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Maitland City Council agrees to potential rezoning of historic Morpeth

The former Morpeth Bowling Club site will be included in the Maitland Urban Settlement Strategy and will soon be considered for rezoning.Maitland councillors havedismissed concerns about development on the former Morpeth Bowling Club site and agreed to add it to itsland bank.

The site will now be included in the Maitland Urban Settlement Strategy and will soon be considered forrezoning.

Brad Everett, a Morpeth Land Company director, said the council report “was not balanced” and urged the councillors to support the proposal.

He said the company was “trying to get the best outcome” and “not seeking to have the land rezoned”.

The council has confirmed a proposal to rezone the land general residential and build 22 to 30 high-density homes will be put before the councillors at another meeting.

Vocal Morpeth residents filled the chamber and urged the councillors to “protect the heritage of the village”.

Hunter developer Hilton Grugeon, who came to support Mr Everett, sat among them.

Resident Heather Berry said development on the site would be “at odds with the recreational facilities adjacent to it”.

“The council staff recommended against it and this recommendation is strongly backed by peer reviews by independent experts,” she said.

Mayor of Maitland, Cr Peter Blackmore, threatened to remove the vocal residents from the chamber as the councillors debated the issue.

The residents voiced their opposition to the councillors who disagreed with the report and cheered and clapped for the four Labor councillors who refused to support the plans.

Councillor Loretta Baker said the fringe of Morpeth was important to the town’s history and the history of the nation.

Councillor Henry Meskauskas questioned why councillors, who normally agreed with the council experts – and praised their advice – were criticising the report.

“Here we are picking it to threads when all the officers reports indicated this is not the time.”

Councillor Bob Geoghegan said the councillors were “trying to get the best outcome” and housing on the site was not as bad as a hotel or motel, which was allowed under the current zoning.

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Stage set for marathon meeting

HEIGHTENED SECURITY: The city will implement a suite of new security measures at tonight’s session after the last council meeting was cancelled due to protests. Related:

Bendigocouncil shutdown due to protestsCouncil postponesmeeting due to anti-mosque rallyCITY of Greater Bendigo councillors will wade through 332 pages of agenda on Wednesday night –but some believe it won’t stop them from having their say on the city’s biggest issues.

The September 16 council meeting was abandoned, and a replacement meeting was further postponed due to police fears it could have been used to increase tensions ahead of the weekend’s protest rally.

Among the 34 agenda items is a backlog of petitions about the Kangaroo Flat Community Leisure Centre, the Discovery centre, Big Hill Primary School parking and the new organic waste scheme.

They will alsotwo planning scheme amendments, three subdivisions and two applications to demolish buildings.Council will also have to pass its statement for the financial year– which could prove a lengthy process.

An updated media policy is among the last items on the agenda, put forward as part of the recommendations from recent Councillor Code of Conduct panels.

The policy specifies comments made by councillors on social media must comply with the council’s Code of Conduct.Councillor Helen Leach said despite the likelihood of a marathon meeting, she would be treating all matters as per usual, and voicing her opinions where she deemed necessary.

“You don’t get many chances to have a say, so I’ll be taking the opportunity to talk about what I believe is important,” she said.

“It’s disappointing that people won’t be able to sit in the room and ask some follow-up questions.

“It means question time has lost a bit of its punch.”

A spokesperson for the council said allitems would need to be considered on Wednesday night.

CouncillorMark Weragoda said one of the most important items on the agenda waswhether to opt into the government’s Safe Haven Enterprise Visa program.

“They are all worthy items butgiven the current climate I think it’s very important that we really focus on being united now and join the now230 other councils and shires that have taken the pledge to sign up,” he said.

“At the end of the day, if makes a difference to one person’slife,we will haveachieved something.”

CrWeragoda also namedcommunity grants allocation as animportant item, singling out the EaglehawkBMX track.

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70 energy workers in ‘limbo’

MORE than 70 workers across Essential Energy’s regional network won’t be going to work on Monday as the company yesterday moved on its first round of job cuts.

Steve Butler, secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, said 74 regional workers across the state had been told to clear out their personal belongings by Friday, and they were no longer required from Monday.

Mr Butler said while the workers would continue to be paid, he maintained it was a “way of terrifying them” into choosing the option of voluntary redundancy.

The use of forced redundancies by Essential Energy and Ausgrid is currently before the Fair Work Commission, with a ruling yet to be handed down.

The unions took the companies to the commission, maintaining the sacking of employees is not permitted under their employment contracts.

The 74 jobs, which will remain “in limbo” until a ruling is made, are among 262 from 32 regional locations that have been identified as “unfunded” by Essential Energy and will be cut.

Mr Butler said these job losses were in addition to 315 positions that have gone since June, and a further 123 workers who are currently going through the voluntary redundancy process.

He said it was “a callous and brutal way” to treat loyal employees.

“Unions previously put a range of options to the company that would have saved many of these regional jobs, but all of these proposals have been either rejected by Essential Energy or ignored altogether.”

Mr Butler said the 74 workers affected by yesterday’s announcement couldn’t continue under these circumstances indefinitely, and Essential Energy had a moral responsibility to tell them what its plans were.

The matter of forced redundancies was before the Fair Work Commission on Friday, with the commission requesting further submissions by all parties this week.

Mr Butler said the commission would then make its final determination, but he was unsure when that would be.

Essential Energy maintains the job cuts are necessary to secure its financial viability after cuts to operating expenditure by the Australian Energy Regulator.

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New terror laws “won’t stop radicalisation”

Mike Baird wants terror suspects to be able to be held for up to four weeks without being charged.NSW Premier Mike Baird’s bid to allow police to hold terror suspects for four weeks without charge is “window dressing” and will not stop young people being radicalised, say civil libertarians.

Mr Baird wants police to be given the power to keep suspects in custody for up to 28 days without charge and to lower the age from 16 to 14 years at which someone can be placed under a control order.

Mr Baird said the terror-linked murder of NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng outside Parramatta police headquarters on October 2 highlighted the need for change.

But the president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties Stephen Blanks said the changes will not prevent future attacks.

“I don’t think these proposed laws are a genuine attempt to make the community safer,” he said.

“They are simply window-dressing to give the appearance of doing something.”

Mr Blanks said community programs, engagement and educational initiatives are the only way to ensure people do not become alienated.

Federal laws provide for a terrorism suspect to be held in custody for up to four hours, but detention can be extended up to eight days by court order.

“We have to take appropriate actions to ensure that our children are safe and our community is safe,” Mr Baird told Parliament on Tuesday.

“There’s a range of measures that we are considering, including within our schools, to counter the impact of radicalisation of our youth.”

In a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Baird said the NSW government wants courts to be given more power to withhold sensitive information from terrorism suspects, as well as the lowering of the age threshold.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley said he supports the move to extend control orders to 14-year-olds but wants to know why longer periods of detention are necessary. AAP

Peter Garrett has no regrets

Peter Garrett catches up with Jimmy Barnes as Tim Freedman looks on. Picture: Janie BarrettPETER Garrett says he has no regrets about his 10-year political career despite being in charge of a home insulation program that led to the deaths of four young men.

His comments came at the launch of his memoir, Big Blue Sky, in Sydney on Tuesday, which was attended by fellow rockers Jimmy Barnes and Tim Freedman from The Whitlams.

“Whatever criticisms I have, and reflections, they don’t lessen the great hope and optimism I have for our country and the fact that our institutions have served us well,” the former Midnight Oil frontman said.

“Of course everybody can do better but I have no regrets at all.”

Mr Garrett was praised at the launch by marketing executive and television personality Todd Sampson for putting “his boundless energy and warm heart into many things” over the course of his career.

The former federal cabinet minister was in charge of the Labor government’s Home Insulation Program when four installers aged 16-25 years died between October 2009 and February 2010.

A 2014 inquiry into the scheme found Mr Garrett was not advised of the risk of injury to installers before the first death.

His book also contains a scathing criticism of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, whom he labels a “megalomaniac” with a “malevolent and punitive personality”.

Mr Garrett also admits in the book that he would have stayed in politics if Julia Gillard had remained Labor leader. AAP

Bail bracelets supported by police group

THE Police Association of Tasmania has supported a push for electronic bracelets to be administered to alleged criminals at risk of breaching bail.

Independent Windermere MLC Ivan Dean brought a motion to parliament on Tuesday that suggested electronic monitoring of alleged criminals was the key to reducing the state’s number of bail breaches, which he claims has skyrocketed in recent years.

Currently, alleged criminals who are granted bail in between their court dates are free to leave police custody and are entrusted to front the court again on their own accord.

Mr Dean also suggested an electronic monitoring bail condition would ease pressure on courts and Tasmania Police.

He said the motion was heavily supported at Tuesday’s Legislative Council meeting and the government was now considering the idea.

Police Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen said union members were in favour of the idea.

‘‘PAT would support options that allow those on bail, with strict conditions, to be monitored more effectively,’’ he said.

‘‘Any option would need close analysis before becoming widespread and a trial would be the best way to gauge a suitable product, as well as its effectiveness, suitability and cost.’’

Mr Allen said the concept could also improve other justice services in the state.

‘‘It would also allow a study of time and cost savings to the public purse such as prison, courts and police resources.

This organisation could not accept police being taken from the frontline to monitor such devices and believe that should fall under the purview of the Department of Justice.’’

Mr Dean said he would now wait for the Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Council to finalise its report based on his motion.

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ROSS GITTINS: Coal’s days are numbered

WHAT are we meant to do about coal? For some time now it has looked like Australians face a painful choice between doing the right, moral thing by the rest of the world and continuing to make a living from our rich endowment of natural resources.

The burning of coal is by far the biggest source of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Australia is one of the world’s biggest producers of coal.

Greenies have been arguing for years that, although it’s too much to ask that we just stop exporting the stuff, we should at least get in no deeper by ceasing to build any new mines or expand existing mines.

In August, Anote Tong, President of the Republic of Kiribati, called for an international moratorium on new coal mines as a way of underpinning the efforts to get increased commitment to reduce emissions at the Paris summit in December.

Not surprisingly, Tong’s call for a moratorium has been supported by 11 other Pacific island nations worried about rising sea levels. But he’s also winning support from such influential figures as the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Peter Doherty and the British economist Lord Nicholas Stern.

For such an international moratorium to be effective, we’d have to be part of it. At present, we have 52 proposals to build new coals mines or expand existing ones.

But isn’t it too much to ask us to leave all that black gold in the ground? Mining and exporting coal is an important way this economy makes its living.

The developing countries – including China and India – have a lot more developing to do, meaning they’ll need a lot more energy, much of which will be coal. What’s so bad about them trying to get rich like us? And why shouldn’t it be we who supply that coal? We need more jobs, and think of all the jobs building more big mines would create.

So what’s it to be? Conscience or self-interest? Well, how about both?

The Australia Institute think-tank has begun campaigning hard for a moratorium, and a forthcoming paper by its chief economist, Richard Denniss, argues that economic and political considerations actually say we should be joining the moratorium.

Why? In a nutshell, because coal’s days are numbered. The rapidly falling price of renewable energy such as wind and solar, combined with the growing resolve of China, the US and others to reduce their emissions, put a dark cloud over the future of coal.

Coal mines are intended to have lives of 50 to 90 years. Will coal prices be high enough in 30 or 40 years to make continued production profitable? If not, investors in new coal mines won’t get their money back, but will be lumbered with ‘‘stranded assets’’ – assets that no longer earn much of a return.

Denniss says it’s widely accepted by international agencies that meeting the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees requires keeping most fossil fuels in the ground.

All this helps explain why the world’s big banks, including our own, have become markedly less enthusiastic about financing new coal mines. That – plus the present flat state of the world coal market.

According to the BP company’s energy outlook, global coal consumption grew by just 0.4per cent last year, well below its 10-year average growth rate of 2.9per cent.

Within that, China’s consumption grew by just 0.1per cent. And Professor Ross Garnaut, of the University of Melbourne, is predicting a significant decline in China’s demand for coal for the foreseeable future.

Were we to build all our proposed new mines, we’d double our annual exports. According to Denniss, just proceeding with the five biggest projects in Queensland’s Galilee Basin would increase the world’s seaborne coal trade by 18per cent.

What would that do to world coal prices at a time when coal demand is weak?

In such circumstances, preventing further coal development – including by governments declining to subsidise new mine railways and ports – wouldn’t just reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. By avoiding causing further decline in coal prices, it would also benefit the owners of existing mines, the banks that have lent to them and those who work for them, as well as the owners of present and future renewable energy projects. Not to mention the governments dependent on revenue from mining royalties and company tax collections.

On its face, by causing coal prices to be higher than otherwise, it would harm the users of coal and coal-fired electricity. But when you remember that, without something like a carbon tax, the price of coal fails to include the cost to the community of the environmental damage that coal-burning does that’s not anything to feel bad about.

But what about all the jobs that building new mines would have created? They’re temporary and often exaggerated. Once they’re built, open-cut coal mines employ surprisingly few workers.

The construction workers not employed to build more mines could be better employed building more useful infrastructure.

Higginbottom has some help on way

Jake Higginbottom has not been finding life easy since turning professional. Picture: Getty ImagesGARY Barter has seen it all before. The week-to-week grind of competing on a secondary golf tour away from the glitz and glamour of the big stage in the US and Europe and the impact it can have.

Jake Higginbottom is learning how tough it can get as he battles to keep his status on the Asian Tour.

The Charlestown boy wonder who grabbed headlines when he won the 2012 New Zealand Open as a 17-year-old amateur has missed the cut in his past three tournaments.

He sits in 58th place on the Asian Tour order of merit and has bypassed the Fiji International, where he was runner-up last year, to play the Venetian Macau Open, starting on Thursday.

Barter, who also has US PGA tour member Matt Jones and former US member Aron Price in his stable, has coached Higginbottom since 2010.

“It’s a shame he couldn’t go back to Fiji, but the priority is keeping his status in Asia,” Barter said.

“Also the travel. He was in Taipei last week and flying to Macau is less taxing than Fiji.

“Before Taipei he was in Scotland at St Andrews for the Alfred Dunhill.

“His form has not been the greatest.

“He has been playing OK but having a double bogey or a triple bogey and missing the cut by a stroke or two.”

Higginbottom fired 73 and 74 in the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Taipei to miss the weekend action by three strokes.

Barter, who is based at the Australian Golf Club, where Higginbottom completed a stunning amateur career, flies to Hong Kong on Tuesday to meet his protege ahead of the $2 million UBS Open.

“Jake just needs to get a bit of confidence back,” Barter said. “His ball striking is fine. He is just getting a bit beaten up by the week-to-week grind of the tour.

“He is 21 now. When you turn professional there is a honeymoon period where everything is exciting.

“He has been on the Asian tour for a couple of years. The past few months have been tough.

“Hopefully he plays well in Macau and when I get to Hong Kong on Tuesday we will have a debrief.”

The Hong Kong Open is the first of three rich tournaments on the Asian Tour and is followed by the $7 million CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur (from October 29) and the $8.5 million Sheshan International in China (November 5).

Higginbottom has also qualified for the final stage of European and Japan Tour School, courtesy of his top-six finish on the Australasian order of merit last year.

Beresfield four in thrilling victory

THE Beresfield quartet of Greg Brown, Grant Morley, Michael Brown and Daniel Hill last weekend won the Newcastle District Champion of Club Champions Fours Championship with three exciting one-shot victories.

They combined brilliantly under pressure to defeat Adrian Solomons, Ross Gardner, Ian Lean and Jason Stokes (Raymond Terrace) 20-19 in the quarter-finals.

In the semi-finals they edged out Alan Rawlinson, Brendan Hardyman, Stuart Clark and Troy Ball (Lowlands) 26-25 in a high-scoring match and then recovered from a 12-3 deficit after 11 ends to down Owen Jefferson, Michael Munn, Tony Falcocchio and Bill Ahoy (Kahibah) 18-17 in the final.

The win was particularly sweet for Michael Brown and his son Greg and Grant Morley, as it was their first district championship success.

■ Raymond Terrace ended Kahibah No.1’s unbeaten run in the Newcastle District No.1 Grade Three Threes competition with a comprehensive 83-52 victory last Wednesday, winning on all three rinks.

Matthew Baus led the way, defeating Shannon Rowe 31-14, Jason Stokes downed Tony Ellercamp 24-20 and Lennon Scott beat Bill Ahoy 28-18.

Charlestown eliminated defending champions Valentine from the competition with a 73-58 victory and Teralba beat Stockton 66-56.

On Wednesday, Teralba host Raymond Terrace and Charlestown are at home to Kahibah No.1

■ East Cessnock (86.5 points) have regained the lead in the BCIB Big Bowls Challenge following their 12-3 win over Soldiers Point (54).

All three matches were decided in tie breaks, with Brodie Turner defeating Lee Such 11-16, 10-9, 3-1.

Beresfield (82) retained second place with a 10-5 victory over Raymond Terrace (67), winning the pairs and triples rubbers.

Daniel Hill combined with marquee player Wayne Turley to down Ian Lean and Michael Abel 10-3, 10-5.

Charlestown (68) retained third position despite losing 9-6 to Maitland City (63).

■ Raymond Terrace will next weekend host the state finals of the rookies singles and pairs.

Teralba’s Scott Davis is representing Newcastle in the singles and his opening-round match is against Stephen Phillips (Taree Leagues).

Terry Mitchell and Geoff Horne (Cardiff) confront Gary Stinson and Todd Nixon (Hazelbrook) in the first round of the pairs.

■ At the NDBA management committee meeting on Thursday night, the 2015 pennant season Charity Shield winners will be presented to the club representatives.

The respective winners are Adamstown No.6 Grade (Ralph Cotterill Memorial), Warners Bay No.5 Grade (Albert Smith Memorial) and Wallsend No.6 Grade (Pepper Memorial).

■ The following clubs advise that they still have vacancies for upcoming tournaments.

Lambton Classic Two-Bowl Triples on Saturday and Sunday; Bar Beach 13 and over Three-Bowl Triples on October 24 and 25 and Water Board November Spring Two-Bowl Triples on November 14 and 15.

■ Neil Smith won his fourth Cardiff consistency singles title defending Scott Slatter 155-135 in the final.

He previously enjoyed success in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Activists call for live export crackdown

Photo: Animals Australia ANIMALS Australia has intensified its opposition to the live export trade in calling for repeat offenders who breach the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) to be imprisoned.

Its demands coincide with video footage of recent ESCAS breaches concerning Australian sheep in Middle East markets being aired on ABC television tonight.

Animals Australia says it has lodged three more legal complaints relating to the video footage, concerning widespread ESCAS breaches during the recent Eid al Adha festival, involving thousands of sheep in Kuwait, Oman and the UAE.

But Australian Livestock Exporters Council CEO Alison Penfold said the video footage had not been shown to industry members for their scrutiny and response, ahead of its airing on national television.

”They’re playing the same old game,” Ms Penfold said of the animal rights group using ABC to publicise video footage of animal welfare concerns in foreign markets, gathered during peak trading periods, like the religious Festival of Sacrifice.

However, a statement from Animals Australia attacked federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce over the Australian government’s live export regulations.

It said if the rules were being properly enforced then re-offending export companies would be facing criminal charges by now – a suggestion rejected by Ms Penfold.

Animals Australia chief investigator Lyn White said some exporters believed Mr Joyce “has their backs no matter what they do” but “there’s no doubt that this has contributed to their unwillingness to abide by the rules”.

“The situation in Kuwait during the Festival of Sacrifice was particularly egregious as Animals Australia had warned the Australian government eight weeks earlier that export laws were still being breached there, with hundreds of sheep facing brutal slaughter,” she said.

“Inconceivably, rather than focusing on addressing breaches of regulations, exporters were allowed to send three more shiploads of sheep to Kuwait and those hundreds turned to thousands of animals brutalised during the Festival of Sacrifice.”

The statement said Animals Australia’s investigators witnessed terrified sheep being dragged through the streets and stuffed in car boots in suffocating 48°C heat, in the three Middle East markets.

It also said sheep were even being illegally sold for backyard slaughter direct from the industry’s “approved” abattoirs, in blatant contravention of Australian export laws.

“I understand Minister Joyce will defend this industry until his dying day,” Ms White said.

“All we are asking is that he gives his Department the green light to take strong action against offending exporters.

“Until the Department of Agriculture uses its power to suspend export licences and prosecute companies for recurring breaches, then cruelty will continue.”

Big strides in animal welfareHowever, Ms Penfold said big strides had been made to improve animal welfare standards in all live export markets and in the Middle East where additional measures were taken leading up to Eid al Adha to ensure sheep were processed at ESCAS-approved facilities while complying with religious practices.

She said exporters had also self-reported breaches of the regulatory system that was introduced after the controversial Indonesian live export suspension by the former Labor government, in June 2011.

Last week, Wellard chief executive officer Mauro Balzarini said ESCAS compliance costs importers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales and similar amounts in extra staff and costs, for exporters.

“If their competitors pocket the extra money and can continue to do that with little penalty, then compliance becomes a disincentive and the system becomes a farce,” he said.

“This industry is too important to let it be jeopardised by the behaviour of a few.”

A spokesperson for Minister Joyce said the Department was aware of the alleged breaches which would be thoroughly investigated and “no shortcuts are taken as is the case with all such allegations”.

“In the past, the department has removed entire supply chains (for example, in Gaza) as well as removing facilities from individual supply chains (such as feedlots in Vietnam, Jordan and Israel) in response to breaches of ESCAS,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said ESCAS had continued to drive welfare improvements during Eid celebrations this year.

“Despite assertions by animal welfare groups that the ESCAS system is a failure, the fact that both industry and animal welfare groups have reported alleged breaches so quickly to the Department of Agriculture demonstrates that the system is in fact working as it is designed to do,” the spokesperson said.

“Australia is the only country working in market during Eid to improve animal welfare outcomes.”

The spokesperson said the Australian government remained committed to upholding ESCAS and its requirements.

“ESCAS remains the only animal welfare system anywhere in the world that seeks to uphold and exceed OIE standards for animals from the farmgate in Australia right through to the point of slaughter overseas,” the spokesperson said.

“And the evidence shows it overwhelmingly achieves that goal.

“Welfare groups like Animal Australia are playing a part in ensuring that the live export industry enjoys continual improvement, and that it continues to be sustainable into the long term.

“The industry is a vital component of Australia’s meat and livestock sector and is worth almost $1.4 billion to the Australian economy, underpins thousands of jobs and contributes to the food security of millions of people in developing nations all over the world.”

Animals Australia’s Lisa Chalk said Mr Joyce has said additional conditions are placed on export licences when breaches occur but the evidence “clearly shows this slap on the wrist has only served to increase disdain for these regulations”.

Ms Chalk said every additional condition that the Department of Agriculture placed on exporters’ licences had “failed to motivate compliance, making it clear that nothing less than suspension of licence or prosecution will provide the needed wake-up call”.

“It’s so obvious – even to Wellard – that there is one reason, and one reason only, why export laws are being ignored and that is because there are no meaningful consequences for breaking them,” she said.

“Producers supplying their sheep to the live export industry have every right to demand that export companies comply with laws that will protect their sheep from the worst abuses – and if they don’t that they face appropriate sanctions.

“We have the ridiculous situation at the moment where a farmer breaking the speed limit faces a greater penalty than an exporter breaking live export laws.

“Had appropriate sanctions on exporters resulted from these ongoing breaches we may not have seen carnage once again during this year’s Festival of Sacrifice.”

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