That’s the critical issue here. We have to make sure there are robust reasons for doing it.”
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SUMMER HEAT: Make sure you keep your pets safe, hydrated and cool over the hot festivae season.Summer is heating up, and most people are turning to the beach, pools, ice blocks and air conditioning.
It’s important to remember that when you are getting hot you can grab a frozen Zooper Dooper out of the fridge to alleviate some of the sweat, but your loyal friends covered in fur don’t have exactly the same luxuries.
In a study run by PetSafe Australia, it was found that 39% of Australian’s are unaware of the signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration in their pets.
COOL OFF: Make sure you keep your pets in the shade over the hot months of the year.
Doctor Claire Jones, a NSW veterinarian, has warned that this summer will be “one of the worst on record for Australia”, and that being smart about pet hydration is crucial over Christmas and the New Year period.
“Dehydration can indicate a serious underlying problem,” Dr Stevens said. “Often, however, the signs of dehydration are not obvious, so I suggest getting to the vet as soon as you can.”
“You can prevent dehydration by providing clean water at all times, and change it frequently to ensure freshness. Also, don’t forget to wash your pet’s water bowl every day to prevent bacteria from forming. I tend to put a few bowls down to be sure they have enough.”
Dr Stevens also suggested investing in shade clothes, umbrellas or canopies, as many backyards do not have adequate shade during the hottest parts of the day.
“People might not realize but there is possibly long periods during the day your backyard might simply not provide anywhere cool and shady,” she said. “Avoid chaining a dog outside or keeping them in a hot back yard as this can preventing him from accessing his water bowl.”
“Just remember, make sure you monitor your dog’s water intake every day. If your dog is not drinking an adequate amount of water, seek veterinary advice.”
Information can also be found on thePetSafe website, in a Hydration Awareness Campaign infographic:petsafe.net/en-au/pet-hydration.
Steps to ensure your pet remains safe and hydrated during summer:
The Australian tradition of Boxing Day as the biggest cinema-going day of the year is shifting ground as the summer’s big movies are either released or given extensive preview screenings before Christmas.
For the third year in a row, the reignited Star Wars franchise has delivered a new movie two weeks before Christmas. And as with The Force Awakens and Rogue One, The Last Jedi is virtually guaranteed to be the biggest movie of the holidays.
Blockbusters have opened in mid-December before – Titanic and Avatar among them – but all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, plus such Hollywood hits as Frozen and Meet the Fockers, were all held back until Boxing Day.
The industry thinking was that once all the presents had been unwrapped, the festive tables cleared and the celebrations were winding down, Australians were ready to head to the cinema.
After all, anticipation for a new Peter Jackson movie or Disney animation had been building for months. And for many of us, Boxing Day is still the first chance to relax into the holidays.
The movies are also an outing with family or friends. An excuse to get away from the dining table and the wreckage of the lounge room. Sometimes an escape from a stressful family situation. And it can be a holiday treat by splashing out on a premium session such as Hoyts’ Luxe or Gold Class at Event and Village.
But Disney’s acquisition of movie brands – Marvel, Pixar, LucasFilm and now 20th Century Fox – is changing the game.
While many of us are struggling to wrap up work, studies and shopping, turning a new Star Wars movie into an event before Christmas means the studio avoids competing against the traditional Disney or Pixar animated family movie out on Boxing Day.
This year Pixar’s Coco is expected to be one of the hits of the holidays.
In art-house cinemas, distributors have taken the tip, too. While the French comedy Just to Be Sure is nominally a Boxing Day release, it is getting two full weekends of advance screenings before it opens.
Publicity and what the industry calls “word of mouth” build up awareness of a film, which helps it find a place among the crowded line-up of new releases.
And it is certainly crowded this year.
With Christmas on Monday, the action comedy Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is getting preview screenings on the weekend.
And two other movies that are sure to be popular, the family sequel Paddington 2 and the Oscar-contending American drama The Florida Project, open five days before Boxing Day to beat the rush.
With all the intense competition in entertainment, including the rise of streaming services, the cinema industry is having to be strategic to counter declining ticket sales.
They worked out years ago that premium screenings, including giant screen and 3D sessions, encourage us to spend more each cinema visit.
While the top standard ticket has nudged up to $23 in some multiplexes, other cinemas are discounting prices to attract viewers.
The general manager of entertainment at Event Cinemas, Luke Mackey, thinks the line-up of films will make it “a pretty good Christmas” for cinemas.
But he recognises it has become even more important for films to become “events” to attract an audience.
“People are looking for something special,” Mackey says. “Something unique – making something special and giving people an additional reason to come out is going to become increasingly important.”
Even if it is an exceptional Christmas for ticket sales, annual box office is still expected to be down by 3 to 4 per cent on last year’s record $1.259 billion.
Early this month, it was down 6 per cent on the corresponding period last year, reflecting that Hollywood has delivered some disappointing blockbusters this year, including Transformers: The Last Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, The Mummy, Baywatch, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Monster Trucks and Justice League.
But with the exception of Beauty and the Beast, even the hits have taken less than would have been expected two years ago.
The managing director of Sony Pictures Australia, Stephen Basil-Jones, believes this shows the impact of streaming services.
“The quality and number of great programs has really signalled that they’re a force to be reckoned with,” he says. “Particularly in the drama area for adults, you have to have something compelling and cinema-worthy to take them on. It’s a new challenge for our industry to compete against.”
While Basil-Jones concedes July to September was “pretty grim”, he is optimistic about the Boxing Day line-up, especially for Jumanji.
“I think it’s going to be terrific,” he says. “There’s a film for everyone.”
Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman.
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
Director: With a background in visual effects and commercials, Australian Michael Gracey is making his film directing debut.
The story: After losing his job, P. T. Barnum brings together performers of all descriptions to create the famous Barnum & Bailey circus.
Rating and length: PG, 105 minutes.
Who it’s for: Fans of Our Hugh, musicals and colourful entertainment.
Buzz: A feelgood musical that is a Hugh Jackman passion project, with music by La La Land’s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
Director: Lee Unkrich, whose strong track record includes Finding Nemo and Toy Story 2 and 3, with screenwriter-storyboard artist Adrian Molina
Stars: Voices of Benjamin Bratt, Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garc??a Bernal
The story: A 12-year-old Mexican boy’s quest to play guitar like his hero, despite his family’s long-time opposition, sees him trapped in the land of the dead.
Rating and timing: PG, 105 minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Pixar movies
Buzz: The studio has delivered yet again with a vibrant comic celebration of Mexican culture.
Kristen Wiig plays Audrey Safranek, Matt Damon plays Paul Safranek, Maribeth Monroe plays Carol Johnson and Jason Sudeikis plays Dave Johnson in Downsizing from Paramount Pictures.
Director: Alexander Payne of Sideways, The Descendants and Nebraska fame.
Stars: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau.
Rating and timing: M, 135 minutes.
The story: After scientists discover how to shrink people as a solution to over-population, a couple abandon their stressed lives in Omaha to move into a tiny community.
Who it’s for: Fans of adult dramas and Payne’s films.
Buzz: It’s a thought-provoking parable about a modern-day Lilliput.
Director: Andy Serkis, Gollum himself, who is making his film directing debut.
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville.
The story: Based on the real-life parents of producer Jonathan Cavendish, a love story about adventurous couple who have rich inspiring lives despite a polio diagnosis.
Rating and timing: M, 118 minutes.
Who it’s for: Fans of romance and inspirational greeting cards.
Buzz: Very British, very sentimental.
Kevin Hart (Franklin “Moose” Finbar), Karen Gillan (Ruby Roundhouse) Jack Black (Professor Shelly Oberon) and Dwayne Johnson (Dr. Smolder Bravestone) star in Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle.
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Director: Jake Kasdan, best known for the Cameron Diaz comedies Bad Teacher and Sex Tape.
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas.
The story: In an action-fantasy sequel to 1995’s Jumanji, four teenagers discover an old video-game-console and get sucked into a jungle with adult avatars.
Rating and length: PG, 119 minutes.
Who it’s for: Fans of action comedies, the Rock and Jack Black.
Buzz: It’s had a mixed reception by critics, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it “an enjoyable modernisation” of the Jumanji children’s book and Variety dismissing it as “trash”.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Director: Luca Guadagnino, the Italian director of I Am Love and A Bigger Splash
Stars: Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet
The story: A romantic coming-of-age drama – adapted from a novel by Andre Aciman – about a 17-year-old boy’s first love with an American student who stays with his family in Italy in 1983.
Rating and length: M, 132 minutes.
Who it’s for: Fans of love stories, affecting dramas and LGBTI films.
Buzz: The acclaim has included numerous top 10 lists of the year’s best films and three Golden Globe nominations – for best motion picture drama and the acting of its two stars.
JUST TO BE SURE
Director: Carine Tardieu, the French director best known for The Dandelions.
Stars: Francois Damiens, Cecile de France, Guy Marchand, Andre Wilms.
The story: Sharp French comedy about lonely 45-year-old bomb disposal expert, a widower who has to deal with a pregnant daughter while searching for his own biological father.
Rating and timing: M, 100 minutes.
Who it’s for: Fans of French films and intelligent comic tales.
Buzz: Well-acted charmer about the complications of families.
DOCTOR WHO: TWICE UPON A TIME
Director: Rachel Talalay who has moved into TV – including the Dr Who series – since the films Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Tank Girl.
Stars: Peter Capaldi, Jodie Whittaker, David Bradley.
The story: This Christmas special is the last appearance of Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor – he joins the First Dr on an adventure involving aliens stealing victims from frozen time – before the arrival of Whittaker as number 13.
Rating and timing: M, 103 minutes including two shorts.
Who it’s for: Hardcore Doctor Who fans given it’s also on TV.
Buzz: One British review called it “a surprisingly slight tale”, beefed up by special features celebrating Capaldi’s time as the Dr and Steven Moffat’s as showrunner and lead writer.
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Vote on the Marriage Amendment Bill at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 7 December 2017. fedpol Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and acting Minister of State Senator Mathias Cormann during a press conference on same sex marriage at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 8 August 2017. Fedpol. Photo: Andrew Meares
Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester is set to be dumped in Malcolm Turnbull’s reshuffle, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce instrumental in the decision to axe the well-regarded cabinet minister.
Mr Joyce is now expected to take over the portfolio of his Nationals’ colleague, and there are suggestions he will keep the Water portfolio but surrender Agriculture.
Rookie Queensland Nationals MP David Littleproud is favourite to take Mr Chester’s cabinet post, in a meteoric rise from the backbench just 18 months after he entered Parliament.
The promotion of Mr Littleproud, who was one of just four MPs to vote against same-sex marriage and called for a division on the issue, would give the Queensland Nationals a second cabinet post, at the expense of Victoria.
It is not clear if Mr Littleproud or Nationals deputy leader, Bridget McKenzie, will pick up the Agriculture portfolio but both will enter cabinet.
Another of Mr Joyce’s political opponents in the Nationals’ party room, Queensland junior minister Keith Pitt, has also been dumped as assistant minister for Trade and Tourism.
The expected decisions to dump Mr Chester and Mr Pitt were a surprise to some in the Nationals party room, and interpreted by several MPs as political payback by the Deputy Prime Minister; both men backed in senator Bridget McKenzie in the recent contest for Nationals deputy leader, rather than Mr Joyce’s pick of senator Matt Canavan.
Demands for Queensland to have a second Nationals’ cabinet minister also played a part in the decision to dump Mr Chester; there are four Nationals MPs from Victoria in Parliament, and eight Nationals-aligned MPs in the Queensland LNP.
Mr Turnbull is also expected to announce Liberals Dan Tehan and Paul Fletcher will move into cabinet later on Tuesday, but it is understood that former cabinet minister Sussan Ley may now miss out on a return.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter will replace George Brandis as Attorney-General, and Senator Brandis will head to London in January to be high commissioner.
Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos – who is battling cancer – is also expected to step down when the reshuffle is announced.
NSW MPs Craig Laundy and Angus Taylor and Queenslanders John McVeigh and Stuart Robert and Karen Andrews are all considered possible promotion candidates for other junior ministry vacancies that will be created.
The other cabinet minister said to be in the running for the job of Attorney-General was Employment Minister Michaelia Cash; however, she has been damaged by the recent resignation of a staffer, who tipped off media about a raid on union offices, and accusations she initially misled Parliament over the matter.
Mr Porter’s expected promotion from Social Services to Attorney-General – he is a former treasurer and attorney-general in the Western Australian Parliament – will trigger further changes to the cabinet, and the outer ministry.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will also be sworn in to the new super portfolio of Home Affairs, which includes Immigration, the Australian Border Force the Australian Federal Police and spy agency ASIO – the last of which was previously in the Attorney-General’s portfolio.
The Prime Minister will also need to fill the outer ministry of Special Minister of State, which was recently vacated by now-Senate president Scott Ryan.
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Photograph shows Blue Mountains residents opposed to the planned closure of Katoomba swimming pool. From left to right , David Tobin of Lawson, Lyndell Fairleigh of Blackheath, Margot McKay of Katoomba, John Tognolini of Katoomba and Kirsty McKenzie of Katoomba. Plus general images of children swimming. Photographs by Dean Sewell. Taken Monday 18th December 2017.John Tognolini’s father, Vic, taught his sons the importance of swimming from an early age, encouraging them to complete 10 laps each of freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke every day.
“My dad was a World War II veteran and he actually swum out during the evacuation of Crete with two blokes tied to him on a rope,” Mr Tognolini said. “They got to a small boat and got taken up by a British warship.”
Mr Tognolini passed on a passion for swimming to his daughter Rachael, who was three years old when she first splashed about in the outdoor pools at Katoomba Sports and Aquatic Centre.
But Mr Tognolini, who at the age of 59 swims up to four times a week, fears some children may be denied the opportunity to learn to swim under a proposal by the Blue Mountains City Council to close some of its aquatic facilities.
“All the outdoor pools are well loved and valued by the community as beautiful, peaceful outdoor neighbourhood spaces where they can bring their families to both relax and exercise,” Mr Tognolini said.
The council’s draftOpen Space and Recreation Strategic Plan, which is on public exhibition until January 15, proposes the closure of some swimming pools at the Katoomba, Lawson and Blackheath aquatic facilities.
A council spokeswoman said the Blue Mountains had more public swimming pools than many other councils, with aquatic facilities also at Springwood and Glenbrook.
She said the pools were ageing and did not meet modern standards.
“It is proposed that we maximise the use of pools in good condition and retire assets in an aged condition,” she said.
“This approach would retain the five swim centres, however offer less individual pools in each location. It also looks at creating additional indoor facilities, extending the pool season, heating pools, as well as creating other water play spaces like splash pads.”
But Mr Tognolini, a high school teacher and spokesman for the Save Katoomba Pool group, said: “Increasing the distance and cost travelling to affordable resources amplifies economic and social inequality. Unnecessary burden will be placed on those who can afford it least.”
Kirsty McKenzie, a member of the Katoomba RSL Swimming Club, said the closure of the outdoor 50-metre pool in Katoomba threatened the viability of the club.
David Tobin, the president of the Lawson Amateur Swimming Club, said the smaller swimming pools threatened with closure were vital for helping non-swimmers to overcome a fear of the water.
“Of particular concern to me is the impact the proposed closures will have on teaching kids how to swim – both formal swimming instruction and also on giving kids an opportunity to familiarise with the water in shallower depths before they take to the big pool,” he said.
The council’s proposal to close some of its aquatic facilities comes as a report by the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia found that a single visit to a public pool leads to health benefits worth nearly $27 per person.
The Economic Benefits of Australia’s Public Aquatic Facilities also found that public swimming pools produce $2.8 billion in health benefits each year in addition to their value as places of recreation, community and aquatic education.
Almost 40 per cent of Australians classed as “physically inactive”, meaning they do less than 60 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
But the report suggests an extra visit to a public swimming pool each week would shift most “inactive” Australians to “low activity”, cutting their risk of lifestyle-related disease by 16 per cent and saving more than $4500 per person in the form of better health, reduced medical costs and improved work attendance each year.
“We knew going in, that swimming was a great way of keeping active, but we were shocked to find out just how effective even a single weekly swimming pool visit can be in cutting the costs of physical inactivity,” said the report’s author Dr Paul Barnsley.
“Now we need to make sure that everyone is in a position to take advantage of those benefits – if we don’t find the money for pools we’ll end up paying for it via the health system.”
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The Australian Federal Police is investigating itself after details of an operation to arrest an alleged North Korean agent were accidentally broadcast on social media.
AFP officers arrested a 59-year-old Sydney man on Sunday and charged him, alleging he had tried to arrange the sale of North Korean missile parts.
But days before the man’s arrest, the AFP’s media team broadcast a minute-long discussion on live-video streaming app Periscope of how they would manage media surrounding the event.
The Periscope clip was recorded by The West Australian – whose report included details on the timing of the arrest, and whether Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull or opposition leader Bill Shorten would need to be briefed.
In the audio, an officer was heard saying AFP officers were “not going in all guns blazing, it’s only half-a-dozen people and a forensic van”.
Another AFP officer can be heard saying they needed to take into account what politicians would need to know.
“We just need to recognise that the PM will be standing up at some time on Sunday to talk about Bennelong [by-election], as will Shorten.”
According to the newspaper, the broadcast remained on the AFP Periscope page until they notified media officers it was still there.
An AFP spokesman confirmed part of an office conversation was accidentally broadcast via their Periscope account on Wednesday, December 13.
“The incident occurred when testing a piece of social media broadcasting equipment,” the spokesman said.
“Steps have been taken to ensure such incidents will not occur again.
“The matter has been referred to the AFP’s Security area for review. As such, no further comment will be made at this time.”
At the time of the arrest on Sunday, AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said the case was an Australian first.
He said the AFP allege the man had been acting “to serve some higher patriotic purpose” to raise funds for North Korea, and could have raised tens of millions of dollars if successful.
“This case is like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil,” Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said.
The man, named as Chan Han Choi, is understood to have been born in South Korea but has lived in Australia for three decades as a naturalised citizen.
He was charged with offences relating to being a broker and economic agent for the North Korean regime, including two under Australia’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995.
The man is expected to appear in Central Local Court next week.
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