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New Premier goes bush to feel the heat

THE big dry has tightened its grip on NSW with 80 per cent of the state now in drought.As Premier Kristina Keneally prepares for a tour of rural NSW, the latest figures show the situation is the worst it has been for more than two years.Drought declarations in seven regions mean a substantial rise in the percentage of the state which is drought-affected, up from 73.6 per cent a month ago.Ms Keneally and Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan will visit New England and the Central West over the next two days.â??These figures paint a very bleak picture for farmers and it’s likely to get worse, with this summer expected to be the worst in years,â? Ms Keneally said yesterday.â??Rain is desperately needed over the Christmas-new year period to replenish water supplies.â??Honey producers in central NSW may have to soon resort to sugar feeding to keep bee colonies alive until autumn, while farmers are carting water and supplementary feeding to keep livestock alive.â??The NSW Government has committed more than $500 million in assistance measures since the drought began in 2002 and will continue to support farmers until the drought breaks.â??I want to talk to people in rural NSW to get a firsthand account of the challenges they are facing.â?
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Dubbo doing best in Evocity campaign

Dubbo is the best performer so far in the Evocities initiative, attracting 56 families from the big smoke in favour of country life.
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Launched in early September, the Evocities campaign promoted the positives of seven regional NSW cities such as job opportunities, good schools and affordable housing. Other regional cities involved in the program also fared well with Bathurst attracting 42 families, Orange attracting 32, Armidale with 22 new families, Wagga with 20, Albury with 12 and Tamworth gaining 10.

Councillor Greg Matthews predicted the statistics of the initiative may not always swing in Dubbo’s favour.

“Evocities is a long-term strategy and sometimes we will be ahead and sometimes you will be behind,” he said.

The future of NSW was predicted by Cr Matthews to be reliant on regional growth as “the city is clogged”.

“The future is in regional areas and hopefully Dubbo will grow so we maintain the lifestyle we expect. There are a lot of things that will attract people to Dubbo in the future,” he said.

Councillor Peter Bartley was positive about Dubbo’s growth.

“I think it is because Dubbo is seen as a ‘can do city’ that achieves things in its own right. It has always been a pioneering city not relying on government handouts or relying on one aspect of the city,” he said.

The geographic location of Dubbo was also an attractive feature, Cr Bartley said.

“I think that it is accessible in every direction so people can return to Sydney for business or pleasure and can travel North, south or West if they want to,” he said.

Dubbo being competitive with cities such as Sydney was more important in Cr Matthew Dickerson’s eyes than beating other country centres in the region.

He believed the region growing collectively was just as important to focus upon, as well as Dubbo’s individual growth.

“In years to come people will see rural centres as an alternative,” he said.

Evocities spokesman James Treloar said the 56 families that moved to Dubbo included people who had specifically gone to the Evocities website, made an inquiry and informed us that they had relocated.

“There may have been a lot more than that,’’ he added.

The targeted campaign is funded by state and federal money and last month the seven cities shared in a $500,000 funding boost.

Mr Treloar said there had not been any financial incentives offered to individuals to move.

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Dubbo wedding creates a royal stir

The intrepid British couple who want to say “I do, I do, I do’’ the day after the real Royal wedding in their home country put another smile on the dials of people in the office yesterday.
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They’re on their way to Dubbo.

The logistics of organising a wedding from another country, meeting relatives and friends from points north and south of Dubbo, and tying the knot in a ceremony at the RSL club is enough to make it more memorable than many weddings.

Bride-to-be Julie Lovell said the planned rooftop ceremony with 60 guests will be more special to them than anything Westminster Abbey could ever offer.

It’s out of left field, and it’s great. Ms Lovell ’s happy childhood connection to Dubbo – her memory of a road trip with her dad, who apparently quite frequently said they would stop “when they get to Dubbo’’, seems to have stuck with the young woman.

The Poms might have Wills and Kate, but we have Julie and Matt (Harrington). And they have “I Love Dubbo’’ t-shirts.

Notionally, there is a sense of ownership about our own “royal’’ wedding, although the occasion is a private one.

This terrific young couple is a bit gobsmacked by the attention but, hey, we’re the city of smiles and sometimes it’s nice to do just that.

Good luck to them.

Catherine Edmanson

Editor

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Pakistani coach labels Australians ‘beatable’

PAKISTAN coach Intikhab Alam has labelled Australia “beatable” while also laughing off reports his job is on the line on the eve of his side’s tour across the ditch.Pakistan, who will head into day three of their third Test against New Zealand at Napier today with the series up for grabs at one-all, arrive in Australia next week.They are scheduled to play three Tests, five one-dayers and one Twenty20 match.Alam, despite his side’s less-than-convincing performances against the Black Caps, is confident victory is there for the taking against Australia. “There’s no doubt that it [the tour to Australia] will be a step up,” he said. “Australia are one of the best teams in the world and you have to give them that credit.”It’s going to be a challenge for us to go there and try and do well against them.”They are still one of the best sides in Test cricket, but that’s not to say they can’t be beaten.”They can be beaten and other sides like India have done that the last time they were there.”The South Africans also beat them there and, to me, that means there’s also a very good chance for us as well.”This side, if we play up to our potential, especially in the batting department, I think we have a good enough bowling unit to get them out twice.”Alam also conceded the Australians, who were pushed to the wire by the West Indies in last week’s second Test at the Adelaide Oval, had lost their aura of invincibility. hey have lost some matchwinners, there’s no denying that,” he said. “Adam Gilchrist is not there. Glenn McGrath is not there.”Shane Warne is not there either, and it makes a lot of difference.”When you lose so quickly three matchwinners, it makes a lot of difference. Naturally, it provides a great opportunity for other people to get a chance to play for Australia and I think it’s going to take some time before they reach that same standard they had.”Responding to reports in late November that the axe was hovering over his head and that a new coach could be appointed as early as the Australian tour, Alam laughed off the conjecture.”I have signed a two-year contract and these reports are nothing but speculation,” he said.”People have different ideas and different motives.”I’ll be getting on the plane with the team when we go to Australia.”Meanwhile, an ultra-cautious Tim McIntosh and cavalier centurymaker Daniel Vettori adopted contrasting styles as New Zealand dominated Pakistan on the second day of the third Test held in Napier yesterday.McIntosh’s gritty half-century laid a solid foundation for Vettori to score his third Test century of the year as New Zealand reached 6-346 at stumps, holding an overall lead of 123 runs. Vettori timed his counter-attacking innings to perfection, erasing the disappointment of his 99 in the first Test at Dunedin by tickling a single to fine leg to initiate brief celebrations an over before the close.
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Conway blitzes field in only second race start

CLEAR WINNER: Paddy Conway led for the entire race and won by 6-3/4 lengths in the opening race of the Dubbo Greyhound Racing Club’s Anzac carnival. Photo: BELINDA SOOLEThe Jeffrey family celebrated their recent return to the sport of greyhound racing with the opening winner of the Dubbo Greyhound Racing Club’s Anzac carnival.
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Paddy Conway ($2.40 fav) had the honour of crossing the line first in the Welcome To Dubbo Carnival Maiden Stakes (400m).

The race wasn’t without controversy though, running six minutes late when the boxes failed to open the first time around. But it didn’t change the result, with Paddy Conway scoring a 6-3/4 length victory after leading for the entire trip.

Navajo Puzzle ($2.90) finished second with Conundrum Chick ($15.80) in third.

Paddy Conway, which was having just its second race start, is trained by Anthony Jeffrey and owned by his father Wayne.

“We bred this one so it’s nice to get a win,” Wayne Jeffrey said.

“He’s a good dog this fella. The box was the only thing that was going to get him beat.

“Once he jumped in front he was never going to get beat.”

The second event on the program was a triumph for Orange trainer Peter O’Neil when Where’s Makayla ($1.50 fav) won the Coonabarabran to Dubbo Final (400m).

The Where’s Pedro x Ice Dancer bitch won a heat of the series on April 10 and jumped from box one in yesterday’s race.

Despite being slow early, the black bitch was able to muster speed up the inside of the field to win running away from I’m Starring ($6.00) with Frogstar ($7.80) in third.

After the race O’Neil admitted he was confident Where’s Makayla would be competitive in the series.

“It’s a long way from Orange to Coonabarabran for the heat so I thought she would go well,” he said.

“She’s got some ability. She’s never really fast to start but when she gets her four paws on the ground and going she can really motor so I wasn’t really surprised that she was midfield early.

“I knew after her heat that she was better than a lot of these she just needed a clear run and luckily we got that.”

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The man who is going to run 52 marathons around the world in 52 weeks

MEET Australia’s very own marathon man. Tristan Miller aims to become the first person to run 52 marathons around the world in 52 weeks.The 32-year-old will visit at least 42 countries, clocking up more than 260,000 kilometres in the air.He will undertake the first 42-kilometre foot slog of his epic journey in Zurich, Switzerland, on January 1.Mr Miller’s travels will also take him to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, as well as races in such diverse countries, cultures and climates as Siberia, Dubai, South Africa, Slovakia, Northern Ireland, Cuba and the Cayman Islands.He plans to finish his journey in his home city of Melbourne with a marathon he plans to stage himself, hoping to have at least 100 fellow runners join him.The $150,000 trip will cost him his life savings â?? including the sale of his St Kilda apartment, his car and most of his possessions but he is hoping to attract sponsors and is determined to raise $100,000 for UNICEF through donations.Mr Miller, in Sydney to say goodbye to his father, brother and other family and friends, said people he had spoken to about the journey had the same reaction.”Everyone is like, ‘You’re just nuts. Why would you bother?’ ” he said. “I just want to do something different. I’ll start over again when I get back.”The IT specialist only began running five years ago, as a way of dealing with the breakdown of his marriage.He soon found that running long distances gave him a sense of achievement and the courage to try other things he never dreamed he could do, such as taking off on a whim to explore exotic locations.When he was made redundant from his job at Google in April, Mr Miller decided to combine his new pastimes and put his body to the ultimate challenge.He has only done five registered marathons, including the Canberra and Melbourne events twice each, and the 87-kilometre ultra marathon Comrades in Durban, South Africa.He will prepare all his own meals, with food poisoning not an option despite the temptation of exotic cuisines.He knows that injuries are a distinct possibility, with “runner’s knee” already proving to be a problem.”The patella is not tracking right,” he said. “It is quite curable, I have just got to do strengthening. It does not help me that I am running and grinding away on my kneecap.”Lisa Holmes, the editor of Runners World Australia and New Zealand magazine said that Mr Miller’s attempt was the first that she was aware of and certainly the first time an Australian had undertaken such a feat.”Hopefully he can do it â?? it will be a great achievement,” Ms Holmes said.”He has got different climates [to deal with].”That will be his challenge and I am sure he will be wearing lots of compression wear on flights.”
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O’Shea cruises home on ranked outsider

Modern Cruiser’s trainer-driver John O’Shea with Glenn Morrison from West Dubbo Bowling Club. Photo: AMY GRIFFITHSModern Cruiser caused the biggest upset of the night at Dubbo’s Carnival of Cups meeting with a win in the West Dubbo Bowling Club Cup Final (2120m).
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Trained and driven by John O’Shea at Bathurst, the four-year-old was unwanted by punters despite an unlucky second in the previous week’s heat.

On that occasion the Modern Art (USA) x Royale Risque gelding broke after the start and sat three wide before beaing beaten a neck by Ace Of Authority.

On Saturday night the gelding started a $32.60 chance was on its best behaviour as it ran down Sweet Carolina (Steve Turnbull, $22.60) in the shadows of the post.

Sheza Machstar (Amanda Turnbull, $1.40 fav) finished third.

After the race O’Shea said he was happy to see the gelding show its best after having high hopes in the heat.

“He has been going real good lately and things worked out well tonight,” O’Shea said.

“What he did last week was very uncharacteristic of him but he straightened himself up tonight and ran to his best so I’m very happy.

“I thought Amanda had the race halfway down the straight but my fella kept on coming and we were able to hold off Sweet Carolina as well.”

The win was the third of Modern Cruiser’s 18-start career and took its earnings past $14,000.

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The killers within: how our homes are making us sick

AUSTRALIAN homes are a hotbed of toxic chemicals, full of products and furnishings that have been linked to cancer, reproductive damage and learning disabilities.Experts have called for tighter regulations in the industry relating to chemicals that are allowed into homes and more transparency so consumers can become aware of the dangers.Environmental scientist and National Toxics Network co-ordinator Jo Immig said everything from our carpets to our computers contained toxic chemicals that could cause a raft of illnesses and behavioural disorders, particularly among children.Among the most harmful toxins she identified are: perfluorochemicals (found in stain resistant chemicals in carpets, upholstery and some clothing) that have been found to be potentially carcinogenic and risky for pregnant women; brominated flame retardants (found in electrical goods such as computers and televisions) that have been linked to cancer and reproductive damage; and lead (found in old paint in many homes and in some imported products, such as toys) that has been linked to learning disabilities and behavioural disorders.Then there is triclosan (found in products labelled ”antibacterial”, including wipes, shower curtains, even toothpaste) that has been linked to hormonal abnormalities and a weakening of the immune system; and formaldehyde (found in building materials such as chipboard) that is a known carcinogen.”We need to tighten up our national standard,” Ms Immig said. ”Currently, the regulator is a toothless tiger. It does not have the power to do anything. The Government is taking the approach where they are leaving it up to the market to self-regulate and we are the guinea pigs. It is outrageous that people need a PhD in chemistry before they can buy a product.”Ms Immig said children today had ”much higher” levels of such toxic chemicals in their systems compared with their grandparents.”In some instances, they are born with those chemicals in their bodies because their parents are living in a soup of those chemicals before they are even conceived,” she said.Organic Federation of Australia chairman Andre Leu called for an overhaul of the industry, saying that there should be the same level of scrutiny for household and personal care products as there was for food and drink.”Dermal absorption through the skin, in many cases, can be worse than actual swallowing or eating food,” Mr Leu said. ”The other route [of absorption] is breathing them in and that applies to a lot of cleaning products.”Malcolm Rands, a New Zealand farmer who founded organic brand Ecostore in 1993, said the average household used up to 30 different cleaning and personal care products containing harmful toxins.”It is the wild, wild west and the whole of humanity is being used as guinea pigs,” he said.A spokesman for the Government regulator for industrial chemicals, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, said the body must be notified of all new industrial chemicals, including ingredients in household products, prior to import or manufacture.He said regulatory action had been taken on three types of brominated flame retardant in 2001, while the use of perfluoros had been monitored since 2002 and a restriction on lead in industrial paints was made effective on January 1, this year.Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said the consumer group would examine the issue of chemicals in homes and industry disclosure.Families at riskAn investigation into the home of the Hendersons was enough to make the family’s skin crawl.Eco-campaigner Malcolm Rands identified hundreds of potentially dangerous chemicals inside their Marrickville house.They included parabens (”mimics female hormones and linked to breast cancer”), optical whiteners (”upsets immune system and kills fish”) and sodium lauryl sulfate (”strips skin’s protective oils”).”It is a bit scary,” Grant Henderson, 35, said. ”There is no real conversation about this stuff. It is all about how many germs this thing will kill or what it cleans, not what it leaves behind.”He has suffered from psoriasis, while wife Harriet, 30, and children Isla, 2, and Olive, 7 months, have also had skin problems.
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3D screen premier at Reading

Reading Cinemas staff members Jerryn Biles and Holly Cronk help offer a sneak preview of the 3D experience patrons will be offered once a 3D movie screen is installed in May. Photo: BELINDA SOOLEReading Cinemas is outlaying more than $100,000 to bring the latest three-dimensional movie projecting technology to Dubbo.
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DOLBY Digital 3D equipment will be installed in cinema one on May 17 and 18.

Cinema manager Michael Wakelam is expecting capacity audiences to attend Dubbo’s first 3D movie experience when Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides is screened on May 19.

“Dubbo and the western region have waited a long time for this,’’ Mr Wakelam said.

“3D has enjoyed unprecedented success in Australia and there will be a great range of 3D movies released from May until the end of the year.’’

Cinema one will be converted to 3D by an expert team from Sydney.

The old projector and running gear will be removed before a new projector is craned into position.

The upgrade will include installation of new sound equipment.

Cinema patrons attending 3D sessions will be issued with special reusable glasses worth $50 a pair.

The glasses will be washed and dried by cinema staff at the end of each session.

Reading Cinemas has been operating at the Riverdale shopping centre for 12 years.

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Furore over flood victim assistance

Federal member for Parkes Mark Coulton has gone on the attack against “nitpicking bureaucrats” who are denying flood victims in Dubbo and western NSW urgently needed government assistance.
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Mr Coulton claims Centrelink staff processing disaster recovery payments are making decisions based on individual interpretation of government policy.

“Some of these bureaucrats clearly haven’t got a clue,’’ he said.

“Flood victims in Dubbo have been told they don’t meet criteria because the water that inundated homes and property didn’t come from Queensland.

“Applications for assistance from Goodooga and Weilmoringle have been denied on the basis that residents were not truly isolated even though both communities were cut off from major towns and required food drops.

“Similar stories have been reported right around the region and I have a growing pile of letters, emails and faxes from people who are angry and distressed.’’

Mr Coulton has been in contact with Attorney General Robert McClelland who confirmed the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) had been extended to the Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Coonamble, Dubbo City, Gilgandra, Mid-Western, Narromine, Walgett, Warren, Warrumbungle and Wellington local government areas.

“The Attorney General’s office now realises something is not right,’’ Mr Coulton said.

“It’s farcical for the government to extend the flood assistance area and then knock back valid applications.

“I’m hopeful the problem is just a breakdown in communication between what the Attorney General wants and what Centrelink is delivering.

“The Attorney General has promised to review the situation and to get back to me with an urgent determination.’’

Centrelink spokesman Kevin Room said residents in mid-west and north-west NSW who had payment applications rejected would be automatically reassessed for flood assistance.

“There is no need for these customers to contact Centrelink to reapply for the payment.

“Customers who have not already applied for an AGDRP payment can do so online at www.centrelink.gov.au, in person at any Centrelink office or by contacting the Australian Government Emergency Line on 180 22 66.

“For information including eligibility criteria visit the Centrelink website.’’

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