Jun 20

EDITORIAL: Clarity needed on decision making

THERE was always a good chance that Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney was going to call in the decision on the application to extend the Mount Cotton Quarry.

The combination of a new government, determined to assert itself as no-nonsense and pro-economic development, with a project that has been “to-ing and fro-ing” since 2004, meant intervention was likely.

But with a court appeal also looming, the state government intervention became a fait accompli.

The quarry operators believe the resource should be exploited because it exists and there is a market for it.

If either of those conditions did not exist there would be no application for extension.

On the other side, since the initial quarry started much has changed about how the natural environment is regarded and how people wish to live in that natural environment.

Once large tracts of land to build houses or industry were cleared. The rapid population growth of the 1980s and 1990s in South East Queensland raised awareness of the dwindling bushland and habitat loss.

That is the context in which this quarry debate has been played out.

The state government may take a more pragmatic position based on its planning policy, which aims to protect extractive resources by zoning them as key resource areas.

If the state really wants to make decisions on all developments associated with key resource areas, it should take the application process away from councils. If not, keep out of it.

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Jun 20

Alpacas protect the chooks from foxes

Fox alarms: Alpacas guard over the chooks at Alstonefield Alpaca stud farm in Glenorie.THEY look cute and soft but an alpaca is capable of stomping a fox to death.

So several farmers told us, including alpaca breeder Anne West, of Glenorie.

“Lots of our neighbours also have chooks but we are the only one of our neighbours not to have lost a chook to a fox,” Ms West said.

“The alpacas actually give out a warning call, not just if there’s foxes but if there’s anything out there they’re not used to or that is a danger.”

The call is a cross between a chimpanzee and a bird noise.

“There’s always been a demand for herd guards [but] people are increasingly buying alpacas to protect their chickens from foxes,” Sue Maynard, regional secretary of the Australian Alpacas Association, said.

It’s one way to deal with the fox problem flagged on the Hills News website, as well as onour sister paper websites, after we reported the Australian arm of the animal rights group PETA wanted The Hills Council to stop killing red foxes at Bidjigal Reserve.

Read the article we published on September 17:PETA calls to end fox poisoning in The Hills.

Foxoff poison baits containing 1080 are buried in three local reserves — Bidjigal, Eric Mobbs and Excelsior — twice a year.

Online everyone agreed the pest-management practice was necessary.

Bega Farmer said: “I shoot LOTS of foxes and see first-hand the devastation they cause, from thrill-killing a whole chicken pen and eating just one chicken, killing day-old lambs — some as they’re being born — to killing every native animal it can handle; even seen one pull down a wallaby . . . this introduced species has no place in our eco system.”

On our Facebook page, Laura Marshall said: “Just wondering if they [PETA] care about the rights of all the native animals that get killed as well?”

A Hills Council spokesman said the RSPCA deemed the use of 1080 as “conditionally humane and lawful”, as there is no alternative, effective control method available.

A Hornsby Council spokesman said Hornsby Council also supported fox control using 1080 but the council had not been involved in fox baiting for 18 months to two years, “due to a change in priorities within the regional baiting program”.

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Jun 20


Safer Driver Course

TO earn 20 hours of credit in your learner driver log book, while becoming a safer driver you can enrol in the Safer Driver Course.

If you have more than 50 hours in your log book you can sign up for the course at the Hornsby PCYC which will be held on October 10, 6-9pm.

The course is only available for people up to 25 years.

Details: 4296 4448.

Pet food prizes

PET lovers in western Sydney are invited to participate in a fund-raising competition to raise $50,000 for animal shelters across the country.

All they have to do is to upload a photo of their pets to show their loyalty, playfulness, unconditional love and tell in 25 words or less on why they bring so much joy.

Hill’s Science Diet pet food is offering three $3000 cash prizes, $500 worth of pet food to six lucky runners-up and $5 to the first 10,000 entries for donation to animal charities.

Nutrition general manager John Douglas said the fund-raising would help find homes for more than 50,000 adoptable animals.

He said it would make people more aware of animal shelters and encourage them to volunteer, donate and/or adopt a pet into their family home.

Animal lovers can upload a photo of their family pet to foodshelterlove苏州美甲美睫培训.au.

$5000 to each school

TALLOWOOD School and Crestwood High School will receive a Credit Union Australia $5000 grant for the installation of a road safety practice area in Tallowood School.

Crestwood High School will purchase blackboards and improve space for sports. There will be a presentation ceremony at Crestwood High School on October 10 at 9am.

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Jun 20

Documentaries reveal Waubra experiences

Waubra is a small town in central Victoria surrounded by a wind farm.

It has recently been the location for a series of documentaries produced by Castlemaine independent filmmaker, Neil Barrett, that demonstrate widespread acceptance of the wind farm among locals.

The documentaries feature interviews with turbine hosts and their neighbours at Waubra about their experiences with the wind farm.

Mr Barrett said the documentaries revealed that many Waubra residents were fed up with their town’s name being associated with an illness by the Waubra Foundation.

He said that people who derived rent and income from hosting wind farms, and their supportive neighbours, had been absent from the debate so far and that it was important to hear from people who live and work around the turbines without any problems.

“For too long, the only association people outside Waubra had with the town was either a foundation peddling fear, or a disease that the foundation was purporting to have emerged from the town,” Mr Barrett said.

“That’s despite the fact that 17 inquiries around the world have shown there is no evidence for the claims.

“It is important that people outside the community understand that there’s much more to Waubra than the claims of the foundation’s board members who live on average of 350 kilometres from Waubra.

“The football team had a great year, the community fund has given $70,000 to local groups (including the school which has been able to hire a new music teacher) and farmers are more sustainable and profitable now the wind farm is in operation.

“I’ve been talking to people from Waubra for the last year and interviewed almost 50 of them when researching for the film.

“In 2011, the State Government gave anyone living within two kilometres of a proposed wind farm the right to veto it, causing other communities to potentially miss out on the benefits wind farms like that in Waubra present.

“The interviews suggest that the law is too restrictive.

“People hosting wind farms say that they don’t have any adverse health effects. Nor do they have gag clauses in their contracts as is often claimed. However they do welcome the income they receive from them.

“Some wind farmers called the foundation and the claims they make ‘a bit of a farce’.

“According to some of the locals, some of the farmers would not have been able to remain in the district were it not for the remuneration they receive from the wind farm.

“But people should watch the video and see what these long-term Waubra residents, many of them community leaders, have to say for themselves.”

The film can be viewed at the vicwind website.

Next week: The Waubra Foundation responds.

Castlemaine filmmaker, Neil Barrett, has produced documentaries revealing widespread acceptance of the Waubra wind farm among locals.

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Jun 20

Run provides a full day of fun

Picture: Carlos FurtadoIf you’re looking for a day full of exciting fun for families, look no further than the day long festival of The Hills News M2 Run for the Hills.

The main stage entertainment, courtesy of Castle Towers, will be on from 10am to 3pm with a line-up of local performers and My Kitchen Rocks presentations from the Hills Shire Council.

Australian boy band What About Tonight will headline the event with a performance at 12.30pm, followed by signings of their latest single Time Of Our Lives.

Event sponsor Event Cinemas will screen a free movie for families at 3pm and have donated a 12-month gold class pass valued at $1000 and a private gold class screening for 30 people worth $2500 as prizes for the highest fundraisers.

General manager of Castle Hill Event Cinemas Lanai Stanger said she is proud to sponsor such a “great community event”.

The Hills News M2 Run for the Hills is an 8-kilometre fun run that will start and finish on Main Street, Castle Hill.

The festival’s main stage will be located on the intersection of Old Northern Road and Crane Road.For children there will be a carnival, zoo with 45 animals and pony rides — all free.

All money raised will go to Lifestart, an organisation that provides early childhood intervention for children disabilities.

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Jun 20

High-tech challenge revving up science study

Gifted: Brett Sizeland with the Formula 1 race car given to the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation in Castle Hill. He designed a model F1 car to reach speeds of up to 100km/h, propelled by a soda bulb, while a F1 in Schools participant. Picture: Natalie RobertsWith a McLaren Formula 1 race car a tangible example of the engineering behind the fastest of vehicles, schools may well race to take part in the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation’s F1 in Schools technology challenge.

The vehicle was recently donated to the Castle Hill-based foundation, which aims to get students as young as 10 interested in science, mathematics and engineering.

REA founder Michael Myers said students will take between 13 weeks and a year to design, manufacture and market a model Formula 1 car.

Students from William Clarke College, Kellyville, have taken part in the big challenge.

“It’s about letting kids touch the most advanced technology and realise they can also design like that,” Dr Myers said.

“Theoretically, it’s called action learning. They get to understand why we do maths and how that relates to a real job.

“We’re a catalyst to get kids interested . . . and the teachers take over and bring the maths and science together.”

This includes equations, wind tunnel tests, and aerodynamics before students precision cut a 65 millimetre-wide block of balsa wood into a race car.

Dr Myers said 500,000 students have completed the program nationally since 2002, and about 64 per cent changed their career choice as a result.

Brett Sizeland, who works at Castle Hill, completed the F1 in Schools challenge five times and placed fifth at the Singapore World Championship in 2009. The event attracts 9 million students.

“I learnt a lot of engineering skills from that like CAD [computer-aided design],” he said.

“We talked to uni students when we were doing the project and they were jealous because they didn’t get to touch it until second or third year at uni and we were doing it in years 8 and 9 at high school.”

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Jun 20

Glenwood siblings bask in showbiz limelight

Centre stage: Laura and Jackson Bunting will make their musical theatre debut at the Riverside Theatres next week. Picture: Geoff JonesMOVE over Kylie and Dannii Minogue.

Jackson and Laura Bunting of Glenwood are the new siblings making waves in the entertainment industry.

Jackson,12, snagged his first centre-stage appearance in the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Capitol Theatre in 2012.

He was 11-years-old at the time and played the part of Stephen, the leader of the sewer kids, along side well known star Rachael Beck.

Jackson’s career launched into action after attending an open day at Sonja Dene Dance Studios where his sister was learning how to dance.

He hasn’t looked back since.

Younger sister, Laura, 10, will make her musical theatre debut in the award-winning production of Candy Man alongside Jackson at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta,from October 10.

They will both perform in the youth choir.

Aside from musical theatre, Laura has also starred in a Telstra commercial and played the character of Mary in the Australian Film Television and Radio School produced movie, KHARISMA.

Her next big role will be in the popular musical Annie at Riverside Theatres in February.

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Jun 20

Entertainment in brief

Bands battle

Dural Country Club is searching for Australia’s next big music act in their Battle of the Bands.

The club has enlisted Oxygen Music Group and excellent producers to work with the winner and record, produce, mix and master a commercial EP.

The prize worth more than $15,000.

The competition is open to all bands from all styles and all ages.

■ Details: Wayne Kalil, 0487 850 743.

Candy Man

The dynamic celebration of the life and music of Sammy Davis Jr is back by popular demand.

Candy Man will play at the Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, from October 10 to October 13 for six shows only.

■ Details: riversideparramatta苏州美甲美睫培训.au.

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Jun 20

Planning bill ‘not enough’

THE Hills Council has acknowledged the state government’s changes to the draft Planning Bill 2013 “as a step in the right direction”.

“But they don’t go far enough,” a council spokesman said.

Hornsby state MP Matt Kean said changes to the current draft bill include:

■ allowing councils to modify the existing state-wide code for houses up to two storeys, to better reflect their local area in certain circumstances;

■ code assessable development for broad strategic medium/high density will only apply in nominated growth areas — for example, transport corridors such as the North West train line or WestConnex or urban activation precincts — or areas nominated by councils;

■ the target for code assessable developments has been removed entirely; and

■ councils will be required to prepare Neighbourhood Impact Statements if they intend to implement code assessable development. Issues such as building height, setbacks, traffic, car parking and environmental issues will be considered in detail by the community.

Council’s spokesman said: “Council encourages Mr Kean to lobby his government for a streamlined, simple planning system that removes duplication and restores community standards by giving local planning powers back to local government.”

He said this could be done by abolishing Joint Regional Planning Panels, abolishing government controls that override local councils and removing the “inherent conflict of interest associated with private certifiers”.

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Jun 20

GALLERY: Etiquette at the farm

Miss Manners returns to Rouse Hill House and Farm tomorrow (Tuesday) and Thursday.

That’s when she opens her home to youth in need of genteel refinement, guiding them in the arts of introduction, conversation and how to avoid unintentional offence.

View a photo gallery of last week at the farm.

Wear 19th century hats, play croquet and take home a booklet of etiquette dos and don’ts.

For kids aged five to 12; 10.30am-11.30am and 12.30pm-1.30pm. Cost: $12 (includes one accompanying adult).

Bookings: sydneylivingmuseums苏州美甲美睫培训.au.

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