Jun 13

Walker brings Germany and Austria’s Romantic era to Adamstown

VIRTUOSO: Sally Walker’s masterful flute musicianship has allowed her to perform with some of Europe’s most accomplished orchestras. Picture: Miranda LawrySALLY Walker has always possessed a passion for travel and for the past 20 years the world has been her oyster.

The University of Newcastle lecturer’s proficiency with the wooden or silver flute has taken her to the classical music halls of Germany, Italy, Austria and Scotland, rubbing shoulders with the musical elite.

Last EasterWalker even performed at the 500-year-old CatholicBeit Jamal monastery near Jerusalem in Israel.

To share her love and knowledge of international classical music Walker is launching a series of recitals known as theTwilight Musical Dialogues to give Novocastrians a new cultural experience. Walker’s first performance will be German and Austrianmusic from theRomantic Era including works bySchubert, Schumann, Weber and Reger on February 24.

It will be followed by recitals showcasing music from the old kingdom of Bohemia (April),Russia (June), (September) andLatin America (November). Not only will Walker be performing at each recital, she is serving asartistic director.

“They definitely are two different hats,” Walker says.“This is my first time stepping out as artistic director for a series. I only did it because people kept telling me I was lazy not to do it. There was a bit of peer pressure and I thought I should be doing this at this point of my career.

RARE OPPORTUNITY: Last Easter Sally Walker performed in the 500-year-old Catholic Beit Jamal monastery in Israel. Picture: Tomoko Malkin

“Having started, it’s really quite lovely to think who would I love to play with, and which pieces would I like to play? Wouldthis player really excite Newcastle audiences?What would that special thing be? And it came out quite quickly that it would be the division of countries.”

After growing up in Canberra, Walker spent a decade living in Germany where shemade her name in the classical world when she was a grand-finalist in the Leonardo de Lorenzo International Flute Competition (Italy) in 1999andcamesecondin theFriedrich Kuhlau International Flute Competition (Germany)in 2003.

That led to a stint in the Cologne Chamber Orchestra and aprestigious two-year contract from 2003 to 2005 withthe Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, one of Germany’s most famous, dating back to 1743.

“It was very unusual at the time to have any foreigners, especially a female foreigner in the orchestra,” Walker says.“It’s the oldest orchestra in the world and still the largest, so itwas very special to be a part of that orchestra.

“Once you’re in an orchestra in that league, other orchestras consider you as a casual player, so I got to tour with the BerlinPhilharmonic Orchestra, which was great too.”

In 2005 Walker moved to Newcastle to lecture at the university. It’s a role where she has been able to encourage love forthe instrument she has played since she was 10.

Sally WalkerHemisphereswhich explored the spiritual history of the flute in a number of cultures and cultures that at that time had no contact with each other,” she says.“This instrument has been considered transcendental and it’s had a special function in calling to the spirits. Like the Greek god Pan played the flute.

“I think there’s something very pure and moving and calming about the actual tone and very expressive. The sound itself is what rang my bell.”

Guiding the next generation of classical musicians through the changing landscape is another part of Walker’s role that providesprofessional satisfaction. The days of classical musicians readily finding full-time work in an orchestra is declining and students are required to bemore resourceful.

“It’s become very unusual and the freelance market has picked up exponentially,” she says.“So I’m training my students differently to how I was trained, which is to learn how to market themselves, learn how to develop their own ideas and have initiative.

“I wasvery happy last year that forthe final recitalsone of my students requested not to have it on the Conservatoriumpremises, but in an art gallery. She put that on by herself and it was great.”

Sally Walker will be joined bypianistGabriella Pusner for the first Twilight Musical Dialogue on February 24 at the Adamstown Uniting Church on Brunker Road.

   Jun 13

24-hour palliative care only available to parts of Lake Macquarie

Lake Macquarie MP Greg PiperLAKE Macquarie residents living south of the Fennell Bay bridge do not receive the same 24-hour palliative care services as their northern neighbours, and instead have to rely on a telephone service for care outside of business hours.

Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper revealed in parliament on Tuesday that he hadbeen advised by the government that residents in highly populatedareas like Toronto and Morissetdo not have access to the same 24-hour care as other parts of Lake Macquarie.

Mr Piper read out advice he’d received from new health minister Brad Hazzard’s office that theWestlakes Community Health Service–which operates south of Fennell Bay and Swansea down to Wyee–provides a “24-hour on-call service to provide advice and support to patients” but that after business hours that service was provided by telephone.

Mr Piper said the difference in service created a“them and us” situation in Lake Macquarie.

“In my electorate of Lake Macquarie I fear that services are actually being eroded rather than promoted and expanded,” he said.

It comes after the Newcastle Herald reported last week fears that after-hours palliative carevisits by the Calvary Mater Hospital could be at risk of being replaced by a telephone hotlinebecause of perceived safety risks from the after-hours home visits service.

Hunter New England Health has not ruled out making changes to the service, andMr Piper told the parliament he’d previously met with Cancer Council officials who had been told there were “OH&S issues” related to the service.

However Mr Piper said he’d spoken to one nurse who in 22 years had only seen one “minor assault”.

“This invaluable service not only needs to be maintained and supported, it needs to be extended,” MrPiper said.

The Herald has previously reported thatHunter hospitals were “badly under-resourced” to provide adequate end-of-life and palliative care, as well as calls for 24 hour services to beextended to Maitland.

   Jun 13

Supercars to develop new heritage plan in Newcastlepoll

BILL: Getting started.THE Berejiklian government will seek to pass legislation allowing a “streamlined authorisation and approval process” for the Supercars race in Newcastle this November.

On Tuesday, Minister for Tourism Adam Marshall introduced a bill into Parliament that effectively allows the Supercars race set to shift from Sydney Olympic Park to Newcastle.

Mr Marshall said the bill also includes the same “commonsense provisions” previously in place when the race was held in Homebush whichprovided“certainty”and allowed the race operators to make “significant improvements to roads and service infrastructure” before the race in November.

Mr Marshall sought to temper concerns about the race, assuring residents that pre-race work cannot begin until Destination NSW is “satisfied that the race promoter has complied with statutory requirements to consult with stakeholders” including Newcastle City Council and “any other public or local authorities prescribed by regulation to ensure specific issues are addressed”.

Vehicle access would be restricted for five days –including the three on which the event is held –from 7am to 7pm, but Mr Marshall said pedestrian access “for residents and businesses” will be maintained at “all times”.

“Any suggestion that the public will be prevented from accessing Newcastle’s finest beaches and public areas is not correct and couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.

While the act means Supercars was not subject to some acts Mr Marshall said Supercars would work with Newcastle City Council to developa Heritage Impact Statement.

He also revealed the circuit would provide “a valuable commodity of 215 additional car parking spaces” including18 in Newcastle East, although he did not say where.

And,while some “trees and shrubs” will be removed, the plan was to develop a “tree planting program” that would deliver a “usable canopy more than three times what is currently in place”.

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp called the bill a “missed opportunity” to provide genuine consultation with the community, saying he wanted the government to install an independent body to overseeplanning.

“We need an independent organisation that will do all the work in consultation with the government agencies and also with the residents,” he said.

   Jun 13

Hunter workers join Sydney disability services rally

ABOUT 700 public sector disability workers braved pouring rain and NSW government threats of legal action to rally outside Parliament House against the privatisation of government disability services.

Disability workers say please ‘have a heart’ TweetFacebook Public Service Association rally against privatisation of NSW disability servicesPictures by IAN KIRKWOODThreecoach loads of Public Service Association members joined the rally from Newcastle and the Hunter, and smaller rallies were held in various regional centres around NSW.

PSA Hunter organiser Paul James said the rally was a“great result” given the weather and the Supreme Court action he said the government had taken against the union to try to stop the strike.Mr James and other union leaders called on new Premier Gladys Berejiklian to“have a heart” and stop the planned privatisation.

RAIN, HAIL OR SHINE: Union rally on Tuesday at Parliament House against the planned privatisation of NSW government disability services.

The Coalition government is well advanced with plans to dismantle state-run disability services in NSW as part of a heads of agreement on the National Disability Insurance Service signed in December 2012 by then premier Barry O’Farrell and then prime minister Julia Gillard.

NSW Disability Services Minister Ray Williams referred to this agreement in his comments after the rally and strike, saying “the transfer of these services is an important part of enabling the long-term success of the NDIS, as it will allow participants to have their choice of services within a diverse market”.

“We have protected workers’ leave and superannuation entitlements through legislation, as well as recognising their continuity of service,” Mr Williams said.

“Additionally, we are providing ongoing workers with a two-year employment guarantee from the date of transfer, and a transfer payment of up to eight weeks pay. Temporary workers have a six month employment guarantee.”

But union leaders told hundreds of striking workers at PSA House before a march through Sydney streets to Parliament House thatthe transfer conditions insisted on by the government were dramatically inferior to those made available to power workers and other government employees whose agencies had been privatised. PSA assistant general secretary Troy Wright said the government had been “superficial, patronising and disrespectful” in its negotiations with the union. Mr Wright said the union was determined to stop the government from“washing its hands and walking away from society’s most vulnerable”.

Opposition leader Luke Foley addressed the rally outside Parliament House, telling the crowd in pouring rain that regardless of what was intended with the NDIS, the state government had to retain publicly owned disability services as least as a “provider of last resort”.

   Jun 13

A tablecloth fit for a bridesmaid

Once a tablecloth: Now, a dress, through the deft hands of sustainable seamstress Laura Burghaus. Picture: Marina NeilLaura Burghaus is adamant in her opinion.

“There are enough second-hand clothes to supply the world over,” the sustainable seamstress says.“Not only that, but so much of what’s out there is poorly made and not flattering for the person wearing it.”

Burghaus was professionally trained as a seamstress in Germany, and lives in the Hunter Valley creating yoga bolsters and dresses in the most environmentally ethical way she knows how through her company, Kissen .

“I have always been interested in wrapping material around a female figure. When I was young I would make clothes for mydolls. I would cut armholes and make little wrap-around tops and sarongs,” she says.

Burghaus struggles with her love of creating dresses and the challenging issues that surround fashion including waste, chemical dyes, synthetic materials and sweatshops in South America and south-east Asia. Fast fashion is second only to oil in its devastating environmental impacts, and this is why her label uses only fair-trade, organic and/or upcycled products made in .

Team effort: Seamstress Laura Burghaus fits Alex Morris with a dress that began life as a tablecloth. Picture: Marina Neil

“Fashion is not sustainable, full stop,” she says. “There’s absolutely no need for more clothes on this planet. But people love to look pretty. Clothes make you feel good. When I put on a beautiful dress I feel so different. I don’t think people comment just on the dress I’m wearing, I think I’m exuding energy of confidence and contentment, and that’s attractive.”

I hired her to make me a bridesmaid’s dress for my best friend’s wedding in Austin, Texas. Held on a farm, the ceremony will be laid back and beautiful. The bride’s name is Ivey Kaiser, and we grew up together in South Carolina. Now, nearly 15 years later, she has given the bridesmaids plenty of flexibility for selecting our dresses on her special day.

Kaiser requested we find a peach, apricot, salmon or yellow dress within our budget that we’d wear again. The dress should be above the knee, but the style and sleeves are up to each of us.

It’s easy to find something cheap online, and I knew that asking a skilled n to custom-make a dress would be more expensive.

But I also knew about sweatshops. If I could help it, I didn’t want one cent of my hard-earned money to go towards these horrifying working conditions. I was keen to support a local business and sustainable fashion while buying something that would fit me well.

Hiring Laura Burghaus to make a dress for me at her leisure over the course of a few months put my ethical uncertainties at ease.

Burghaus took my measurements while we discussed dress options. Every time she gets commissioned to make a piece of clothing, she creates a practice dress first to make sure it fits perfectly.Often she re-uses this material afterwards.

She measured me up, drew lines, stuck pins and cut away at the trial dress to flatter my neckline and bust.Then she showered me with different ways we could meet the dress’ objectives while also giving it its own personality. We went through heaps of styles, colours and fabrics. She has a wealth of knowledge about creative ways to be sustainable.

“It costs so much more to make ethical fabrics. They are generally plain weaves,off-white (unbleached),very durable and notcrease free,” Burghaussays. “Cotton is the least sustainable fabric because it uses lots of water, and if it’s not organic cotton, chemicals are used which runoff into rivers.”

Through her company, Burghaushas found a clever way to recycle fabric scraps, which otherwise would go to landfills. She’s reached an agreement with a company in Sydney to take their scraps, and she uses them to fill all her yoga bolsters. When she does use new fabric, she prefers to use a wholesaler called Hemp WA.

“I like hemp because it’s a sustainable fiber. It doesn’t need much water to grow and it grows fast. To derive the fiber from the plant doesn’t have a huge chemical process. It’s hard to use hemp for pretty dresses due to its properties being similar to linen,” she says.“In an ideal world we would all be wearinghemp, but it does sometimes look a bit daggy.”

I was hesitant to use new fabric for my dress unless I could trace it back to the cotton fields where it was grown and knew the pesticides and dyes that went into making it. A way to work around this dilemma was to use fabric from a friend or a second-hand shop. Sure, chemicals might be on this fabric too, but at least I won’t be directly supporting it.

I told my friend and colleague Cath Burden about my quest for the best fabric, and she thought of her cotton tablecloth that she’d only recently stopped using. Given to her as an engagement gift 25 years ago, it was a little rough around the edges, but the fabric itself was in perfect condition.

Sustainable seamstress Laura BurghausPhotos of the finished dress will be on Laura’s website (kissen成都夜总会招聘.au)at the end of March..

   May 13

Jakarta candidate Anies Baswedan surging in polls, but some claim there’s a cost

Anies Baswedan listens to Julie Bishop in the Jakarta suburb of Menteng in March 2016, when he was a minister in the Indonesian government. Photo: Irwin Fedriansyah Jakarta: In 2010 the Japanese magazine Foresightnamed Indonesian university rector Anies Baswedan among 20 global figures – including Vladimir Putin and David Miliband – to watch over the next 20 years.

The cover story predicted that Mr Baswedan – a former student activist opposed to authoritarian leader Suharto, a prominent political analyst and one of Indonesia’s youngest university presidents – would be a future leader.

It seems Foresight showed considerable, well, foresight. Seven years later, Mr Baswedan is contesting gubernatorial elections in Jakarta, considered by many a dress rehearsal – or at least a proxy war within the political elite – for Indonesia’s 2019 presidential race.

Mr Baswedan’s ticket is supported by the Greater Indonesia Movement (Gerindra), the party chaired by Prabowo Subianto, President Joko Widodo’s rival in the 2014 elections.

“Anies … is widely seen as using this election to get his political career back on track, while at the same time testing the water for Prabowo Subianto’s next attempt for the presidency in 2019,” writes political analyst Yohanes Sulaiman in New Mandala.

And the latest survey from Indikator Politik Indonesia – one of the most trusted polling firms in the country – shows Anies is neck-and-neck with the polarising incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok.

As support wanes for the third candidate, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, after several lacklustre debate performances and embarrassing Twitter outbursts by his father, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Mr Baswedan’s popularity is in the ascendant.

Neither Mr Purnama nor Mr Baswedan are expected to win the majority required for victory in the February 15 election, which would mean they would have to face off in a second election in April.

Indikator executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi believes Mr Yudhoyono’s votes would flow to Mr Baswedan in a runoff, as supporters of the two Muslim candidates come from similar backgrounds: “We still have two months to go and everything can happen, but based on the current situation the momentum is with Anies.”

But at what cost? The Foresight profile said Mr Baswedan’s neutral, fair and consistently balanced views had earned him the trust of all communities, including many political elites. “He is a moderate Muslim who consistently stands in the middle, not affiliated with any political party or group,” it said.

But Mr Baswedan’s moderate reputation has been eroded during the election campaign by his aggressive courting of the Islamist vote.

In January he sparked controversy by giving a speech to the hardline Islam Defenders Front (FPI), which has spearheaded mass rallies in the capital, with protesters calling for Ahok to be jailed and in some instances even killed for allegedly insulting Islam. Anies Baswedan, once known as a global voice of moderate Islam, campaigned at FPI HQ. Will this pic be remembered as the day moderates die? pic.twitter成都夜总会招聘/AlvgGmmByz— Evan A. Laksmana (@EvanLaksmana) January 1, 2017

At the time one of Mr Baswedan’s campaign spokesmen, Anggawira, told Fairfax Media that Mr Baswedan attended meetings with different groups every few days.

“People know where he stands on Islam, it’s not something created in one day or visit. His position is well known by everybody, it’s clear in the media, he was an activist as a student … he’s an educator.”

When pressed by Metro TV anchor Najwa Shihab on whether he shared the FPI’s belief that Jakarta’s governor must be a Muslim, Mr Baswedan replied: “When we talk about verse from the Koran, it’s clear, it is stated there. As a Muslim, I abide by al-Ma’ida 51.”

It is verse 51 from the fifth sura or chapter of the Koran that has landed Mr Purnama in so much hot water. It is interpreted by some as prohibiting Muslims from living under the leadership of non-Muslims.

Others say the scripture should be understood in its context – a time of war – and not interpreted literally.

Islamist hardliners have consistently used the verse to urge Jakartans not to vote for Ahok, who is Christian.

Mr Baswedan and Mr Yudhoyono both attended a “mass prayer” at Istiqlal Mosque, an event some dubbed the “112 [February 11] march”, which police eventually allowed on the condition people stay within the mosque and that it not feature any political speech.

This was ignored: religious leaders told the crowd of about 100,000 people to vote for Muslim leaders and participants brandished placards that said things like “It is forbidden to pick an infidel leader”.

Mr Baswedan told the BBC he had simply conducted morning prayers and stressed that he had not exploited religious sentiment during the election campaign.

“I never talked about religion, never talked about any sura, not even once. Other people used it and made all of this happen,” Mr Baswedan said.

But Indikator pollster Mr Burhanuddin is among those who believe Mr Baswedan has damaged his moderate reputation.

“The only way of beating Ahok is to use religious sentiment because 75 per cent of Jakartans perceive Ahok has done a good job,” Mr Burhanuddin said, adding that the strategy had worked for Mr Baswedan up until now.

“For Anies this is really a big game. If he fails to win the election, it is all just finished for him – his reputation as a pluralistic, inclusive Muslim figure is just finished. He is just like other politicians – using everything to win the election even at the cost of his reputation.”

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   May 13

A-League: Liaoning Whowin express interest in Newcastle Jets midfielder Ma Leilei

SHOP WINDOW: Jets midfielder Ma Leilei has attracted interest from Chinese Super League club Liaoning Whowin after a series of eye-catching performances in the A-League. Picture: Getty ImagesMA Leilei joined the Newcastle Jets on a modest contract in a bid to kick start a career he hopes leads back to China and the riches on offer in the Super League.

The 27-year-old is not there yet, but his 12 A-League appearances, the past five in the starting side, has attracted the attention ofLiaoning Whowin.

Liaoning Whowin, who are in the Hunter on a three-week pre-season camp, have recently added Socceroos Robbie Kruse and James Holland to a roster that includes former Bundesliga star Anthony Ujah and Zambia captain Chamanga.

Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs are permitted five overseas players but only three can be used in a game.The new regulation has increased the demand –and salary –of quality Chinese players.

Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna confirmed that Liaoning Whowin had “shown a bit of interest” in Ma but said any deal was a long way off.

The CSLwindow closes at the end of the month, with the competition starting on March 3.

“Clubs will have a list and it will depend if they get the first choice, second choice…there will be a lot on maneuveringbefore the window closes,” McKinna said.

Ma is contracted to the Jets until the end season and it would take a lucrative transfer fee for the club to release him early.

“He has done very well,” McKinna said. “You see the reception he gets when he comes off the park, the fans appreciate him.”

Liaoning Whowin, who finished 10th in CSL last season, will get a first-hand look at Ma in a friendly against the Jets next Wednesday.

“Leilei will probably have half a game, “ McKinna said. “The idea of him coming here was to get back into China.He is not on a big salary. He came here to prove himself. His biggest problemwas that he wasn’t fit.Because they have changed regulations in the Super League, Chinese players are more valuable.When I was coaching therefive years ago, Chinese players were on $30,000 to $40,000 a year, unless they were a national-team player. During the last five years the salaries have gone through the roof. A couple of the boys I had atChongqing are picking up $500,000 US net.”


   May 13

Shocking Close the Gap report shows need for new relationship between black and white Chinans

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivers the Closing the Gap report at Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: Andrew Meares The latest Closing the Gap report makes for grim reading. Photo: Ben Plant

The big question went unasked and unanswered when Malcolm Turnbull presented the ninth – and perhaps the most disappointing – annual Closing the Gap report on endemic and profound Indigenous disadvantage.

Why, half a century after ns overwhelmingly decided the Commonwealth had a duty to make laws to benefit the First ns, is the gap still so wide?

Why, nine years after all tiers of government agreed on a comprehensive strategy to close it, is just one of seven targets – and arguably the softest one – on track to be met?

Why, 20 years after the landmark report on the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families, are Indigenous children nearly 10 times more likely to be removed by child protection authorities than non-Indigenous children?

Why, after all of the revelations of institutionalised cruelty in the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system, was a 12-year-old boy tasered as he attempted to run from police last week?

And why, after all the inquiries and all the dollars spent, is the gap actually widening in some critical target areas, like deaths caused by cancer and infant mortality?

The Prime Minister is a glass-half-full politician and he chose to focus on the positives when he presented the report to Parliament on Tuesday, like the fact that there is no employment gap for those with a university degree.

So did the report, which began with the words: “This ninth Closing the Gap report showcases real successes being achieved at a local level across the country – by individuals, communities, organisations and governments.”

This reflects the idea that you make progress by celebrating success, but the self-congratulatory tone was out of order and it won’t work if the deeper question of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous ns is not addressed.

Turnbull also referred to three positive developments of his own making: the recasting of his Indigenous advisory council; the secondment of one of the country’s foremost experts on Indigenous health, Ian Anderson, to his department; and the appointment of an Indigenous member of the Productivity Commission to evaluate programs with a budget to do the work.

Each is important, but these are incremental steps when a paradigm shift is required. For all the talk about doing things with Aboriginal people, not to them, the bottom line is that far too many Aboriginal people feel excluded, disrespected, disempowered and discriminated against – every day of their lives.

Bill Shorten acknowledged as much when he called for a new approach, based on listening to those on the other side of the gap. “We must forget the insulting fiction that the First ns are a problem to be solved,” was how he put it.

What is needed is a new relationship, and the best path toward one is being charted by Indigenous ns in a series of dialogues on what constitutional recognition should look like and mean.

Momentum is building toward having an Indigenous body recognised in the Constitution to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a voice in the Parliament and a say in decisions that affect them and their rights.

If such a proposal is endorsed at an Indigenous constitutional convention at Uluru in May, it might just represent the best chance for a fresh start. The question then is whether the politicians will grasp it?

   May 13

Michael Flynn’s resignation leaves China one less friend in Trump’s White House

‘s ambassador to Washington Joe Hockey will praise the “value of mateship” at a speech in Chicago this week. Photo: Wolter PeetersThe roller-coaster that is dealing with a Trump presidency just took another stomach-clenching dip.

Trying to get to know a White House deliberately staffed by outsiders, n officials had placed a lot of store in Michael Flynn as someone well-disposed to occupying the crucial job of National Security Adviser.

n ambassador to Washington Joe Hockey is set to praise the “value of mateship” at a speech in Chicago this week on the US- relationship, and it’s a safe bet he hoped to count Flynn as a mate.

Flynn, after all, was the battlefield commander in Afghanistan who in 2010 broke with the chain of command to share sensitive US intelligence with n soldiers.

He was lauded by former n army chief Peter Leahy in January as among a modern breed of “fighting generals” with little time for bureaucracies or the politics of Washington.

Flynn was also in the room for Donald Trump’s now infamous phone call with Malcolm Turnbull and was hoped to be a voice to reinforce the long-standing alliance ties between the two nations.

But Flynn’s slipshod attitude towards proper process has brought him undone – no small event at a time when railing against “fake news” is employed as an excuse to cover up all manner of mistakes.

Flynn had special notoriety on this score. “Flynn Facts” was the nickname given to his penchant for conspiracy theories and unwavering confidence in his own righteousness long before “post-truth” became a phrase of the mainstream.

But despite what some saw as his dangerous and confrontational ideas, there was still hope, in the manner of sensible official advice to make sense of what are unsettling times, that Flynn was a man could deal with.

No more. His resignation in disgrace over what he did or didn’t tell Russia’s ambassador only underscores the difficulty of searching out the comforting and familiar at a moment of radical change.

The lesson for is simple. While it’s nice to go to the carnival with friends, we will have to get accustomed to hanging on alone for a wild ride.

   May 13

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council unaffected by NSW merger policy change

Tim Overall: The administrator believes people support the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council. Photo: Jay CronanThe New South Wales government’s change in policy on regional council mergers will not affect those that have already amalgamated – including Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Tuesday the government would push on with mergers in Sydney but those pending in regional areas would no longer go ahead.

Queanbeyan and Palerang councils were among 44 merged last May in a controversial move that led to legal action from a number of local government organisations.

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council administrator Tim Overall said it was business as usual for the organisation after a video meeting with staff from Ms Berejiklian’s office Tuesday afternoon.

“My focus has always been Queanbeyan, but my position has been that if the government was going to merge councils it was very important that we get behind the government’s initiatives in that regard and make them highly successful, those mergers, and being appointed administrator, that’s what I’m about,” he said.

“My view is anecdotally, based on the feedback I’m receiving right across our local government area, whether it’s in Queanbeyan, Braidwood, Bungendore or even further afield, is that there’s general support for the merger.”

Federal Eden-Monaro Labor MP Mike Kelly attended a protest against forced amalgamations last week in support of the seven councils merged to three within his electorate.

“The result of these council mergers is the stripping away of democracy from our community – people were not given a vote on the mergers or the people who run these new councils,” Dr Kelly said on Tuesday.

“Today’s announcement did not even discuss bringing forward council election, so the extended reign of unelected administrators continues.”

Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro – who represents Queanbeyan as part of the Monaro electorate – vowed last month to put a stop to mergers in bush areas.

“Local councils in the bush have done their fair share to contribute to stronger local government in NSW, and today we draw a line under local government amalgamations in the regions,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This decision has been made to ensure that we put an end to the confusion and uncertainty for those councils locked in drawn-out legal battles.

“I am looking forward to the local government elections in September to restore local decision-making to our regions.”

Snowy Monaro Council will also stay merged. Yass Valley Council, Bega Valley and Eurobodalla remain unaffected.