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Youth breaks through asBaus wins top district honour

BIG YEAR: Matthew BausSWANSEA champion Matthew Baus has become the youngest player to be crowned Newcastle district bowler of the year.
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The 23-year-old started the year by making his debut for NSW and finished as the State Champion of Club Champions singles titleholder.

Along the way he helped NSW remain undefeated in winning the Alley Shield Australian Sides Championship, was named in the Australian Emerging Players squad and won the Newcastle district champion of club singles champions and the district triples championships.

He was a semi-finalist in the state triples championship and Newcastle district major singles championship and a member of the Swansea team who were beaten in the Newcastle district No.1-grade pennant final.

Last night, Baus became the third Swansea player to receive the gong.

Rocket Thomson was the inaugural recipient in 1994 and Sam Laguzza won the first of his three titles while with Swansea in 1998.

Ryan Steel (Lambton) claimed the inaugural Newcastle district encouragement award, which replaced the most improved bowler of the year gong.

Steel, 25, beat Baus to claim the Newcastle district under-25 singles and played in the Lambton side who were semi-finalists in the Newcastle district No.1 grade pennant.

He became a regular member of the Newcastle district representative side.

Sean Cairns (Raymond Terrace) was named the Newcastle district junior bowler of the year.

Cairns was successful in the Newcastle district junior triples and fours championships and was a member of the Raymond Terrace side who claimed the Newcastle district No.2 grade pennant.

He was runner-up in the Newcastle district junior singles championship.

Allan Starrett (New Lambton), who recently relinquished his role as chairman of the state and Newcastle district coaching committees due to family reasons, was named Newcastle district coach of the year.

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Priest under fire for poker machine company donation

FATHER Chris Riley, the latest face in the clubs’ campaign to block pokies reform, accepted $50,000 for a youth centre operated by his charity from Len Ainsworth, the founder of Australia’s largest gaming machine company, Aristocrat Leisure.
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Father Riley’s charity, Youth Off The Streets, also appears to have a longstanding connection with the Ainsworths – Mr Ainsworth’s daughter-in-law, Anna Ainsworth, has been on the board of the charity since 2002 and was its chairwoman from 2008 until early this year.

Like many charities, Youth Off The Streets also receives funding made available by clubs – $122,325 in 2011.

But Father Riley’s decision this week to publicly back Clubs Australia’s efforts to block the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment has prompted swift condemnation from churches, politicians and other groups who are advocating poker machine reform.

The chairman of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, Tim Costello, said Father Riley was ”conflicted” because his organisation accepted money from the clubs, including the Bankstown Sports Club.

”If you take the dollar and be their face, you have to explain that conflict.”

The independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who has demanded the reforms in return for supporting the government, concurred.

”He is being paid by the industry,” he said.

The No Pokies senator, Nick Xenophon, said Father Riley had ”bought the poker machine lobby’s lies hook line and sinker”.

The Education Minister, Peter Garrett, one of the few Labor MPs in the firing line prepared to hit back at the clubs, took issue with Father Riley’s claim that counselling and education were adequate safeguards.

Mr Garrett said problem gambling was a scourge in his electorate of Kingsford Smith.

But other backbenchers, who oppose Mr Wilkie’s demand and want a trial first, were buoyed by Father Riley’s stance and said Mr Wilkie should negotiate because the numbers did not exist in the House of Representatives to pass necessary legislation by his May 31 deadline.

Father Riley said his stance was about standing up to Mr Wilkie.

”I think the most important thing for me is the randomness of policies, which frustrates me; that a minority incumbent has the incredible power to make such a big decision against pubs and clubs, and I just don’t think that’s fair,” he said.

”At the end of the day it’s not about gambling for me,” Father Riley said. ”Its about … an independent who holds a government … to ransom.”

The Catholic Social Services Australia executive director, Paul O’Callaghan, said Father Riley’s stance was disappointing given the evidence that showed counselling alone was not enough to deal with problem gambling.

”It’s unfortunate perhaps that Father Riley had come out in this way linked so directly to the clubs’ position, because obviously the clubs have a particular commercial interest in this.”

Father Riley told the Herald he briefly met Mr Ainsworth the first time at the opening of the charity’s new $7.2 million youth centre last week.

He said the relationship with Mr Ainsworth was fostered by the former MP Tony Stewart, the chairman of Youth Off The Streets’ overseas relief fund, rather than Anna Ainsworth.

”He made a $50,000 donation to our Macquarie Fields youth centre through his own charity, I believe, and that’s the first time he’s ever been involved with us,” Father Riley said.

He said he had ”never” had any involvement with the gaming companies associated with the Ainsworth family. But a 2010 Youth Off The Streets newsletter thanks Aristocrat among the corporate partners helping to bring ”much needed Christmas cheer” to youth in 2009.

Mrs Ainsworth referred queries back to the charity.

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Newcastle’s missing link

THE announcement from federal infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese and premier Barry O’Farrell was most notable for what it didn’t say.
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Trumpeted by Newcastle MP Sharon Grierson as “a real win” for the Hunter, the $1.1 billion freight rail upgrade managed to completely ignore the much-touted Fassifern to Hexham bypass that is so sorely needed to get freight trains off Newcastle suburban tracks.

Most of the upgrade work will be in Sydney and on the Central Coast and, although intercity rail commuters may benefit from a new ability of passenger trains to overtake slower freight trains, this seems an almost incidental gain.

The real aim of the expenditure is to improve the carrying capacity of the state’s freight rail system, widening the Sydney bottleneck that has constrained rail freight movements between Melbourne and Brisbane.

This is no bad thing, but the omission of the Newcastle bypass is such a glaring slight on the Hunter that it can only serve to further underscore this region’s growing feelings of political powerlessness.

Dramatically increasing the number of trains on the line will have a major impact at the Adamstown and Clyde Street level crossings, where already long traffic delays can be expected to get much worse.

By one estimate, the change means an extra two hours a day during which the Adamstown gates will be closed, bringing the total to more than eight hours.

Like the very fast train and the Glendale interchange, the Fassifern to Hexham freight rail bypass has been on the books for years with no sign of serious action.

Ms Grierson – while trumpeting the fact that the federal government is paying the lion’s share of the rail upgrade – has deflected blame for its great flaw onto the state, asserting that “the next big step should be a Fassifern to Hexham freight bypass and connection to the Port of Newcastle, but before that can happen we need to know what the state government’s plans are for the port of Newcastle”.

Many may conclude that neither government is particularly interested in a major piece of rail investment that will chiefly benefit people in Newcastle.

Orica leaks again

ANOTHER month, another leak at Orica’s Kooragang Island chemical plant.

While the company and the government are anxious to reassure the public that neither health nor the environment are at risk from the latest spill – apparently the result of a failed valve – the incident won’t improve confidence in Orica and its facility.

Orica had just been given permission to get its plant operating again after a string of earlier controversial mishaps. While authorities insist the latest incident doesn’t affect equipment involved in the earlier leaks, the repeated mechanical failures create an impression of a plant with a seeming multitude of problems.

The government may want to get the supply of explosives moving again, so mining output – and coal royalty income – won’t be affected. That’s fair enough.

But Newcastle people will be hoping no corners are cut in the rush to restart.

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Labor councillors give up Laman St fig fight

THE Laman Street fig trees are finally set for the chop after Newcastle Labor councillors effectively conceded defeat yesterday in the long-running and costly dispute.
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Councillors Sharon Claydon, Tim Crakanthorp and Nuatali Nelmes said in a statement they would withdraw a key motion to close Laman Street to vehicular traffic, citing a lack of numbers within the council chamber and ongoing costs.

‘‘To prolong this situation any further is a waste of ratepayers’ money and resources,’’ the councillors said.

More significantly, the decision leaves Greens councillor Michael Osborne unable to lodge a rescission motion to stop the figs’ removal.

Three signatures are required, and the motion is only backed by Cr Osborne and lord mayor John Tate.

‘‘I was hoping one of the Labor councillors would sign [the rescission motion],’’ Cr Osborne said.

‘‘It’s very disappointing.’’

The fiasco has cost the council more than $1.5 million and involved 22 council debates.

It now appears extremely unlikely the future of the 14 fig trees will be debated again.

A council spokeswoman said yesterday it could now proceed with the removal of the trees ‘‘as soon as practical’’ in line with the vote from July.

But the Newcastle Herald understands it is unlikely that work will begin before the year’s end.

The council said a number of logistical factors needed to be considered. The city’s art gallery and library would need to be closed, and resistance to that idea was expected.

It is also unlikely that significant police resources will be available to support ‘‘Operation Beanstalk’’ over the Christmas period.

Cr Bob Cook welcomed the councillors’ decision and urged the council administration to proceed ‘‘as soon as possible’’.

Labor councillors advised council staff they would formally withdraw their plan late yesterday.

‘‘We acknowledge that we do not have the support of the majority of councillors and, as such, we will not proceed any further with our motion,’’ the statement said.

‘‘It is a matter of public record that seven councillors are in favour of wholesale removal of the Laman Street figs.

‘‘We are disappointed that our fellow councillors have been unwilling to support our attempts to resolve this issue …

‘‘It has been made clear to us that even if our motion had been successful last night, opposing councillors would have immediately moved to rescind our motion, leaving the issue unresolved, rendering the site inoperative for many more months and allowing the costs to spiral further, with no end in sight.’’

Save Our Figs spokeswoman Fee Mozeley said the group was hopeful of finding a circuit breaker or state government intervention.

Cr Tate could not see any way that the council’s decision could be changed.

‘‘But we’ve had so many twists and turns, who knows what will happen next.’’

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Borrowers welcome interestrate cut

Mark and Lara Savage with daughter April yesterday. – Picture by Peter StoopHUNTER retailers were the big winners when the Reserve Bank of Australia lowered the official cash rate by 25 basis points yesterday.
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Home owners in the Hunter also felt the Christmas cheer as the central bank cut interest rates for the second time in as many months to 4.25 per cent.

To read the Herald’s editorial, click here.

Home owners will enjoy a further reduction of about $50 on their monthly repayments on the average $300,000 home loan assuming banks pass on the latest official rate cut in full.

Retailers were hopeful the rate reduction would lead to more disposable income in households that would then lead to an increase in retail spending.

‘‘We’re obviously pleased with the decision because we’ve seen improvement since the Reserve cut in November,’’ Charlestown Square manager Drew Pannowitz said.

‘‘We’re on track to have more than 2.5million customers come into the centre in November and December, which is when people tend to put their hand in their pocket a bit more.’’

Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Kristen Keegan called on the banks to pass on the interest rate cuts ahead of the Christmas holiday period.

‘‘The Hunter Business Chamber focus has been on retailers this month,’’ Ms Keegan said.

‘‘It was a much-welcomed announcement for retailers and we call on all financial institutions to pass on the cuts in full and immediately.’’

Australian National Retailers Association says the rate cut will have no impact at shops across the country unless banks pass it on.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it was unacceptable that banks took up to two weeks to pass on the November cuts and some did not deliver in full.

The Newcastle Permanent passed on the full 0.25per cent the day after the last rate rise on Melbourne Cup day.

Carrington couple Lara and Mark Savage exchanged contracts on their new house at Maryville as the Reserve Bank of Australia lowered interest rates yesterday.

Ms Savage said the news could not have come at a better time for them and 16-month old daughter April with Christmas less than three weeks away.

‘‘It’s great news, especially after we have just settled on our new house,’’ Ms Savage said.

‘‘It was very kind of them [RBA] to do that for us.

‘‘It might help us throw in a few extra Christmas presents.’’

Ms Savage works for Newcastle health insurance company NIB and her husband is in the sales department at Census and they said the rate cut would help with the mortgage.

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Burnie urged to change date of carnival

Ben KerstenNew Zealand’s Simon van Velthooven has challenged Burnie to change the date of its carnival. Ben Kersten wants Burnie to follow Latrobe’s example.
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TWO of the carnivals series’ top drawcards have applauded Latrobe for changing from its historic time slot and challenged Burnie to do the same.

Trans-Tasman cycling rivals Ben Kersten and Simon van Velthooven said they could not have made Latrobe had it been on Boxing Day and commended the event committee for breaking with 115 years of tradition by moving to December 27.

The move resulted in more competitors and spectators, with the temporary car park opposite the Latrobe Oval packed by mid-afternoon on Tuesday.

International commitments have since caused Olympic hopeful van Velthooven to leave Tasmania and although Kersten remains to contest today’s under-strength Burnie Wheel he agreed the event needed to follow its Bass Highway cousin’s example.

An increasingly busy national cycling calendar is seeing a lot of riders opting to contest Geelong’s Bay Criterium series or prepare for the road nationals and Tour Down Under rather than ride the 125th Burnie Carnival, which many of them would like to see moved back to New Year’s Eve.

”At the moment, Burnie is losing 90 per cent of cyclists,” said Kersten, a 30-year-old former Commonwealth Games champion, world championship runner-up and long-time carnivals competitor from New South Wales.

”Hold it the night before and they would probably only lose 30 per cent.

”I think a New Year’s Eve morning event would work.

”Having it on New Year’s Day means you cannot go out and enjoy New Year’s Eve, you lose your New Year’s Day and you cannot do the Bay Crits. If they had it on New Year’s Eve you could do all three.”

Van Velthooven, a 23-year-old from Palmerston North who rides for the Legana-based Lawson Homes team, left Tasmania after sweeping the keirins in Latrobe, Launceston and Devonport to prepare for the Beijing world cup, but agreed with Kersten’s solution to Burnie’s dilemma.

”Now that Latrobe have changed their date, there is no reason why we cannot race every day through the week and make Burnie a big New Year’s Eve celebration,” he said.

”We’d race all day and in the evening have a shower, watch the fireworks, make it a social event and fly out the next day.”

Van Velthooven’s suggestion would see a program that has traditionally taken a week condensed into five days with Latrobe on December 27, Launceston on the 28th, Devonport on the 29th and 30th and Burnie on the 31st.

”It’s really good that Latrobe changed their date and it was also nice having a later in the afternoon program,” the 2009 Launceston Wheel winner said.

”Christmas Day is important, you only get so many in your life, so I was excited when they changed the day because it meant I could come.”

Kersten agreed: “I would not have gone to Latrobe had it been on Boxing Day.”

”It’s fantastic to keep the whole heritage thing because that’s what the carnivals are all about but times are changing and they are going to lose out. No one likes losing their Christmas.”

The absence of Luke Ockerby from Burnie today further demonstrates the need for a date change.

At 19, Ockerby has already contested six carnivals campaigns, won the Devonport Wheel in 2008 and was the only home-state scratchman this year, but his decision to head to Melbourne rather than the 30 kilometre trip to West Park from his Ulverstone home shows the problem facing organisers.

”It’s not an ideal situation for Burnie but they could look at bringing it back a day,” the reigning Australian Wheel and Launceston Classic champion, who came second in last year’s Burnie Wheel, said.

Despite their concerns, the scratchmen felt the carnivals retained a vital place in national and international cycling.

”I love coming here,” said van Velthooven, a shoo-in to contest the keirin for New Zealand at the London Olympics this year after collecting three titles at the Oceania track titles in Invercargill last month.

”You get a few pedal revolutions when everyone else is eating Christmas cake. It’s a good way to keep in condition and get a bit of variation in your career.”

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

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Lake Macquarie debt worries ex-mayor

John KilpatrickFORMER Lake Macquarie mayor John Kilpatrick says the city council should be getting back to basics, not trying to save the world.
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Mr Kilpatrick, who was mayor for 11 years until 2004, said there was no need for the council’s sustainability department to have grown so much.

He said the council had a balanced budget when he was mayor and ‘‘still found money to clean up the lake’’.

‘‘We provided the roads, we looked after the footpaths as best we could, we mowed the parks and collected the rubbish,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s what council’s role is.’’

The council is asking ratepayers to accept big rate rises for seven years to cover a $15million annual shortfall.

The Newcastle Herald reported recently that the sustainability department started with about 20 staff and a $9million budget in 2008-09,

but now had 36 full-time equivalent staff and a $12.4million budget.

State figures show the council’s spending on environment and health projects rose from $23.90 per capita in 2007-08 to $42.55 per capita in 2009-10.

‘‘The sustainability department even put out a cookbook at one stage,’’ Mr Kilpatrick said, referring to the council’s 60-page sustainable eating book.

‘‘Everyone’s concerned about the environment, but I’m not quite sure it’s local government’s role to save the world.’’

Lake Macquarie mayor Greg Piper, who Mr Kilpatrick supported to succeed him, said: ‘‘A lot of the sustainability projects started in John’s time, like the lake remediation.’’

Cr Piper said when the sustainability department was formed, ‘‘a lot of the staff came from different parts of the organisation’’.

He said some of its programs would cease when contracts ended.

The Herald reported yesterday that Lake Macquarie council planned to increase its debt from $58million in 2011-12 to $110million, $128million or $185million in 2018-19.

‘‘I’d be worried if they get to the level of debt they’re talking about,’’ Mr Kilpatrick said.

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Deck the halls with treats and lollies

VARIETY: Ann Cummings and the Pudding Lady staff at the ready.ACROSS the Hunter Region, Christmas trees are being decorated, shopping lists ticked off and presents wrapped.
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There’s also countless bakers and patissieres busy behind the scenes preparing a range of Christmas treats from gingerbread houses to Christmas puddings and festive cupcakes ready for the silly season.

Whether you’re buying for someone special or treating yourself and your family, there’s plenty to choose from when it comes to Christmas goodies.

Petersen’s Bakehouse

OWNER of Petersen’s Bakehouse, Danish patissiere Birger Petersen has been making gingerbread houses since 1987.

Later he shifted from Sydney to Newcastle and continued selling the houses privately, before taking over the Tenambit bakery almost two years ago.

Last Christmas the bakery made more than 500 fully-assembled houses and do-it-yourself kits, with numbers this year also likely to exceed 500.

‘‘The gingerbread houses make an excellent centrepiece in the middle of the table and then towards the end of your Christmas dinner you have your coffee and the kids get to smash it, that’s the best part,’’ he laughed.

Working up to 18hours a day in the lead-up to Christmas, Petersen makes the gingerbread from scratch, baking the pieces and making the fondant while the house cools. Then the decorating begins.

The kits are popular with school groups but Petersen said they had also been used by businesses as a team-building exercise and were ever-popular with families.

‘‘People love to build them, it’s a family thing, they can all get together and have a bit of fun for a few hours. Kids can stick the smarties on,’’ Petersen said.

His top tips for putting together a gingerbread house?

‘‘When you have the piping bag, don’t cut the hole too big and don’t pipe too much icing on. Just do a little bit at a time and have the sides set before you put the roof on.’’

Petersen’s Bakehouse also has Kahlua balls, Christmas cakes, puddings and rocky road for other gift ideas.

Newcastle’s Pudding Lady

IF your Christmas dinner isn’t complete without a pudding like Nan used to make, then a visit to Newcastle’s Pudding Lady is a must.

‘‘Everybody’s family has a Christmas pudding story, it could be about who was the pudding maker, the year that it went wrong, the year they didn’t do it in time. It’s that collection of family history that makes everybody’s Christmas just that little bit special,’’ Newcastle’s Pudding Lady Ann Cummings told GT.

Cummings said the company had been making the Christmas treats for more than 30years.

‘‘We do everything by hand, from mixing the fruit, to tying the puddings up by hand and not cutting any corners. Add to that not cutting any corners with ingredients, not using artificial shortenings, using premium-grade brandy. We use brandy at 68per cent proof, and if we use rum it’s Bundaberg Rum, which is 58per cent. You’re getting the real thing. It is Christmas time, it’s the way it should be.’’

She said the most popular pudding was the Traditional Christmas Pudding made with a recipe handed down over five generations.

Even better, there’s the Vintage Christmas Pudding which is aged and uses Australian dried fruit matured in brandy and rum for a longer period than other puddings.

There are also Christmas puddings with rum and fig, whisky and marmalade, and port and prune.

For those on a restricted diet, including coeliacs and diabetics, there is even the Perfect Plus Christmas Pudding which has no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no gluten, low salt and is dairy free.

Newcastle’s Pudding Lady also makes sauces, Christmas cakes and gift packs, including one with a small pudding and Christmas cake and another with a pudding and sauce included so all you have to do is heat it up.

Euro Patisserie

THEY are the go-to bakery for wedding and birthday cakes and Euro Patisserie has plenty more to offer at Christmas.

They have a selection of gateaux, tarts, yule logs, fruit cakes and puddings, as well as plenty of other Christmas treats.

Owner Jenny Smith told GT the patisserie had adopted a purple and silver theme in decorating this year’s Christmas treats.

‘‘All of the fruit cakes, puddings, the rum balls, the fruit mince pies and hampers are all individually gift wrapped so you can just come in and choose and give them to your teachers or workmates,’’ Smith said.

For those with fussy eaters or kids who might not like dried fruit, Euro Patisserie has the Chocylicious Log – chocolate mud cake rolled with chocolate ganache and pieces of dark chocolate.

One of Smith’s favourites from the Christmas menu is the tropical cheesecake with a macadamia biscuit base filled with coconut cheesecake and mango sauce swirl. This summer dessert would finish off a seafood-centred Christmas meal nicely.

You can place an order for Christmas with Euro Patisserie until December 23, but Smith said there were also plenty of options available over the counter to finish off a Christmas dinner or give as gifts.

Cupcake Espresso

THE purveyors of sweet treats in Newcastle’s CBD are expanding their tasty range of cupcakes for the silly season.

The red velvet and chocolate cupcakes adorned with Christmas trees, snowflakes and candy cane sugar candies will be in store from December 12.

But you can place an order to beat the Christmas rush, opting for a single cake in its own box, a half dozen, or splash out on a full dozen.

Cupcake Espresso also has gift vouchers available to let people come in and choose their own cupcakes from their regular range, which includes raspberry white chocolate, cherry ripe, hazelnut chocolate and banana toffee.

Ma Belle

BROADMEADOW’S Ma Belle patisserie is producing chocolate rocky road puddings for the silly season.

Pam Thomas’ gluten-free bakery will also be making cakes, truffles, shortbreads and a range of terrines, mousselines and pates.

This is in addition to their usual sweet and savoury pastries in the lead-up to Christmas, including fruit flans, Portuguese custard tarts and delicious slices.

There’s also plenty of savoury treats to save you slaving in the kitchen for Christmas parties, including spinach and feta quiches, corn, leek and potato, and smoked salmon and dill quiches, as well as pies in tasty flavours including butter chicken, Mongolian lamb and vegetarian varieties.

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Robbie Rochow back on home turf

UNDER THE RADAR: Robbie Rochow at Knights training.ALONGSIDE the return of Knights legends Danny Buderus, Timana Tahu and Kade Snowden, Robbie Rochow’s homecoming has been comparatively low-key.
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But if the 21-year-old utility forward has his way, by the end of the 2012 NRL season his name will be a familiar one to Newcastle fans.

Rochow is an East Maitland Griffins junior who in 2008 played first grade for Kurri Kurri and for Newcastle’s SGBall (under-18) team.

At the end of that season, he appeared unlikely to be retained by the Knights but was pleasantly surprised when Melbourne Storm offered him a position in their National Youth Competition squad.

‘‘There wasn’t really an opportunity for me to stay with Newcastle,’’ Rochow recalled.

‘‘Melbourne was foreign to me and I was a little bit scared at first, but it turned out to be one of the best things I ever did.

‘‘They asked me to come down and have a crack at the pre-season, and I ended up playing most of that 2009 season when we won the 20s premiership.

‘‘That was a big step up for me and going through the Melbourne system changed me as a footballer, in a good way I guess.’’

After graduating from the under 20s last year, Rochow remained with the Storm’s NRL feeder team, Cronulla Sharks, and played one first-grade game for Melbourne in both 2010 and last season.

‘‘The first game was during the Origin period when there were a few injuries and whatnot,’’ he said.

‘‘This year there was an opportunity for me to play more than one game, so it was a little bit disappointing to look back on that at the end of the year.

‘‘Next year if I got a chance to play in the NRL, I’d definitely want to make the most of it and give myself an opportunity to play more than one game.’’

A realistic Rochow admitted he was ‘‘a fair way off ’’ being able to achieve that dream. Although versatile enough to play as a prop or edge back-rower, he realises the Knights have an abundance of quality forwards who command higher perches on the pecking order.

‘‘All I’m worried about is having a good pre-season,’’ he said.

‘‘There is a lot of depth in the squad, so it’s definitely going to be a hard fight to get a start.

‘‘But if an opportunity comes my way, I’d be more than happy.’’

A Newcastle fan during the glory days that yielded premierships in 1997 and 2001, Rochow said his arm did not need much twisting when Knights strategic development manager Keith Onslow contacted him last season offering a one-year deal.

‘‘To come home, to a new coach and a new system, was pretty appealing to me,’’ he said.

‘‘The three years in Melbourne made me a completely different player, and I’m so much better for my experience down there.

‘‘I loved the three years I had down there, but hopefully I can take something out of that and it will help me out at the Knights.’’

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2012 outlook: more gloom for business

CANBERRA – More companies could fall over in 2012 and push up unemployment if the fallout from the current round of global economic turmoil continues, a leading business group warns.
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The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said yesterday that the nation would have to rely more heavily on wealth creation and business profits next year if the local economy was to continue to grow and help the federal government repair the budget.

But chamber chief executive Peter Anderson said “unfortunately 2012 carries the risk of rising business failures and higher unemployment due to lower global growth forecasts and increased business costs pencilled in from mid-year”.

“The Reserve Bank’s two interest rate reductions in the past two months warn of tougher times ahead,” he said.

The warning comes as retailers struggle to make sales because consumers remain cautious.

Mr Anderson said there should also be a rethink on business profitability, after a year in which big corporations such as banks were castigated for earning billions of dollars while the average Australian struggled with higher utility costs and mortgage repayments.

He said 2012 needed to be a year when making profits was greeted with a sigh of relief, not a dirty word.

“Making a profit and protecting the business bottom-line will need to be the catch-cry in 2012.”

The chamber’s call came as acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan said Treasury had begun work on the 2012-13 budget and a new opinion poll showed Labor remained in the doldrums with voters.

The Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper showed that on a two-party preferred basis, federal Labor now sits on national support of 45 per cent while the Coalition is on 55 per cent.

The Treasurer dismissed the results, saying he did not take notice of opinion polls anymore.

“We are getting on with the big challenges and opportunities that lie before Australia . . . particularly the challenges posed by the international economy,” Mr Swan said.

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

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