Football continues its growth

On the up: Football Mid North Coast director Mike Parsons is thrilled at the continued growth of the sport in the area.FOOTBALL continues to go from strength to strength across the country.

After the weekend’s announcement that the sport was the number one in club-based participation sport, those figures rang true not only nationally but across Northern NSW.

Football Mid North Coast Chairman Mike Parsons is proud of the games continued growth.

“The announcement officially confirms what was widely accepted, that football is the largest sport in Northern NSW,” Parsons said.

“The total number of registered players in Northern NSW alone has grown by 42 per cent in the last decade to a record figure of 64,186 players for 2016. In our zone, in the 2016 season, junior numbers have increased 7.3 per cent andseniors are up a staggering 16.8 per cent, giving a total of 6,400 players participating in the World Game.”

“Aside from the international profile of the game, key drivers for this growth continue to be football’s appeal as a great game and its attractiveness to all ages and abilities for men, women, boys and girls, with huge growth in the number of females participating.”

Parsons said it also reflected the accessibility of the game.

“28 clubs participate across the Mid North Coast. It’s something that we have achieved through the stabilisation of registration fees by sound financial management and the support of major financial partners in community football such as the Newcastle Permanent Building Society,” Parsons said.

But the continued growth of the ‘World Game’ across the Mid North Coast was not without its challenges.

“As our game continues to grow, we face a number of challenges, including increased pressure on facilities with added demands for drainage, lighting and amenities, as some clubs are stretched to accommodate the player demand in their area,”Parsons said.

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Call to withdraw airport support

A call has gone out for Penrith City Council to withdraw support for Western Sydney Airport following the federal government’s final sign-off on the project.

The airport became a certainty today (December 12), as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joinedInfrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher to signoff on the plans.

But locals have expressed unease with what they believe are essential details missing from the plans.

Newly elected Labor councillor Ben Price said the plans failed to deliver on two essential criteria, and that Penrith City Council should withdraw its support for the project.

“Some of the preconditions for [previous council] support were a curfew to match Kingsford Smith Airport, government to commit to construct a North/South Rail Link, which would be fully operational before a flight took off and a number of other environmental conditions.

“Fast forward and we now have the airport approved without at least two of the critical pre-conditions being met.

“The curfew is not included in the plans and furthermore the Federal Infrastructure Minister, Paul Fletcher, has advised council that the airport will operate without a curfew.

“It doesn’t get much clearer than this.

“We are no closer to getting a north/south rail line. In fact the state government can’t even commit to reserving a rail corridor for the future construction of a line let alone having a fully operational service in place before the opening of the airport.

“Without a north/south rail line the residents of western Sydney will miss out on a lot of the benefit that an airport might bring to the area.”

Cr Price has called for a council report to see if otherenvironmental pre-conditions have been addressed in the final EIS, but said he was “not holding my breath”.

“There is now a clear case to argue that with many of our preconditions not being met that council ought to reconsider our position and either reaffirm our support and risk betraying the undertakings council make to our ratepayers or look to withdraw it,” he said.

“I believe council should withdraw its support for the airport.”

Lindsay MP Emma Husar described the final approval of the airport a “bitter farce”.

Mr Turnbull had given the projecthis tick of approval without a jobs plan being in place, without a commitment to rail infrastructure from day one and without the necessary site impact tests being completed, she said in a statement.

“On May 6, 2016, the Minister for Urban Infrastructure said the final flight paths would be contained in the final EIS, but they weren’t. We still don’t know what the flight paths will look like, and I can only suppose that means there’s something to hide,” she said.

“The Prime Minister has today approved an airport without actually knowing what it will mean to the communities, schools, families and businesses that will be affected.

“It’s a bitter farce, and the people of western Sydney have a right to feel conned and cheated by the actions of this Liberal government.”

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) alsoreaffirmed its concerns over the airport’s final approval conditions.

WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said quality of life must be maintained for local residents.

“Currently, we do not have enough certainty that this will be the case,” he said. “Equity is a key concern for WSROC and unlike Kingsford Smith, Western Sydney Airport has no specific operating limitations, no noise abatement strategy, and no insulation or noise sharing programs.

“We don’t even know where the flight paths will be located.

“In addition to protections, WSROC wants to see the government’s plan for maximising the airport’s potential for employment, access to services, social inclusion, and regional connectivity.

“We need a transport network that gives both businesses and residents easy access to the airport and its surrounding employment lands. A single link to the city won’t cut it.”

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Timber mill fined

Dongwha sawmill.

Dongwha Timbers’ sawmill has been issued with a Penalty Notice for $15,000 by compliance officers from the Department of Planning and Environment.

Dongwha Timbers were penalised for tracking mud and dirt onto public roads after failing to seal an internal road within the site.

Theinvestigation was carried out following complaints to the department by Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

Manager of General Affairs at Dongwha Timbers, Michael Dyer confirmed the company had been fined $15,000 for allowing mud and debris to exit the site.

“Dongwha Timbers has been conscious of mud and debris exiting our site especially this year with the high rainfall.

“We are now working the the department to ensure this issue is rectified in a timely manner,” he said.

Department of Planning and Environment compliance officer issued five penalties worth $75,000 to quarry, timber and waste management facility operators in southern NSW for breaching approval conditions.

During October they inspected 57 sites throughout NSW and 12 in the southern region where they issued five $15,000 fines –the highest possible fine the department can issue.

Executive director of Resource Assessments and Compliance, Oliver Holm said the department actively inspected sites, did spot checks and undertook unannounced visits to ensure companies were complying with their conditions.

“We take breaches seriously and the community has an expectation that any breach will result in the appropriate action,” he said.

Penalty’s of $15,000 were also issued to Holcim’s Cooma Road Quarry in Queanbeyan; CEAL’s Ardmore Park Quarry in Bungonia with two fines going to Veolia Environmental Services’ Woodlawn Waste Facility in Tarago.

Compliance enforcement can include warning letters and orders, fines of up to$15,000 and prosecutions for the most serous offences with penalties of up to $5 million.

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Rules changes for juniors

SIX-A-SIDE, one pass, six-tackle sets and quarters, rather than thirds, are just some of the changes set to be introduced to junior footy in a bid to boost participation rates across the region.

Country Rugby League regional manager Western, Peter Clarke said the changes, which will be implemented from the under 6s age group right across the state, have been backed by the Rams region.

Cominginto play in 2017, junior league stars of the future will get the benefit of longer periods of time with the ball in hand with little consequence for mistakes – a chance rule is also being introduced for forward passes, knock-ons and running into touch at an under 6s level.

Clarke said the main focus on the changes was to make the game more enjoyable for junior age groupswith the non-competitive nature of the competitions across the Western Division extending from under 6s through to under 9s.

“And in Group 14, they’re stretching it to include under 10s next season,” Clarke added.

MAJOR CHANGES for under 6s and under 7s:

Six players per team, not eight;Eight minute quarters, not 10 minute thirds;One pass requirement, not two;Six tackles per set, not four;No scrums;Defenders stand 5m back;No conversions, no kicks in general play; Knock-on, forward pass, run into touch –chance rule (under 6s only);

“It’s more about encouraging kids to be part of our game at an early age, and making sure that time in the game is an enjoyable experience so the pathway into older age groups is clear.”

Clarke said making the changes to junior league known now, five months out from the start of the season, would ensure there’s no excuses come kick-off.

The NRL added it will continue its policy of positive and appropriate off-field behaviour amongst parents, spectators and participants.

“Children and young adults learn from those around them and we are committed to ensuring that those in our game, no matter what level and age, are respectful at all times,” NRL chief of football Brian Canavan said.

Clarke agreed.

“(Parents) can be (an issue). A lot of the time the trouble from the sidelines is because parents don’t know the rules. This is a means of making sure the communication is there,” he added.

Clarke was confident the changes, which filter up through the grades –at varied degrees -until international rules are applied in full foe the under 13s, would help facilitate junior league participation, which is still strong in thearea.

“In general, our numbers are steady, and certainly the growth of league tag has helped those numbers.”

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Perfect location but it needs a freshen up

It’s one of the most recgonisable scenes in Tasmania, and even on a national scale it’s a big one for tourists.

But the introduction to Cradle Mountain is pretty second-rate.

The comparison between Cradle Mountain’s current visitor centre and a truck stop is pretty spot on.

In fact I’ve seen a few truck stops around the country which would leave the Cradle Mountain centrein theirwake quite comfortably.

As a first impression for visitors from around the globe, it’s pretty abysmal.

And quite rightly Cradle Mountain should be one of the major tourist drawcards for visitors from every corner of the earth.

If it was the truckstop crowd you weretargeting then it may not be a big deal. But at Cradle Mountain we should have something fitting of one of the State’s premier tourist attractions.

But the pace to make progressfor a new master plan to bring the visitor experience at Cradle Mountain into the 21st century,from some quarters, has been pedestrian to say the least.

This is despite a lot of work going into the creation of the Cradle Mountain Master Plan to provide a strong case for the overall project to take the experience to the next level.

It includes a major new visitor experience to welcome people, a major new commercial hub, a cable car to increase access to the park, and a new viewing centre on the shores of the iconic Dove Lake.

Despite a great amount of enthusiasm and praise for the plan, it appears to have all but stalled.

It was quite a contrast at the weekend to see the effusive support from our state and federalgovernments for the new proposal for Macquarie Point –a stone’s throw from central Hobart -compared to the glacial pace to act onCradle Mountain.

Standing alongside the brains trust from MONA, the government representatives were like a group of kids at Christmas.

But it was like getting blood from a stone to get the Turnbull Government behind the project at the Federal Election, with a paltry $1 million committed to further work to provide more paper to back the project.

Many other projects in the past have been given big buckets of Federal money in the past with a lot less on paper –one involving chocolate just north of the capital immediately springs to mind.

The Tasmanian Government has been more forthcoming from a funding point of view, but concerns were raised at the weekend when the Parks and Wildlife Service advertised for a project manager for the visitor centre.

The master plan for Cradle Mountain is a whole lot broader than just avisitor centre.

That’s why the weekend’s advertising raised a red flag with the tourism industry.

It needs to have the same sort of entrepreneurial input as Macquarie Point and other key projects in the state.

Getting it right at Cradle Mountain is a once in a generation opportunity for the North-West of the state.

It will hopefully give the region a new lease on life and drive a spike in tourism like MONA has done for the south of the state.

Not everyone can be lucky enough to have the vision and commitment of David Walsh.

Which is why a clear commitment from both governments is critical.

The Federal Government needs to rethink its reluctant approach, while their state colleagues need to quickly lift its status within the halls of power.

Too much has happened to let it stagnate.

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