HIGH-GROSSING MOVIE: Male-bonding humour between lads from The Inbetweeners had a knack of overstepping what might be considered to be family friendly – some may even say it bordered on offensive.IT was an exercise in not reading the label.
Jay, the most vulgar of The Inbetweeners lads, had just barfed out a colourful description of bodily fluid when a young couple stood up in the dark cinema, collected their pre-teen gaggle and marched for the Charlestown food court, amid titters in the aisles.
The movie (rated MA) had been far from kid-friendly and, deciding the lads’ hijinks would only get cruder, the couple had exercised a raw, basic right: the walkout.
The Inbetweeners Movie would go on to gross (and gross out) millions worldwide, and this particular exit wouldn’t dent its bottom line. But any walkout is a piece of theatre in itself.
Whether packed into a play, half-watching a band or nodding off at a school musical, most of us will encounter a performance that tests our ability to suffer in silence. But we’ll suffer nonetheless. Walkers are different. Offended, bored, knackered or simply deciding to cut their losses – the price of admission – some won’t hesitate to hit Eject.
This column, never usually one to walk, was recently convinced to enact the escape clause during intermission in a play at the Civic. The thought of those empty seats blinking out at performers in the second half still makes us squirm.
But maybe you see it differently. Perhaps to you, dear reader, a walkout is an exercise in democracy, one of the few rights we retain after coughing up $80 on the Ticketek website.
As pointed out recently in a letter to the New York Times by the author ThomasJVinciguerra, theatre critic Wolcott Gibbs frequently indulged in a walkout.
Justifying the practice, Gibbs wrote: “After an hour and a quarter of Sim Sala Bim, at the Morosco, my curiosity, never especially intense, about how a chorus girl may be spirited from one big wooden box to another was appeased to a reasonable extent, so I went home.”
Have you walked out of a performance? If so, why? Tell us at [email protected]上海龙凤论坛m.au.
PROUD PAST: In its heyday, the Victoria Theatre was as good as it got.
SPEAKING of which, how many punters walked out of Newcastle’s Victoria Theatre over the years, satisfied or otherwise?
The theatre, on Perkins Street, opened in 1876 and is thought to be the oldest still standing in NSW. It was considered massive when it was built. The stage was huge for the time, eclipsing almost everything in Sydney and only fractionally smaller than the one inside the Civic Theatre today.
It’s home to mostly pigeons now, but that hasn’t stopped Sean Duce on Facebook naming the Victoria Theatre his underrated Hunter building.
Got one of your own? Tell us about it, and even better, take a photo.
UP FOR IT: Paul Harragon will do the ice bucket challenge.
WE’RE told that Neil McEwan, a motor neuron disease sufferer who’ll do the ice bucket challenge at the surf club at Blacksmiths on Saturday (Topics, September 8), will be joined by Paul Harragon.
Hawko, Rabbs, now the Chief. The ice challenge is claiming some hefty scalps.
Like the rest of us, CEOs work hard at being normal. But the job attracts a certain character type.
Being optimistic, conquer-the-world types with expensive educations and privileged backgrounds, a few too many gaze into their fundaments and find the view oddly satisfying.
Mostly, such behaviour is kept in check. CEOs are smart enough to realise that real or not, an affable character helps them get ahead. And many are indeed that way inclined.
But when reporting season comes around – The lights! The stage! The sandwiches! – a few egos escape the clutches of their minders and make a run for it.
Mostly, no great harm is done.
Freelancer CEO and chairman Matt Barrie claimed that “it is inevitable that a global marketplace for services will emerge that will be of a similar size and scale as global marketplaces for products like eBay, Amazon and Alibaba”.
Barrie may well be right but the subtle association of Amazon (2013 revenue: US$74.4bn) with Freelancer (2013 revenue: $18.8m) should raise a sceptical eye. Nothing, not even the success of Freelancer, is inevitable.
Whilst over-egged optimism is common (and sometimes a prerequisite), self-interest is everywhere and rarely welcome.
Sleep apnoea outfit SomnoMed recently conducted a share purchase plan that was five-times oversubscribed. Many shareholders were scaled back but director-related entities scored full allocations.
Commonwealth Bank CEO Ian Narev, fresh from addressing fraud and malpractice in the bank’s financial planning division, reassured investors the house price boom was nothing to worry about.
With an $8m pay packet largely dependent on the sale of mortgages, what else is he going to say?
RBA governor Glenn Steven, whose property market warnings are becoming increasingly shrill, is a less conflicted party and a more reliable source.
Reporting season gives every CEO a mouthpiece but that doesn’t mean we should actually listen to them.
Alan Joyce – incredibly, still Qantas CEO – was another example, announcing another headline loss, this time a mere $2.8 billion.
Qantas management has never admitted any culpability in the airline’s woes but shareholders need not worry because ‘the worst is over’. Soothsaying like this last year cost shareholders $3.3 million.
Newcrest was equally cheeky, reporting lower production costs achieved not through mining but processing stockpiles, making the headline figures look better than they were.
Kudos to fund manager Kerr Nielson, though, for declining to participate in Platinum’s staff performance scheme.
As the controlling shareholder, Nielson doesn’t feel entitled to another crack at the big money, which is seriously letting his fellow CEOs down. Expect a cold shoulder at the next charity fundraiser, Kerr.
ASIC head honcho Greg Medcraft couldn’t resist joining the fray, announcing changes to the corporate regulator’s advisory panel. ASIC is apparently big on strengthening its appeal to whistleblowers.
But instead of getting real-life whistleblowers like Jeff Morris on the panel it apparently prefers current and former representatives of the likes of Commonwealth Bank and Macquarie Group.
You know, the companies that ASIC is currently investigating after the whistle was blown on them. At least new member Maile Carnegie, head of leading legal tax avoider Google Australia, can show Medcraft how to fire up Netscape Navigator.
Finally, there was former ASX chairman and chief government business advisor Maurice Newman jumping into his very own pool of absurdity.
Despite the CSIRO being 99.999 per cent certain humans are causing global warming, Maurice is worried that the earth is about to get very cold and we’re all unprepared for it. If you see a luminary of corporate Australia wearing a beenie and ear muffs, that’s him.
CEOs are pretty much like the rest of us – slightly odd and frequently succumbing to hubris and self-interest.
The key difference is that shareholders pay CEOs a lot of money to be in control of their investments, which means they need to be held to and aim for a higher standard than the rest of us.
If they’re unable to put aside their ideological obsessions and human biases, to recognise how personal incentives can impact the quality of their decisions, or to rein in a galloping ego, then you really should question whether they’re the right person for the job.
This reporting season reveals too many falling well short.
John Addis is editor of Intelligent Investor Share Advisor (AFSL 282288). To unlock Share Advisor’s stock research and buy recommendations, take out a 15-day free membership.
IN some respects, the road from Mayfield to Kooragang Island and over to Stockton is a history of lost opportunities.
The most obvious problem is the way the former state Labor government decided against replacing the ageing narrow 1960s steel girder bridge with a proper, four-lane crossing when it had the chance.
Plans for a new bridge were unveiled in 2003, and, even then, people were asking why it would not have four lanes, given the population boom at Port Stephens and the importance of Tourle Street and Cormorant Road as the southern end of a main road link to Newcastle Airport.
By the time work began in 2007, the new crossing, at a single lane each way, was an embarrassment that no amount of rationalisation from Labor could erase.
Although the ICAC has heard much about a ‘‘dirty tricks’’ campaign against Jodi McKay playing a major part in her loss of the seat in 2011, a look back over history shows that bad planning decisions such as the single-lane bridge, finished in 2009, were also to blame.
At the time, the new two-lane crossing had an estimated cost of $44million, and another $15million could have made it two lanes in each direction.
Now, five years later, the same project has gone from about $60million to almost $104million, a substantial increase that could, and should, have been avoided.
One of the problems with the Tourle Street crossing is the hard turn on and off Kooragang Island, a limitation that only arose after the sweeping line of the original highway was moved much closer to the edge of the Hunter River to make way for Kooragang’s now dominant coal-loaders.
Today, the ‘‘long pond’’ beside Cormorant Drive, near the T4 site, is charged with environmental significance; so much so that the new, duplicated section of road will be pushed even closer to the harbour, and with a substantially reduced median strip separating the opposing lines of traffic.
Judged as a whole, however, the new bridge and its accompanying roadworks represent a substantial improvement for road users.
Daily traffic demand is predicted to rise from 33,000 vehicles a day to about 40,000 vehicles a day in 2031, an increase of more than 20per cent.
Given that much of the peak-hour congestion is caused by the need to form single lanes to cross the river, the new bridge should cope easily with the 2030s traffic flows, and more.
Given the crossing’s history, however, the public will be watching to ensure that the politicians keep to the promised timeframe of construction in 2016 to be finished in 2018. If Roads and Maritime Services and its contractors can manage that, it will be a job well done.
Free-to-air TV channels say Foxtel should be paying to rebroadcast their services. Photo: Rob HomerThe free-to-air broadcasters have put fresh pressure on Foxtel to pay them for showing their channels, releasing a report that links the recent renaissance in US television with the billions networks received from pay TV distributors in 2013.
The report comes as the government says the matter is “under consideration”.
Harold Mitchell, the chairman of the free-to-air industry body Free TV Australia, said the report showed that “fairly compensating broadcasters for the use of their services by pay TV operators such as Foxtel delivers more quality content to viewers with little or no impact on the price of pay TV.”
Foxtel has long objected to any suggestion it should pay the free-to-air networks to retransmit their channels. Chief executive Richard Freudenstein has said that re-transmitting the channels delivers them a wider audience, “helping them to get more advertising.”
The report was commissioned by FreeTV Australia, the German commercial TV industry body, and ITV of the UK, to look at the effect on consumer welfare of “retransmission fees” to broadcast stations from cable, satellite and telco distributors.
It concludes that the US system “has served the public interest” and “provides a useful example for other countries interested in promoting a vibrant, competitive market for digital video content and distribution.”
The report found that retransmission fees accounted for more than 14 per cent of total broadcast TV revenue in 2013, but “accounts for less than 3 per cent of cable operators’ revenue and has little or no impact on pay TV prices.”
They also allowed broadcasters to “increase program quality and compete more effectively with pay TV networks for high-quality programming, including winning back widely viewed sporting events such as NFL football games,” it said.
The report, written by Jeffrey Eisenach of the US-based consultancy NERA, notes that retransmission revenue accounted for 22 per cent of revenue for Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in 2013, 23 per cent for CBS and 17 per cent for Walt Disney.
It comes as free-to-air broadcasters seek to retain advertising and audience share amid greater competition from online, and follows significant consolidation among US media companies, with Fox recently pulling its bumper $US80 billion for rival Time Warner.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously told media owners that “deregulation provides us with the opportunity to explore the implementation of an arrangement in which free-to-air and subscription broadcasters reach commercial arrangements that recognise the value of retransmission to each party.”
But Bruce Meagher, spokesman for Foxtel, said there was “no valid comparison between the US and Australian markets.” Foxtel is owned jointly by News Corp and Telstra.
“The retransmission through Foxtel is a convenience to customers who are entitled to get free-to-air signals, and the mere fact they get them through their Foxtel service is a matter of their convenience.”
“The suggestion people are forced to pay for a service they are entitled to free of charge, and is a product of a government mandated, closed system – where public spectrum has been allocated to a limited number of companies – is patently unfair.”
Mungo MacCallum was tucking in to a plate of scrambled eggs in a Mullumbimby cafe when his “passing” was announced on Twitter. Photo: Paul HarrisMungo MacCallum, whose autobiography is entitled Mungo – The Man Who Laughs, has always held wicked regard for the ridiculous.
It helped on Monday when his passing was announced to the world on Twitter while he was tucking in to a plate of scrambled eggs in a Mullumbimby cafe across the road from the Byron Shire Echo, a newspaper that has carried his wild wit for some years.
He was, to fellow patrons, pretty clearly alive. Lacking a Twitter account himself, he posed for a “proof of life” photo with a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald dated September 8, 2014, which soon appeared on the Echo’s website.
Beyond the cafe, however, the misled Twitterverse was furiously creating obituaries.
Anne Summers, Sydney-based journalist and commentator who once worked alongside Mungo in the Canberra Press Gallery, set melancholy rolling when she proclaimed via Twitter that MacCallum, “journalist and gentleman”, had expired, and that his wit and words would live on.
As condolences, praise for the man of letters and all-round shock rolled across the cybersphere, MacCallum, aged 72, was putting away a cup of coffee and waiting to be served his scrambled eggs.
Veteran journalist and columnist Mike Carlton, oblivious to his old colleague’s continuing heartbeat, declared MacCallum “a giant of the days when the country was run from the non-members bar in Old Parliament House”.
Shortly after, Ms Summers advised her legions of followers that she had got ahead of herself.
“I was misinformed about Mungo. Thankfully he is still with us. My sincere apologies to you Mungo and your many friends &admirers on Twitter,” she wrote.
Twitter was not to be denied. The news that MacCallum had survived the announcement of his expiry was, within seconds, turned into an event that trended across Australia.
Bearing the hashtag #MungoLives, the quips piled up.
“For 20 years Mungo MacCallum has been trying to stage a better comeback than John Howard. Today he achieved his life’s ambition,” tweeted restaurant critic and journalist Simon Thomsen.
“In 20 years people will still be asking, What were you doing when Mungo didn’t die?” shot off Fairfax reporter Matthew Knott.
Several tweeters predicted the ABC’s Media Watch would relish the fiasco, and several more compared it to TV entertainment editor Richard Wilkins’ unfortunate announcement on the Today show in 2009 that actor Jeff Goldblum had died. At time of writing, Goldblum, like MacCallum, was still alive.
MacCallum’s publisher Black Inc saw an opportunity: “We are very pleased that #MungoLives. You can continue to enjoy Mungo’s work with his latest book THE WHITLAM MOB”, the publisher declared.
MacCallum himself was unable to comment. He has recently undergone surgery to his larynx, rendering him speechless.
The ageing but still breathing journalist became something of a legend during his career in the Canberra Press Gallery in the 1970s and ’80s, where he wrote wonderfully and variously for The Nation Review, The Australian, The National Times and The Sydney Morning Herald, often crafting his best lines in the non-members bar or at long lunches at The Lobby restaurant.
He quit Canberra in 1988, horrified at the idea of moving from the intimate Old Parliament House to the giant new house up the hill, where he declared he’d become disoriented, and moved to northern NSW near Byron Bay.
He was a gently bred man, descended from the pioneering Wentworth family. His father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather were all named Mungo in honour of Saint Mungo of Glasgow, and Mungo the Younger of Australia took some delight in telling stories of his family’s eccentricities. There was, for instance “the man my mother called Wicked Uncle D’Arcy, bigamously married to a chambermaid by a bribed priest in a hot air balloon floating over Watsons Bay”.
Former prime minister Gough Whitlam, who MacCallum admired vastly more than other leaders, once described him as a “tall, bearded descendant of lunatic aristocrats”. Who now has had the last laugh? Vale Mungo Macallum. Journalist and gentleman. His words and wit will outlive him. — Anne Summers (@SummersAnne) September 8, 2014 The reports of #MungoMacCallum’s death have been greatly exaggerated. MUNGO LIVES! http://t上海龙凤论坛/v9xeF7ExY7pic.twitter上海龙凤论坛m/WkQPSd22EI — Echonetdaily (@Echonetdaily) September 8, 2014 Read More
GREG Ray’s column of September 6 ‘‘Savage circus of politics’’ kicked the campaign for the byelection of Newcastle into a new phase.
The article did more than draw attention to the pitfalls of entering public life. It also acted as a sobering reminder of the blatant disregard with which the major parties have treated the constituents of the Newcastle electorate.
Of the many valid points made by Mr Ray, two caught my attention. One was almost an aside.
‘‘Ms Howard is pitted against Labor (and the Greens and whoever else throws their hats into the ring) in a contest that the ALP probably thinks it can win hands down,’’ he wrote.
Why on Earth would the ALP think it can win hands down? This notion should be addressed before it gathers momentum.
Newcastle voters were happy to opt for a change at the last state election. Many formerly ‘‘rusted-on’’ ALP supporters probably voted Liberal for the first time in their lives. For their efforts the last state budget was devoted almost entirely to rejuvenating Newcastle.
In my view not enough money was allocated to us. After all, the revenue is generated from our assets, not the least of which is the port. The shortfall is something I intend addressing as a priority. But at least the commitment was there from the Liberal Party.
That should not be forgotten, and that money is still on the table. Exploratory work on the light rail has already begun. It is important the government isn’t given an opportunity to shy away from other budget commitments made to Newcastle. I want to hold it accountable, especially in the lead-up to the March election.
In terms of the ALP thinking it can win hands down, not only did it take the Newcastle electorate for granted for about a century, it actually deliberately acted against its interests before the last election.
The container terminal plans were scuppered, and senior figures in the party actively and ‘‘treacherously’’ campaigned against their own sitting member.
All the ICAC focus is on the Liberal Party at the moment, and it is getting its just deserts. But let’s not forget the efforts of Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi and Eric Roozendaal, among others.
The party that nurtured and promoted them to senior political ranks is asking for you to forget.
Well, don’t forget.
The other line in Mr Ray’s column that caught my eye was this.
‘‘Having been, until now, a member of the boards of the Hunter Development Corporation and the NSW Business Chamber, perhaps Ms Howard has enough expert insight to feel confident that all the government decisions are sound and worth pursuing as they are. I would like to share that confidence, but at this point I cannot honestly say that I do. I’m willing to be persuaded but under the circumstances, ‘trust us’ isn’t good enough.’’
I’m not quite sure whether that’s a friendly ‘‘shot’’ at me, or a wider comment on governance. In any case I’ll accept it in the spirit in which it is given.
Newcastle can’t afford to miss the opportunity that is available to us. I’m backing my ability to argue our case. Party powerbroker ‘‘savage circus’’ performers down the M1 won’t be dictating to me.
Maybe one day I’ll get to discuss these issues with Greg Ray. But I hope it is over one of those nice Belgian beers he so eloquently reviews, and not a vintage Grange Hermitage. We all know where that can lead.
Karen Howard will stand as an independent candidate in the state seat of Newcastle byelection
Experienced Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau will be thrust back into the starting line-up for Australia’s clash with Argentina on the Gold Coast this weekend.
The Wallabies were hit with a double whammy on Monday when injury ruled out veteran No.8 Wycliff Palu (concussion) and outside back Adam Ashley-Cooper (neck), who will miss a week.
But the surprise return of 29-year-old Polota-Nau, who ran with the starting side at training on the Gold Coast on Monday afternoon, is a boost before their showdown with the feared Pumas’ pack. The dynamic Waratahs hooker with 49 Test caps has not played any rugby since he injured a medial ligament in a knee in the Super Rugby final on August 2.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has a strict policy of not “rehabbing” injured players within the squad but clearly viewed Polota-Nau’s contribution to the side as important enough to relax the rules. He spent last week running drills on the sidelines at training and made it through a contact session unscathed on Saturday morning.
As injuries depleted the hooker stocks, the Wallabies had to call up their ninth-choice in Josh Mann-Rea last week. Polota-Nau’s expected return will relegate Queensland rake James Hanson, who made a solid contribution in the No.2 jersey in Perth, to the bench.
Force back-rower Ben McCalman will replace Palu at No.8, while Scott Higginbotham remains on the bench, and Peter Betham will make just his second Test appearance as Ashley-Cooper’s replacement on the wing after the 97-Test utility was ruled out with a nerve compression injury in his neck.
Fullback Israel Folau was an interested onlooker at training, and Kurtley Beale took his place at No.15, but the dual international is not considered to be in any doubt.
Amid the changes, Wallabies No.12 Matt Toomua delivered a stern reality check to the side after their snatched victory against the Springboks. Toomua said the Wallabies were justifiably proud of pulling off their first victory against a side ranked higher than them in Test rugby but were not getting carried away with its implications.
“If that kick [Bernard Foley’s conversion] doesn’t go over, we’re probably here doing a lot of deep soul searching,” he said.
“There’s not much between it and it’s always a fine line. I think we’ve shown we’ve got the ability to do some great things on the field but I do think we lack consistency, doing that week to week against good teams.
“I thought the weekend was a huge step in the right direction, it was the first time since I’ve been involved that we’ve beaten a team higher than us in the world rankings, and to keep doing that is a massive achievement, whether it be by one point or 10.
“We have another chance this week to beat Argentina and hopefully we can replicate that in South Africa.”
Amid the continued depletion of Australia’s outside-back stocks – Ashley-Cooper and Henry Speight are expected to tour with the side to South Africa and Argentina later this month – McKenzie and attack coach Jim McKay continue to search for the holy grail of the Wallabies back line.
But Toomua warned off impatient fans who might grasp at Saturday’s 24-23 victory as a sign the summit was close.
“I don’t think it’s a thing you’re going to find with one game,” he said. “If we’d won by 30 I still would argue that it doesn’t therefore mean that we’ve found a winning combination. You look at consistency, teams like the All Blacks, the reason they’ve got those combinations is it’s tried and tested over many years.
“If we win this weekend it still doesn’t mean it’s the right combination. We’ve got to show that we can put back to back to back against quality opposition, which we’ve got this weekend.”
Argentina flew into the Gold Coast from New Zealand on Monday night, still searching for their first Rugby Championship win.
Toomua likened the Pumas’ attacking style to the French, with fast-moving interplay between forwards and back.
“Whichever halfback they pick will snipe quite a lot, get his arms free and get that quick offload that creates momentum,” he said. “That’s something we have to be wary of, that’s where they pose a lot of their threat and get a lot of momentum, around that ruck area.”
Possible Wallabies: James Slipper, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu, Sam Carter, Rob Simmons, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper (c), Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Rob Horne, Matt Toomua, Tevita Kuridrani, Peter Betham, Israel Folau. Reserves: James Hanson, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, James Horwill, Will Skelton, Scott Higginbotham, Nic White, Kurtley Beale.
The plight of Wests Tigers had been an agenda item in Marina Go’s lounge room long before she took over control of its board room. Her husband is a diehard supporter, as is their teenage son.
Yet while the two males can toss around head coaching candidates in front of the telly, and debate the future of Balmain on the hill at Leichhardt, it is Go who will now actually have a major say on the direction of the troubled joint venture.
And the NRL’s second female chair of a club will hit the ground running this week, with out-of-contract coach Mick Potter to front the newly assembled board on Wednesday, presenting his case for a new deal.
Go reaffirmed on Monday that Potter’s position would not be decided by the directors, who will rubber-stamp the recommendation of Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer.
It is a stance the Tigers new chairwoman intends to adopt in general. One of three NRL-appointed directors on the board, she is unlikely to be throwing her weight around at League Central in the same vein as some of the more old-school club powerbrokers.
“I guess the most important thing to make really clear is I don’t think it’s about me,” said Go, whose other new job as general manager of Hearst Bauer Media brands interestingly leaves her also in charge of Rugby League Week.
“The way that I intend to work in terms of my leadership style is it’s very much a team effort. You might find I’m a different style of chair to some of the blokes in Sydney. My role is not to be the person who is the face of the club. I honestly believe that’s the CEO’s role.”
If that will serve to only increase the influence of Mayer, Go does not intend to simply sit back and collect her directors’ honorarium.
She is setting her sights on the bigger picture; ensuring the long-term viability of the Tigers. A marriage of convenience when the club was formed 15 years ago, the financial woes of Balmain have brought the organisation to a crossroads as she takes charge. Balmain’s fighting fund received its first donation on Monday, $5000 from a small-businessman. But with as much as $5 million needed to save the foundation team’s share in Wests Tigers within 18 months, their future remains dire.
It’s an emotion-charged issue sure to keep Go on her toes. “Do I know what I’m in for? Well, as with any position, you never really know what you’re in for,” she said.
“I understand Balmain’s anxiety because I’ve been reading about it. But there is no desire for that shareholding to change. I’m not going to presume that any particular action will happen in the next two years because we just don’t know what will happen in the next two years, particularly on day one of me being a director.
“We understand passions run deep on both sides for the old Balmain and Wests fans. But fans like my son, who is 17, he doesn’t know anything but Wests Tigers.”
Joining the Titans’ Rebecca Frizelle as a female chair of an NRL club, Go wants “to get to the point where being a woman doesn’t matter” but is aware of the significance of her elevation.
Go, when approached by board headhunters about her interest in becoming an independent director, had no idea initially that she would be taking over a team she, her husband and son had supported.
“It’s obviously easier that it’s a club that my family are right behind and I’m much more familiar with and have been to games to barrack for,” Go said. “For me, it’s just serendipity that it happens to be this club.”
ONE of the most common refrains in the Hunter is: “Why are we missing out on government funding?” This is heard from all sides of the political spectrum and applies no matter which side of politics is in government.
But if we had the money what would we spend it on? And why does it matter having a ‘‘shopping list’’ for the region?
Government funds are always subject to political influence, and the exercise of power that varies from time to time. They are also subject to fashion and the varying enthusiasm of the community for spending money on different projects, and are always unpredictable. But if a community does not have a plan of things that it wants funding for, then funding will never arrive. And this matters.
In recent times there have been some salutary examples of why it is important to have a “shopping list”. In response to the global financial crisis, the federal government turned on the budgetary taps to stimulate the economy.
It was ready to fund any number of projects that were “shovel-ready”. In our region, the Hunter Expressway was ready to go and $1.7billion arrived to fund it.
Certainly political lobbying helped, but if the project had not been ready to roll, then the money would not have arrived.
Similarly, the major expansion of the Hunter Medical Research Institute, with the new building at Rankin Park, had been planned in advance, and was ready to go, had community support, and with the benefit of targeted political lobbying it was funded.
But other regions did better.
The Gold Coast had a large proposal for a light rail complex ready to go, and that got funding, while the Hunter continues arguing about public transport options.
In Sydney, the Chris O’Brien Lighthouse Cancer Centre was funded for over $100million at Prince Alfred Hospital, in an area that is already relatively over-funded for health facilities.
As a doctor I cannot criticise the work that has been done there, but from an equity point of view, it could be argued that it should have been built in other parts of Sydney, if not in regional NSW.
In order to address the need for a better “shopping list”, the Newcastle Institute, together with the Newcastle Herald, has recently conducted a competition seeking proposals of ‘‘what should we do with a billion dollars’’.
We argue that the state government, having sold off Newcastle Port for much more money than it was expecting, has a moral obligation to spend a billion dollars in the Hunter Region.
But what should it be spent on? We have had more than 40 proposals for the competition, varying from some full of passion and imagination, down to some more mundane but perhaps realistic proposals.
Five finalists have been selected, who will present their proposals at a public forum at South Leagues Club tomorrow night. Judges included Herald journalist Rosemarie Milsom, ABC 1233’s Paul Bevan, and the University of Newcastle ‘‘future industries’’ academic Dr Gary Ellem.
We hope that these proposals will be further developed, capture the public’s imagination, and stimulate the development of more ideas on what we could do with funds.
One submission was received that was not selected by the judges because it has already been so successful – the Newcastle Cycleways Movement proposal for a cycle network in Newcastle.
It is a blueprint of how proposals should be developed. It passes the “four Rs” test – it is rational, it has a reasonable prospect of success, the resource implications are realistic, and there are not major risks that can be foreseen from implementing the project.
The group has developed a implementation plan for putting the proposal into place incrementally, or as one big initiative.
Importantly, it has engaged multiple stakeholders and support groups to work on the proposal. At this stage it is still only a proposal, but I am sure it will happen.
The proposal really provides a template of what other groups should do when they want to get their idea on to the “shopping list”. Newcastle and the Hunter need to have clear ideas about the future that we want to build, and we need to engage the whole community in our ideas. We invite you along.
Dr Ross Kerridge is a member of the Newcastle Institute committee. The public is invited to the institute’s forum tomorrow night at Souths Leagues Club to hear five proposals on how a billion dollars could be spent in the Hunter. Visit newinstitute上海龙凤论坛.au
He took out Sommelier of the Year at the recent Age Good Food Guide awards and plies his trade at one of Australia’s best restaurants, the three-hatted Attica in Melbourne’s Ripponlea. But Banjo Harris Plane, 30, is yet to pass the notoriously difficult Court of Master Sommeliers exam (he’s already tried twice), something he hopes to remedy when he flies to London in October. Given the pass rate is less than 3 per cent (only two people in Australia hold the title), it’s no wonder the Balaclava apartment he shares with partner Meira Harel is strewn with wine theory swot cards.The staples
My pantry We always have pickles (an Israeli brand that Meira likes), ABC sweet soy, Megachef Premium Fish Sauce (great for stir-fries or for dressings), Yeo’s Pure Sesame Oil and lots of honey for toast or on cereals and yoghurt for breakfast. My mum was a chef and I grew up in Adelaide around wine and south-east Asian cooking so I always have rice-paper rolls and noodles handy – thin rice noodles for cold salads or organic Hakubaku soba noodles for soups. I also have a real thing for sour flavours, so we always have grapefruits handy.
My fridge There’s lots of mustard (Moutarde de Dijon and Maille Whole Grain), Penta brand pickled chillies, which I chop up finely and use in salads or soups, plenty of laksa paste (Por Kwan and Woh Hup Singapore brands – Mum’s trick is to mix crushed candlenuts in to make the sauce creamier), a big chunk of parmesan, some E. Graindorge Petit Pont L’Eveque cheese, and Nudie orange juice. In the bottom drawer we always have coriander (we crush the roots and make a dressing with lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and a bit of chilli), fennel (Meira loves it) and radishes, which we dip into a miso-flavoured butter or salt.Secret vice
I eat a lot of Maggie Beer Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel ice-cream. And Mars Pods – those little wafer biscuits filled with caramel and topped with chocolate.Recipe stalwart
Noodle stir-fry. I use whatever noodles I’ve got, and throw them in the wok with garlic, chilli, fish sauce, a bit of lime juice and mushrooms. It takes about 10 minutes.Discovery
Cleansing Ale from Two Metre Tall brewery in Tasmania. I like beer with a sense of acidity because it elongates the flavour. This one’s slightly sour, but in a good way.My inspiration
Stephanie Alexander’s cookbook is one of the first cookbooks I ever got. The best thing about it is its versatility. I really like that it’s laid out by ingredients, so if you’re a little bit short on inspiration you can see what’s in the pantry or the fridge and just look it up. That way you get to play around and try a few different things.My toolkit
My Vintec V30SG wine fridge mimics the conditions of a cellar and keeps my wines at 12 degrees with a constant humidity. We use our handmade wine decanter a lot – it’s hand-blown and I got it from a place in Adelaide called the Jam Factory. Likewise our SodaStream. It cost about $100 but the $40 canisters need replacing every four to six months.Last night’s dinner
Shiitake mushrooms cooked in miso butter with some bok choy, coriander, fried onion and rice.Favourite
My Wusthof knife. It was a birthday gift a couple of years ago from some close friends. I keep it in the packet so it stays sharp, and the chefs at Attica sharpen it for me every three or four months.I’m drinking
A friend in Sydney and I have a company called Real Wines and we import Austrian and Italian wines for restaurants and small bars. I drink broadly but more whites than reds. I love the freshness and acidity of riesling, like Arndorfer from Kamptal, which has a grapefruit characteristic and works well with a lot of Asian-influenced food. The other variety I like is chenin blanc, which is great with or without food. In terms of reds, La Violetta Up! shiraz has really lovely savoury, spicy characteristics.Most unforgettable meal
I was 19 and had moved from Adelaide to London and my mum came over for my birthday. We went to Paris together and ate at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. It was the first meal I had in a really high-end restaurant. It was expensive. Neither of us speak French so we bumbled our way through, not really knowing what we were ordering, but everything that came out was, for me, really quite amazing.