Cooks fears Bowen blaze

Wollongong coach Eric Cooks has named new Gold Coast import Justin Bowen as a danger man for tomorrow night’s showdown between the Hawks and Blaze at WIN Entertainment Centre.Bowen arrived in Australia as a replacement for Juaquin Hawkins less than two weeks ago, watching from the bench in civilian clothes as the Blaze notched their maiden win of the season last Wednesday against Townsville.The American forward made his debut against the league-leading South Dragons three nights later, showing why Blaze coach Brendan Joyce rates him so highly with 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes.While Gold Coast guards Shane Heal and James Harvey will be primary defensive targets for the Hawks, the athletic Bowen looms as a major threat.”I saw the tape of Bowen’s game against the Dragons and he looks like a quality player who can put the ball in the basket,” Cooks said.”He can put it on the floor and create his own shot, he shoots the three fairly well. He’s definitely a guy we’re going to have to pay close attention to.”He kind of reminds me of a (former New Zealand Breakers import) Carlos Powell-type of player, although Bowen is more guard-orientated than Powell.”We hang our hat on our pressure defence, so obviously we’ll try and pressure him to see how his fitness is going, especially given the fact it’ll be Gold Coast’s second game in three days.”The Hawks (6-5) are fifth on the NBL ladder and have won their past two games.Their last win was on the road over Cairns on November 1, and Cooks believes his side is stinging to play again.”Training has certainly been testy over the last few days and the guys have been getting up each other because they’re probably a little tired of each other, but the signs I take from that are all positive,” he said.”It reminds me of the trainings we used to have when I played with Ballarat (in the ABA). It’d get real physical and guys would beat the hell out of each other, but everyone got along real well and had a lot of respect for each other. “That’s how it is with this (Hawks) team. Training has been very physical and competitive, but they’re all real good friends and it’s a very healthy and happy team environment.”We’ve had a fairly long break, and until you get out there and the lights come on in a game situation, you never know if you’re going to be rusty or ready to go. The positive signs are that our trainings has been very intense and our scrimmages have been of a high quality.”The Blaze will train in Wollongong today after taking on the Sydney Spirit last night at Homebush.
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Manpower shortage hits Woonona club’s big plans

A radical plan for newly promoted Woonona Soccer Club to play in both the Illawarra Premier League and District League next year is expected to fall over due to lack of manpower. Woonona’s committee met last night to determine if it could muster the resources to host games at Ocean Park every weekend next season. The Illawarra Football Association (IFA) has rejected a Woonona proposal to field teams in both competitions and play all home games on the same day.A counter-offer for the Sharks’ Premier League and District League outfits to play at Ocean Park on alternate weekends was considered last night. The IFA expected an answer by tomorrow. Woonona Soccer Club president Frank Shaw said the plan hinged on his club’s ability to muster volunteers. “We wouldn’t have a problem fielding all those teams, but we would need to set up a subcommittee to man the ground,” he said.”If we were playing all four games on the same day we’d only need a couple more officials, but if they’re playing on alternate weekends we would need a new team for the gate, the barbeque and for the canteen.””The district gave us good reasons why we couldn’t play four games on one day.”The IFA rejected the Sharks’ original four-games-in-one-day proposal because of the lack of facilities at the park. “They wanted to play at staggered kick-off times using the second field at Ocean Park, but they only have one set of change rooms and don’t have the second ground fenced off,” said IFA competitions director Claude Cuda. Cuda also ruled out the possibility that two Woonona Sharks outfits could be playing against each other in the Illawarra Premier League. Meantime, Shell Cove FC and Shoalhaven FC have been admitted to the District League for 2009. Shell Cove will play at Barrack Heights Oval, while Shoalhaven’s home ground will be Ison Park. The last team to play at Barrack Heights Oval was the now-defunct Shellharbour Suns, which folded in 2006 due to player payment issues.The last Nowra-based team in the IFA was Shoalhaven City, which pulled out in 2004, suspended for fielding unregistered players.Cuda was adamant the faces behind the new Shellharbour club were not the same as those behind the Suns’ debacle, while the Shoalhaven District Football Association would back Shoalhaven FC. In other news, the optional league that will take over from reserve grade will be known as Division One. Twelve clubs will enter the new competition.
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Mini-budget looks to future

This is a mini-budget defined and necessitated by the unprecedented economic times in which we live. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said that this global financial crisis is a real threat to growth and jobs around the world. It’s a real threat to growth and jobs in Australia. We’re in this crisis together. And we’ll come through it together. No government likes bringing down a mini-budget. Traditionally, mini-budgets are bad news – symbols of tough times and difficult decisions. But I believe that yesterday’s mini-budget, framed during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, is both a safeguard and an opportunity.It will safeguard the fundamental strengths of the state’s economy and lay the foundations for a more secure and prosperous future when the present crisis is behind us.And let’s be clear why these drastic measures are needed. We find ourselves faced with a sudden, steep decline in revenue from stamp duty and the GST. With the Commonwealth Government revising down GST revenue, NSW can expect to receive $450 million less in general purpose grants this year and $272 million less next financial year. That’s $722 million less GST revenue in our budget. And whenever the nation’s economy is under pressure – whether from global factors or the Howard government’s legacy of skills shortages, stagnant productivity and long years of neglect of the nation’s infrastructure – the state with the biggest economy is always the first to suffer. NSW is the first victim of any downturn.Our mini-budget isn’t just about slashing and burning. It’s also about seizing the opportunity to build for the future.For a start, we will be maintaining the biggest infrastructure investment program in Australia over the next four years, especially with our improvements to public transport. We will invest about $750 million on the Port Botany expansion.The Sydney Harbour crossings will become the first motorways in Australia to switch to time-of-day tolling to combat congestion – and all the increased revenue will go to fund new buses.We’re providing at least 3000 extra commuter car spaces. We’re spending $370 million on new outer-suburban rail carriages and stabling, $170 million on 300 extra buses, and $115 million to bring forward the purchase of 150 articulated buses, rolling out at the end of next year. This mini-budget will deliver $150 million to fast track 500 extra school building projects, including installing security fencing, upgrading school toilets and replacing leaking roofs.We will also deliver 80 new special-needs teachers for our schools and a $209 million boost for community services.I offer no apologies for striving to maintain NSW’s AAA-credit rating. Sydney is Australia’s financial capital. Our financial institutions, markets and investors have taken a hammering. We are offering them security and protection. And we’re tightening our own belts in the process – cutting fat from the public service, abolishing overseas ministerial study tours, withdrawing free public transport for Members of Parliament, and cutting government advertising by 25 per cent.I believe our budget measures will put NSW in a stronger position and build a better future. Nathan Rees is Premier of NSW.
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Dog brutal, pony owner warns

Shetland pony Rosie (inset) was attacked first but the pit bull dog then went for Zida after a man hit it with some wood. Rosie gave birth two days later. Beware: Susan Myers checks the injury a dog left after attacking quarter horse Zida around the throat. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
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Two ageing horses are lucky to be alive after a brutal dog attack in Kanahooka. The horses’ owner, Susan Myers, who witnessed the attack, is concerned the pit bull cross could still be on the loose.On Sunday, November 2, Ms Myers was at home, periodically checking on 25-year-old Shetland pony Rosie, when she saw the female pit bull attack the mare. “I’d been keeping an eye on her because she was pregnant and due to give birth,” she said.”I happened to look out and saw it while the attack was happening.”I yelled out to my mum to ring the vet immediately. I just raced over screaming like a mad person with a whip in my hand.” Ms Myers said no amount of yelling would make the dog unclasp its jaws from the terrified pony’s neck, but even when the dog did let go the rampage was not over.”A man came into the paddock and hit the dog with a lump of wood, then it took off and went for my other horse in the next paddock and just launched straight at her throat,” she said.”I’ve seen dogs attack animals before but they usually go for the legs or the belly, but this dog knew exactly where to go to make a kill.”After it did all of this it chased a man who was walking his dog and he just got in his door in the nick of time … and the dog still tried to savage the door.”Police and a Wollongong City Council ranger attended the scene where a second dog was caught, although they were not able to locate the female culprit.Despite their traumatic ordeal, both Rosie and Zida the quarter horse survived. Ms Myers is just thankful the outcome wasn’t worse.”The ponies are for little kids,” she said.”If they were here it could have been really, really bad.”Rosie’s foal arrived two days later.

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Burnett has Lion cubs as top priority

New Wollongong Lions coach Trevor Burnett. Burnett says his goal is to maximise the potential of all players. Picture: DAVE TEASENew Wollongong Lions head coach Trevor Burnett says getting the best out of his young team will be a priority when he takes over the top job later this month.Burnett replaces Jason Philp, who told the club late last month he was unable to continue next season after accepting a work offer in Perth. Burnett initially knocked back the Lions job due to family reasons but had a rethink.”I spoke to a few people and got their views and did a bit of a list of pros and cons about the job and came to the conclusion now was as good a time as any,” Burnett said. “I’ve been interested in this kind of position for a while now and the chance to come back to the Lions, for whom I played nine seasons is something I’m really looking forward to.” Burnett takes on the Lions role with the club at the crossroads after four seasons in the Sydney AFL yielded only 12 wins from 72 games, including just two wins and the wooden spoon in 2008. The club don’t have the big recruiting budgets of the top Sydney teams, while Wollongong as a base is too far from Sydney to attract experienced, hardened Sydney AFL players the Lions desperately need. “We’ve got to look at our core group of players and get the very best out of them,” Burnett said.”We’ve got a talented group of young players coming through and they need to be developed. My goal’s to maximise the potential of every player we have, get them to play to their very best and if we do that then we’ll improve as a club. Burnett comes with an impressive playing and coaching resume. He joined the Lions in 1987, is a former club best and fairest, and won three Snow medals as the top player in Sydney AFL Division 2. He also played a decade with Campbelltown in the elite Sydney AFL Premier Division, winning three premierships, plus the top individual award, the Phelan medal, as the competition’s best and fairest.A school teacher by profession, Burnett comes to the Lions after coaching the NSW All Schools under 15 side for the past three years. His experience in mentoring young players will be especially valuable with the Lions’ seniors side loaded with teenagers in 2008. The Lions begin preseason for 2009 with an open training session at Stuart Park on Tuesday, November 25, at 6.15pm.
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Hawks eager to get back on court

Hawks centre Larry Davidson with students at Albion Park Rail Primary School. Picture: GREG TOTMAN.They are in the top six and coming off their first road win of the 2008-09 NBL season.But with 19 games to play, the Wollongong Hawks are the first to admit they have achieved nothing.”We were saying the other day that we really haven’t done anything good yet,” Wollongong centre Larry Davidson said.”Coming from last year where we won nine games for the whole season, we’re definitely playing better. But if we bomb out from here it’s all for nothing, so the mindset for us is that we still haven’t done much.”With that kind of attitude, complacency shouldn’t be an issue when the Hawks confront an improving Gold Coast Blaze on Friday night at WIN Entertainment Centre.”I wouldn’t think so,” Davidson said.”It’s pretty annoying to have such a long break (since beating Cairns on November 1) when you’re hitting some form, and that probably showed at training (on Monday) when things started getting a bit chirpy. “We’re probably getting sick of training against the same people.”Yesterday the Hawks were at Albion Park Rail Primary School, putting the students through their paces with a 90-minute clinic.Players and the coaching staff regularly visit the region’s primary and high schools, happily fulfilling the club’s commitment to gain a wider audience at grassroots level.McDonald’s sponsors the Hawks’ primary school program, while Arrive Alive is behind the club’s high school scheme.”The clinics focus on fun and healthy activity and by the end of term four we’ll have visited almost 2000 kids,” Hawks operations manager Jess Tory said. “Each child receives Hawks merchandise, which includes a free ticket to see a Hawks home game.”Today the Hawks will be shifting their attention to chalking up win number seven at the expense of the last-placed Blaze, who will be backing up from tonight’s road clash with the Sydney Spirit.”They played really well against Townsville, but defence has been pretty big for us in the last couple of games and we want to keep it going on Friday,” Davidson said.Tickets are available at ticketek南京夜网 or by phoning 132 849.Meantime, New Zealand Breakers guard Kirk Penney has earned his second NBL player of the week award for the season. The early frontrunner for league MVP honours, Penney averaged 24.5 points, seven rebounds and 3.5 assists as the Breakers went 1-1 last week.
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Gorrell set to fight for Broncos jersey

Broncos recruit Aaron Gorrell relaxes in Wollongong yesterday. Picture: KEN ROBERTSONFormer St George Illawarra hooker Aaron Gorrell is bracing himself for a battle royal with PJ Marsh for the Brisbane Broncos’ vacant No 9 jersey.Gorrell will return to the NRL in 2009 after a two-season stint with the Catalans Dragons in the English Super League.An optional year remained on the 27-year-old’s contract with the French club, but the Broncos called and he jumped at the chance to sign a one-year deal.”I last played in the NRL with St George Illawarra in 2006, when we ended up one game away from the grand final, so I’m really excited to be back and right now my main goal is to cement a spot in first grade,” Gorrell said.”I know a couple of blokes up there – (former St George Illawarra team-mate) Ashton Sims loves it up there. The other bonus is that I’m really looking forward to playing with guys like Darren Lockyer and Israel Folau.”A former Albion Park junior, Gorrell has been living in Wollongong for the past few weeks since returning to Australia and will move to Brisbane tomorrow.The re-tooled Broncos – Michael Ennis, Denan Kemp, Joel Moon, Darius Boyd and Greg Eastwood have all left – officially start pre-season training on Monday, and Gorrell has already left a good first impression by passing club fitness testing with flying colours.”They said if we got the right marks that we wouldn’t have to come back until the 17th of November, so I was glad I’d jumped in the gym and done a bit of work before we did the tests,” he said.Gorrell knows he is no certainty to grab a spot in the starting side, despite the departure of Ennis to the Bulldogs.Queensland Origin representative Marsh fell out of favour with former coach Wayne Bennett halfway through last season, but Marsh is expecting increased opportunities in the dummy-half role under new coach Ivan Henjak.Gorrell won’t be stepping aside for his team-mate, ensuring an intense pre-season duel.”It’s not going to be easy because PJ’s played Origin and I’m sure he won’t lay down, but it’s good to have competition for spots among players and I certainly won’t be lying down either,” he said.”The thing for me now is to train the house down over Christmas and try and put my best foot forward in the pre-season. Hopefully I’ll get over the top of him and get first crack at it in round one.”Last month the Broncos created headlines when the club unveiled its strict new policy regarding alcohol consumption.Gorrell endorsed the policy, claiming players had to be responsible for their actions.”You can still enjoy yourself, but we’ve got a job to do, and I’m sure no-one wants to be the first bloke dropped for having a beer,” he said.”The Broncos had a disappointing end to the season, and the bottom line is that the club has put guidelines in place and we’re just going to have to stick to them.”Gorrell didn’t rule out an eventual return to his junior club.”You never know what’s around the corner,” he said.”I’ve got a lot of mates at the Park and I’d like to play one or two years there … if the body holds up.”
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Obama carries the dream

I have a T-shirt with a quote across the front from one of the great men of our time – Martin Luther King. I’ve had it for two years and wear it regularly, especially when I feel I need to be inspired.But it’s only been in the past few weeks that people have stopped me in the street to comment on it.I have been a little embarrassed by people staring at my chest – and I know it’s not because it has got any more alluring over the past month – but relieved, and a little pleased when they tell me the message stretched across my boobs is one which they too find has touched a chord.You’ve probably read and heard enough about the US presidential elections over the past five days – or even the past year – to last you a lifetime.But it is this which I think has made people look past their own lives and take notice of what is happening in the world and as a consequence stop, stare and read my T-shirt.Great leaders can change the world. And although it now sounds a little cliched, the election last week of Barak Obama as the 44th president of the United States has inspired hope not just for Americans, but for the rest of the world.To be truthful, I think I have a bit of a crush on Mr Obama – as I am sure do millions of other women around the world. And it’s not just his sense of style or the sense of control that emanates from him, but more so his passion for what will certainly be one of the toughest jobs in world politics.And I admit when he came out to give his victory speech in front of hundreds of thousands of people, I shed a little tear – of relief and of admiration.Here was a man that stuck to his guns – not the moose shooting kind – and told it like it was. He wasn’t afraid to admit that the rest of the world had lost its respect for his nation and it was time to take notice of what the world was saying.Cybergirl was a little perplexed as to why I would care about the results of an election in a country on the other side of the world, but as she listened to him speak I could see the enchantment the new president seems to invoke, wash over even a 12-year-old Australian girl.There’s not many people in the world who can quiet a crowd of that magnitude with just a few words, but Obama certainly does.As a mother, the future of the world becomes so much more important than it was when I had only myself to look out for.In the lead up to elections, I felt anxious that the US may get it wrong yet again and the thought of the world’s most powerful nation being left in charge of a government that couldn’t really see beyond its own boundaries certainly left me thinking the future wasn’t looking as rosy as I had hoped.And maybe I am putting too much faith in one man to be able to pull the pieces together.Of course, Obama isn’t a superhero, and it will take the work of a world of nations, working together to bring about a change in thinking that has become ingrained after decades of self-absorption.But I now have faith that if millions of people are willing to make that first move, creating history by electing a man much more left of centre than other American presidents – and an African-American at that – then we could be on the road to realising the dream that Martin Luther King had nearly half a century ago. Keeli Cambourne is a South Coast journalist and mother trying to find the perfect life/work balance.
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Tourism bid to protect old forests

The move has raised concerns with the State Government, Tourism Council of Tasmania and the forestry industry, who said they were not consulted on the matter.
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The Tourism and Transport Forum represents 200 members, including Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, Hilton Hotels and has had an association with Tourism Tasmania.

TTF managing director Christopher Brown said both organisations saw the protection of Tasmania’s old-growth forests as vital to tourism and environment.

“This can no longer be considered an exclusively Tasmanian issue and it demands action by the Federal Government and national tourism industry to forge a compromise solution,” Mr Brown said.

“There are 14,649 tourism jobs in Tasmania compared to a maximum of 1500 jobs in old-growth logging.”

The TTF has written to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader calling on them to intervene to end old-growth logging to protect the viability of tourism.

It has also soughtgreater protection for the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree World Heritage Area.

Resources Minister Bryan Green labelled the joint protocol a stunt in the lead-up to the Federal election and said an existing protocol between the Tasmanian forestry and tourism industry was sufficient. “We already have a protocol which ensures that two of Tasmania’s biggest employers – tourism and forestry – continue to co-exist and grow without placing unrealistic limits on each other,” Mr Green said.

Tourism Council of Tasmania chief executive Daniel Leesong said the organisation was disappointed it was not consulted.

“This is an extremely complex issue that must be resolved through the broad community,” he said. “The last thing that the tourism industry in Tasmania needs is to have the forestry debate become a political football in the coming Federal election campaign.”

He also said the council remained firmly committed to the Tourism Forestry Protocol.

Forest Industries Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards also expressed disappointment the local industry was not consulted. “They haven’t bothered to seek a balanced approach to this,” he said.

He also supported the Tourism Forestry Protocol as the appropriate forum for the two industries to cooperate.

“That’s the way to deal with issues like this,” he said. “Not for one industry to be calling for the abolition of another.”

He also said the tourism industry caused environmental damage, citing the large numbers of walkers on the Overland Track in the Cradle Mt-Lake St Clair National Park as an example.

¤EDITORIAL: Page 14

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Soccer meeting outcome secret

A veil of secrecy hangs over yesterday’s meeting between Wollongong City Council and soccer clubs to discuss the status of a $2.5 million in government grants.The meeting was held to clear up questions over how the council had spent the grant money earmarked in 2002 and 2005 for the relocation of soccer clubs from Brandon Park to Lysaghts Oval at Figtree.The matter has been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, which originally granted the money.Last Thursday, soccer club officials demanded to know exactly where the grant money had gone, amid fears it had been spent inappropriately.But after yesterday’s meeting, Wollongong Olympic’s Manny Mavridis said he did not want to go into details.”We have sighted invoices and the documents I have asked for,” he said. “We will have a look at that and go from there.”Requests by the Mercury to view the documentation, including records of incoming and outgoing funds, have been denied, and the council’s three state appointed administrators – Gabrielle Kibble, Col Gellatly and Robert McGregor – have also failed to answer questions on the issue.In a statement last Friday a council spokeswoman said all the money spent from the grant so far had been backed by supplier invoices and legal declarations that the work had been completed.However, the council has not released the documentation publicly or offered details of to whom the money had gone.In a contract between the council and the soccer clubs, the two parties agreed “to endeavour to ensure” Lysaght’s Oval was up to NSW Premier League standard for the 2005-06 season.Today the ground is yet to meet Illawarra Football Association or Football NSW competition standards and only a skeleton of the much anticipated grandstand exists.Mr Mavridis said yesterday details would be made available to members of Wollongong Olympic in the near future. “We are progressing the matter,” he said.
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