How families can get $75 power rebate

LOCAL families risk missing out on a $75 electricity bill rebate because the NSW government has failed to publicise the scheme, Opposition Leader John Robertson warned this week.
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Mr Robertson urged Lake Macquarie and Central Coast residents to get their application in before the June 14 deadline.

Energy Minister, and Minister for the Central Coast, Chris Hartcher said the money was there, and the government wants eligible families to take full advantage.

But Mr Robertson said statistics gained from a Freedom of Information request told a different story.

He said Mr O’Farrell promised families a $75 electricity bill rebate, “but two years later, local households are yet to receive a single cent”.

“The O’Farrell government should really be automatically issuing this rebate to households – we know it has access to the information of eligible families,” he said.

Mr Hartcher said the advent of a new online application process had resulted in almost 7500 applications being processed since March.

He conceded that processing applications had taken longer than anticipated to finalise, but he emphasised that no eligible families would miss out.

The $75 rebate rises to $125 from July 1 this year, and to $150 by 2014.

It is available to households who currently receive the Commonwealth government’s Family Tax Benefit A or B.

“More than 540,000 families across NSW are eligible to receive the rebate as a credit on their electricity bill,” Mr Hartcher said.

“If also eligible to receive the NSW government’s Low Income Household Rebate, households could be saving up to $250 off their electricity bill.”

■ To apply for the rebate go to energy.nsw.gov.au and click on Family Energy Rebate, or call the government hotline on 1300 136888.

YOUR MOVE: Chris Hartcher said the electricity bill rebate money was available, and eligible families need only to apply.

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Seven months for combination of offences

A man was sentenced to seven months imprisonment and fined over $1000 for a list of offences in Mudgee Local Court on Friday, April 19.
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Scott Michael Martin, 38, of Winbourne Street, Mudgee, pleaded guilty to a combination of breaching Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO) and traffic offences.

For the charge of Contravene prohibition/restriction in AVO he was sentenced to four months imprisonment with an additional three months.

The good behaviour bond he was on at the time was revoked and he was fined $400 plus court costs of $83.

For the charge of Stalk/intimidate intend fear physical/mental harm he was sentenced to four months imprisonment to run concurrently with the other term.

For another count of Contravene prohibition/restriction in AVO, Martin was fined $500 and ordered to pay court costs of $83.

He was also fined $250 plus court costs of $83 for Never licenced person drive on road, $100 plus court costs of $83 for Use vehicle on road motor vehicle tax not paid, and, $100 plus court costs of $83 for Use uninsured motor vehicle.

In total Martin was sentenced to seven months imprisonment and fined $1350 plus $415 in court costs.

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Too much for too little

Readers who have no time, or patience, to scan the vast, uncoordinated information “dumped” on our councillors need to know about one wee sentence in the papers for council’s meeting on April 23.
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On page 60 of [3] 013/65 Budget Review for the period ended 31/3/2013. E05.9535, is the following: The Divisional Manager of Economic Development now has additional responsibilities and staff with a commensurate grade change”.

This is code for

promotion.

With Eurobodalla’s economic deterioration spiralling for several years, we have been paying about $200,000 a year for a supposedly capable, motivated, high-performing executive to keep the shire ahead of the field.

But the appalling decline in businesses, construction, employment, family security and property values is measurably worse than surrounding shires.

Businesses, trades and concerned residents know that wads of activity statements and spreadsheets are no substitute for delivering the goods.

They know also that responsibility involves accounting honestly for actual performance and accepting the consequences of any shortfall.

These principles are also enshrined in the Local Government Act.

It requires senior staff to be accountable by being employed on a competitive basis with contracts of up to five years subject to meeting annual performance hurdles.

Our council has evaded this long-standing requirement, with ruinous consequences.

When councils are unwilling to disclose the qualifications and achievements of executive staff, when they are not proud about what we pay them and when they promote individuals secretly without inviting competition, residents and newspapers must ask, why?

When will we begin to see efficient, open and accountable government?

Don Burns

Tuross Head

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I was in Heaven

It’s not often Singleton’s Kellie Thomas is compared to a Spice Girl.
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But, the Westpac bank teller stepped in to Mel C’s (aka Sporty Spice) vocal role to help rock legend Bryan Adams sing his hit single When You’re Gone in front of a sell-out crowd at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Friday night.

Mrs Thomas was plucked from the audience and thrown into the spotlight – much to her delight and good friend Kayleen Horne, who accompanied her to the show.

“I’ve been a Bryan Adams fan forever and I’ve seen him in concert four or five times,” she told the Hunter Valley News.

“It’s funny – he always gets someone up on stage to sing with him – so I said to Kayleen on our way to the venue that ‘tonight’s my night’.

“Then when he announced what he was doing, I jumped up straight away.

“Luckily, the lights were on our section of the crowd, so I got noticed.

“I was that excited when Bryan called me down – it was a once in a few thousand chance; I turned to Kayleen and said ‘make sure you film it’.

“Even though I was a bit nervous, the excitement soon took over.

“Bryan was really good too, encouraging me to keep singing.”

The 29-year-old more than held her own with the superstar, interacting with Adams and fellow band members during the number.

Afterwards, Mrs Thomas received the singer’s guitar pick, a program and six shirts, which now hold pride of place in her wardrobe.

“It was a dream come true – and a memory I’ll have for a lifetime,” she admitted.

“It’s easily the best night I’ve had.

“A few people in the audience knew me, so there were some texts on my phone when I returned to my seat.

“Everyone was stoked for me.”

THOUGHT I’D DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN: Singleton’s Kellie Thomas proudly shows off her Bryan Adams souvenirs this week; and (inset) on stage with the rock legend at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Friday night.

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Dora Creek pennant win a breakthrough

DORA Creek Women’s Bowling Club has broken a long-term drought in winning the Lake Macquarie District Bowling Association’s Grade 4 pennant at Valentine Bowling Club.
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The Dora Creek team accounted for Charlestown 42-35 in the final.

Publicity officer Mitzi Hopgood said it was the first pennant won by the club in its 35 years.

The club, had, however, won a variety of shields including Pennant, City Mission, Legacy, and Mollie Lee shields, Ms Hopgood said.

The bowlers paid tribute to coaches Gary Yates, John Hardy and Neville Jensen for their patience, teaching skills and support.

“The ladies played on a grass green and they normally play on synthetic, so it was a great adjustment,” Ms Hopgood said.

FIRST FLAG: The winning Dora Creek bowlers are, from left, Beryl Bowling, Lorraine McEwen, Margaret Cooper, Della Davies, Dawn Grace, Margaret Hardy, Maree Macbeth and Shirley Holman.

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LETTER: Trees sacrificed

Dear Editor,
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I have recently found out that adevelopment at the rear of my property which was approved in 2003 has also hadapproval to remove five trees from the block.

One of the trees, an English oak must beat least 50 years old. It is a healthy tree.

I am extremely disappointed that YassValley Council has given approval for this tree to be removed. If thiscontinues to happen Yass will be changed significantly.

When I phoned to discuss the problemwith council, I was told that the developers intend to ‘landscape’ around thetownhouses. I don’t think any amount of landscaping can replace a lovely oldtree.

Very sad that this has been allowed tohappen and apparently nothing I can do about it.

Lee Miller is not happy about the inevitable removable of an old tree.

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Co-operation, please

David Lambert’s letter (Bay Post/Moruya Examiner 24/4/13) is worthy of the support of all residents, particularly those who have been denied bowling facilities.
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Michael Voce and I, as bowlers, made representations to the Mayor last December, before the Hanging Rock concept plans were exhibited.

We did not see the Batemans Bay Bowling Club site as being used in any other way than as it had been.

Mr Lambert has succinctly brought both concepts together.

I have made a submission to council on the Hanging Rock concept plans in terms similar to Mr Lambert’s idea.

Council can honour the altruism of the late Dr Mackay as well as achieve a large part of its aims in the Hanging Rock plan by acquiring the bowling club site and utilising it as he suggests.

The Hanging Rock plans are little more than a pipe-dream – commendable but impractical, unaffordable and not meeting the needs of anyone over 60, the largest and fastest growing group of citizens in the shire.

Of course, nothing will be achieved unless the Club Catalina board shows willingness and council joins it in meaningful negotiations.

I urge both bodies to move that way.

Neville Armstrong

Batemans Bay

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CBD phone lines back in service

Phone lines in and around Mudgee’s CBD were fully restored on Monday afternoon after almost a week without proper service.
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After a main line cable was cut by third party contractors in Church Street on Tuesday, April 23, Telstra technicians worked throughout the Anzac Day weekend to fix the problem.

Telstra spokeswoman Ingrid Just said yesterday the service was fully restored at 4.30pm on Monday.

The company had four technicians on site shortly after the outage was identified.

Ms Just said she apologised to customers for the inconvenience and frustration caused.

Local businesses including the Mudgee Medical Centre were without phone service for long periods last week.

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Politicians take on childcare shortage

Shadow Minister for Childcare and Early Childhood Learning Sussan Ley joined Member for Parkes Mark Coulton in a tour of his electorate this week to see the issues relating to childcare in the central west.
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The two Coalition politicians attended breakfast on Tuesday with the Chamber of Commerce before meeting with representatives of Mid-Western Regional Council, and visiting Imaginations Early Learning Centre.

Mr Coulton said that when parliament wasn’t sitting, the shadow ministers were able to travel to visit voters in the state’s regional electorates.

“It’s been fascinating,” Ms Ley said. “Every region of Australia is different when it comes to child care needs.”

She said the Coalition was interested in understanding “things we might need to pick up and run with if we gain government in September.”

Ms Ley said Narrabri, Mudgee and Dubbo in the Parkes electorate were some of the few areas with a shortage of child care places, with about 300 more places needed to meet demand.

Council’s economic development officer, Julie Robertson, said childcare was an important issue for the region, and the ability to provide early childcare facilities was a key factor in meeting the needs of residents and attracting newcomers to the region.

If the region could not provide childcare, she said people who found work in the region might keep their families based in a centre where childcare was available, and simply fly into the Mid-Western Region to work.

She said the proposed Mudgee Regional Early Childhood Hub would expand the region’s preschool facilities and provide a dedicated early intervention program, which would support children’s development and focus on individuals’ areas of need.

Ms Robertson said council and the Coalition visitors agreed that childcare needed a three-part local solution, involving investment in community facilities, encouraging private investment and encouraging more people to use and operate home-based Family Day Cares.

She said it had been good to have the time, understanding and sympathy of the person who may some day be the Minister for Childcare and Early Childhood Learning.

Gary Blogg, owner of Imaginations Early Learning Centre, said he was concerned by the possibility that the childcare rebate could be cut from 50 per cent to 30 per cent, making it harder for parents to afford care, while lower carer to child ratios and requirements to have more trained teachers raised providers’ costs.

“It’s a challenge – it’s a challenge for you guys if you get elected,” he told the visitors.

“If you want quality care, somebody’s going to pay for it.”

Nonetheless, he said pre-school education gave children a great start in life, reduced crime and improved their educational outcomes, and needed to be accessible to everyone.

“Where we can assist in reducing costs without detracting from the quality of care, those are the steps we should take,” Ms Ley said.

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The right plants for pool surrounds

SO you’re going to take the plunge – pun intended – and install a swimming pool.
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Don’t forget to make plans for the plants, too.

It takes a special breed of plant to make it as a poolside companion.

For starters, avoid plants that will hurt the children, or plants that the children will unwittingly hurt.

Native grasses such as lomandra and daniella work nicely near a pool, and can handle the rough stuff including misdirected beach balls.

Avoid plants with thorns or anything sharp.

The Pool and Spa Review Magazine website, poolandspareview南京夜网.au, says lion’s tail is a very popular plant, but is not such a good choice for the pool area because it has sharp leaf ends.

And speaking of harm, beware of bee-attracting shrubs, such as plants in the hebes family.

The website also advises against plants that are prone to pests and disease.

“You don’t want to have to spray pesticides and herbicides around pool water where contact with the skin or ingestion can occur,” the website said.

Another major consideration around the pool is maintenance.

The pool water will take up enough of your maintenance time. You don’t want to add to that time by fishing out discarded leaves, flowers, gumnuts or other debris.

For this reason, pine trees are on the don’t-even-think-about-it list for many experienced pool owners.

Ditto for some hibiscus plants (whose fallen flowers turn mushy very quickly) and some eucalypts and box trees. Plants with berries or fruits pose a similar problem, so be wary of lilly pilly varieties.

When it comes to saltwater pools, the Gardening Australia magazine website, at abc南京夜网.au, says to look for plants which can tolerate salty coastal climes.

“The general rule of thumb is to look for plants that have silvery, furry or waxy leaves,” the website said.

“Some good examples are agave attenuate, bromeliads, echiums, cycads and a mixture of palms which provide good shade. Other plants that work well in a saltwater situation are westringia, coastal banksia, Chinese hibiscus, olive and rosemary.”

And for around chlorinated pools, Gardening Australia says: “As a general rule, plants with tough, leathery leaves can better withstand chemical damage from things like chlorine. Think mondo grass, cordyline or star jasmine.”

Avoid plants that can potentially cause structural damage to pools. These include bamboos, taller melaleucas, the umbrella tree or the rubber tree.

Palms are a popular choice for poolside planting as they have a small root system, will tolerate full sun or semi-shade, and occasionally drop large leaves which are easy to collect and remove.

SPLASH OUT: Talk to your local garden centre for expert advice on the plants that will work best around your pool.

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