Council’s consultancy bill comes to $582,400

Dubbo City Council spent about $582,400 on consultants in the past 12 months, a report to last night’s council meeting revealed.
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The technical services division, which deals with water, sewerage and road works, was the biggest spender, chalking up almost $400,000 in consultancy costs.

Council turned to consultants on 152 occasions between April 1 2000 and March 31 2001 for matters ranging from soil testing to the preparation of an economic strategy. Last night a majority of councillors agreed to accept an anonymous $12,000 donation to fund the internal inquiry and added another year to the investigation by backdating it to July 1 1995.

Council was told costs for engaging consultants for 2000/01 financial year accounted for just less than one per cent of the total budget. But Gerry Peacocke argued that was enough to make significant inroads in rate revenue which council had a responsibility to keep “within bounds”.

Meanwhile Cr Sam Peacocke, who pushed for the review in the first place, said the latest report emphasised the need for a more detailed investigation.

Prior to the meeting Cr Peacocke said that the sums were “so significant” as to warrant council to “drill down further to look into it”.

He added that he had a “general sort of gripe” that one firm had undertaken the bulk of the consultancy work.

“A lot of people have stopped me in the street to say it’s important we get this information,” Cr Peacocke said yesterday.

“But the issue isn’t who got the work or why so much as have we got trained staff leaping to use consultants too much.”

An attempt by deputy mayor Arthur Mortimer to confine the inquiry to just five firms was defeated. Cr Mortimer said the move would reduce the time to complete the investigation and also address the “apparent imbalance in the provision of consulting services by these firms”.

The report revealed that Terra Consulting received the lion’s share of business during the year, raking in more than $186,400, including $23,230 as part of a consortium working on the Troy Junction sewerage works. Cr (Gerry) Peacocke argued, however, that his colleague’s suggestion would appear to be a witch-hunt.

Council’s administrative and financial services director Grahame Marchant agreed it was a matter of interpretation and that staff had erred in favour of giving councillors more rather than less information. Before the meeting Mr Marchant said there was nothing unusual about the expenditure.

“There is no problem here – they are all the normal things councils do all the time,” he said.

A report outlining council’s dealings with consultants between July 1, 1999 and March 31, 2000 will be handed to next month’s meeting.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Future up in the air

The future of Lourdes Hospital hangs in the balance this week as executives wait to see if the health department is prepared to make a $3 million commitment to the upgrading of aged care services.
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Lourdes has spent three years in negotiations for the money which is crucial to the ongoing operation of the hospital and its plans to establish a multi-million-dollar health development on vacant land bordering existing hospital buildings.

Chris Gardiner, regional manager for Catholic Health Care Services in the central west, says if the $3 million grant is not announced in the context of budget week an emergency meeting of the board will be called and “all sorts of things will fall apart”.

“To meet Commonwealth accreditation Lourdes must rebuild its existing 33-bed nursing home by the middle of 2003,” Mr Gardiner said.

“We have to start working on the new building in this year’s budget and to do that we need a commitment from the Government. Our plan is to add an additional 20 hostel beds to create a substantial aged care facility.

“If an announcement is not forthcoming in the next few days we would have to assume the money is not coming and the future of Lourdes would have to be considered.

“Negotiations have been ongoing for some years now but we still remain pretty confident that the money will be made available.”

“Member for Dubbo Tony McGrane has been doing a lot of work for us and similar funding has already been allocated for nursing homes at Lithgow, Bathurst, Young, the Hunter, Blue Mountains and the Illawarra.

“The Dubbo community will be asking a lot of questions if the Government fails to make the financial commitment. It must be said however that the health department would not allow Lourdes to collapse.”

Upgrading of the Lourdes nursing home is pivotal to major development plans unveiled by the Catholic Health Care Services in March.

The development, including professional suites, retirement housing and accommodation for health and education professionals would become part of an institutional precinct being promoted by Dubbo City Council to provide links between Charles Sturt University, Dubbo Senior College, TAFE, Dubbo Base Hospital, Lourdes Hospital, Dubbo Nursing Home and Dubbo Private Hospital.

According to Mr Gardiner there’s been a positive community response to the proposed Lourdes development and the vision of a health precinct.

“Dubbo City Council is enthusiastic about the concept plan, the university is excited and nearby residents are happy,” he said.

Lourdes currently operates 40 rehabilitation and geriatric care beds, a 33-bed nursing home, an extensive day care program and community nursing and allied health outreach.

Vacant land at Lourdes has been earmarked for further development for some years. The site covers 12 hectares and is bounded by Cobborah and Yarrandale Roads, a small residential area and the back of the CSU Dubbo campus.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Dubbo farewells one of its most faithful citizens

Tributes to one of Dubbo’s most admirable citizens, Cyril Flood, came easily from his many friends as they paid their last respects to a true Aussie battler.
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The 250 people attending the funeral at St Brigid’s yesterday heard Cyril’s great nieces Jayanne Ney and Michelle Hill reveal glimpses of his life.

Cyril was born in Trangie to Kathleen Flood on January 27 1923. He was struck two hard blows early in his life, firstly with poliomyelitis, then the loss of his mum at the age of five.

His mother Kathleen was only 26 when she died from suspected kidney disease. Following his mum’s death Cyril was taken in by a neighbour Mrs Marion McGovern and her family.

In 1930 and 1938 he had visits to the Far West Home in Manly for treatment on his legs.

When Cyril was 17 he and his mum (Mrs McGovern) moved to Dubbo where they lived together until 1953, when his mum moved back to Trangie.

Cyril then lived with parents of his friends – the Forrester and Bell families.

During this time he had more operations on his legs in 1954 and 1956, both being very successful.

Cyril received a lot of help and support from the Dubbo community, which aided his progress.

Charlie Kraus, a former well-known Dubbo barber, had a shop at the front of the old Club House Hotel and gave Cyril a job selling cigarettes and tobacco.

Charley was a great friend to Cyril and it was while working for him that he went on to selling raffle tickets for charities.

Cyril was a regular sight in Dubbo’s main streets for many years.

Rugged up on cold winter days with his beanie and blanket and being well looked after with hot cups of tea and goodies from nearby shop owners, he sold his tickets with a permanent smile.

The spirit of the man was well demonstrated in 1959 when from his savings he purchased a Malvern Star tricycle, which he rode daily around the town.

Cyril’s smile also became synonymous with the basketball movement in Dubbo.

He was a regular on the door at the Police Citizens Youth Club for 20 years greeting people, collecting their fees and selling raffle tickets.

The new basketball stadium in Sheraton Road was later named in his honour, as well as the Church Street rotunda.

Long-time friend and Apex Club member Peter Snare said Cyril was responsible for single handedly selling more tickets in this town than the rest of the volunteers combined.

He sold about 5,000 tickets each year for the Venetian Carnival alone.

So impressed was Apex Club president at the time Brian Engaman that he lobbied the head office to make Cyril an honourary life member.

Mr Snare believes Cyril was possibly the only person in Australia ever to receive this rare honour.

After an operation on his palate in 1991 Cyril began to slow down his charity work.

He became very conscious about his speech and worried that people would not understand him but his family and friends assured him everyone would.

In June 1994 he was awarded the prestigious Order of Australia Medal.

Dubbo MP Tony McGrane well remembered the day as he received the same honour alongside Cyril.

“As proud as I was to receive the OAM, I felt more pride for Cyril,” Mr McGrane said.

“It made me proud knowing someone like Cyril who truly deserved this type of recognition was being rewarded.”

Comments from those gathered yesterday agreed Cyril Flood was a proud, courageous gentlemen who whose life has been a constant inspiration to others.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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New college facilities get 10 out of 10

It’s not often the Department of Education and Training comes in for high praise, particularly in light of recent events in Dubbo during the past year or so.
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But it gets 10 out of 10 for the new Dubbo College.

Up to 2000 people took advantage of an open day on Saturday to have a sneak preview of the new home for senior students in Dubbo.

And few of them would have left unimpressed.

The facility is money well spent. Nearly $20 million is being spent on the Yarrandale Road campus and the upgrade of junior campuses at Dubbo South and Delroy.

The senior campus is state of the art and a light year or two from the antiquated set-up at the Dubbo High School complex in Wingewarra Street.

The quality of the facility and the extent of its resources should convince even the most ardent critic of the senior college of its worth. Parents and students from Dubbo South and Delroy who, not surprisingly, were wary and a little sceptical about the new senior college might have been won during the open day.

Of course, the physical facilities are not the only aspect of a good school. But it’s a good start. If the quality of education can match the facility, and there’s no reason why it wouldn’t, than Dubbo will have one of the best senior schools in the State.

And it doesn’t stop there. In a few weeks time Charles Sturt University will open its campus right next door and Sydney’s University’s clinical school won’t be far behind.

It’s an exciting time for public education in Dubbo at the moment.

The community should feel confident that, at last, Dubbo is starting to attract the educational facilities and resources other regional centres have enjoyed for years.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Civic centre will always be just that

What’s in a name? More than you would think for some people. Dubbo City Council is proposing to change the name of the civic centre which, many resident would not know, is not its real name anyway. It’s the Dubbo War Memorial Civic Centre.
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But, as we are prone to do, proper names are shortened for ease of identification. In the western area we even do it to the names of some towns.

When the city council earlier this month adopted the civic centre function plan it approved a name change for the facility – the Dubbo City Function Centre.

It won’t matter much to most people because we’ll still call it the civic centre, just as we call the Dubbo Aquatic Leisure Centre the Olympic Pool or the Dubbo RSL Club Resort the RSL.

At the time council decided to change the name of the civic centre, no one seemed to realise the significance of the decision. Certainly no one, least of all the RSL, was up in arms about it.

If any organisation was to be offended by the decision it would have been the RSL, because it was the RSL which made a significant financial offer to get the building constructed in the late 1960s.

Next Monday, the city council will debate a rescission motion to prevent the name change.

It’s not really a big issue in the scheme of things but it’s unfortunate that some councillors are now describing the proposed name change as “sacrilegious”.

The civic centre is not a sacred site in anybody’s language. The nearby cenotaph is far more worthy of that title.

The pity is that we are debating the matter at all. It would have been more appropriate if the city council had sought the consent of the RSL before proposing the name change in the first place.

Whatever happens, the civic centre will always be the civic centre.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Orange too hungry for undisciplined Demons

A lack of desire at crucial stages and some undisciplined actions cost the Dubbo Demons in their 98-83 loss against Orange on Saturday.
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The Demons let things slip at the end of the first quarter and that was basically all that was between the two teams when the final siren sounded.

Orange produced a tactical blinder to outpoint the home team.

Orange led 51-38 at half-time but Dubbo gave away some crucial free kicks to let Orange maintain the ascendancy down the home stretch.

Orange captain-coach Mick Thornberry kicked 10-goals in a match-winning performance for the Tigers that leaves the Demons precariously placed second last on the ladder.

Coach Trevor Thomas urged his players to maintain their commitment on the training track in a bid to turn things around on the playing field.

The high points for Dubbo were standout performances from ruckman Josh Gilroy and another trojan effort from full forward Jason Swain.

Gilroy dominated around the ground until injured late in the match and Swain worked tirelessly overhead to combat poor delivery and a double tag to kick seven majors.

Aziz Letfellah, Matt Shephard and Terry Lyons also played well.

The Demons take on Parkes at Parkes this weekend in a match they must win to stay alive in the race for the semi-finals.

The Demon reserves continue to provide good news beating Mudgee 89-51 to remain undefeated.

The junior grades also fired with the Demon 17s beating Mudgee by six goals and the under-14s winning by eight goals against their opponents.

In other first grade CWAFL matches CSU had a late chance to beat Parkes but went down by three points and Bathurst beat Cowra in the clash of the undefeated teams by almost 10 goals.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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History repeats with Rhinos win

The Rhinos repeated history in the Blowes Menswear Cup at the weekend when they defeated their cross-town rivals, the Dubbo Kangaroos 23-10.
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It was the second successive year they have won the first-round local derby against their longer established counterparts -their 22-10 success last season the first time they had ever beaten the Kangaroos in the top grade – and the victory’s meaning could be heard in their proud singing voices.

“They actually sang two victory songs in there today,” Rhinos coach Andrew Williams said after the match.

“There are a lot of players in our team, like Glen Gallagher, who this win means a lot to. Now they are enjoying it very much.”

And club captain Gallagher, a Dubbo Rhinos stalwart, had reason to celebrate.

Despite appearing to be playing with just one hand – the other having been operated on to repair bone damage recently – Gallagher was inspirational for the Rhinos.

With ball in hand he continually caused problems and, as well as his precision kicking game, Gallagher’s calming presence proved important.

Players from both teams found themselves frustrated in a match where there must have been more penalties blown by referee Phil Stivens than there were points.

But basically it was the Rhinos’ ability to retain possession, and poach ball from their opposition, which proved the difference in the match.

The Rhinos’ pack hunted hungrily for the ball in ruck and maul and as a result dominated possession for much of the match.

Their ability to move the ball through the forwards led to the first try of the match, when halfback Daniel Beavon peeled off the side of a rolling maul to crash over out wide.

The Kangaroos soon responded with a converted five-pointer but after both teams traded penalty goals the Rhinos rumbled through the middle of the defence for prop George See to score a pushover try next to the posts.

Following Matt Leach’s conversion the Rhinos took a 15-10 lead which they carried into the break, See scoring his second try and Gallagher gliding a penalty goal through the posts in the second half to seal the win.

But amid the emotion Williams had some sobering words for the Rhinos, reminding them that, after a far from successful start to the year, the season is far from over.

“That is just our first win, there is a long way to go,” he said.

“What we need to concentrate on now is taking what we did well and building on it for the game against Parkes next week.”

DUBBO RHINOS 23 (Daniel Beavon, George See 2 tries, Matt Leach conversion, Leach Glen Gallagher penalty goals) defeated DUBBO KANGAROOS 10 (Dave Walker try, Ben Kidd conversion, Kidd penalty goal).

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Jets gain revenge for grand final loss

The memory of last season’s heartbreaking grand final loss inspired the Narromine Jets to a 54-12 thrashing of defending Tooheys Group 11 premiers Dubbo Macquarie yesterday.
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The Jets played almost perfect football, flying in six tries at almost a point a minute up until half-time, to hand the Raiders their third loss in a row.

Narromine captain-coach Tony Hutton said after the match that the one-point loss at a sodden No 1 Oval in September last year was the main motivator used in the lead-up to the grand final replay.

“During the week I just reminded the boys about how long a loss like ours in the grand final hurts, and how long it sticks in your memory,” he said.

“We were fired up and really keen to have a big game here today, and it is good to see that we’ve been able to do exactly what we talked about.

“We’ll never erase the memory of last year’s grand final but to win here today is a good feeling, and for the younger players it might give them a bit of a psychological edge.”

For Macquarie, however, the psychological damage may be immeasurable. The Raiders, in losing their last three, have conceded 138 points and face another tough task when they play equal second-placed CYMS next weekend.

Captain-coach Warren Wilson said the team is simply failing to do the basics of the game.

“We’re just dropping the ball far too much and missing too many tackles. We just couldn’t complete our sets and they capitalised on our mistakes,” he said.

“Now it’s just a matter of getting to training and working on doing the simple things before we play CYMS next week.

“That game is going to be even more crucial for us now, we don’t want to fall out of the top five and lose touch with the leaders.”

Narromine scored in just the third minute of the match when, after Macquarie dropped the ball in their own half, prop Pat Ling crashed over next to the posts.

They then scored another four tries before the Raiders crossed for their first four-pointer through fullback Nathan Walker, but when his Narromine namesake beat a one-on-one tackle the Jets had a 32-6 half-time lead.

They added another four tries and 22 points in the second stanza for the emphatic victory, their third in succession, which pleased Hutton no end.

“For the first time this year we’ve put together 80 minutes of good football,” he said.

NARROMINE 54 (Pat Ling, Chris Hunt 2, Nathan Walker, Craig Roworth, Quinton McEwen, Mick Clarke, Tony Hutton, Nik Jentjens, Adam Dennis tries, Walker 5, Simon Hartas, Clarke goals) def DUBBO MACQUARIE 12 (Nathan Walker, Chris Delaney tries, Warren Wilson 2 goals).

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Blood and leather fly

While laced-up leather flew and buckets of blood was spilt, the loudest roar at Friday night’s Battle at the Barracks was reserved for the ring girls, Belinda Cheshire and Inga Munro. The Gold Coast glamours strutted around the squared circle after each round to wolf whistles and raucous applause and a smile never left their faces.
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Few would doubt the courage of any who step into the ring, but the bravery of Belinda and Inga couldn’t be questioned either. With little or no heating it was positively freezing inside the unused RAAF hangar and as the girls gradually stripped down after each bout they were wearing little more than a bikini by the final fight – about 10.30pm – when the night was at its coldest.

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Not everyone was happy with the work done by the ring girls however. Inga – who did the job for the first time ever on Friday night – failed to mention to her mother what her plans were for the weekend. When Mrs Munro learned what her daughter was doing in Dubbo she was far from impressed and demanded she return home to the Gold Coast immediately.

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It was his opinion and, while few who sat freezing in the unused RAAF hangar would have thought it entirely true, no one was willing to argue. When Shannon Taylor was asked about the difference between the venue for his last fight, Las Vegas – where he took on Shane Moseley for the world title – and Friday night’s Battle at the Barracks, this is what he said: “The atmosphere here is just like it was in Las Vegas. Whoever came to sit here in the cold must really love boxing, and that makes it a great atmosphere.”

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Taylor drew the second biggest cheer of the evening when he recounted the fight against Moseley, rated as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. “I mighn’t have won, but it was the greatest two weeks of my like,” he said. “I went there to die for Australia, for my country, and I fought like an ANZAC.” Taylor’s passion won many a fan who are sure to tune when he fights for the World Boxing Union title in Sydney in August.

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Anthony ‘The Man’ Mundine arrived at the Battle at the Barracks at about 9pm, just in time to see Taylor’s exhibition fight against a brave Nathan Green. The two had an interesting meeting just before Taylor took to the ring, the pair shaking hands and briefly exchanging pleasantries. It wasn’t too long ago that Taylor challenged Mundine to take him into the ring, ‘The Man’ declining the offer. “Me and Shannon have always spoken, there’s no problem between us,” Mundine said on Friday night. “When Shannon challenged me he said straight out it was for the money. This is a business.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Public still slow to react to plans

With just a few days until public submissions close on the draft budget, Dubbo City Council has received only a handful of responses despite a number of high-ticket projects on the agenda.
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Among them, the multi-million dollar redevelopment of Dubbo Aquatic and Leisure Centre and the installation of security cameras at crime hot spots within the central business district.

The deadline for submissions is 5pm Friday. To date only eight letters have been lodged. Five of them raise concerns about council raiding a restricted asset – set aside for the development of a cultural centre – to fund the pool’s redevelopment.

One letter refers to council spending on rural roads and another about playground equipment at Centenary Park in Wongarbon.

There is one positive note for council – a letter of thanks from the chamber of commerce regarding its decision to fork out $20,000 during the next three years toward Christmas lights in the CBD.

“We usually get a rush of responses in the last week but things are still pretty slow for this time,” council corporate development director Mark Riley said. “There are some major expenses proposed and this is the community’s opportunity to have their say.”

Copies of the budget and management plan – which spans the next four years – are on display at the Civic Administration Building, Dubbo branch library, Riverdale Shopping Centre, Orana Mall and Dubbo City Centre.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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