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Ambulance officers still losing time at hospitals

THE amount of time ambulance officers are being forced to wait to transfer patients into hospital care has blown out in the past year, reducing their ability to respond to emergencies, the NSW Auditor-General has found.
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In his financial audit of the state’s health sector, Peter Achterstraat said it was ‘‘concerning’’ that ambulance officers had spent 77,200 hours in 2010 waiting at emergency departments excluding an initial 30 minutes allowed for each admission, which was up from 58,400 extra hours the previous year.

To read the Herald’s opinion, click here.

The report released yesterday also found only 66per cent of patients were moved within eight hours from the emergency department to an inpatient bed.

‘‘This is significantly down on last year’s 73per cent and well below the 80per cent target,’’ Mr Achterstraat said.

He also recommended processes for paying health suppliers and employees need to improve, as some payments had been made without approval.

Overtime payments across the health sector had steadily declined, but there were still more than 1200 employees who worked more than 500 hours overtime in the year, with one employee paid $333,073 in overtime alone, the report said.

The report gave the Hunter New England Local Health Network a clean bill of health.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said delays for ambulance officers would take time to resolve.

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FFA sees red over Jets fans

CROWD TROUBLE: Jets fans at the F3 derby.FOOTBALL Federation Australia is investigating the behaviour of several Jets fans after Saturday’s 2-0 loss to local rivals the Central Coast at Bluetongue Stadium.
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The F3 derby produced ugly scenes late in the match. Jets fans fought among themselves, lit a flare and threw drinks at Mariners substitute Troy Hearfield, a former Jets player, while he was taking a corner.

The Mariners match report said 13 people, believed to be Jets fans, were ejected and seven more were refused entry.

A video posted on YouTube titled ‘‘F3 Derby – Squadron Novocastria’’ shows Jets fans with flares, chanting obscenities on their way to the ground and confronting Mariners fans on the street after the game.

FFA said yesterday that it was examining TV and other video footage to identify unruly fans.

‘‘Incidents have been brought to our attention of what appeared to be Jets supporters, but it’s hard to make that generalisation,’’ an FFA spokesman said.

‘‘We’re certainly conducting an investigation into an incident that involved a flare and one that involved objects, which I think were drinks, being thrown.’’

At the start of the season all A-League clubs agreed to a five-year ban for any fan found lighting a flare during a match.

Jets CEO Robbie Middleby said in a statement last night: ‘‘We are looking into it and will assist the FFA in any way we can.’’

Tim Verschelden, president of the Squadron, said none of the offenders were members of the Jets supporter group and he condemned their behaviour.

‘‘This behaviour happens at every Coast away game,’’ he said.

‘‘These blokes that carry on like this claim to be part of the Squadron, but they aren’t.

‘‘They’re only ring-in blokes when they want to be to get on the piss with their mates in Gosford and cause some trouble.

‘‘In no way do we condone the actions that took place on Saturday night.’’

Verschelden said the fans had tarnished the Squadron’s reputation.

‘‘After all the good stuff we’ve been doing in recent seasons, and especially this year, this is the last thing we needed from the Squadron’s perspective because now the fans of Newcastle are second-guessing us,’’ he said.

The Squadron ‘‘self-policed’’ at away games, which included speaking to ground security before the match.

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Report on sex industry due

A LONG-awaited discussion paper on the regulation of the sex industry in Tasmania will be released this month, Attorney-General Brian Wightman said yesterday.
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Mr Wightman is the third successive attorney-general to promise the paper, which he said would seek submissions on the preferable legislative option for Tasmania’s sex industry.

“From the submissions received when the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005 was reviewed, it was clear that there was concern that the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005 has not been fully effective in achieving its objective of protecting sex workers,” he said.

Then-attorney-general Lara Giddings committed to developing the discussion paper in 2010.

She said at the time that the review of the act tabled in Parliament in 2009 highlighted that neither side of the debate felt the current legislation was effective in protecting sex workers from exploitation.

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Tendonitis takes down Nikolai

RULED OUT: Nikolai Topor-Stanley at Ray Watt Oval yesterday. – Picture by Darren PatemanINJURED Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley hopes his hamstring tendonitis keeps him out of only one A-League game.
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Taylor Regan, who will replace the towering former Socceroo against Sydney FC at Ausgrid Stadium on Saturday, hopes to play so well against the Sky Blues that coach Gary van Egmond will have to shift someone else when Topor-Stanley returns.

Topor-Stanley has succumbed to the tendon strain he first felt in Newcastle’s 3-1 triumph over Melbourne Victory two weeks ago then aggravated in their 2-0 loss to Central Coast last Saturday.

‘‘I first noticed it against Melbourne Victory, and I kind of managed it through the week during training prior to the Central Coast game,’’ Topor-Stanley said.

‘‘At half-time I was in a bit of trouble and I don’t know how I really lasted, because I was out on my feet and it was no good.

‘‘It’s a slight strain on the tendon where my hammy inserts in the bone, so it’s a pretty minor thing but it can hang around for a bit and be kind of painful, so I’ve had a blood injection to settle it down. The plan is to rest this week and start training next week.’’

Topor-Stanley hopes to recover in time to make the trip across the Tasman to take on Wellington Phoenix tomorrow week.

Regan has not played since starting in Newcastle’s 3-0 away loss to Melbourne Heart on November 12 but van Egmond has been impressed with his form in Youth League.

‘‘It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve played with the first team,’’ Regan said.

‘‘I’ve played the last few games with the youth team and we’ve won our last three.

‘‘It’s always in the back of your mind that you want to get a chance, so hopefully this weekend I can prove that I can do a job.

‘‘Sydney tend to play with two strikers, so myself and Tiago will have a man each.

‘‘Obviously first and foremost, if we don’t concede goals we can’t lose games, so I think our home form has been good and if we win our individual battles, we’ll go a long way to winning the game.’’

The 23-year-old Dudley-Redhead junior, who played 10 games in his rookie season last summer and has made five appearances this season, accepts that he must bide his time behind experienced campaigners such as Topor-Stanley and Tiago.

But he wants to convince the coach that he can hold down a regular starting berth.

‘‘It’s hard to continue to play week in, week out when you’ve got experienced players like Nikolai and Tiago there when they’re fit,’’ Regan said.

‘‘But I want to prove that I can be a week-to-week proposition, and as long as I put my hand up and do my job every week that I’m called upon, maybe I will get my chance to be a regular starter.

‘‘But that comes down to Gary and his decision. I’ve got to do everything I can.’’

Van Egmond said Topor-Stanley had been ‘‘the backbone’’ of the team, but he was confident in Regan stepping up to the mark.

‘‘It’s a direct swap, so the rest of the disruption of the team will be lessened, so Taylor will come back into that spot and he obviously offers a lot,’’ the coach said.

‘‘He’s very comfortable on the ball, so there’s no problems whatsoever.’’

Apart from promoting Regan, van Egmond indicated former England striker Francis Jeffers would replace Labinot Haliti up front.

‘‘I thought when Francis came on against Central Coast he made some good runs, and being at home, I feel that Francis will probably give us that again this week,’’ he said.

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Teenager becomes the surprise performer

Caleb Ewan wins the Jayco Cycling Classic at Williamstown yesterday.MELBOURNE – Teenage cyclist Caleb Ewan is the revelation of the Bay Classic criterium series, upstaging the much-anticipated debut of the GreenEDGE professional team.
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The 17-year-old sprint sensation won the fourth and final race and went within one point of snatching the overall title from GreenEDGE star Allan Davis.

After winning race two, the pint-sized speedster unleashed a fearsome turn of speed down the home straight at Williamstown yesterday to overtake the GreenEDGE leadout train.

Ewan (NSWIS) finished a point overall behind Davis, who crossed third in race four to confirm his first Jayco series title.

Had they finished level on points, Ewan would have won on countback.

The GreenEDGE-AIS women’s team dominated their series, with Melissa Hoskings taking out the overall title and Amanda Spratt scoring a solo win in race four.

But the talk of the series was Ewan, who seems destined for a professional contract in the near future.

He is still an under-19 rider and is too young to race at the road nationals, which start tonight in Ballarat.

But the junior world track champion twice beat a world-class field of road sprinters at the Bay Series to confirm his potential.

Davis and sprinting legend Robbie McEwen, who raced the series for the last time, were full of praise.

“We came here to win a (race), but to come away with the overall is nice as well, so it’s a win in itself,” said Davis, who secured the series without taking out a race.

“Full congrats to the young fella.

“He knows where to put himself in the bike race … that will take him just as far as his ability.”

McEwen called Ewan “a little superstar” and predicted he would join GreenEDGE or another top-level pro team in the next three to four years.

“That’s a pretty big deal, to come out and beat everyone here,” McEwen said.

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Liddell on verge of 500 not out

MIGHTY MILESTONE: Waratah-Mayfield life member Ian Liddell at Waratah Oval yesterday. – Picture by Ryan OslandCONTEMPLATING how many hours Waratah-Mayfield life member Ian Liddell has spent chasing leather on a cricket field is simply mind boggling.
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The fourth-grade skipper is one game from becoming only the second man to reach 500 matches in Newcastle district cricket.

Hamilton-Wickham stalwart Denis Broad holds the record with 523, though only two of those were in first grade.

On January 7 at Waratah Oval No.3, Liddell will play his 500th game in his 36th consecutive season. The game will be against Stockton-Raymond Terrace, the club he made his debut against in second grade at Lynn Oval in 1976, aged 15.

‘‘A lot has changed over the years,’’ said Liddell, who turns 51 next week.

‘‘I’d say the late 70s was the golden era for Newcastle. There was a lot of good bowlers around.

‘‘The tracks these days favour the batsmen too much.’’

Liddell began as an all-rounder but during his 16 years in first grade from 1977-78 to 1993-94 he played predominantly as a medium-pace bowler. In later years he served the Tahs as a batsman.

He has been part of several lower-grade premierships and played in two first-grade final losses in 1981-82 and 1985-86, when they were undefeated before the decider.

But Liddell won two Tom Locker Cup finals with sides captained by Greg Arms in 1988-89 and 1993-94.

Liddell’s greatest service to Waratah has been through his administration. In 1993 he was made a life member and he served as president for three years until last season.

Through his experience as director of the Asian Cricket Sixes Tour, which has run tournaments in China, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, Liddell helped Waratah develop its own annual sixes tournament. The tournament has since become the financial backbone of the club.

Liddell’s aunt, Susan Liddell, is also a life member of Waratah due to her service as club scorer. She has since retired but is expected to return to score on Saturday and for the 500th match.

This season will be Liddell’s last as reaching 500 games was his last personal goal in cricket. But he has another for his beloved Tahs.

‘‘First grade have been struggling for five or six years, so it would be one of the foremost things in my mind, to see Waratah first grade back on top,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s not going to happen tomorrow, but I’d personally love to see that.’’

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Summer business hot, but winter’s not

TASMANIAN accommodation and car rental businesses are experiencing their annual peak but winter will more than likely leave them struggling unless something is done to encourage more all-season visitors.
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Motel occupancy rates across Tasmania last month are expected to show a slight decline when figures are collated this month, while all hire cars have been booked out in the state.

Tasmanian Hospitality Association and Tourism Accommodation Australia-Tasmania chief executive Steve Old said businesses were expecting the decline at this usual peak period in light of general economic hardship around the country.

“Figures will probably be slightly down on previous years but I don’t think it will be down much more than 1 per cent,” Mr Old said.

“If it was down about 5 per cent then that would be a worry.”

He said in the South of the state businesses could expect strong occupancy rates on average between 80 to 85 per cent for December and into mid-January, while in Launceston, it might be around 70 to 75 per cent and in the North-West about 65 per cent.

Yet Mr Old said the real problem for businesses was not the decline in summer but getting those figures up in winter.

He said businesses were caught trying to handle a one or two-month busy period and then trying to get bed occupancy up for the remainder of the year.

This had repercussions on the number of staff, their training, hours worked and whether they opened all aspects of the facility such as a restaurant, he said. A Launceston Backpackers spokeswoman said it had been busy from mid-November, first with school groups and then holidayers.

She said at the moment the budget accommodation was at 98 per cent occupancy and had been around this level for the past week.

However, during the cooler months there would be “a total decline”.

“The government really needs to push and support events coming here instead of giving money to things that are dead,” she said.

Full hire car bookings in the state are common in the busy post Christmas-New Year holiday period.

AutoRent Hertz marketing and operations manager Andrew Lovitt said in his 25 years in the business, this time of year always saw a shortage of hire cars.

SUMMER EVENTS

Events happening in the North:

– Music in the Park, every Sunday in January.

– Australian Whitewater Championships, January 3 to 11.

– Wild Dayz, January 3 to 14.

– Tamar Valley Beer Festival, January 20 and 21.

– FFA Melbourne Victory FC V Gold Coast United FC, February 1.

– Australian Pro Tennis Women’s Pro Tour, February 6 to 12.

– Festivale, February 10 to 12.

– Cradle Coast Rally Challenge, February 25.

– TSO Symphony Under the Stars, February 25.

– AAMI Launceston Cup Day, February 29.

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No room for emotion as Carle tackles Jets

REUNION: Nick Carle will be back in Newcastle on Saturday.NICK Carle credits the Jets for helping launch his career, but any lingering sentiment will be left outside the Ausgrid Stadium gates when he returns with Sydney FC on Saturday.
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The attacking midfielder won the Johnny Warren Medal as the A-League’s best player in 2006-07, his second of two seasons in Newcastle, and was a fan favourite at Turton Road.

Carle’s class and consistency were rewarded with a regular place in the Socceroos squad and stints at clubs in Turkey (Genclerbirligi) and England (Bristol City and Crystal Palace).

The Sydney-born Blacktown junior returned to the A-League last season with his home-town club but struggled through an injury-plagued campaign in which the Sky Blues finished ninth, ahead of only Perth and the now-defunct North Queensland Fury.

Fully fit and firing again, 30-year-old Carle has helped Sydney climb to fifth this season, and he has thanked the club and their supporters for sticking by him.

‘‘I had a torrid time last year with injury, so to be back playing on the field and enjoying my football again, I couldn’t be happier,’’ Carle told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘It’s always difficult when you’ve had an up-and-down season through injuries.

‘‘I felt like I let a lot of people down in Sydney and I couldn’t repay the faith they showed in me.

‘‘But I’m absolutely stoked that I had my rest in the off-season, had a really good pre-season, and hopefully I’m now repaying the faith they showed in me.’’

Carle returned to Newcastle twice last season, playing in Sydney’s 2-1 victory on January 3 and a 1-1 draw on February 6. He hopes to remain unbeaten in front of his one-time home crowd.

‘‘I’m very happy to be playing at home in Sydney now, and I’m really happy with the way my football is going, but I really, really enjoyed my two years in Newcastle,’’ Carle said. ‘‘I loved playing there, I thought the fans were great, and the town was great, so I can’t speak more highly of the two years I spent there.

‘‘It was the start of the A-League and it really kick-started my career.

‘‘I love going there, I enjoyed playing there, and I still enjoy playing there, but I’ll do whatever I can to make sure we come home with the three points on Saturday, although every other game I keep a close eye on how Newcastle are going.’’

Carle believed consistency was an issue for Sydney (15 points) and sixth-placed Newcastle (13).

Both teams have won four games, but Sydney have had three draws to Newcastle’s one.

The Sky Blues ended Brisbane’s record 36-match unbeaten streak two weeks ago, but they followed up last Sunday with a 0-0 draw against

last-placed Gold Coast.

‘‘Considering how we started last year, we’re miles ahead, but I still think there’s plenty of room for improvement, and that’s what we’re working on,’’ he said.

Jets coach Gary van Egmond had Carle in his Newcastle squad when he took the reins from Nick Theodorakopoulos seven rounds into the 2006-07 season.

‘‘He’s a quality player, and what he has is that unpredictability within that front third, in that he can make something out of nothing, so we definitely have to be on our guard with him,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘But he’s only one player in their team, and they’ve got some good players with the likes of [Karol] Kisel and [Brett] Emerton.

‘‘I don’t know whether Bridgey [former Jet Mark Bridge] is coming back, they have [Bruno] Cazarine, the young boy [Dimitri] Petratos, so they’ve got a number of weapons. I’m not too sure where young [Terry] Antonis is at, but obviously he’s another one.’’

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Full-time carers for needy kids endorsed

FOSTER carers have endorsed a recommendation to pay people to become full-time carers for children with the most complex care needs.
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A parliamentary inquiry recommended the introduction of a tiered system for foster carers from volunteers to paid professionals.

Foster Carers’ Association of Tasmania president John Flanagan said he was originally against the idea, but changed his mind about six months ago.

“It’s always been my belief that if you want to foster, you’ll foster,” Mr Flanagan said.

“I thought if you got paid people, it wouldn’t be the same, but we haven’t got enough foster carers to look after the more needy ones, the more difficult ones.”

Mr Flanagan said the department was already considering the scheme and he had discussed it with former children’s minister Lin Thorp and Children and Family Services chief executive Mark Byrne last year.

He said some children required 24-hour supervision and needed at least two people to adequately look after them.

“I know people who are willing to do it but unfortunately they can’t afford to give up their jobs,” Mr Flanagan said.

“Basically they’re saying: `We’ll pay you to stay home a look after this child’.”

The committee’s report, handed down in December, also recommended investigating the need for specially trained therapeutic foster carers.

Mr Flanagan, who has been a foster carer for 14 years, welcomed other recommendations including mentoring for new foster carers, more training and support and better information sharing by the department.

He said he had witnessed gradual improvements being made to make life easier for foster carers, leading to better outcomes for children in care, but significant changes were difficult because of a lack of available funding.

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Green takes heart from Donald’s success

RENEWED: Nathan Green at home with his family this week.WHEN world No.1 Luke Donald became the first man to top the money list on the US and European tours in the same year, Nathan Green rejoiced.
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For too long Green had watched players with booming drives dominate world golf at the expense of fellows such as himself who could not match them off the tee.

Donald’s ability to navigate a course and use his whole golf bag well has been an inspiration for the Toronto touring professional.

‘‘I think it’s good for guys like me that Luke Donald has had such a great year,’’ he said.

‘‘It had become a big hitter’s tour, the American tour, and he has come and played limited events and dominated.

‘‘There’s still room for a guy with a good wedge game who can manage his game well.’’

Green will be one of 119 starters gunning for Donald today when the Australian Masters begins at the Victoria Golf Club, in Melbourne.

Green will tee off with Peter Senior and Stephen Allen in the afternoon on a high after his dramatic last-ditch qualification through the Q-School for next year’s US PGA Tour last week.

‘‘It’s totally different down there,’’ he said of the Victoria Golf Club layout.

‘‘It usually has faster greens than what I’m used to.

‘‘I like it down there as I’ve played decent before.

‘‘I’m feeling pretty decent about the game after last week, so hopefully I can take a lot out of it.’’

TAB Sportsbet has listed Donald as the $5 favourite to win the Masters, followed by Australians Geoff Ogilvy ($9) and Robert Allenby ($13).

In Green’s opinion, Donald deserves favouritism.

‘‘Luke Donald has had an unbelievable year,’’ he said.

‘‘To win both those money lists and do it convincingly makes him a big draw.

‘‘The way he’s been playing, he’s the one to beat.’’

Charlestown’s James Nitties will tee off in the group after Green and is listed at $41 to win the Masters.

In 2009, the then US PGA Tour cardholder finished fifth in the event at Kingston Heath behind superstar Tiger Woods.

Going into the fourth day Nitties held the lead with Woods and Greg Chalmers at 10 under before a final round of one-over 73 ruined his challenge.

Kurt Barnes is perhaps the Hunter’s best chance of snaring the gold jacket given the big-hitting Muswellbrook man’s form over the past 12months.

Victories on the Japanese and OneAsia tours were followed by a tie for second at the NSW PGA Championship and 14th place at the Australian Open in November.

Barnes will tee off in the morning group from the 10th tee with Australian veterans Craig Parry and Stuart Appleby.

Waratah’s Leigh McKechnie and Belmont’s Brendan Smith round out the Hunter contingent at the Masters.

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