Monthly Archives: February 2019

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Newcastle cricket bodies weigh up amalgamation

ALL cricket in Newcastle soon could be controlled by one governing body with a full-time general manager if a proposed amalgamation of associations is accepted.
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A meeting will be held in February to discuss a proposal to merge the Newcastle District Cricket Association (NDCA), Newcastle City and Suburban Cricket (C&S), their respective umpires bodies and the Newcastle Junior Cricket Association (NJCA) under one administrative umbrella.

The aim is to streamline administration and reduce the duplicity of roles.

All five associations form the Newcastle cricket zone and meet regularly. However, no decisions are made at zone level and the power lies in the separate associations.

Under the proposal, an eight-person Newcastle Cricket board of directors would be elected.

The board would hire a full-time general manager and game development officer to run the competitions, generate sponsorship and liaise with government.

Subcommittees for district cricket, juniors, C&S, umpires, the judiciary and representative cricket will operate but will answer to the board.

District and C&S have always operated separately and historically the relationship between the associations has been tense.

But, under their current committees, the two associations have formed a working relationship and many district clubs have also developed links with C&S outfits.

‘‘I think we all agree it’s a fairly convoluted system at the moment, having multiple associations with multiple secretaries and multiple presidents and judiciaries,’’ NDCA chairman Paul Marjoribanks said.

‘‘Everything is duplicated and triplicated, and I think we need to simplify it.’’

The NDCA, C&S and the juniors pay honorariums to committee members for work and out-of-pocket expenses.

Marjoribanks said that money, plus grants from Cricket NSW, could finance the general manager’s position.

‘‘If somebody was dedicated to just fostering cricket with sponsors, the media, our governments bodies, then it’s just a one-touch point for Newcastle cricket,’’ he said.

‘‘At the moment it’s volunteers doing the best they can outside their normal jobs.’’

Other major sporting codes in Newcastle such as rugby league, rugby union, AFL, basketball and football have long paid general managers to operate their competitions.

C&S registrar Gary Stuart is in favour of the proposal but admits there will be several obstacles to overcome, including costs and the conservatism of some board members.

Stuart said he would invite Marjoribanks to address the C&S committee’s monthly meeting on January 20 to explain the proposal in greater detail.

‘‘For C&S it will all come down to cost and what they will get out of it for an increased cost,’’ Stuart said.

‘‘That, I think, will be the stumbling block C&S-wise as 70per cent are just pub teams.

‘‘They pay their $100 a year and their pub picks up the rest.

‘‘If there’s an increase, they will be asking questions about why.’’

Three seasons ago, Newcastle Junior Cricket Association employed a part-time administrator in Sharyn Beck.

Secretary Jason McKendry said the appointment had helped boost playing numbers and created new midweek competitions.

‘‘The juniors do have a part-time administrator working for us, and while I know the senior bodies pay honorariums, at the end of the day the game is still run by volunteers,’’ McKendry said.

‘‘In the modern world realistically we’re probably not doing the best for the game in the region by not having a management structure through the zone to best look after the game.’’

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Stud industry loses stalwart Cliff Ellis

A PILLAR of the Hunter’s horse industry has died just days after his 87th birthday.
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Long-standing horse industry TAFE teacher Cliff Ellis, whose career as a horse breeder and breaker earned him the admiration of the horse industry, died on December 30.

Retiring to Scone in 2000, Mr Ellis retained his passion for all things equine after a lifetime working with horses in and around the Upper Hunter.

He was a regular in the Scone Horse Festival until 2011 and an inaugural committee man for the Hunter Valley Breeders Association.

He also served on the Scone Race Club committee and was recognised as Scone Horse Week VIP in 1999.

He also received a Hunter Valley Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association Service to Industry award in 1987.

Born in Denman, Mr Ellis undertook his high schooling by correspondence during World War II. His formal education was cut short due to his father’s inability to find help on the farm.

That need drew Mr Ellis, 14, closer to his eventual career working with horses.

He began in the industry after the family farm was sold in 1949, taking work at Holbrook as a horse breaker.

In 1953 he moved on to Oakleigh stud, where he bred 1959 Scone Cup winner Johnno, a horse that earned notoriety after swimming to safety in a major flood in the Hawkesbury.

Mr Ellis married his wife, Jenifer, in 1961 and the pair welcomed son Tim in 1966 during a stint working in Emu Vale.

During that period away from the region he bought Kingdon Farm before returning to the Hunter in 1971 as stud manager at Yarraman Park.

He eventually left that job to establish Kingdon Farm as a base for preparing yearlings for sale.

The property was also used for spelling and foaling, with stallions including Blazing Ruler and Sungazer standing at the property.

Mr Ellis’s funeral service will be held at 11am at St Luke’s Church in Scone on January 7.

HAPPY AT THE RACES: Ellis, who bred 1959 Scone Cup winner Johnno, at Scone.

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Region missing out on Chinese tourists

THE Hunter remains a drawcard for travellers from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States and within Australia, rather than the booming Chinese tourism market that has hit Sydney with force, new figures show.
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But that should be about to change, the region’s tourism boss says, and we should smarten up our act to prepare, particularly ahead of the planned expansion of Newcastle Airport opening the market to south-east Asia.

Figures released by Destination NSW show a 20per cent fall in the amount of money international travellers staying overnight in the Hunter spent in the year to September.

The drop, of about $35million in a year, is being blamed on the high Australian dollar and was despite the number of international tourists staying overnight growing slightly – to 115,000 or a 3.9per cent share of the NSW market.

The region’s performance was stronger on the home front, with a 6.1per cent increase in domestic overnight travellers.

The growth was above the statewide rate of 5.4per cent, but the number of domestic overnight visitors to the Hunter was only slightly higher than levels in 2001.

Overall, tourist spending in the region in 2013 totalled $1.4billion, down $110million from 2012.

The government declared this week that the state was experiencing a ‘‘Chinese tourism boom’’, with an 18per cent increase in the number of tourists from mainland China visiting NSW.

However, the figures suggest Chinese tourists are squarely focused on Sydney and few are venturing to the Hunter and other regional areas of the state.

China did not rank among the top five sources of international tourists visiting the region.

Will Creedon, chairman of the Hunter Visitor Economy, formerly Tourism Hunter, said he was confident the number of tourists from China and other Asian countries would increase in the next few years as they made repeat visits and ventured further afield.

To capitalise, the region needed to prepare by developing a greater awareness of other customs and cultures, and boosting translation services and tourist information available in other languages.

‘‘Tourism in the Hunter has long been synonymous with Europe and America,’’ he said.

‘‘However the world is shifting and we should ensure we shift with it.’’

Hunter Visitor Economy, formed earlier this year, involves the region’s 11 councils and aims to co-ordinate tourism strategies and spending between local government areas that should give the entire region a competitive advantage in attracting visitors and government funding.

Mr Creedon said the organisation would focus its efforts this year on improving the quality of digital information about the region, and targeting events, festivals and business tourism.

Hot air ballooning over Cessnock’s wine country.

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TOPICS: It’s dog nil, duck one

OUR year is off to a perfect start because we’ve received an email with the subject line ‘‘Duck beats dog’’.
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It’s from Col Maybury, our trusted Kurri Kurri correspondent, and it’s about a drama (pictured) that’s unfolding in his yard. A fox, reckons Col, has put a grisly end to a mother duck and some of her ducklings.

But the surviving ducklings have a fighter in their corner.

‘‘George, our father wood duck, raised the three,’’ says Col.

‘‘They are teenagers now and eat from our hands. Sophie our dog is terrified of them. Today, George savagely attacked. Score: dog nil, duck one.’’

Punitive gifting

A READER, who doesn’t wished to be named, reports that she was one of the legion of Hunter shoppers who bought gift cards this festive season (Topics, December27).

Unimpressed by a lack of recent phone calls from her son, our reader sent him a few vouchers for Christmas. But there was a catch.

‘‘I posted my son a nice Christmas card with four $100 uncharged gift cards enclosed,’’ she says.

‘‘One from Just Jeans, one from Westfield and two from Visa. I actually think this is funnier than giving someone scratched ‘scratchies’.’’

Topics wonders if she has since heard from her son.

Brother, it’s tough

JANUARY1 was a big day for the Hangover Brothers, as customers pelted the mysterious fast-food delivery crew with demands.

‘‘Is Hamilton pide shop open?’’ wrote one on the Brothers’ Facebook page. Good news: it was.

‘‘Can you bring me beer yet?’’ asked another. They couldn’t.

Another customer, perhaps overcome by the festivities, had an understandable enquiry.

‘‘Do you guys babysit?’’

Extended August

YESTERDAY, Topics gave you 14 reasons to love 2014.

We kind of ran out after six, but we got there. Today, reader John offers a reason to love August 2014.

‘‘August 2014 will be unique insofar as it will have five Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,’’ he tells us.

‘‘Now that’s a long weekend.’’

John says it won’t happen again for some 823 years.

Urban creepies

OK, what’s going on here?

First Topics hears that, thanks to fierce bushfires and record November rain, the number of snakes migrating to the suburbs has skyrocketed (Newcastle Herald, December18).

Then we find out there’s a thing called ‘‘funnel web season’’ (Herald, January1), which sounds like mango or apricot season except that instead of biting into delicious fruit, you might get bitten into by things from your nightmares.

With all the creepy-crawlies around, we’d like to hear about the worst place you’ve found a spider or snake. It might’ve been the pool, a gumboot, the glovebox …

We’ll start. The setting is Brisbane’s outskirts, 1991. A young Topics is playing with our cousin, who owns a toy car garage which has an elevator shaft. Except that when the toy elevator reaches its top floor, the door opens and out slides the head of a black snake.

We’ll never shake that image. Send your snake or spider tale to [email protected]南京夜网.au.

LAW OF THE JUNGLE: As the surviving ducks try to just get on with it, father duck George shows Sophie the dog who’s the real boss of the Maybury menagerie.

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IAN KIRKWOOD: Big Brother is phoning

WHEN mobile phones first came into use, the big fear was radiation.
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Governments and the big phone companies said everything was safe but the worry remained that all of that electromagnetic energy pouring in and out from our ear-held phones would cause brain tumours.

More recently, the biggest controversy over the new era of mobiles, the increasingly ubiquitous smartphones, has been over their security – or lack of it – in the face of apparently dedicated hacking by a plethora of global spy agencies.

The latest bout of smartphone controversy emerged this week in Germany, when a Wikileaks-linked computer security expert, Jacob Appelbaum, told a technology conference that the US National Security Agency had phone-hacking capabilities that were ‘‘even worse than your worst nightmares’’.

‘‘What I am going to show you today is wrist-slittingly depressing,’’ Appelbaum told his audience in a presentation that is available online, including from his Twitter feed.

Reports of his disclosures were carried by Fairfax Media yesterday but the in-depth coverage – some of it written by him and his associates – is in the English edition of the prominent German news outlet, Der Spiegel.

In a series of articles this week, Appelbaum and his associates outlined years of work by the NSA, some of it sourced from documents obtained by Wikileaks whistleblower Edward Snowden and some of it obtained through freedom of information applications. At least some of the documents were reportedly marked ‘‘FVEY’’, which is short for the ‘‘five eyes’’ group of nations; the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Reading the Der Spiegel coverage and listening to Appelbaum’s speech, the smartphone hacking is presented as just one aspect of a massive NSA intelligence operation that aims at nothing less than total coverage of the entire global internet and telecommunications systems.

An arm of the NSA known as the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, reportedly began operations in 1997, when, as Der Spiegel says, ‘‘not even 2per cent of the world’s population had internet access and no-one had yet thought of Facebook, YouTube of Twitter’’.

The TAO operation began at Fort Meade, Maryland, and its ‘‘task was clear from the beginning – to work around the clock to find ways to hack into global communications traffic’’.

With the US already in the midst of a diplomatic row over phone-tapping – Der Spiegel said Angela Merkel had been a target since 2002, three years before she was elected chancellor – Appelbaum’s revelations seem destined to renew the controversy.

While a number of phone companies, including Apple, have responded to Appelbaum’s claims, none that I can find have disputed them.

As reported by Associated Press, Apple said it had never worked with the NSA to deliberately weaken its products, promising that it would ‘‘defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who is behind them.’’

Importantly, the ‘‘malware’’ that the NSA is apparently able to implant on iPhones and other devices is apparently able to work whether or not the phone is turned on, enabling the agency to suck up every conversation, and every bit of information, that the targeted phone has carried.

Many of us, probably, will accept such surveillance as a necessary impost but it seems an enormous invasion of privacy, especially when you remember the stink that was caused in 1985 when the Hawke Labor government wanted individual information collated on an Australia Card, at least partly to deter tax avoidance and health and welfare fraud. If our governments do have access to all of our digital communication, then Big Brother truly is watching, and 2014 is indeed 1984.