Magpies end Tigers’ season

The Magpies’ win sets up a grand final against the Lake Cathie Raiders this Saturday.

The Tigers’ playmaker injured himself in the warm up forcing a reshuffle in the backline but more importantly Comboyne lost a vital cog in their attacking armoury.

The Lower Macleay Magpies took full advantage of a disjointed Tigers attack but not before the Tigers took a 6-0 lead on 20 minutes through a Thomas Latimore try and Shawn Madeley conversion.

The Magpies hit back when halfback Sam Drew found Luke Dufty with a great inside pass before the centre dived over the tryline. Despite missing the conversion, the Magpies were down 6-4 but looking the more composed side.

Comboyne did themselves no favours with too many errors early in the tackle count and poor sixth tackle options.

Magpies hooker Zac McKiernan exploited a yawning gap in the Tigers defence to grab the lead for his side and when Dufty converted from in front the Magpies went to the break 10-6 leaders.

Lower Macleay posted two tries in the opening 11 minutes of the second half through a great solo effort from five-eighth Joel McCafferty and centre Tom Stevenson to stretch their lead to 18-6 after Dufty booted one of the conversion attempts.

An angled run from Comboyne’s Thomas Latimore caught the Magpies defence flat-footed close to the line to bring his side back into the contest. The Tigers forward improved his position to give goalkicker Madeley and easier conversion. That left the score at 18-12 and the Tigers were, somehow, back into the contest.

But the comeback was short-lived. The Magpies peppered the Comboyne defence with a couple of stirring runs before Dufty wrongfooted a couple of Tigers defenders to score under the posts. The centre landed the conversion to stretch the Magpies’ lead to 24-12.

With the clock winding down, Paio scored off the back of a strong charge from Bevan Castles and with the conversion attempt waved away, the Magpies were 24-16 winners and through to Saturday’s grand final.

The Magpies were best served by McCafferty and McKiernan while the Tigers’ best included winger Lee O’Brien, lock Ben Wadwell and Blake Reis.

Tigers down: Sam Hensley and Luke Dufty … battle it out in the Hastings League finals last Saturday.

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Cops and rockers: Police band together for community

On the beat: The police band entertains a crowd at Box Hill. The Victoria Police band continues to wow audiences. Picture: Darrian Traynor

They’re police, but their mission is music and making people feel good, writes Loretta Hall.

It can be a glamorous life fronting a showband, but this is not one of those days.

The band’s equipment truck, emptied of trunks of brass instruments and sound gear, doubles as a hasty change room for Elise Beattie as she transforms from “worker ant” roadie to lead singer in a shopping mall in Melbourne’s east.

Long loose hair is secured in a no-nonsense plait, and casual clothing discarded for navy trousers, sensible flat black shoes and a crisp light-blue shirt with an epaulette and stripe on each shoulder.

Only the showbiz shades remain from her civilian guise as Beattie prepares to front the Victoria Police Showband with co-senior constable Daina Jowsey under the midday sun for the mostly unsuspecting shoppers and commuters.

Music director (and prominent Melbourne musician) Daryl McKenzie is absent, so Beattie and Jowsey consult over a whiteboard song list and a takeaway coffee while fellow band members set up 500 leads and an array of instruments for the gig.

They choose songs from hundreds of the band’s own arrangements, mixing swing with jazz, classical, musical theatre, rock and pop. Beattie is down for Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, Jowsey is opening with Dancing in the Street.

Some of the tracks they performed for the Showband’s Divas CD, sales of which aid the police force’s Blue Ribbon Foundation community program.

There are a few curious glances from passers-by as Beattie sets up the microphones. But once she re-emerges from the back of the truck an audience begins to gather and several shoppers question the diminutive but authoritative figure at the microphone stand.

“As soon as you are in uniform there’s a certain level of interest; people come up and ask what you are doing,” Beattie says. “We explain to them that what we are doing is a full-time job.”

When the police band originated 120 years ago it was formed by those on the beat who volunteered to play an instrument part-time. It became a full-time occupation in 1980s, when professional musicians were sworn in as police members

The Showband plays across Melbourne and regional Victoria in the community and schools and the public can check the police website for the showband’s calendar for a performance in their neighbourhood.

More glitzy gigs include charity nights, when Beattie frocks up out of uniform to perform at venues that have included Crown’s Palladium room, Hamer Hall and Melbourne’s World Congress Centre.

Beattie, 46, has been on patrol with the showband around Victoria for the past 11 years and previously sang with the Victoria Police’s rock band, Code One, for six years. Her role in the police force was recognised with a national award for “rockin’ it” in January.

She wears the stripe of a senior constable, “and we have full police powers of arrest”, but, as with the rest of the 24 showband members, isn’t operational as a police officer.

Band leader Sergeant Pat Hudson, who has in the past been in the back-row line-up on trombone, watches from beyond the police-taped stage edge as the party gets started.

Music spills into the mall and an audience builds. Most of the smoking section – a half-brick wall outside the supermarket – is full. Hudson says that at the height of the set about 200 people are toe-tapping to the tunes.

The youth that the showband is reaching out to largely respond to the offer of musical friendship, with most unplugging at least one earphone to catch a Lady Gaga or Beyoncé song.

An older fan, Robert Fraser, 59, dances through all three sets, oblivious to the fact he is mostly dancing solo on the pavement. A middle-aged woman kicks off her heels, dumps her handbag under the watchful gaze of the band’s brass section and joins him for a track. Towards the end of the last set a trio of teens lose their inhibitions and let their lanky limbs loose.

Collectively, the three bands perform about 500 gigs annually, and Hudson says these reach about 650,000 Victorians a year. In times of hardship and disaster, the Showband is dispatched to communities where an uplifting tune can bring some cheer or relief in tough times.

“When there were floods in country Victoria a year ago we had a week tour in those regions, and we based ourselves in Horsham. We were bussed out to country towns I had never heard of where all 50 people in the town came to see us. When we do a show for them it’s the only thing that has made them smile in a long time.”

Beattie says the performances are not all about the music, as she spends a lot of time talking to locals.

In addition to Cats, Beattie took lead roles in her school’s Gilbert and Sullivan productions before studying voice at Melba Conservatorium and primary teaching in music at Victoria College. She gained professional experience with Dame Joan Sutherland in Othello for the Australian Opera (now Opera Australia) and with the Wiggles in front of a crowd of 80,000.

“I still have singing lessons because it is important that our music is as high a standard as it can be,” Beattie says. “Being with the band involves a regimented lifestyle, especially for the singers to stay fit and healthy. In a 10-day fortnight we get four days off, and those 10 days can be at any time.

“We spend many hours travelling … being on tour with the band on the bus is like being in a sitcom. There are some incredibly funny personalities.”

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Mixed messages on Greenvale road route

HUME Council has sought to allay Aitken College fears over a Growth Areas Authority (GAA) plan to build a public road that would intersect the school in Greenvale.

The school site, which faces Mickleham Road, is included in the GAA Greenvale Central Precinct Structure Plan (PSP), which was released this month.

Council’s city sustainability director, Kelvin Walsh, said last week: “It is council’s understanding the Minister for Planning [Matthew Guy] has directed that the GAA not propose a road extending through the school site – and there is currently no proposal to construct a road through the school”.

He said the decision for a road connection was at the discretion of the school.

His comments followed on college principal Josie Crisara urging parents to voice their concerns at the road plan.

Ms Crisara said the plan showed a road connection along the southern boundary of the school, running up to the northern boundary.

She said the road would pose a safety risk to students and impact on the school’s sustainability projects, including its wetlands.

She urged parents to fill out a submission objecting to the proposal, to be sent to the GAA.

“There have been suggestions that a public road could be built to cut through the school or provide an alternative access other than using Mickleham Road,” Ms Crisara said.

“Both of these propositions are unacceptable to the college. A road access point to the south or north of the college would only create more congestion and would be a costly exercise in the order of millions of dollars, which the college would most likely need to fund.”

The school site has also been labelled a ‘future urban area’ by the GAA.

Ms Crisara said this was unacceptable. The school, which opened in 1999, has 1260 students from prep to year 12.

Janelle Judge, whose son is in year8 at the college, said she would be putting in a submission to the GAA.

”It’s a prep-to-year 12 school so I was concerned about the students crossing that potential road,” she said.

“The safety of the children would be at risk.”

GAA chief executive Peter Seamer said there were no immediate plans to build a road through the school, but he added that it was a possibility.

“While the PSP shows a potential future connection, as requested by Hume City Council, the PSP is neutral on whether there should be a road connection through that site and quite certainly it does not require this [connection],” he said.

But the council said the concept of a road connection arose from recommendations of the GAA’s own traffic report.

Late last week, Mr Guy’s spokesman said: “The minister has no intention of directing the location of local roads; this is a matter that should be sensibly sorted out between the GAA and the Hume Council.”

Submissions on the PSP close on August 27.

Sale secures mill’s future

THE Kalangadoo Gunns timber plant has been sold to a South East forestry company as part of the wood processor’s divestment program of non-core assets.

News of the sale was broken to the site’s 18 employees early yesterday morning, confirming South East Pine Sales had secured the deal.

The Border Watch understands the employees were jubilant with news their jobs would be transferred over to the new owner, given the uncertainty in the sector.

The sale follows ongoing concerns that the site – which has been operating since the 1930s – was on the verge of being mothballed.

The Gunns Auspine mill at Tarpeena – which employs around 200 people and is one of the largest processing sites in the region – has yet to be sold.

A spokesperson for Gunns yesterday confirmed an agreement had been reached between the parties.

While the sale price had not been released, she said Gunns was pleased it had been sold as a “going concern” and all jobs would be transferred.

“It is good news for the mill employees and the township of Kalangadoo,” the spokesperson said.

South East Pine Sales co-owner Karen Forster said she was pleased with the company’s new purchase.

“It will be business as usual at Kalangadoo,” Ms Forster said.

Explaining she had confidence in the long-term future of the timber sector, she said the industry was cyclical and experienced “peaks and troughs”.

She said they planned to expand the business and grow market opportunities.

“We will be under pressure for the short-term to reach our goal ahead,” said Ms Forster, who has been involved in the sawmilling sector since 1986.

“Our plan is to better the business – we think we can do it better.”

While explaining they sold the majority of their products into the Melbourne market, she said they intended to expand into other key areas.

According to a Kalangadoo Gunns worker, who did not want to be named, there were just 18 people left at the plant after it was downsized in recent years.

“All the workers are pretty pumped with the news because of the uncertainty over the future of the site,” the worker said.

“There is a really good vibe here.”

The employee said it was also great news for the small township of Kalangadoo.

“In the past 17 years, 14 businesses have closed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wattle Range Mayor Peter Gandolfi welcomed the news of the sale yesterday.

“It is very positive news for Kalangadoo and the workers at the mill,” Mr Gandolfi said.

He said the future of the Kalangadoo plant had been in doubt because of Gunns’ financial position.

“There were fears that it was on the verge of closing,” Mr Gandolfi said.

“I am very pleased the plant is back in local hands and has been bought by a family-owned business.”

He said the sale was timely given the uncertainty in the regional timber industry.

“It shows there is still confidence in the region,” Mr Gandolfi said.

OPTIMISTIC: South East Pines Sales co-owner Mark Forster stands with stacks of timber at his sawmill near Mount Gambier.

Eighteen cheers for miracle twins

FORMER Oberon twins Sharni and Blair Thompson will reacha milestone tomorrow when they turn 18.

Sharni and Blair, who now live in Newcastle with theirparents Lori and Graham, are the grandchildrenof Oberon residents Lorraine and Colin Foran and Cheryl and the late RussellThompson.

The family was based in Oberon back in 1994 when Loriwent into premature labour and was rushed to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.

The twins were delivered on August 31, three monthspremature.

Sharni was born first and weighed 760 grams and measured26cm. Blair weighed 860 grams and was 29cm long. They were not expected to lastthe day.

With the assistance of modern technology – and a miracle– the twins not only survived but will both graduate from school this year.

The twins were hospitalised for 92 days. They spent aweek and a half in Orange, before returning home to Oberon. The family livedwith grandparents Cheryl and Russell, who were managing the Tourist Hotel inOberon at the time.

The twins were on oxygen until they were six months old.

After much fundraising from Oberon community, Sharnireceived her first cochlear implant aged four.

When the twins turned eight, Lori and Graham moved thefamily to Newcastle so Sharni could attend St Dominics, a specialised schoolfor hearing-impaired children. With one-on-one therapy, Sharni moved forwardand eventually attended main stream high school.

Last week, Sharni received a new cochlear implant.

Sharni loves horses and rides for Riding for the DisabledAssociation at Raymond Terrace. She was selected to ride at this year’s RoyalEaster Show.

Blair is focusing on school and is interested in pursuinga multi media course.

The family will spend five days in Melbourne to celebratethe milestone, before returning to Oberon to celebrate with their extendedfamily.

NOW: Blair and Sharni Thompson will turn 18 tomorrow

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Premier’s wind energy statement a hoax

CAN you spot the difference?

One of the media releases in the picture above is from the office of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu. The other is a fake.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth distributed the hoax release (on the right) to journalists this morning.

Designed to look like an official release from the government’s media unit, the release included fake quotes from Mr Baillieu announcing a $552 million adjustment package for Victoria’s wind energy sector.

“One year ago today my government made good on our election promise to stop the Victorian wind industry in its tracks,” the Premier was alleged to have said in the fake release.

“Already more than $887 million worth of developments have already be (sic) stalled or lost.”

The release outlined millions of dollars in spending for local communities and businesses affected by the decision.

In a small print at the bottom of the release, a disclaimer called the information a “parody”.

“This media release has been produced by Friends of the Earth Melbourne and uses parody and satire to comment on the public functions of Premier Baillieu,” it said.

“It does not contain genuine quotations from Premier Baillieu nor iterations of Victorian Government policy.”

Friends of the Earth campaign coordinator Cam Walker defended the release which he said was a stunt to generate publicity.

“I don’t believe it has backfired,” he said.

“We received legal advice that if we included a disclaimer at the bottom of the release we were entirely safe, so we decided to do that to draw attention to the loss of jobs and opportunity in Victoria’s wind industry over the past year.”

Mr Walker said a government transition package was urgently required for the wind industry.

“I have received a large number of responses from people who laughed about the release, including journalists and other stakeholders who agree we need an assistance package,” he said.

A spokesperson for the government was unimpressed.

One is real, one is a fake. Can you tell which? PICTURE: ANDREW RAMADGE

“The Friends of the Earth are as misleading as their press release,” the spokesperson said.

RMIT University journalism academicAlex Wake said producing fake press releases was “despicable”.

“Parody and satire are really important things in society, but they havevery little place in the news and it is not appropriate to mimic media releasesin this way,” Ms Wake said.

“Journalists should absolutely be looking at things very carefully butunfortunately too many of them are time poor and working in badly resourcednewsrooms, so to try and make their job any harder is despicable.”

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Glimpses of glamour at Garah

THERE were gorgeous gowns and garments at the Garah Glimpses of Glamour fashion show last Thursday.

The P&C of Garah Public School held the event to raise funds for the committee.

Committee member, Justine Malone, said she was extremely pleased with the turnout on the day.

“We reached our limit of people and sold 100 tickets for the show, which we were ecstatic about,” she said.

The committee raised $4,300 on the day.

The main highlight of the day for many was seeing the garments modelled from different eras.

“There was a great response to the ladies bringing in their old clothes, and I’m sure it brought back memories for them as well,” Mrs Malone said.

The children from Garah Public School acted out a poem about the races for the crowd.

There were also two guest speakers who attended the day.

“Katrina Humphries and Mary Long were fabulous. Katrina talked about her love of gowns and Mary gave everyone tips for their gardens,” she said.

There were also three wedding dresses on show.

“They had to guess the eras of each dress to win. Maureen Arthur guessed correctly with 1920, 2000 and 1950,” Mrs Malone said.

There were many stalls that came for the day.

“Thank you to everyone who came along and helped out, thanks to the store holders and sponsors also,” she said.

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$3m expansion project begins


Theschool currently has about 500 students but when it takes in the full yearseven cohorts in 2015 this will grow to 700, principal Domenic Camera said thisweek.

Theschool population was continuing to grow, even without the expansion caused bythe year sevens coming in.

“Wehave had 14 new enrolments in term two this year, six at the start of termthree and more are coming all the time,” he said.

“Wehave been scoped for 800 with our current facilities and the department willreview it regularly.”

Money forthe school’s building and upgrade program was allocated in the last statebudget and the school community had been working on the plans since last year.

Theplanned new purpose-built student services building was a significantdevelopment, Mr Camera said.

It wouldhouse the school nurses, psychologists, Aboriginal education officers and houseleaders.

“Itwill accommodate all counselling services and be very flexible,” Mr Camerasaid.

Moreclassrooms could be built later behind that building, on the western side, asneeded.

Theschool hall would be upgraded, with an entry statement in the new foyer, akitchen and improved toilets.

Thegymnasium’s toilets and change rooms should also be upgraded.

“Wehope to have all the toilets done,” Mr Camera said.

Theschool access roadway and car parks should also be upgraded, making them easierto negotiate and more functional.

The performingarts centre would be radically upgraded, refitted and carpeted. It would includea new green room, new recording studio and new music practice rooms. Musicwould be brought into the arts centre.

All ofthe work should be completed early next year, Mr Camera said.

Thestudent services building should be completed by early February and the hall bythe end of February or early March.

BRIGHT FUTURE: the builders get busy as Collie Senior High School principal Domenic Camera and school captains Lachlan Dent and Jacinta Byrne recheck the plans to see what they are getting for the government’s $3 million investment.

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‘Oppose mine lease’ appeal

THE RuralAction Group (RAG) is calling for locals to join it and 31 residents fromPreston Road Settlement, Collieburn and Cardifftownships in opposing Premier Coal’s mining lease application M12/46.

Thenext Warden’s Court hearing on the application will be in Collie on October 4,on the same day as the next Bauxite Resources Ltd hearing.

The Premierlease is less than two kilometres west of Cardiff,about one kilometre south-east of Preston Road Settlement and has a southern boundarynext to Hoddell Road.

It isnot on land currently covered by a state agreement. The application is forsubsurface rights only, which do not required the same amount of public noticeas surface licences.

“Premier’splanned development could have an appalling impact on residents in these threecommunities and surrounding land owners,” RAG secretaryKathy Millersaid this week.

Objectionslodged with the court refer to adverse effects on lifestyle, financial loss andenvironmental issues such as noise, dust, contamination of domestic rain waterand loss of ground water, she said.

RAG hasobjected on all these grounds.

“Westrongly believe mining must not be geared for the profit of big business atthe expense of individual residents or communities”, Ms Miller said, addingthat the group was not against mining per se.

PremierCoal had suggested development of the lease could be more than a decade away, butit also recently said that horizontal extraction of the coal seams could bedone via the adjacent Pit 6.

“Shouldthis occur, pit 6 would need to be developed prior to mining M12/46,” Ms Millersaid. “The void for Pit 6 will extend northwards and eastwards all the way to McAlinden Road andconsume a number of private properties and homes in the process.

“Someof these families were relocated to these properties by Premier in the late1990s to make way for their current mine.”

RAGbelieved it was “immoral and shameful” of Premier to now seek a mining leasethat, when developed, will again forcibly relocate families who have investedhugely in developing their properties after assurances that no mining wouldoccur in the area for the next 30 to 40 years”, Ms Miller said.

“IfM12/46 approval is given and development takes place, it could have anappalling impact on residents in these three communities and surrounding landowners.”

z Locals who could beaffected and would like to be represented by RAG’s M12/46 objection can write to RAG at PO Box 51, Collie WA 6225 [email protected]苏州美甲培训学校


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Australian soldiers die in Afghanistan

Australian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in what is reported to have been an attack by someone wearing an Afghan security uniform, a ‘‘green on blue” attack.

Defence has confirmed that a number of Australians were killed. It is understood they were with the NATO-led force in southern Oruzgan province.

The Defence confirmation follows reports that three International Security Assistance Force members were killed by a person wearing an Afghan National Army.

In its statement, Defence said: ”Defence can confirm that Australian Defence Force personnel have been killed in Afghanistan.

”Defence is currently in the process of informing the next of kin of the ADF personnel involved.

”Defence requests you respect the highly sensitive nature of this notification process.

”The acting Chief of the Defence Force will make a statement once this process is complete.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is in the Cook Islands for the Pacific Islands Forum, is expected to give a media conference later today. She has cancelled her afternoon appointments at the forum.

About 1550 ADF troops are deployed in the province as part of the International Security Assistance Force.

ISAF said an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against ISAF members in southern Afghanistan, killing three.

There has recently been a rise in ‘‘green on blue” attacks in Afghanistan. Two US soldiers were killed earlier this week.

Retired major general Jim Molan told the ABC yesterday that such attacks could increase as international forces prepared to withdraw by 2014.

‘‘The probability of them increasing is high,” he said.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the news of the deaths was a “terrible, terrible tragedy.”

“This is a black day for our military forces,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

Mr Abbott said his thoughts and prayers were with those who had been killed, their families and comrades.

He added it would not be appropriate to comment more specifically before acting chief of the Defence Force Air Marshal Binskin spoke.

Up until today Australia had lost 33 soldiers in Afghanistan since February 2002. Most recently, Sergeant Blaine Flower Diddams, of the Special Air Service Regiment, was killed during a small arms engagement with insurgents in July.

According to ISAF, this year more than 30 insider attacks have killed 45 coalition troops, making up about 14 per cent of the overall death toll in the war for 2012.

The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, US General John Allen, said last week the causes of the surge in insider attacks were varied, and that Taliban infiltration accounted for about a quarter of the incidents.

A Pentagon assessment last year found serious tensions between the coalition forces and their Afghan counterparts, with relations plagued by cultural clashes and deep mistrust.

Last year four Australian soldiers were killed by Afghan troops in two attacks.

In October, three Australian soldiers were killed by an Afghan Army sergeant when he turned a machine gun on them during a parade. The Afghan soldier was immediately shot dead.

In another incident in November, an Afghan soldier shot and wounded three Australians. He escaped and remains on the run.

In May last year, army cook Andrew Jones was shot dead by a rogue Afghan soldier at a patrol base.

Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare told reporters in Sydney today that he was not yet able to comment on the latest attack.

“There are certain protocols in place that need to be followed and fully implemented over the next few hours,” Mr Clare said.

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Maffra women finish on top

MAFFRA was too strong for Orbost, winning 5-1 to also claim the East Gippsland women’s hockey minor premiership.

Emily Mogridge scored a hat-trick for Maffra with Sharon Mogridge and Kate Steinman scoring one each. Stephanie Coote scored for Orbost.

The Sale Swans forfeited to the Sale Cygnets, who finished second on the ladder.

Nagle defeated Wellington 7-0 with goals from Fiona Morrison (three), Mikayla Blackshaw (two) Rebecca Jonkers and Annalise Allen.

Swan Reach defeated Bairnsdale 6-0. Goals were scored by Shana Snell (two), Katie Tong (two), Stephanie Nichols and Rebecca Corben.

SALE will head into the men’s finals after drawing 2-2 at home to minor premier Nagle.

Daniel Monaghan and Jason Slattery scored for Sale, while Nagle’s goals came from Ren Crunden-Smith and Connor MacLean.

Orbost defeated Maffra 5-1 with goals from Brendan Coulton (two), Craig Martin (two) and Jason Lovell. Maffra’s goal scorer was Adam Cairns.

Swan Reach ended Bairnsdale’s premiership defence with a 3-0 win. Damian Snell scored two goals and Simon Murrell one.

THE finals begin on Saturday with the semi-finals to be played at the WORLD ground in Bairnsdale from 9am. The women’s matches begin at 1pm with the men’s from 2.30pm.

All four teams remaining in the men’s competition are capable of winning on the day and all very keen to advance to the next round.

Nagle and Orbost will meet in the major semi-final. Both are in good form with Orbost having been the big improvers over the second half of the season.

Swan Reach and Sale will play in the knock-out minor semi-final.

In the women’s, Maffra will play the Sale Cygnets in the major semi-final. The Cygnets won their last encounter, proving Maffra can be beaten, setting the stage for a good game tomorrow.

Nagle and Swan Reach will meet in the minor semi.

In the under 18s, Nagle and Bairnsdale will play in the major semi-final and Swan Reach and Orbost meet in the minor semi.

Nagle and Swan Reach will play the under 15 major semi, while Bairnsdale and Maffra play off in the minor semi.

In the under 13s, the major semi-final will be between Nagle and Swan Reach, while Bairnsdale and Orbost will play in the minor semi-final.

For more scores, and ladders, read Friday’s Gippsland Times.

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More highway work pledged

COALCLIFF plant hire contractor Brad Hansen knows howdangerous the Coalfields Highway can be.

His friend, Clayton Davidson, was 16-years-old when he diedin a car accident close to the Wellington Weir turn-off in 2002.

Mr Hansen spoke about the highway’s dangers on Tuesdaymorning with Opposition Leader Mark McGowan and Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray.

The discussion occurred as Mr McGowan announced that roadswould be a major beneficiary from the Royalties for Regions program under aState Labor Government.

He had chosen Coalfields Highway to highlight his point thatmore money from the program needed to be spent on regional roads.

“There are numerous roads throughout WA that are in need ofmajor upgrades or sealing,” Mr McGowan said.

About $20 million had been spent on the Coalfields Highway but more needed to bedone. “People are dying on this road,”he said.

Mr Hansen said that while the Coalfields Highway had been improvedcloser to Collie, the road needed to be widened further out.

“It’s close to the trees, and there’s not much room forerror,” Mr Hansen said.

Mr Murray said he had been supporting legislation tostraighten the highway. Legislation was needed because changes to the highwaywould go through national park property.

Mr Murray said the legislation was not being taken seriouslyenough in parliament. “It should havebeen in ages ago,” he said.

Mr McGowan said that his party’s policies for the Royaltiesfor Regions program focused on making life better for families in regionalcommunities.

“In addition to cost of living pressures, many countrycommunities continue to suffer from poor roads, inadequate water supplies, lackof medical facilities and declining educational opportunities,” Mr McGowansaid.

Another Labor policy was to increasing the annual value ofthe pension fuel card to $550.

Mr McGowan also planned to extend the value of the fuel cardso that pensioners could buy gas bottles instead of just petrol.

Many pensioners did not have their own cars and couldprobably use the card more effectively for gas bottles, Mr McGowan said.

Mr Murray said the plan was a “very good idea” and would bemuch appreciated in Collie’s winter weather.

“It can be very expensive for pensioners to keep their housewarm,” Mr Murray said.

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Maffra now boasts a 24- hour ambulance station

MAFFRA’S ambulance service has become a 24-hour multi-officer station after receiving six new paramedics since the second half of last year.

The change is part of the State Government’s $151 million commitment to boost Ambulance Victoria services during the next five years.

Maffra ambulance service acting team manager Sandra Tozer says the boost to ambulance services in Maffra should reduce response times.

The government last week announced plans to deploy 143 new ambulance staff across Victoria.

This includes 113 new paramedics, 95 of which have been allocated to ambulance stations in rural Victoria, and 30 patient transport officers.

Maffra ambulance service acting team manager Sandra Tozer said the changes should improve services in the region, reducing response times in the immediate area.

She said the addition of six new staff would mean “24 hours a day you will get a two-person response paramedic”.

Before the rollout only one was available.

Three ambulances operate out of the Maffra depot, their normal 24-hour response vehicle, a special Complex Patient Ambulance Vehicle, referred to as a CPAV, and a ‘city sprinter’ ambulance with four-wheel drive capability.

The CPAV is the depot’s pride and joy, according to Ms Trozer.

While it is stationed at Maffra permanently, it has been used to respond to patients in Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance and Traralgon.

According to Ms Tozer, the CPAV can carry heavier loads and handle more complex patients and the equipment that travels with them than other ambulances.

She said the four-wheel drive allowed paramedics to get to remote areas, making it useful in regional districts.

While the addition of new staff will increase response time, Ms Tozer said that there were always going to be instances where there was a 20 minute, or 30 minute response.

This was because of the large area the service had to cover and whether a team was already on response elsewhere.

For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.

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