Nats go for Cobb

Former NSW Farmers Association president John Cobb emerged victorious from the National Party preselection bout for the seat of Parkes.
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The 51-year-old farmer defeated three contenders during a secret ballot of 149 delegates at Dubbo’s Wesley Centre on Saturday.

Just moments after being told he would carry the party’s hopes into the next federal election, Mr Cobb urged voters to stick with the Nationals vowing the good times were just around the corner.

“We are so close to, I think, at least five years of good stuff,” he said.

“We cannot afford a change of government at a time like this.

“We just cannot afford to have a change of government and we won’t have a change of who’s holding this seat I can assure you of that.”

The father of seven daughters, Mr Cobb – who lives with wife Gai on a property 100 kilometres west of Condobolin – said he would base his electorate office in Dubbo and “possibly” commute home on weekends.

Last month he stepped down from the farm lobby group, after almost three years at the helm, to take a second stab at federal politics. In 1992, he lost a preselection tussle with then-member Michael Cobb (no relation) who held the seat for 12 years.

Parkes MP Tony Lawler described Saturday’s outcome as a “relief” that took him one step closer to his own political exit. He will retire after just one term.

“I’ve got no doubt John’s got the credentials and the experience and the knowledge of the electorate,” Mr Lawler said soon after the vote.

“I would have been very anxious if we didn’t have such quality candidates. So certainly, this has made my decision a lot clearer.”

Despite its National Party pedigree Mr Cobb said he had no intention of taking the “seat for granted”.

“They can choose between a local who has held a number of important leadership positions and will hit the ground running to deliver for Parkes, or an ALP candidate who will be told what to do by his union masters in Sydney and Canberra,” he said.

“What I think we’ve got to do is make sure everybody knows what the National Party has done over the past few years – it’s done an awful lot for country people.”

Among the wins, he said, was the Roads to Recovery program, protection of regional airline access to Kingsford Smith Airport, and defeating tax moves restricting the transfer of businesses and properties between generations.

Country Labor candidate Joe Knagge, on the campaign trail for the past five months, congratulated his opponent but said the decision “came as no surprise”. Both candidates have promised a campaign free from personal attacks.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Rhinos need to reproduce recent form

The Dubbo Rhinos will be hoping to retain the form which saw them conquer the Dubbo Kangaroos last weekend when they take on the Parkes Boars in round seven of the Blowes Menswear Cup in Parkes tomorrow.
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Without a win heading into the match, the Rhinos looked a different team in last Saturday’s local derby, recording just their second victory over the Kangaroos with the 23-10 scoreline.

The Rhinos appeared inspired against their more fancied counterparts and relished the result, but coach Andrew Williams was quick to point out that the win was just the first in their Central West quest.

On the road, the Rhinos will again need to lift against the Boars, who are currently third on the competition table having won four of their first six matches.

Only one change has been made to the team which defeated the Kangaroos last weekend, with Ben Mathews coming back into first grade at five-eighth, having recovered from injury.

That move has pushed Glen Gallagher to inside centre, Guy Perrin to outside centre and Jason Leach to the wing, and Ian Burns from first grade back to third grade.

The Rhinos forwards, who comprehensively outplayed the Kangaroos, are unchanged and will need to muscle up again on Saturday against the powerful Parkes pack which is not lacking in size.

Austin Whitehead, in his first match back from injury, was particularly strong against the Kangaroos and will again need to lead the forwards, while Williams will also be looking for another big game from workhorse young prop George See.

Nick Hubbard jumped well in the line-outs against the Rhinos’ Dubbo rivals and will be needed again to secure quality ball.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Vaughan’s faith in reshuffle

Dubbo Kangaroos coach Scott Vaughan is hopeful a new prop and hooker and a back row reshuffle can reverse his team’s form for when they play Orange City at No 1 Oval tomorrow.
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The Kangaroos tackle the Lions in round seven of the Blowes Menswear Cup and are looking for a more committed forwards performance after last weekend’s 23-10 loss to the Dubbo Rhinos.

The Kangaroos were overpowered and out-enthused by their local rivals last weekend, the Rhinos being first to the breakdown on most occasions to secure their own possession and poach from their opponents.

Vaughan has promoted Shad Bailey from second grade to the first XV at hooker and reinstated Len Bartley at prop in an effort to inject some enthusiasm into the front row.

He has also asked Simon Aird and Phil Randell to swap positions, Randell moving to number eight and Aird into the second row. Danny Tink is unavailable and Peter Walters has taken his place at breakaway.

Peter Hyde has been rewarded for a standout performance in second grade last week, taking the number nine jumper from Luke Carney.

The Kangaroos lower grade teams will also be on show on Saturday and keen to continue their winning streaks against the lowly rated Lions.

On the back of their tireless forwards the second grade team has won its past three matches on the hop and is currently third on the competition table.

Against the Lions, who are third last, the Kangaroos will again look to their “angry eight”, who have been rated among the best-drilled forward outfits in any grade.

Under the innovative coaching methods of rugby genius Nigel Bourke, the Kangaroos third grade team has completed the first six rounds of the competition undefeated – Forbes coming closest in round three when they fell seven points short.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Beefed-up CYMS a worry for Raiders

The size worries that dogged Dubbo CYMS at the start of the Tooheys Group 11 season seem to have dissipated with the club naming a powerful pack of forwards for this weekend’s local derby against Dubbo Macquarie.
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CYMS named their teams in first and reserve grades and under-18s yesterday for the opening tussle between the Dubbo rivals this year, to be played at No 1 Oval on Sunday.

Leading the charge for the green machine will be the Wilson brothers, Nic and Bernard, who find themselves in the front row against the defending premiers.

Bernard, who played in the National Rugby League for both North Sydney and Balmain, has been a highly welcomed addition to the team since playing his first match in round four against Parkes.

He has bolstered what was previously a small, yet undoubtedly skilful, CYMS forward pack which has also gained in stature since the arrival of rugby union convert Nathan Woodford.

Woodford came to the club at the start of the season from the Dubbo Kangaroos and has adapted to the game in a surprisingly short time, his form forcing captain-coach Justin Yeo to give him a starting spot at lock.

The Fishies also have the luxury of selecting Craig Hill as a fresh reserve, the barnstorming prop forward certain to create a massive impact upon the game once on the field.

Hill will be making his long-awaited return from a serious knee injury, and will be joined on the bench by Brett Patterson, who is also likely to be used in the forwards.

Dubbo CYMS: 1 Mick Louie, 2 Mick Dagg, 3 Justin Yeo (c/c), 4 Troy Yates, 5 Nathan Lawrence, 6 Ben Williams, 7 Martin Nelson, 8 Nic Wilson, 9 Luke Jenkins, 10 Bernard Wilson, 11 Mick Darcy, 12 Alton Oates, 13 Nathan Woodford. Replacements: 14 Craig Hill, 15 Brett Patterson.

In other matches this weekend the Narromine Jets will look to continue their upward flight when they host the Wellington Cowboys at Cale Oval in Narromine.

After an inconsistent start to the year the Jets have begun to fire, winning their past three matches in succession.

By comparison, the Cowboys are yet to rope a win, although the young team has earned many admirers in Group 11 after gutsy displays against Manildra and Forbes in the past two rounds.

The top-of-the-table clash between Forbes and Manildra will take place at Spooner Oval on Sunday with the winner rightly claiming competition favouritism.

The unbeaten Magpies have been the standout team this season, but Manildra has made people take notice with an impressive run which has seen the Rhinos win all their matches since losing to CYMS in the first round.

Cobar and Nyngan, two teams who have just one win each this season, also come together at Larkin Oval in Nyngan on Sunday.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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We’re just fine

Claims racing was on the brink of ruin was nothing more than an “extreme view” of the industry’s future according to New South Wales Country Racing Council regional manager Sean Reddan.
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Sydney media reported yesterday that, according to an independent study, the $4 billion-a-year NSW racing industry was on the brink of collapse.

Dubbo-based Reddan said these revelations were nothing new and only an “extreme view” about the industry’s future.

“We have heard it all before, and they regularly raise these issues,” Reddan said.

“It is certainly not on that the industry will collapse. The Country Racing Council (CRC) has been involved in talks with all the industry leaders and reforms have been put in place to make racing more viable.

“The report indicates too many country meetings are being held that are not linked to the TAB, well we now have 318 TAB meetings in the country areas, more than ever before.

“At the same time, our non-TAB meetings are down to 266, again a very low level.

“Here in the central west we have 10 extra dates in the 2001-2002 season, so that in itself is a positive move.

“We have looked at rationalising race dates and that has happened and, in turn, this will improve prize money and increase the return to owners and trainers.”

Reddan said the issue of Saturday morning TAB meetings in the country was still an option and that quite a number of clubs – including Dubbo – had indicated they would be willing to trial the concept.

“But these race meeting would be complimentary to Saturday afternoon TAB meetings,” he said.

“There is, and hopefully, always will be a place for these meetings.

“They are very vital to country communities.”

Reddan conceded that racing had to compete against other forms of entertainment for patronage, but that the CRC had been looking at this for some time.

“We have to make changes, and some of those changes may not necessarily be linked to the TAB,” he said.

“There is a new management plan to be released in the next month and I think you will then see that we want to become more active in the entertainment area.

“This is particularly so in the country areas where racing means more to the people in our small communities than the dollar.”

Western Racing Association president Roy Matthews hadn’t read the media reports yesterday but was confident country racing would continue.

Trangie (tomorrow) and Coonabarabran (Sunday, TAB) will stage meetings this weekend.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Smith Family helping people learn for life

Penny Scott, a Year 11 student at Dubbo High, will be the first in her family to study at university.
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But it’s taken more than academic ability for Penny to consider a career in law or journalism.

In ordinary circumstances Penny’s family would find the financial burden of tertiary education beyond their capacity. Even finding the money to finish high school is no easy task.

Fortunately, Penny is one of 177 students in the Dubbo area who is being helped by The Smith Family through its Learning for Life program.

Yesterday Penny told the launch of the local program how it was helping her to finish school and consider a university education.

“I will be the first person in my family to attend university,” she said.

“This program has certainly taken the pressure off my mum and made me aware of how generous some people are.”

Penny was talking of her personal experience with a program that is now helping nearly 16,000 students across the country. By 2004, The Smith Family hopes to be assisting 70,000 students and spending $50 million a year to support their education.

The Learning for Life program provides financial scholarships and support workers for students from financially-disadvantaged families. In Australia, that means helping as many of the 732,000 dependent children who live in families below the poverty line as possible.

The extra support can help prevent students from falling into the poverty cycle later in life, The Smith Family’s development manager Angela Lewis said.

“The scholarships can help meet the basic expenses of a student’s education such as uniforms, books, stationery, excursions and school camps.”

The level of sponsorship ranges from $204 for a primary school student to $2000 per year for a tertiary student.

Students are also supported by educational support workers in their area with each worker responsible for 235 students.

The program includes a mentoring program for tertiary students, literacy support and computer clubs.

Scholarships are provided by individuals and groups with every cent going to the sponsored student, Ms Lewis said.

“Our corporate partners donate funds for the education support workers and other necessary support.”

One of those partners is the Westpac Foundation which was represented by the bank’s regional manager Craig Copeland yesterday. The foundation has provided $1 million to allow the program to be expanded into country areas.

The Dubbo area program was officially launched by Cr Dawn Fardell.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Men not guilty of kidnapping

It took a jury two and a half hours yesterday to find two men not guilty of kidnapping two teenagers from a West Dubbo home last year.
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Garry John Mitchell put his head into his hands and then smiled in relief, while friend and co-accused Mark Clive Meadows mouthed “thank you” and nodded his head towards the jury when the verdict was announced.

Outside Dubbo Court House Mr Meadows, a 40-year-old father of two from Kemp’s Creek in Sydney, said he was “totally relieved” by the verdict.

“We did nothing wrong and I’d like to thank the jury for having a close look at the evidence and realising it (the kidnap) really didn’t happen,” he remarked.

The prosecution alleged both men had bundled a 16-year-old and his 14-year-old friend into a car at a West Dubbo home in the early hours of August 1, before driving them to a location near the Talbragar River Bridge where Mr Meadows was accused of violently assaulting the older youth and trying to stomp his head into the bitumen road.

Their motive, the prosecutor told the jury, was to try and get information on a break and enter the previous day at Mr Mitchell’s parent’s property, which the pair believed the older boy was involved in.

The men admitted going to the home to talk to the boy about the theft, but denied the teenagers were forced into the car or assaulted.

When questioned two weeks after the event Mr Mitchell, 30, told police he intended to scare the boy and threatened to take him to the police over the theft.

The boys, who were not able to be identified because they are juveniles, both gave evidence in the trial.

Their testimonies had numerous inconsistencies and parts of the evidence they gave before the court were inconsistent with statements they made to police shortly after the alleged incident.

Under cross-examination the youths were unable to explain why their stories had changed in the months since the incident.

As the trial entered its fourth day yesterday, Judge Gibson gave the jury a summary of the evidence and instructed them about applying law to the case.

The 12-person panel retired to consider their verdict about 11.40am.

At 2.10pm the female foreperson announced the jury had reached the unanimous verdict of not guilty for both men.

Mr Meadows said he had been “very nervous” throughout the two-and-a-half-hour wait.

He stated it felt like he and Mr Mitchell had been “chased” over the matter, and it had put tremendous stress on himself, his two children and his father.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Kevan remembered as one of city’s ‘modern-day pioneers’

Dubbo farewelled a respected civic leader yesterday.
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Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of former mayor Kevan Dunlop, including current mayor Allan Smith, with standing room only both inside and outside the Wesley Uniting Church.

Mr Dunlop was mayor of the city from 1965 to1967 and had the honour of leading Dubbo when it was proclaimed a city in 1966.

Family friend Tom McCann read a moving and sometimes humorous eulogy reflecting Mr Dunlop’s life.

“Kevan started life as a 12-pound baby – which was certainly a great achievement for his mother,” he said.

Mr McCann added Mr Dunlop remained devoted to his wife Nancy throughout their 60-year marriage.

“He was a loving husband, bringing Nancy breakfast in bed every day of their married life,” he said.

“He will be remembered as a caring and patient man – a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.”

Cr Smith also paid tribute to the former alderman and life member of both Rotary and Apex.

“History tells us that back in 1964 Kevan, then the deputy mayor, said of the death of mayor Les Ford ‘no one in Dubbo would have anticipated the sudden grievous loss of the town’s finest citizen and his loss would not only be felt by the council and the people of Dubbo, but throughout every community in the central west’,” Cr Smith said.

“Now in 2001 we mourn the death of another fine citizen who has left his mark on this city and who will be remembered as one of Dubbo’s modern day pioneers.

“Dubbo is the city it is today, in part, because of the contribution made by Kevan and many of the amenities and facilities enjoyed by us today were the visions of a council led and inspired by Kevan.”

Mr Dunlop was an alderman on the council during a number of significant events in the development of Dubbo.

He was mayor at the laying of the Dubbo War Memorial Civic Centre foundation stone ceremony and was present when the Dubbo and District Library was opened, when the Dubbo Museum was opened and when development began on the city’s underground water supply.

“One must remember that back some 40 years, change would not have come easily to the people of Dubbo,” Cr Smith said.

“At that time there was a shift in the economic, scholastic and cultural spheres of our community.

“One must admire the courage that Kevan and the-then council would have had to propel Dubbo from a town – a comfortable, unassuming place – to a city amid shifting dynamics and enormous change.

“The council of 2001 has been handed a legacy built by Kevan … and we take this legacy, hold it with pride and extend our heartfelt gratitude.”

Mr Dunlop is survived by his wife Nancy, daughters Diane (Mrs Medley), Carol (Mrs Duffy), Toni (Mrs Delahunty), Christine (Mrs Davey) and son Paul.

He also leaves behind 24 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Sentencing program for Kooris

The Western Aboriginal Legal Service has welcomed a State Government initiative focused on involving the community in the sentencing of young Aboriginal offenders.
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At the annual Country Labor conference on the south coast at the weekend, Premier Bob Carr announced the State Government would undertake a two-year pilot program for non-violent young Aboriginal offenders patterned on a successful program run for indigenous youth in Canada and the United States.

The $200,000 project – known as circle sentencing – takes place outside a formal court setting and is similar in format to the group conference.

In the circle would be the young offender, magistrate, police, prosecutor, family members and where applicable, the victim.

The key to the program’s success in North America has been the inclusion of a respected elder from the local indigenous community.

On the south coast yesterday, chairman of the legal service and Dubbo resident Charles Wilson said he would welcome the trialing of circle sentencing in his home city and other western communities.

The State Government has not determined yet where the program will operate in the State.

Mr Wilson said from discussions “around campfires and in meeting rooms”, he believed the concept of “shaming” young offenders in front of the people they knew instead of strangers in a courtroom could go a long way in breaking the crime cycle experienced by many young Kooris.

According to the State Government the program has reduced recidivism on the Indian reserves in Canada’s Yukon Territory, British Colombia and Ontario.

Orana Law Society president Peter Poulton also threw his support behind the trial.

“Any initiative which takes the young offender out of the present system which often involves the commitment to an institution should be trialed,” he said.

“The inclusion of a respected elder from the local indigenous community in the sentencing process would be appropriate.

“Hopefully the young offender would show more deference to such a person in accepting a decision on his or her correction.’’

“For many years ‘Mumma Carr’ adopted that role, albeit informally, but with success in a lot of instances.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Violence won’t be tolerated

Violence against nurses in the Dubbo region will not be tolerated, according to Macquarie Area Health Service (MAHS) director of nursing services John Baillie.
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Following the launch of a state-wide campaign by health minister Craig Knowles to stop violence against nurses, Mr Baillie said most hospital staff had experienced some kind of violent behaviour from patients or relatives of patients.

“The Macquarie Area is no different to any other part of the State and at times in the emergency ward and other areas of the hospital people have expressed their feelings by way of violence,” he said.

“It varies from site to site and it can be anything from threats and intimidation to actual physical violence.”

According to WorkCover violence against nurses is increasing and in 1999 nine nurses in NSW were left with a permanent disability as a result of being attacked at work.

“We want to avoid this kind of violence by teaching nurses how to defuse violent situations and talk people down,” Mr Baillie said.

“In this area (Macquarie) we already teach aggression minimisation to our clinical staff.

“That involves strategies such as active listening and avoiding verbal aggression by providing full and frank information to people.

“It’s important we give nurses the skills to make them feel safe.”

Mr Baillie added most violent incidents occurred in “high stress” areas of the hospital.

“Emergency wards and intensive care units as well as mental health units are all areas of high stress,” he said.

“As a nurse I have been in those stressful situations myself and you have to understand that people do lose their temper.

“Of course it is not acceptable that nurses should have to deal with that day in and day out but in places like hospitals where patients or relatives are not in control of the situation people will lose their cool.

“Not knowing what’s happening and waiting can make people frustrated and it’s important to remember that violence is a manifestation of something else.”

Mr Baillie said the message of the new campaign was vital.

“Violence against nursing staff is not acceptable – it’s as simple as that,” he said.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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