Lowe relieved by close-run Glory win

Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe says he doesn’t know how the team managed to ‘pull it out of the fire’. Photo: Paul Kane Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe says he doesn’t know how the team managed to ‘pull it out of the fire’. Photo: Paul Kane
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Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe says he doesn’t know how the team managed to ‘pull it out of the fire’. Photo: Paul Kane

Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe says he doesn’t know how the team managed to ‘pull it out of the fire’. Photo: Paul Kane

Jamie MacLaren may find it tough getting back into the Perth Glory starting line-up, despite scoring two goals late in his side’s 2-1 win over the Newcastle Jets on Saturday night.

It all happened pretty quickly for MacLaren.

He came into the game at the 76 minute mark when the Jets held a 1-0 lead. He scored in the 77thminute and then completed his brace on 79 minutes.

“I was disappointed,” joked Glory coach Kenny Lowe. “I said three.”

MacLaren started on the sub’s bench at nib Stadium on Saturday after playing the final 30 minutes of the Glory’s FFA Cup win over Melbourne Victory on Wednesday with cramp.

Lowe was about to sub Keogh off when MacLaren scored the equalizer, his first.

“I decided to run with it and take the gamble and hope Andy didn”t ping anything,” Lowe said.

“To do that after playing midweek and after 120 (minutes) and do that again, shows we have quality players in the dressing room.

“We don’t have any injuries, but they are really tight.

“I don’t know how we managed to pull it out of the fire.”

Lowe’s reference to the 120 minute contest midweek was Wednesday night’s 4-2 extra-time win over the Melbourne Victory in the FFA Cup.

The only A-League game that MacLaren has started in during the first four rounds of the season was in round 3 when the Glory lost to Adelaide. He now has three goals. In round 1 he also entered the game late and scored in Perth’s 2-1 away win to Wellington.

So Lowe may be tempted to mark him in permanently in pen on the substitute’s bench, for now anyway.

Either way, the 21-year old has certainly impressed his coach in the early stages of the season.

“Macca has come back lighter; he’s worked so hard; he’s a super character; doing everything right,” Lowe said. “He’s enjoying his football. I can’t praise him enough

“He’s (the striker the Glory has been looking for) already here.”

Lowe also praised the flexibility of his squad and the ability of members of the team to fill in gaps when required, but he hasn’t ruled out adding another quality striker to the squad for “if case Andy or Macca  role over.”

Sunday’s win took the Glory back to second on the table and they still have several players to fit back into the line-up.

Chris Harold is set to return from injury within the next fortnight and Sidnei and Ruben Zadkovich need a week or two more before they could be back in Glory colours.

“I’m praying for injuries so I don’t have to make too many decisions,” Lowe joked.


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Bushfire threatens Kurri hospital, spreads to Pelaw Main

Blaze close to homes: photos A Police Officer watches on a fire off Leggetts Drive Pelaw Main. Picture: Simone De Peak
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A helicopter picking up water near Leggetts Drive Pelaw Main. Picture: Simone De Peak

Firefighters attending the a fire off Leggetts Drive Pelaw Main. Picture: Simone De Peak

Firefighters attending the aftermath of a fire of Leggetts Drive Pelaw Main. Picture: Simone De Peak

A Firefighter talking to residents in Leggetts Drive Pelaw Main. Picture Simone De Peak

People watch on the fire near Pelaw Main. Picture: Simone De Peak

Emergency service in Leggetts Drive Pelaw Main whish is closed due to fire. Picture: Simone De Peak

Smoke from the bushfire near Kurri Kurri hospital on Sunday. Photo: Nic Holstein

Smoke from the bushfire near Kurri Kurri hospital on Sunday. Photo: Nic Holstein

Smoke from the bushfire near Kurri Kurri hospital on Sunday. Photo: Nic Holstein

Smoke from the bushfire near Kurri Kurri hospital on Sunday. Photo: Nic Holstein

Picture Dave Bean

Picture Dave Bean

Picture Dave Bean

Picture Dave Bean

Picture Dave Bean

Picture Dave Bean

Picture: Dave Bean

Picture: Dave Bean

Picture Samantha Burns

Picture Samantha Burns

Picture Samantha Burns

Picture Samantha Burns

Picture Samantha Burns

Picture Samantha Burns

TweetFacebook Kurri Kurri Fire EDITORIAL: Beware bushfire season

BUSHFIRE threatened houses at Pelaw Main on Sunday and created a massive pall of smoke over the Hunter.

The fire was out of control for hours, but firefighters contained it in the evening.

Southwesterly to westerly winds pushed smoke across the Newcastle skyline, which could be seen from as far away as the Central Coast.

The fire was initially reported as only five hectares, but by night 282 hectares had burnt.

Rural Fire Service Inspector Ben Shepherd said the fire had ‘‘run close to homes’’ in Wallsend and Neath streets.

‘‘There was some concern it may push towards homes, but it dissipated as it ran past them,’’ Inspector Shepherd said.

Pelaw Main resident Nandina Vines said there was ‘‘a bit of panic’’ among residents, especially her and a neighbour who had to evacuate their eight horses.

‘‘The firies did a great job – the people of Pelaw Main owe them a big thank you,’’ Ms Vines said.

The fire burnt within the Hunter Economic Zone – land thick with bush and earmarked for a controversial industrial estate.

Inspector Shepherd attributed the copious smoke to the type of vegetation being burnt.

‘‘It’s paperbark and heath country – it burns hot,’’ he said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Temperatures in the area were in the low- to mid-20s throughout the day, but Inspector Shepherd said ‘‘it doesn’t have to be hot for there to be fires’’ and he warned against complacency. ‘‘If you live close to bush, you must prepare your home and have a bushfire survival plan.’’

In another bushfire, about 1000 hectares was burnt at Swan Bay in Port Stephens.

Lower Hunter Fire Control Centre community safety officer Bert Pipan said firefighters were ‘‘working on containment lines’’ on Sunday night.

MORE than 40 Rural Fire Service firefighters are battling a bushfire near Kurri Kurri.

The blaze started near Hospital Road on Sunday afternoon and has crossed Leggetts Drive, which has been closed to traffic.

It could soon threaten John Renshaw Drive.

Water bombing helicoptersand ground crews are working together to control the fire, which was listed as a Watch and Act at 1.30pm.

Firefighters have positioned themselves on Greta Street, Hebburn Street and Wallsend Street as a precaution.

More to come


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Postie bike bash 2104 sets off

Postie bike bash sets off The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers
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The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

The first annual Variety Postie Bash kicked off at Customs House, Newcastle, on Sunday morning. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookA procession of postie bikes have roared out of Newcastle for a six day, two wheel adventure to raise money for children in need.

The 27 riders in the inaugural Variety Postie Bike Dash left Customs House on Sunday morning wearing safety gear and with a crate strapped to the back of their Honda CT110 postie bikes, of which many had been restored at home.

Each rider had raised a minimum of $1500 to support Variety’s work to help Australian children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs to gain mobility, independence and self-esteem.

The group will traverse dirt and forestry tracks, gravel back roads and country by-roads visiting communities including Gloucester, Wingham, Nowendoc, Walcha, Manilla, Spring Ridge, Quirindi, Sandy Hollows and Scone.

The riders will return to Newcastle on Friday November 7.


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Unloved and ineffective, US Congress slouches towards polling day with Republicans favoured

Washington: It is hard to exaggerate just how unloved and how ineffective the current Congress, which faces midterm elections on Tuesday in the United States, has been.
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The metrics are there, of course. This Congress has passed less legislation than any other in modern American history – around a tenth of that enacted by the infamous “do-nothing” Congress of 1947-1949.

The American people know how badly they have been let down, too. Though US President Barack Obama remains deeply unpopular, with a job approval of around 42 per cent, he is streets ahead of Congress, which enjoys the approval of just 13.4 per cent of its citizens, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average.

There is little good news for either of the major parties. A deep analysis of voter dissatisfaction by Pew Research – part of a year-long study – published last week shows the electorate is profoundly disappointed with both.

“The GOP’s favourable ratings are underwater: 39 per cent of registered voters view the party favourably, while 55 per cent have an unfavourable impression,” says the Pew report. “Favourable ratings for the Democratic Party, while better than the GOP’s, are hardly robust: As many voters view the party unfavourably (48 per cent) as favourably (47 per cent).”

The same research found the Democratic Party was considered more empathetic, more willing to compromise, more honest and ethical and more understanding of normal people’s concerns.

Not surprisingly, Republicans led on economics, terrorism and government management. Either way Rand Paul, the Republican senator seen as a key contender for the GOP’s presidential nomination, was moved to comment: “The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don’t want to be a Republican.”

Despite all this, most analysts believe the Republican Party has a far greater chance of winning a majority in the Senate than Democrats do of maintaining control, just as they believe Republicans will extend their lead in the House of Representatives.

To understand this apparent anomaly, and to understand why Americans have been subjected to campaign so devoid of policy debate that some have labelled it “the Seinfeld election” – an election about nothing – you need to understand two realities of the American system.

Firstly, Republicans hold a natural advantage in midterm elections, when turnout is lower. Without the excitement generated by a bid for the White House,  voter turnout tends to be older, whiter, richer and better educated than in presidential elections. These are demographic categories that favour Republicans. While African-American turnout is expected to remain high, Latino turnout is expected to be far lower than in 2012.

This trend is exacerbated this year, a midterm during the President’s second term. Though Mr Obama is not on the ballot, the midterms inevitably become a chance for an electorate to vent dissatisfaction at the President six years into his time in office.

Secondly, the electoral map benefits the Republican Party, particularly in the Senate. Six years after the Democratic surge in 2008, the party simply finds itself defending more seats than Republicans, many of them in conservative states such as South Dakota and Arkansas.

Aware of the current Congress’s historic lack of achievement, the Republican Party is not seeking a mandate – rather it is seeking to ride these two trends, coupled with dissatisfaction with Mr Obama, into control.

And with Mr Obama effectively sidelined from the campaign, the Democratic Party has proven unwilling or unable to rally around a positive platform and is instead running a series of skirmishes with Republican challengers rather than a cohesive campaign.

The result has been depressing to watch.

Rather than engaging in the issues Americans care about – as Pew research demonstrates – such as taxation reform and growing inequality, and reform of a broken immigration system, both parties have sought to harness general disquiet and fear, especially over the rise of the so-called Islamic State and the spread of Ebola.

As far back as August, incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor of Arkansas, trailing in most polls, accused his Republican opponent, Tom Cotton, of exposing the country to Ebola  by voting against a 2013 bill that included money to respond to pandemics. However, Mr Cotton, a member of the House of Representatives, did vote for the final version of the bill that eventually became law.

Republican congressman Robert Goodlatte told Fox News that Mr Obama plans to “import” Ebola patients into the United States, though he did not provide any evidence, nor explain why the President would do such a thing. A new ad from the Republican National Committee even accuses Mr Obama of wanting to bring terrorists into the United States: “ISIS gaining ground. Terrorists committing mass murder. Ebola inside the US. Americans alarmed about national security. What’s President Obama doing? Making plans to bring terrorists from Guantanamo to our country . . . November 4, Obama’s policies are on the ballot. Vote to keep terrorists off US soil. Vote Republican.”

A handful of candidates have enthusiastically woven a tapestry of paranoia over both Ebola and undocumented immigration. Both Pat Roberts, the Kansas incumbent Republican fighting a tough senatorial challenge, and Thom Thillis, challenging a Democrat in North Carolina, have declared their plan to tackle Ebola is to seal the southern border.

Distance from the border has not been an impediment to such claims. Former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, who is now running for Senate in New Hampshire – nearly 4000 kilometres from the border – has declared people with Ebola will march north, though there have been no cases of the disease south of the border.

“if Mitt [Romney] was the president right now,” then he could “guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now,” Mr Brown said.

Many Democrats have distinguished themselves throughout the campaign mainly by distancing themselves from Mr Obama and his signature healthcare reform.

Kentucky Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is seeking to oust the man who will become the Senate leader should Republicans win control, has repeatedly refused to even confirm that she has voted for Mr Obama.

Rather than answering the question she has instead evoked the sanctity of the ballot box, all the while declaring herself to be a “Clinton Democrat through and through”.

Mr Obama, who has obligingly absented himself from most the campaign – outside of relentless fundraising – accidentally made Mrs Grimes’ position more difficult early last month when he declared in a speech: “I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: [my] policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”

Within hours of the comments they were on high rotation in Republican advertisements.

Without a universal Republican bogeyman to scare its voters to the polls with, many Democrats have campaigned against the notorious GOP mega-donors known as the Koch brothers, rather than against actual candidates.

While the Koch brothers – billionaire libertarian industrialists – have undoubtedly channeled a river of cash into Republican campaigns across the country, a recent analysis by Politico found the 15 top Democrat-aligned independent political action committees have outraised the 15 top Republican ones $453 million to $289 million in the 2014 cycle.

Perhaps the nadir of this lacklustre campaign was what has, with depressing inevitability, become known as “Fangate”.

Fangate erupted at the beginning of the second debate between the Florida Governor (these midterm elections involve 36 state gubernatorial races along with all of the House of Representatives and around a third of the Senate) Rick Scott and his challenger, Charlie Crist. The debate began with neither candidate on stage and two panicked hosts blathering about the odd situation they found themselves in.

Within a minute, Mr Crist – himself a former governor and former Democrat – bounded on stage, looking sprightly with his trademark white hair and orange skin.

It turns out he has a tendency to break out in Nixonian sweats under TV lights and his team had installed a little electronic fan in his podium. Mr Scott’s team declared this to be in clear contravention of the rules, and to Mr Crist’s obvious delight the governor pouted somewhere off stage for a full seven minutes before being coaxed onto the dais.

There has been little reporting of the substance of their debate.

This is not to say that the two parties do not have plans for the coming term, nor that American citizens are unaware of the pressing need for activist government.

Both parties are positioning for the 2016 presidential election. The White House is desperate to shore up Mr Obama’s legacy, particularly by further entrenching the healthcare changes, which are so far proving more successful than their many supporters dared hope 12 months ago.

Both parties want to see immigration reform passed – Democrats to entrench their advantage among the growing Hispanic population that helped Mr Obama win two elections, moderate Republicans to try to build bridges with it.

But there is little reason to believe a new Congress will overcome the divide that has neutered the last, and the one before it. Speaking with Fairfax earlier this year, Larry Sabato, one of the nation’s leading political scientists, said the likely outcome – a Republican-controlled Senate combating a Democratic White House – would only lead to more gridlock.

Worse, as the political logjam continues, the two near-equal partisan camps that America’s parties have divided the nation into further entrench themselves.

By running almost entirely negative campaigns, neither party has made any attempt to reach out to swinging voters or their opponents – rather they have sought only to agitate the partisans in their own base.

Those who vote on Tuesday will on the whole be angrier and more partisan than those who stay at home, Pew’s director of political research Carroll Doherty told Fairfax last week.

“Those who are consistently conservative and liberal, who together make up only about one-in-five (22 per cent) in the general public, make up 36 per cent of those most likely to vote,” his research reveals. “By contrast, those with mixed opinions will be only 24 per cent of the electorate, although they constitute 39 per cent of the general public.”

As a result, despite spending more money than during any other midterm campaign in history, opinion polls have barely moved and commentary is despondent.

Meanwhile generations of legislators of both sides of the aisle who grew up in an era when compromise was the norm and passing good law was the aim of congressional politics are retiring.

Last Sunday the New York Times noted that in its dying days the Republican-dominated House of Representatives chose not to deal with immigration or infrastructure spending, but instead voted to block consumer financial protection regulation, kept secret donations flowing and even filibustered a bill to improve veterans’ benefits in favour of deficit reduction.

“Let’s be clear: Blame for this sorry state of affairs rests squarely on the shoulders of the people running the show—the Barack Obamas, Mitch McConnells, Harry Reids, John Boehners and Nancy Pelosis of the world. Toss in Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus and his Democratic counterpart, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, too,” wrote the libertarian commentator Nick Gillespie in a bitter piece for the Daily Beast last week.

“But ultimately the responsibility—or at least the price tag—lies with citizens. We deserve better, yes, but nothing will change until we demand better.”


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Direct Action is a Mickey Mouse scheme says former Howard adviser

Criticised Abbott government scheme: Geoff Cousins. Photo: Darrian Traynor Criticised Abbott government scheme: Geoff Cousins. Photo: Darrian Traynor
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Environment Minister Greg Hunt: “The Emissions Reduction Fund is open for business.” Photo: Andrew Meares

Criticised Abbott government scheme: Geoff Cousins. Photo: Darrian Traynor

Criticised Abbott government scheme: Geoff Cousins. Photo: Darrian Traynor

Direct Action is a “Mickey Mouse” scheme that falls short of the “real leadership” needed to tackle climate change, a former adviser to John Howard says.

The president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Geoff Cousins, has slammed the Abbott government’s Direct Action policy, which was approved by the Senate last week, following a surprise deal between the Coalition and the Palmer United Party.

The program will set up a $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, designed to help Australia meet its emissions reduction target of 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. Through the fund, the government will provide incentives to businesses, households and landowners to reduce their emissions.

Mr Cousins told ABC TV on Sunday that politicians “of all stripes” were failing Australians in the area of climate change policy.

“What we’ve got to do is convince this government and all political leaders in this country to take real action on this,” he said.

“Not this Mickey Mouse scheme that has been stitched up with the leader of a mining company.”

Direct Action has been heavily criticised by economics and climate scientists, who say the scheme will fail to meet Australia’s reduction target.

Mr Cousins singled out Prime Minister Tony Abbott for not doing enough to address the issue.

“When the big United Nations summit [on climate change] was on in New York [in September], only three world leaders failed to arrive and one of them was our Prime Minister,” he said.

“What was he doing? Riding a bike or shirt-fronting someone? Australians aren’t silly. They understand that the government is not really interested in these issue at all.”

On Sunday, Environment Minister Greg Hunt again said the government would meet the target with the current funds and approach.

He said that the first auctions under the Emissions Reduction Fund will begin in the first quarter of 2015.

“The Emissions Reduction Fund is open for business,” he told Sky News.

Labor’s environment spokesman, Mark Butler, said the policy was not a good one for the country.

“There has not been one single credible economist or climate scientist or business organisation that has said this is a good use of taxpayer funds that will achieve the stated objective, which is to reduce carbon pollution,” Mr Butler told ABC TV.

Mr Cousins, who is also a millionaire businessman, was a consultant to prime minister John Howard for 10 years.

He has a long history as an environmentalist, campaigning against the Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania in 2007.


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