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Newcastle bus, train and ferry fees up

NEWCASTLE public transport fares are set to rise up to 6 per cent from next year after the O’Farrell government opted to pass on two years’ worth of inflation cost increases at once.
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Metropolitan bus and train fares would increase an average of 5.4 per cent from January 2, following a review by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

To read the Herald’s opinion, click here.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian blamed the former Labor government for the fare increases yesterday.

She described as ‘‘irresponsible’’ its decision not to increase prices in line with inflation since April 2010.

The tribunal had determined fares should rise by 10.6 per cent to reflect rising costs of providing services.

But Ms Berejiklian said the government had rejected that, in line with its election commitment not to put fares up beyond inflation levels where services had not improved to match.

The rise means fares for Newcastle Buses will increase by between 5.1 per cent and 6.3 per cent. Stockton Ferry single adult fares will increase from $2.30 to $2.40.

A single adult train ticket would increase between 20¢ and 40¢ and a weekly rail ticket by between $1 and $3.

Ms Berejiklian said RailCorp needed to be more efficient so costs did not continue to increase.

She said the government still had more work to do to lift the standard, but had been focused on integrating transport services.

Labor said the government should have kept the fare increase to one year’s worth of inflation.

‘‘The O’Farrell government today has given a slap in the face to the commuters of Sydney,’’ opposition transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said.

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Clarke declares on 329 not out – Aussies lead by 468

Michael Clarke has forgone the chance to become Australia’s highest Test scorer declaring at 4/659.
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The skipper was closing in on Matthew Hayden’s 380 but declared on 329 not out.

The declaration, shortly after Michael Hussey passed 150, leaves him forth on the list of Australia’s top scorers behind Hayden and Don Bradman and Mark Taylor on 334.

It is the 12th highest score in Test history and leaves Australia with a 468 run lead against India.

Clarke went past 300 after lunch, whipping Ishant Sharma off his pads to the boundary.

The 30-year-old also set a record for the most runs scored by an Australian captain in a home Test.

Clarke surpassed Don Bradman’s previous record of 270 and now also holds the record for the highest Test score at the SCG, overtaking Brian Lara’s 277, and Reg Foster’s 287 for England in 1903.

It is also the most runs in a Test match between India and Australia, beating VVS Laxman’s 281 in India.

Earlier, veteran batsman Michael Hussey became the third Australian to score a century in the match when he notched is 16th Test ton and third at the SCG.

RECORDS

Top Australian Test scores:

1. 380- Matthew Hayden , Australia v Zimbabwe, Perth 2003-04.

2. 334*- Mark Taylor, Pakistan v Australia, Peshawar 1998.

3. 334-Don Bradman, England v Australia, Headingley 1930.

4. 317*-Michael Clarke, Australia v India, Sydney Cricket Ground 2012.

5. 311-Bob Simpson, England v Australia, Old Trafford 1964.

6. 307-Bob Cowper, Australia v England, Melbourne, 1965-66.

7. 304-Don Bradman, Australia v England, Headingley, 1934.

8. 299*-Don Bradman, Australia v South Africa, Adelaide, 1931-32.

9. 270-Don Bradman, Australia v England, Melbourne, 1936-37.

10. 268-Graham Yallop, Australia v Pakistan, Melbourne, 1983-84.

Top Test scores.

1. 400*-Brian Lara (West Indies) v England, St John’s, 2004.

2. 380 Matthew Hayden (Australia) v Zimbabwe, Perth, 2003.

3. 375 Brian Lara (West Indies) v England, St John’s, 1994.

4. 365*Garfield Sobers (West Indies) v Pakistan, Kingston, 1958.

5. 364 Len Hutton (England) v Australia, The Oval, 1938.

6. 340 Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka) v India, Colombo, 1997.

7. 337 Hanif Mohammad (Pakistan) v West Indies, Bridgetown, 1958.

8. 336* Wally Hammond (England) v New Zealand, Auckland, 1933.

9. 334* Mark Taylor (Australia) v Pakistan, Peshawar, 1998.

10. 334 Don Bradman (Australia) v England, Leeds, 1930.

More to come.

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

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School teachers stop work over wage cap

NSW state school teachers, including those from the Hunter, will continue industrial action next year if the government refuses to drop its wage cap.
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Hunter teachers joined their colleagues from around the state yesterday at two-hour stop work meetings at 18 locations in the region.

Up to 45,000 teachers walked off the job in NSW, just a day before students begin summer holidays, as part of an ongoing dispute over pay.

Teachers have been granted a 2.5per cent increase under the government’s wage cap for public servants but want it to at least match inflation, which is 3.6per cent.

They also want guarantees about their statewide staffing transfer system, which they say is under threat under a state government plan to give more power to principals.

NSW Teachers Federation Hunter organiser Jeff Ainsworth said there could be more stop work meetings or strikes next year if government negotiations did not go well over the holidays.

‘‘The vast majority of teachers are effectively having a wage cut in real terms of $17 a week,’’ he said.

He said the transfer system had flexibility and changing it could threaten the ability to find staff for rural and disadvantaged schools.

‘‘There’s a great proportion of teachers in the Hunter Central Coast who have taken advantage of the transfer system,’’ he said.

Mr Ainsworth said numbers were down at some meetings yesterday because some members provided supervision at schools for end of year activities.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said there was no justification for the industrial action.

‘‘Next week there are two pupil-free days when the union could have taken this action but instead they deliberately chose to inconvenience parents and carers and disadvantage students,’’ he said.

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Ambrose declared lead driver

MARCOS Ambrose has been declared the `undisputed’ lead driver for the Richard Petty Motorsports team for this year’s top-level NASCAR series after the departure of team mate AJ Allmendinger.
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Richard Petty Motorsport announced yesterday that well-performed second tier racer Aric Almirola will drive the team’s No. 43 Ford Fusion in 2012.

Allmendinger, who finished the 2011 season in 15th place, replaces 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch at Penske Racing and will drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger.

Ambrose confirmed his commitment to the Richard Petty team after a disappointing did-not-finish in the last race of the past season in Miami.

”It’s a bad way to finish the season, but we’ve had a great year and really wanted to finish on a high note … I’m looking forward to 2012 and making it ever better.”

The Launceston-born driver scored his first Sprint Cup win in August when he won at Watkins Glen International, one of two road races in the series, and finished the season in 19th place.

The Watkins Glen victory was his 105th start and he joined Mario Andretti (Italy), Earl Ross (Canada) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Columbia) as the only non-American drivers to win a race in the US’s premier motorsport category.

Writing on the official NASCAR website, commentator Joe Menzer says Ambrose is poised for more success in 2012.

”Ambrose will enter this season as the undisputed top driver at Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 9 Ford.

”With that comes increased expectations to get to Victory Lane on an oval (track) and contend for a Chase berth.

”This year he seems better prepared for what may lay just ahead.

”If he can contend again on the two Cup road courses and finally get it done on at least one oval (track), his closely-watched season will be considered a success.”

It will be Amrbose’s fourth season of full-time racing in the Sprint Cup series.

Aric Almirola, who finished fourth in the second tier Nationwide Series in 2011, has made 35 starts in the Sprint Cup Series and drove five races for Richard Petty Motorsport in 2010.

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

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Hospital program cut a `false economy’

A GROUP fighting to save Launceston’s Hospital in the Home program plans to target Bass Labor MHR Geoff Lyons and Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne.
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The Launceston General Hospital will suspend the program on January 6 as part of drastic measures to save $28 million this financial year.

Sophie Hill, of Save It Tasmania, said she had contacted Mr Lyons after it was announced that the service would be axed in mid-December and was disappointed by Mr Lyons’s response.

The former LGH spokesman and surgical business manager forwarded the concerns on to Ms O’Byrne.

Yesterday, Mr Lyons said he had been involved in securing a federal government grant to get the program started in the mid-1990s but understood why it had to go.

”If you have got plenty of money, Hospital in the Home is nice,” Mr Lyons said.

”It’s an expensive way of looking after people. You don’t see too many GPs running their practice by making home visits.”

He said people still had access to a community nursing service.

However, supporters of the service say it saves money in the long run by keeping people out of hospital and frees up beds for other people.

Professor Sarah Breier, who founded the program, said it was a false economy.

”It’s a quick fix to save money, but it’s only going to end up costing more,” she said.

Acting federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon declined to comment on the axeing of the Hospital in the Home program, but her spokesman said:

”The Gillard government is providing record funding to Tasmania for its health and hospital system and we remain concerned about the government’s decision to reduce the funding to health services in the state, the impact it will have on Tasmanians’ access to hospital care, and the potential effect this may have on health outcomes.”

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

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GPT unlikely to reconsider CBD plan, despite rail rumours

RIPPING up the rail line might not provide immediate answers for Newcastle’s CBD, with the GPT Group unlikely to reconsider its $600 million Hunter Street Mall development.
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GPT blamed inaction over the inner-city rail line as the reason for withdrawing its proposal, but the landscape has since changed with a new state government.

There is growing speculation the Coalition government is set to remove heavy rail from the city, but GPT remained committed to selling off the parcels of land in the mall.

“GPT remains committed to divesting its land holdings in Newcastle,’’ retail portfolio manager Brett Williams said.

‘‘We are exploring a number of opportunities to assist with the divestment that will enable us to maximise the value of the land, activate the space for retailers and deliver the best returns to our security holders.’’

Newcastle Alliance chairman Paul Murphy was part of the Fix Our City group that supported the removal of the rail line in order to revive the decaying east end of Newcastle.

‘‘It was a great opportunity to develop the city, but it’s gone now, it’s over and done with,’’ Mr Murphy said.

‘‘If GPT can’t make it work then I doubt anyone else could and it’s definitely an opportunity lost.

‘‘We need to start looking at what the next opportunity is and if we can get someone else involved with GPT.’’

Nathan Tinkler’s development company Buildev also expressed an interest in developing the site, but withdrew after undertaking due diligence.

A Buildev spokesman told the Newcastle Herald on Monday the mall development was not part of its plans.

‘‘We have moved on to other projects and our focus is no longer on the Hunter Street Mall,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘Like everyone else we are interested to see what happens with the rail line.’’

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Ponting, Clarke men of moment

Ricky Ponting is airborne during his desperate slide to make a century yesterday. Ponting would have been out for 99 had Zaheer Khan’s shot at the stumps not missed by centimetres.SYDNEY – Ricky Ponting is eyeing off a career renaissance and Michael Clarke the highest individual score ever posted at the SCG, after Australia destroyed Indian hopes with a batting masterclass on day 2 of the second Test.
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Australia lost just one wicket for 366 runs yesterday, and will resume on 4-482 with Clarke 251 not out and Michael Hussey 55 – their partnership unbeaten on 157.

The first innings lead is already 291 after India managed just 191 on day 1, and the tourists are now facing an uphill battle to save the match and keep alive their dream of winning a maiden series on Australian soil.

The landmark 100th Test played at the iconic Sydney ground was assured its place in the record books after the under-siege Ponting broke a two-year century drought with a triumphant innings of 134.

He shared in a record 288-run stand with his skipper, before Clarke took centre stage, with 300 now in sight.

His brilliance would have stood alone under ordinary circumstances, but Clarke’s heroics were forced to take a back seat to his predecessor’s revival.

Ponting will be 38 when the next Ashes chapter takes place in 2013 and the all-time great made it clear he has no intention of calling it quits any time soon after his first ton since January 2010.

“Confidence is an amazing thing. I’m a pretty proud person and the last thing I wanted to do was finish off my career the way I’ve been going the past few months,” he said.

“That’s why I’ve worked as hard as I have. I love the contest too much to give it all up.

“There’s nothing else personally I’m striving to achieve other than being able to help the Australian team win games and get back up to the top of the tree.”

A direct hit would have removed the 37-year-old on 99, but finally, after the rockiest period of his fabled career, luck finally returned to Ponting and his awkward dive saw him home as the ball flew past the stumps.

“You saw the shirt is pretty much destroyed and my grill was pressed against my face and I was spitting out pieces of the wicket so I could try and smile. There was grass down the front of my pants and all sorts of things,” Ponting said post-match.

Captain Clarke breezed past his previous highest Test score (168), notched his first double ton, eclipsed Doug Walters’s Australian record of 242 at the SCG in 1969 and is now closing in on the overall mark of 287 set by England’s Reginald Foster in 1903-04.

Clarke was given a cool reception when he deputised for Ponting as captain in last year’s disastrous Ashes Test in Sydney, but 12 months later he received a standing ovation for what could be a career-defining knock.

“I never set out to make 250, it was just about batting for me today. It was about building the partnerships,” he said.

“It’s fantastic to have a score before my name like I do but . . . if you don’t win the Test match it means nothing.”

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

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Bennett keeps media at arm’s length

IN this line of work, you get used to the brush-off.
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Politicians. People outside court. Country women’s associations.

But you haven’t been given the slip until you’ve had it done by Wayne Bennett.

Let’s be clear. This isn’t going to be a rant. We weren’t victims.

This brush-off almost felt like an honour. A rite of passage, like a stinging dismissal by Nick Cave, or a telling-off by Deni Hines.

The coach had a good reason. He was at the University of Newcastle to talk to year 9 students, some with disabilities or from poor backgrounds, ahead of the summer schools program.

Media were invited via a press release.

A TV crew and print journos padded up shyly, including a stupidly grinning Topics.

We milled at the entrance of a lecture theatre, glimpsing the Knights’ mentor reclined in a plastic chair. He glanced at us and thinned league’s most respected lips in ‘‘that’d be right’’ wryness. We don’t know. He mustn’t have liked the look of the TV crew.

‘‘You need to take care of it,’’ the great man told a minder, before we were told it wouldn’t be happening.

You can sort of understand. He wanted to talk openly to the kids, and wasn’t doing it for the attention.

But we were invited. A uni spokeswoman apologised, and said the agency that booked Bennett had approved all the details of the ‘‘media event’’. Be nice if someone had checked with Coach.

We’re told his speech captivated the boys.

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Hope of Burns coup flickers for Jets

SPARK: The Jets are interested in Nathan Burns.FOUR years ago, unknown Korean import Song Jin-hyung proved a lucky charm for the Newcastle Jets in their charge to the A-League title.
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Two weeks before the 2012 January transfer window opens, Jets coach Gary van Egmond remains interested in augmenting his squad with a similarly strategic swoop.

Van Egmond recalled yesterday how Song, who played just twice for Newcastle before the 2008 grand final, was a ‘‘key signing’’ who provided spark at a crucial stage of the season.

The Jets are fifth on the table but are still searching for something, or someone, to kick-start their campaign.

With 11 goals in their first 10 games, it would appear an attacking player would be top of Newcastle’s wish list.

The Jets have been linked to former Adelaide midfielder Nathan Burns, who plays for AEK Athens, but other A-League outfits are reported to be circling the 23-year-old.

There have been suggestions Newcastle will be unable to sign Burns – or any other high-profile player – until they have finalised the release of unwanted marquee signing Jason Culina.

Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby said last week that he believed a resolution in the Culina impasse was ‘‘very close’’.

Van Egmond said any signing would ‘‘depend on what’s in the kitty’’, but a January transfer was an option worth exploring.

‘‘It would be about what we could manage and what’s available at that time,’’ he said.

The coach said Burns would be an ideal candidate.

‘‘He’s been one we’ve definitely talked about,’’ he said. ‘‘He’d be a fantastic addition.

‘‘Again, it’s fairly early days and I think there’s a few other clubs involved.

‘‘But Nathan is a quality player – he’s been playing Europa League fairly recently with AEK – so he’d be a fantastic acquisition if something like that could come our way.’’

Burns, who has played seven times for the Socceroos, played 31 games for Adelaide before heading to Greece in 2008.

He has been struggling for game time, but played 63 minutes and scored a goal in AEK’s 3-1 win at Sturm Graz in the Europa League on Wednesday.

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Pup and the old dog have a feast

Ricky Ponting pulls the ball away on the way to scoring 134.SYDNEY _ Grit your teeth and hang on through the tough times because they don’t last forever.
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It’s a philosophy adopted with gratifying success by sleep-deprived parents, gastroenteritis sufferers, those hosting inlaws at Christmas, and Test cricketers.

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke could tell you all about it.

So could just about anyone who has played this mysterious, bewitching, enchanting, frustrating and maddening game which has come to stand as a metaphor for life.

Compare the first two days of the Sydney Test.

On day one, 13 wickets fell; on day two, just one.

Batsmen tumbled on the opening day in a manner that made the owners of day-four tickets fear for their investments.

The pitch was greenish and moist, the ball swung, bounced and seamed, bowlers pitched the cherry up, batsmen lived on their nerves and keepers and slippers waited like crocodiles in a mid-summer watering hole.

Day two’s proceedings looked like they were taking place at a different venue, maybe on a different planet.

The pitch had flattened out, the moisture had evaporated, the ball wasn’t moving nearly as much, whatever gremlins and demons existed the previous day had vanished, the batsmen looked utterly at ease and the bowlers grew clueless.

Having survived the tumult of day one, Ponting and Clarke saw it was time to cash in when they resumed yesterday.

They placed their milking stools under a bloated cow and went to work.

When they were full of milk, they started plucking plums from an orchard full of low-hanging fruit.

They ended up putting on 288.

By mid-afternoon, the Indian attack looked like it was bowling for run-outs.

Ponting reached his first Test century for two years.

Clarke was hungrier for more.

He made it a double, and went on to make the highest Test score by an Australian at the SCG, unbeaten on 251. Like Ponting, Clarke has been around for long enough to know that you have to ride the good waves for as long as you can.

The good times don’t last forever, either.

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

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