CONSISTENT: Slade Griffin has been one of Newcastle’s best since they signed him from Melbourne.MITCHELL Pearce reckons his Newcastle teammate Slade Griffin would look good in sky-blue.
But even if NSW Origin selectors agree, Griffin admits the feeling is not mutual.
The only representative call-up he hopes to receive is from New Zealand, a prospect that may have seemed unlikely at the start of the season but now appears a genuine possibility.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph two weeks ago, Pearce recommended Griffin as a Blues bolter, describing the 27-year-old as “an absolute gun” and “one of the best” hookers he had played with.
Griffin, who was born in Glenn Innes and represented NSW at under-18 level, would be eligible for the Blues.
But having grown up in Greymouth, a mining town on New Zealand’s South Island, he regards himself as a Kiwi.
“I played under-18s for NSW, but I’ve actually pledged for New Zealand at the moment,” he said. “But that’s a long way off. I’ve got to play well for the Knights.”
Asked if he would reconsider hisallegiance if there was any interest from NSW, Griffin replied that he would “stick to the Kiwis”.
New Zealand play England in a landmark Test match in Denver, Colorado, next month and the dummy-half job would appear up for grabs.
The Kiwi incumbent is Danny Levi, who has been relegated to Newcastle’s NSW Cup team since Griffin’s off-season arrival from Melbourne.
Veteran Issac Luke has played 40 Tests for the Kiwis but was overlooked for last year’s World Cup.
He has since experienced a form revival at the Warriors and, at 30, might still be young enough for a recall.
“I think Issac Luke is playing great football at the moment,” Griffin said. “All I can focus on is what I can do for this team, and if selectors think I’m good enough, I’d put my best effort in for New Zealand, of course.”
Griffin said the Knights have had a“hard look at ourselves in the mirror” after last week’s 36-18 loss to South Sydney. Coach Nathan Brown hasscheduled an extra defensive session to prepare for Friday’s home clash with Penrith.
HELPING HAND: The state government has announced a $45 million strategy to stabilise koala numbers.The fate of sensitive koala habitat at Mambo Wetlands in Port Stephens is still in the hands of the NSWDepartment of Planning despitethe government unveilinga $45 million koala strategy last weekend.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said on Monday that the koala strategy would not affect a Department of Planning investigation into buying back the Mambo land under the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme.
The koala strategy includes $20 million to buy and permanently preserve sensitive koala habitat across the state.
The government auctioned off six hectares of former Department of Education land adjoining Mambo to developer Paul Unicomb in June 2016 for $250,000, a move which Mr MacDonald later labelled a mistake.
Mr Unicomb last year lodged plans to build a house on part of the Salamander Bay site, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Port Stephens Council in February that the Department of Planning would examine buying back the land.
The state koala strategy includes $3 million for a koala sanctuary, hospital and research centre at One Mile Beach and $20 million from the NSW Environmental Trust to buy prime koala habitat.
Port Stephens Labor MP Kate Washington called on the government to use part of the $20 million acquisition fundto buy back the Mambo site.
“You can’t save our local koalas if you’re flogging off their habitat to developers, so I’ll continue urging the premier to fix the government’s mistake and buy back that land before it’s too late,” she said in a media statement.
Meanwhile, Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer welcomed the funding announcement for the koala sanctuary at One Mile’s Treescape Holiday Park.
“This is wonderful news for Port Stephens and itskoalas,” he said.
“This sanctuary will not only be a place where local volunteers can care for sick and injuredkoalas;it will also be a research and eco-tourism facility where people from all over the world can come and learn about our uniquekoalapopulation.
“Port Stephens is proud to be home tokoalasand, with one of the last remainingkoala populations on the east coast, it’s our responsibility to protect them. Thiskoalasanctuary is one way that we can do that.
“I want to thank the NSW Government for helping to make this great idea a realityand thank our local volunteers, Port StephensKoalas.
“Without their passion and hard work, this facility would not be possible.”
The state strategy is designed to address a 26 per cent fall in koala numbers in NSW over the past 15 to 20 years.It follows a review into the koala population by NSW Chief Scientist Professor Mary O’Kane in 2016.
The n Koala Foundation estimates koala numbers have fallen to about 80,000 in ,
Wish list: The Hunter Region’s MPs outline their top priorities ahead of the Turnbull government’s 2018-19 budget being revealed on Tuesday.Tax cuts will likely take centre stage when federal Treasurer Scott Morrison hands down the Turnbull government’s 2018-19budget in Canberra on Tuesday night.
But more moneyfor healthcare, education, NewStart and infrastructure–such asthe Lake Macquarie transport interchange at Glendale–were among the key items on thepre-budget wish list of the Hunter Region’s MPs.
Nationally, most attention in the lead-up to the budget has been on aplan forpersonal income tax cuts for low to middle income earners–which wouldcomeas the government seeks to bring the corporate tax rate down to 25 per cent over the next decade.
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But Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon said ruling out the corporate tax cut should be the government’s first step.
“Every dollar we hand over to big business is a dollar we can’t spend on health, education, vital public services or budget repair,” she said.
Treasurer Scott Morrison. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen
Paterson MP Meryl Swansonargued the corporate tax cutwould benefit a financial industrythat’s under the spotlight of a royal commission because of its practises.
When asked about possiblepersonal tax cuts, she said the“trade-off” would behealthcare and education.
“Everyone likes tax cuts–we all like to get a tax cut and we all like to have more of our income,” she said.
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“But people also understand that if we want to have first grade hospitals, if we want to have state-of-the-art schools, if we want our kids to receive the best education it needs to be paid for.”
Shortland MP Pat Conroy said hewanted to see more funding for hospitals andschools–a call echoed by his Hunter Region colleagues–and an increase to the NewStart allowance, which he said was“criminally low”.
But his top priority was funding forthe Lake Macquarieinterchange.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“If this government was serious about advancing interests in the Hunter, it needs to find only $13 million for the next stage of the Lake Macquarie transport interchange,” he said.“It will unlock our entire region.”
Ms Claydon and Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon also identified theinterchange as a major issue.
“My top priority for the region is the same for every region throughout the country,” Mr Fitzgibbonsaid.
“That is, equality of access to 21st Century health, educational, child care and aged care services, the transport infrastructure we need to grow and prosper…[and] astrategy to increase skills training so we can have more people to fill the many skills gaps we have in our region.”
The Cessnock ring road and aSingleton/Muswellbrook bypass were also on Mr Fitzgibbon’s wish list, while Ms Swanson called for funding for theM1 extension to Raymond Terrace.
James Hardie is being sued for $6 million by a man who’s terminally ill with mesothelioma.A former carpenter who developed a deadly lung disease from James Hardie’s asbestos products is suing the company for almost $6 million, including for the cost of caring for his sick wife.
Syd Lacey, 73, is deaf and has undergone gruelling rounds of chemotherapy for mesothelioma while looking after his wife, Marion, who is also deaf and suffers from severe and debilitating epilepsy.
Mr Lacey’s disease, which James Hardie admits was caused by its asbestos products, will ultimately stop him from doing that. It will also kill him.
But the retired carpenter says it’s not enough for the company to only compensate him, and it must also pay for his wife’s future care.
Maurice Blackburn is running the case, due to begin in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Tuesday, and the law firm says it could set a precedent.
“Whilst James Hardie has conceded they are liable for Syd’s asbestos exposure, they have refused to accept that Marion requires 24-hour care and that Syd will lose his ability to care for her around-the-clock,” principal Jonathan Walsh said in a statement on Monday.
He said Mr Lacey had been Marion’s primary carer for 40 years.
“It is very important to him that he has the financial means to make sure that his wife can be cared for.”
Mr Lacey is also seeking exemplary damages that recognise James Hardie’s alleged “reckless indifference” in continuing to sell the asbestos products that caused his illness, despite knowing they could be deadly.
“If that aspect of Syd’s case is successful it will set an important legal precedent for future Queensland asbestos sufferers and their families seeking compensation, as currently there is no precedent for James Hardie or other defendants to have pay such damages in Queensland,” Mr Walsh said.
The case is set down for four days, with Mr Lacey seeking $5.9 million in damages from Amaca Pty Ltd, formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Ltd.
Style me up: “My own style is quirky. Anything with contrasting patterns and lots of colour,” says Maret Larnarch.In the ever-growing market of property styling, vintage lover and thrift maven Maret Larnarch avoids what she dubs the cookie-cutter approach she says others take.
“On Instagram I use the hashtag ‘notsamesame’,” she says. “There seem to be more stylists every day who are doing a great job and there is room for everyone but I don’t want to be ‘same same’.
“Things have to be on trend and I need to appeal to the masses but there’s a way of adding colour and quirkjust so you stand out.”
Ms Larnarch launched her eponymous business in Port Stephens 18 months ago, offering styling in property staging, visual merchandising, interior designand weddings.
Raised in Sydney, her design sensibilitywas nurtured by her “very stylish” mother, who used to take her offspring to trash and treasure sales. Leaving school at 15, Ms Larnarch worked as an office junior before marrying, having two children and buying her first home at 22.
Moving to Port Stephens, she co-foundedthe residential cleaning business Home Peacebefore becoming retail manager of the Salamander Recycling Centre.
“I was there two days a fortnight and I said ‘Oh my gosh, I need to be here more and then I was working five days a week, and I was there until I launched my own business last year.”
Ms Larnarch still works about five hours a week at the centre,valuing the charity’s approach to working with and for the community.
The move to start her own business was inspired by her friends insisting she go solo and a desire to do what she is most passionate about.
“When Istarted I thought maybe in 12 months I’ll get a gig but a couple of weeks later the phone rang and I haven’t stopped since,” she says.
Many clients are real estate agents in Port Stephens, othersviaword of mouth. Her satisfaction comes from the feedback she receives from customers, many of them repeat clients.
“It can be a very emotional time for some,” she says. “On my first property styling job my client had raised her children there and after said ‘You’ve made my house look beautiful and like a home’ and that’s what I want to do.”
Solution: “If everybody stopped smoking, screening for lung cancer wouldn’t be necessary. We shouldn’t have to be screening for a preventable disease,” Dr Claxton said.If you smoke, exercise-induced breathlessness is something you’ll likely be familiar with.
“Smokers start to find that walking the dog, walking uphill, even going up the stairs at the rugby is getting harder. Their golf game gets harder, that sort of thing,” said Sleep and Respiratory Medicine Physician Dr Scott Claxton of Genesis Sleep &Respiratory Care WA.
Exercise-related breathlessness is a red flag for smoking-related disease, and it’s not something to sweep under the rug.
“Breathlessness can be a sign of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD,” said Dr Claxton. This is an umbrella term for smoking-induced lung disease, including emphysema, where airflow is limited.
“If you’re a smoker, the two tests to strongly consider are a spirometry – a simple breathing assessment – and a CT scan of the lungs,” Dr Claxton said.
By measuring the volume and flow of air traveling in and out of the lungs with a mouthpiece, a spirometry determines whether a smoker has COPD. “It’s useful for diagnosing scarring and narrowing of the air passages in the lungs,” Dr Claxton said. An inhaler might serve as appropriate treatment thereafter.
Dr Claxton also recommended a low-dose CT scan every 12 months for high-risk lung cancer patients – those aged 50-75, who have smoked a pack a day for 20 years. This gives more information than a chest X-ray, and with the same radiation level. “For high-risk patients it’s worth doing the screen, as the cancer is more likely to be found before it has spread elsewhere.
“Localised lung cancer can be curable, and surgery can be undertaken to remove it,” DrClaxton emphasised.
Although there can be false positives. “Our lungs get exposed to all sorts of things,” Dr Claxton said. “This can result in nodules forming, or other changes. So one problem with a CT scan is that most things you’ll find are benign, but you don’t know that until you follow them up every 12 months.
“Currently there is no formal lung cancer screening program with a good follow up mechanism and a strategy for identifying the target population like there is for example with breast cancer,” Dr Claxton said. “It’s also relatively easy to perform a breast biopsy, but with a lung biopsy there’s a significant complication-risk.
“Although if everybody stopped smoking, screening for lung cancer wouldn’t be necessary. We shouldn’t have to be screening for a preventable disease.”
Steering away from the smoke
The n Bureau of Statistics found that 28.2 per cent of 18-44 year-olds were smokers in 2001, versus 16.3 per cent in 2014-15. “It’s not the thing to do anymore,” Dr Claxton said, albeit acknowledging that quitting is “really, really hard” for those who started smoking when it was ‘cool’.
He said even with intensive supervision, the two smoking cessation medications (Zyban and Champix) only get quit-rates of about 40 per cent. “And in the real word, we can’t supervise someone who is trying to quit that closely.
“Quitting doesn’t go well if everyone but you wants you to quit.
“I say to my patients, you’re in hospital because of your respiratory infection, because you’re smoking. If you keep smoking you’re going to keep landing up here and things are going to get worse faster.”
Healthshareis a joint venture with Fairfax Media designed to improve health outcomes for regional nsby improving access to information and health practitioners.To find a fast-tracked appointment with a specialist, visit specialistnow.
Western ‘s budget deficit for the new financial year will be slightly lower than expected and the state remains on track for a surplus by 2020/21, Treasurer Ben Wyatt says.
The 2018/19 deficit is now expected to have narrowed to about $900 million, down from the $915 million forecast in the mid-year budget review.
“There will be, unsurprisingly, a better budget position because we are spending a lot less this financial year and we have been the beneficiaries of some revenue uptick around royalties, and importantly, own tax revenue,” Mr Wyatt told reporters on Monday.
“Payroll, stamp duties et cetera are holding as opposed to declining so overall, some positive outcomes there.”
WA is also benefiting from a 47 cents GST distribution, up from a budgeted 45 cents.
Mr Wyatt reiterated there was no easy fix to WA’s net debt burden, which was forecast in December to hit $40.7 billion in 2018/19 and peak the following financial year at $42.8 billion.
He said the focus was to return the budget to surplus but debt would be paid off over a long time.
“This is generational debt – it took 10 years to rack up and as every Western n knows, it’s easy to take on debt, it’s much harder to pay it off.
“That’s going to be the job of not just me but future treasurers.
“We’ve never hidden from that.”
Mr Wyatt will hand down his second budget on Thursday.
The state government has already revealed Perth homes that use more than 500,000 litres of water a year will see an average 16 per cent hike in their water bills from July 1, while regional guzzlers will pay 10 per cent more.
Water Minister Dave Kelly said only a small amount of customers fell into that category.
“What we’re trying to do is be fair across the community,” he told reporters.
“We want to minimise the impact on low income earners and by limiting the increase in the service charge to three per cent, we really are giving some preferential treatment to people at the lower end.”
Mr Kelly says the hikes aim to make guzzlers – typically from Perth’s affluent western suburbs – cut down their water use, which will defer the need to build a new $1 billion desalination plant.
But opposition water spokesman David Honey labelled the increases “class warfare and envy politics at its worst”, saying they would hit larger families hardest no matter what suburb they lived in.