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Hunter push for MRRT funding

Sue-Ern TanTHE Hunter Valley generated about 15 per cent of the new mining tax revenue and should receive an equivalent amount of the resultant infrastructure funding, Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush said yesterday.
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To read the Herald’s opinion, click here.

Mr Rush said Queensland and Western Australia had been favoured in the first rounds of federal spending based on the Mineral Resources Rent Tax and it was time for NSW to receive its share.

He was worried that the federal fight with the state government over its royalty increase would hit the Hunter if Canberra decided to square up by cutting regional funding in response.

The Minerals Council of NSW said it was not opposed to the resources tax, but it was concerned about the stoush between Canberra and Macquarie Street.

The council’s acting chief executive Sue-Ern Tan said about 40per cent of black coal revenue came from NSW, with the bulk of this from the Hunter and western NSW mines exporting through Newcastle.

‘‘This state is crying out for infrastructure spending, but the people of NSW and the state’s mining industry could end up as collateral damage if this tussle isn’t resolved,’’ Ms Tan said.

‘‘The federal government must ensure that mining communities in NSW get their fair share of [resources tax] infrastructure funding regardless of any political disagreements with the state government.’’

The federal government wrote to NSW on Monday reiterating it would cut regional funding under the tax to the state if the royalties increase went ahead.

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird said yesterday the royalties increase would recover the revenue state coffers would be short under the federal government’s carbon tax.

‘‘NSW was treated with disdain in the first round of funding for the Regional Infrastructure Fund, receiving only $2million while Queensland and Western Australia received over $400million each,’’ Mr Baird said.

“The threat to now withhold funding is just the latest example of how federal Labor have short-changed this state.’’

Federal Hunter MP and chief government whip Joel Fitzgibbon said he supported the tough stance being taken to pressure the O’Farrell NSW government.

‘‘The big change here is that for too many years the state government, on both sides of politics, has been raising royalties in the Hunter and spending the money in Sydney,’’ Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he had been given ‘‘private and public commitments’’, including as recently as last night, from ‘‘the Prime Minister and all of the relevant ministers that NSW, and therefore the Hunter, will get its fair share’’ of the resources tax proceeds.

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Four-way battle to reach Tassie

MELBOURNE – Arch Rival holds the whip hand in what is shaping as a four-way battle for line honours in the Melbourne to Launceston yacht race.
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After more than seven hours of racing yesterday, the John Hall-skippered Arch Rival from the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron held a lead of three nautical miles from Merlion and Vivacite.

Dark and Stormy was in fourth place having taken a more westerly route than the rest of the fleet.

Deja Vu was best placed in the contest for overall handicap honours in Australia’s oldest ocean race.

The first yachts are expected in Launceston some time between noon and 2pm today.

The Melbourne to Hobart eastcoaster and westcoaster races also got underway in perfect conditions at Portsea yesterday.

The Brian Patinson-skippered Gusto – the winner of the lead-up Boxing Day Dash race – had opened up a lead of more than five nautical miles in the eastcoaster race ahead of Goldfinger.

Extasea was holding a similar lead in the line honours contest of the westcoaster race, with Addiction and Tevake II leading the chasing pack.

Race spokesman John Curnow said last night shaped as a crucial period in all three races, with winds expected to drop right off by the end of the week.

There were no withdrawals in the opening seven hours.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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MJ Finnegans tops violent venues list

NEWCASTLE’S MJ Finnegans hotel has taken over from Fannys as the region’s most violent venue on a revised state government list of sites that would be subject to tighter trading conditions over summer.
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Minister for Hospitality George Souris said yesterday the number of venues in the state subject to special conditions had been reduced to 33 on the new list that will take effect from next month. That compared to 66 venues on the list in December 2009.

The list categorises venues as level one or two based on the number of assaults recorded in a year.

Level-one sites are subject to the tighter conditions including lockouts, extra security measures and restrictions on the use of glass or breakable containers.

Most Newcastle and Hamilton venues already face an earlier lockout.

Mr Souris said there was no level one or two venues in Kings Cross or Wollongong for the first time in the three years that the scheme had been running.

But Newcastle still has three level-one venues.

MJ Finnegans has topped the region’s list with 26 assaults recorded, up seven assaults.

The Cambridge Hotel recorded 19 assaults, as did Fannys.

The Queens Wharf Brewery hotel has been added to the list as a level-two venue, with 13 assaults.

The King Street Hotel and Maitland’s Belmore Hotel remain level-two venues.

Four Hunter venues are to be removed from the list; Hamilton’s Kent Hotel, Cessnock Hotel, Shoal Bay Country Club and Maitland’s Kandy Bar.

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Jets earn draw in Adelaide

STALEMATE: Action from last night’s game.THE Newcastle Jets earned their first point away from home but wasted a golden opportunity to grab all three when held to a scoreles draw by a 10-men Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.
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The draw ended a seven-game losing streak on the road for the Jets, dating back to last season, but it was only small consolation after they controlled large periods of the game, especially in the first half.

The Reds played the final 25 minutes down a man after Newcastle-born defender Nigel Boogaard was sent off for a second bookable offence when he disputed a handball call by referee Matt Gillett. He had early been given a yellow card for a clumsy challenge.

Despite the extra player the Jets were unable to break through.

Substitute Labinot Haliti went closest to snatching a match-winner for the visitors five minutes from time but his glancing header flashed past the left post.

In an action packed finish, Haliti had a call for a penalty turned down in the 86th minute and minute later Adelaide had a goal disallowed after substitute Favian Barbieri was ruled offside.

For the Jets, Matt Nash replaced Ben Kennedy (concussion) in goals, Brazilian defender Tiago returned for his first start since round four and Francis Jeffers was reinstalled at the point of the attack.

Adelaide had not lost since the the 7-1 thumping at the hands of Brisbane Roar in round four.

Like they did against the Roar, the Jets pressed high up the pitch and forced the Reds into error or to bomb long.

Adelaide were content to play on the counter attack and not surprisingly their best chance came from a Jets mistakes.

Nikolai Topor-Stanley got caught on the wrong side of Bruce Djite but Byun Sung-hwan made good ground from left back to block his shot.

The Jets have the worst record of any team in the second half this season.

They had Tarek Elrich to thank for staying on level terms four minutes after the resumption.

Djite played a clever through ball for Ramsay. The livewire attacker rounded Nash but Elrich made amazing ground to get back and clear the goal bound shot off the line.

The Reds were a different side after the break. They player with purpose and power.

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Prince Philip spends Christmas in hospital

Prince PhilipSANDRINGHAM _ Prince Philip missed the royal family’s Christmas Day celebrations for the first time as he remained in hospital after heart surgery.
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Thousands of wellwishers gathered at the Queen’s Sandringham estate in eastern England to see the royals attend their traditional church service, with Prince William’s new wife Catherine making her debut appearance.

Buckingham Palace said the 90-year-old Prince Philip “remains in good spirits” after spending a second night at Papworth hospital near Cambridge, and family members were set to visit him after lunch today.

Prince Philip, who is the longest serving royal consort in British history and an outspoken pillar of the House of Windsor, was airlifted on Saturday from Sandringham suffering chest pains.

Tests showed a blocked coronary artery and doctors at Papworth, which boasts Britain’s leading cardiac unit, inserted a tube-like device called a stent to restore healthy blood flow.

Palace officials refused to say whether he had had a heart attack but Iqbal Malik, a consultant at Imperial College London, said Prince Philip “probably was having a heart attack” which was successfully aborted.

Around 3000 people queued at the gates of the St Mary Magdalene Church on the royal estate at Sandringham yesterday to see the royals walk the few hundred metres from the main house for the service, police said.

It was the first time that Catherine has attended the service. She wore a brown coat and walked alongside Prince William, whom she married in April, and his younger brother Prince Harry.

The Queen and her four children, including heir to the throne Prince Charles and his second wife Camilla, were all present, along with the queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips and her husband, England rugby player Mike Tindall.

The 85-year-old monarch was also seen talking to the vicar at the church before the service, which Prince Philip is missing for the first time.

At Sandringham House following the church service, the family were reportedly to tuck into a huge turkey reared on the estate.

They were then going to gather around the television _ without the Queen _ to watch her annual Christmas broadcast, in which this year she is set to stress the importance of family. It was recorded before Prince Philip was hospitalised.

The prince is also set to miss the traditional Boxing Day shoot which he organises.

The Queen and her children all visited Prince Philip in hospital yesterday as he recovered from the operation.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Person in hospital after vehicle fire in Broke

POLICE are attending a vehicle fire in Broke that hospitalised a person this morning.
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Police were called to the Broke Road scene after reports of a car exploding into flames, with inquiries continuing.

An Ambulance NSW spokeswoman said paramedics were called about 9am, taking one person to Cessnock Hospital.

The patient had suffered smoke inhalation but was in a stable condition, the Ambulance spokeswoman said.

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Generosity sees largest total ever for appeal

Riverside Lions Club president Brian Connolly and club member Michael Madden, Michael Vos from Vos Construction, and The Examiner’s editor, Martin Gilmour, with the $25,000 raised at Launceston’s Carols by Candlelight. Picture: SCOTT GELSTONTHE Northern Tasmanian spirit of giving has never been greater.
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The Examiner’s 2011 Empty Stocking Appeal has reached almost $94,000 – making it the largest fund-raiser in the newspaper’s history.

And with three days to go until Christmas, your help is needed to crack the $100,000 mark.

A bit more than $6000 will put the Empty Stocking total into six figures for the first time ever.

All money donated to the appeal is split evenly between the Salvation Army, City Mission, St Vincent de Paul and the Benevolent Society.

It has been an exceptional response from a community that has weathered its fair share of financial hardship.

The appeal received a $35,000 injection yesterday – $25,000 coming from the weekend’s Carols by Candlelight in Launceston’s City Park, plus another $10,000 from the W. D. Booth Charitable Trust.

Wet weather put paid to the City Park carols 12 months ago, and rain again threatened to intervene last Sunday evening.

But a shower was never going to spoil what was a hugely successful evening for the Riverside Lions Club organisers.

“We were pretty lucky – it had four goes at raining throughout the night, but we still managed to keep going,” club president Brian Connolly said.

Yesterday’s donations: Riverside Lions Club (City Park Christmas Carols) $25,000, W. D. Booth Charitable Trust $10,000, Anonymous $200, A. F. $50, K. N. $50.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Deadly day on region’s roads

Rescuers on the scene of the Awaba Road, Toronto accident. Picture by Ryan OslandTHREE people died on northern roads yesterday.
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A three-car accident on the New England Highway near Liddell, south of Muswellbrook, about 3.30pm claimed the life of 30-year-old female.

The woman, who died at the scene, was a passenger in a Nissan X-Trail that collided with a Toyota Hiace and Toyota Land Cruiser.

The 30-year-old male driver of the Nissan and a 33-year-old female driver of the Toyota Hiace were airlifted to John Hunter Hospital.

Both were reported to be in a serious but stable condition.

Police allege all three vehicles were travelling northbound and believe the accident may have been caused due to the wet conditions.

Newcastle Crash Investigation was investigating the scene and the northbound lane on the New England Highway was still closed at 9.30pm yesterday.

Emergency services were called to a single-vehicle accident on Awaba Road, Toronto, about 1.40pm yesterday.

Police allege the vehicle struck a concrete support pillar and caught alight.

The occupant died at the scene.

Police are investigating the accident and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

About 4.30pm, a male passenger died after a two-vehicle accident on the Pacific Highway, 15kilometres south of Kempsey.

Police said the man died at the scene after the Toyota Seca he was travelling in collided head-on with a Ford Laser.

Drivers of both cars were taken to Port Macquarie and Kempsey hospitals. Both are believed to be in a serious condition.

The Pacific Highway was still closed at 6.30pm yesterday.

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No movement from Abbott on boats

CANBERRA _ Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has received support for his hardline stance on negotiating asylum seeker policy from former Howard senior staffer Senator Arthur Sinodinos.
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Mr Abbott has refused invitations from the Prime Minister to sit down and nut out a solution to stop the influx of boat people, saying Labor must put something concrete on the table first.

Even Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s offer to share a Christmas lunch and “talk turkey” didn’t sway the Liberal leader.

“I am happy to spend it (Christmas) negotiating on this issue if the government is prepared to put a specific proposal forward,” Mr Abbott said.

“My holidays are not as important as sorting this out. But we can only sort it out if the government is prepared to take a position.”

However, the government insists outlining a position would amount to labelling certain policy ideas off-limits.

This latest stoush over asylum seeker policy was prompted by the drowning of more than 200 people after their boat capsized on the weekend.

Only 49 people have been rescued.

Rescuers have so far found more than 50 bodies, and another 150 people are feared dead.

Senator Sinodinos drew a parallel with the Tampa crisis in 2001.

In that case, he said, then prime minister John Howard took prompt action to draft a policy package addressing the situation.

Mr Howard presented the package to the Labor opposition to try to get bipartisan support.

“It’s an obligation on the government to come up with a more complete package,” Senator Sinodinos told Sky News.

“We don’t run the country. The government does.”

Liberal backbencher Philip Ruddock -_ a former immigration minister _ has suggested Labor’s Malaysian solution could work so long as Kuala Lumpur formalises a promise not to return asylum seekers to countries where they may be persecuted.

Mr Bowen was asked repeatedly whether a compromise containing elements of Labor and Coalition policies could be an option.

He maintained his line that the government wasn’t ruling anything in or out.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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