FILM of a house being lifted off its foundations and propelled away by floodwaters in Dungog in April, 2015 still has the power to shock.
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Floods are not an uncommon event in this land that is regularly belted by powerful natural events. But to see a whole house being propelled away and out of sight simply by the power of water shows how and why people die when floods occur.

Three elderly people died in the Dungog superstorm that hit on April 21, 2015. Brian Wilson, 72, Robin Reid Macdonald, 68, and Colin Webb, 79, died in their homes. It is almost too painful to imagine the final hours of their lives, trapped in homes and probably hoping, at first, that the floodwater would remain at a nuisance level, rather than life-threatening.

We know too much about their final minutes, for the detail is distressing. Elderly andvulnerable,Mr Webb was found with his head just about the water on the patio of his unit. Neighbour Allan Cherry tried to save him. He heroically dived into the floodwater to save his friend, but it was too late.

Brian Wilson and Robin Reid Macdonald’s bodies were later found. It is all too easy to understand how Mrs Macdonald refused to leave without her companion pets.

Flood events go down in history according to where they occurred, and sometimes the year. When they’re referred to in articles years later, they are sometimes written up as the flood where three people died, or five or seven.

The Dungog flood of 2015, that an inquest has already heard was a one in 1000 year event, will one day be referred to as the 2015 flood where three died.

This week, in Newcastle Court, the community is showing that what happened to the town of Dungog in April, 2015 was tragic, and that the deaths of Brian Wilson, Robin Reid Macdonald and Colin Webb need to be investigated, openly.

Inquests are often painful explorations of where things have gone wrong. But they are necessary.

We already know that the State Emergency Service’s response on the morning of April 21, 2015 “could have been improved”.

An inquest after a natural disaster is not about finding people to blame. The superstorm that hit the Hunter atthat time was experienced by hundreds of thousands of people. We all know how powerful it was. But we need to learn how to be better prepared in future.

Issue: 38,584.


If you believe WA Sports Minister Mick Murray, the new swanky $2 billion Perth Stadium is “open for all Western ns”.
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Well Mr Murray, I was needing a venue for an Irish family reunion around March 10, so would the McGowan government mind bumping the docile, banal and dull NRL double-header planned for that day at the Burswood stadium?

I’m more than happy for Sandgropers to pay a tenner to see a thousand or so Conor McGregor-like Paddies beat each other to the brink of death with a shillelagh after swilling on a few hundred litres of Jamieson, because it would be a better spectacle then any rugby league game.

On Monday, the Labor government announced rugby league clubs South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will open the 2018 NRL season against yet-to-be-announced opponents.

Being an absolute sports geek, I wouldn’t want to reduce anyone’s interest in a game that involves an odd shaped ball into a parody, but isn’t the Rabbitohs mascot called Reggie the Rabbit?

Maybe West Coast’s pet mascot Auzzie the Eagle and Reggie the Rabbit could battle it to the death and the winner’s team gets to open the stadium?

And while it’s foolish of me to direct my bitterness and resentment towards the NRL for getting in first, even rugby-lovers on the east coast will be scratching what’s left of their cauliflower ears, wondering why an Aussie rules-mad state is opening its 60,000-seat stadium when it doesn’t even have a team in the NRL.

Mr Murray claimed while the Eagles and Dockers were squabbling over who should be the first AFL team to play at Burswood, the NRL swooped in.

“We are not going to hold back when people want to use the stadium,” Mr Murray said on Tuesday. “It’s a stadium for all Western ns, not just one particular sport.

“They’ve (NRL) been out, they’ve been proactive, they have been on the front foot… let them come into the town.”

In July, when there were rumours floating around a rugby nines tournament could open the new stadium, I declared I would single-handedly hold 100 Black Swans hostage at the gates of the new Perth Stadium if a Mickey Mouse tournament was the first sporting event at the arena.

“I mean rugby is an interesting sport,” I said at the time. “Who doesn’t enjoy watching 120 kilogram men trying to manoeuvre their index finger up the clacker of their opponent’s backside?”

Mr Murray boldly claimed nobody cared what sporting event opened the venue.

“That stadium out there has cost us nearly $2 billion and here we are saying who is going to be the first to play on it,” he said. “For god’s sake, get over it”.

The truth is the stadium is leaking thousands of WA taxpayers’ dollars every day it remains unopened, so the government wants to recoup every cent it can.

But the reality is, we will probably never know how much extra coin has been flushed down the 800-odd dunnies at the new stadium, so a Western Derby opener in late March was perfect.

And while my argument that the Dockers or Eagles should be the first sporting teams at the new stadium is irrational and gloriously useless because no one in government gives a stuff, I bloody care.

WA is a footy state and thousands of Sandgropers who grew up kicking the footy in the backyard would take pride in seeing a Western Derby be the first sporting event at the stadium.

Even if that game was a preseason clash.

The so-called sporting elite in WA also don’t care what code opens the venue and have been rolling out that misguided idiom “who remembers what event opened the ANZ Stadium or Etihad or the MCG?”

The Communist Party of opened the MCG with their annual egalitarian three-legged egg race didn’t they?

Imagine before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney was held at Stadium and the AFL or WA Football Commission said ‘would guys be kosher with us opening the venue with an AFL game’?

The-then Premier of NSW Bob Carr would’ve sent troop across the Nullarbor.

The unpleasant fact is now a sporting code that no one in WA truly gives a rat’s bottom about will open a stadium that has been three decades in the making.

Mr Murray said “let the people of WA get out there and enjoy it”.

Well, everyone is invited to the Irish reunion shindig on March 10. Just bring your own whiskey and shillelagh.


Does the ordinary n find the c-word offensive?
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That is a question a NSW District Court judge had to consider on Tuesday during an appeal for Danny Lim, a man many Sydneysiders would recognise from his bright sandwich boards bearing political and social messages.

Mr Lim was convicted of offensive behaviour for standing on busy New South Head Road, Edgecliff, one morning in August 2015, wearing a sign that appeared to call then prime minister Tony Abbott a “c—“.

The front of the sign read: “PEACE SMILE PEOPLE CAN CHANGE TONY YOU C—. LIAR, HEARTLESS, CRUEL. PEACE BE WITH YOU.”

The back of the sign read: “TRICKY LYING TONY YOU C— SCREW EDUCATION HEALTH, JOBS & THE ENVIRONMENT CHILDREN’S FUTURE SMILE”

The word included an apostrophe as if it was the word “can’t”, and the letter “U” was represented by an upside-down “A”.

In February last year, a magistrate accepted it was a play on words, but deemed it offensive because a “reasonable person” would have been offended by the use of “c—” in reference to the prime minister.

For a court to deem any behaviour offensive, it must be considered likely to invoke “anger, disgust, resentment or outrage”, and arouse a “significant emotional reaction”.

Judge Andrew Scotting??? disagreed with the magistrate’s decision and quashed Mr Lim’s conviction.

The judge noted “c—” was referenced in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, was used regularly on television, and was less offensive in than other English-speaking countries.

He said by depicting the word like “can’t”, Mr Lim was making a play on words and did not “unequivocally” use the swear word.

“This is particularly demonstrated by the inclusion of the apostrophe in the relevant position.

“The front of the sandwich board is capable of being construed as being clever or light-hearted and thereby removing or reducing the force of the impugned word. It is also capable of being read as the word ‘can’t’.”

The judge said Mr Lim’s conduct was “in poor taste”, but was unlikely to have sparked a significant emotional reaction.

He said Mr Lim had demonstrated the “reasonable excuse” defence, saying his actions were political commentary.

Judge Scotting said politicians were often publicly criticised.

“This is an essential and accepted part of any democracy. That criticism can often extend to personal denigration or perhaps even ridicule, but still maintain its essential character as political comment.

“There is no reason to conclude that the prime minister, as the leader of the federal government, should be treated any differently to any other person who holds or seeks political office.”


The AFL has warned fans to only purchase finals tickets through approved sellers Ticketek as the ACCC launches legal action against ticket resale website Viagogo, which has duped unsuspecting AFL fans in the past.
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The warning came as footy fans took to Twitter in fits of anger claiming they had been locked out of the official Ticketek website while buying finals tickets on Tuesday morning.

And it emerged on Tuesday afternoon that tickets for all of the first-week finals were already being resold high above face value on the Ticketmaster Resale website. Tickets do not have to have been originally purchased on Ticketmaster to be sold on the resale site.

AFL Fans Association spokesman Gerry Eeman described the Viagogo and Ticketmaster Resale websites as allowing “legalised scalping” that “fleeces” fans.

“They are a tool to enable price gouging,” Eeman said. “There is nothing stopping the AFL from contacting the government and working with them on a fix.

“You can’t scalp AFL grand final tickets because of legislation so what’s stopping the AFL from pushing government to make it the same for all tickets?”. They’re at it already. Ticketmaster Resale is flogging tix for all four #AFL finals for up to $343.85. This must stop. pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/leQeKp8qCW??? AFL Fans Association (@FansAFL) August 29, 2017Ticketing tip – if the @Ticketek_AU website is saying “Allocation Exhausted”, try another category or another bay. Keep searching??? Richmond FC (@Richmond_FC) August 29, 2017And, sadly, @Ticketek_AU won’t cope. They never do. https://t苏州夜场招聘/ruSDbiw2hd??? Erica Spinks (@ericaspinks) August 28, [email protected]_AU fail again. 2 hours of this. I want my #sydneyswans finals tickets! pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/3heeRJvQCx??? Matt Hampshire (@mjhampshire) August 29, 2017


Inherit the WindTheatre ReviewsInherit the WindNewcastle Theatre Company, NTC Theatre, Lambton. To Sept 9.THE timelessness of moves by powerful officials to force people to comply with their biased edicts is shown in this engrossing production of the 1955 play by American writers Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.
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The story is based on the 1920s trial of a young male science teacher who ignored the legal prohibition in a strongly religious southern US state of telling students about Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as a counter to the Bible’s declaration that God created the world in six days.

While director Pearl Nunn and her cast and crew have retained the 1920s setting through costuming, the change of sex of some of the text’s all-male court room characters, with the defence counsel becoming a woman, adds to the drama and comic moments of the arguments and the reactions they produce among trial participants and onlookers.

The large cast, headed by Lindsay Carr and Katy Carruthers as the sharply worded opposing counsels, keep the audience alert and amused. Carr’s prosecutor, Matthew Harrison Brady, and Carruthers’ defence attorney, Henrietta Drummond, were once the best of friends, but Brady’s pompous and self-righteous behaviour helped drive them apart. The play includes an engrossing sequence in which Drummond calls Brady to the stand as an expert on the Bible and tries to question him about Darwin’s writings.

The other characters are also very real people. Lee Mayne’s Bertram Cates, the modest and generally quiet teacher on trial, at one point angrily shouts out the actual damning words the local fundamentalist preacher had used in referring to one of his students, rather than those stated by the preacher’s daughter, Rachel (Belinda Hodgson), who is a fellow teacher and his girlfriend.

Carl Gregory beings out the cynicism of E. K. Hornbeck, a young journalist assigned by a Baltimore newspaper to cover the trial; Paul Sansom’s spiritual leader, Reverend Brown, is zealous and controlling; the stern face of Stephanie Cunliffe-Jones’ district attorney, Davenport, switches to concern when Drummond makes telling points; and Brian Wark’s judge is clearly determined to be impartial, despite his religious beliefs.

The other characters include Meeker (Noel Grivas), the non-judgmental and helpful bailiff at the court house, Brady’s wife (Jennifer White), who is concerned about his health, the town’s mayor (Phil Haywood), who is worried about the economic future of the town in view of the publicity the trial has received, two teenage school friends, Howard (Sean Heffron), who has to take the witness stand to answer questions about Cates’ teaching, and Melinda (Lotte Coakes-Jenkins), who is a firm believer in the Bible. The other actors, Judith Schofield, Corinne Lavis, Bridget Barry, Mike Peters, John Wood, and Maxine Mueller, play townfolk, jurors, reporters and business people.

Graham Wilson’s set design enables swift changes between venues that include a court room, railway station and the town square.

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The Crucifer of Blood

The Crucifer of BloodDAPA, DAPA Theatre, Hamilton. To Sept 9.Paul Giovanni’s play, based mainly on the Sherlock Holmes novel The Sign of Four, has a young adult Holmes (played by Alex Faber) and friend Dr John Watson (Duncan Gordon) investigating, at the request of a worried young woman (Maddie Richards), a pact her father and two other British military men made in India 30 years earlier when they confiscated a treasure chest.

It has literally become a blood pact, because the incident that led to the woman, Irene St Claire, knocking on Holmes’ Baker Street apartment door was seeing a letter envelope her father had received in the mail, with a cross-shaped mark on it etched in blood.

It’s a lively tale, with lots of funny moments and increasing dead bodies, staged by director David Murray on realistic sets that include an Indian fortress wall, Holmes’ well-decorated apartment, a spooky country lodge, an oriental-adorned opium den, and a boat crossing the river Thames. While I felt the elaborate set changes took too long at the performance I attended, other audience members didn’t seem to mind the wait, as they were kept in suspense until the final moments as to how the story would end.

The actors certainly do a good job, with a few changing roles during the story and looking very different from the characters they initially played. Peter Eyre, for example, is first seen as Durga Dass, one of the Indians who are accomplices to the treasure-hunting English soldiers in the story’s opening scene but are betrayed by them. He later becomes the dim-witted and over-the-top Scotland Yard inspector Lestrade who views himself as an exemplary investigator. Sean Hixon likewise goes from being an Indian to a creepy butler, Birdy Johnson. And stage manager David Ebert makes a couple of momentary appearances.

The treachery of the three English soldiers in the opening sequence has clearly had an impact on their lives 30 years later. Oliver Pink’s Major Ross sharply delivers orders aimed at helping him to keep the major share of the treasure, but while he is similarly seen in upmarket garb in the 1887 scenes he is clearly suffering from memories of the past and fear of treachery. Irene’s father, Captain St Claire, played by director David Murray, is also going through trying mental phases. And the third accomplice, Jonathan Small (Michael Smythe), who was a private at the time, is bitter about the way Ross and St Claire treated him because of his lower rank.

The three young characters are understandably the brightest. Alex Faber’s violin-playing Holmes is quick to realise what people’s behaviour means, Duncan Gordon’s Dr Watson trusts Holmes’ interpretations, and he helps to soothe Irene’s troubled mind, with the pair falling in love.