Monthly Archives: March 2019

OPINION: Safety is paramount to moving China

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THE n Bureau of Statistics says more than half a million trucks use n roads every day. They are moving goods and commodities; from livestock and grains, vegetables and milk, to online shopping and imported cars – all are essential to the way we live.
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The tyranny of distance is something that has come to define in many ways. Our geographical separation from the rest of the world, let alone ourselves, gives us our unique n culture.

It is the thousands of kilometres of road separating n cities that has given birth to a strong and vibrant trucking industry.

The Hunter Region is home to a large number of nationally recognised companies that are at the heart of the trucking and logistics industry.

With all the time we spend on the road, as an industry we have had to develop a rigorous approach to safety. In the past few weeks in our region we were reminded about the tragic effects of road accidents that involve cars and trucks.

About 21 years ago the local transport industry decided to do something about road transport safety and we held our first event at Civic Park with the objective of improving safety through education and awareness.

To do this we used our close working connections with our emergency services and it was this relationship that began a tradition that will celebrate the 22nd Newcastle and Hunter Region Road Transport Awareness Day on Sunday, November 1.

Our overall objective has not changed. We remain committed to improving road safety, but our focus has moved slightly. One accident involving a truck and car is one too many. With more and more motor vehicles on our roads we must work harder to educate people about how we can better share roads.

Each year on the first Sunday of November, the trucking industry comes together with emergency services and our wider business community in Newcastle to celebrate what we do, with a strong message of safety and awareness that is aimed at the whole community.

On Sunday, a parade of more than 50 big rigs will roll in from Sandgate to Newcastle Foreshore where a community family fun day will promote the role of the trucking industry in the community and advocate for safe road use for us all.

A big part of our day is to support the work of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. For almost 40 years the rescue helicopter has been servicing our region, and like so many people in the Hunter and beyond, the trucking industry understands the enormous value of its work within the emergency healthcare chain.

The transport and logistics industry plays a role in the community that extends well beyond travelling along highways. Whether it’s providing storage or logistics to community and sporting events or sponsoring kids’ sport, we are proud of our contribution and proud to work with our community to keep people safe.

Education is the key to ensuring safe road use for everyone. Whether that is understanding the distance it takes for a loaded B-Double to stop or how to overtake with care.

Like you, truck drivers want to get home safely to their families.

Pete Black is the chairman of the Newcastle and Hunter Region Road Transport Awareness Group

OPINION: Women reclaim the night

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Reclaim the Night rallies are held nationwide. Picture: Craig SillitoeTHIS evening hundreds of women will take to the streets to demand an end to sexual assault and violence against women.
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Reclaim the Night (RTN) is a yearly tradition for women that takes place all over the world, and Newcastle is no exception.

This protest was born in Germany in 1977 and the same year women’s rights activists in Britain organised RTN across 11 cities. By 1978 the event reached .

Reclaim the Night is, and always has been, a protest about ending sexual assault and violence against women.

The march is exclusively for people who identify as women and asserts that every woman has a right to live their lives free from violence, rape or fear.

Whether or not people wish to acknowledge it, violence and murder committed against women is chronic, brutal and devastating, and the statistics back this.

Almost every week one woman is murdered by a current or former partner, one in five women experiences sexual violence in their lifetime and one in three has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

Furthermore, intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to ill-health and premature death in women under 45, more so than any other risks, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking, according to Our Watch.

The impact is so devastating that we feel the need to keep count: Destroy the Joint reports that 75 women have been violently killed this year and REAL for women has counted 34 Aboriginal women killed this year alone.

It’s a crisis and an injustice, and women deserve better. Women deserve to live their lives free of fear.

Rosy Batty has done much to put violence against women on the agenda in 2015, however, more needs to be done.

Ms Batty has given us a platform not just to raise awareness but to engage the community and work towards changing the culture of violence that exists in this country.

The need for these changes is reflected in the 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey, which demonstrates some disturbing attitudes about violence against women by young people in : 40per cent of young people think rape results from men ‘‘not being able to control their urges’’, 60per cent think violence is caused by men being unable to control their anger and 25per cent think partner violence can be excused if they regret it.

These attitudes reflect a culture that condones violence against women and much more needs to happen, particularly with children and young people, to educate them around gender equality and human rights.

This is beyond simply respecting women; this is about creating a culture that does not abuse women and where men no longer feel entitled to abuse women.

Local issues of concern associated with this year’s RTN include the defunding of women’s and legal services by the federal and state governments and the absence of a Federal Circuit Court judge in Newcastle.

Hunter Domestic Violence services are very aware that incidents of domestic violence increase over summer, however, most services are at capacity already.

That scenario of support services at capacity, combined with a looming increased need for services, is a lethal combination that is terrifying.

Funding to women’s and legal services needs to be increased, not decreased, and comprehensive violence prevention strategies need to be implemented, as well as an overhaul of the legal system so that it supports women who are experiencing violence.

If these measures do not take effect, women will continue to be abused, assaulted, injured and murdered.

This is why we need initiatives like Reclaim the Night, so that we can continue to fight for justice and rights for women and to create a fairer society where women are free from harm and receive the services they so desperately need.

■ Reclaim the Night will be marked in Newcastle tonight with a march in Beaumont Street, Hamilton. Women and children are invited to march. Men are invited to attend activities before and after. Marchers will meet at 5.45pm in Gregson Park, Hamilton, for a 6pm march.

■ A Lake Macquarie march tonight has been organised jointly by Eastlakes and Westlakes Domestic Violence Committees, for Warners Bay foreshore. Meet at about 6pm near the rotunda for a march around 7pm.

Nicole Molyneux is a social science student, human rights activist and member of the Reclaim the Night Organising Collective 2015

MICHAEL McGOWAN: Guilty in his innocence

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Former n Prime Minister Tony Abbott gives The Margaret Thathcher Lecture at a banquet for The Margaret Thatcher Centre held at London’s Guildhall. Picture: Julian Andrews
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‘‘GOD save us always,’’ the novelist Graham Greene once wrote, ‘‘from the innocent and the good’’.

I wonder what Greene, a Catholic, would have made of the speech given by Tony Abbott in London this week.

While he seems intent on hanging grimly to what’s left of his parliamentary career, the former prime minister is apparently unhampered by his duties as member for Warringah, and found time to pop across to the old country to deliver the second Margaret Thatcher lecture.

You might say that Mr Abbott’s argument, that the ‘‘wholesome instinct’’ to love your neighbour as yourself has led Europe to make a ‘‘catastrophic error’’ in its response to the Syrian refugee crisis, fits neatly with Greene’s point.

The 1955 novel The Quiet American, from which I pulled the line, is set during the French war in Vietnam, and follows a cynical British journalist and an idealistic American CIA agent – two frenemies, to put it in contemporary terms.

The American – inexperienced and naive – is determined to make a difference in the conflict, but in the end his interventions only cause more harm.

In the context of ’s immigration policy, it is hard not to be reminded of the Left’s determined moral righteousness.

While decrying the government’s asylum seeker policy as fundamentally wrong, there seems to be no practical humane alternative to achieve what has become, rightly or wrongly, the electorate’s main concern; thatis, ‘‘stopping the boats’’.

Faced with an electorate more concerned with stopping brown people reaching our shores than a humane resettlement policy, the government has struck a sort of Faustian Pact in the interest of holding power, while the liquid-spined Labor Party follow along at its heels.

And there is no question that they have succeeded.

But, listening to Mr Abbott speak, I was struck, not for the first time, at the narrow lens through which he seems to view the world.

At the black-tie dinner, which cost £250 a head and, if you were wondering, featured Scottish lobster and Poached Hereford Tournedos on the menu, he lectured the crowd on how the continent’s compassion towards refugees risked ‘‘a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever’’.

Plenty has been written about the stunning obtuseness of those comments.

As if ’s policy of towing refugees back to Indonesia where – although they are reduced to a status as an essentially non-person – they aren’t shot, could or should be copy and pasted onto the literally millions fleeing civil war in Syria and the threat of Islamic State.

His comments seem to me to display a different kind of naivety. That of the blinkered ideologue.

I was living in England in 2009, and remember laughing out loud when I heard that the man I had always viewed as a sort of conservative conscience for the Liberal Party had become its leader.

He represented a sliver of modern life. The arch-conservative whose views, while not part of the fringe, still seemed antiquated.

The elevation of his sort of evangelical take on life seemed entirely out of step with what is generally a fairly moderate n public.

There was no way, I thought, that he could be acceptable to the average voter.

I turned out to be wrong.

But, now, unshackled from the chains of moderation that high office required, and with the (steadily decreasing) diplomatic heft that being a former n prime minister brings, Mr Abbott has decided to take his show on the road.

Still relatively young in political terms, he now gets to turn statesman, introducing the expanded version of his famous three-word slogans to a global stage.

There is another Greene line that springs to mind: ‘‘Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell,’’ he wrote, ‘‘wandering the world, meaning no harm’’.

EDITORIAL: The wrong question on councils

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THE answer, according to the NSW government, is to amalgamate more local councils around the state to create larger, more efficient entities and better economies of scale.
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If that’s the answer, then maybe the wrong question has been asked.

Local government has many faults, but it has some tremendous virtues. One of the greatest of these is that it is ‘‘local’’. Councils employ people who live within their local government boundaries. They spend money in their local areas, helping to stimulate local economies and supporting local businesses. They make decisions – as far as they are permitted – about local matters using local knowledge and experience.

Contrast this with state governments. Taking NSW as an example, the state government expends the greater part of its energies and resources looking after the state capital. Portfolio spending – both capital and recurrent – is heavily skewed to the capital.

Why, for instance, does the government spend hundreds of millions of dollars on cultural facilities in the capital, but steadfastly refuse to let any more than a trickle of funds leak into the regions? It is a cause for much frustration that Newcastle – the state’s second city – is left by the state to support its libraries, museums, art galleries and historical sites from council rates.

Too often, when the NSW government takes an interest in the Hunter Region, its decisions can appear ill-informed and unsuited to local circumstances.

No doubt some benefits can be obtained by amalgamating some local government areas.

However, many would argue that much greater benefits would accrue to ratepayers in regional NSW if only the current resourcing inequities could be effectively addressed.

Some day that will probably happen. Non-capital residents of NSW will eventually reach the point where they will refuse to tolerate the unfairness and put their demands for reform with such force that they can no longer be ignored.

Before then, however, the state government will keep pushing for council amalgamations. If the push becomes irresistible, ratepayers must insist that the resulting ‘‘super-councils’’ don’t replicate in smaller scale the negative aspects of centralised state rule.

Already many ratepayers within existing council boundaries – such as Beresfield in Newcastle and some parts of western Lake Macquarie – consider themselves victims of local government bureaucracies that can’t see far beyond the walls of their council chambers.

Any proposals for amalgamating councils in the Hunter must include safeguards to ensure the inevitable centralisation of administration does not exacerbate existing disadvantage, real or perceived, for those who don’t live close to the new centres of power.

Melissa Peacock’s inability to cope with mother’s dementia led to her death: inquest

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A Sydney medical receptionist who failed to take her sick, elderly mother to a doctor for more than two years, and then left her body in bed for months after she died, had been unable to cope with the woman’s descent into dementia, a coroner has found.
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The badly decomposing body of Noreen Peacock, 83, was found in October 2013 by real-estate agents conducting an inspection of the Kellyville home she had shared with the youngest of her three daughters, Melissa Peacock.

Six days later, police found Melissa at the Shangri La Hotel in central Sydney – one of a number of hotels in which she had been staying since her mother’s death.

They charged her with fraud and failing to report a death, the inquest into Mrs Peacock’s death heard.

“This was an extraordinarily sad case,” Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund said in handing down her findings on Thursday.

“Noreen Peacock died being cared for by the person who no doubt loved her the most, her youngest daughter.”

The inquest found that Melissa had lived with her mother since 1995 and cared for her since 2010 when Mrs Peacock was diagnosed with dementia.

The pair reportedly had a “very close and dependent relationship” but, from November 2010 until her death sometime in July or August 2013, Melissa failed to take her mother to a doctor or seek any other form of assistance.

The frail woman was left in the house for nine hours a day, six days a week, while Melissa undertook her job as a medical receptionist at Norwest Private Hospital.

Medical evidence suggested that Mrs Peacock had weighed as little as 37 kilograms at the time of her death, the inquest heard.

One doctor said he believed hypothermia was the most likely cause of death because she had been lying naked in bed during the coldest months of the year, probably without the heater on.

The doctors were unable to draw any conclusions from the discovery of fractured thyroid cartilage in Mrs Peacock’s neck.

While Ms Freund was unable to make a formal finding as to the cause of Mrs Peacock’s death, she found that the woman’s isolation from medical and other care had been a contributing factor.

“Responsibility for Mrs Peacock’s isolation must rest primarily with Melissa,” Ms Freund said.

“It was, in my view, totally unacceptable that Mrs Peacock was deprived of medical attention from November 2010.

“It is also unacceptable that Mrs Peacock was being left alone, locked in a two-storey house for up to nine hours a day, six days a week for many months while Melissa went to work.

“The risks involved in leaving an elderly person alone for this length of time are obvious.”

However, the coroner found that Melissa had most likely been suffering from serious, long-term depression and, more recently, alcoholism.

She also found that Mrs Peacock’s other two daughters, Jaslyne and Deborah, also bore some responsibility because they had failed to come up with a plan to assist with the care of their mother or “make further inquiries about how Melissa was coping”.

“They simply did not want to know,” Ms Freund said.

“At some point, Melissa became unable to cope with the responsibility of being the sole carer and provider of an elderly, frail mother who was suffering from the advanced stages of dementia.

“Melissa did not reach out for help. Her sisters did not extend assistance despite awareness of their mother’s deteriorating condition.

“This, in my view, further isolated Melissa from the outside world. Melissa was left to flounder and the consequences were extreme.”