Monthly Archives: May 2019

Luck turns for Canberra Capitals with WNBA guard Renee Montgomery to debut

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The Canberra Capitals’ wretched run of luck has finally taken a positive turn with Minnesota Lynx point guard Renee Montgomery cleared to make her WNBL debut after resolving her visa issues. 

Montgomery will suit up for the Capitals in Saturday’s home game against Melbourne in a major boost to a roster crippled by injuries.

The 28-year-old’s arrival will help appease the loss to perimeter player Hanna Zavecz, who retired from basketball this week after aggravating a rib injury. 

Canberra’s season is already in danger of slipping away after losing their first five matches and the Boomers match is virtually must-win.

Capitals coach Carrie Graf confirmed on Thursday that Montgomery will debut at AIS Arena, but doesn’t expect her to play a huge role given her travel after helping Lynx win the WNBA title.

“She’s on a plane as we speak. She’ll have medicals tomorrow [Friday] and we’ll suit her up and give her some game time,” Graf said.

“Straight off the plane you’re not ready to play 35 to 40 minutes; jet lag takes a couple of days to get over.

“It’s a confidence boost for our team. Our roster is undermanned due to circumstances out of our control and adding a player of her ilk is a plus for us.

“She’s a quality player, can hit the three-point shot and get deep in the lane to score.

“She’s going to create opportunities for the rest of the group, but she’s not going to be the magic formula in a day,” she said.

Montgomery’s inclusion will allow the Capitals to cover for Zavecz by playing regular point guards Alice Coddington and Abbey Wehrung with Montgomery at the same time.

Graf insisted they’re focussed on playing “with what we have” after eight players suited up in the last-start loss in Bendigo, but will keep their ear to the ground for possible replacements.

The Capitals showed plenty of grit before Bendigo’s clear size advantage ground them down in the 77-66 defeat.

“Two days isn’t enough time to get a starting perimeter player into your group,” she said.

“Right now we’ll sit tight and we’ll look at potential options out there in coming weeks.

“We’ve been without players for a while and been on numerous searches, but there’s not a lot out there.”

The injury dramas mean young n Opal Stephanie Talbot has taken on a much bigger role offensively for Canberra, averaging 20 points per game.

She said she was relishing the extra responsibility but said a greater focus on intensity led to a more competitive showing against Bendigo.

“Throughout the game our grit and team defence took it up a lot, we were so much better at that, and that put the pressure on them,” she said.

“Down the stretch their size and our point guard [Wehrung] getting fouled out [hurt], they overtook us, which was disappointing, but the effort we put in was much better.”


WNBL round four: Canberra Capitals v Melbourne Boomers at AIS Arena, 7pm

Tickets available from Ticketek

NBN one street, web drop-outs the next

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Watson resident Petra Bright has experienced poor internet connectivity at her home. Photo: Graham TidyNBN Co buys 1800 kilometres of copperNBN’s first satellite launches successfully

Watson resident Petra Bright knows too well the frustrations of unreliable internet.

Yet less than two kilometres away residents in the central suburb’s most northern streets enjoy the reliably fast speeds of the National Broadband Network.

“I’m probably about one or two kilometres from where the NBN is but I’m about five kilometres away from the exchange for ADSL and ADSL2 so, I’m a fair distance from the actual exchange which has caused a few issues with my internet – it tends to drop out,” Ms Bright said.

“It went down for about two weeks a few weeks ago and there was next to no answer for it.

“My ISP tends to blame the distance from the exchange for everything. Five kilometres is a fair distance but at the same time I can’t fix my location.”

Ms Bright’s ordeal, like that of many Canberrans, reflects a digital divide not only across the capital’s regions but within old and new suburbs.

A pocket of streets in Casey were among the only ones in the entire Gungahlin region to miss out on the capital region’s initial NBN rollout, aside from the next stage underway in Nicholls.

Although about 81,000 Canberra and Queanbeyan homes are a step closer to having NBN access, with a raft of suburbs announced earlier this month to have construction on the broadband network begin by next September, many others remain in limbo.

Tuggeranong has emerged the biggest loser with only Wanniassa and Kambah earmarked for the NBN in the next three years.

While Ms Bright does not categorise herself among the unluckiest internet surfers in Canberra, she has had to accept limited connectivity throughout her house, including rooms where she can’t jump online at all.

“Basically, I’m on the furthest limit of what [my internet provider] can provide for ADSL2,” she said.

“I can get Netflix and all those types of things [but] I can’t get Wi-Fi in my bedroom, for example, because it’s already become so slow [after] hitting the router. By the time it gets to my bedroom or other parts of the house, it’s dropped out by then.”

Dr David Tuffley from Griffith University’s School of Information and Communication Technology said the country’s digital divide stemmed from a “hybrid set-up” of ADSL copper wire and glass fibre.

It’s the result of a switch from the former Labor government’s fibre-to-the-premises NBN plan to the Liberal government’s fibre and copper mix, he said.

“They’ve run as much speed out of these copper wires as they absolutely, possibly can – they really can’t manage anymore,” Dr Tuffley said.

“Some areas are fairly well connected with fibre and they’re enjoying fast speeds. The ones that are really slow are ones that are largely copper and there’s a lot of people connected to the one node. The more people that connect, the slower it all becomes.

“So as more people subscribe to Netflix and Stan and other streaming services and of course, those naughty people who torrent stuff, there’s more and more load.”

Dr Tuffley said ‘s internet, ranked 44th in the world earlier this year, was “deplorable” and “embarrassing”.

He said there seemed to be a mentality of leaving problem streets alone in lieu of the NBN’s eventual rollout.

“It is false economy to skimp on providing the right infrastructure for now and the future,” he said.

“What the government is providing is barely adequate for now and it doesn’t really provide terribly well for the future.”

Dr Tuffley said there weren’t many options for people stuck without ADSL2.

Consistent 4G or 5G coverage could be one way around physical shortcomings in urban areas in the future, however this would be a long way off.

Ms Bright said she looked forward to eventually accessing the NBN but was a little jealous of her friends up the road already delighting in speedy internet access.

“You sort of feel like you’re living on dial-up speed sometimes,” she said.

“It’s more just a jealousy thing at the end of the day, that they have much faster internet than you do.”

Residents removed from Tomaree Lodge to group homes under NDIS

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THE removal of 38 residents from Tomaree Lodge, the Port’s lone state-run disability care hospital for the past 28 years, has started.

The residents, predominantly aged from 65 and suffering from intellectual and physical disabilities, will be rehoused into group homes accommodating up to six people as houses become available.

A Family and Community Services (FACS) spokesperson has confirmed that the NSW government was committed to the redevelopment of Tomaree Lodge by June 30, 2018.

“These large centres will be replaced with contemporary accommodation in the community designed to provide a home-like environment, with more privacy, flexibility in daily living and opportunities for increased participation in the community,” the spokesperson said.

“FACS is committed to consulting with staff, their industrial representatives through an industrial relations working party, and local consultative meetings.”

Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka last week announced that the government was seeking expressions of interest from non-government organisations to build and operate disability housing to replace Hunter lodges including Tomaree at a cost of $58 million.

Mr Ajaka said closing the institutions would help ensure people with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence, choose the people they live with, be closer to their families and integrate more with the community.

However, according to the sole surviving relative of one Tomaree Lodge resident, many of those living at the Shoal Bay facility are unable to communicate their wishes and do not have anyone speaking for them.

“It’s a sad reality that many of these residents do not have a voice,” said Judy Bourke, the sister-in-law of Angelman syndrome sufferer Marea Bourke.

“While the National Disability Insurance Scheme has many health benefits, there are a minority who will fall between the cracks, including my sister-in-law who has resided at Tomaree since 1988.

“She needs 24-hour specialist nursing care, and would not cope in a smaller property.”

State MP Kate Washington has labelled the government’s decision to release the plan to the business sector before being shared or discussed with residents’ families or advocates as “disgraceful”.

“The residents of these services are the most vulnerable people in our community, and we must ensure that what’s being proposed is consistent with the NDIS principles of choice and control, not a ‘one size fits all’ accommodation with no safeguards,” Ms Washington said.

“And there are still no answers as to how the health needs of these residents will be managed once they are rehoused.”

The FACS spokesperson said there were 54 staff at Tomaree Lodge and FACS was finalising its approach for the workforce.

“Future plans for the site following relocation of residents are yet to be developed and FACS is unable to provide an estimated value of this property.”

In 2012, Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie caused a huge outcry when he suggested the land be turned into a tourist development complete with casino.

Rodney Lawrence in court charged with cold case murder of Elizabeth Dixon

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Elizabeth Dixon was found slumped across the front seat of her own car in the bush. Photo: Police Media Police at the scene where Elizabeth Dixon was murdered in 1982. Photo: Allan Jolly

Detective Sergeant Frank Tracey investigated the death of Elizabeth Dixon in 1982. Photo: Chris Cole

A man charged with the murder of Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon in Newcastle 33 years ago has appeared in Maitland Local Court.

Ms Dixon’s body was found slumped across the front seat of her car in bush near Ashtonfield in Newcastle’s north-west in 1982. An autopsy found she had suffered 27 stab wounds.

Rodney Lawrence, 64, from Stockton, made no application for bail as he was led into court in handcuffs on Thursday.

Duty solicitor Peter Cleaves told magistrate John Chicken: “I cannot be in a position today to make a substantial bail application.

“This warrants a bail application and my suggestion is that next week in Newcastle I can be in a position to make that application.”

The magistrate formally refused bail and Lawrence was remanded in custody, to appear by way of audio visual link in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday next week.

Bearded, with a moustache, Lawrence was dressed in jeans and a dark jacket.

According to police papers tendered to the court, Lawrence murdered Ms Dixon at Ashtonfield between April 3 and 4, 1982.

Ms Dixon flew from Northern Ireland in 1979 for a year in and decided to stay.

The Saturday before Easter in 1982, Ms Dixon, 31, left the Greenhills Hit-N-Dip Sports Centre, where she was a regular squash player, and vanished.

She was known to have made a quick visit to some nearby shops and possibly went back to her flat in Metford.

The following Monday, a jogger found her body.

A murder investigation continued sporadically until Lawrence was arrested on Wednesday.

The suspect, who was a well-known Maitland sportsman in 1982, was arrested at his home at Stockton and taken to Maitland police station for questioning.

The Maitland Mercury, Newcastle Herald

End of an era with Rozelle Markets takeover by Blue Sky Markets Pty Ltd

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Jeanne Albrecht (right) with her daughter Ilana Albrecht at Rozelle Public School. Photo: Kate GeraghtyAfter 25 years, Jeannie Albrecht’s project is over. The P&C mum who started the Rozelle Markets out of her own car is being edged out by the pros.

It was announced earlier this week that the department of education will turf out Mrs Albrecht in favour of Blue Sky Markets, a company which has about 10 market businesses in Queensland and NSW.

“It’s very important not to squash someone who’s worked very, very hard, and not just for themselves, and discard them” said Mrs Albrecht. “Take away a piece of community here and a piece there and soon you have something soulless”.

Mrs Albrecht began the weekend market in 1991, after the success of a P&C car-boot sale. She shook hands with the principal on a deal to use school land on weekends in exchange for rent.

She threw in her life savings, took out a loan and hung tough through lean days with her daughter Larna who sold grassy heads made out of old stockings.

The site has since grown into Sydney’s major second-hand market and Mrs Albrecht says one-third of her stalls are set aside for casual community stalls.

But last year a Department of Education decree stated that all schools’ commercial arrangements be reviewed and opened to tender.

“It’s a hobby and my passion,” said Blue Sky owner Ross Alexander.

Rozelle will make for Blue Sky’s 10th market property, including in Bondi, Manly and (after similar tender takeovers) in Chinatown and Brisbane.

His critics argue Mr Alexander’s approach gives markets a samey feel and they fear stallholders will be squeezed.

Mr Alexander says he has not raised stallholder fees in the past and is ruling out any at Rozelle. He wants to maintain the market’s bric-a-brac feel and says he profits only by making markets better in the long-term and offering landowners a better deal.

“We got a very well known designer to come up with a brand for what Chinatown is,” he said.

Mr Alexander says that his operation will give the school a fairer share of revenue. “If it’s a commercial operation in a school then I think that’s important”.

But some stallholders are not happy.

Lesley Fairbairn, who has sold second-hand books, bric-a-brac and miscellany at Rozelle since its beginning says she will not work for new management.

A signal example of the difference in management styles, stallholders say, is Mrs Albrecht collects her rent on the morning of the markets. That means they don’t pay for rainy days, which can be the bane of a stallholder’s life.

Blue Sky collects in advance.

“The idea that someone comes round collecting cash these days…,” Mr Alexander said. “There’s a major security issue, I don’t think it’s appropriate to put staff in that position”.