Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Round the New England media 4 May 10

Another of my periodic New England media round-ups.

ABC New England North West is on Twitter. Mind you, there are some frustrations. One twitt read:

The state government has denied access the records surrounding the death of Bush ranger Captain Thunderbolt - stay listening after ten.

I couldn't listen, so am still wondering what all this was about. I knew that there had been a request for official papers from the period, but I would have thought that this was archival material open to the public.

In Lismore, the Northern Star reports that the Northern Region Community Services NSW - this runs from Tweed Heads down to Port Macquarie, has seen an influx of reports filed by police, teachers, community workers and others that swamped any capacity to respond. The paper says in part: 

With no emergency youth accommodation and no adolescent foster care programs in Lismore, young people between 10 and 16 years old included in these rising statistics are taking to sleeping it rough in an attempt to leave their dysfunctional homes.

“I’m horrified at the kind of things kids go through,” Lismore City Council youth development officer Lizette Twistleton said.

I have written a little on this one. I will give a summary with links in another post. Following the introduction of mandatory reporting and the subsequent effective collapse of the child welfare system, then an official inquiry,  Sydney introduced new approaches.

The stats quoted in the story are 08-09 stats. I wonder how much has changed since. Perhaps not a lot form Lizette's words.

Staying with the Northern Star, there was a rather nice story on a get together of isolated students from different parts of the Northern Rivers. In all, there are about 60 primary-aged students whose families are from isolated areas enrolled in the distance education program across the Northern Rivers.

In Grafton, the Daily Examiner had a story that surprised me. This said that The Clarence had not experienced the recent Sydney real estate price surge; the market was flat. Why did this surprise?

Well, while it has been true that country real estate price changes lag Sydney, inland centres such as Armidale and Tamworth have recently experienced considerable price surges. This was influenced by first home buyer grants under the stimulus program that essentially stripped out lower price homes, but then spread to other house categories. Part of the reason, I think, is that parts of inland New England are experiencing faster population growth than has been the case in recent years.

Just at present, the North Coast Area Health Service cannot take a trick. After the troubles further south at Bellingen, the Examiner reports trouble at Grafton and Maclean Hospitals (here and here). I cannot comment on the detail. However, we should not assume that the abolition of the NCAHS and its replacement by local hospital networks will solve problems.

Jumping up that beautiful if winding mountain road to Armidale, that university city has been experiencing some remarkable successes with major sporting events, beginning with the Koori Knockout.

Now here I have a frustration, one that I have shared previously with Armidale Express Editor Christian Knight. It is difficult to write about these things because so many of the stories are not on-line and I cannot therefore give links.

These are not small events. The NSW Academy Games attracted 1,000 participants, the smaller TAS Rugby Knockout Carnival attracted forty teams.   

I guess that Christian and I will continue to chat about these issues. In the meantime, I just note that Armidale's superb sporting facilities continue to bear fruit.

The decision by the the Rudd Government attracted a fair bit of press coverage.

On the New England New State Movement Facebook Page, Nathan wrote:

Maybe the Hunter be its own Country after the Government has announced it's Super Profits tax. With the state and federal Governments getting in on the action there will still be nothing for the Hunter except chicken feed plus will distroy a lot of the new investments that could occur in the Hunter.

Nathan put his concerns quite strongly, but there is a fair bit of confusion and concern. The Northern Daily Leader reports that Gunnedah Shire Mayor Adam Marshall is still trying to ascertain what the government’s response to the Henry tax review means for the mining industry and the Gunnedah basin. The heading of the story - Not a dollar of mining tax would go to region: mayor - is a little stronger than the story itself, but presumably reflects the Mayor's views.

The Mayor is not alone in his concerns. Down south at Singleton, the Singleton Argus reports:  

Mayor of Singleton Sue Moore said she is concerned that the money is being taken from mining and distributed Australia wide for infrastructure purposes.

“It is not what we have been fighting for and until I learn more, I am at this stage a little concerned about what benefits Singleton will get,” she said.

“I am concerned for the mines and any impact this tax might have on employment in our area.”

The difficulty is that all the councils affected by mining have been fighting for a greater share of royalties to address local costs and increase local benefits. Once money is redistributed across Australia, local areas lose their chance of getting a greater share.

In the meantime, mining continues to create environmental conflict. Here I was fascinated by two stories in the Northern Daily Leader (here and then here) about an apparent gaffe by a Chinese executive on mining in the Mooki River area. I blinked!

One of my difficulties is that even though I know New England quite well, its such a large area (bigger than England) that I sometimes simply don't know local geography well enough to make sensible comments. It's also quite hard to integrate things when everything is so fragmented.

Environmental issues are always difficult, more so when government constructs make it difficult to compensate those directly affected.

I am trying to pull some of this together in a three part series in my Armidale Express column on Nee England's current environmental wars.

Finally, down in Newcastle, dispute over CBD development continues. I must say that the anger of locals against Sydney on this and other issues is quite remarkable. The number of comments that the Newcastle Herald attracts on its stories is also quite remarkable.           


Greg said...

Hi again Jim,

I am continuing to follow your posts with great interest.

Just a brief comment on your observation of the anger in Newcastle. The anger is indeed palpable. Nobody truly believes that the state has the interests of the Hunter at heart other than as a source coal royalties. Every announcement by the state government, whether positive or not, is greeted with derision and scepticism of the highest order. Barely a day goes by when there isn't a negative story in "The Herald" and page after page of contributors venting their anger towards the state government in online comments.

Now the Commonwealth now wants to get it's snout in the mining trough via the mining super profits tax. It is all depressingly familiar. A once fertile and stunningly beautiful valley gets turned into a moonscape and the proceeds will be spent elsewhere. The Junction public school still can't even get permanent replacements for classrooms destroyed in the 1989 earthquake.

If the 1967 new state referendum were held today, Newcastle and the Hunter would return a landslide YES.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's interesting, Greg.

While I know Newcastle reasonably well, it's difficult for someone who does not live in the city to get a proper feel for the pulse. Certainly the number and vigour of comments on some stories is remarkable.

Well, if Newcastle would now vote yes for new states, we need to find a way to give the city this choice!

Peter Firminger said...