Generation gap looms

SOround twois here and experts are already pronouncing who is and isn’t in the running forend-of-year honours. A tad premature, but some signs were very positive for a few teams.

Others faced the reality of first time at bat –a work in progress.

I thought the Bulldogs were the most impressive of last week’s winners, with the Cowboys,Broncos and the Bunnies assuming obvious favouritism out of the gates.

The Dogs demonstrated unequivocallyto those who still wonder whether the big men candominate in an increasingly endurance-based game. Agood, mobile big man will beat a good,mobile smaller bloke most days of the week. Monstering the Bozo-built Manly outfit leftrival packs sitting up to take notice.

As to our own work in progress, you’d have to say that no one disgraced themselves againstthe Titans. Ithought the young Knights, apart from too many badly timed foot-shootingepisodes, were threatening to get back in the game at different stages. Some good signs.

The debutants had a real good crack and will benefit from the experience. Tri-captain and elder statesmanJeremy Smith, Robbie Rochow andTyler Randell all played strongly.

I’m guessing the collective concern for Knights fans may be whether the Coast are much of a team anyway. Excluding former NovocastriansGreg Bird,Zeb Taia and Tyrone Roberts, they didn’t have a great deal going for them either. But, really,you can’t take too much from the first game. So we’ll move on.

Nowfor the Bunnies. Our young Knights will take some comfort from a few injuries to the2014 premiers and the potential bonus that Greg Inglis may not be risked in a game puntersmight expect them to dominate.

But with their halfback and maestro out with a broken jaw and his five-eighthpartner new to thesquad, there is a chance, with the right disruptive game plan, that their combination andkicking game might be vulnerable. My tip: apotential upset if our Knights win the enthusiasm, major on the basics andeach bring something a little special to the table on Saturday.

* THOSEwho follow junior rugby league might recall an announcement late last year bythe NSWRLciting the season’s participation figures, which implied the game’s governingbody is asleep at the wheel.

Stalwarts of the junior game will be unsurprisedthe numbers were down –way down –continuing a trend of the past decade at least.

As the kids prepare to kickoff a new season, it begs the question, what’s to be done? Ifanything? At the 10s and 11s level the studyshows significant loss of more than20 per cent. In theunder-13s and -14s, participation falls off a cliff and never recovers. Thankfully, courtesy of agreat new freeway, Newcastle teams can far more easily access the Hunter Valley, meaning the now-combined Hunter competition has been able to buck the trend –for now.

Clearly, the magnitude of churn is unsustainable. Of concern for the senior game is,eventually, I imagine, that the absent generations of players will impact its quality potential andvery survival.

And we are seeing evidence of that already.

Take the Newcastle Rugby League district competition. After contracting to an ungainly eightteams last year, there is strong mail others are struggling financially. Something tells me thiscompetition needs a proper re-think.

At the suburban level, second-division teams are struggling to put teams together also. Workcommitments and other distractions see district and suburbs engage in tug-of-wars overthedwindling pool of remaining players. This is made all the more difficult becausethe Real NRL insistupon an outdated three-open-age-teams criteria for inclusion. Something must give.

And it has. Last year’s second-division A-grade winners, Belmont Rabbits, are finished. Likewise,B-grade premiersLambtonaregone,and finally the C-grade premiers, Clarence River, won’tfield a team this year.Gone. With others rumoured to be unable to get enough playerstogether, there is real concern local communities will lose something they may never get back.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: If grassroots rugby league continues to whither, what will become of Generation Next?

For those interested in the situation, my point is this:at the non-NRL level, the game isapproaching atipping point, beyond which recovery will be difficult. At this point in time itmight have just enough scale, influence and community connection to retrieve the situation.

But only with the right plan, leadership and will to change for the better.

At the national level, the junior game must force a whole-of-game summit. Let’s geteverything on the table. Let’s hear from the volunteer brigade who effectively sustain thegame. Let’s look at the research. How can we get womenmore involved (and not just onthe canteen)? How can we improve safety,improve coaching, nutrition, health,andsupportgovernance and fund raising?

Let’s hear from the National Rugby League; the Australian Rugby League Commission; thestate leagues and the Country Rugby League. Can they help find asolution?

After the NRL cashed in recently witha $1 billion TV deal, I find ithard to swallow that the junior game has nothing but the sweat of the volunteerbrow to sustain it.

Again, the call from the junior system must be sustained and loud, for though their eyes maybe closed, they can’t so easily close their ears.

In closing, I thought it illustrative last week after commenting on the Mitchell Pearce case thatmost online responses centred on why I would support him, or whether the ultimate penaltywas fair or otherwise. Not one comment questioned the wisdom (or naiveté) of myassertions relating to the encouraged illegality or immorality of spy-caming private citizensfor reward. Not one.

What does that say about the modern “us”? Am I to accept that no one cares that theseintrusions are now OK? Views may be different if you had to walk a mile in a victim’s shoes.

If you have an opinion on this please comment. I’m really interested.

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Business of putting Lake Mac on the map

CHANGE: “It’s a value proposition,” says Lake Macquarie Business Ltd’s inaugural president Ben Connell of its services. Picture: Marina Neil. BENJAMIN Connell, president of the newly minted Lake Macquarie Business Limited,jokes that hedoesn’t want you to know that he’s aCentral Coast resident.

The important thing, he says, isthat he’s got a business on the main street of Belmont –he’s a founding partner at Emerge Business Advisory and Chartered Accountants.

All of which means he knows well the challenges of running a business and the challenges of his clients’ businesses.

More importantly, in his new role, as he told a packed room at last Wednesday’s launch of Lake Macquarie Business Ltd, or LMB, he wants to put Lake Mac on the map.

“People think [Lake Macquarie] is all about services and tourism but in Toronto and Cardiff we have large industrial areas, and to be able to promote those to the greater area is important,” he said at the launch.

LMB’s journey started in 2013, when various local chambers of commerce from the Lake Macquarie area met and, says Mr Connell, “agreed what they were doing wasn’t working”.

Council funding to the chambers was reaching an end and despite all their efforts, less than 2.5 per cent of the 13,000businesses in Lake Macquarie were members of their local chamber.

“To develop a plan, we needed to go back to basics, genuinely look and understand our strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats and then start the process of building a new organisation that truly supported Lake Macquarie businesses,” he says.

Mr Connell says the group went back to the drawing board to develop a new business chamber that will be “innovative, relevant and different”.

Business chambers from Charlestown, Belmont and Swansea are the founding members of the new entity, which will also support other local chambers.

Mr Connell says LMB’s “sutainable”business model offersthree tiers of membership programs ranging from free services to larger offerings for bigger businesses.

The new entity is still finalising its advocacy efforts but it will focus on urban renewal, building business capabilities, tourism and identity.

Creating jobs is also seen as crucial: “Youth unemployment in some Lake Macquarie suburbs is as high as 25 per cent and businesses are telling us that the kids aren’t ready to be employed. We need to be doing something about this to get our kids ready,” says Mr Connell.

LMB’s strategic partners are Dantia, Lake Macquarie’s economic development company, the NSW and Hunter Business Chambers and the Lake Macquarie Business Growth Centre, and it also has local partners.

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Federal election 2016: Tony Windsor confirms bid to unseat Barnaby Joyce in New England

Tony Windsor is aiming for a comeback less than three years after he retired. Photo: Wolter Peeters Tony Windsor announces he will contest the seat of New England. Photo: Andrew Meares

Joyce faces pincer movement threat

Tony Windsor will go head to head against Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce for the seat of New England.

Ending months of speculation about a political comeback, Mr Windsor announced on Thursday that he will attempt to win back his old seat in Parliament.

The independent, who backed Julia Gillard to govern over Tony Abbott in the 2010 hung Parliament, was the New England MP for 12 years up until his unexpected retirement in 2013.

A defeat for Mr Joyce would represent a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Nationals.

There had been speculation that Mr Windsor would make a tilt for the Senate as his way back into federal politics.

Mr Windsor said he was standing to break down a “handbrake” hovering over Australia’s future.

“We’ve had this handbrake, and I’m not suggesting the current PM is a handbrake here either and it is not the Senate,” he said. “It is this small group of right-wingers of which Barnaby Joyce is one, Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz… that have a handbrake on progress in relation to issues of the future.

“The reason I’m standing is that I think I have to stand up for the sorts of things that I believe in, to give the people of the region that I come from the greatest opportunity for the future.”

Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday that the Greens state upper-house MP Jeremy Buckingham was also considering joining the race for New England, however he announced on Thursday that he would not be contesting.

“I wish [Mr Windsor] well in the election and I hope that Barnaby Joyce loses his seat because Barnaby has been absolutely hopeless in defending agriculture from coal mining and CSG,” he said in a statement.

Both Mr Buckingham and Mr Windsor have been vocal opponents of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine, which is in the final stages of approval and would be located on the rich Liverpool Plains.

During his time as Agriculture Minister, Mr Joyce broke ranks with his cabinet colleagues, saying the “world had gone mad” when the open-cut mine received approval but his elevation to the second-highest office in the Turnbull government will make it much more difficult for him to distance himself from the controversial project.

In response, Mr Joyce has already sharpened his lines about Mr Windsor being a hypocrite on the coal mine issue. The independent sold his farm to Whitehaven Coal.

“We will mount a full-scale grassroots campaign and I’m fully aware that it will be a David and Goliath event,” Mr Windsor predicted.

“And I’m looking forward to that.”

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

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Hunt for elusive night bird on screen at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra

Rob Nugent followed the trail of the mystery bird. Photo: Supplied His journey took him to remote parts of Australia, to the Indian Ocean and Europe. Photo: Supplied

A scene from the documentary showing a night parrot. Photo: Supplied

The filmmaker went to road-kill locations to search. Photo: Supplied

A specimen of the rare night parrot mounted for study. Photo: Supplied

The hunt for the night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) has been the Ahab against the white whale story of the bird-watching world for the past century, and the personal goal of Canberra filmmaker Robert Nugent for the better part of the last five years.

The elusive nocturnal bird discovered in some of Australia’s remoter locales was described by John Gould in 1861, but had disappeared by the end of the 19th century and assumed extinct.

Before video evidence of a live sighting was confirmed in 2013, local documentary filmmaker and academic Robert Nugent had started  a filmmaking quest to trace the history of the bird’s documented locations that would take him from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, and throughout Europe.

His film Night Parrot Stories it screens on Saturday, March 19, as part of the upcoming Art Not Apart Festival.

“It’s often called the Thylacine of the air,” Robert Nugent says of the Night Parrot, “and over the years it has been a great excuse for people to go on epic, but unsuccessful, journeys of discovery.”

The 1970 Miles Franklin Award recipient Dal Stivens’ book A Horse of the Air is named for the Indigenous term for the bird, and its central character Harry Craddock is driven mad along his search for it.

The night parrot’s mythical nature has inspired much great literature, including John Kinsella’s 1989 collected verse, Night parrots, and a similarly-titled collection of verse from Dorothy Porter in 1984.

Artist Mandy Martin’s 2015 exhibition at Sydney’s Delmar Gallery enjoyed the Night Parrot title too, but Nugent says the biggest artistic reference he heard on his cross-country journey was, of course, the Monty Python parrot sketch.

“Yes, I did bump into those jokes quite a bit along the way,” Nugent says.

Casting himself in the role of explorer, and with funding from Screen ACT and Screen Australia, Nugent set off on two great journeys.

The first took him along the Tropic of Capricorn, from Queensland to the West Australian coast, visiting the MacDonnell Ranges, the Gun Barrel Highway, along the path of rumoured sightings, including the site of a couple of unfortunate road-kill specimens.

This leg of his journey ended with a surprising piece of fortune at Willuna near the Carnarvon Ranges.

“[I was] driving down the main street of Willuna, looking lost. These two Aboriginal women came up to me and asked, ‘Are you looking for the night parrot?’,” Nugent recalls.

“There must be a look people get in their eyes.”

Nugent also travelled to the dusty museums and science collections of France, Germany, Hungary and England, where many of the earlier specimens ended up.

Nugent refers to himself as a “refugee from Sydney” who moved to Canberra following his university days, and while he has since hacked away in the halls of the ANU at a PhD looking at the Anthropocene, his resume also includes the 2007 film End of the Rainbow and 2011’s Memoirs of a Plague.

For End of the Rainbow, Nugent followed the dismantling of a gold mine’s infrastructure in Indonesian Borneo and its installation into a new community in West Africa.

The entertainment industry’s bible Variety called Nugent’s film an “entertaining and sometimes touching look at displacement and difficulties in adapting to change”, and Nugent continues to pursue those themes in his later films.

Night Parrot Stories looks at the mashing together of cultures, old and new, Western and Indigenous, their ways of collecting information, and also of occasionally losing that information.

“There’s a lot of whimsy in it, but also sadness and loss,” he says.

“It speaks to many of the anxieties we have about extinction, and this time we live in.”

He presents a range of ethnographic approaches, and along the way enlists many of Canberra’s wealth of ornithological talent. Local identities ornithologist Julian Reid, and former head of CSIRO Ecosystems Sciences Steve Moreton appear in the film.

Nugent spent much of his filming time as sole director and crew, but his film enjoys the sound recordings of Will Sheridan, Sam Petty’s sound design, and Hilary Balmond’s editing.

Does Nugent himself actually capture the night parrot on film? I won’t give that away, but Nugent is philosophical about his Odyssean journey.

“A bit like these urban-legend sightings of the Thylacine,” Nugent says, “it is one of those flashes in your life that convince that you’ve seen something out of the ordinary.”

Night Parrot Stories will screen on Saturday March 19, 4.00pm at Arc Cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive. 

Cris Kennedy is manager of education and community engagement at the National Film and Sound Archive.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

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Emily fires Matildas to win Rio qualifiers

STAR striker Kyah Simon believes a first Australian Olympic Games medal in football for either gender is now a realistic target after the Matildas won the Asian qualifying tournament.

GOAL: Emily van Egmond celebrates her long-range strike against China. Picture: Getty Images

Australia held on to top spot after former Newcastle Jets captain Emily van Egmond equalised with a stunning 25-metre drive with five minutes remaining against China in Osaka on Wednesday.

The 1-1 draw ensured Australia completed the tournament undefeated with four wins from five matches, shoring up a ticket to Rio along with China.

Van Egmond, who played all but 14 minutes of the Matildas’six games in 10 days, put her laces through a first-time shot in the 85th minute.

The ball swerved into the top right corner past goalkeeper Zhao Lina to give the FFC Frankfurt midfielder her third goal of the tournament.

With confidence at an all-time high, the Matildas are now focused on a podium finish in Rio.

The Matildas celebrate Emily van Egmond’s equaliser against China. Picture: Getty Images

“After the past 10 days, we have a belief that we are genuine medal contenders,” Simon said.

“And we have further scope to grow and improve.We are definitely going there to compete for a medal, not to make up the numbers.”

The Matildas’ best showing at an Olympic Games was to reach the lasteight at Athens 2004. Their male counterparts peaked with a fourth-placed finish at Barcelona in 1992.

Australia made it to the quarter-finals at last year’s World Cup in a spirited performance that captured widespread media attention.

But Simon, whose four goals topped the tournament, saidthe team hadimproved markedly in recent months.

“We have improved in leaps and bounds since the World Cup,” she said.

“A lot of that goes down to being on the same page defensivelyand having an aggressive mindset in defence.

“We have a lot of quality attackers in our team, so when you have the defensive stuff worked out, you are in good shape.

“We put a lot of focus on our physical condition ahead of the tournament, and that meant we could play at a high intensity throughout all five matches.

“We have shown that we can beat some of the best teams in the world, and it is just so exciting for the Olympics.”

The Matildas received a message of support from Sydney 2000 gold medallist Cathy Freeman after booking passage to Rio on Monday.

Despite that inspiration, Australia were relatively flat against China but still found a way to earn a share of the spoils thanks to a trademark comeback.

“It was probably our worst performance of the tournament, so it was disappointing from that standpoint,” Simon said.

“But to cap it off by finishing top is a huge achievement and we are very proud of what we achieved.”

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