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No regrets as Walker calls an end to 20 stormy years

Veteran Australian Grand Prix boss Ron Walker will step down after Sunday’s 20th Formula One race at Albert Park with no regrets about his controversial leadership.
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Walker, 75, has been chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, which runs the event, for all of its two stormy decades, defying protesters and constant criticism of the cost of the race to taxpayers.

Often divisive and always colourful, the towering cancer survivor admitted that his political background as a high-profile figure in the Liberal Party had been polarising during his unusually long reign as undisputed chief of the Melbourne GP.

“Some people don’t like Ron Walker,” he said during an extended interview discussing his long tenure as chairman of the AGPC. “That’s fine. I know there’s been a degree of hatred. I mean, they expressed that on my fence at home time and time again.

“Some Sunday nights, I’d go home and pour myself a stiff whisky. But it never wore me down.”

Walker also dismissed the ongoing criticism of the annual cost of the Albert Park event, which in recent years has been around $50million, funded by the Victorian government.

“We got used to the hammering,” he shrugged. “To spend $50million advertising the city to hundreds of millions of people in lunch time, it’s cheap. And we’ve been saying this over and over again, and we’ve been comparing it with the tennis, but nobody wants to listen.

“The tennis [Australian Open at Melbourne Park] has cost about $3billion to an audience of 300,000 cable customers.

“So which would you rather have? I’d rather have both.” Although his figures are arguably rubbery, Walker’s passion for the Melbourne GP and his long-standing commitment to securing and keeping the race are undeniable.

“I’m really passionate about Melbourne,” he said. “You have to believe in something. That’s probably why I’ve stayed so long [as AGPC chairman].” He revealed that Melbourne had a secret contract with F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone to inherit the race from Adelaide as far back as 1983.

That agreement was activated when then South Australian premier John Bannon failed in 1992 to take up Adelaide’s option for renewal in 1996, when the race moved to Melbourne.

Walker’s last major achievement was negotiating a more favourable five-year renewal of Victoria’s contract to host the F1 season-opener at Albert Park from 2016, with an option for a further five years.

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Documentary shows reaction to cutting edge art festival in kandos

Lyra Burghaus adds to SNO Group’s ‘Collective Monochrome No. 26’ which invited visitors to contribute a layer to a communal red painting at the 2013 Cementa_13 contemporary art festival in Kandos.
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A new thirty-minute documentary takes audiences along to the regional contemporary art event that brought city artists over the mountains and made Kandos famous among Sydney’s contemporary art community.

At Roth’s Wine Bar from 6pm on Wednesday, March 11, Mudgee Underground will host a free screening of Welcome to Kandos, a 30-minute film about 2013’s first-ever contemporary art festival held in Kandos.

The film, shot over the four days of the festival, captures the artists’ response to the town and the town’s response to the unusual event in its midst.

Cementa_13 brought around 40 cutting edge contemporary artists to Kandos in February 2013, many creating work inspired by the town, such as Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski’s chapel celebrating the Kandos Street Machine Show, Bronia Iwanczak’s photos taken in the Kandos Museum and Madeleine Preston’s artefacts of an art movement built around items found in the museum collection.

The event was described as “wildly successful”, and was praised for showing that cutting-edge art could thrive outside “the art world bubble”.

“The level of work was very high, the event was also very relaxed,” said organiser Alex Wisser.

“People had a really good time and it allowed them to enjoy the art in a way they normally couldn’t.”

Artists enjoyed the chance to spend time with each other in Kandos and to talk about art with locals and hear some fresh perspectives, while locals enjoyed meeting the artists and hearing the ideas behind the artworks.

Welcome to Kandos captures some of the response to the event, from artists and residents, and gives a taste of the festival’s atmosphere as artists and the town prepare for its return in April 2015.

It also attempts to explore a particular turning point in the town’s history, as it looked for a new direction following the cement works’ recent closure.

The screening at Roth’s Wine Bar is open to all, and will provide a relaxed and enjoyable way of checking out

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‘Buy now, pay stamp duty later’

NSW Premier Mike Baird, Channel 7’s Mark Ferguson and Opposition Leader Luke Foley at the second debate on Sunday. Photo: Dominic LorrimerOpposition leader Luke Foley says he wants to examine possible changes to the way stamp duty is paid on property purchases in NSW to help improve housing affordability.
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During the second debate of the election campaign on Sunday night, Premier Mike Baird and Mr Foley were asked what they would do about stamp duty to help young people purchase their first home.

Mr Baird pointed out that his government had offered stamp duty concessions to first home buyers who purchase new dwellings worth less than $750,000. He said the government was “looking at other opportunities”.

But Mr Foley said he wanted “to look at a scheme where people rather than being charged 100 per cent of their stamp duty up front, could pay it back in instalments over several years”.

The suggestion came as the Liberals unveiled their first attack ad of the election campaign, which asks how Mr Foley can run NSW if he has never run a government department or been a minister.

Mr Foley worked as a telemarketer for the Guide Dogs Association of NSW to put himself through university.

He later worked as secretary of a trade union representing low paid community sector workers and as a Labor party official.

Mr Baird worked in investment banking before politics.

Asked about this, Mr Foley countered that he “ran an organisation with a turnover of several million dollars a year” and was in politics to make a difference and provide “a fair go for all”.

The leaders answered questions from the media and an audience of uncommitted voters at the Penrith campus of the University of Western Sydney.

Mr Foley opened the debate with an immediate mention of Labor’s commitment to schools and hospitals, while Mr Baird went straight to the importance of the economy and jobs.

Asked why he was opposed to Mr Baird’s plan to partially lease the NSW electricity network businesses, Mr Foley said the state would lose billions of dollars in dividends it currently receives.

But Mr Baird said the revenue would be replaced by boosting the economy from building infrastructure using the anticipated $20 billion in proceeds.

Mr Foley asked Mr Baird if he would proceed if he doesn’t get the $13 billion price he has nominated.

Mr Baird is counting on the $13 billion plus $2 billion from the federal government and $5 billion in interest to reach his total. He told Mr Foley the government would “without question” get $20 billion.

Mr Baird was also challenged by gang rape victim Katrina Keshishian about cuts his government made to the victims’ of crime compensation scheme. The cuts saw her paid $50,000 compensation reduced to $15,000.

Mr Baird said he was “sorry” for what Ms Keshishian had gone through but said the scheme inherited by the Coalition was unsustainable. He said the government was “looking at doing more”.

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Sunny Mudgee Show brings back the crowds

Danika and Courtney Rohrich met Brothers 3, Makirum, Tayzin and Shardyn Fahey-Leigh at the Mudgee Show, where the popular local trio opened the show, sashed the showgirls and performed an afternoon concert. Photo by Col Boyd In a rare event in the last five years, the Mudgee Show took place without the familiar sight of umbrellas, puddles, and gumboots at the showground.
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Instead, show-goers spent Friday afternoon and Saturday seeking shade from the heat, as a steady stream of visitors passed through the gates.

“The Lions Club said they couldn’t believe the number of people that had come in this year,” Mudgee Show Society President Wendy Harmer said.

“All of the entries in the livestock and horse sections are up this year and I’m just thankful that the rain stayed away for once.”

There was plenty to see with The Outback Show, the Pro-Wrestling Show, dance performances, ring events, sideshow alley and the livestock sections attracting visitors from the moment the gates opened.

One of the main attractions this year was the local trio Brothers 3, who did more than enterain for the crowd at their afternoon concert.

The brothers helped judge the junior showgirl competition before being taken on a guided tour of the show and its attractions by Mrs Harmer and 2015 Showgirl Brooke Sewell.

During the tour the brothers signed autographs, handed out ribbons in several competitions, and spent some time seeing what a country show was all about.

“This is our first time at the Mudgee Show and we’re having a lot of fun, even though it’s really hot,” Tayzin Fahey-Leigh said.

Outgoing Mudgee Showgirl Tanya Wisbey said the junior showgirl competition was continuing to grow, with more young ladies between the ages of four and 17 years taking part this year.

“There have been lots of new entrants and lots of returning entrants,” Miss Wisbey said.

“It’s great to see so many girls come back and give it another go.

“Overall it’s been a really good turn out for each of the three sections.”

2015 Mudgee Showgirl Brooke Sewell spoke about the community atmosphere that comes with a country show and encouraged young women to think about taking part in the Showgirl competition next year.

“Being in the showgirl competition has broadened a lot of personal horizons for me.

“It’s helped my confidence, helped me become more involved in what the show is really about, and given me the opportunity t

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Slow start sees Mustangs go down to Hills Hornets

The Maitland Mustangs have gone down to Hills Hornets 71-67 in the Waratah Championship at Maitland Federation Centre on Sunday.
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NARROW LOSS: Maitland Mustangs player Terrance Rone. Picture by PERRY DUFFIN

The Mustangs were on a high ­coming off last weekend’s last-minute victory against Central Coast Crusaders, but could not find their way around the Hills Hornets in the first quarter, trailing 21-8.

The Mustangs mounted a comeback toward half-time to close the gap 41-32.

Mitchell Rueter starred once again with the ball for the Mustangs and picked up a personal tally of 18 points with six assists.

Charles Bloemen notched up 12 rebounds.

Wayne Brown racked up 10 solo points for the Mustangs and Terrell Turner snagged four.

Mustangs captain-coach Luke Boyle, in his 202nd match, was only able to find the basket a handful of times.

The Mustangs were right in the contest up until the final quarter, but the lead squandered in the first quarter proved too big to claw back.

The match went down to the buzzer with the Hills Hornets winning by the four-point margin.

At the end of round four the Mustangs are fifth on the competition ladder.

This season the Mustangs have played four matches for two wins.

The Mustangs will face the Sydney Comets on the road next Saturday evening at the Alexandria basketball stadium.

Tip off is at 8pm.

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TOPICS: Flowers to be nipped in the bud

COLOURFUL WELCOME: Blooming salvias are to be removed from their spot in front of the Morisset sign.HERE at Topics, we reckon Lake Macquarie City Council is facing a bit of a dilemma.
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The Welcome to Morisset sign, you see, will soon vanish behind a row of flowers.

What’s a council to do? Remove the pretty plants or send a message that people are not so welcome in Morisset, after all.

We asked the council if it could shed any light on this vexing problem.

As it turns out, nipping it in the bud won’t be as difficult as we thought.

‘‘They are pretty flowers, yes – salvias, actually,’’ a council statement said.

‘‘They’re annuals, so they’ll be removed this week.’’

Topics isn’t the only one to have noticed quite a bit of overgrown vegetation on public land in Lake Macquarie territory lately.

What’s the situation there, we wondered.

‘‘A quick lesson in vegetation: It’s been perfect growing conditions lately, the ideal mix of warmth and water,’’ the council said.

There you have it.

DARK PAST: A water rat, above, is Australia’s largest rodent. They were hunted, below, after bubonic plague struck Sydney in 1900.

ANYONE remember Ratty from The Wind in the Willows?

Coal Point Progress Association’s latest newsletter said old Ratty came to mind when Landcare volunteers found three dead native water rats, while working at Carey Bay Wetland.

These elusive, semi-aquatic creatures with partially webbed feet and prominent whiskers are Australia’s largest rodent.

The newsletter noted it was ‘‘lucky we have any left’’.

‘‘During the 1930s Depression, they were hunted for their water-repellent fur when a ban was placed on imported fur.’’

DARK PAST: Water rats were hunted after bubonic plague struck Sydney in 1900.

When the bubonic plague hit the shores of Sydney in 1900, a bounty was put on rats.

A State Library of NSW picture shows professional rat catchers with the results of their handiwork.

Native water rats suffered in the killing spree, even though the black rats were the disease carriers.

Native rats are apparently good guys – just like Ratty.

NEWCASTLE Herald reporter extraordinaire Matthew Kelly reached a global audience on Friday.

Kelly gave an interview to a BBC reporter about Rio Tinto’s Mt Thorley-Warkworth open-cut mine extension plan.

This was not Kelly’s first brush with fame. Julian Lennon tweeted a link to his story last year on a disease threatening Port Stephens’ oyster crops.

Asked how the two experiences compared, Kelly said: ‘‘Son of a Beatle v three minutes of fame on the BBC World Service – it just makes you realise that we’re all tiny particles in the universe.’’ That we are old pal, that we are.

NEWCASTLE Jets fans must have been outraged at the recent F3 derby when they were denied the chance to holler and hoot at the man they most love to hate: Central Coast Mariners stalwart John Hutchinson.

It was to be Hutchinson’s last derby but in a cruel blow, he was left on the bench.

Hutchinson got his revenge on Friday when Phil Moss, the coach who benched him, was sacked.

The club confirmed Hutchinson will remain with the Mariners in a coaching capacity next season. This should be good for Newcastle. Totally reliable statistics show that whenever Hutchinson attends Jets games, Newcastle residents are on their best behaviour.

ANYONE attending Cessnock City Council lately might be forgiven for being slightly overawed by the size of the council’s business paper. The February 18 report was 589pages long. Yikes!

Farmers enjoy cash cows

BUMPER TIME: Cattle farmer Mick Hain has made more sales so far this year than in 2014. Picture: Max Mason-HubersHUNTER cattle farmers are facing a promising autumn with strong stock prices and good growing conditions.
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Cattle prices are between 50 and 60¢ a kilogram higher than this time last year, and while prices have dropped slightly from the three year high five weeks ago, Bowe and Lidbury stock and station agent Rodney McDonald is adamant the good prices will continue.

He said the drop related to the ‘‘supply and demand in the market’’, and there had been ‘‘a little bit of an oversupply of cattle which has brought the price back’’.

Farmers are cashing in on the good prices and restocking to make the most of the feed in their paddocks.

Others are choosing to make hay from those paddocks instead.

‘‘When you’ve got excess feed you’ll make hay or buy more cattle, and when most people are buying cattle you’ll see the price change and that’s what’s happened here,’’ Mr McDonald said.

‘‘Cattle coming off a well-run farm that are fat and in good condition will fetch a good price, and every week you’ll see some cattle a bit dearer and some a bit, depending on the quality of the animal.’’

Mr McDonald said the region needed at least 25 millimetres of rain each week to ‘‘keep the ground moist and keep the feed growing in the paddocks’’.

‘‘The Lower Hunter is going a lot better than elsewhere in the state like the west and north-west because we’ve had more moisture.’’

Tarro cattle farmer Mick Hain earned more money from the cattle he sold this year than he did during a sale at the end of 2014.

He agreed the ‘‘trend looked good’’ but emphasised that the fluctuating price made it difficult for farmers to make a decent living.

He has 80 head on his property and said the hours he had to put in to fatten the cattle often outweighed the money he made.

He thinks the future of ‘‘mum and dad farms’’ is bleak, and breeding and selling cattle will become more of a ‘‘lifestyle’’ choice, rather than the sole income stream.

‘‘I got a good price in comparison to what it has been in the last few years, but I think it’s still not a sustainable price for people like me who are trying to make an income,’’ he said.

‘‘The money you get impacts on your farm operations and your own lifestyle.

‘‘If you don’t get a good price then you miss out and your family misses out.’’

Hedley has two cracks at final of Lochinvar Hotel Autumn Chase

TWO WINS: Hedley won two of the four 450-metre heats with Wild Wright and Murphy’s Law last Thursday and will make up a quarter of the field for the final of the Lochinvar Hotel Autumn Chase.Cooranbong trainer Beau Hedley holds two trump cards going into the final of the Lochinvar Hotel Autumn Chase at Maitland this Thursday.
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Hedley won two of the four 450-metre heats with Wild Wright and Murphy’s Law last Thursday and will make up a quarter of the field for the final.

Wild Wright, a son of Surf Lorian and Hanify’s Impact, brought ­winning Albion Park form to Maitland and set the time standard with an 25.08s victory.

The blue-brindle dog was the $1.40 hot favourite and left punters gasping when he was near last away from box two.

Thankfully Wild Wright showed good race sense to work his way through the field and unleash a powerful sprint in the home straight.

Wild Wright beat the Troy McDonald-trained Bellfire (25.39s), which also progresses to Thursday’s final.

Bill Bright’s Magic Spot was third.

Murphy’s Law, a son of Head Bound and Orara Magic, won the second heat for Hedley in 25.68s.

The black dog was slowly away from box four and caught early ­trouble before taking a rails run into the home straight to beat the John Stewart-trained Laurie’s Special (25.83s) by two and a halflengths.

Garry Kedwell’s Belfast Boy was third.

Swan Bay trainer Charlie Lamb will be represented in the Lochinvar Hotel Autumn Chase final after Monty Express scored an impressive 25.36s win in the third heat.

The son of Cosmic Chief and Lisa’s Tree made good use of box three to get to the rail early and beat the Walter Simmons-trained Jamaican Me Run (25.52s) by two and a half lengths.

Peter Seaton’s Autograph Rowe was third.

Three Day Shadow made good use of box one to win the fourth heat for Black Hill trainer Russell Mansley in 25.46s.

The son of Bobby Boucheau and Break Of Dawn pinged the lids and beat the Tim Murray-trained White Smoke (25.72s) by four and three quarter lengths.

Cherie Rosier’s Yellow Oak was third.

Wilberforce trainer Dale Farrugia returns to Maitland this Thursday full on confidence for the final of the Maitland Mercury Maiden series.

Farrugia’s young sprinter Mortal Sin clocked an impressive 22.64 seconds to win his 400 metre heatat the TAB C meeting last Wednesday.

The son of Fabregas and Ritza Joan pinged the lids from box two and led throughout to beat the Robert Glover-trained Wallamba Molly by seven and three quarter lengths.

The Bradley Cowling-trained Tranquil Cape finished third and also progressed to the final along with the David Burgess-trained Our Sapphire in fourth place.

Kearsley trainer John Lodge is in with a shot at the Maitland Mercury Maiden series after She’s A Cougar won the first heat.

The daughter of El Grand Senor and Rum Blaster broke through at her fourth start and clocked 23.17s to beat the Gavin Howard-trained Cosmic Ruby by a length.

She’s A Cougar was slowly away from box six and had to work hard on the bend before running down Cosmic Ruby on the line.

Beer Addition ran third for Shane Skeers and progressed to the final along with the Karen Bice-trained Magic Man in fourth spot.

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Family joins ‘original thinker’ for 90th

Many happy returns: Bob Pywell celebrated his 90th birthday with, from left, Chris Pywell, Kevin Pywell, Kathy Russell, Leslie Pywell, Lawrie Pywell, Robyn Collins, Sue Byrne, Tom Pywell and Mary Russell. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORDBOB Pywell returned to his favourite watering hole for a special reason on Sunday.
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A beer or two was called for as he celebrated his 90th birthday with friends and family at the Black HillHotel.

Three generations of family travelled from nearly every state in Australia to join Bob on his big day.

His nine children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren joined in the celebrations for the man they say is one of a kind.

Daughter Kathy Russell said it was his originality that set him apart from everyoneelse.

“He is not like anyone else’s dad I know. He is an original thinker,” she said.

“He is a character with a wry sense of humour.”

She wasn’t wrong.

At 90, Bob still knows how to crack a good joke. He hadn’t even sat down before he was asking why the chicken crossed the road.

But for Bob, the best part of his day was spending it with everyone he loved.

“It has taken by a bloody long time to get here,” he said.

“I didn’t expect everyone to be here. They have come from Perth, South Australia, Sydney and Tasmania.”

Asked what his key to such a long and happy 90 years was, Bob simply said: “You’ve got to keep on eating and breathing.

“You win some, you lose some; the sun comes up and it goes down; it starts raining and you get back in bed.

“Never let anything get to you.” Bob’s official birthday is on Wednesday, but he is already planning for his 95th birthday.

And the answer as to why the chicken crossed the road was: “For some fowl reason.”

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Gallery: Sharks vs Canberra – Raiders take game 24-20

Gallery: Sharks vs Canberra – Raiders take game 24-20 Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage
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Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

Sharks first home game for season: Pictures: John Veage

TweetFacebookSharks got in front in the second half coming back from a 14-6 deficit to lead 20-18 late in the second half.

But a late try to Canberra winger Sisa Waqa, which was converted, saw the Raiders hit the front 24-20.

Çronulla next play Brisbaneon Friday at 8.35pmat Remondis Stadium in round two.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said it was a disappointing start to the season.

“We are a better team than that and I apologise to our fans,” Flanagan said.

I dont want an apology. I want you to find touch, hold the ball, complete a set, build pressure, kick to the corners, chase hard and compete

— Sharkman_78 (@Sharkman_78) March 8, 2015Leader.

Results:Canberra 24 defeated Cronulla 20 (Anthony Tupou, Sosaia Feki, RIcky Leutele tries, Michael Gordon four goals).Crowd:11,096.

Sharks http://t.co/teUSql2GVu#WEARESHARKSpic.twitter南京夜网/uoXaUICAH2

— Cronulla Sharks FC (@Cronulla_Sharks) March 9, 2015This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.