Friday, November 30, 2007

Githabul people win land title recognition

Back in January 2007 I reported on the agreement between the Githabul people and the NSW Government about a large native title land claim over a large portion of New England. Now the claim has moved another step forward. I was going to give you a link, but the story seems to have vanished into Fairfax's digital store, so I will just report the key facts.

In the first claim in ten years settled under the Commonwealth's Native Title Legislation and the first time that the Sydney Government and an indigenous community have jointly sought a decision, the Githabul people have won rights over an area of 112,000 hectares including nine national parks and thirteen state forests in the Kyogle and Tenterfield Shires.

The decision will afford traditional owners the right of access to the area for spiritual purposes; to camp, fish, hunt and gather animals, plants and water there for non-commercial needs and to lawfully protect places of importance to them.

One thing that made me sad, though, was a comment from Trevor Close, the successful applicant of the claim. He said:

You will never see this again in NSW. Too many elders have passed away who
hold the information and language necessary to pass the evidence test.

In the midst of all the macro Australian argument about things like reconciliation and saying sorry, my concern has been much more local. Recording and preserving what we have now, while meeting the needs of New England's indigenous peoples as they are today.

Monday, November 26, 2007

From the vaults - the first UNE Bulletin

Browsing around, I found the first ever University of New England Bulletin issued in March 1957.

In that year, the University expected to have 400 internal students with over 300 students in residence, still mainly in town houses. The College building program was just getting underway. In addition, external enrollments were 750, bringing the total number of undergraduate students to 1,150.

Those who know the University will recognise many names from the past.

Friday, November 23, 2007

New England - Federal Election Eve 2007: and the next day

Note to readers: I am now uploading final numbers for each seat. This may take a little while, so those with feeds are likely to get multiple feeds. Final results added for:

  • Charlton
  • Cowper
  • Shortland

Australia votes tomorrow. At this stage based on opinion poll averages, the most likely outcome is a Rudd Labor Government with a majority in the range 10-20. However, there is now some confusion in the polls, suggesting that the Howard Government may be clawing back some ground.

I will provide reports on the counting in New England seats. However, because electoral boundaries keep changing I thought that it might be helpful especially for New England expats if I provided a short seat by seat description. The material that follows is drawn from the ABC's Antony Green election guide.

Charlton. Safe Labor - present margin 8.4%

A Hunter Valley based seat covering 578 on the western side of Lake Macquarie. It includes the outer suburbs of Newcastle around Wallsend and Cardiff, as well as Toronto, Wangi Wangi, Morisset and Wyee further south. While the electorate contains some agricultural industries, the district's wealth is created by coal mining, electricity generation and heavy industry.

At the last redistribution, lost areas around Warners Bay to Shortland while gaining Wallsend and Maryland from Newcastle. The Labor margin rose from 7.9% to 8.4% as a consequence.

Adjusting for boundary changes, the 2004 primary votes were:

  • Labor 46.6%
  • Liberal 35.2%
  • Greens 8.8%
  • Family First 3.7%
  • One Nation 2.8%
  • Australian Democrats 1.9%
  • Others 1.0%

After distribution of preferences, Labor won with 58.4% to the Liberals 41.6%.

Since the, sitting Labor MP Kelly Hoare, the daughter of the previous member, lost Labor Party endorsement after representing the seat since 1998. Her place was taken by Trade Union boss Greg Combet. The whole process caused local resentment, but is unlikely to affect the outcome.

Candidates this time are:

  • Ulrich, Stuart Independent
  • Pritchard, Suzanne Green
  • Stow, David Citizens Electoral Council
  • Cook, Terry Socialist Equality Party
  • Combet, Greg Labor
  • Paterson, Lindsay Liberal
  • Barry, Patrick Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group).

Forecast: Labor to retain with increased margin.

Update: as at 8.17 pm:

  • Greg Combet, ALP, 20,998, 54.6%, up 6.6%
  • Lindsay Paterson, LIB, 11,669, 30.4%, down -3.2%
  • Suzanne Pritchard, GRN, 3,131, 8.1% down -0.8%

Final Results

Enrolment 91,129, turnout 95.74%

Results by candidate:

  • Ulrich, Stuart: Independent - 2,008 votes, 2.41%, swing +2.41%
  • Pritchard, Suzanne: Greens - 6,708 votes, 8.06%, swing -o.71%
  • Stow, David: Citizens Electoral Council - 294 votes, 0.35%, swing -0.23%
  • Cook, Terry: Socialist Equality Party - 404 votes, 0.49%, swing +0.49%
  • Combet, Greg: Labor (elected) - 44,156 votes, 53.08%, swing +6.47%
  • Paterson, Lindsay: Liberal - 26,353 votes, 31.68%, swing -3.49%
  • Barry, Patrick: Independent - 1,253 votes, 1.51%, swing +1.51%
  • Kendall, Jim: Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) - 2,007 votes, 2.41%, swing +2.41%

Two Candidate Preferred Vote:

  • Combet, Greg, Labor, 52,298, 62.87%, swing +4.47%
  • Paterson, Lindsay, Liberal, 30,885, 37.13%, swing -4.47%

Cowper. Notionally safe National - present margin 6.7%

Once a Clarence Valley electorate centered on Grafton and held by Earle Page for 42 years, progressive boundary changes have moved the electorate's focus south. Today the seat covers 7,911 between the Macleay and Clarence Rivers.

In the north, the seat covers a relatively small proportion of the Clarence Valley on the south side of the river including Maclean. Moving south, the first main centres are the coastal resorts of Woolgoolga and then Coffs Harbour, the biggest centre in the electorate with a population of over 60,000.

This is followed by a number of river valleys: the Bellinger (Urunga, Bellingen), the Nambucca (Nambucca Heads, Macksville) and the majority of the Macleay (Kempsey, South West Rocks).

At the Bellinger, the electorate bulges inland to include the Tablelands around Dorrigo, once part of the New England electorate.

Adjusting for boundary changes (loss of Yamba, addition of Kempsey), the 2004 primary votes were:

  • National 50.5%
  • Labor 31.7%
  • Greens 8.9%
  • One Nation 4.2%
  • Lower Excise Party 2.3%
  • Australian Democrats 1.9%
  • Others 0.6%

So the Nats won on the primary vote.

There are slightly fewer candidates this time:

  • Hartsuykey, Luke, sitting member, Nationals
  • Sekfy, Paul, Labor
  • Carty, John, Greens
  • Arapi-Nunez, Flavia, Family First
  • Belgrave, Leon, LDP
  • Lions, Deborah, Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

On 2004 results, Luke Hartsuykey should hold the seat. However, there were signs that the National position was weaker than appeared.

As a consequence, Labor dumped its originally chosen candidate John Fitzroy in September. The reported reason in newspaper stories was that Labor internal polling indicated that Cowper could fall, and Labor wanted a more experienced and better known candidate in the seat.

This is a seat where the indigenous vote is important. At 5 per cent, Cowper has the twelfth highest indigenous proportion of the population of all Australian electorates. The indigenous proportion is especially high in Kempsey and the Macleay Valley, also areas of limited employment opportunities, especially for the unskilled.

Forecast: Based on the very latest opinion polls - these do not include specific figures for this seat, however - the Nats should hold. I classify it is a possible Nationals loss.

Update as at 8.26pm

  • Luke Hartsuyker, NAT, 22,378, 46.0%, -4.6%
  • Paul Sekfy, ALP, 18,976, 39.0%, +6.%
  • John Carty, GRN, 5,322, 10.9%, +2.5%

Final Results

Enrolment 92,767, turnout 95.15%

Results by candidate:

  • Hartsuykey, Luke: sitting member, Nationals, elected - 39,444 votes, 46.54%, swing -3.92%
  • Sekfy, Paul:Labor - 32,276 votes, 38.08%, swing +6.43%
  • Carty, John: Greens - 9,359 votes, 11.04%, swing +2.15%
  • Arapi-Nunez, Flavia: Family First - 759 votes, 0.9%, swing +0.70%
  • Belgrave, Leon: LDP - 491 votes, 0.58%, swing +0.58%
  • Lions, Deborah: Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) - 2,428 votes, 2.86%, swing +2.86%

Two Candidate Preferred Vote:

  • Hartsukyer, Luke, Nationals 43,423 votes, 51.23%, swing -5.52%
  • Sefky, Paul, Labor 41,334 votes, 48.77, swing +5%

Hunter. Safe Labor - margin 11.1%

Starting in the Hunter Valley around Cessnock, Maitland and Kurri Kurri, Hunter covers 10,593 sq km and extends west and north up the New England Highway to include Singleton and Muswellbrook. The electorate's economic base is a mix of agriculture and heavy industry, being dominated by coal mining, aluminium smelting and electricity generation, but also possessing some of the country's best vineyards and richest beef cattle grazing areas.

This is Labor heartland country, with Joel Fitzgibbon holding the seat since 1996. On the adjusted boundaries, the 2004 vote was:

  • Greens 6.3%
  • One Nation 3.3%
  • Fox, Independent 3.3%
  • Citizens Electoral Council 2.9%
  • Chrstian Democrats 1.7%
  • Family First 1.3%.

Candidates this time are:

  • Albury, Daniel, Citizens Electoral Council
  • Davis, Jan, Greens
  • Black, Beth, nationals
  • Harvey, John Climate Change Coalition
  • Fitzgibbon, Joel, Labor
  • Neville, Bernie Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group).

Forecast: Labor to win with increased majority.

Update 8.34 pm

  • Joel Fitzgibbon, ALP, 30,043, 59.9%, up 8.8%
  • Beth Black, NAT, 13,490, 26.9%, down 3.5%
  • Jan Davis, GRN, 3,277, 6.5%, up 0.1%

Lyne. Safe National - margin 13.4%

This seat is held by Mark Vaile, Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Nationals.

The seat covers 9,039 on the Mid North Coast and includes Taree and Port Macquarie. Taree in the Manning River valley is a traditional rural service town that has been re-inventing itself since the Pacific Highway by-pass was built, while Port Macquarie has seen huge growth as a retirement haven and holiday resort.

At the last redistribution, Lyne lost Kempsey to Cowper, causing the National Party margin to rise slightly from 13.0% to 13.4%.

Based on the adjusted boundaries, the 2004 vote was:

  • National 56.7%
  • Labor 26.6%
  • Greens 4.8%
  • New Country Party 3.6%
  • One Nation 3.4%
  • Australian Democrats 1.6%
  • Family First 1.4%
  • Others 2.0%

The candidates this time are:

  • Wright, Barry, Independent
  • Russell, Susie, Greens
  • Vaile, Mark, Nationals
  • Langley, James, Labor
  • Scott-Irving, Stewart, Independent
  • Harrison, James, Independent
  • Riach, Rodger, Independent.
  • Muldoon, Graeme, Citizens Electoral Council,
  • Waldron, Robert Christina Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

Forecast: Nats to retain with a slightly reduced majority.

Update 8.50pm

  • Mark Vaile, NAT, 29,349, 51.9%, swing -4.4%
  • James Langley, ALP, 18,543, 32.8%, swing +5.9%
  • Susie Russell, GRN, 4,009, 7.1%, swing +2.4%

New England. Safe Independent - margin 13.6%

My own home seat, a traditional National Party seat that was held by my grandfather (David Drummond) from 1949 to 1963. Now a safe independent seat held by Tony Windsor.

Covering an area of 58,463 the seat covers much of the New England Tablelands and Western Slopes. Main towns from south to north include Quirindi, Tamworth, Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell and Tenterfield. At the last redistribution, gained Quirindi, Werris Creek and the Liverpool Plains Council area from the abolished seat of Gwydir.

Based on the redistributed boundaries, the 2004 vote was:

  • Independent 55%
  • National 20.8%
  • Liberal 9.6%
  • Labor 9.2%
  • Greens 3.3%
  • One Nation 1.5%
  • Citizens Electoral Council 0.6%.

The candidates this time are:

  • Detman, Brian, One Nation
  • Windsor, Tony, Independent
  • Witten, Richard Innes, Citizens Electoral Council
  • Betts, Phil, Nationals
  • Brand, Luke, Country Labor
  • Taylor, Bruce, Greens

Forecast: Tony to retain with a very comfortable majority.

Update 9.01 pm

  • Tony Windsor, IND, 40,943, 62.2% swing + 7.%
  • Phil Betts, NAT, 15,201, 23.1% swing +2.3%
  • Bruce Taylor, GRN, 2,122, 3.2% swing -0.1%

Newcastle. Safe labor - margin 9.1%

Newcastle covers 335 and lies at the mouth of the Hunter River, taking in the port district and Newcastle CBD, as well as surrounding suburbs including Merewether, Adamstown, Lambton and Waratah on the southern side of the Hunter Rover, and Stockton and Williamstown on the northern side.

Following the redistribution, the electorate lost areas around Wallsend to Charlton and now extends west towards Maitland, taking in Thornton, Woodberry, Beresfield and Tarro. Even with the closure several years ago of the BHP steel plant, the electorate retains a substantial heavy industry base, including the major coal export facility for the Hunter Valley's mines.

On the adjusted boundaries, the primary votes in 2004 were:

  • Labor 45.6%
  • Liberal 36.3%
  • Greens 11.3%
  • Australian Democrats 2.3%
  • Progressive Labor Party 2.1%
  • Citziens Electoral Council 1.0%
  • Socialist 0.5%
  • Other 1.0%.

The candidates this time are:

  • East, Malcolm, Family First
  • Johnson, Aaron, Democrats
  • Payne, Geoff, Socialist Alliance
  • Buman, Aaron, Independent
  • Grierson, Sharon, Labor
  • Holt, Neil, Socialist Equality Party
  • Eckersley, Charmian, Greens
  • Curry, Joel, Independent
  • Caine, Milton, Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile group)
  • Walker, Krysia, Liberal

Forecast: Labor to retain with increased margin.

Update 9.08 pm

  • Sharon Grierson, ALP, 30,067, 51.6%, swing +4%
  • Krysia Walker, LIB, 14,116, 24.2%, swing -10.1%
  • Charmian Eckersley, GRN, 6,132, 10.5%, swing -1.4%

Page. Moderately safe National - margin 5.5%

Covering 16,091, Page includes Grafton and those parts of the Clarence River valley on the northern side of the river, as well as Casino, Lismore and Ballina in the Richmond River valley. For those who know New England well, this is actually a very strange electorate, for it includes Grafton, one the heart of Cowper, and Lismore, the heart of Richmond. Now both Cowper and Richmond lie elsewhere.

At the last redistribution, Page gained Wollongbar and Alstonville from Richmond in exchange for the loss of Nimbin and rural northern parts of Lismore City Council. Also gained Yamba from Cowper.

On the adjusted boundaries, the 2004 primary votes were:

  • National 49.7%
  • Labor 33.1%
  • Greens 9.6%
  • Liberals for Forests 2.6%
  • Outdoor Recreation Party 1.4%
  • Behn 1.4%
  • Citizens Electoral Council 0.9%
  • Others 1.4%.

The candidates this time are:

  • Behn, Doug, Independent
  • Vega, Mirio, Family First
  • Culverwell, John, Citizens Electoral Council
  • Melland, Julia, Democrats
  • Jongen, Theo, Greens
  • Saffin, Janelle Labor
  • Kane, Tony, Independent
  • Avasalu, Rhonda, Christian Democratic Party (Fred nile Group)
  • Beatty, Ben LDP
  • Gulaptis, Chis, Nationals.

According to the ALP blog, North Coast Voices, this is very much a seat to watch. With the retirement of Ian Causley, the National Party has selected 52 year-old Chris Gulaptis who has lived in the Clarence Valley for the past 27 years. He is a qualified surveyor, has run his own small business, is a former Mayor of Maclean and currently serves as a Clarence Valley Councillor.

His Labor opponent is 52 year-old Janelle Saffin who comes from the opposite end of the elctorate. Janelle was a member of the NSW Legislative Council from 1995 to 2003. She was a lawyer before entering parliament, and has worked actively in the past on human rights issues. She was involved in East Timor's transition to self government, and has worked as an advisor to new President Jose Ramos Horta. She is a long-time resident of Lismore, and contested that seat at the 1991 state election.

So in the two main candidates we have the north and south of it.

Forecast: Chancing my arm, a Labor win.

Update 9.13 pm

  • Janelle Saffin, ALP, 27,691, 42.3%, swing +8.8%
  • Chris Gulapti. NAT, 27,94, 42.7%, swing -7.3%
  • Theo Jonge, GRN, 5,185, 7.9%, swing -1.2%

Parkes. Very safe National - margin 17.5%

Parkes is really the old and now abolished Gwydir. The locals were up in arms about the abolition of Gwydir, and so was I.

Parkes now covers 107,108 along a north-south axis covering the agricultural districts of the north western and central western slopes. From north to south it includes the major centres of Moree, Walgett, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Coonabarabran, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Dubbo, Wellington and Mudgee.

This means that the majority of the seat is in New England, but with a major southern extension.

On the new boundaries, the 2004 vote was:

  • National 61.8%
  • Labor 24.6%
  • Independent 4.8%
  • Greens 4.3%
  • One Nation 3.3%
  • Citizens Electoral Council 1.1%

The candidates this time are:

  • Horan, Tim Independent
  • Keily, Michael, Climate Change Coalition. I suspect that this is the same Michael Keily whose blog is on my regular read list.
  • Haigh, Bruce, Independent
  • Coulton, Mark, Nationals
  • Stringer Richard, Citizens Electoral Council
  • Patriarca, Margaret, Country labor
  • Parmeter, Matt, Greens

Nationals candidate Mark Coulton was raised in Warialda before attending Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School in Tamworth as a boarding student. Coulton has been Mayor of Gwydir Shire Council since 2004 and has been a member of a wide variety of community organisations.

His Labor opponent is Dubbo businesswoman, Margaret Patriarca. After starting her career as a teacher, Patriarca became actively involved in community work and subsequently left teaching and worked for 25 years in social welfare including as Community Social Worker in Local Government; as a child protection caseworker and in disability, adolescent, child and family services. She moved to Dubbo with her two daughters in 1990 and currently works with her husband as Director of a family owned and operated construction company.

Again, in electoral terms, we have the north and south of it.

Forecast: Nationals to retain, but with a reduced majority. I say reduced majority only because I expect the Labor candidate to have stronger pulling power in Dubbo.

Update 9.19 pm

  • Mark Coulton, NAT, 21,828, 46.2%, swing -15.5%
  • Margaret Patriarca, Country Labor, 11,893, 25.2%, swing + 0.4%
  • Tim Horan, IND, 10,338, 21.%
  • Matt Parmeter, GR, 1,353, 2.9%, swing -1.%

Paterson. Apparently safe Liberal - margin 6.3%

Based in the lower Hunter Valley and lower New England North Coast, Paterson covers 9,373, including the Hunter River centres of Raymond Terrace and parts of East Maitland, the resort towns around Port Stephens, agricultural districts between Dungog and Gloucester, and the holiday and retirement havens of Forster and Tuncurry.

In the last redistribution, the seat lost Thornton, Woodberry, Beresfield, Tarro and Williamstown to Newcastle, while gaining Metford, Morpeth and parts of East Maitland from Hunter. Thsi reduced the Liberal majority from 7.0% to 6.3%.

On the new boundaries the 2004 vote was:

  • Liberal 46.5%
  • Labor 36.3%
  • Greens 4.5%
  • National 4.2%
  • One Nation 2.0%
  • Citizens Electoral Council 1.3%
  • Veterans Party 1.0%
  • Family First 0.9%
  • Fishing Party o.8%
  • Australian Democrats 0.6%
  • Others 1.9%

The candidates this time are:

  • Arneman, Jim, Labor
  • Hennelly, Paul, The Fishing Party
  • Donnelly, Judy, The Greens
  • Stokes, Christopher, Family First
  • King, Tony, Citizens Electoral Council
  • Haynes, Heather, Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
  • Hamberger, John, One Nation
  • Baldwin, Bob, Liberal

Forecast: possible Labor win.

Update 9.29 pm

  • Bob Baldwin, LIB, 27,206, 47.4%, swing 0.5%
  • Jim Arneman, ALP, 24,614, 42.9%, swing + 6.4%
  • Judy Donnelly, GRN, 2,98, 5.2%, swing + 0.7%

Richmond. Marginal Labor - margin 1.4%

Once centerd on Lismore, this is a 2,756 at the north-east tip of New Engaalnd, including Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah in the Tweed Valley, Byron Bay and Byron Shire, some rural parts of Ballina Council north of Ballina itself, as well Nimbin and the rural northern parts of Lismore City Council.

In the redistribution, Richmond lost around 7,000 voters near Wollongbar and Alstonville to Page in exchange for Nimbin and approximately 6,000 voters in the rural northern parts of Lismore City Council. The Labor margin rose from a narrow 0.2% to a slightly more comfortable 1.4%.

On the new boundaries, the 2004 primary vote was:

  • National 44.5%
  • Labor 35.7%
  • Greens 13.6%
  • Gamily First 1.9%
  • Liberals for Forests 1.9%
  • Australian Democrats 1.1%
  • Others 1.4%,

Despite the high National primary vote, the Nationals went down on Green preferences.

This time the candidates are:

  • Farmilo, Daniel LDP
  • Elliot, Justine, Labor
  • Ebono, Giovanni, Greens
  • Page, Sue, Nationals
  • McCallum, Graham Citizens Electoral council
  • Sledge, Scott, Democrats
  • Raymond, Barbara, Christian Democratic Party

Forecast: Labor to hold with increased majority.

Update 10.25 am

  • Justine Elliot, ALP, 27,651. 44.0%, swing + 7.8
  • Sue Page, NAT, 22,744, 36.2%, swing -7.0%
  • Giovanni Ebono, GRN, 9,967, 15.8%, swing + 1.3%

Shortland. Safe Labor - margin 9.2%


Shortland covers 182, squeezed between Lake Macquarie and the Pacific Ocean, stretching from the southern suburbs of Newcastle to the Central Coast, from Redhead to Budgewoi. Main population centres are Charlestown, Belmont, Swansea and Budgewoi.

Based on the new boundaries, the 2004 votes were:

  • ALP 49.3%
  • Liberal 35.8%
  • Greens 8.2%
  • One Nation 2.6%
  • Family First 2.4%
  • Australian Democrats 1.6%
  • Others 0.1%

Forecast: Labour to hold with increased margin

Update 11.12 pm

  • Jill Hall, ALP, 39,723, 57.1%, swing + 7.2%
  • Jon Kealy, LIB, 21,328, 30.7% swing -4.9%
  • Keith Parsons, GRN, 5,799, 8.3%, swing 0.4%

Final Results

Enrolment 93,192, turnout 95.78%

Results by candidate:

  • Parsons, Keith: Greens - 7,097 votes, +0.15% swing
  • Hall, Jill: Labor (elected) - 48,525 votes, +7.40% swing
  • Kealy, Jon: Liberal - 26,620 votes, -4.69% swing
  • Reeves, Mathew: Family First - 1,644 votes, -0.49% swing
  • Wallace, Les: Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) - 1,655 votes, +1.93% swing

Two candidate preferred vote:

  • Hall, Jill, Labor, 55,379 votes, 64.74%, swing +5.50%
  • Kealy, John, Liberal, 30,162 votes, 35.26%, swing -5.50%

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Story of the Northern Separation or New England New State Movement

In recent times I have noticed a quite remarkable increase in interest in the New England New State Movement. Half of the ten most recent searches have been on this topic.

To IP 58...., Mr Whitlam was a member of the Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Review Committee with David Drummond. This Committee recommended changes to the constitution to make the creation of new states easier. In regard to your second search on the New England Movement I have a fair bit of material covering the whole movement from the early colonial period.

The same advice applies to IP c211-30... who was also searching on the New England Movement.

To IP c211-30... who was searching on the Cohen Royal Commission, I can give you the full history here.

More broadly, my own support for separation will be clear from this blog. However, that does not prevent me supplying objective historical information. If you have questions or want info as to sources, please leave a comment.


Thinking about it further, perhps the most useful thing that I might do is to put up some more historical material on the New England history blog. I have been slow in posting material to this blog because of the time pressures on me, so far really only starting to sketch out a blog structure.

I will add a further postscript when I have put something up.

Election 2007 Worrying times for New England's Nationals

As we enter the last week of the Federal election campaign, the New England scene is now looking decidedly difficult for the coalition in general and the Nationals in particular.

There are eleven Federal seats in New England, broken up into Labor 5, Nats 4, Liberal Party and independents one each. The latest Galaxy poll in the Telegraph shows an average swing to the ALP across the NSW marginals including the New England seats of of 7.5%.

On this swing, the Liberals could lose Paterson, the Nationals Page and Cowper. New England would then be Labor 8, Nats 2, independent one.

I have continued to read North Coast Voices, the ALP supporters blog. Given that it seems very likely that Mr Rudd will win the election, it will be interesting to see if Federal ALP can effectively represent both Northern Rivers and broader New England interests. While experience with state Labor is far from encouraging, the Federal Party is a different beast.


I see from later information that the poll in question did not include any New England seats, so that leaves the whole thing even more up in the air.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New England Australia - writers

I was trawling away looking for New England blogs when I came across Loonie Bin, a student blog from the University of New England. The writer is heavily into games, but I was struck by one quote:

Might I just add, and I may have mentioned this before: Sharkey is a MACHINE. I handed that assignment in on friday. Friday! And I swear he'd had it marked before today, he probably marked all the assignments over the weekend and had them ready for collection on Monday. It's insane, he puts all other lecturers to shame!

Now the Sharkey in question is one Michael, a very hard working staff member at the University of New England. He is also one of New England's better known poets.

I mention this because I knew that had written on him before, but had to search to find the story. I have therefore updated the New England writers tag to pick up posts that I had missed.

The various posts give some still limited indication of the richness of New England writing.

Friday, November 16, 2007

New England's Aboriginal Languages - a map

I finally found a map (here) of New England's Aboriginal languages. The map extends down towards Sydney and misses a bit out on the left, but it gets the guts of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Les Murray - another New England writer

The pot Les Murray is one of New England's best known writers. I mention this because back in February Michael Jensen, the blogging parson, put up a rather nice post on Les Murray's poetry that I have only just discovered.


Neil Whitfield featured one of Les Murray's poems as his Friday poem. You will find Les Murray's web site here. The poety site lyrikline includes his poetry with audio readings.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

University of New England's new academic structure

As part of its strategic planning process, UNE outlined a vision to achieve regional and global impact. This was followed by an academic restructuring and now UNE has advertised for no less than ten professorial heads of schools.

I will comment on the new structure in a moment. But first, a plea to the University. Please don't do what Sydney University did.

A year or so ago when Sydney moved to a new structure, the effect was to reduce student choice because it became harder for students to mix and match courses to do what they really wanted to do. Students were locked in to much more narrowly defined paths.

Sydney can get away with this. UNE cannot. Students have always had a centrality at UNE that has not existed in many other places. Academic structures exist to enhance student experience and choice, not to limit it.

So what does the new structure look like? To begin with, we now have two faculties, Arts and Science and the Faculty of the Professions.

The Faculty of the Professions is a fascinating concept. In writings on one of my professional blogs discussing the idea of a discipline of practice, I argued in part that the professions could learn from each other. The UNE structure might in fact facilitate this.

The new faculty has five schools: Education; Business, Economics and Public Policy; Law, Health; and Rural Medicine.

Education covers early childhood, primary, secondary and adult education. These are all areas where UNE has a long tradition and great strength. The inclusion of education as one of the professions is a great move.

The next school, business, economics and public policy, covers business, economics and administrative leadership. This one strikes me as a lot messier simply because I do not know at this point how things fit in. This is also an area where students need access to subjects in the other faculty, Arts and Sciences. A case in point.

Eldest was doing business studies at UTS. At the end of first year that the course was too narrow, so she decided to look elsewhere focused on Arts/Economics combinations.

She went first to Sydney because she was attracted by the extra curricular aspect of the place including SUDS, the drama society. She quickly backed off because the rigid academic structures precluded her doing the subject combinations she wanted. So now she is enrolled at UNSW in Arts/Economics.

The third school in the Faculty of the Professions is law, covering law and agricultural law. This one is pretty clear cut.

Then we have two health school, health itself (nursing, counselling, health management) and rural medicine, a course offered in conjunction with the University of Newcastle. Always good to see New England's universities cooperating. This is a potentially powerful combination of areas with significant international outreach potential.

The new Faculty of Arts and Sciences is somewhat messier. Again, the capacity for students to study across schools will be important in attracting them.

The school of arts includes english, communication studies, theatre, languages and music. Then we have behavioural, cognitive and social studies - geography, planning, linguistics, psychology and sociology. And humanities - archaeology and paleoanthropology, classics and ancient history, history, philosophy, politics and international studies, indigenous studies, peace studies.

To my mind, the interlinks between these schools will be critical to the effectiveness of the new system in practice. Students have to be allowed to mix and match across schools.

Then we have two science schools.

The first is environment and rural science - agronomy and soil science, animal science, genetics, earth science, environmental engineering, botany, ecosystems management, marine science, zoology. Not a bad combination that combines UNE's traditional interests with the new.

The second is science and technology - human biology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, physics and electronics, maths, stats and compute science.

This one strikes me as being rather more mixed. But I am not a scientist.

In all, I will be interested to see how it works out over time.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Death of New England Writer Eric Rolls (1923-2007)

I was saddened to see that Eric Rolls had died on Wednesday 31 October 2007 after a short illness.

I first read Eric Rolls' A Million Wild Acres many years ago. Published in 1981, the book is the epic story of what is now known as the Pilliga Scrub. This area, once open because of Aboriginal burning, became dense scrub/forest following the arrival of the Europeans and the withdrawal of fire.

I so loved the story that I gave it to my Uncle Ron for his birthday. Ron was no reader, but he too loved it because he loved the land and knew the area. The material that follows is drawn from Tom Burton's obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald, 7 November 2007.

Tome described Eric Charles Rolls as a farmer, poet, cook, fisherman and a supreme writer about the history and nature of his own country. "He lived with vigour and manifest joy and leaves Australians a remarkable legacy of words and insights. His voice has become part of this land and has forever changed the way we live here."

Eric Rolls was born at Grenfell into a western NSW farming family. Apparently his promise as a storyteller emerged earl,y at kindergarten. In Tom's words, he "found a way of telling stories that made listeners feel they were sitting on his knee. He carried a rare combination of authority and intimacy. With short sentences, vivid verbs, sensual imagery and a necessary swagger, this poet-turned-prose writer wove a kind of magic."

From Grenfell, Eric won selection to Fort Street High ( a selective high school), before serving in New Guinea in World War II. From 1946 he farmed his own land in the north-west of New England on the edges of the Pilliga Scrub.

In 1969 he published his first non-fiction book, They All Ran Wild, a history of pests in Australia, especially rabbits. However, of all his 20 books it was A Million Wild Acres that made him famous.

Its central story is the growing of a forest. "Australia was not a timbered land that has been cleared," Rolls argued. In much of Australia, Aborigines kept the forests open with their light, regular burning. The prolific germination that always follows fire was kept in check by the plentiful wallabies, possums, bandicoots and rat kangaroos, which ate the seedlings.

Now this was an argument that struck a real chord with me, for it was one of the lessons I drew from my studies in Australian pre-history. If, as Rolls argued, the Australian environment was human created, what did this say of our desire to "preserve"? Wasn't this just another human modification of the landscape?

Rolls the farmer found "wild" nature to be feral, mongrel and hybrid, nature enlivened by human intervention. He concluded that many of today's forests are different and new - exaggerated communities of plants and animals, volatile and vulnerable.

This view drew him into conflict with some of the "purists" in the environmental movement, yet it is (I think) clearly correct. Without Aboriginal fire management, wildfires do erupt, creating conflict and dispute including around the Pilliga itself, the first European made forest to be declared a national park .

As well as a pioneering environmental history, A Million Wild Acres is (in Tom Burton's words) a regional history like no other, where birds, animals and plants share the stage with humans. One hero is the white cypress pine. Through his democratic recognition of all life, Rolls enchants the forest, presenting a country raucous with sound and nervous with creative energy. Australian poet Les Murray read it "with all the delight of one who knows he has at last got hold of a book that is in no way alien to him".

Rolls was also an outstanding historian of the Chinese in Australia, demonstrated by his two-volume Flowers and the Wide Sea (Sojourners in 1992 and Citizens in 1996). Other books included poetry (Sheaf Tosser, The Green Mosaic, Selected Poems), children's books, memoirs, A Celebration of Food and Wine, and other histories, From Forest to Sea, Visions of Australia, and Australia: A Biography.

At 60, Eric Rolls decided to give away the land and focus just on writing. He and his second wife, Elaine van Kempen, moved to Camden Haven on the New England Mid-North coast.

Eric Rolls had two long and happy marriages, first with Joan (Stephenson), who died in 1985, then with Elaine, who survives him with his children Kim, Kerry and Mitchell, Elaine's children Nick, Sue, Simon and Adam, and his sister Dellas.

Upon his move to Camden Haven he helped found and was patron of the Watermark Literary Society, which organises a biennial "muster" of environmental and natural history writers in Camden Haven.

Vale to Eric Rolls.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Armidale Demonstration School - for the girls

Once, as a child, I made an ocean journey
With my parents and brothers; the big ship waited
At Circular Quay, stately in her leisure, while
White-suited stewards trundled trolleys up the gangplanks.
All through the morning we milled around on deck,
Poked around our cabins, said our farewells,
Till ship’s horn roared a warning; All Guests Disembark!
From Jenny Kimberley, Moving Along

During the week I got a very nice surprise, and email from Jenny Kimberley (photo), nee Kemp. The email was triggered by earlier stories on the Armidale Demonstration School (here and here). Jenny's brother Peter was in the same class as me at Dem and then later at TAS (The Armidale School).

I won't repeat the whole email, but I thought that some readers with an interest in Dem might find some of the reminiscences interesting. I have added a few supporting comments.

What a memory you have! I was there too, but a couple of years older and in the girls' part -- never the twain shall meet ... Is there any blog on the girls' school that you know of?

So far, Jen, no. On separation of girls and boys, after a joint time at infants, the primary schools were very separate. The older boys school was at the bottom of the hill, the two story girls school at the top. We only met the sheilas when we had to learn folk dances, or at some combined things like the showing of a film on Hiroshima.

I was amazed to read that while we were in England your teacher covered material on London and whatnot. I remember our 2-year trip quite vividly, especially that boat trip of 6 weeks to get there! I write poems and have written one about that, and the loss of those old liners. I'll attach it in case you like poems.

I have included an excerpt from the poem at the start of this post along with a link to the original on Jenny's web site, Poetry from Jen. I am sure that Jenny's comment is correct, but it did not come from me. I will check with her.

With both a Teachers College and a University, Armidale was very much an academic city from which people went on secondment and sabbatical to other places, always in those days by ship. Jen's poem captures this very well.

I took violin lessons from Mrs. Letters, wife of Professor Francis Letters. ... I visited her a few years ago just before she died, and still have her book she wrote about his career, History Will Out. I played violin for 45 years until my hands got arthritis. At those TAS Gilbert & Sullivan shows, I was in the audience and at intermission, found a dark room to weep in, for grief that I couldn't be in one myself.

I've played in many orchestras and now sing in the Colorado Symphony Chorus, and to my great joy, we've done several Gilbert & Sullivan operas!

The artistic streak clearly runs in the Kemps, for brother Peter took an active part in the TAS G&S. Under the leadership of Jim Graham, the TAS G&S performances were a major school tradition enjoyed by a much wider audience. Australian singer Peter Cousins is one of those who got their start here.

I live in the U.S. and have done (except for 5 years in the 70s), since 1963. The minute I finished at Syd Uni, I was on the boat to Berkeley and my boyfriend's new home there with his family. He was at Syd Uni too. We married and I have two sons, one in NY and one in Illinois. We divorced and I married a second time to the man in charge of UC Berkeley's tandem computers, and sadly lost him to cancer in 1999. Now I live in Colorado and just 3 months ago bought a house here. I'm a writer at a company that creates and optimizes websites.

And so things go. Armidale kids have gone all over the world.

Unlike Sydney or Melbourne, for most kids being born in Armidale meant that you were born to move. Very few now live in Armidale or, for that matter, the broader New England. New England's lack of higher level jobs made movement necessary.

Of my immediate friends at Dem, I do not think that any now live in Armidale. A considerable proportion were to leave Australia, in some cases for ever.

I haven't calculated exactly, but a remarkably high proportion left the country. This is not, I think, unique to New England, but holds across many areas of non-metro Australia. I suspect that once you have been forced to break the links with home, further movement into the unknown becomes easier.

This does not mean that you lose the heart strings to your ancestral homeland. Far from it. But you cannot go back because your homeland - I am not talking about Australia - has gone, changed. But this should really be the subject of another post. At this point, I would just note that one objective of this blog is to give the huge New England diaspora a link back.

Here are some names of kids I remember in Armidale: Gay McKenzie, Diana Ford, Jennifer and Anne Bassett (daughters of the Teachers' College Principal), Margaret Wicks, my best friend, whose father was a social worker, Julie Anne Knaggs, another friend, and many others who I can see in my mind, but can't remember their names.

These are all names that I knew of. As an example, Bob Wicks was in the same class at Dem as Bruce Hoy and myself. I wonder what Mr Wicks would think of the current problems facing the NSW Department of Community Services. I suspect that he would be horrified!

Thank you, Jen, for getting in touch.


Email update from Jen. The story about our teacher using the Kemp's overseas trip in class came from Bruce Hoy.

Jen confirmed that her dad, Leslie (Les) Kemp who had been Vice-Principal at the Armidale Teachers' College went back to Sydney in 1960 to become Principal of Sydney Teachers' College. Brother Chris was also at TAS, a few years behind me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

History of the University of Newcastle - a few notes

I have been browsing round trying to find material on the history of the University of Newcastle. While I found things of interest about people that I did not know or had forgotten with Newcastle connections, it proved remarkably difficult to find consolidated historical material about the University itself. I also could not find a decent photo to go with this story.

A few notes follow just to get some chronology down. With one exception that I will give in a moment, I am not giving links. The material is just too fragmentary.

The one exception? The Hunter Valley Research Foundation has a useful page setting out a chronology of some Hunter Valley historical events.

I have actually been intending to do a story on the Foundation. Founded in 1956 under the direction of Cyril Renwick, Professor of Economics at Newcastle University College, the Foundation has made a significant contribution to the Hunter, as has Professor Renwick himself.

A few dates follow.

1949 - Newcastle Teachers' College established as, I think, the third teachers' college in NSW. Griffith H Duncan became Principal of the College, a position he was to hold until 1975.

1951 -Newcastle University College established as a college of the NSW University of Technology (now University of New South Wales) on the Tighes Hill Newcastle Technical College campus.

As an aside, the NSW University of Technology itself was created in 1949 from the Sydney Technical College. 1958 the University changed its name to The University of New South Wales, and broadened its areas of study starting with a Faculty of Arts.

In Newcastle, Ralph Barsden who was Principal of the Newcastle Technical College from 1940 to 1959, also became Warden of the new University College, a position he was also to hold until 1959.

1965 - University of Newcastle gained autonomy - Shortland campus construction commenced.

1973 - Newcastle Teachers' College becomes College of Advanced Education.

November 1989 - College of Advanced Education and University of Newcastle amalgamated under the University of Newcastle name.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Welcome Visitor 9,000

Visitor 9,000 arrived this afternoon.

He/she came in via a search on Google - demographic changes in gunnedah - with a NSW big pond address.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Filling the Newcastle Information Blackhole

I have just been updating my New England blog list. In so doing, I have been able to fill the Newcastle information black hole that I have complained about before.

Now that I am starting to build a reasonable list of New England blogs, I have put a link to the list on the side bar.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sydney ferries to be privatised

Many New Englanders will have happy memories of Sydney’s ferries and especially the Manly service including the iconic South Steyne.

I see from the Sydney Morning Herald that the Walker Report has recommended the privatisation of Sydney’s ferry services. Apparently the report was absolutely scathing about ferry management and the Government’s interference in that service. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

I also see from the same story that John Watkins, the Sydney Government’s transport spokesman, is reported as saying that there is no more public money available for infrastructure in NSW. The budget has been exhausted. Again, why doesn’t that surprise me?

I wonder how many remember that the Manly service itself was run by a listed public company, the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Co. Ltd?

This company ran the service very successfully for very many years. However, in the sixties and seventies increased competition from other transport modes forced the service into a loss. In 1972 Port Jackson was taken over by Brambles.

The new owners had no interest in the ferry service and let it run down. The Sydney Government was forced to take it over 1974. In that year, too, the South Steyne itself caught fire caught fire and was badly damaged. The South Steyne was later restored by volunteers and can now be found at Sydney's Darling Harbour.

Will privatisation work this time? It may, simply because the new owners will be able to run the ferry services without the heavy administrative overlay that seems to be inevitably attached to Government ownership.