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Concern for shelter’s future

Concern for shelter’s future Rachel Westmorland and Lynette Desmond say hello to Jake, a 12-year-old dog who is looking for a family to spend his twilight years with. Rachel and Lynette are supporting Option 1. Photo by Megan Drapalski
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Lolita Godsell and Peg Balderson are supporting Option 1. Photo by Megan Drapalski

Jan LaForest, Debbie Skinner who adopted Jock, and Sandra Jones, who adopted Serge, are supporting Option 1. Photo by Megan Drapalski

Jacob Debono and Jaki Coppen are supporting Option 1. Photo by Megan Drapalski

Shona Seymour and Diane and John Workman, who adopted Oscar eight months ago and have since renamed him Red, are supporting Option 1. Photo by Megan Drapalski

Jessica Allen is supporting Option 1. Photo by Megan Drapalski

John Desmond, who is waiting to hear more before supporting an option, and Councillor Ian Scandrett who believes the shelter should remain run by council. Photo by Megan Drapalski

Kristine and Garry Dover are supporting Option 1. Photo by Megan Drapalski

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Bill Shorten’s bubble starting to deflate

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is also under the public’s sceptical eye. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Illustration: Michael Mucci Photo: Illustration: Michael Mucci
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While some inside the federal Liberal Party and the media were in a state of leadership hysteria, the public was indeed having a sceptical look at the federal leadership, but its scepticism extended to Labor leader Bill Shorten.

While Shorten has been furiously playing to his audience inside the Canberra bubble, his tactical choices have had problematic impact outside the bubble. Hence his poor recent poll numbers.

There has been a trajectory of missteps by Shorten:

September 25: Shorten co-wrote an open letter to Muslims in Australia, apologising for their vilification:

“We have been very distressed by recent reports about the Australian Islamic community being wrongly blamed for the crimes of ISIL, including assaults and other forms of vilification. Labor stands shoulder to shoulder with Australia’s Islamic community and … [will] continue to work with you to stop misinformation, bigotry and prejudice directed at the Australian Islamic community. The Islamic story in Australia has a rich history and grows stronger each year…”

It was not clear what Shorten was referring to, as he gave no specifics, and the only serious, quantifiable incidents involving Muslims in Australia during the previous months had involved Muslims attempting to kill, or conspiring to kill, non-Muslims.

The subsequent Lindt Café siege in Sydney in December, the Charlie Hebdo massacres in Paris in January, the Copenhagen murders in February, and counter-terrorism arrests in Belgium, France, Britain and Australia have all followed this pattern.

September 25: His open letter also made the claim, since repeated, that Islamic State is not Islamic:

“We know that the twisted ideology of ISIL bears no relation to a faith of peace, love and tolerance which is followed by millions around the world – and we will continue to make this point. ISIL has no right to use the name of Islam.”

The electorate does not buy this. Islamic State may be a lure for psychopaths and a loathsome fringe of Islam, but it is self-evidently Islamic. It justifies all its actions by an ultra-orthodox reading of the Koran. It feeds off the injustice felt by Sunni Muslims at their oppression by Shia-dominated governments in Iran, Iraq and Syria. The Sunni-Shia schism now involves tens of thousands of fighters operating in five countries.

Islamic State is to Islam what creationists are to Christianity. The literal interpretation of the Bible may be medieval, irrational and dismissed by the Christian mainstream, but there is no question that creationists are Christians. There are tens of millions of creationists in the United States and Africa, but they are not waging holy war.

October 25: Shorten delivered a speech advocating a dramatic increase in Australia’s intake of refugees from the Middle-East:

“Labor believes Australia can play a greater role in the international effort to provide refuge to the persecuted. Nearly two million Iraqis have fled their homes in the face of the ISIL advance – and millions more have been displaced by the conflict in Syria…

“Given the scope and scale of the current crisis gripping the region, Labor believes that, as a starting point, those seeking refuge from the current crisis in Iraq and Syria should be taken in addition to the existing allocation…”

This is significant policy shift. Given that most asylum seekers who came to Australia during the Labor years came from the Middle-East, and the Sunni-Shia schism has displaced millions of people, this represents an open-ended commitment to accept “those seeking refuge”, which points to a massive increase in the intake from the Middle East.

February 9: On first day of the 2015 parliamentary sitting, Shorten asked a series of gloating questions of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull after a spill motion had been put, and defeated, in the Liberal Party room that morning.

Given that Shorten was active in deposing both the prime ministers he served under, his actions were not just petty and ironic but drew attention to his expertise in leadership coups.

February 19: Shorten expressed sympathy for the former prisoner of war, David Hicks:

“There is no doubt David Hicks was probably foolish to get caught up in that Afghanistan conflict, but clearly there has been an injustice done. There is an issue here for the Australian government to examine … did they really do all they could to ensure injustice didn’t occur and bring David Hicks home?”

Hicks was not “probably foolish” to go to Afghanistan and in the middle of a war, consort with the Taliban, and now claim he was “on holiday”.

February 23-26: Shorten led an attack in Parliament that claimed the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, had been bullied by the government.

The problem with this tactic is that Triggs set up an inquiry into children in detention after the newly-elected Coalition set up Operation Sovereign Borders on September 18, 2013, not while the problem became a national scandal under Labor.

Importantly, she admitted under questioning, on February 24, that one of her reasons for setting up a full inquiry was to confront the operational secrecy of Operation Sovereign Borders

February 25: Shorten claimed the government may have breached bribery laws in offering another job to Triggs. Labor even referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police.

The problem with this is that it looks like both a stunt and a very bad case of sour grapes after the Coalition quickly stopping the people-smuggling trade and largely emptied the detention centres that had filled under Labor.

March 5: Responding in Parliament to Intergenerational Report, Shorten asked a series of flippant questions which trivialised the significant challenges outlined in the report. It was not impressive, it was playing bubble politics, again, and the public has started to notice.

Twitter: @Paul_Sheehan_

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New Zealand Breakers win NBL title over Cairns Taipans after Ekene Ibekwe’s buzzer beater

Match-winner: Ekene Ibekwe nailed the buzzer beater which lifted the NZ Breakers to their fourth championship in five NBL seasons. Photo: Hannah Peters Match-winner: Ekene Ibekwe nailed the buzzer beater which lifted the NZ Breakers to their fourth championship in five NBL seasons. Photo: Hannah Peters
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Match-winner: Ekene Ibekwe nailed the buzzer beater which lifted the NZ Breakers to their fourth championship in five NBL seasons. Photo: Hannah Peters

Match-winner: Ekene Ibekwe nailed the buzzer beater which lifted the NZ Breakers to their fourth championship in five NBL seasons. Photo: Hannah Peters

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The Breakers are champions again, thanks to a clutch fade-away, title-winning jump-shot from ice-cool big man Ekene Ibekwe

In a terrific Game 2 of the NBL grand final series, the Breakers claimed their fourth championship in five years with an 83-81 victory over a gallant Cairns Taipans outfit, who looked for all money as if they were heading to a decider throughout a surging final quarter.

After winning Game 1 in Cairns on Friday night, today’s victory completed a 2-0 sweep of the Taipans and a second straight post-season sweep for the Kiwi club, who also achieved the feat in the 2012-13 season.

But somehow the Breakers managed to claw their way back from a six-point deficit (71-77) inside the final three minutes. A three from Tom Abercrombie, who had a team-high 19 points, got things rolling and in a thrilling finish that had the capacity crowd of 4400 almost lifting the roof off the old stadium, the home side came up big when it mattered.

Mika Vukona had levelled at 78-78 with 44 seconds left with a pugnacious putback, but that was just the start of things as both teams made their moves. With 17 seconds left Vukona made two free-throws to put his team back in front, 81-79, only for Scottie Wilbekin to level things back up again with two foul shots of his own with just 1.2 seconds remaining, off a contentious Cedric Jackson foul.

Enter Ibekwe, the LA-born, Nigerian international with the impossibly long wingspan. The ball found its way to him off the inbounds pass, and as he spun away from his man, he launched his trademark, arcing jumper that found the basket, and launched pandemonium at the Events Centre.

It’s the Breakers’ ninth straight playoff victory and ends a drought of 14 years since the last time the lower seeded team won the grand final. It was also their fourth straight series sweep.

The Taipans had produced a surging 20-14 third quarter to grab the lead, and then made a succession of big triples over the final stanza to edge out to an advantage that sat around the half-dozen mark for so long.

But then came the dramatics over the run home, and it was the Breakers, with all that championship experience, who made the big plays when they were most required.

The Breakers got a huge game out of springy small forward Abercrombie, who dialled in his jump shot to pace his team with 19 points on seven-of-12 shooting. He made two of his four triples and added three steals in a game when he very much stood up and was counted.

Jackson, named MVP of the finals, had 15 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals in performance brimming with intensity. He simply willed his team over the line.

Cool, clutch Ibekwe, the hero, added 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks, and no one will forget his final shot.

Tai Wesley also had a big game off the bench with 12 points, five boards and two assists, while the indefatigable Vukona finished with nine points and eight rebounds in another warrior display.

Corey Webster chimed in with 11 points on five-of-11 shooting.

The Taipans were paced by 17 points and five boards from veteran Cam Tragardh, while import Torrey Craig (16 points) and sharpshooter Cam Gliddon (16 points) were their other main contributors.

The Breakers had shaded a quality, high-intensity first half 44-39, but not before the Taipans made it clear they were not going to roll over in this closeout contest for their hosts.

With a capacity crowd packing the old-school NSEC, the atmosphere was electric and the Breakers came out sizzling as they threatened to bust the game open in the first quarter.

When the home lead hit eight inside five minutes, and the Breakers were converting all their energy into a pace that suits them to a tee, it could easily have unravelled for the Taipans. But they hung tough, dug in for the fight, and worked their way back into the contest.

By the end of the first period the Breakers led by six (23-17), but even as Jackson found his range from deep the Snakes were taking as much as they were giving as they trailed by just five, 44-39, at the major break.

Tragardh got busy in the third as he made four straight buckets to eat up the deficit for the Taipans and as Wilbekin finally found his shot late in the quarter the Taipans had got the lead for the first time in the game, 59-58.

From there it stayed close, right through to that dramatic, fairytale finish.

NZ Breakers 83 (Tom Abercrombie 19, Cedric Jackson 15, Ekene Ibekwe 14, Tai Wesley 12, Corey Webster 11) Cairns Taipans 81 (Cam Tragardh 17, Torrey Craig 16, Cameron Gliddon 16). 1Q: 23-17; HT: 44-39; 3Q: 58-59

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Primary school introduces mental health program for students

TIME TO ACT: Parent Sally Davies and St Joseph’s principal Anthony Weir are key supporters in the introduction of the KidsMatter program at the school. Picture by CATH BOWENThe prevalence of children battling anxiety will come into focus in Maitland today with the launch of a new national initiative.
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Established as part of the National Mental Health Plan, the KidsMatter framework will be launched at St Joseph’s Primary School, East Maitland, in response to the growing number of children living with mental health issues.

The initiative coincides with a growing ­national call for action.

“One of the biggest issues we’ve noticed in the past few years is the increase of children with heightened levels of anxiety,” St Joseph’s Primary School principal Anthony Weir said.

“Children are anxious about being at school, anxious at coming to school, anxious about issues at home and we need to address these issues now before they get to high school.”

According to KidsMatter, evidence suggests that nearly half of all mental health problems begin before the age of 14.

In later childhood, it has been estimated that one in seven school-age children has a ­mental health problem such as anxiety, depression and ­behaviour problems, but only one in four get the help they need.

“We hear of kids who are a bit sad or a bit down and, where once we may have ­dismissed it, nowadays we are more attuned to listening carefully and ­giving assistance and support particularly proactively,” Mr Weir said.

“I mean these are little kids, and if we can give them the tools and strategies to improve their wellness and their ­wellbeing, chances are, as they become adults, they’ll bebetter equipped to deal with things.”

Parent Sally Davies has been part of the school’s KidsMatter framework planning since its inception.

“There are lots of issues ­children face as the world gets a ­little bit more complex, so it’s vitally important they can get the skills to be able to cope at this age then obviously that will flow on for the rest of their lives,” she said.

“And parents need to know they are not in this alone.”

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Going, going, gone

11/10 Batemans Road, Gladesville.North
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Sold: $1.19 million 11/10 Batemans Road, Gladesville 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car spaces More photos: Domain南京夜网.au

This townhouse has been newly renovated. Downsizers, firsthome buyers and young professionals have been drawn to the quiet area, and easy city access. John Paranchi of McGrath Hunters Hill has had interest from those looking to enter at a relatively affordable price point. He had 27 registered bidders, with a reserve price of $1 million.

Sold $2.05 million 3A Stratford Street, Cammeray 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 1 car space More photos: Domain南京夜网.au

Described as a modern terrace, this home has a wide lawn and alfresco dining areas. It is a short distance to Tunks Park, with Cammeray Public School and city buses a short walk away. Interest has come from families, looking to raise children in the leafy suburb. Jane and James Garwood of Belle Property Neutral Bay had four registered bidders, with a reserve price of $2 million.

South

Sold: $820,000 6/67-69 Cairns Street, Riverwood 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car spaces More photos: Domain南京夜网.au

This townhouse has just been renovated. The interiors are sleek, to complement the modern layout, with living spaces that open to a sunny, north-facing courtyard and lawn. The master bedroom features a walk-in wardrobe and en suite and the kitchen is large, with gas appliances. Peter and Chris Harding of Belle Property Lugarno say the street is among the best in the area. They had 15 registered bidders, with a reserve price of $750,000.

Sold: $830,000 7/4-10 Kumbardang Avenue, Miranda 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car spaces More photos: Domain南京夜网.au

The modern townhouse that is close to local shopping centres, has been popular with downsizers and investors, for its location. Designed to be low maintenance, the floor plan creates a flow from the lounge to the level courtyard. The home is one of 12 in a complex that is walking distance to Westfield shops and the train station. Peter and Michael Green of Laing and Simmons Miranda had four registered bidders, with a reserve price of $790,000.

East

Sold: $3.35 million 8 Trafalgar Street, Bronte 3 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, 2 car spaces More photos: Domain南京夜网.au

It’s not pretty, but as the Domain advertisement says, this property has “dream home” potential. It’s the first time ever that the freestanding house on two separate titles (a 580 square metres north-facing block), has been offered. Oh, and there’s ocean views. There were five registered bidders and only two bid. The agent refused to disclose the reserve but it’s understood the result was above it.

Sold: $1.83 million 24 Leonard Avenue, Kingsford 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 car space More photos: Domain南京夜网.au

This deceased estate has retained its retro vibe, with a unique tiled entry and details like a ’60s-era splashback in the neon-topped kitchen. The traditional family floorplan allows for easy re-styling for those looking to modernise or even add a second level. The restaurants on Anzac Parade and short walk to parks and UNSW have attracted families and investors. Martin Farah of NG Farah had 11 registered bidders, with a reserve of $1.7 million.

West

Sold: $985,000 B805/70 Macdonald Street, Erskineville 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 car space More photos: Domain南京夜网.au

This new top-floor apartment features balconies from bedrooms and a large deck off the main living area. Erskineville village and Sydney Park are close and there’s a short walk to several train stations. Shaun Stoker and Ercan Ersan of Ray White Surry Hills had seven registered bidders, with four active, and a reserve price of $950,000.

Sold: $727,500 46 Bursill Street, Guildford 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 car spaces More photos: Domain南京夜网.au

This home has an oversized family lounge, gas kitchen and is less than 800 metres to the train and close to shops. It is also in the catchment area for sought-after local schools. Ray Fayad of Laing and Simmons Granville has fielded lots of inquiries from investors, and from those looking to live in the central location. He had 15 registered bidders, with a reserve price of $700,000.

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John Thompson happy with First Seal heading to the Coolmore Classic

It would be hard to be better placed than Randwick trainer John Thompson as he heads into the Coolmore Classic at Rosehill on Saturday.
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He has favourite First Seal, the country’s best three-year-old filly, which has scared a couple of high-profile opponents off by her presence in the Coolmore Classic and also has probably her main danger for the group 1 in Guy Walter Stakes winner Danesiri.

“They both won at Warwick Farm [on February 28] and they have both improved since, I’m pretty happy with where they are,” Thompson said.

“Blake [Shinn] rode First Seal on Saturday morning and he got off her and said she keeps improving and still has a bit left in her.

“After working under Bart [Cummings], you learn to work your horses up to their grand finals. As the preparation goes on, she will get better.”

First Seal will be aiming to become the first three-year-old to win a group 1 against the older horses this season and her campaign will be locked in following Saturday.

Thompson does not have to look far for First Seal’s her main threat. Danesiri has emerged this preparation and outgunned Saturday’s Canterbury Stakes winner Cosmic Endeavour to win at Warwick Farm.

“I have been very happy with her and I think she would have won on Saturday, if we decided to run [in the Aspiration Stakes], but you don’t get the chance at a group 1 too often,” Thompson said.

“The owners want to have a go and with no weight on her back she is going to run well.”

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Help out and have a ball

IF you’ve ever wanted to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of one of outback Queensland’s biggest weekends – here’s your chance.
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North West are being offered the chance to help out at this year’s Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Festival, with the call for volunteers today now in full swing.

The Dirt n Dust Festival on April 17 to 19, hosts a range of events including the Julia Creek Cannington Dirt n Dust Triathlon, PBR Bullride, the BHP Billiton Artesian Express, nights of entertainment, bog snorkelling, and the annual Australia’s Best Butt competition.

Event manager Sam Kimlin says volunteers are required to work in all areas of the festival, and the experience of working on such an iconic event is unforgettable.

“The Dirt n Dust Festival is known Australia-wide as one of the toughest events and best weekends there is, but the reputation couldn’t be earned without the large, dedicated group of volunteers who attend every year,” Ms Kimlin said.

“We’re very fortunate that with such an action-packed program there are opportunities to suit volunteers of all skills and interests; be it hosting visitors in our camp grounds, working backstage with the entertainment, marshalling the junior triathlon, welcoming people at the gates and much more.

“It’s an excellent way to pick up some new skills and make some life-long friends in the process,” said Ms Kimlin.

About 100 volunteers are needed to help across the Dirt n Dust weekend.

For more information and to apply as a volunteer, go to www.dirtndust南京夜网.

STIRRING EXPERIENCE: One of last year’s Dirt n Dust volunteers, Lorraine Curr, getting busy in the kitchen.

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Queensland health minister Cameron Dick slams LNP spending on surgery wait list

Queensland health minister Cameron Dick. Photo: Michelle Smith Lawrence Springborg. Photo: Robert Shakespeare
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The new Queensland health minister Cameron Dick said not one cent of a $77 million budget set aside for the previous government’s Wait Time Guarantee surgery program was actually allocated to patient care.

Mr Dick said on Sunday he was shocked to discover a $15 million component had been set aside exclusively for advertising campaigns, with the rest for red tape including consultants.

“$77 million equates to an additional 4000 hip replacement surgeries,” he said.

“Mr Springborg and the LNP had plenty of money to put ads on television, and no money to put patients in beds.”

The Wait Time Guarantee program aimed to provide elective surgery for certain surgeries within the medically recommended time, or be offered the next available treatment in a public or private hospital at no cost.

But Mr Dick said he’d also found 114,000 Queenslanders were waiting longer than clinically recommended times for specialist appointments.

That figure represented half of the so-called “waiting list for the waiting list”.

“Mr Springborg simply cost-shifted the cost of the program on health and hospital services,” Mr Dick said.

“They were expected to find the funding to do the surgery.”

Mr Dick indicated the program would be cut, but would not speculate on when.

“Certainly… it gives all Queenslanders pause to reflect on the LNP and what their priorities were,” he said.

“I’ll be discussing matters with my cabinet colleagues… and I’ll be making an announcement about what we plan to do as soon as possible.”

He said $32 million was allocated in the 2014/2015 year, but did not yet have an exact figure on what had been spent since the program was announced last November.

“A significant amount of money was spent over the last three months, right up until the election on the 31st January,” he said.

“Those ads were run during the election campaign and I don’t think that’s an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money.”

Mr Dick said he remained supportive of advertising funding for public health information campaigns on topics like diabetes, heart disease and vaccinations.

“It is expensive to provide services to Queenslanders, so the focus should be on that care,” he said.

“That’s where the money should go, not on self-promotion and self-publicity that the LNP seemed to focus on.”

Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said the $77 million had been clearly earmarked for chronic disease prevention.

“This money is set aside for advertising and education for smoking, obesity, and the first campaign on TV for HIV in 10 years,” he said.

“It is so important we do that so people understand chronic disease impacts upon them, their family, and the health system.”

He said Mr Dick was on the run and casting quick judgements because he was working blind.

“This government is plucking figures out of the air to run their own agenda, because they’ve got no plan,” he said.

“They don’t want to, and they can’t put in place any plan that tackles the waiting list, or the issue of chronic disease.”

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Maitland Town Hall upgrades to be adopted

REVAMP: Maitland Town Hall will receive some necessary upgrades after councillors approve a plan at Tuesday night’s meeting.The latest upgrades to Maitland Town Hall are expected to be completed late this year, with the contract for the job likely to be ­awarded in June.
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Maitland City Councillors will formally adopt the Maitland Town Hall Conservation Management Plan at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The plan, which has identified upgrades needed at the facility between 2013 and 2017, highlighted key priorities for maintenance at the hall.

Council’s infrastructure projects and building services manager Graeme Mathews said work this year would include upgrades to audio-visual equipment and improvements to lighting and theatre infrastructure.

These upgrades were listed as medium level priorities in the conservation management plan.

High-level priorities include various repairs to the ceiling and awnings throughout the hall, and an investigation and treatment of rising damp.

“Council is currently working with NSW Public Works Government Architect’s Office for various consulting services,” Mr Mathews said.

“The Government Architect’s Office has recently completed a similar project for Rockdale City Council.

“We are anticipating that the contract for the work will be awarded in June 2015, with works to be completed by late 2015.”

The state government committed $2 ­million for upgrades to the hall in September, 2013.

In a report to councillors released on Friday, council heritage officer Clare James wrote that the conservation plan would guide ongoing management, upgrades and conservation of the historic building.

“The Conservation Management Plan is considered to provide council with important and useful guidelines on which to base future maintenance and management decisions,” she wrote.

“It provides scope for the necessary upgrading of facilities to enable its continued use providing the works are carefully co-­ordinated and considered from a design, ­heritage and functional perspective.”

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It’s full steam ahead for Steamfest but more volunteers needed

HEART AND SOUL: Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest organisers are thrilled to have long-serving volunteers such as Del Yeates as part of the event’s team.Picture by NICK BIELBYPlans are rolling along for this year’s Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest.
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Tickets are now available for the annual celebration of steam-powered machines, which will be held in the Maitland railway station precinct on April 18 and 19.

Maitland City Council used the event’s launch to call for more volunteers to help make the event run smoothly.

Council’s events co-ordinator Adam Franks said people didn’t need to be locomotive enthusiasts to volunteer.

“People don’t necessarily need to have a passion for steam to get involved, simply an interest in playing their part in creating a positive experience for visitors,” he said.

“This year, new to the program, we’re doing some coal loop runs in Port Waratah.

“That’s a first for a number of years for Steamfest.

“We’ve got a great program here at the rally ground.”

More than 60 volunteers helped with ticketing, train excursions and coordinating events at the rally ground at last year’s Steamfest, including Del Yeates who has ­volunteered for the past 13 years.

She said volunteering was a good way to give back to the community.

“It’s really good for your own esteem,” Mrs Yeates said.

“When people ask a question and you answer or look to resolve the issue and they walk away with a smile on their face, there’s a wow factor.”

People interested in volunteering should contact Kate Henry at [email protected] or 4931 2870.

Visit www.steamfest南京夜网.au to book tickets.

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