Open-cut mine supporters to rally on Big Hill

STAWELL residents and business owners in favour of open-cut mining Big Hill will rally tonight.

MINE SUPPORT: Stawell residents and business owners supportive of Stawell Gold Mines’ rejected proposal to open cut mine Big Hill will rally tonight. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Planning Minister Matthew Guy rejected Stawell Gold Mines’ Big Hill Enhanced Developemnt project last month, resulting in a bitter dispute between backers and objectors.

Tonight’s rally will be the first time the pro-mine side has mobilised its support for the project.

Rally co-organiser Alicia Crichton’s husband works at the mine.

She said Mr Guy’s decision left them feeling gutted.

“We saw on the news the Minister had said no and we both looked at each other and nearly cried,” Mrs Crichton said.

She encouraged people who supported the project to attend tonight’s peaceful public demonstration on Big Hill.

“We’re not going out and ranting and raving, this is purely to say we support our boys working here in Stawell and we don’t want them to have to become fly-in fly-out workers,” Mrs Crichton said.

She said the end of mining in Stawell would have a huge effect on her family.

“The mine is our only income apart from a couple of days a week I do working in town,” she said.”It’s not enough to cover a mortgage, it’s not enough to cover school fees.”

A widening chasm is emerging in Stawell between the two sides of the debate, with allegations of bullying and intimidation towards business owners on both sides.

Mrs Crichton said she did not believe the issue had divided the town, but was disappointed at the tactics used by some of the mine objectors.

“The unfortunate thing is the nastiness that has come from people against it,” she said.

“The abuse down the street is revolting. I cannot believe how rude they are.”

In a show of support for the mine, some Stawell businesses have placed golden heart stickers in their windows.

Comfort Inn Goldfields owner Leonie Clayton has a sticker on her business.

She said the future of Stawell’s economy was now uncertain.

Mrs Clayton said work from mine employees and contractors was essential to her business.

“We work pretty closely with the mines. Being a motel, a lot of the contractors who come down to work at the mine stay with us here and we do a lot of catering for the mine,” she said.

She said the flow-on economic effects to her suppliers would be damaging.

Friends of Big Hill’s Sherrie Hunt said health risks had always been her central objection to the mine.

“I’ve always said no one wins here,” she said.

“I’ve lost my job in the past and I know what it’s like.”

Mr Guy made his decision based on a report by an expert panel which followed an inquiry into the proposal.

The report concluded that because of the proximity of dwellings to the open cut fine particles of the carcinogen PM10, arsenic-laden dust and noise would not be able to be satisfactorily managed.

While the report acknowledged the economic effects of rejecting the proposal, it found they did not outweigh the health and environmental risks.

Katherine Lewis’s partner Daniel Gurney is an electrician at the mine.

She said the couple, who have three children under the age of four, were angry when they found out about Mr Guy’s decision.

“A lot of families are terrified they’re going to lose partners to fly-in fly-out work,” she said.

Miss Lewis and her partner have decided fly-in fly-out work would not suit them, which might force them to leave Stawell.

“I try not to get angry or upset because I know what it means for us to move away from our families,” she said.

“People are going to have to take their kids out of schools.”

She said community and business support for tonight’s rally had been strong.

“The mine has been one of the industries that has supported the town, it’s humbling to see that a large part of the community is there to support the mine.”

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Annual bowls outing to Goolwa

Back from left: Gale Steinwedel, Judy Bell, Lyn Ryan, Claire Downing. Front from left: AnnetteSpeed, Thelma Bennett, Anne Arnold and Pattey Burry.Eight ladies travelled to Goolwa to competein the annual Region 7 versus Region 6 bowlscompetition sponsored by Lorna Rowley formany years.

There were 12 rinks and the two from KangarooIsland acquitted themselves very well.Claire Downing, skipper, Judy Bell, third, PatteyBurry, second, and Gayle Steinwedel, lead,won both their games in great style and theother rink of Thelma Bennett, skipper, AnneArnold, third, Lyn Ryan, second, Annette Speed,lead, drew their firstoneagainstformidableopponentsfrom Mt Barker, had a good lead in thesecond, but were eventually overrun. Good experiencefor all our bowlers. Their next big competitionagainst mainland bowlers is inDecember when the ladies will compete in theBates competition here on the island, so everyoneis encouraged to keep practising for selectionin this event.

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Coalition promises $9.2-million for Wimmera schools

SCHOOL PROMISES: Dimboola Memorial Secondary College school council secretary Neil Zippel and president Robin Kuhne welcome Nationals candidate Emma Kealy’s $1.2-million commitment to the school. Warracknabeal school will receive $8-million if the Coalition are re-elected. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERTHE Coalition has promised to pour more than $9 million into Wimmera schools if it wins the State Election.

The fist step in a plan to put Warracknabeal Secondary College, Warracknabeal Primary School and Warracknabeal Special Developmental School on one campus will be allocated $8 million.

College principal Tony Fowler said the project was 10 years in the making.

“It’s a bit of a dream come true for the community,” he said.

“We’ve gone through a series of times when our hopes have been raised and they’ve been let down a few times and that’s nobody’s fault.

“But to have something that’s close to reality is just tremendous.”

The first step will see the primary school and the special developmental school co-located.

Mr Fowler said having the three schools on one site would result in better outcomes for students and smooth out transition points.

“When students start school it’s a transition point, moving schools from year six to year seven is a transition point and entering VCE is a transition point,” he said.

Mr Fowler said having staff on the one campus would ensure greater consistency between classes.

He said reducing the variation between classes would benefit learning.

“It just helps the kids, it aligns their thinking and takes the guesswork out of it,” he said.

Mr Fowler said having the special developmental school on the same campus would have two-way benefits.

“I think we’re pretty lucky in Warracknabeal because there is empathy and acceptance of everyone in the town,” he said.

“Everyone on the one site reinforces that because we’ve got the ability to include all the children in certain activities.

“We’d be able to have our teachers working students from the primary school and the SDS.”

He said while the commitment was dependent on the election, he hoped the announcement would alert both sides of government to the need for the project to proceed.

“It’s an acknowledgement it’s an area of need. If we can at least have new facilities and some great work happening between the schools, that ultimately raises confidence in the school and the town,” Mr Fowler said.

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development bought land for the development in 2010.

The Coalition has promised Dimboola Memorial Secondary College $1.2 million to refurbish the school library, memorial hall and classrooms.

The art block will be refurbished and two old buildings and a toilet block will be demolished.

The school received a shock $2.3-million grant under the previous Labor Government in 2009 to upgrade sporting facilities.

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Top young surf talent comes to Kiama

Illawarra’s Billie Melinz will be among the top competitors in the Subway Summer Series this weekend.SOME of Australia’s top 16-18 year-old surfers will converge on the Kiama Municipality this weekend to take part in the fifth round of the inaugural Subway Summer Surf Series.

The event comprises 13 events Australia-wide and has been designed to unearth the best male and female junior surfers across Australia.

This weekend will see the South Coast’s best junior surfers compete for bragging rights and valuable competitive experience needed to further develop their surfing careers.

Winners of the under-18 divisions will receive an all-important invitation to an all-expense paid three-day Subway Summer Surf Camps at the Hurley Surfing Australia High Performance Centre.

Winning participants will have the opportunity to rub shoulders and pick the brains of World Tour athletes and Subway ambassadors Joel Parkinson and Laura Enever at the respective boys’ or girls’ camp.

The new series was created to fill a competition void which exists at a crucial point in the development of Australia’s leading junior surfers.

It represents an important link in the ‘pathway to the podium’ developed by Surfing Australia, with surfers now able to progress from the Vegimite SurfGroms program, onto the Wahu Surfer Groms Comps, into the Subway Summer Surf Series, followed by the Original Source Australian Boardriders Battle.

Warilla’s Jarrod Szele is looking forward to taking part in his first event of the series.

“I went for a surf at Kiama today and it was heaps good with a nice bank,” the 15-year-old said.

“I’m really excited about the event and coming up against some good competition.”

It will help young Australians continue to develop their passion for surfing, whether it be professionally or recreationally and carry on to enjoy a lifetime of surfing.

The Subway Summer Surf Series is proudly supported by Billabong, Surfing Australia and Surfing New South Wales.

The main base for this weekend’s event will be Kiama Surf Beach or Bombo with backup locations of Werri Beach and Jones’ Beach.

All competitors are advised to ring the event hotline (0458 247 212) by 6.45am on the days of competition to confirm location and running order.

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Wimmera farmers disappointed after ‘cruel’ season

IN THE SWING: Jacob Williams receives barley at Moore Bulk Storage in Horsham on Tuesday. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERWIMMERA farmers are nearing the end of a disappointing season, with headers expected to return to sheds by mid-December.

While little rain has led to farmers describing the season as cruel, many are finding yields are better than originally expected.

Natimuk farmer Michael Sudholz said he started stripping canola earlier this week.

“It’s been a bit up and down – the first paddock went for about 0.4 tonnes a hectare and the second about 0.7 to 0.8 tonnes a hectare,” he said.

“It is a bit more than I expected though – I didn’t think the crops would do as well as they have after three months without rain.

“It’s good to have some good news.”

Mr Sudholz said harvest was underway much earlier than usual.

“We had a bumper season last year and we did that in 16 days – I’m guessing we will need a lot less time this year,” he said.

“Depending on the weather, we hope to finish canola and move onto lentils soon.”

Mr Sudholz said it wasn’t the worst season he had experienced.

“I’ve definitely seen poorer years than this and we seem to manage things better these days,” he said.

“We have more options – we cut 700 acres of wheat that we baled for hay and the sales were quite strong – we have nearly sold it all.

“It’s about making the most from what you’ve got.”

Hindmarsh Cr Wendy Robins said crops around Nhill were also doing better than farmers expected.

“No one is jumping up and down, but farmers are saying the crops are nowhere near as bad as initially thought,” she said.

Hindmarsh Cr Ron Ismay said crops near Birchip and Beulah were fairly ordinary.

“Rainbow seems to be the Garden of Eden though,” he said,

“I think overall everyone is surprised with what they are getting for their crops.

“In a normal year a small amount of rain in one area wouldn’t make a difference, but the eight or nine millimetres we received not long ago has changed everything.

“I think Hindmarsh shire is fortunate in what the farmers will receive for their crops.”

Rupanyup farmer and Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann said he was two-thirds of the way through harvest.

“We are at about 25 per cent of our normal production,” he said.

“This has been the year to put behind us and farmers are looking forward to 2015, which will hopefully give us a bit of rain.”

Mr Weidemann said he expected most of the region’s farmers to be finished harvest by mid-December.

“Because the crops are so small, harvest is getting across enormous amounts of land each day,” he said.

“I’d say by next week, most of the region will be well into wheat and then probably finished not long after that.

“We usually start around November 23 to 25 – it’s crazy to think we might be done this year at the time when we usually start.”

The Federal Government announced this week it would deliver $30 million in drought concessional loans to farmers in Victoria’s west and north west.

Farmers will be able to lodge their applications, once the guidelines are finalised, early in the new year.

Farmers can apply for drought loans of up to $1 million at a concessional interest rate of four per cent over five years.

The loans can be used to cover operating expenses.

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Another Pirie spider-bite victim

Marlene Sciangalepore’s white-tailed spider bite on her heel, five months after the incident.Marlene Sciangalepore has come forward as another spider bite victim in Port Pirie urging others to be cautious at home.

The bite happened in July when Mrs Sciangalepore was sleeping and was woken by the bite of a white-tailed spider on her heel, initially thinking nothing of it until she saw the results the next morning.

She suffered a black and purple sore about the size of a golf ball on her heel, with a deep hole in the centre and blackening dead skin slowly spreading from the centre.

The doctor did not believe that she had been bitten by a spider, reasoning that it must be a bedsore or an ulcer, until she found the spider itself.

It was three weeks after the bite when she had her quilt cover changed and the spider was still inside.

It had remained there for the previous three weeks, centimetres from her body.

Unable to take it alive, she killed the spider and took it to the doctor’s surgery and he quickly changed his diagnosis.

For the past five months Mrs Sciangalepore has been seen several times a week by a doctor or nurse and has had her dying skin removed.

She is still unable to use the heel of her right foot for walking, relying only the ball of her foot and she cannot wear enclosed shoes.

“It still throbs. I’ve had nearly five months of agony,” she said.

Mrs Sciangalepore told of her story as a warning to others to always check bedding and clothes.

“They like soft things. Everything I get off the clothesline, I check it and I shake it,” she said.

“Imagine if it had been in a cot with a baby. It would be awful.”

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Binalong Brahmans AGM report

Chris Rawlinson (left) will lead the Brahmans into the Woodbridge Cup next year. Photo: RS Williams.At the AGM of the Binalong Brahmans Rugby League Club held on November 18, the committee voted unanimously to leave the George Tooke Shield after two undefeated seasons and join the Woodbridge Cup in 2015.

President Michael Brayshaw said: “I think the move will offer more of a challenge for us as a club, and the players. I am a little nervous about the change of competition but I am looking forward to the coming season.”

The meeting also decided to move its banking facilities over to the Bendigo Bank branch in Boorowa as the Binalong Post Office acts as an agency for Bendigo Bank. The Brahmans finished the year with a small surplus to be used in 2015, enough to pay for player insurance/public liability in 2015.

The move will see a lot more travel in 2015 as there are teams as far away as Peak Hill, Trundle and Condobolin. However, the benefits will include the possibility of some players being selected for representative football during the season. The draw for next season will make allowances which limit the travel between remote clubs and will be available in late February for the 11 teams.

Also, a youth league and league-tag are features of the Woodbridge Cup competition which provides a platform for women and those juniors making the transition from junior to senior Rugby League. Neither of these formats is offered in George Tooke Shield. Not all clubs have a junior squad but there will be at least six teams next year.

League tag is also a feature in Woodbridge Cup and again, although not all clubs have teams for the girls, there will probably be eight teams in this competition for 2015. The Binalong Jersey Girls were 2014 touch premiers in George Tooke, but it is not clear if this touch football competition will go ahead next year.

Having coached his side to 32 consecutive undefeated games, coach Chris Rawlinson was asked how many players Binalong could expect to retain.

“I think a large number will stay, certainly a couple will go but the boys want another challenge. If we went back to George Tooke there would be more who would leave and we might not field a team at all,” he said.

”The possibility of representative footy is also a big incentive to move to Woodbridge,” he added.

The Brahmans major sponsor Stan Waldren of Waldren Constructions was at the meeting and was asked about his response to the move. “I am fully in favour of this, it is a bold challenge and I would like you to approach Harden Hawks to see if they would come with us. These two clubs draw very big gates and I, for one, would like to see them in Woodbridge Cup”.

Waldren has also offered to sponsor the 2015 Brahmans youth league through his Ultra Fine Merino brand. This offer was later accepted and a new coach for the Brahmans juniors is being sought. Interested applicants should contact Michael Brayshaw on 0427 688 803 before early December 2014.

Michael Brayshaw thanked all the Brahmans sponsors, congratulated the players and complimented his committee for two great years of Binalong League.

“I felt rugby league was dying a slow death to the east over the past couple of years, so although nervous, I am confident we have all made the right decision in re-joining Woodbridge Cup, after all, we have won it twice before in 1971 and 1991.”

Bos Indicus.

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Horns join Gunners at top

Andrew Jones was dismissed by Pirates opener Andrew Holgate, as Harden remain winless in the Triggs Shield this season. Photo: RS Williams.

Triggs Shield

A five wicket haul from AJ O’Mara helped the Bowning Buffaloes remain in top spot, as they held the Yass Golf Club Piranhas at bay on Saturday.

It didn’t look good for the ‘Buffs’ after an average batting display (with the exception of a half century from Dave Brown) on the O’Connor Park wicket, left them with just 119 to defend. However the Piranhas lower order batsmen couldn’t handle O’Mara, who finished with figures of 5/16 from his nine overs.

The Piranhas came close through a good late partnership between Chris Bradley and Calan Kemp but eventually fell 17 runs short. It’s the second straight loss for the Piranhas, who now sit in outright fourth place.

Positioning themselves strongly alongside the Buffaloes in first-place are the Royal Pirates and Soldiers Club Snipers, who both had dominant wins at the weekend.

The Pirates bowled out an under strength and 10-man Harden side for 99 and confidantly chased down the total in the 17th over. Nick Pollack scored a half century as the Pirates got the job done with seven wickets to spare.

The Snipers also made light work of their fixture with Boorowa, defeating the competition newcomers by 216 runs at Victoria Park. The home side batted first and a 99-run haul from Allan Neill with support from Dave Field (34), Craig Irwin (33) and Steve Okkonen (30 not out) brought up a total of 257. Boorowa, in reply, could only make 41 before they were dismissed. Mark Garland taking seven wickets in just four overs.

The ladder as it stands after round 4: Snipers, Pirates and Buffaloes 27; Piranhas 22; Harden and Boorowa 9.

Sweeney Cup

The Soldiers Club Horns have beaten the Gundaroo Gunners to join them at the top of the Sweeney Cup ladder.

The Horns travelled to Gundaroo and lost the toss but managed to restrict the previously unbeaten Gunners to just 104. For a team that has averaged 283 after the first three rounds of competition it was a brilliant bowling feat for the Horns. Luke Darmody was the destroyer finishing with figures of 6/28 from his eight overs.

The away side made short work of the run-chase only losing three wickets on their way to the total. Brad Hansen was the best of the Horns batsmen scoring 46 not out.

The Bookham Bulls have bounced back from last weekend’s loss to defeat the Yass Golf Club Taipans by 132 runs. A 64-run innings from Elliot Southwell got the Bulls off to the perfect start before their bowling attack led by Ross Armour (5/32) completed the emphatic win.

A close match was played out at Dalton Oval between the Dingos and Murrumbateman but the home side got up with three wickets to spare. A 40-run opening stand between Nathan Apps and Neil Corby set the platform as the Dingos chased down the 101-run total in the 18th over.

And the Binalong Bushrangers have had their first win of the season, defeating Harden in Harden by six wickets.

The Bushrangers knocked over the home side for 82, before starts from a number of Binalong batsmen ended with a successful run chase in the 16th over. Dylan Arabin was the difference notching figures of 4/13 from his six overs.

The ladder as it stands after round 4: Gunners and Horns 27; Dingos 24; Murrumbateman 22; Bulls 19; Harden and Binalong 14; Taipans 12.

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No conviction recorded

A WOMAN who claimed to use cannabis to relieve back pain did not receive a conviction when she appeared in Dubbo Local Court on a charge of driving under the influence of an illicit drug.

Prosecution facts said the offence occurred in Thompson Street, West Dubbo, between 4.20pm and 4.40pm on April 18.

Gillette, 41, of Narromine, represented herself before Magistrate Terence Lucas.

“I smoked the previous night,” she said.

“I didn’t realise the drug stayed in your system so long.”

Magistrate Lucas said three months “was about normal”.

“Two years is not unheard of,” he said.

Gillette said she had completed a traffic offender education program and needed a driver’s licence to get to and from work.

Magistrate Lucas said driving after smoking cannabis was a stupid thing to do.

“You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and have never been in trouble before,” the magistrate said.

“The offence is proven and dismissed without conviction.

“You won’t be so lucky next time.”

“There won’t be a next time,” Gillette said.

During an earlier court appearance Magistrate Andrew Eckhold urged Gillette to seek a mainstream medical solution for her back pain.

“Go to your general practitioner,” he said.

“If necessary see a pain specialist.”

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Trade agreement good for industry: Fletcher

Fletcher International Exports managing director Roger Fletcher.Photo: GREG KEENTHE introduction of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) was the best move for the sheep meat industry in 20 years, according to Fletcher International Exports managing director Roger Fletcher.

By eliminating tariffs on exports of dairy products, wine, fruit and vegetables, meat and resources, a process which Mr Fletcher said would take about eight years, the market would then be opened up to a whole new pace of trading.

As managing director for one of the largest meat exporters in the country, Mr Fletcher said he had spent a fair amount of time fighting for the ChAFTA to finally be implemented.

Fletcher International Exports has a strong affiliation with sheep meat trading in China, which they had been doing long before beef trading, he said.

“In 2013 we traded 97,000 tonnes of sheep meat to China and 90 per cent of that was sheep skin.”

He said the ChAFTA was vital for farmers in the sheep meat industry.

“As much as the traders will enjoy it, all the money feeds back to the farmer.”

Mr Fletcher said the removal of the current 12 to 23 per cent tariffs on sheep meat would boost export returns.

In eight years’ time when the agreement was in full swing, Mr Fletcher said he expected to see a return of about $150 million a year.

He said traders would begin see a 2 per cent drop in the tariffs in 2016.

In the long term, Mr Fletcher said the ChAFTA would build more confidence in the sheep industry and a better prospectus of bargaining around the world

“It’s still got to get through the Senate, but I have no doubt it will drive traders to be more competitive,” he said.

A huge jump for the trading industry, Mr Fletcher said Australia now had a chance “to catch up to the Kiwis”.

New Zealand, he said, were at a real advantage having had a similar agreement in place for years.

“They’ve had a big 15 per cent jump on us, but this will finally put us on the same pegging level,” he said.

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