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Monthly Archives: July 2018

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Planning for the future

ELECTROLUX workers are being encouraged to seek financial advice now about their future options and not wait until their jobs are terminated.

Orange Credit Union corporate services manager Gavin Cook said staff at the financial institution, which was established by Email workers, would do everything they could to provide financial advice for workers, even though Electrolux employees now only make up a small percentage of its customer base.

“We now have 16,000 members so our base is quite diverse and although we don’t have all the employees as our clients, we do have a percentage and we are willing to help,” Mr Cook said.

“It is important that people start to make a plan now, including those people who have worked at the plant for 40 years and may get a significant redundancy.

“For us it is business as usual, but of course our heritage is as the Email Credit Union.”

Mr Cook said it was impossible to comment on how the loss of jobs at the Orange plant in 2015 and 2016 would impact on individual clients.

“That is a complex and individual issue with so many different factors taken into consideration,” he said.

“But overall our aim, goal and objective is to get people to contact us now, so planning can start.”

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START PLANNING NOW: Orange Credit Union corporate services manager Gavin Cook encourages Electrolux workers to seek financial advice. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1028gavincook

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Bushfire fight far from over

BATHURST residents woke once again this morningto find a thick, smoky haze blanketing the city.

And while the immediate threat from the State Mine Fire near Lithgow has eased, and many firefighters are taking a well-earned rest, some crews still remain on the battlefront, concentrating their efforts on mopping up the fire edge.

“Most of the ground crews have finished up and there are only a few local crews patrolling around Hartley Vale,” Superintendent Tom Shirt from the Chifley/Lithgow Rural Fire Service said.

“But there is still plenty of fire activity in the Wollemi National Park and we have 42 remote area firefighters in the Marrangaroo fire camp. These are specialists who are continuing to work with helicopter crews.

“And the smoke that enveloped Bathurst yesterday morning came from the northern end of the Grose Valley. An overnight easterly whipped it up and pushed it this way.”

Supt Shirt was glowing in his praise of the Chifley strike team personnel who manned five tankers, saying they were invaluable in protecting life and property during the last few weeks.

“The crews from Chifley area are back at home after more than a week of working day and night,” he said. “The effort from those crews was absolutely fantastic.”

The State Mine Fire, which destroyed thousands of hectares in the Lithgow, Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains areas, has been downgraded to a watch and act alert – but that still may change, Supt Shirt said.

“Conditions are not horrendous, like last week,” he said.

“But it is still inhospitable country, that’s why we need the remote area specialists.

“We are now working to ‘lock in’ the fire. Strategic back-burning continues as we try to reinforce containment lines.”

And with precious little rain on the horizon and summer yet to come, Supt Shirt was keen to reinforce the warnings that have been issued in the past few weeks, because fears remain that the worst is yet to come.

He said homeowners need to be prepared for the fire season.

NOT OVER YET: Strategic back-burning continues in the Blue Mountains.

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Work to do on the region’s job losses

NEITHER federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane nor our local parliamentarians have had any success in saving the jobs of some 540 Electrolux employees but there remains a crucial role for them to play in the months ahead.

As the thinking behind the parent company’s decision is revealed it is becoming clear that Orange has been out of its global game plan for some time and not even management in Orange knew of the production hurdle which had to be cleared to keep the gates open.

It is hardly surprising then that Electrolux at a national and international level had no interest in heeding Mr Macfarlane’s call to delay its decision until a federal assistance proposal had been put together.

Today will be the first of many meetings between local MPs at a federal and state level, council staff and bureaucrats who could help put a support package in place for affected workers and the local economy.

NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham may be a little premature in lashing Prime Minister Abbott and Premier O’Farrell for not getting involved but no one should doubt his passion.

The Greens spokesman on regional development is right to focus the community’s attention on the level of support a city like Geelong is getting to help it over the closure of the Ford plant, or the response in the Illawarra to Bluescope Steel ceasing steel production. Tens of millions of dollars are being made available in these cases.

These were big job losses too, but in terms of the impact on the local economies the scale of the impact on Orange and the region is in the same league.

Canberra and Macquarie Street need to remember that it is not just Orange which will feel the blow. Simplot’s downsizing in Bathurst and mine closures in Lithgow point to a regional problem which demands a substantial state and national response.

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Community stands together against sexual assault

Dubbo’s annual Reclaim the Night march served to again highlight the problems and impacts inflicted on victims and society by sexual assault.

The city has a rate of sexual assault 40 per cent higher than the NSW average.

It is a serious crime, which can destroy lives. Most people should be aware that victims can suffer depression and other mental disorders, physical damage, life-long pain and fear, relationship problems and a host of other issues, including being driven to suicide.

It was encouraging to see about 100 people participate in Dubbo’s 20th anniversary march through the city last Thursday night.

They were joined in their campaign against sex attacks on women and children by another 50 to 100 people at Victoria Park.

Men also joined the march this year – a first for a regional state community.

The event was organised by TAFE Western students and was themed “no fear no violence no more”.

The message reinforced the important fact that sexual assault should not be tolerated in the community – ever.

While raising awareness of issues, the event also let people know that there were support services for victims and that they were not on their own, sexual violence was not the fault of victims and they did not need to feel shame.

Reclaim the Night performs an important role. Its messages need to be repeated and reinforced to the community every day and night.

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POLL: Two-thirds of us are too fat

Our obsession with processed food is to blame for our unhealthy lifestyles.A GOVERNMENT-FUNDED program at Dubbo aimed to promote healthy lifestyles to overweight children is struggling to get referrals.

This comes after a report from the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) claimed 79 per cent of western NSW residents were overweight or obese.

Western NSW Local Health District healthy weight co-ordinator Hayley Vaughan said the figures were alarming.

“I know that NSW Health statistics have obesity at Dubbo at 21 per cent and the north-west at 26 per cent,” she said.

The report from the NHPA labelled 33 per cent of residents in the region as obese and 46 per cent as overweight.

The region includes Bathurst and Orange, and does not extend into the far west/north-west areas of the state.

Ms Vaughn said it was hard to pinpoint how residents thought about their weight.

“The rates (of obesity) are changing – if things are changing are people not noticing?” she said.

“We provide programs that are all about prevention… important fundamental settings.”

The Go4Fun program, aimed at overweight children aged seven to 13, is a 10-week program also involving their parents.

There is an hour of physical activity each week, as well as mind sessions and work on self-esteem.

But Ms Vaughan said any interest in a healthy lifestyle did not not reflect on the take up of the program.

“Through GPs, dieticians, or self-referrals, we aren’t getting kids in,” she said.

“It’s about getting them active, as soon as they hit preschool we want them to be getting consistent messages,” she said.

“It’s a healthy lifestyle program, which is something anyone can do.”

For adults, the Get Healthy line on 1300 806 258 gives a person assistance to develop personal health from professionals.

NUTRITIONIST Jennifer Price said the result of the region’s rising obesity was because of the refusal to give up processed foods.

She said there was no excuse for Dubbo residents when seeking fresh products, noting the farmer’s market and local producers as great sources.

“It all comes down to three simple things: eat better quality food, eat less of it and move more,” she said.

Ms Price said there was a big trap in accepting that obesity was a norm, especially in the playground.

“The weight of school children is a lot heavier than a few decades ago,” she said.

The statistic that 79 per cent of the western NSW region is currently overweight or obese was not a big surprise to Ms Price, but hoped it might get others to look closer at the situation.

“Essentially, health is beauty… people want to have better choices, so they need to focus on being as healthy as they possibly can,” she said.

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Electrolux: failure to respond

GREENS MLC Jeremy Buckingham has lashed out at Prime Minister Tony Abbott and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s lack of action over the upcoming closure of the Orange Electrolux factory.

Mr Buckingham, who is also the Greens regional development spokesperson, said it was “absolutely pathetic” the heads of government had not made plans to visit Orange and “discuss this disaster”.

“This is a catastrophic blow to the economy and the social fabric of Orange. The people of Orange deserve a whole-of-government response,” he said.

Mr Buckingham said it was time the government worked with Orange City Council and other stakeholders to devise ways to stimulate economic development.

“Look at how the leaders have failed to respond to this issue in comparison to other manufacturing closures like Ford in Geelong and Holden in Adelaide,” he said.

This morning, member for Orange Andrew Gee was due to meet with federal member for Calare John Cobb, Orange mayor John Davis, Orange City Council general manager Garry Styles and a representative from the NSW Department of Trade and Investment to discuss the situation.

“There are two issues we need to discuss,” Mr Gee said.

“Firstly, what can be done to find new jobs in Orange for workers at Electrolux once the plant closes and, secondly, how we go about securing new investment and jobs for Orange in order to claw back some of those we’re going to lose in a couple of years.

“We have taken a blow to be sure, but the task now is to get back on our feet and keep the economy of Orange growing.

“We still have a strong and diverse economy. We have a lot to offer new businesses and we will get through this.

“Terrible though this news has been, we can’t afford to wallow. We need to keep moving and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Yesterday Mr Gee called on Electrolux’s Swedish board to prepare an assistance and re-training program for its workers.

“I have faith that the Australian management team at Electrolux will do all they can,” he said.

“They are as gutted about the decision as everyone else, but we need to hear from the people in Sweden who are responsible for this.”

Jeremy Buckingham.

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Economic loss will test city: study

THE loss of $74.45 million a year from the Orange and district economy when the Electrolux plant closes will be a test for the city, according to the Western Research Institute (WRI).

In a report to Orange City Council, WRI chief executive officer Danielle Ranshaw estimated the initial loss of wages from employees would be $44.94 million, with a further loss of $29.51 million from associated industries.

Ms Ranshaw prepared the economic impact study for council in the weeks leading up to last Friday’s announcement that the Orange plant would close by 2016.

However, she expressed some level of optimism over the city’s future without the plant, which had been an integral part of Orange’s economy since it was established in 1946.

“Orange has proved it is a dynamic and resilient city,” Ms Ranshaw said.

With the flow-on effect of the 544 job losses at the plant transferring into 870 full-time equivalent job losses altogether, she believes district councils will put forward-planning into place to seek opportunities to replace the void left by Electrolux and stabilise the local economy.

She said an injection of funds, such as government grants, to assist employees with retraining was also a possibility.

“There is no doubt there is a lot of sentimental value attached to the Electrolux plant as generations of families have worked there,”she said.

Ms Ranshaw says although the institute has not been involved in any direct research into potential growth in the education sector, particularly Charles Sturt University’s Orange campus and the expansion of Orange Health Service, she believes these have the potential for employment opportunities.

“There is also a growing emphasis on tourism,” she said.

In the eonomic impact study, the economic impact was amended to account for staff residing in the nearby local government areas of Bathurst, Blayney and Cabonne.

“It was assumed that these staff would still spend a proportion of their income in the Orange LGA and an assumption was made that 50 per cent of salaries are spent in Bathurst, Blayney and Cabonne with the remaining 50 per cent spent in Orange,” Ms Ranshaw said in the report.

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Anti-drug message hits the road at Gilgandra

Chris Edwards, Steven Mahuel, Alexandra Dale help educate and raise awareness for drug and alcohol prevention. Photo: KATHRYN O’SULLIVANANOTHER peloton rolled in and out of Dubbo at the weekend after its crew delivered a drug and alcohol prevention education program to students at Gilgandra High School earlier this week.

The rode2recovery’s crew of 25 people started a 1020km bike ride from Bourke to the Central Coast last week.

Along the way they rode with two police officers from Castelreagh LAC and spoke to Gilgandra High School students in year’s 9,10 and 11 about the consequences of experiment with drugs and alcohol.

Co-founder of rode2recovery Mark Gambrill said the main message was really about education, awareness and preventing an addiction from developing.

“Kids don’t understand the risks they run with experimenting with drugs and alcohol,” Mr Gambrill said.

“The earlier kids start, the more likely they’ll go into full blown addiction.

“That’s why we want to get to them while they’re still at school,” he said.

Mr Gambrill said those who were in the rode2recovery team were people recovering from addiction.

“It was an opportunity for the team to share their stories with the kids and it’s part of a healing process for them as well but it’s got the added bonus of maybe being able to save some kids lives from going into addiction,” he said.

The rode2recovery visited 10 schools and has received praise from teachers for putting faces to the issue of addiction to make it more real for students.

Mr Gambrill said children are able to relate to the stories told from the rode2recovery’s team.

“Addiction is such a horrible disease.

“If we just save one kid then our journey has been all worth while and the riders feel that way too because they’ve been to hell and back,” he said.

The group celebrated reaching halfway in their journey in Dubbo by spending Saturday at the Western Plains Zoo. They are set to finish in Dooralong on the Central Coast on November 1.

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Memorable win: Trembath claims NSW two-year-old title

Harness racing

STAR two-year-old filly Distant Memory capped off a great season for Leeton trainer-driver Bill Trembath by claiming the NSW 2YO filly of the year title.

Distant Memory won two Group One features in her debut season, taking out the Bathurst Gold Tiara in March and the Vicbred Super Series in July, and was a clear favourite in her category. Trembath was on hand to take home the award from the Harness Racing NSW awards, held on Saturday night.

“It is nice to get a ‘you’ve done good’ and get something else from her season,” Trembath said.

“It’s good for the owners as they are pretty rapt in it.”

Trembath was proud that the daughter of Troublemaker, who won six of her 11 starts with three placings last season, was able to win by a dominant margin.

“I think she won with 76 or 79 per cent of the votes, but you would nearly think she would have to have won with what she has done,” he said.

“But you don’t know how it is all going to work out beforehand.”

Sent for a spell following her Vicbred success, Trembath has brought the filly back into work with an eye on the three-year-old filly features and isn’t expecting her to return to the track until February.

After finishing a close second behind Business In Motion with Enjoythegoodtimes in the 2013 MIA Breeders Plate, Trembath will be looking to go one better this year with a Sportswriter gelding his sole entrant.

Distant Memory was beaten by Bling It On for overall 2YO horse of the year honours, with the American Ideal colt beating the Leeton-trained Business In Motion in the colts and geldings category.

Leading concession driver Paul Diebert was also rewarded on Saturday night winning the junior driver encouragement award (country), beating a field that included another Leeton reinsman Andrew Pitt.

Diebert was the South-West and Riverina’s leading concession last season and drove 73 winners in NSW last season.

The Irrigator was nominated for the best coverage by a regional newspaper, but was the award was taken out by The Daily Advertiser.

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TOPICS: Pom anthem  under fire

BASED on the singing we’ve heard in bars from Brisbane to Barcelona, Topics thought Englishmen held their anthem in higher regard than David Beckham.

Higher than brown ale, perhaps. Even above pork crackling.

Which is why we’re stunned to hear that some in the Old Dart want to axe God Save the Queen at fixtures that involve England, as opposed to Great Britain, such as the present Rugby League World Cup.

Greg Mulholland, an MP from Leeds, says the song belongs equally to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

He wants England to belt out Jerusalem, as they do at the Commonwealth Games. Scotland sings Flower of Scotland and Wales uses Land of My Fathers, said Mr Mulholland, quoted in the Yorkshire Post.

“England will be playing in English colours, bearing the English cross of St George with fans waving English flags, so the England rugby league team must also use an English anthem.”

Any UK-born Topics readers have a view on this?

Meanwhile, our own anthem, curing insomnia since 1984, was girt by this morsel of praise at the weekend from none other than the BBC.

‘‘Is it OK for an Englishman to like Advance Australia Fair?’’ wrote a Beeb blogger during the teams’ World Cup clash.

‘‘Because I do.’’

Advarnce advancing

SPEAKING of which, Topics will monitor the rest of the tournament to see whether the pre-match anthem is sung as ‘‘Advance’’ or ‘‘Advarnce’’.

Advarnce has been creeping in for years, perhaps in a bid to make the singers sound more advarnced.

Smooth look at FAB

AS mentioned by Topics’ sportier sibling, Sidelines, former Jets player Ljubo Milicevic cut a trendy figure at the Fat As Butter festival.

It was his second weekend in a row back in Newcastle, after he watched the Jets’ nil-all draw with Perth here last Sunday.

Milicevic certainly speaks his mind, and Topics wonders if any awkward encounters have followed an interview he did recently with sports website The Roar. One of the topics discussed was his desire to return to the Jets.

“The fans want me back, I’d love to be back, the majority of the team would be happy to see me, but there’s one or two individuals – without quoting names, it wouldn’t take that much of a Google search to figure out who I’m talking about – that don’t want me back at the Jets,’’ the website quoted Milicevic as saying.

‘‘Players, but also maybe one or two administrative guys as well, but we’ll see how long they stick around.’’

Topics knows fighting words when we hear ‘em, and them’s fighting words.

Longevity in dispute

READER Tony Dynon points out that Chaucer, who wrote The Canterbury Tales, was a remarkable bloke.

But not as remarkable as we made out.

‘‘I notice that Geoffrey Chaucer was a very long-living fellow,’’ says Tony.

‘‘[Last] Wednesday in [Topics’] Trivia he produced his first major work in 1269.

‘‘ On Friday, in History, he died in 1400.’’

A perusal of the Environment Minister’s manual of choice, Wikipedia, reveals that Chaucer did cark it in 1400 but was born in 1343. Topics apologises for our scant-verity tale.

ON SONG: The start of the Rugby League World Cup has put national anthems – their content and delivery – at centre stage.