Light rail tracks appear in Newcastle’s old heavy rail corridor

On track: The light rail network is scheduled to begin running in early 2019, from the Newcastle Interchange into the city.Light rail tracks have started to appear in Newcastle’s former heavy rail corridor, as progress continues on construction of the city’s new transport infrastructure.
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Revitalising Newcastle’s work on the light rail network, which is expected to be up and running early next year, is“proceeding as planned”, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Read more:Light rail taking shape in Hunter Street

The project is particularly taking shape between Newcastle Interchange and Worth Place, where the track slab and track form–in which the rail lines will be placed–have been put down.

“Significant progress is being made on light rail construction between the Newcastle Interchange and Worth Place,” theRevitalising Newcastlespokesperson said.

Track work in old corridor as city’s light rail build continues The light rail track goes down on the former heavy rail corridor. Picture: Revitalising Newcastle

The light rail track goes down on the former heavy rail corridor. Picture: Revitalising Newcastle

The light rail track goes down on the former heavy rail corridor. Picture: Revitalising Newcastle

The light rail track goes down on the former heavy rail corridor. Picture: Revitalising Newcastle

The light rail track goes down on the former heavy rail corridor.

The light rail track goes down on the former heavy rail corridor.

The light rail track goes down on the former heavy rail corridor.

The light rail track goes down on the former heavy rail corridor.

TweetFacebook Light rail track goes downWork has started on construction of the light rail track on the former heavy rail corridor. Read more:3D renderings show finished light rail

Meanwhile, various works are continuing across all 10 construction zones between the interchange at Wickham and Telford Street in the city’s east end.

Construction ofthe Honeysuckle light rail stop and the stabling facility near Steel Street will also start this month, according to the March work schedule.

NSW government pokie cap affects Hunter, Lake Macquarie suburbs

No additional gaming machines will be allowed inpubs and clubs atseveral locationsacross the Hunter and Lake Macquarie as part of aNSW government crack-down on problem gambling.
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NSW racing minister Paul Toole announced the pokie cap on Tuesday, which meansthe government willnot allow the number ofgaming machines to increase in “higher-risk” communities across the state.

Belmont South/Blacksmiths, Beresfield/Hexham, Cessnock, Kurri Kurri/Abermain, Maitland, Mayfield/Warabrook, Mt Hutton/Windale and Raymond Terrace areclassified as “band three” communities that would be subject to the cap, according to Liquor and Gaming NSW data.

Read more:Hunter gamblers put $44 billion through pokies

The cap was one of the results of a review ofgambling regulation, witha package of reforms introduced to NSW Parliament this week.

Other measures in the legislation include a tenfold increase in fines for gambling operators who offer illegal inducements, a lease scheme to help small hotels and clubs work towards becoming free of gaming machines and tougher penalties for club directors found to have done the wrong thing.

New measures: Several communities in the Hunter and Lake Macquarie have been deemed high-risk enough for the state government to stop any additional gaming machines being brought in.

“Local community caps are an appropriate response to concerns that some areas have too many gaming machines,” Mr Toole said.

Read more:‘Pokies like vampires, sucking Hunter dry’

“A number of councils and community groups suggested caps and the NSW government agrees this is the right thing to do in higher-risk areas.Local community caps are part of a package of reforms that represent the most significant changes to gambling regulation in NSW for a decade.”

n Hotels Association Hunter branch president Rolly de With said on Tuesday afternoon that he was“still evaluating the impact on Newcastle and Hunter hotel operators”.

n Hotels Association Hunter branch president Rolly de With.

“At first glance, it appears to be a strengthening by the NSW government of the conditions pertaining to gaming in NSW,” he said.

AHA NSWliquor and policing directorJohn Green saidhe expected smallhotels in regional areas would benefit from the introduction ofleasing arrangements.

“Over recent years many country pubs have been forced to sell off their gamingassets when times got tough,” he said.

“Of course, they were only able to do this for as long as they had assets to sell. Afterthe assets were sold, many were forced to close their doors.”

Clubs NSW CEO Anthony Ball said hewas satisfied with the government’s review process.

“Ultimately, it needed to weigh up the interests of the industry against any potential for community harm and on that score the government has got the balance about right,” hesaid.

Liberal women set up fighting fund

Kelly O’Dwyer says the Liberal Party needs to do more to encourage women to run for parliament.Female federal Liberal MPs are putting together a fighting fund to boost their ranks within parliament.
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Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer says she will personally cross the country raising money to promote female conservative candidates at the next federal election.

She has acknowledged there is clearly much more work for the Liberal Party to do in encouraging women to put their hand up to run for parliament.

Ms O’Dwyer has regular meetings with female colleagues – “some of our male colleagues refer to it as secret women’s business” – to examine the barriers, including a discussion over the past fortnight about putting their money where their mouths are.

“When women put their hand up, they need to be able to know that they have got the financial firepower behind them to run effective campaigns,” she told the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday.

“And so we are talking about putting together a federal fighting fund for women and I have committed to them that I’m happy to go around the country fundraising for my colleagues for that purpose.”

But she also says the party has to back women in order to lift their representation from its current dismal 21 per cent.

“We need to be pretty frank with the party organisation when we say, you know, the buck stops with you,” she said.

“You need to highlight the fact that we need to get more women into parliament and we need to look at what barriers that are there and how we can eliminate them.”

The Liberal Party recently adopted a non-binding target to increase its female representation to half of its seats in both houses of parliament by 2025.

Labor has had a quota for female representation since 1994 and increased this in 2015 to aiming for half of all MPs to be women by 2025.

It also ensures women are chosen to run for winnable seats and has had the financial backing of Emily’s List for more than two decades.

At the moment, women make up 44 per cent of Labor’s federal ranks.

Lottie Consalvo and her new work on stage at Heide Museum of Modern Art

Newcastle artist Lottie Consalvo gives the art world a huge hug Candid: Newcastle artist Lottie Consalvo in a Hamilton studio working on pieces for her show at the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Victoria. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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TweetFacebookI’m so overcome with this work, but also with Lottie emerging as a sculptor.

James Drinkwater, husband and artistRead moreJames Drinkwater’s journey

Titled “Final Remembering”, Consalvo’s show included paintings, videos and sculptures that were precursors to “The Hug”. So she sees that Newcastle exhibition as an important link to her Heide show, which will be called “In The Remembering”.

JUST like a memory, artworks can sometimes come apart.

“The Hug” was toppling off its base, so Consalvo called herfather to help quickly build a new base before the sculpture is sent off to Victoria.

“Generally, whenever I have a disaster in the studio, generally with sculpture, I call my Dad,” Consalvo says. “I think I’ll be doing it forever.

“He’s so busy with his own show coming up, but I was, ‘Please! I need you!’.”

Dino Consalvo grew up in Newcastle. He lived and worked in Melbourne for about 30 years before returning to his hometown, where he has been painting the faces and places of a changing coastal city.

Some of Lottie’s earliest memories are of wandering out to her father’s large studio in country Victoria. The paintings that surrounded her as a child had a major influence on her, as did Dino’s advice and guidance. While she wanted to be an artist, her Dad advised her to first do a business degree.

“It was good advice,” she says. “I think I probably shouldn’t have done a business degree, I should have just travelled. But it bought me time.”

Consalvo finished the degree, even though she spent a lot of lectures sketching instead of taking notes. The lecturer would be talking about “how to make a business that would make millions” but she thought, “That is so uninspiring”.

“It really showed me the kind of person I am,” she says. “I thought, ‘Oh, hang on! Is this how other people think?! Okay’.”

For a time after graduating in Melbourne, Lottie Consalvo was doing little painting. She was making jewellery and working in an office when she met Drinkwater at a concert. He had also drifted away from painting and was playing in a rock band.

After the concert, they showed each other their artworks. Both encouraged theother to return to painting. They found themselvesthrougheach other. If ever there’s a couple who define the term “soulmates”, it’s Consalvo and Drinkwater.

“I always think of that sliding doors moment, if we hadn’t met each other,” she muses. “I could imagine the life I would be living. Maybe I’d have my own business. I think I would have met artists, and I would have gone, ‘I could have been you, but I didn’t’.

“I think because we took the risks together, it didn’t seem like a risk. We never had a back-up plan. And it wasn’t scary, because we did it together.”

The painting pair quickly became a couple. They lived and worked in Germany for three years, sharing a cramped apartment that they had turned into a studio, before returning to and moving to Newcastle.Drinkwater is a Novocastrian, and Consalvo had visited her grandmother in Newcastle each year. But it wasn’t their past they were returning to; Consalvo saw Newcastle as key to their future as artists. The cost of living was cheaper than in Melbourne or Sydney, and being out of major art centres was good for their own work.

“I think it’s afforded me time and space to think, and to be able to spend time focussing on making good work rather than thinking, ‘I better go to that opening, I better meet that person, I better tick those boxes’.

“Time is very important for us right now, we have a young family, so you’ve got to grab it and use it really, really well. So I like living here.”

Just as they have done since meeting, Consalvo and Drinkwater support each other at home and in the studio. Both say there is no creative competition between them.

“When something great happens for her, that’s great to me,” says Drinkwater, adding he is so proud of what she’s creating for the Heide show.

“I’m so overcome with this work, but also with Lottie emerging as a sculptor. These are some of the most stunning forms I’ve seen.”

The importance of family continues to shape Lottie Consalvo’s life and art. Both she and Drinkwater share the jobs at home, as they raise five-year-old Vincenzoand one-year-old Hester.

“You just don’t really stop. I sometimes look atour couch and think, ‘It would be nice to sit on you’,” she laughs.

“But I wouldn’t have it any other way. To have family around, that’s really important. I think it’s actually helpful for your work to have to step back, to keep reassessing, rather than being six days a week in the studio, tenhours a day.”

Family and love will also craftan exhibition planned for Newcastle next year. Consalvo and herfather will be holding their first combined show.

“So looking forward to it,” Lottie enthuses. “I keep thinking about how our works will look side by side. I’d never really imagined that.

“That will be one of the most important things I do in my life. To have a show next to Dad.”

But for now, Lottie Consalvo is embracing her Heide exhibition, which opens on Saturday, and the thought that her work will be seen in such an important place in n art history.

“I’ll feel like I’m a part of that history as an artist,” she says. “We all are in , we’re all just adding to what has come before.”

CFMEU, MUA merger approved but big business opposed

BROTHERS IN ARMS: CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor and MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin, photographed during early merger negotiations in February 2016. Picture: Nick MoirTHE Newcastle branch of the Maritime Workers Union says the new amalgamated “super-union” will not wreak the industrial havoc that employers are predicting.
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The MUA and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union are combining, along with the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union, to create a single body known as the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union.

The amalgamation is set to take effect on March 27 after a 71-page decision handed down in the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday by Deputy President Val Gostencnik, who found there was no legal impediment to the three-way merger.

Employer groups led by the Master Builders Association and the n Mines and Metals Association have opposed the merger, saying it will be easier for the union to put industrial pressure on employers and projects, and harder for employersto prove “secondary boycotts”, whenmore than one workplace is dragged into a dispute.

The metals association says a single union will controlmuch of theHunter Valley Coal Chain.

“As one of ’s most important resources regions, this merger represents a very real threat to the Hunter Valley coal region,” association director Amanda Mansini said. “We are highly concerned about the now imminent escalation of unlawful conduct which these unions, on their own public statements, have promised will result from this merger, from pit to port.”

Despite the concerns of employers, MUA Newcastle secretary Glenn Williams said the new combined union was subject to the same industrial relations laws, which were heavily weighted against unions and workers.

“Virtually all of our employers are multi-nationals with plenty of resources,” Mr Williams said. “The merger gives us combined resources when it comes to strategy, research, campaigning and media. As waterside workers, we can’t just jack up in support of miners up the valley. We will work with them as we always have with solidarity, but this thing about holding the whole coal chain to ransom is just ridiculous.”

The new union’s national secretary, Michael O’Connor, said:“Big business has too much power, we have record levels of inequality in our community, and working families are finding it hard to make ends meet. We will be fighting every day to restore the fair go.”

The CFMMEU will have 140,000 members, making it the nation’s second biggest.

UNION POWER: MUA member after a court hearing during the major Patrick Stevedoring dispute of 1998. Employers have opposed the merger, saying it will give the combined union an extra advantage in terms of organising ability. The unions say they are still restricted by the existing industrial relations laws, whether they are one union or two.

The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Union is believed to have about 200,000 members, and the n Workers Union about 100,000 members.

Reasonable force used at Mardi Gras: cops

Bryn Hutchinson is suing police after being assaulted at the 2013 Sydney Mardi Gras (file).NSW Police have admitted to hammer-fisting and kicking a reveller at the 2013 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras but insist it was a reasonable use of force.
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Bryn Hutchinson is suing the police for assault, battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution over the March 2 incident, and is claiming up to $275,000 in damages.

Court documents from the civil trial show the officers claimed the blows they struck were necessary and lawful to stop the 37-year-old from crossing the famous gay strip, Oxford Street, after the parade had ended.

Mr Hutchinson was charged with assaulting and resisting an officer over the incident but a judge later dismissed those charges.

The gay rights activist claims his head was punched into the pavement during the brutal, unwarranted and excessive attack which left him humiliated and with bruises all over his body.

Mr Hutchinson’s statement of claim alleges police persisted with a groundless prosecution over many months out of personal animosity, which left him with considerable legal bills and forced him to forgo work and suspend his university studies.

But in documents tendered to the court, lawyers for NSW Police suggest Sergeant Jeffrey Ludkin and Constable Goya Hedayat used necessary and lawful force when the “situation escalated” and Mr Hutchinson assaulted Sgt Ludkin.

They claim the man threw himself to the ground and wrapped his legs around Sgt Ludkin’s legs “in a scissor-type action”.

“In that process, Ludkin used no more than two hammer-strikes against the plaintiff’s left thigh and Hedayat used two knee-strikes against the plaintiff’s left outer thigh,” the documents state.

“No more than reasonable force was used.”

Police admit when Hutchinson complained to an officer who was leaning on his back that he couldn’t breathe Sgt Ludkin said: “If you can talk, you can breathe.”

But they argue those words weren’t said in hostility or aggression “but in a situation of urgency … and in circumstances where the plaintiff could, in fact, breathe”.

NRL Knights coach Nathan Brown says Brock Lamb’s selection won’t erode Connor Watson’s confidence

Knights coach Nathan Brown has dismissed suggestionsBrock Lamb’s selection on the bench for Friday night’s clash againstManly is a sign of a lack of confidence in Connor Watson.
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Lamb has won a bench spot at the expense of a desperately unlucky Danny Levi, who finds himself playing NSW Cup just a few months after representing New Zealand in the World Cup.

Jacob Saifiti also missed selection in the squad of 17 for the season-opener at McDonald Jones Stadium with Brown, as expected, namingnine new recruits in his lineup.

Brown said the decision to select Lamb rather than go in against the Eagles with two specialist hookers was one of the toughest he has made as a coach.

But he claimsit was all about wanting some outside back injury insurance and hadnothing to do with any lack of confidence in Watson handling the five-eighth role outside skipper Mitchell Pearce .

“If that was the case, we would have just put Brock there,”Brown said.

“We have got confidence in Connor and as I have always said, when you compare Connor with Brock, you are not comparing apples with apples becausethey are very different players.

“It’s all to do with versatility. Just with our team, it’s a no-brainer to have Connor as the moveable piece.”

Brown is confident Lamb’s presence will not play on Watson’s mind leading into the Manly game.

“He’s comfortable with it,”he said.

“When we explaned it to him why, I think Connor knows we have confidence in him. Andthe faith we showed in him last year, I’d like to think Brock thinks we have confidence in him as well.

“If you talk to Mitchell [Pearce], he loves what Brock brings to the table and he loves what Connor brings to the table.”

Brown admitted Levi can count himself unlucky to miss out.

Once it was decided Lamb was needed on the bench, it became a head-to-head battle between Levi and Slade Griffin for the starting hooker role with the former Melbourne Storm utility winning out.

“That was probably a tough call on Danny to be fair,” Brown said.

“He’s disappointed and not happy about it but he has handled it well.It’s not to do with form.

“In both the games we played, Slade and Danny working together, we thought, was a good combination but withSione [Mata’utia] back in the centres and Joe Wardle getting homesick, we don’t have a lot of scope for movement in our team.

“Connor’s our best moveable piece.”

Insurance: Knights coach Nathan Brown in deep discussion with Brock Lamb at training. Lamb will come off the bench against Manly on Friday night as an injury safe-guard. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Family Finding Boot Camp restoring opportunity for vulnerable children

CRUCIAL NETWORKS: Kevin Campbell is in Newcastle this week to deliver a Family Finding Bootcamp for practitioners. Children develop and thrive in the context of relationship, community, faith, culture and in experiences outside in nature.
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Children who grow up exposed to unrelenting stress and limited access to strong and supportive relationships must make physical, even genetic, adaptations to survive.

These changes in their bodies and genes are important to their short-term survival, but across the life course, become the foundation for early and severe health and mental health problems.

This is not a truth for any one group of people. Our research has found that indigenous people are at no more risk for these consequences than non-indigenous people when they too are disproportionately mistreated in a society.

We are all the same biologically; it is in our social and economic trajectories and opportunities where the differences exist.

A child protection system that is funded and aimed at interveningafter significant neglect or abuse has happened is not a response that can have any meaningful influence on the underlying conditions that drive maltreatment of children.

The politicisation then of child protection’s “failure” to protect children leads only to more perceived failures and greater regulatory and punitive policies for the agencies involved.

All the while, persistent vilification of the poor and indigenous as being unable to safely care for children continues, and in some places, grows.

This is the reality of present day child protection systems in Western democracies, especially in post-colonial societies.

This week I am joining with Samaritans, other child protection non-government organisations and Family and Community Services in a Family Finding Boot Camp. I am working with the agencies to uncover something I have learned from previous visits to that can improve the safety and long-term health of vulnerable children.

I think of it as an untapped capability that can assist children who encounter the child protection system and restore many of the opportunities they have missed out on: relationships, friendship, teaching, access to culture and, for some, the care of the spirit.

Over four days wewill engage family members, siblings, teachers, former and present carers and other important adults to join in and connect individual networks for each child.

These networks will fill a critical role in buffering these children from loneliness, disconnection and missed opportunities to have experiences like other n children who were fortunate to be born to families who enjoy greater access to the extraordinary gifts of this country.

These networks will share the responsibility and stand watch with child protection professionals over the safety and wellbeing of these children.

This will be all that child protection and network members can do until one day when the elected leaders in this country land on policy that gives equity and opportunity to all ns, especially the First ns.

I will state clearly here the child protection agencies and professionals in NSW are not a problem to be solved – they are an opportunity waiting to be realised.

Kevin Campbell, who is Seattle based,is an internationally known youth permanency expert, founder of the Centre for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness and developer of the Family Finding model.

Girl undergoes Chinan-first robot surgery

Robotic surgery has been used to remove a cancerous tumour from six-year-old Freyja Christiansen.Six-year-old Freyja Christiansen faced a grim prognosis when doctors found a tumour at the base of her neck, but n-first robotic surgery is being credited with a miracle.
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The Canberra youngster was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer called clear-cell sarcoma in 2016 and she is thought to be the youngest of 40 cases ever recorded worldwide.

It was the position of Freyja’s tumour, between a main artery and the base of her skull, that posed a problem for specialists who said the situation seemed hopeless.

The prognosis didn’t stop Freyja’s mother, Liz, and oncologist Antoinette Anazondo from searching for a cure.

“I was told my daughter’s cancer was inoperable and incurable and that I couldn’t can’t even discuss options, I wasn’t going to find a cure,” Ms Christiansen told AAP.

“But Antionette would not give up and we spent the next year calling all around the world, researching possible treatments and then we learnt about robotic surgery.”

Freyja began targeted immunotherapy last year, which was previously only available to adults, while the duo searched for a surgeon who would be willing operate using a machine called da Vinci which operates a small robotic arm.

Thirty-seven surgeons across the world refused to use the technology on Freyja.

“It was during a phone call to Boston Children’s Hospital that the name of Melbourne cancer surgeon Ben Dixon came up,” Ms Christiansen said.

“It was a bit of a fluke really … we were willing to fly anywhere in the world but the fact that we had the skills and the technology in Melbourne was amazing.”

On February 28, Epworth surgeons Ben Dixon and Matthew Magarey used the robot to successfully remove part of Freyja’s tumour, with another surgery scheduled for Wednesday to remove a larger portion, dubbed the “big mama”.

“I know there’s a lot more to come, but to even get to this point, it’s really been miracle after miracle,” Ms Christiansen said.

“She shouldn’t be here, but here she is.”

Coach Wessels wants more punch from Rebels

Rebels coach Dave Wessels wants his unbeaten team to make a statement against the Brumbies.After an unbeaten start to their Super Rugby season, the Melbourne Rebels want to start to “throw some punches” as they eye a history-making win over the Brumbies at AAMI Park on Friday night.
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The new-look Rebels have continued to tick off some important milestones and this week can win three games in succession for the first time to maintain their n conference lead.

Coach Dave Wessels said there was notable improvement in attack as Melbourne ran in six tries in their 37-17 win over the Sunwolves but he felt their star-laden backline had much more to offer.

The Rebels boast Wallabies Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Sefa Naivalu and the possible return from a knee injury of Test winger Marika Koroibete.

“The big key for us is probably to throw some punches of our own,” Wessels said on Tuesday.

“We’ve got some firepower in our team and we need to come up with a mindset that we want to attack games.

“There’s a subtle difference between playing to win versus playing not to lose and we want to be a team that plays to win.”

Wessels spent 2012 as Brumbies defence coach under then head coach Jake White before switching to the Western Force.

While the Brumbies have spoken of their disappointment in their shock loss last round to Queensland, Wessels said the Reds deserved some credit.

“We know the Brumbies are a quality side; they’ve been the best n side for the last few years so we’re going to have to play well.”

Koroibete trained with the team for the first time in three weeks but Wessels wasn’t concerned about his fitness.

“He’s a freak of an athlete so it’s probably more a case of the guys ahead of him are going pretty good too so we need to decide if he’s done enough to earn a spot this week,” Wessels said.

Wallabies and ex-Force flanker Richard Hardwick is also in line to make his Rebels debut after also battling a knee injury.

“I thought Dickie (Hardwick) was the stand-out player in our trial game so he’s certainly in the mix to play.”