The revival of Cessnock CBD

Street Smart: An artist impression of Cooper Street’s future look and feel, as part of a Cessnock town centre upgrade. Picture: Cessnock CBD Masterplan.Cessnock’s central business district was experiencing a renaissance, bucking the trend of other main-street areas in decay, mayor Bob Pynsent said.


“This is going against the trend because our main street is growing, where most main streets are struggling,” Cr Pynsent said.

Cr Pynsent said a revitalisation had occurred in the two years since the Hunter Expressway opened, with about 10 vacant shops being filled.

“One or two might have fallen over, but the others have sustained and that’s positive,” he said.

“We still have vacant shops, but not as many as we had before the expressway opened.”

He said the expressway had “taken about 90 per cent of the heavy vehicles off Vincent Street”.

“A number of those new businesses are cafes,” he said.

“It’s far more attractive to sit on the footpath and have coffee.”

Cessnock City Council recently received a $950,000 federal grant, which will be used to redevelop the CBD in four stages over four years.

The work will include upgrades to laneways, the streetscape and park and playground areas.

It aims to improve access for pedestrians, cyclists and traffic.

The project funding includes street art, which will adjoin a laneway art project.

Stage one works will begin in 2016-17, with all four stages to be complete by 2019-20.

Cr Pynsent said the work would make the town more attractive and functional.

It follows the council spending more than $100,000 to improve garden beds, replace street trees and clean and seal pavers in the CBD.

Changes in the town’s economy were understood to be partly related to people losing jobs in the traditional mining and manufacturing industries.

Some of these people had sought to invest in the service and retail sectors.

Cessnock councillor Bryce Gibson agreed that the town was undergoing a renaissance.

Cr Gibson, who owns and leases real estate in the town,supported the work which was occurring as part of the council-approved Cessnock CBD masterplan.

But he said bigger changes lay ahead in other stages of the plan.

“The big windfall for the CBD will be when we get increased parking spots, more accessible parking and better traffic flows, in particular in peak periods,” he said.

“That’s the holy grail.”

As for the economy, he said “there has been new businesses come to town, new businesses go and businesses change hands”.

“I don’t see that as any different to what it’s always been,” he said.

“There’s always going to be fluctuations in the real estate market.”

Mayor Bob Pynsent

Australian Open 2016: Ana Ivanovic left shaken after woman falls mid-match

Ana Ivanovic said she was left shaken when, during her second round win over Anastasija Sevastova on Thursday morning, she heard a spectator crashing down a set of stairs.


The match was delayed for more than 25 minutes when a woman in the crowd at Rod Laver Arena fell at 11.35am.

The incident comes after Australian Bernard Tomic was left rattled when a tennis fan fell ill during his win over Denis Istomin on Tuesday night.

Tennis officials at the Australian Open said a health professional in the crowd went immediately to help the woman, first aid officers working at the event followed and she was eventually carried away on a stretcher.

Ivanovic was on serve leading 4-3 when play was halted, leaving the players to watch on.

Ivanovic and Sevastova were seen alternately sitting on the sidelines and pacing the court as the drama unfolded, before they briefly left the court.

They were allowed a warm-up hit before resuming the game and Ivanovic, ranked 23 in the world, went on to win the match 6-3, 6-3.

In the post-match press conference, Ivanovic said she immediately stopped play when she heard the woman fall.

“I just hope the lady was fine,” she said.

“It was actually good that we had to wait a little bit because I was really shaking, because I could imagine and it was not so nice.

“Then they told us she was bleeding, so, yeah, I hope she’s well.”

On Tuesday Tomic said he feared for a spectator’s life after a woman collapsed during his match and was taken from Hisense Arena on a stretcher.

Fellow spectators had on that occasion called for an EpiPen, which was thrown from one of the upper levels of the stadium.

Tomic was relieved to hear the ill woman had recovered.

Bill Shorten’s chief spin doctor, Kimberley Gardiner, exits as Labor struggles in the polls

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten consults advisers Ryan Liddell and Kimberley Gardiner during question time in May. Photo: Andrew Meares Team Bill: Shorten in Canberra in November with his staff, including Kimberley Gardiner (left) and Ryan Liddell (second from left). Photo: James Brickwood


Bill Shorten’s chief spin doctor, Kimberley Gardiner, is leaving the Opposition Leader’s office by mutual agreement following an internal review ahead of the next election.

In a move that will be interpreted as the Opposition Leader looking to sharpen his political messaging and re-connect with voters in 2016 after falling well behind Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the opinion polls, Ms Gardiner is leaving the role of communications director after more than three years working for Mr Shorten.

The review of Mr Shorten’s office was undertaken by chief of staff Cameron Milner, a former Queensland Labor state secretary who replaced Ken Macpherson as chief of staff in September last year.

Ms Gardiner was a long serving staffer to Julia Gillard when she was deputy prime minister and worked for Mr Shorten when he was a minister in the former Labor government as well as in opposition. She has clocked up almost a decade of service in total with the ALP, including time with former Queensland premier Anna Bligh, as well as for AFL club St Kilda.

She had a reputation inside the parliamentary wing of the ALP as a political hard-head, leading some Labor MPs to criticise her performance for being too risk averse.

Others, however, have praised her for running a tight ship and for helping guide Mr Shorten’s political ascendancy over Tony Abbott before the change of prime minister in September last year.

Her exit, after that of deputy chief of staff Sarah Adams last year, means there are now no women in senior roles in Mr Shorten’s office. It also marks another significant change of personnel in the Shorten office after the addition of Ian McNamara as strategy director in June last year.

Ms Gardiner remains close to Mr Shorten, who praised her work ethic and commitment to the ALP. In a statement, the Opposition Leader said he was sorry to see her leave.

“Kimberley has done a tremendous job for me over many years, for which I’m forever grateful,” he said.

“She has played a critical role in driving Labor’s agenda over the past two years – I have greatly valued her strategic advice.”

A spokesman for the Opposition Leader emphasised the move was by mutual agreement and that a number of positions in Mr Shorten’s office would be restructured.

A replacement as communications chief has not yet been identified and it is possible that a “flatter” structure will be put in place that would see the position abolished, in a move that would be designed to better integrate the policy, strategy and media teams in Mr Shorten’s office.

In the short term, Mr Shorten’s well-regarded senior press secretary Ryan Liddell will run the Opposition Leader’s centralised media unit.

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Guarding rhinos could help extend Wallabies and Brumbies star David Pocock’s career

Time away: David Pocock says taking time out from rugby union to train with Zimbabwe rhino guards could help prolong his career.It was just one day’s training with a dedicated group of Zimbabwe rhino guards, but ACT Brumbies flanker David Pocock says those breaks from rugby help him “freshen up” and could help extend his career.


But Pocock, off contract at the end of 2016, is still unsure where the next stage of his career will take him as he continues talks with the Brumbies and the Australian Rugby Union.

The World Cup star spent a day training with anti-poaching scouts in Malilangwe, which was an experience that allowed him the best of both worlds – training to ensure he is fit for the upcoming Super Rugby season, while also getting completely away from rugby.

He said the scouts were not big, but they were “exceptionally fit” and could run and walk all day in their roles of protecting the dwindling white rhino population. Thanks to Malilangwe scouts for the invite to join fitness + weights session they put new recruits through this am. pic.twitter杭州夜网/lxnXGdhukX— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) November 29, 2015

At the end of a long year – when Pocock not only helped the Brumbies to the Super Rugby semi-finals, but was also instrumental in getting Australia to the World Cup final against New Zealand – he said it helped take his mind off rugby, which could in turn help prolong his career.

“I think that mental break’s key. Physically and mentally at the end of the international season you’re pretty cooked,” he said.

“Finding a space away from rugby to physically freshen up – you still obviously have to train – but mentally to get away from the game and experience something a bit different.

“I hope [it helps keep me in the game longer], I think it does. This is my 11th season now, I’m still enjoying it.”

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was in Canberra last week speaking to Pocock, while there were reports Pocock was set to turn his back on lucrative offers from Europe to stay in Canberra.

But Pocock, who Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced as ACT Australia Day ambassador on Thursday, said that was yet to be decided.

He does not want contract negotiations to linger on, but he was not in a rush to get them done.

“It’s something we’re still thinking about and have started talking to the ARU and Brumbies about,” Pocock said.

“It’s just one of those parts in professional rugby is deciding what’s the next step and we’ll wait and see.”

Meanwhile, SANZAR was expected to announce a revamp of the bonus-point system for Super Rugby, to try and promote more free-flowing rugby.

The governing body is considering scrapping the bonus point for scoring four or more tries and replacing it with a bonus point for scoring at least three more tries than your opponent.

But Pocock had no idea whether the proposed rule change would have the desired effect, leaving that to Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham to work out.

Instead he was focused on getting ready for the season ahead.

He said the Brumbies were going “as well as they could be at this point”, but they wouldn’t get a “gauge of where you’re at in that first trial” – against the NSW Waratahs in Wagga Wagga on February 6.

“We were really disappointed to lose in that semi [to the Wellington Hurricanes] last year,” Pocock said.

“In terms of team a lot of guys have played in those combinations for a few years now so hopefully we can build on that.”

Tim Crakanthorp called on to declare position on heavy rail by state government

THE state government has demanded that TimCrakanthorp make his position on the retention of heavy rail into Newcastle clear.


This week the Newcastle Herald reported that both Jodie Harrison, the member for Charlestown, and Luke Foley, the opposition leader, had conceded that there would be no chanceof Labor reinstating the heavy rail line if it was returned to power in 2019 because work on truncating the line would be too far advanced.

Ms Harrison told the Herald on Mondaythat the party had moved on from the issue, saying “the fight is lost, the rail is gone”.

Her comments were echoed by Mr Foley when he was in Newcastle on Tuesday, the opposition leader saying it “won’t be possible” to restore the line, and that the party would focus on “policy development to improve public transport services in this city”.

But on Thursday the government’s parliamentary secretary for the government,Scot MacDonald, called for “consistency” from the party, accusing Labor members who have campaigned on reinstating the line, like Mr Crakanthorp and the member for Maitland, Jenny Aitchison of ducking the issue.

“The local MPs, in Maitland and Newcastle in particular, are saying one thing to their community and another thing when they go down to Macquarie Street,” he said.

“We get the opposition leader come up from Sydney and he says this is the case [that heavy rail won’t be reinstated],but we’ve still got the local MP’s from Newcastle and Maitland with a very clear record of saying they will restore the rail.

“So who’s in charge?”

Ms Aitchison though hit back angrily at Mr MacDonald, saying he was “like a mosqutio thatbuzzesaround trying to make trouble”.

“We have been very clear all the way –we made a commitment that if Labor was elected we would not proceed with cutting the line, that did not happen, but even after that we fought and fought and fought,” she said.

“At the end of the day by time Labor comes back into government in 2019 the corridor will be gone, so what can we do?

“I am the most disappointed person in Maitland, believe me.

“We have to look at the reality of the situation, and in the here and now what we can do is hold the government to account on what they have promised.”

Mr Crakanthorp has been unavailable for interview on his positionthis week and hasnot responded to direct questions about whether Ms Harrison’s comments represented a shift in the party’s policy.

In a statement he said that by “the next state election in 2019 there won’t be a rail corridor to save”.

“Labor has not changed our policy, we are simply stating reality,” he said.

“The Baird Government has completely ignored the wishes of the Hunter community and is proceeding with ripping up the rail line and doing deals with developers to build on the land.

“The Liberals shouldn’t be forgiven for blatantly ignoring the region. This is just a political stunt from an arrogant government who now thinks it’s also a good idea to privatise Newcastle’s public transport network.”

Fox Street McDonald’s attack: Wagga man sentenced to prison

DEEP FRIED FRACUS: A group of mates were set upon by car thieves in the car park of the Fox Street McDonald’s.THEY were just a few mates waiting for their friend to knock off work for the night.


Little did they know they were about to be set upon by a group of men desperate to take their wheels.

Kooringal man Joshua Claude Phillips and his co-accused claimed “racism” when their victims expressed surprise that they were hiding in the bushes of the Fox Street McDonald’s at night.

“S***, there’s people there,” said the driver, according to agreed police facts, of the men hiding out in front of his car.

The quip would be the catalyst for a horror turn of events, where the three mates were told to get out of the car, while the driver was threatened with “shanking”.

“He (one of the men) asked us ‘do you want to die?’ and I said no, not really,” one of the victims, Jade, told theAdvertiserin 2014.

When a late-night Macca’s run turns into a life and death experience “They told me to get out.”

The driver, Nick, who was 21,tried his best to conceal the keys by his lap, but was unsuccessful.

One of the attackers had seen it.Within minutes, the trio had stolen the Holden Rodeo and were on their way out of Wagga, as had been their plan for days.

Police facts said Phillip’s mates had arrived from Sydney and Canberra to help him move but in doing soran out of money, and were unable to find their way home.

A day before the McDonald’sattack, the men attempted to return home on the XPT service, but were booted off at Junee and Harden by train staff for fare evasion.

With a set of wheelsand no one to stop them, they were on the road to Gundagai.

But fuel would be the fatal flaw in their plan.

Running empty, they stopped at the South Gundagai Shell where they refuelled with $90 in petrol, failingto pay.

At 3.21am, just three hours after stealing the ute, a service station attendant reported the theft.

It matched the car’s registration.

Highway patrol officers found the ute on the side of the road near Yass and arrested the men.

On Monday, Phillips, the only Wagga accused, was sentenced to seven months’ prison, with a two-month non-parole period.

At the time of the ordeal, controversy ensuedbecause McDonald’s staff refused victims entry into the store.

But owner Tony Aichinger was unapologetic and saidstaff followed safety and security protocol. Mr Aichingersaid.

Daily Advertiser, Wagga

Windred breezes through day one plan for Lake Macquarie Amateur

POSITIVE: Blake Windred was the leading Hunter golfer on day one following a three-under 69. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.BLAKE Windred followed his Lake Macquarie Amateurgame plan to a tee on Thursday bykeeping in touchwith the leaders,despitedrawingadifficult afternoon tee-off.


The 18-year-old Charlestown member’s three-under 69 was the second-lowest score of the afternoon group at Belmont and placed him eighth andfour strokes behind Western Australian leader Ben Ferguson (65).

Temperatures reached 35 degrees in the afternoon, but Windred still managed four birdies and one bogey.

Windred will tee off in the morning on Friday and sees that as his best opportunity to chase down the leaders.

“When I saw that I was off in the afternoon and saw how hot it was going to be, I thought I’ve got to get through today a couple under and set it up for the next round when I’m off in the morning,” Windred said.

“Definitely tomorrow morning if I can get some good conditions and turn through nine a few under and hole some putts on the back nine, thenyou never know.”

Ferguson was impressive in the morning, carding an eagle, seven bogeys and two bogeys. Daniel Kolar (66), Cameron John (67) and James Grierson (67) also tamed Belmont’s seaside layout.

The Vintage’s Dylan Perry (70) keptHunter hopes alive when he carded a near flawless round, before bogeying the 18th.

The South Koreans were expected to dominant the women’s division and the prediction proved correct.

MISTAKE: Hannah Green’s round was ruined by a tee shot on the seventh, which sailed over the fence and resulted in a triple bogey. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

Last week’s Australian Amateur champion,Min-Ji Park, opened with five-under 68 in the morning groupto take a one-shot lead over fellow KoreansHye-Jin Choi andGa-Young Lee.

West Australian and Belmont favourite, Hannah Green, was breathing down Park’s neck at five under through her first 15holes.

On the sevenththe Australian No.1unravelled when she sliced theball off the tee and over a fence. Green finished with a triple bogey and then lostanother shot on the next holeto beeighthon 72.

Robyn Choi, from the Gold Coast’s Royal Pines, carded 70 to sit fourth and isthe only Australian in the top seven.

Last image of Jaafa Dawlat released before body found in Duck River

Police have released security footage of Jaafa Dawlat, whose body was found floating face down in Sydney’s Duck River. Photo: NSW Police Security footage of Jaafa Dawlat’s car. Photo: NSW Police


Jaafa Dawlat, whose body was found floating face down in Sydney’s Duck River. Photo: Supplied

A fisherman found Jaafa Dawlat’s body floating face down in a Sydney river – a waterway previously used by criminals as a dumping ground.

One month later, police still have no idea how he died.

There were no visible signs of injury and the results of his autopsy were inconclusive.

But police have pinpointed his last known movements and released security footage of him and his car to see if anyone saw anything in the lead-up to his death.

Mr Dawlat was last seen parking his car on Gifford Street, Silverwater, on Sunday, December 27, about 4.30pm.

Four days later, his body was found face down in the Duck River – close to where he left his car. He was wearing dark adidas shorts and a dark Everlast T-shirt.

Detectives have also released footage of Mr Dawlat’s silver Mitsubishi Lancer with the number plates BLW33P.

Water police retrieved the body from the river at Clyde near an old oil refinery close to Silverwater Correctional Complex.

He was identified after a friend recognised his tattoos, including one that read “JD” on his right hand.

“It’s an unusual situation, but we are not treating it as suspicious; it’s just unusual,” Rosehill police acting crime manager Adam Wharfe said.

The body was found close to where Darren Galea’s body was found under the Duck River Bridge in Auburn.

Mr Galea, 34, was shot in the head at close range two years ago in what police said was most likely a case of mistaken identity.

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Man charged after shot fired at Queanbeyan home

Fragments from the bullet that was fired into a Queanbeyan home. Photo: Melissa Adams Bullet marks at the home. Photo: Karleen Minney


A man has been charged with 10 offences including stalking and assault after a shot was allegedly fired at the window of a home in Queanbeyan.

Paul John Barnes, 46, was refused bail at Queanbeyan Local Court on Thursday.

When refusing bail the registrar said she had considered the safety of the occupants of the house and the community, and the serious, violent nature of the charges against the accused.

She said she believed these to be unacceptable risks, and there were no bail conditions that would mitigate the risks, with the accused’s only place of residence in close proximity to the victims’ home.

On Wednesday at about 1am, police were called to a property on Fergus Road after receiving reports a gun had been fired at the house.

The occupants, a 31-year-old man, an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl, were uninjured.

Police from Monaro Local Area Command established a crime scene at the property.

Following further investigations, officers arrested Barnes in Anne Street, Queanbeyan, at about 7.45pm on Wednesday, and took him to the police station.

Officers searched the home on Anne Street, where they allegedly found illicit drugs and other items connected to the offence.

Police said they seized nine cannabis plants ranging from 30cm to two metres tall and hidden under a blue tarpaulin.

Police also allege the accused had on one occasion pointed a shotgun at the 17-year-old girl, and on another occasion pointed a shotgun at the 31-year-old.

On the second occasion, the 31-year-old man said the accused had threatened to shoot him. The 31-year-old said he didn’t care and heard a click when the accused pulled the trigger, police will allege.

The accused has denied owning a shotgun.

On another occasion, the 31-year-old man alleged Barnes threw a coffee over him and his dog.

Barnes was charged with four counts of stalking/intimidation, three counts of common assault, two counts of cultivating a prohibited plant and one count of possessing a prohibited drug.

He is due back in Queanbeyan Local Court on January 25.

Police said investigations into the matter are continuing.

The Ridiculous Six review: lazy, racist and woeful pastiche of westerns

Adam Sandler is a joke in the Ridiculous Six.Even 12-year-old boys would have to concede that the jokes in this Adam Sandler abomination are too stupid for the schoolyard, let alone a Netflix original movie.


Take the running gag with the donkey that sprays diarrhoea with the force and volume of a fire hose. Or the Native American characters being given names like Beaver Breath and Never Wears Bra.

Or the idiot who is blind in one eye but gouges out the other one so he can join a gang of one-eyed bandits.

It’s almost too depressing to go on, particularly when you consider that the budget of $85 million was 10 times that of Netflix’s powerful child-soldier movie Beasts of No Nation.

But part of the Netflix business model is to make content that appeals to each individual demographic – including, quite clearly, the mouth-breathers.

Here Sandler plays a character named White Knife, a white ‘‘orphan’’ who was raised by a Native American tribe. Or rather, Sandler doesn’t play him.

He merely mopes about in White Knife’s clothes, occasionally exploding into stupid, fast-forward kung-fu action. In any case, White Knife is about to meet his real father, an old rogue by the name of Frank Stockton.

Frank is played by Nick Nolte, who is really acting, and the contrast between his performance and Sandler’s is striking. Frank gets kidnapped by a baddie (Danny Trejo, who is also really acting), so White Knife has to save him.

His plan ends up involving the five half-brothers he never knew he had: Mexican Ramon (the criminally unfunny Rob Schneider), slack-jawed simpleton Pete (Taylor Lautner), mute ogre Herm (Lost’s Jorge Garcia), piano-player Chico (Terry Crews), and failed presidential bodyguard Danny (Luke Wilson, who deserves better).

Others turning up to pocket a pay cheque include Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, David Spade and Vanilla Ice.

The thing goes on and on – for two whole hours – without ever acquiring any sort of momentum or consistency.

The cringe-inducing comedic scenes are interspersed with far too many interminable ‘‘dramatic’’ ones, and incongruous acts of violence occur without warning. Sandler and his long-time collaborators in writer Tim Herlihy and director Frank Coraci seem to think that

The Ridiculous 6 is a satire. It’s not. It’s a lazy pastiche of westerns and western spoofs, replete with lazy, racist jokes that can’t just be waved away with a waft of the irony card. Woeful.

The Ridiculous 6 is currently streaming on Netflix.