To ignore study could prove costly

The prospect of higher temperatures, longer droughts, more floods and worse bush fires within 50 years could be the consequences of underestimating the level of greenhouse gases.
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A study released yesterday by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Greenpeace and the Climate Action Network warns of a dire future for farmers unless greenhouse gases are dramatically reduced.

The study uses CSIRO research to back up its findings. How much credence we should give the findings, given the political agenda of its backers, is debatable but there’s little doubt any climate change will impact more severely on the farming sector than anywhere else.

The study predicts drought and flood will occur twice as frequently throughout NSW and the central northern areas of the State will be at increased risk of salinisation.

Temperatures in and around Dubbo are predicted to increase by about 1.9 degrees Celsius by 2050 unless there are changes to greenhouse levels.

The study is designed to provoke farmers into political action. The conservation council says farmers should be demanding a greater commitment from governments to reduce greenhouse gases.

Climate change will cause greater competition between farmers for decreasing water supplies and productive lands, the council says.

Depending on what sort of season we’re experiencing just about everyone will tell you the weather is changing: the summers are getting hotter and more humid, storms are more severe and traditional rain patterns are altering.

Today we know a lot more about the influences on our weather. We can predict with a reasonable degree of accuracy what will happen during El Nino and Il Nino influences.

Looking 50 years into the future is something else. This study could and might be easily dismissed as more propaganda from the Green movement.

But what if it isn’t? Action taken now may well safeguard us from the devastating consequences of climate change.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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The slow-moving Tuesday shuffle for ‘cheap’ petrol

THE queue begins at 6am and remains until the pumps close at midnight – a slow-moving stream of resigned faces.
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Known for being among the cheapest petrol stations in Sydney, the Caltex servo on the Hume Highway at Chullora attracts scores of motorists every Tuesday.

At 5.05pm, 25 cars are lined up waiting to pay $1.48 a litre. Locals regularly wait up to half an hour for a saving of about $4 to $5 a tank. "It’s like this every Tuesday, without fail," said 24-year-old Joanne Michalotoulos.

By 5.30pm cars have begun spewing out of the driveway onto the Hume Highway, causing considerable traffic congestion and creating a safety hazard in the wet greasy conditions.

"Sometimes it banks back to the next set of traffic lights – it’s mayhem," Solomis Lazaris, a pensioner, said.

Mr Lazaris paid $89 to fill up his tank – about 40 per cent of his weekly pension cheque. "There’s one good thing about the price of petrol – I’ve had to give up smoking so I can drive my car."

Unlike Mr Lazaris, few in the queue could see the funny side. "It’s absolutely ridiculous, I could be spending this time with my family," Barry Thompkinson said. "It’s the only cheap place around. The Shell down the road is five cents dearer. I sometimes come down during the day and the queue is still here. On a Tuesday it’s just here for the whole day."

As we leave the station, the queue has grown, with many large trucks lining up to fill up with diesel. The station is offering the "cheap" price of $1.74 a litre.

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Community must adopt festival idea

There are some positive signs about resurrecting Dubbo’s Festival of the Red Earth following a relatively well-attended meeting this week.
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The festival was disbanded last year because the organising committee was finding it increasingly difficult to attract new blood to help run the annual event.

Its last event was a highly-successful Day in The Park as part of the Dubbo 150 celebrations in November 1999.

There was a lot to like about the festival but its original charter limited its popular appeal because essentially it was an arts festival. In a place like Dubbo, often described as a cultural desert, that was a big ask.

There were discussions a few years ago about broadening the appeal of the festival by combining it with the Carnival of the Animals, an initiative of the city’s tourism officials.

In hindsight, it was unfortunate that more could not have been done to achieve some synergy between the two activities.

The difficulty was philosophy. The festival was about the Dubbo community celebrating itself while organisers of the carnival were keen to use the event as a tourist attraction.

The tourism sector was keen to develop an event that would have the popular appeal of festivals and carnivals in other regional centres. The Tamworth Country Music Festival was often cited as an outstanding example of a local event which became a tourism hit.

But is that what we really want from an annual festival? And what should we be celebrating?

The first aim should be an event which can be embraced by the community. That, as we know, is easier said than done. Coming up with a formula that’s successful year in, year out is a difficult assignment, particularly for a voluntary committee that scrounges for resources.

Dubbo showed it could excel itself for a one-off celebration in 1999. Doing it regularly will need boundless enthusiasm and ingenuity from a good section of the community.

We wish them luck.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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More places for toddlers

ALMOST 95 per cent of four-year-olds will be enrolled in a preschool program following the Government’s commitment of an additional $21 million a year to preschool education, the Minister for Community Services, Kevin Greene, said.
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The funding is not expected to lower the cost to NSW parents of preschool places, the highest in the country.

The budget allocation, foreshadowed three years ago, would enable an extra 10,500 children to attend two days of preschool a week, lifting the proportion of four-year-olds enrolled from 83 per cent. It is part of a four-year plan to provide an extra $85.5 million to preschool education by 2009-10.

However, the Government, which has long been under fire for having the nation’s lowest level of preschool enrolments and the costliest service, arrives at its figures by including the 24,700 four-year-olds who attend long day care centres.

The only state that requires a university-trained teacher to be employed in long day care centres with more than 29 children is NSW, and it imposes on the centres the same curriculum as applies to preschools.

While early childhood specialists applaud the Government’s standards for long day care centres, and believe the children are correctly counted as receiving a preschool education, the Productivity Commission, in its state-by-state comparison, excludes these children, putting NSW’s preschool enrolment at about 65 per cent – by far the worst in the country.

Antoinette Le Marchant, former chief executive of KU Children’s Services, which runs preschools and long day care centres, said it was more difficult to attract trained teachers to long day care centres and the Department of Community Services could be pressured to waive the regulation.

She said the $21 million would do little to reduce the weekly cost to NSW parents, which is more than double that in Victoria.

NSW contributes less towards preschool per four-year-old than other states: $726 compared with a national average of $1061.

It contributes nothing towards the extra costs long day care centres incur with trained teachers; parents simply pay higher fees.

NSW parents pay an average of almost $50 a week for preschool. The national average is $28.60.

Negotiations are continuing with the Federal Government over its $450 million commitment to provide 15 hours of preschool to every four-year-old through a degree-qualified teacher.

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Season of promise despite weekend defeat

At the halfway mark of 33 ends West Dubbo were leading 30-24 and the upset was on, however the Merrylands team took the initiative on a couple of the rinks by seriously changing the length of the ends they were playing and it took almost 15 ends before the Roos scored another point. By that time the damage had been done and with Merrylands leading comfortably the game was all but over.
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To their credit the Roos continued the battle in earnest, but the margin was too big and Merrylands ran out comfortable winners 61-42, recording victory on all three rinks.

The Roos will no doubt gain some heart from this game knowing they were right in it at half-time and will be all the better for this contest.

This Saturday the Roos are at home to Beresfield and hopefully a win is just round the corner. Not to impressed by the learned judges of the Daily Telegraph who predicted West Dubbo would finish bottom of the table.

If the boys continue to play like they did in the first half of last Saturday’s game quite a few teams in this competition are in for a rude awakening.

Practice all grades will be held Friday afternoons at 5pm.

Last Sunday the District Fours started at the Wellington Bowling Club and after two rounds the West Dubbo Club has only one team left in it. But last year’s runners-up are definitely the team to beat and with a little luck next Sunday John Ensbey and team might have a District title under their belt, but first they will have to get past the formidable Dubbo Railway combination skipped by Paul McKenzie which was in sparkling form on Sunday.

The club singles and pairs draws have been finalised and where possible these matches will be scheduled. The District program for the year has very few free playing dates and the success of the West Dubbo championships will be very much dependent upon the players’ co-operation in playing their respective matches as quick as possible.

Social bowls on Wednesday and Saturday continue to have improved numbers with Gerry Cole, Peter Schink and Allan Andriske on 19 points, from Peter Davies and Don Breeze winning the main share of the loot on Wednesday with Pat Dyson Holland and Steve Bent being the victors on Saturday.

This weekend the number sixes start their Pennant seasons with a first round clash at Yeoval Bowling Club. All players are requested to be at the club house prior to 11.30am. The bus will leave the car park before 12pm.

Pennant teams for this weekend are as follows: Number 1 Roos to play Beresfield: Tony Collins, John Rodis, Paul Hagarty and John Ferguson (skip); Glenn Morrison, Henry Gordon, David Ferguson and John Ensbey; Anthony Brown, Greg Burey, Dick Jeffries and Mick Harry.

Number six Super Roos to play Yeoval: Pat Dyson Holland, Peter Schink, Rick Bohm and Mike Everett; John Eastwood, Garry Finlay, Mark Morton and Angelo Lomonaco; Peter Bray, Clarrie Beetson, Bill Rea and Henry Brown.

Championship matches drawn for this weekend are as follows: Friday afternoon 4pm. John Ensbey v David Friend (John Eastwood – marker).

Saturday afternoon 1pm: John Eastwood v Arthur Chatfield (Clarrie Beetson).

Sunday morning 9.30am: Tony Harrison v Kurt Sheather (Luke Sheather); Don Breeze v Lex Edmed (Keith Beacroft); Allan Andriske v Mick Strawhan (Mark Edwards); Victor Brook v John Ferguson (Peter Davis); Greg Burey v Clive Hill (Steve Bent); Mick Harry v Bob Townsend (Arthur Chatfield); Anthony Brown v Joshua Andriske (Bruce Baker).

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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