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Boom times to bust for unemployed miner

Starting over: Former miner Brad Mort, with wife Kathy and children, from left, Rayna, 3, Hudson, 6, and Austin, 9, is looking for a new job.Brad Mort is the human face of the mining downturn.
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The Stroud 38-year-old was retrenched from his job at the Abel mine near Black Hill in August last year, after the Yancoal operation shed about 170 workers, orclose to two-thirds of workforce.

Mr Mort, a former horticulturalist and vineyard supervisor, had landed what hethought was his dream job in mining less than four years earlier after trying for two years to break into the industry.

“Mining was going gangbusters and I wanted a piece of that pie,” Mr Mort recalls. “My old job was very satisfying, but once the kids came along, I needed something more to secure our future.”

“When I was interviewed at Abel, they told me the mine had 25 to 30 years’ life left in it. I was really excited and grateful; Ithought that was going to see me out.”

Mr Mort loved the camaraderie of his new job, the betterpay packet and the extrafamily time his flexibleroster allowed. But after the firstyear, rumours of cutbacks began to circulate and the roster tightened up.Then, in August 2015, the axe fell.

Determined not to join the swelling ranks of long-term unemployed miners, Mr Mort took a short breakthen immersed himself inretraining, undertaking Certificate IV and diploma courses in Work, Health and Safety.

However, after “40 or 50” job applications, Mr Mort has had very little response and no job offers.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I have invested in the training and committed to thisbeing my future, so I am not ready to abandon it yet,but I can see that in another month or so, if nothing comes up, I will have to look around for whatever work I can get.”

This week’s announcement that 270 jobs are to be shed from the Mount Arthur mine near Muswellbrook brings the number of jobs set to go from Hunter mines this year alone to at least 1000.The Herald reported yesterdaythere was growing support for governments to develop a formal strategy to help mining communities deal with the downturn and unemployed mine workers transition into new roles.

Muswellbrook Mayor Martin Rush has called on the state government to commit $30 million to establishing an Upper Hunter Economic Development Council to address the issues and federal Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon wants to see a regional strategy promoting economic diversity.

Mr Mort said the volatility of the industrywas the reason hedid notconsider another mining job.

“I did a lot of research and decided there wasn’t a lot of future in coal, especially locally. The money andconditions have goneandI think it will be a long time before it turns around in workers’ favour again.”

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Kim Churchill mesmerises crowd at album world premiereGALLERY

Kim Churchill mesmerises crowd at album world premiere | GALLERY CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel
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CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel. Pictures by PERRY DUFFIN

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel. Pictures by PERRY DUFFIN

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel. Pictures by PERRY DUFFIN

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel. Pictures by PERRY DUFFIN

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

BIRTHDAY BOYS: Before Kim Churchill’s show kicks off, Grand Junction publican Ben Quinn wishes head chef Drew Fernie and Junkyard music fanatic Gerard Forde a happy birthday. Picture by PERRY DUFFIN

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

CHURCHILL IN SESSION: Kim Churchill premieres his next record at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel

TweetFacebookSilence/Win, is a step forward.

The songs are more intricate, stylistically at a crossroads of every folk tradition, from ’60s British pastoral to rhythmic roots.

The arrangements, spurned by Churchill’s kinetic guitar work, have a theatrical sensibility and a perfectionist’s attention to detail.

From the outset his vocal delivery is more diverse, traversing lower registers that evoke the velvet voice of Jeff Buckley.

The melodies and structures serve each lyrical sentiment, narrative and mood, delivered with humble restraint.

Though, of course, these are just the bare bones of each new song- the “unplugged” renditions.

On record they will feature lush arrangements withstring quartets and brass.

But here in the intimate setting of the Grand Junction’s dining room, in front of 60 near-catatonic fans, the stripped-back versions are nothing short of arresting.

Churchill affords the crowd glimpses of his technically capability; momentary flourishes where fingers ripple across the neck too fast to process, a brief flurry of harmonics, songs played entirely over the neck.

He might be Australia’s best guitarist, but he’s not about to prove it.

Intersected with the unreleased songs are some fan favourites, like Don’t Leave Your Life Too Long and Rage (the latter always performed at the publican’s behest).

Churchill also tells stories about the inspiration behind each new work, candidly conveying the rumination that spawned each new composition, from a Sri Lankan sojourn to his grandmother’s innocent romance during the final weeks of her life.

He brings the evening to a close with Window to the Sky, the tune voted to number 42 in last year’s Triple J Hottest 100 countdown.

It’s an appropriate choice.

If this album preview has been any indication, Churchill’s window to the sky is wide open.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Victorian stranglehold on Golden Slipper might unearth another likely prospect

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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A Mick Price-led Victorian stranglehold on the Golden Slipper has certainly muddied the two-year-old picture, but another wildcard from south of the border is already eyeing off bigger fish later in the carnival.

Dominant Bendigo maiden winner Meridian Star will provide Jackie Beriman with her first ride at Rosehill, hoping to throw another spanner in the works in the strangest of Golden Slipper build-ups.

Price’s stablemates Extreme Choice and Flying Artie won’t be bundled from the top of betting, but Meridian Star can provide trainer Richard Laming with some food for thought in the Bede Murray Magic Night Stakes, the Golden Slipper’s last-chance saloon.

“More than likely we won’t go to the Slipper and will probably wait for the Sires [Produce], but you never know,” Laming said. “Everything has got to go right obviously.

“I don’t really have a lot of two-year-olds as I don’t push them early. This is the first main prep she’s put her hand up and she’s such a good doing filly in that she’s never left an oat.

“She’s shown a lot of natural ability and the first time we let her head go was at Bendigo the other day. There’s still more improvement there.”

Gai Waterhouse is tipped to press her claims to be three-handed in the Golden Slipper with Prompt Response a $3 favourite with Ladbrokes for the Magic Night Stakes where Godolphin’s Reisling Stakes late scratching Calliope is a $3.60 second elect.

Meridian Star, owned by the emerging Group 1 Racing syndicator, is a $31 chance of causing a boilover in the fillies division.

But it hasn’t deterred the enthusiasm of those attached to the filly, which was passed in for $55,000 at last year’s Easter sale in Sydney and picked up by Group 1 Racing’s Shaun Wallis, who was introduced to Laming through top jockey Michael Rodd.

“We started with one horse and now we’ve got about 10 [together],” Laming said. “We have just taken our time and before [Meridian Star] won we went there pretty confident and she won well.”

Wales will wear the Group 1 red and black colours in Monday’s Adelaide Cup.

The colts will have their chance to stake an 11th-hour Golden Slipper bid in the Pago Pago Stakes with the luckless Mount Panorama a $3.50 favourite in an open betting market.

“He has had excuses in all three starts to date whether it be through missing the start or wet tracks and it looks a nice race for him,” co-trainer Michael Hawkes said. “If we were to consider going onto the Slipper he would have to win and win well though.”

Fellow Rosehill lodger Gerald Ryan has already ruled out a Golden Slipper start for Aviator, a $16 hope in the Pago Pago Stakes, should he earn exemption for the $3.5 million scamper on Saturday week.

“I said to [Vinery Stud’s] Peter Orton, ‘I reckon this horse could measure up in the autumn’,” Ryan said. “Instead of overtaxing him in the spring we gave him five weeks off and started again.

“He worked very well [on Tuesday] morning with an older horse and I love when two-year-olds can do that. He’s going terrific, but he’s another where the Slipper was never on his agenda.”

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Anthony Caceres’ injury forces Melbourne City midfield reshuffle ahead of Adelaide game

The topsy turvy nature of this year’s A-League season has led to predictions a team that doesn’t finish in the top two could win the title for the first time, and Melbourne City coach John van ‘t Schip doesn’t disagree.
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The Dutchman takes his City team to Adelaide on Friday night for a game which will have a big bearing on how City’s season pans out.

Van ‘t Schip has a full squad to choose from, barring long-term absentee Corey Gameiro and midfielder Anthony Caceres, who strained his quad at training earlier this week.

He will have to shuffle his midfield to cover for Caceres’ absence and also has the option of recalling defender Connor Chapman at the back.

The fact that City kept only their second clean sheet of the season last week in the 3-0 win over Sydney FC is, however, an argument for him to stick to the status quo, with Paddy Kisnorbo and Alex Wilkinson anchoring the backline.

So far this season Sydney, Melbourne Victory, Brisbane, Western Sydney and now Adelaide have been at the top of the ladder, and with six rounds to go there is plenty of scope for the current pecking order to change dramatically.

Adelaide are currently four points ahead of City, on 39 points. Win on Friday  and City are back in the battle for the minor premiership. Lose, and it is hard to see City regaining lost ground against the Reds, who are currently on the back of a club record 14 game unbeaten streak.

“At the end of the league the momentum where you are is very important,” said van ‘t Schip, at training before his team flew to South Australia.

“It’s that close, it’s changing all the time. Brisbane, Western Sdyney, now Adelaide is on top. If we have a good result in Adelaide we are there in the mix as well. It could all change in the play-offs.”

His sentiments would be shared by Kevin Muscat, coach of defending champions Melbourne Victory, who languish in fifth spot and face a potentially season-defining game in Brisbane on Saturday night, and Kenny Lowe, coach of rapid improvers Perth Glory.

The Glory knocked Sydney out of the top six when they defeated Newcastle Jets on Monday night and like Adelaide they are a team riding their form, having only lost one of their last eight matches.

For Perth a top-two spot is probably out of reach, but they can be a finals wrecking ball from the bottom half of the draw.

For City it is very much a possibility, especially if they can get three points at Hindmarsh and bring the Reds’ run to an end.

Inspired by Aaron Mooy, City ran out 4-2 winners early in the season when the teams met for the first time. Both were in very different places then: Adelaide were winless, and City wildly inconsistent.

Van ‘t Schip won’t put too much store in that last meeting, admitting that despite the scoreline the game could have gone either way.

“I think Amor [Reds coach Guillermo Amor] kept telling people that they were playing well. Maybe they were having transformation because of the coaching change [from Josep Gombau to Amor]. It was a very open game when we won there 4-2. They had chances … sometimes games get decided on certain moments, we just took the moments better than they did.”

He is under no illusion that the task this time will be harder.

“After they started winning it’s all going their way. You can’t be undefeated for 14 or 15 games in a row without being a good team. They have confidence, and they are on fire.”

Van ‘t Schip has urged consistency from his squad, but it has been hard as he has hardly ever been able to field the same starting 11.

“We used a lot of players, especially that first part. Connor Chapman is now fit. He could play a role,  but it’s now about competition and waiting for your chance. When you get it you have to be ready. If players are performing then they can continue.”

The clean sheet against Sydney was a significant boost for the side, says van ‘t Schip.

“It’s very important, the boys understand that if we get that part right [defending] we can really play a big role in the last part of the league and into the play-offs.

“If you don’t get it right it brings uncertainty to the team. We get a great test on Friday against a team that is always playing good football. “

Argentinan midfielder Marcelo Carrusca is the heartbeat of the Adelaide side but it is not just about keeping him quiet, van ‘t Schip says.

“He can set things up, he can dictate, he is intelligent, he is without a doubt a very important player for them. But it’s not all about him, it’s their whole team.”

French winger Harry Novillo, suspended for two weeks by the club for his involvement in a domestic dispute, returned last week against Sydney and is likely to play again.

Van ‘t Schip was reluctant to get drawn into a debate about the volatile striker, content to say he had integrated well on field on his return.

“We have done what we had to do as a club. We talked about it with Harry and the players. He fitted in well with the players, worked hard and that’s the best way to show that he wants to pay [the club] back.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Stella prize shortlist authors vie for $50,000 prize

Poet Fiona Wright at ‘Coffee and a Yarn cafe’, Newtown, Sydney. 24th March 2011. Photos: Tamara Dean Photo: Tamara Dean TKDFiction dominates the shortlist for this year’s Stella Prize, with two collections of short stories, three novels and one tranche of essays vying for the $50,000 award that is given to a book by an Australian woman writer that is “original, excellent and engaging”. There were 170 entries.
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On the list announced today are: Six Bedrooms, by Tegan Bennett Daylight, a suite of 10 stories, four linked; Hope Farm by Peggy Frew, the second novel by a former Age short-story competition winner and member of Melbourne band Art of Fighting;A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories by Elizabeth Harrower, whose long-out-of-print work has been brought back into print to great acclaim in the past few years; The World Without Us, by Mireille Juchau, who won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for fiction in January; The Natural Way of Things, by Charlotte Wood, a dystopic novel that rages against the abuse of power in our society, and Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by poet Fiona Wright.

Brenda Walker, chair of the judges, said the prize was going from strength to strength.

“A common thread I see – it doesn’t apply to every title – is some kind of vital expansion of Australian women’s literature,” she said. “You can say that Fiona Wright connects her book to Christina Stead – she writes quite a bit about Stead – and you immediately think about Barbara Baynton when looking at a few of the titles. Elizabeth Harrower is part of that literary history and there she is vivid and present. So I see this as a burgeoning of women’s literary tradition, which has often been a little bit oblique to the mainstream, canonical stuff.”

Wright, whose previous work was a collection of poetry, Knuckled, started her essays about anorexia after she had emerged from her first spell in hospital for the eating disorder.

“I had to really reconsider a whole lot of things in my world and in my life and in myself. It felt like everything had been thrown up in the air and I was very much sorting through the pieces of the narrative I’d been telling myself. I think the essays really came out of that – they are such a good form for thinking through.”

But she was quick to point out that Small Acts of Disappearance was not a recovery narrative.

“I find that narrative frustrating. It’s too simplistic and it forces this linearity on a process that is anything but. And it also lends itself or forces a neat ending and I’m not sure that I believe in those.”

In the essays she equates the impulse to starve and the impulse to write. Hunger and writing, for her, are both “mediators”.

“I think that hunger is something that can stand between you and the world. Both as a kind of protection and as away of managing the complexity of the world. Writing, for me at least, is so often a process of making meaning and of finding patterns within things that happen. Hunger has that effect; it’s all about ritual and regularity and predictability, in a way.”

Wright says she has another poetry book in the pipeline but was still writing essays: “I think I’ve fallen in love with essays. I keep writing them, which I never expected to happen. It’s just such a fantastic and flexible form.”

All the shortlisted authors will this year receive $2000 and a three-week writing retreat. The winner of the Stella Prize will be announced on April 19.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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