Rolling the dice on rugby league game

HAVE A GO: Bob Farrell has developed a rugby league board game prototype.

KOTARA South’s Bob Farrell has got an idea for aboard game that we reckon isa real goer.

At the encouragement of his wife, Mr Farrell began working on a rugby league board game in the late 1990s.

Hundreds of man hours and dozens of rule changes later, he’s got a prototype that features three different types of dice, a playing field, a scoreboard, a timer, an extensive rule and instruction bookletand playing cards for every scenario imaginable.

You can kick field-goals, penalty goals, pack scrums, spread the ball wide, perform attacking kicks, you name it.

What he needs now is someone to get behind it and help him mass produce it.

To simplify the game somewhat, Mr Farrell has reduced the number of players on the field from 13 to 1.

“You can’t do a game with 13 players,” Mr Farrell said. “It would take an hour for one play.”

The board has green and yellow squares on it. Green is open pasture, yellow could mean an error or a penalty.

The teething problems with the game stem from the complexity of the sport and its ever-changing nature.

“This has taken a long time,” he said. “It’s complicated.

“I get to a point where I think I’m ready and then I’ve got to adapt to something new in the game.”

He thinks his ideacould be expanded into a computerised board game, but he’sold school and he wants to see the board game created first.

Topics reckons its an idea to get behind and the rugby league mad people of the Hunter are the ones to make it happen.

If you’re interested in the game or you want more details get in touch with Topics on 4979 5940 and we can put you onto Bob.

BIGGEST LOSER BOOT CAMP That shredded Jofre family are coming to Newcastle on Sunday.

HERE’S one. Do you remember the Jofre family from the most recent season of The Biggest Loser?

They were the family that just crushed everyone else, won literally ever challenge and dropped like 200 kilograms between them.

Their domination was quite literallyunparalleled in the history of Australian reality TV.

Among the teams they just swept aside was the Hunter’s own Pestell family.

The Pestells spent a lot of their time on screen bickering among themselves, perpetuating that reality TV myth that we’re all bogans in the Hunter.

Anyway, the conquering Jofre family will be on the Pestell’s turf on Sunday to conduct a boot camp session.

Even with the competition over and won they’re still rubbing their success in with a national tour.

The Jofre family have a big fan base and expectations are there will be more than 200 people at the session.

Topics is told their motto is “leave nothing in the tank”.

We can just imagine Pablo, the softly spoken one, screaming that in our face as we complete yet another set of burpees.

The boot camp starts at 10am at Shortland Reserve on Sunday. Tickets are $20.

YOU OUGHTA LOOK OUTYOLO, you only live once.The battle cry of a generation. It’s true, you do only live once. But does that mean you should live your life by that motto? Should you obnoxiously shout YOLO in the faces of the elderly while you whiz by on a razor scooter?

Topics thought definitely yes. Seize that day, we say.But apparently the answer is, in fact,a resounding no.

YOLO is no longer a cool expression. Who knew?

The boys from Lonely Island had an interesting take on the whole YOLO thing, pointing out that if you do indeed only live once then you should take it easy. Life is precious and all that.

So, with that in mind, could you say YOLO ironically?

Again, Topics was firmly in theyes camp. We swear by sarcastic acronyms. But it turns out it’s safest to just keep that word out your mouth.

A study from popular dating site Zoosk has found that using YOLO decreases attraction levels and response rates in online datingby nearly 50 per cent.

So that’s what you’ve been doing wrong.You can still live each day like it’s your last, justbe super secretive about it.

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Making hard decisions on small schools

FOR a government looking to best utilise alimited education budget, small schools on the edges of urban areas can be a tempting target for closure. In some cases, aclosure will be inevitable. It mighteven be in the best interest of the affected families ifit means their children get a better education elsewhere.

But such situations are often fraught with emotion, as the government’s efforts to close public schools at Wollombi and Martins Creek clearly showed.

In the first instance, Wollombi Public School had just five pupils when it was closed at the end of 2014.Martins Creek, which had been scheduled to close at the end of last year, had six students –one of them aneight-year-old boy with special needs.Fighting to keep their school open, Martins Creek families attracted the interest of two Upper House parliamentarians, Paul Green from the Christian Democrats, and John Kaye from the NSW Greens, who brought the government’s handling of school closures to public light in mid-2014.

Both took part in a subsequentUpper House select committee inquiry into school closures –Mr Green as chairman –that made 10 recommendations to the government in October last year, including a delay to the closing of Martins Creek. Two months later,the government gave the school a four-year reprieve,ensuring it will stay open until the end of 2019. Earlier this month, it also accepted eight of the committee’s nineremainingrecommendations.

But its decision to reject the 10thand final recommendation –for an independent audit of its handling of parent complaints at both schools –has angered the families involved, who say they have lost all faith in the Department of Education as a result.

They are also unhappyat the government’s rationale for rejecting the audit recommendation, that the NSW Ombudsman’s Office has already investigated the matters in question.

On balance, there is perhaps little to be gained from trawling over the fine detail of the department’s past decision-making, especially given that the recommendations the government has promised to observe shouldresult in a better deal for families with children at small schools.

As the committee notes, some school closures will always be inevitable. They will be easier to bear for the families involved if the government’s involved make theirdecisionswithtransparency and good faith.

ISSUE: 48,180

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Northern NSW looks to pass on Emerging Jets, W-League to new club owners

YOUTH STRATEGY: The Emerging Jets could come under the A-League club’s umbrella when the franchise is sold. Picture: Ryan Osland

NORTHERN NSW Football will aim to hand control of the Emerging Jets and Newcastle’s W-League team to the A-League club’s new owners under a strategic plan to be announced next week.

The Emerging Jets academy launched in 2012 with much fanfare as a joint venture between Northern NSW, Football Federation Australia and the Jets, then owned by Nathan Tinkler.

Former FFA technical director Han Berger hailed it asa blueprint for other clubs to follow after Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group agreed to tip in $120,000 a year.

But, like Tinkler’s other Hunter sporting interests, the deal turned sour and the program is now“Jets” in name only. The funding burdenhas fallen largely on parents and Northern NSW, which invests $250,000 a year in the academy.

The Jets were once pioneers injunior development but are now the only club in the A-League not running their own program.

Northern NSW boss David Eland, who is also chief executive of the Jets, said it was up to the FFA whether taking on the W-League side and the Emerging Jets would be conditions of the club’s sale.

“Northern’s perspective on it is that we support the FFA’s Whole of Football plan that clubs ultimately should be controlling their own destiny, that they should be running their academies and that in the long-term the W-League will be best served being connected to a professional club,” Eland said.

“But at this point in time Northern is still prepared to play a role in both the Emerging Jets and the W-League.

“Our new strategic plan will signal the fact that both those programs at the right time should transition to the club.”

Other state federations, at the behest of FFA, have largely passed on responsibility for elite talent development to A-League clubs.

Western Sydney Wanderers, Sydney FC and the Central Coast Mariners now run boys’teams down to under-13s playing in Sydney NPL competitions.The much larger Jets academy has nine boys’ squads starting at under-nines and five girls’ teams from under-12s.

The FFA has engaged investment bank UBS to negotiatethe saleof the club after a deal with Dundee United owner Stephen Thompson fell through late last year.

UBS is understood to have sent “information memorandums” to six prospective buyers, but Chinese lighting magnate Martin Lee is believed to be the frontrunner.

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Principal’s sticky spot

STUCK: Principal Kevin Greaves is duct taped to the wall to raise funds for new playground equipment. Picture: PERRY DUFFINMaitland Public School stuck their principal tothe wall for a good cause lastweek.

The school is self-funding upgrades to its playground with bush tucker gardens, a reading deck, outdoor bean bags and numerous other upgrades in the works for the next few months.

Following the online sensation of duct-taping principals and bosses to pylons, poles and walls, the P and Cspotted a fundraising opportunity withprincipal Kevin Greaves.

Students could purchase strips of tape to anchor their principal to abrick wall, to raise money for the school’s upgrades.

Mr Greaves agreed and integrated the fun with the school’s cross country and waterrunday.

While some students cooled off with water pistols and sprinklers in the unseasonable warmth, others began taping Mr Greaves to a brick wall.

“It was actually nice and comfortable for a while, a bit of a cocoon,” Mr Greavessaid.

But the pleasant sensation didn’t last as the mercury pushed past 35degrees Celsius in the playground.

“I think I was about 30 seconds away from chucking up everywhere,” he said.

“It was a lot hotter under all that tape.”

With some help from gravity the principal came down from the wall and made a quick recovery.

While the final total of the fundraiser is not yet known, Mr Greaves saidhe was proud of the fun day the school was able to host for the community.

“It was uniquely Maitland Public,” he said.

Mr Greaves said he was planning to try the event again later in the year when the weather cooleddown.

Though he saidhe was also considering setting somebody in jelly.

He shared his experience on social media and attracted more than 100 likes on Facebook.

“So this is how I spent my day!” he wrote.

“36 degrees stuck to a brick wall in the open. I almost fainted and vomited but made it to the end. 45 minutes sticking time and, even with the heat, I did manage to stay there for a short time but piked it in the end.”

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Orchard at home in India

ROAD TO RIO: Maitland midfielder Simon Orchard is expected to be a key figure in Australia’s 2016 Olympic campaign.

LIKEmany others Simon Orchard was cooped up in a hotel room when he first arrived in India six years ago.

Hidden away from the hustle and bustle, protected from the myriad safety fears and blocking out the strong smells smouldering aroundevery corner.

PASSAGE TO INDIA: Simon Orchard likes to experience the traditional culture when he is playing hockey in the subcontinent.

These days, with about eight months of experience travelling around the country, the Hunter-bred hockey player simply walks the streets embracing the Indian way of life.

LOCAL CUSTOMS: Simon Orchard enjoying his down time in between games for Hockey India League champions Punjab Warriors.

“Sensory overload,” the 30-year-old Australian representative said.

“It’s the only way to describe it –the sights, the sounds, the smells.

“India doesn’t miss you. There are so many things happening all the time.

“A lot of it is only around the corner and if you stay locked up, like I used to, you don’t really get that authentic experience.

“But if you take a walk along the street and embrace it all, it’s very satisfying.

“I suppose it’s like that old saying –you only get out what you put in.”

This week Orchardresumedtraining with the Kookaburras in Perth ahead of a possible 2016 Olympics campaign in Rio in August.

But for the six weeks prior to that Orchard was gallivanting around the sub-continent as part of the Hockey India League.

This time around the midfielder’sfranchise, the Punjab Warriors, claimed the crown after thrashingKalinga Lancers 6-1 in the tournament decider.

Regardless of the recent success, this was his fourth crack at the lucrative competition and it equates to a combined period of about half a year spent in India.

When you throw in a Commonwealth Games and World Cup, both in 2010, and a pair of World Hockey League campaigns the traditional Gregorian calendar has almost been through a complete rotation.

“I’ve never really thought about it like that but I would have spent a good eight months there between the India league and other tournaments,” Orchard said.

“It’s not like anywhere else in the world.”

An Olympics in London, a season in the Netherlands, Oceania play-offs in New Zealand, debut in South Africa and games in Spain –the Maitland Rams product has travelled the globe as a professional player and won almost every title on offer.

He reckons nothing compares to the vibrant colours both on and off the Indian field.

“The smiles on the kids faces andthe warm welcome from locals are amazing,” he said.“And while hockey isn’t quite on the same level as cricket over there it is a close second and the fans are just as loud and passionate.

“They pack out almost every game and they line up waiting to get in.”

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Netball, ANZ Championship: Melbourne Vixens search for a replacement for injured Tegan Philip

Tegan Philip’s injury leaves a giant hole for the Vixens. Photo: Michele MossopSimone McKinnis knows what people are saying. Having lost her team’s all-time leading goalscorer to a knee reconstruction three weeks before round one, the 2014 Melbourne Vixens premiership coach concedes there is a perception the Vixens will struggle mightily this ANZ Championship season without Tegan Philip.

“I’m sure there is, and let them think that,” McKinnis said. “We don’t get caught up in what anybody else thinks because all that matters is what we’re doing and what we think. Absolutely, I’m sure that’s what people think – which, you like that.”

Certainly, if the Vixens were an ASX commodity, few would be buying. As new captain Madi Robinson prepares to make her comeback from last year’s disastrous anterior cruciate rupture, 2016 is already over for the team’s starting goal attack. In defence, too, vast experience has been lost with the retirement of stalwart Bianca Chatfield.

Philip’s left knee crumpled on landing late in Saturday night’s practice match against the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Shepparton, leaving young understudy Alice Teague-Neeld with the prospect of a vastly upgraded role. The Vixens are also scouring the land – including this week’s 21-and-under nationals – for an extra shooter to add to a group completed by spearhead Karyn Bailey and tall recruit Emma Ryde, although McKinnis will not be rushed.

“You’re shattered for what could have been, and you feel for Tegan, but it is very much a sense that we just have to move on, and you never know what comes out of it,” McKinnis said. “So we’re not sure where we’re going at the moment, but we’ll just look at what are all the options, take the time that we need, and then make the decision when we’re ready to.

“We’re going through everything and looking at who are the possibilities, or potentials, and in the meantime we just have some of the [ANL Victorian] Fury girls coming in and working with us, and just learning as much as we can.”

Acknowledging the need to settle the issue as soon as possible, with the NSW Swifts awaiting on April 2, McKinnis said the extra player taken to the pre-season shootout in Sydney from March 18-20, may only be providing temporary cover. Certainly, no one of Philip’s calibre is available, for the 28-year-old was a Commonwealth Games gold medallist and grand final MVP for the Vixens in a triumphant 2014.

“I feel for Tegan, because she was back on track,” McKinnis said. “We all had a bit of an up-and-down year last year, but she was looking good, and playing well, so it’s tough, very tough for her.”

Yet, one less-than-dire parallel could be drawn with the events of two years ago, when centre Elissa Kent announced her pregnancy just weeks before the opening round, and the untried Liz Watson – now a capped Diamond – filled the role admirably. McKinnis reminded her team of that when it reassembled on Monday night, Philip providing a video message that also was shared among the group.

“We said ‘we’ve been through this before; even with Elissa pulling out, then next thing you know there’s Lizzie,” the coach said. “Last year with Madi [missing after round six] it took us a little while, but at the end of it we knew that anybody was capable of taking on a different role and stepping up another level and it’ll be no different this time.”

Teague-Neeld was given a taste off the bench last year, but only a small one, and McKinnis said the difference after a full year in the Vixens’ program for the trio of 2015 newcomers including Chloe Watson and Emily Mannix was immense.

“It’s just different athletes…. they’re comfortable, confident, strong athletes within the group now and that’s been obvious right from the word go,” McKinnis said.

“Anyone in the group is ready to be starting seven and that’s been our focus. With the way everybody’s been training, we’ve always felt comfortable that anybody can be taking the court, and I genuinely feel that and I certainly feel it after coming back from Shepparton. Besides the disappointment around Tegan, and obviously there were some moments when we were just all over the shop, I was just rapt with how everybody played.”

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Adelaide United’s Stefan Mauk looking to put one over on old Melbourne City teammates

When a player has spent years with one team, and then moves to a new side who plays his old side within a few weeks of his transfer, he should, in theory, have the inside running on how his former teammates will set up.

Stefan Mauk, late of Melbourne City, now of record-breaking Adelaide, should have the skinny on John van ‘t Schip’s tactics and his team’s approach to key moments in any game.

Fortunately for City, when midfielder Mauk moved back to the city of his birth and upbringing, defensive utility Osama Malik moved in the opposite direction, bringing with him a deep understanding of Adelaide coach Guillermo Amor’s game plan.

Will the two cancel each other out? Friday night will tell, but Adelaide, on a storming unbeaten 14-game run, are confident they will keep that record going despite the loss of key defender Tarek Elrich, who is out for four weeks with a groin injury.

“This team is very good,” says Amor. “Other players can come in and play well. Getting three points is very important in our position.

“Now [in the run-in to the season] it is like starting a new league, there are five games left. The players are playing with more surety, more confidence. You play differently when you have more points.”

Asked how he would counter City’s attacking threat, Amor said his side would press, if the situation demanded it, but warned that Bruno Fornaroli, Aaron Mooy and Harry Novillo were very good players who could cause danger for the hosts at any time.

This game will be Eugene Galekovic’s 250th appearance for Adelaide, a milestone which is important to the club captain and will undoubtedly inspire his teammates.

“It was important at the start of the season when he wasn’t playing,” said Amor of the period when Galekovic was injured, which coincided with the club’s poor start to the campaign. “He was always with the group to help the team, help the coaches. He is an international player, he is experienced, he is important for the group.”

For Mauk there are no nerves facing his old teammates, even though he is expecting some good natured sledging and banter out on the pitch. The scouting of opponents these days is so thorough, he says, that there will be few surprises and little information he can give his new bosses or teammates that they don’t already know.

“It might be a bit strange before the game starts, but when it kicks off it will be like playing any other team.

“Everyone is confident when the team is winning. The unity is good, everyone wants to play for each other. The spirit is very good. I don’t see too many teams being able to stop us as long as we keep the momentum going.”

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Jeremy Tilse and Dave Dennis thankful to be starting 10th season together at Waratahs

Dave Dennis (left) and Jeremy Tilse are the longest standing current Waratahs players, and about to embark on their 10th consecutive season. Photo: Dallas KilponenWhen Sydney University teammates and close buddies Jeremy Tilse and Dave Dennis arrived for Waratahs pre-season training in the summer of 2006-07, they paused and took a minute to scan the surrounds of a gym littered with players they had looked up to for years.

Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor, Matt Dunning, Phil Waugh and Al Baxter – just to name a few – were all there; seasoned campaigners, going about their own business with then-coach Ewen McKenzie keeping a watchful eye on things.

“Just to be in the same building as some of the greats of the game was really exciting, but pretty nerve-racking,” says Dennis. “I don’t think I said a word for the first two years.”

Tilse, 29, and Dennis, 30, are now a couple of older heads pushing each other in the gym and embarking on their 10th consecutive season in Waratahs colours – a feat they could only have dreamed of when sharing beers a decade ago at Tilse’s “party house” in Glebe.

“It’s hard to put into words … 10 years at the Waratahs is a rather remarkable accomplishment,” says Tilse. “I’m very proud to have been able to do that. For me, every day I really enjoy hanging out with the guys and hanging out with the team. For 10 years doing something that you love, with a team that you love, is just awesome.”

Dennis, who hails from the Hawkesbury region, warmed to Tilse’s kind country nature the moment they introduced themselves.

“We were doing what uni students do; spending some time together and partying,” says Dennis. “We formed our relationship quite early and we had similar upbringings in a sense. We had similar interests and always got along from day one.”

Tilse notched up his 50th Super Rugby game for the Waratahs against the Brumbies last Friday in Canberra. Through form and fitness he has not racked up as many caps as some of his other more high-profile teammates, but his work ethic and impact around the squad should not be underestimated.

“He’s spent a lot of time stuck behind a lot of other players, but he was always training 100 per cent, playing 100 per cent and always had a smile on his face,” says Dennis. “He plays the game for the right reasons. He’s got a very warm nature to him. I’ve been very lucky that he’s stayed at the club the whole time I’ve been there because I consider him a really good teammate and friend away from rugby.”

Tilse speaks just as highly of Dennis and laughs when asked how the pair go in the gym now compared to that gruelling pre-season in 2007.

“Nowadays I’m really feeling it, I reckon the pre-seasons have got a lot harder,” says Tilse. “Denno performs well in the gym. Let him think he can lift more because it’s for his ego.”

Is this true Dave?

“Ask him if he’s ever outlifted me, I think he’s still chasing me,” says Dennis. “His technique’s no good, but his ticker and his pure country brawn gets him through. He puts weights on his shoulders and he doesn’t worry about technique … he’s a muscler.”

According to Tilse, as he thinks back to what it was like in his day, he believes the Waratahs stars of the future might be in the gym for a slightly different reason to when he first started.

“For the young guys now, it’s not about how much they lift, it’s about how they’re looking,” says Tilse. “It’s all about the Instagram profile. They work very hard, but they do have a bit more of a look in the mirror.”

Dennis will part ways with the club at the end of the season for a stint in England with the Exeter Chiefs, but knows he can leave having given the Waratahs as much blood, sweat and tears as just about anyone.

“It is quite hard nowadays to stay at the same club for 10 years and it’s something I’m very proud of and I’m sure Tilsey is too,” says Dennis. “We’re both New South Welshman, we always wanted to play for the club and stay with the club. It’s something you look back on and you’re very proud of. Hopefully this year is another really exciting year to finish up with.” 

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Some voters believe asylum seekers get $10,000 and Nike shoes

The Melbourne University qualitative research laid bare the negative views on asylum seekers held by many Australians. Photo: Angela Wylie Nike shoes are given to asylum seekers, along with $10,000 in cash – according to some. Photo: Pablo Cuadra

Bishop hopes to sign deal to return failed asylum seekers

Some Australians wrongly believe asylum seekers and refugees in this country are given a $10,000 lump sum, Nike shoes and preferential treatment for public housing, according to research that also found religious prejudice against Muslims is largely driving negative attitudes towards the newcomers.

The University of Melbourne study also revealed many people concerned about the “Islamisation” of Australia were “unshakably convinced” Muslims were universally overpowering Christian traditions, such as Christmas cards and the singing of carols in schools, despite having no such direct or second-hand experiences.

The qualitative research involved 10 focus group discussions in metropolitan, regional and remote locations in NSW, Victoria and Queensland between August 24 and September 3 last year.

The researchers said, based on previous opinion polls, voters who held strongly negative views on asylum seekers far outnumbered those with strongly positive views, and that the Australian public largely supports the Turnbull government’s tough stance on “unauthorised” boat arrivals.

The focus groups, involving 80 people, revealed the single most important driver of negative attitudes towards asylum seekers was “religious prejudice”, sometimes expressed as concern about the “Islamisation” of Australia.

This involved two views: seeing Islam as a religion intolerant of non-Muslims, and seeing Islam as synonymous with the terrorism threat.

The researchers heard “countless anecdotes – none based on first-hand evidence” that public places such as schools and shopping centres had abandoned Christmas carols and nativity plays to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities, and that ordinary people sent “happy holidays” cards rather than Christmas cards to avoid offending Muslims.

“Doubtless instances occur of all these phenomena, but those who wish to believe in a nascent Muslim ascendancy assert that they happen everywhere,” the research said.

Late last year, the Victorian Labor government was accused of trying to secularise schools by banning the singing of Christmas carols. The government strongly rejected the claim, saying Christmas decorations and carols were allowed at schools, but if visiting groups wanted to “sing religious songs” it must be done before or after school or during lunch, to avoid proselytising.

Racism towards asylum seekers mostly seen to be from “the Middle East” played a lesser role in negative attitudes, as did “materialist anxieties” that newcomers received preferential treatment for services such as public housing and welfare.

The study found this factor most prevalent among people who were themselves struggling – primarily blue-collar workers and people in western Sydney.

One focus group participant said: “They are running around in new Nike shoes. They had all been given a place, you know … You have homeless people that haven’t even got a place in Sydney, yet these people just walk in get a place [and] $10,000, new shoes.”

A refugee resettlement service told Fairfax Media that asylum seekers living in the community received partial Centrelink benefits and help to find affordable rental housing in the private market, usually in outer suburbs, and may receive furniture and clothes donated by community groups.

Refugees received a package of basic household goods and were eligible for Centrelink benefits, and were helped to find private rental accommodation. Neither group received $10,000.

The study also found there was scant knowledge of Australia’s international legal obligations to people seeking asylum – leading to a general readiness to accept labels such as “illegals” and “queue-jumpers”. It found support for boat turnbacks and offshore processing was conditional on there being no other way that was more fair and humane, while still minimising deaths at sea and ensuring proper screening of entrants.

The research was designed and conducted by Dr Denis Muller, senior research fellow at the university’s Centre for Advancing Journalism.

It concluded that a more constructive public debate on the asylum seeker issue required the correction of misconceptions and knowledge gaps, the promotion of community tolerance and respect, and more discussion over whether Australia was doing enough to help alleviate the world’s humanitarian crisis.

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Mining protesters could face seven years’ jail under Baird government CSG plans

A fixture of the northern rivers CSG protests, the Knitting Nannas are pictured on the outskirts of Lismore, near the Bentley Blockade. Photo: Peter Rae A proposed Baird government crackdown on anti-mining protests could expose anti-CSG protesters across NSW to criminal penalties and up to seven years’ jail.

It has previously been reported the government’s proposed anti-mining interference bill would expand police powers to search protesters intent on attaching themselves to mining equipment, seize their materials and levy heavy fines greater than $5000 upon them.

But the bill also potentially exposes a wave of anti-coal seam gas protesters across NSW to criminal penalties and a maximum custodial sentence of seven years’ jail.

The bill would amend the state’s Crimes Act to extend the crime of “interfering with a mine site” – including hindering a mine’s equipment – to CSG extraction and exploration sites instead of an existing focus on coal mines.

“We could see people like [Australian rugby player] David Pocock locked up for seven years; he locked onto an excavator in the Leard State Forest,” said Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham.

“Or the Knitting Nanas, 70-year-old activists who are peacefully locking on but doing no damage to equipment. Is that what we want?” Locked on selfie with 5th generation farmer, @Ricklaird14, protesting Whitehaven’s new coalmine in Leard State Forest pic.twitter老域名出售/VkgIYlZgYu— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) November 29, 2014

The Greens say the original offence was created to quell the threat of industrial sabotage in protests by coal miners in the 1980s and should not be applied to environmental protest.

Energy Minister Anthony Roberts’ office argues the law simply modernises an old definition of a mine site and that criminal penalties remain unchanged.

“This legislation does not target or criminalise legal, peaceful protesters,” the minister said in a statement. “[It] is consistent with our commitments to maintain a balance between the right to peaceful, legal protest, and the right of a lawful business to operate.”

Mr Roberts has previously described some environmental protesters as “ecofascists” and said their actions are disruptive and costly.

Mr Roberts says that operations at Narrabri, in northern NSW, by Santos, a major miner, have been subject to more than 800 disruptions since 2013.

The bill was introduced to the NSW lower house on Tuesday. There is no specified time for a vote on the proposal.

Mr Roberts declined to guarantee earlier this week that the laws would not be used to evict peaceful protesters, such as the “Knitting Nanas”, a group of older women dressed in yellow and black who have become a fixture in protests in the state’s north.

A number of community protests have centred on such sites in recent years, including the so-called Bentley Blockade, a coalition of activists and farmers who occupied a CSG exploration site near Lismore.

The three-year campaign to stop exploration activity by Metgasco at times drew more than 2000 people to the site.

Similar protests have emerged at the Leard State Forest in NSW’s north and over mining activity in the Pilliga region.

A poll has also emerged suggesting a majority of Australians support anti-mining protesters.

The online poll, commissioned by the Australia Institute think tank, was taken of 1400 people across the nation in late 2015 by Research Now.

Only about 8 per cent of respondents said they had an unfavourable, or very unfavourable, view of communities “resorting to civil disobedience” with activities such as “blocking roads” and “occupying sites”.

More than 55 per cent of voters said they had a favourable view of such activities, when communities felt they “had no legal recourse” for concerns about the impact on farm lands and the broader environment.

“It would appear that the public are supportive of their actions to protect their land,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said. “The Baird government decision … runs directly against public opinion,”

A little more than one-third, the balance of those polled, said they had a neutral attitude to such protests.

A similar poll by the Institute found nearly 85 per cent of farmers should be able to say no to gas drilling and mining on their land.

The poll drew on a statistically representative national sample in October last year.

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