Newcastle country star Grayson presses play on next album

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By , 17/12/2018 16:22

NEW PHASE: Grayson started recording his fifth album Window Dreams last week.GRAYSON jokes his baby son Hunter had visited 14 US states by the time he was 10 weeks old.That’s the life of a travelling musician, come family man.

Ten months ago Grayson, aka Newcastle country musician Michael Edser, and his Gunnedah bred-wife Brianna (nee MacKellar) welcomed their first baby in Nashville.

“It’s the best thing in the world and also the hardest thing in the world,” Grayson tellsWeekenderfrom Nashville.

“We literally didn’t have time to record with touring and not sleeping with a brand new baby.”

It meant plans for Grayson’s long-awaited fifth album were postponed. Finally last week he pressed play onWindow Dreams, which is expected to be released later this year.

“It’ll be a bit different to the last couple of songs I’ve released,” he says.“A little more stripped back and a little more real.”

Window Dreamswill feature nine tracks that Grayson wrote with American country star Jeff Wood, who has previously written songs for Neal McCoyandPhil Vassar.

In the meantime, Grayson has given fans a sugarypop single that is unashamedly written for US country commercialradio, much like his previous single10-9-8-7that topped theUSNew Music Weekly Country Charts in 2016.

Margaritawas inspired by a three-day hangover that refused to dissipate.The culprit? Taco Tuesday and a lot of tequila-packed margaritas.

“Every Tuesday night I go out for Taco Tuesday, I eat tacos and drink a shitload of margaritas,” Grayson says.“The wife hates it, as every Wednesday I’m hungover as all hell.”

Over the summer Grayson returned to Newcastle to introduce Hunter to his family, play shows and filmMargarita’svideo clip at Redhead and Dudley beaches.

Grayson loved the experience of returning to the beaches where he first learnt to surf, but it created some curious scenes for locals who didn’t realise a country music video was beginning filmed.

Grayson – Margarita“We used drones, which are a great technology, and the guys who manned them werein the bushes,” he says.“So I must have looked like an absolute tool standing on the beach with no cameras around.

“People would have been thinking, ‘what the hell is this guydoing, it’s 5.30 in the morning and he’s singing to himself’. The end product is good and it’s worth the embarrassment.”

Over the past six months Grayson has watched with pride as his“gym buddy” and fellow Novocastrian Morgan Evans hasbecome a breakout country pop-star with his singleKiss Somebody.

“He actually stayed on our couch for the first month he lived over here,” Grayson says.“I went to his wedding in Mexico last year with [US country star]Kelsea [Ballerini], so as a friend, a mentor, and a fellow musician it’s awesome that he’s kicking goals, because nobody works as hard as him.”

Grayson has also been workinghard to crack the lucrative Nashville scene. Since 2011, in fact. But as a new father he admitshis career aspirations are beingre-evaluated.

“If you’re serious about your career you’ve got to be here,” he says.“We’ll see how this album goes and Hunter is only 10 months old. The way the world is going right now I don’t want him growing up in schools here, there’s scary stuff happening.

“The next couple of years are make or break, regardless of whether I’m kicking goals, I’d love to come back home.

“I’m a proud Novocastrian and always will be. It’s the best and worst part of my job in that I don’t know what’s next.”

A beached cow shows the extent of flood damage to farming, says Bob Katter

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By , 17/12/2018 16:22

Bob Katter MP, Shane Knuth MP, with Mission Beach Surf Life Saving Club members Dyana Brown and Shane Gee with the cow carcass. Photo credit – Anne Pleash.INDEPENDENT federal Queensland MP Bob Katter and his party’s state MP Shane Knuth say a cow thatdiscovered washed ashore at Mission Beach provides a graphic illustration of the damage done by recent flood waters.

“We’ll never know the full damage but I’d say it’s around $20 million worth when you tally up crops, stock losses, property damage, machinery etc,” Mr Katter said in a statement today.

“We can’t stop them but in the instance of little ones (floods) where if we’d been able to take away a foot or more by going ahead with the North Johnston Transfer it would have helped prevent a lot of damage.”

The recent flooding in North Queensland due to torrential rain saw the worst conditions experienced since the 2010 floods which caused billions of dollars in damage and resulted in the federal government introducing a flood-levy to aid relief efforts.

An area between Townsville and Cairns was declared a disaster zone by the state government due to the recent flooding event, with sugar cane and banana crops caught up in the damage, as well as emergency evacuations.

Farmers have suffered heavy losses due to flooded paddocks and crops – but on Friday AgForce said a few days of good falls are not enough to break a drought that had lasted more than half a decade in many parts of the state.

AgForce North Queensland Regional President Russell Lethbridge said many regional and rural communities were still doing it very tough.

“The prolonged drought has taken an enormous financial, environmental and emotional toll on farming families right throughout Queensland, with more than two-thirds of the state still drought declared,” he said.

“The recent rain has certainly bought a smile to many faces in rural and regional Queensland, but it has been very patchy and it should not be forgotten that many regions in the west were first drought declared back in early to mid-2013, so it’s a long road to recovery.

“The ongoing nature of this drought has overwhelmed even the best efforts of producers to prepare and has been compounded by other challenges such as the kneejerk live export ban in 2011 and continued uncertainty around vegetation management regulations.

“The drought assistance and support measures provided by the State and Federal Governments are very welcome, but are really designed to assist people through a drought that lasts two to three years, whereas many producers are now facing their sixth year with severe rainfall deficits.”

Farm Online

Chinan order surprised by allegations against Chinan-ordained priest in Papua New Guinea

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By , 17/12/2018 16:22

Investigation: Papua New Guinea Vincentian Bishop Rolando Santos and n-ordained priest Neil Lams in PNG where police have investigated “touching” allegations against Father Lams.

THE head of the Vincentians order in said he had no control over an n-ordained Vincentian priest under police investigation for “touching” allegations in Papua New Guinea.

Vincentians Oceania head Father Greg Brett said he was unaware of the police investigation because Father Neil Lams was under the control of the bishops of Papua New Guinea, and not the Vincentians. He had been assured by a PNG bishop that two church investigations relating to Father Lams had been finalised in the priest’s favour. Father Lams was ordained in in 2011 and volunteered to work in Vincentian missions after two years.

Father Brett said he was advised he would receive a church investigation report but by Wednesday had not received it. A copy of an interim investigation report was supplied to the Newcastle Herald by Alotau Bishop Rolando Santos in September.

The interim report confirmed at least two teenage students at a school “frequented” the priest’s nearby home, but it found there was no sexual abuse. The interim church investigation report found the priest’s “slapping the cheeks or laps” of students during confession was “inappropriate”.

Father Brett said any touching was a breach of the order’s code of conduct and was unacceptable, but he was not aware of the report’s contents.

“The rules of confession are very strong,” he said.

Allegations against Father Lams were reported to Papua New Guinea police in September by Port Stephens woman Wendy Stein after meeting a school delegation during her work in PNG running family planning services sponsored by Rotary.

This week she joined Hunter survivor of Catholic paedophile priest Anthea Halpin, and Hunter survivor advocate Peter Gogarty, in calling on the n Catholic Church leadership to take responsibility for the legacy issues of decades of transferring priests and religious brothers to overseas missions after child sex allegations in . They have written to the church calling for an audit of all priests and religious sent overseas after n allegations.

Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive Francis Sullivan said the church had to “deal with” the legacy issues of its overseas transfers and “at the very least, put in place clear policies and procedures to respond to overseas survivors with compassion and justice”.

PNG police commander Andrew Weda on Tuesday said he would meet with investigating police this week to discuss the Father Lams case.

In February the administrator of Milne Bay province in PNG wrote to police investigating allegations against Father Lams instructing them to “ensure that a full investigation has been carried out by the police force who are the mandated agency to ensure that law and order is enforced”.

In his letter administrator Michael Kape confirmed the Division of Education had held a separate investigation into allegations against the priest.

“As much as possible we want to ensure that the children of Milne Bay are being taught in safe and conducive institutions andenvironments,” Mr Kape said.

Sacked Border Force boss refused to resign

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By , 17/12/2018 16:22

There are reports the governor-general is preparing to sack Border Force boss Roman Quaedvlieg.Sacked n Border Force boss Roman Quaedvlieg refused to resign after he was found to have improperly gotten his partner a job.

Mr Quaedvlieg was fired on Thursday for abusing his power by helping his partner get a job at Sydney Airport.

He also made a “false statement” to now-Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton about his personal relationships, and failed to disclose a significant change in his personal life.

“I had been given a short opportunity to resign prior to termination, however I chose not to do that as it is tantamount to a concession of culpability, which I strenuously deny,” Mr Quaedvlieg said in a statement to media outlets.

Governor-General Peter Cosgrove on Thursday sacked Mr Quaedvlieg, on advice from the government, after he modified policies to advantage a candidate for Border Force employment.

“Needless to say it is extremely unfortunate that it was necessary to terminate Mr Quaedvlieg’s appointment,” Mr Dutton said in a statement.

“He has provided long and conspicuous public service in the critically important areas of law enforcement and national security.

“However the relevant conduct went beyond an isolated error of judgment and ultimately undermined his capacity to continue in the office of ABF Commissioner.”

Mr Quaedvlieg had also not disclosed the relationship within a reasonable time and his conduct amounted to “misbehaviour”.

The now-sacked boss has been on paid leave since May last year, earning more than $500,000 while off work.

Mr Quaedvlieg reportedly helped his girlfriend, an ABF employee, get work at Sydney Airport, but he denies the “particularised grounds” of the inquiry.

He has previously criticised the length of time it took to investigate the matters, and he says he will pursue his options “more formally in the relevant forums”.

His conduct has been the subject of two confidential reports, one from the corruption watchdog and one from the head of the prime minister’s department.

“He engaged in acts, and made omissions, which materially advantaged that candidate over other comparable candidates for ABF employment,” Mr Dutton’s statement said.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said he was called in to make the decision on Mr Quaedvlieg to make sure there could be no allegations of bias against Mr Dutton.

Labor’s Shayne Neumann said he was concerned about leaks from the investigation into Mr Quaedvlieg and wants police to look into them.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said it has been “incredibly frustrating” for Border Force officers watching Mr Quaedvlieg’s drawn-out case.

“Staff want to see that the same standards are applied to everyone, including those at the very top,” she said in a statement.

Roosters say Keary won’t solve everything

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By , 17/12/2018 16:22

Luke Keary will make his return for the Sydney Roosters in their NRL clash against Canterbury.Trent Robinson warns Luke Keary won’t be a panacea for the Sydney Roosters’ problems as the star five-eighth makes his NRL return against Canterbury on Friday.

Keary has been cleared to play his first game of the season after being sidelined because of a broken jaw following a training accident and subsequently suffering worrying headaches.

The heavily hyped Roosters misfired in their opening-round loss to the Wests Tigers and coach Robinson said Keary wouldn’t immediately solve their problems.

“It’s not a matter of him making a difference,” Robinson said.

“You train for five weeks with your halves pairing and then he goes out with a broken jaw and you change that.

“There’s a combination between the forwards, the halves and the backs – there’s got to be some links. That’s up to us as coaches to make sure we have those links on.”

Friday’s clash with the Bulldogs at Allianz Stadium will mark Keary’s first game alongside new halves partner Cooper Cronk.

While the Roosters came into the season as the shortest price premiership favourites in years, questions have been raised as to whether their new-look side time to gel following the addition of Cronk and James Tedesco.

Robinson was bullish that they would hit their straps sooner rather than later and said there were still promising signs against the Tigers after holding them to just 10 points.

Like the Roosters, the Dogs were last-start losers after going down to Melbourne and have left out veteran forward Greg Eastwood.

Dogs coach Dean Pay said the Roosters would be a different side following Keary’s inclusion.

“Luke Keary’s a quality player and if you put quality players back in the side, you’re going to get a better performance,” Pay said.

“They’re a little bit like us – their combinations are growing. It’s going to be a tough battle.”


* The Bulldogs will become just the third team to play 1800 premiership matches behind the Roosters and South Sydney.

* Since 1980, the Roosters have lost their opening two matches of a season on just six occasions.

* Canterbury’s defence struggled in round one, conceding the most points (36), tries (6) and second most metres (1529).

Crime down but sex offences rise in Vic

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By , 17/12/2018 16:22

Police Minister Lisa Neville says Victoria has recorded its biggest drop in crime in 10 years.Victoria may have recorded its biggest drop in crime in 10 years, but reports of sexual offences continue to grow.

Sexual offences have risen 15.9 per cent in the year to December 2017, the state’s Crime Statistics Agency revealed on Thursday.

Of the 8279 cases reported, 25 per cent were historical sexual offences, most likely spurred by the child abuse royal commission, while about a third were linked to family violence, Police Minister Lisa Neville said.

“It’s not surprising in the context of royal commissions that you have more people coming forward and reporting these terrible crimes, and we want to see more of that over time,” she told reporters.

Almost all sexual offences were committed by someone known to the victim. Women were the victim in more than 6500 recorded incidents.

Revenge porn – where people share sexualised images without consent – is also included in the sexual offences category, with some recent crimes linked to social media, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.

“We are seeing people use social media for evil and not good, whether that’s in relation to how they are meeting people and committing (crimes)… or they’re using it for revenge porn,” he said.

“No one deserves to be subjected to these sorts of crimes.”

Sex crime is the only category of crime to rise in Victoria.

The total number of offences recorded by police dropped 8.6 per cent to 504,070, compared to 551,662 offences the previous year, the data showed.

Ms Neville attributed the drop in overall crime to a reduction in reported burglaries, thefts and arson.

These crimes dropped by 13.3 per cent, but still make up more than 60 per cent of all recorded criminal incidents.

Shadow Police Minister Ed O’Donohue says the statistics show Victoria is less safe than it used to be.

“Every single one of these 504,070 offences represents people whose safety and security have been violated,” he said in a statement.


* Sexual offences up 15.9 per cent

* Arson down 19.6 per cent

* Theft down 16.6 per cent

* Burglary and break and enter down 15.3 per cent

* Drug dealing and trafficking down 12.6 per cent

* Abduction down 12.1 per cent

SOURCE: Crime Statistics Agency Victoria

Mark RothfieldKeg run added to Port regatta calendar

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By , 17/12/2018 16:21

BIG PRIZE: 16-Foot East Coast Marine and Sail will be competing hard for a keg or two at Port Stephens.IT will be all beer and skittles at Sail Port Stephens in April if you happen to be a 16-Foot skiff sailor, as a fun ‘Keg Run’ has been added to the regatta calendar for the first time.

Kegs will be offered as prizes for crews to slake their hard-earned thirst after a long, competitive season. Port Stephens’ boutique brewery, Murray’s, is coming to the party with some of ’s finest craft beers.

The event will be held on April 21-22 as part of an extended ‘Season of Sailing’. There’s three windward-leeward races planned for the Saturday, starting 2pm, followed by a few quiet Sail ales at Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club.

Sunday will have two races from 12.30pm. The top three competitors all win beer, plus there will be a lucky door prize.

Regatta director Paul O’Rourke reckons it’s a great chance for sailors to let their hair down with families and mates.

“Skiff sailors are renowned for loving a beer or two and we thought their ears might spring up if there was a keg on offer,” he said. “But it’s very much a fun, social thing, and the keg idea is part of that.”

Newcastle sailmaker Scott Beeby, who joined the 16s three years ago as a sailor and sponsor, concurs: “We race all these hard-core regattas throughout the season but the venues aren’t exactly the nicest place for a holiday. Lots of us have young families now, so we thought Port Stephens would be perfect.

“You can’t beat the waters for this kind of sailing, and there’s great accommodation and activities on shore.”

Beeby is sheethand and sponsor aboard the skiff East Coast Marine and Sail, owned and skippered by Matthew Reece-Jones, with Corey Hamilton up front.

“There’s been a class resurgence in recent years because you can buy a kit boat from China, off-the-shelf, for around $60,000 with two rigs,” Beeby added. “The hull is pretty well one-design, which means that hulls don’t age.

“We get between 50 and 60 boats at the major regattas, and there’s still the traditional strongholds of Belmont, Manly, St George, Middle Harbour, Drummoyne, Illawarra, and Brisbane.”

Organisers are hoping for around 20 boats for the first Keg Run, including from Queensland, and it’s set to become an annual event. There’s whispers that Port Stephens may get to host a 16-Footer national title, so some competitors might come early to gain local knowledge.

Meanwhile, for yachts heading to Sail Port Stephens and looking for company, two feeder races will bring a large fleet of yachts north on the weekend prior to the regatta.

First, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club stages a race from Pittwater to Newcastle on April 7. Entrants berth overnight at Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC).

NCYC then hosts the Newcastle-Port Stephens race at 10am on Sunday April 8, with divisions for PHS, IRC and ORCI.

They aim for a spectacular Newcastle Harbour start, shipping movements and weather allowing, although for timing sake there’s the option to conduct a rolling start in Stockton Bight if wind conditions are light.

The race committee instructs the fleet to motor until there’s to enough breeze to start the race. At that time an offshore start line will be set, and a gate finish line is set off Port Stephens heads.

Distance from Pittwater to Newcastle is around 45 nautical miles, while Stockton Bight measures around 22 nautical miles.

KIWI BREAKS DROUGHTNEW Zealand 18-Foot skiff Honda Marine, helmed by David McDiarmid, broke one of the longest droughts in sailing last Sunday, securing the first win by a Kiwi boat in the JJ Giltinan Trophy on Sydney Harbour.

The victory is the first in Sydney since the trophy was donated 80 years ago, and the first for a New Zealand boat at any venue since 1973. To rub salt into Aussie wounds, compatriot Josh Porebski aboard Maresk finished runner-up.

The win for Honda Marine came after seven attempts for McDiarmid, including winning four of the seven races sailed last year but still only finishing third.

KIWI-POWER: 18-Foot skiff Honda Marine has won the JJ Giltinan Trophy in Sydney. Photo: Frank Quealey

BRAIDWOOD ON BOARDANOTHER Lake Macquarie yachtsman is due to join the Volvo Ocean Race fray on Sunday in Auckland.

Tom Braidwood has signed on with Hong Kong’s Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, led by wily Aussie skipper David Witt, for Leg 7. The fleet will skate across the stormy Southern Ocean, around Cape Horn, to the Brazilian port of Itajaí.

The yacht is currently sixth out of seven entrants, with a best result of 4th in the six legs to date, but Witt and Braidwood are renowned heavy weather sailors who’ll push hard on what is arguably the signature leg of the race.

Combustible cladding, similar to Grenfell Tower inferno, found on John Hunter Hospital

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By , 17/12/2018 16:21

AUDIT ALARM: Work will begin soon to strip the dangerous cladding from the Royal Newcastle Centre at John Hunter Hospital. Picture (left): Simone De Peak. Picture (right): AP Photo/Frank Augstein FLAMMABLE cladding similar to what fuelledLondon’s Grenfell Towerinferno has been found onthe John Hunter Hospital.

The Newcastle Herald can reveal the combustible cladding on the region’s largest hospital was detected during a state-wide audit carried out by theNSW Government Cladding Taskforce and Health Infrastructure.

Work is due to begin stripping the cladding from the Royal Newcastle Centreand the Clinical Skills Training Centreat John Hunter Hospital in the coming months.

It’s understood the project, that will see the cladding replaced witha safer product, will cost more than $10 million.

Highly flammable polyethylene cladding has been used on thousands of n buildings in the past two decades.

A Health Infrastructure spokeswoman said a “preliminary review” of Hunter New England Health assets revealed problems in Newcastle and Armidale.

“Interim safety measures have been put in place at John Hunter Hospital and Armidale Hospital until the cladding has been removed,” she said. “Hunter New England Health has evacuation procedures in place and is liaising closely with emergency response services.”

RELATED:London tower was ‘burning like paper’

The audit wasin response to London’s Grenfell Tower inferno in June, which killed 71 people, as well as the Victorian Lacrosse building fire at Docklands in 2014, which tore through 13 floors in 11 minutes. Both were fuelled by thecladding.

It’s understood work on the $100 million Royal Newcastle Centre, that openedon the hospital campus in 2006, will begin first.

The centre housesmany health services previously availableat its namesake–the 189-year-old Royal Newcastle Hospital –and provides specialist, diagnostic and outpatient services for the Hunter and much of the state’s north.

AUDIT ALARM: Work will begin soon to strip the dangerous cladding from the Royal Newcastle Centre at John Hunter Hospital. Picture: Simone De Peak

It has five operating theatres,in-patient ward beds andprocedural beds.

The Clinical Skills building is on the western side of the John Hunter Hospital and is used foreducatingmedical, surgical and nursing staff.

In additional to training rooms, it also hasalecture theatre.

Health Infrastructure’s spokeswoman said independent fire safety experts werefinalising detailed reviews of the two buildings.

“Once this has been complete, a full scope of works and estimated total costcan be determined,” she said.

Problems arise whenbuildings are clad in either highly combustible aluminium composite panels, or expanded polystyrene that melts or ignites when exposed to an open flame.

In December, the NSW cladding taskforce revealed there were 1184 buildingsacross the state suspected of having the cladding.

WARNING: Video contains disturbing contentAbout 220 of these, including 58 high-rise residential buildings, had enoughcladding or in a configuration that meant they requiredfurther assessment.

A Victorian taskforce found in Decemberthat three factors had led to the proliferation of dangerous cladding in since the 1990s: the use of the wrong building materials, the industry’s poor culture, and the failure of regulators.

Too often unsuitable materials were substituted on buildings between planning approval being granted and construction commencing, it found.

And those breaking the rules faced little or no risk of being caught –or of being punished if they were caught.

Health Infrastructure’s chief executive Sam Sangster said there would be minimal impact to patients, staff and visitors at John Hunter Hospital during the remediation works.

The Clinical Skills Building at John Hunter. Picture: Simone De Peak.

Hospital operations would not be disrupted.

“Health Infrastructure has undertaken an extensive amount of work to ensure our methodology and approach is thorough, and we assess each and every building on the asset management register,” he said.

Work is already underway to remove flammable cladding from the $8million chemotherapy and ambulatory care building at Armidale Hospital that opened in 2014.

Under new laws introduced in NSW late lastyear, buildersand developers who use dodgy products – including flammable cladding – will be hit with fines of more than$1 million.

Individuals who flout the new rules will be hit with fines of more than $200,000.

The government’s legislation does not outlaw any specific building materials; instead it gives the fair trading commissioner the power to identify unsafe materials and to ban their use.

The Grenfell Tower

Councils will be given new powers to force existing unsafe buildings to be repaired.

“Fair trading will have broad powers to assess products as they come into the marketplace and use those powers to ban them if they are unsafe or dangerous when used inappropriately,” Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said.

The laws also give the government power to compel documents about dodgy products from suppliers, manufacturers and builders so they can track where the products have been used.

Failure to co-operate will be a criminal offence.

Experts say detecting flammable cladding from legitimate fire-resistant kinds is complicated because externally the two appear the same.

Top job security

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By , 17/12/2018 16:21

DOLING IT OUT: We all dream of a job for life and for some, like China’s president Xi Jinping, that dream has become reality.SIMON WALKER: That’s Life archive

In a move reminiscent of Julius Caesar or Napoleon Bonaparte, China’s supreme leader Xi Jinping this week declared himself president for life.

Can’t blame a guy for locking in job security, I suppose. Next stop “Sun god”.

Better than flipping from one gig to the next like a cork in the ocean, which seems to be the standard career advice these days.

I saw itreferred to asthe “portfolio career approach” to under-employment recently.

It’s where you have you’re fingers in as many part-time pies as you canto ensure the four-legged table that is your casualised life doesn’t collapse if one of thelegbreaks.

And apparently it’s a good thing if you appreciate job uncertainty but it strikes me as a bit of a challenge keeping food on that sort of table.

You play the cards you’re dealt anda part-time job’s apart-time job until it gets off-shored or automated, or both.

Ultimately I think theportfolio career approach is why we’ve got Donald Trump.

Everyone lost their job in the US and now we’vecareered into something the world is still trying to work out. Steel yourself for an uncertain future, but don’t mentiontariffs.

Mr Xi is not alone in tryingmake himself indispensable. Others before have tried – Mugabe, Caligula, Sepp Blatter – with varying degrees of success. Often it doesn’t end well because, you know, people tire of despots. And perhaps being ingloriously deposed is another aspect of the portfolio career approach.

Yes there will becriticism, and when it comes you just have to ruthlessly suppress it.

As any good tyrant knows, hewho controls the present, controls the past, controls the future, controls the tanks etc.

That’s meant as no criticism of Mr Xi, either, because I don’t want to get taken down in a drone strike.

I’m sure he’s just like any rugby league player contemplating his next contract, trying to look after his family.

Only Mr Xi’sfamily is the Chinese Communist Party and that party is just getting started. But hell, they recently handed back it’s entire recycling industry, so we shouldn’t rubbish that.

Makes you wonder what Mr Trump’s thinks about becoming president forlife. Maybe not a bad idea. He seems reasonably partial to dictatorship.If not his Secretary of State.

Like Rex Tillerson, n political leaders are not immune to job insecurity, as the big push from the unions is reminding us. The CFMEU has merged with the Maritime Union and the ACTU is pointing out ns are having trouble paying their bills. That’s not a new thing, but the ads on TV are, and they’re ringing a bit truer than the old fake tradie.

The push is on to relieve Mr Turnbull of his job, and perhaps Mr Shorten’s too if keeps chasing pensioner’s dividend imputation credits.

The one great certainty out of all this uncertainty is there’s no votes in unemployment if you’re leader. Something Mr Xi doesn’t have to concern himself with anymore.

International Visitor Survey shows international tourism growth for Newcastle and the Hunter

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By , 17/12/2018 16:21

GROWTH: Senator Arthur Sinodinos said the International Visitor Survey’s 14 per cent uptick for 2017 was good news for Hunter tourism operators.OVERSEAS visitors spend an average of $1122 during their Hunter stays, new figures indicate.

Tourism Research ’s International Visitor Survey found 194,000 international visitors came to the Hunter in the year to December 2017.

The visitor figure is a 14 per cent rise, while the spending average reflects a 12 per cent rise. All up, the survey reports that spend accountingfor $218 million poured in the Hunter economy.

Nationally overseas tourism rose 6 per cent to hit8.1 million, with nights stayed up five per cent to 265 million. The total tourist spend rose to$41.3 billion

RELATED: Newcastle’s tourism ‘game-changers’

Senator Arthur Sinodinos said theHunter’s cultural offerings were gaining traction with international visitors.

“The vineyards, beaches and other natural and cultural attractions of the region are growing in appeal to overseas travellers and that’s positive news for local tourism operators,” he said.

Chinese visitors remain the top spenders, putting $10.4 billion in to in 2017.

The Newcastle Herald reported in February that a NSW Business Chamber report found regional areas were missing out on their slice of the state’s $3.2 billion Chinese tourism spend due to insufficient infrastructure, with most of that figure sunk into Sydney.

Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Bob Hawes said at the timeDestination NSW and Tourism needed to “tune in” to the wholesale networks in China that organise holidays and tours in order to entice the tourists to visit the region.

“It isnot like we have to go out and cut the pathway ourselves, they are already coming here,” Mr Hawes said.

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