Council reform talks a priority for 2015

Local Government Association of Tasmania president and Dorset Council Mayor Barry Jarvis said the year would see some tough discussions. Picture: Mark JesserAMALGAMATIONS and council funding are at the top of the agenda for local councils this year.
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According to Local Government Association of Tasmania president Barry Jarvis, the year would see some tough discussions and hard decisions made among councils as the state government begins talks around reforms.

The Dorset Council Mayor said although the state government had been openly refused to force amalgamations, the fact it was holding regional meetings next month definitely demonstrated its interest in the matter.

“We believe a lot of resource sharing has been through necessity rather than strategic,” Mr Jarvis said.

“We believe resource sharing should be bigger, so whether it’s on a regional or statewide basis, that’s what we need to look at.”

It’s something they would consider in a national context, he said.

Future funding was the other hot item to tackle this year, with a freeze on federal financial assistance grants, councils will feel the squeeze and have to be prepared to make the hard decisions.

Mr Jarvis said nationally, councils would be funded 13 per cent less by 2018, with Dorset to see a loss of about $430,000 over three years.

Getting rid of the freeze on FAGs by 2018 would be imperative to the association this year he said.

Mr Jarvis said they would also keep an eye on the outcome of two federal papers to be released, one on federation and the other taxation, that could see all council funding go through the state government instead of direct to councils through grants, such as Roads to Recovery.

This comes as it has been revealed the Victorian government is considering putting a cap on rate increases to inflation levels from 2016-17.

Councils seeking to raise rates after that time would have to seek an exemption that would cover natural disasters and federal funding cuts. Mr Jarvis said he did not support the push because councils would not be able to maintain their assets long term.

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Bulldogs aim to kick on in winning form

Sam Haywood, coach Aaron Viney, Jarrod Price, president Mark Perkins and mascot Buster sharpen their skills ahead of this year’s NTFA season. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGSAFTER winning the NTFA senior premiership in its first year back in the competition last year – the South Launceston Football Club heads into the 2015 season in a strong position on and off the field.
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Senior premiership coach Aaron Viney again takes charge and said 2015 was about improvement as a group and as individuals.

“We haven’t put any expectations on ourselves, but last year we were hit really hard by injuries to key players so monitoring some older bodies has been a priority this preseason,” Viney said.

“We have a number of good kids ready to come into our side and have a real impact at senior level after getting a taste last year.

“We are welcoming a couple of guys back to the club that started their senior careers here in Jarrod Price, after spending the past four years with Longford, and Ben Haywood returns after playing with Fingal and Longford.”

Viney said the club had re-signed most of its playing group from last season with the exception of Jake Laskey and Kailem Baker who have headed to the Western Storm to try their hand at TSL level with the club’s blessing and Stephen Heppell who has moved to the mainland.

Off-field, the Bulldogs have a new president with Mark Perkins replacing Rod Patterson and a new board consisting of Andrew Claxton, Terry Coghlan, Louise Tarr, Craig Newman, Wayne Mitchell, Michael Quill, Jade Elmer, David Burk, Felicity Viney, Greg Prosser and Paul Etchell.

“After starting the 2014 with no teams and a huge amount of debt, also conflict with and little support from AFL Tasmania, the club is now focused on community football,” Perkins said.

“The 2014 board have done an outstanding job to get the club back to where it should be, on top, and we are also looking to open up the facilities that we have here for outside community users.”

Perkins said they already had a cricket side using the ground and a personal trainer operating out of the gym which local people could join and use.

“Our focus is well and truly on the community and families to be part of our club and this also incorporates our fantastic junior football club.”

The Bulldogs have resumed training on Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm. Viney can be contacted on 0438 431 025.

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Rowing resumes with a bang

A BIG rowing program will see more than 1000 rowers descend on Lake Barrington for the state pennant five regatta this weekend.
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Rowing Tasmania development manager Rob Prescott said the resumption of the rowing season after the Christmas break signalled the start of a hectic schedule for the next 10 weeks.

“We have about 1016 entries. It’s a massive regatta.

“Students from Aquinas and Trinity Colleges in Western Australia and Loreto of Toorak were here this week and Xavier College next week,” he said.

“They have been here for training camps and add about an extra 120 athletes to our program.”

The men’s senior single has 32 entries. Tamar’s Oliver Cook and Henry Youl will be up against Huon’s Wilson Mure, Toby Pitt, Sam Volker and Richard Giblin.

The women’s senior single has 26 entries. Kerry Hore, who has returned from a training camp as part of her Olympic preparation, will be one of the competitors.

“Tamar’s Ciona Wilson will be competing along with Huon’s Eleni Kalimnios who is on the comeback. Throw Meaghan Volker into the equation and it is another strong event,” Prescott said.

“The under-17 singles has five heats. Our junior program is very competitive with North-Esk’s Jack Barrett and Connor Ryan, Scotch Oakburn’s Sam Herbert and St Pat’s Ethan Malisauskas going to have a very good tussle.”

A full field will contest the men’s senior four with Youl stroking the Tamar boat and Pat Bird North Esk. Competing by invitation will be the new-look Australian lightweight four consisting of an all-Queensland crew.

Prescott said the women’s senior eights should see a Head of the River preview between Friends, Collegiate, Scotch Oak-burn, Launceston Church Grammar and three Loreto Toorak crews.

The senior men’s single scull should see Mersey’s Taylor Wilcyzinski start as favourite after a good performance at last weekend’s trial. He will be up against Youl, Mure and Giblin.

Two divisions in the men’s senior eight will see Aquinas and Trinity College crews take on Scotch Oakburn College, Hutchins, Tamar and the University Boat Club.

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Christopher Chandler does not apply for bail

After days spent holed up in a share house, Christopher Chandler could hide no longer.
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Police arrested the 22-year-old at a Central Coast property on Wednesday – six days after he allegedly led police on a fatal pursuit through a western Sydney suburb.

Chandler was allegedly behind the wheel of a stolen Audi sedan when he ploughed through a fence in Constitution Hill, near Parramatta, last Thursday night.

Toddler Tateolena Tauaifaga was playing on the other side of the fence and suffered fatal injuries.

The girl’s family told Fairfax Media through their lawyer, Ben Archbold, that they “are so relieved he has been found”.

Police will allege they had Chandler under surveillance as part of an armed robbery investigation and were trying to arrest him when he fled.

“The child was killed in their own family backyard when the accused drove through the fence attempting to evade police,” police allege in court documents.

The luxury vehicle was found in the inner Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst soon after the chase.

Chandler, who friends and neighbours said grew up in Constitution Hill not far from where 17-month-old Tateolena was hit, had been the subject of a widespread man-hunt until his arrest on Wednesday.

It is understood Chandler had been staying at a share house in Gorokan, which the family of his younger brother’s girlfriend was involved in, when he was arrested.

The brother’s girlfriend and Chandler’s ex-girlfriend were in Wyong Local Court on Thursday when Chandler’s case was mentioned.

But the accused didn’t appear in court or apply for bail and the case was adjourned to March.

The court heard Chandler was already on bail for unrelated offences.

Chandler has been charged with a string of offences over the police pursuit, including manslaughter and aggravated dangerous driving causing death.

Manslaughter carries a maximum punishment of 25 years in jail.

Chandler is also accused of causing bodily harm to another young child when his car allegedly ploughed through the Tauaifaga’s back fence.

A critical incident investigation is looking into the role police played in the fatal pursuit.

Chandler’s ex-girlfriend said he would be devastated by what had happened.

“I think it’s really sad because if that was my child I would be devastated, I would be beside myself,” she said outside court.

“I think he would be devastated as well.”

She described Chandler as one of the nicest guys she had ever been with.

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Abbott abandons plan to slash Medicare rebate for doctors’ visits

Tony Abbott’s hopes for a fresh start new year have been dashed, with the Prime Minister capitulating on his plan to slash the Medicare rebate for doctors’ visits just 24 hours after defending the “price signal” as an “economic reform” that would improve patient care.
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Mr Abbott, a former health minister, spent Wednesday taking soundings, including from colleagues, and the decision to abandon the $20 cut for short appointments was made late that evening, during a phone call between the Prime Minister and his new Health Minister Sussan Ley.

The issue was set to overshadow the Queensland state election, with doctors threatening to plaster waiting room walls with posters saying “YOUANDYOUR GP HAVE BEEN TARGETED”.

A government source said on Monday, when the cuts were due to begin, “every waiting room would have turned into a ballot box”. Premier CampbellNewman revealed he had told the federal government he did not support the cuts. “We have expressed concerns about this driving people to emergency departments so we don’t support it,” Mr Newman said.

The leadership team signed off on the decision on Thursday morning but at the same time cabinet minister Bruce Billson was insisting the change remained “on the table” and would be implemented.

Hours later, Ms Ley cut short her holiday and fronted the media inMelbourneto place her “stamp” on the portfolio by scrapping the measure, which was introduced quietly by regulation two days before Christmas by her predecessor Peter Dutton.

“I’ve heard, I’ve listened and I’m deciding to take this action now. It’s off the table and I stand ready to engage, to consult, and to talk to the sector,” she said.

Ms Ley said she remained committed to introducing price signals into the Medicare system, including the $5 cut to the Medicare rebate as part of the revised GP co-payment due to begin July 1.

Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler said the government’s backdown was a “welcome surprise” and promised to “work with the minister to come up with something that’s better for GPs and patients”.

“I’m really glad for Sussan Ley that’s she’s not lumped with this policy,” he said.

But he refused to outline any concessions the AMA would be willing to make, saying “it’s not our job to find savings”.

Professor Owler said the government should be boosting, not cutting, funding to GPs because primary care was more sustainable long-term in keeping patients out of hospitals.

“Primary care is the answer to sustainability, not the problem,” he said. “Sustaining the system is about investing in primary care, so instead of cutting maybe we should be boosting funding,” he said.

The AMA supports a co-payment for wealthier patients but is opposed to the revised co-payment because it will effectively mean a $5 cut to their rebates.

The campaign against the $20 cut to the rebates paid to GPs for appointments between six and 10 minutes long reached a head on Thursday, when the AMA released a scathing letter it had written to Mr Abbott the week before.

Labor, the Greens, Palmer United and senators Ricky Muir, Nick Xenophon and Jacqui Lambie had already declared they would move to disallow the change when Parliament resumes next month.

The measure would have raised $1.3 billion over four years and was part of the revamped GP co-payment the government was forced to revise because it faced defeat in the Senate. A spokesman for Treasurer Joe Hockey said Labor had a duty to contribute to the job of repairing the budget.

“Labor created the budget mess and now must help us to fix the budget,” the spokesman said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the government’s health policy was in “shambles”.

“Only yesterday Tony Abbott was insisting the new GP tax by stealth would not be abandoned,” Mr Shorten.

“The Abbott government is only acting because it has been forced to by Labor’s refusal to bend in our defence of Medicare,” he said.

Palmer United’s leader in the Senate Glenn Lazarus also claimed credit for the government’s backdown.

“Palmer United has forced the Abbott government to back down on its changes to Medicare. PUP has fixed it up,” Senator Lazarus said.

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ACCC launches new initiative to keep eye over fuel prices

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has unveiled its new plan to scrutinise petrol prices across the country, as the price discrepancy stretched to more than 40 cents more per litre between cities and some regional areas.
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ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said the new monitoring process would “go a long way” to determining why the gap between petrol prices in regional areas and metropolitan areas had tripled, while prices in Sydney and Melbourne had dropped by 45 cents a litre since July.

Under the new arrangement, fuel prices in all capital cities and 180 regional centres will be monitored, and the ACCC’s power to compel information will be used to examine petrol companies’ price-structuring systems.

Determining the cost of transferring fuels to regional centres, as well as storage and distribution costs would be crucial to working out why some places had large gaps between the wholesale price and pump price, Mr Sims said.

“I think we will be able to put the producer on the spot in the way they have never been before,” he said.

But with the global oil price hitting a six-year low this week, these reasons alone did not justify the current price discrepancy, he said.

“There’s no reason at all that the 35 cent reduction we’ve seen in international prices shouldn’t get passed on in rural areas. And it looks as though it’s been way too slow up until now.”

But some regional MPs have indicated that the ACCC’s approach will not do enough to curb rampant price gouging.

Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said high prices were a “serious concern” in his electorate, adding the “government has a role to play” in areas not open to market forces.

Victorian MP Sharman Stone said towns in her electorate were being “held captive” by petrol retailers and increased ACCC powers were the best way to stop the price gouging.

Hefty fines beyond “a few thousand dollars” should be imposed on companies found to be ripping off motorists, she said.

Currently, the ACCC can only pursue court-ordered fines and penalties where it can be proved companies have colluded in setting the bowser price.

“If a company can’t demonstrate how the additional cost has been incurred then that company should not be allowed to charge a higher margin in a country area compared with a metropolitan area,” Ms Stone said.

She said her calls were likely to go unheeded by her colleagues in city seats, whose “let the market rip” attitudes were letting her constituents down.

“Unfortunately, some of them actually believe there is such a thing as a level playing field and a free market.

“We’ve let the market rip and now we’ve got country people being ripped off.”

But Mr Sims said that although price gouging was not against the law, there was no need for the ACCC’s powers to be increased.

“I don’t think we should underestimate the importance of transparency and exposure, and also consumer pressure.

“If we were to look at a town and find there were very high profits being made, then that exposure will lead to such a backlash the prices will come down,” he said.

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Ballarat teenager to face court after police pursuit, crash

A BALLARAT teenager has been charged following a crash and police pursuit on Saturday where one other teenager was taken to hospital with critical injuries.
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The 17-year-old boy was charged by MajorCollision Investigation Unit detectives on Thursday evening after he was allegedly involved in an incident which resulted in acrash on Scott Parade where one other boy was left critically injured.

Ballarat police were on routine patrol in Grant Street when they spotted an allegedly stolen white Subaru Forrester station wagon shortly before 2.30am on Saturday.

Major Collision Investigation Unit Acting Inspector Bruce McArthur saidon Sunday that thecar was initially involved in a police pursuit in Grant Street about 2.30am after police attempted to intercept the vehicle for a routine check.

But police terminated the pursuit after the car reached high speeds in Humffray Street North.

Acting InspectorMcArthur said that another police car then observed the allegedly stolen car crashed into a poleat the corner of Scott Parade and Ebden Street.

Another teenager was found unconscious in the wreckage and underwent life-saving brain surgery at the Alfred Hospital on Saturday.

The 17-year-old has been charged with eleven offences including negligently cause serious injury, dangerous driving while pursued by police and theft of motor vehicle.

The boy cannot be named for legal reasons.

He has been remanded in custody to appear at a children’s court on Friday.

[email protected]南京夜网.au

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Herald Breakfast – January 16

Morning Shot: Herald photographer Darren Pateman caught this early morning frame outside Surf House at Merewether Traffic: No major incidents reported on Hunter roads.
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Weather: Rain will hinder the weekend in Newcastle, with possible showers on Friday (25 degrees) and Sunday (25 degrees). Saturday will be sunny and 27 degrees. There are possible showers forecast in Maitland on Friday (32 degrees) with a sunny Saturday (33 degrees) and potential for late rain Sunday (30 degrees). At Scone it will be mostly sunny on Friday (33 degrees) before the sun comes out on Saturday and Sunday (both 34 degrees).

Trains: No trackwork or delays reported on the Hunter or Newcastle lines. Buses replace trains between Hamilton and Newcastle.

Beachwatch: There’s the chance of an early shower but overall it shouldbe another fantastic day beachside, let’s hope the shark isgone and the beaches are open as lots of beachgoers aregetting withdrawal symptoms. The wind will be north-west inthe morning heading north-east in the afternoon with the swellfrom the south around 1 to 1.3 metres.It’ll be interesting to seehow the sandbanks perform with the change of swell directionbut wave quality should be good early.

Morning Shot: Herald photographer Darren Pateman caught this early morning frame outside Surf House at Merewether

Sharks hanging around to eat dolphins: Several massive sharks seen feeding on dolphins off two of the city’s iconic beaches on Thursday haveprompted authorities to announce beaches from Stockton to Redhead would remain closed for at least a seventh day.

Hunter researcher’s bed may spell end of snoring:A HUNTER researcher has helped develop a new kind of bed that could put an end to snoring – and completely transform the way humans sleep.

Labor names candidate, 22, for byelection:Labor has confirmed that 22-year-old Declan Clausen will be its candidate at next month’s council byelection in Newcastle.

Awabakal lodges harbour land claim:THE entrance to Newcastle Harbour will fall under the control of the local Aboriginal community if a land claim for the area succeeds.

Flores flies the coop but Carney, Birighitti stick with Jets:NEWCASTLE Jets coach Phil Stubbins shot down speculation on Thursday that David Carney and Mark Birighitti were set to follow Marcos Flores and Sam Gallaway through the club’s departure lounge during the transfer window.

Five questions for the ODI Tri-Series

Will the show go on: Glenn Maxwell shone for the Prime Minister’s XI, making 136 from 89 balls. Photo: Melissa Adams Burning questions: can Eoin Morgan save an English side under siege? Photo: Jamila Toderas
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Will the show go on: Glenn Maxwell shone for the Prime Minister’s XI, making 136 from 89 balls. Photo: Melissa Adams

Burning questions: can Eoin Morgan save an English side under siege? Photo: Jamila Toderas

Will the show go on: Glenn Maxwell shone for the Prime Minister’s XI, making 136 from 89 balls. Photo: Melissa Adams

Burning questions: can Eoin Morgan save an English side under siege? Photo: Jamila Toderas

Will the show go on: Glenn Maxwell shone for the Prime Minister’s XI, making 136 from 89 balls. Photo: Melissa Adams

Burning questions: can Eoin Morgan save an English side under siege? Photo: Jamila Toderas

Now that the Test series against India is done and dusted, attention turns to the ODI Tri-Series between England, India and Australia, with the host nation playing its first match against England on Friday. Here are five questions that could be answered by the end of the tournament:

Can Eoin Morgan turn things around for England?

With Alistair Cook dropped as captain and Kevin Pietersen seemingly barred from ever being selected again, England’s squad is in transition. The team has a lot to be excited about, however, with batsman Ian Bell and spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali providing hope to the English with some stellar performances in recent tour matches. Into this state of flux steps new captain Eoin Morgan, and the Dublin-born 28-year-old now faces a hostile world of English tabloids, fired-up Aussie quicks and ECB politics. Morgan has to demonstrate that he can negotiate all of these things during the Tri-Series, or his stint as English captain may be short-lived.

Is the Big Show really ready for the big time?

Glenn Maxwell is as enigmatic as ever. After clubbing 136 runs off 89 balls as part of the Prime Minister’s XI against a full-strength English bowling attack, Maxwell continues to make himself indispensable to the Australian squad in the same way that Shane Watson has at Test level – by intriguing everyone with unfulfilled potential. The self-designated ‘Big Show’ has never had his ability called into question, but whether Maxwell succeeds or fails dramatically, the triangular series will no doubt make the selectors’ jobs even harder.

How much longer does Dhoni have in international cricket?

Despite retiring from Test match cricket, there can be no question that MS Dhoni is still a force in one-day internationals. His batting average may be just a hair over 38 in Tests, but the Indian captain averages almost 53 after 250 ODIs. In fact, Dhoni is the only player who averages – or has ever averaged – more than 45 after 250 ODIs, and has scored half-centuries in five of his last nine ODI innings. Don’t expect Dhoni to give up the Indian captaincy, let alone his spot in the team, at least until the Cricket World Cup is done.

Where to now for Australia’s captain?

Michael Clarke is racing to get fit for the World Cup, and faces weeks of hard work on the sidelines throughout the whole of the triangular series. His injury, however, sees him miss the much-needed match practice that this tournament offers before the first group game he can possibly hope to be fit for, the February 21 match against Bangladesh. Whether the lack of time in the middle will be too much for the Aussie skipper, only time will tell.

Are Australia’s bowling stocks being mismanaged?

Frontline Test bowlers Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon haven’t been selected in the squad for either the Tri-Series or the Cricket World Cup, and pundits are questioning the omissions. With Xavier Doherty the only specialist spinner in the squad and every fast bowler (apart from Mitchell Johnson) aged under 25, Australia’s rookies will have to fight for their places with some standout performances. The inclusions of Maxwell, James Faulkner, Mitch Marsh and Shane Watson suggest that all-rounders are prized above out-and-out bowlers for the World Cup, and the final XI for Saturday’s game against England will no doubt make the selector’s preferences abundantly clear.

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Brisbane woman to hike 3555km Appalachian Trail

Stephanie Jones is preparing for a 3555km hike across the Appalachian Trail. Photo: suppliedCome March 28, Stephanie Jones will be starting a 3555km, six-month hike she expects to push her to the very edge of her physical and mental limits – and perhaps beyond.
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But the Eatons Hill 27-year-old isn’t being subjected to some sort of cruel and unusual punishment, instead she’s paying thousands of dollars for the privilege of hiking the Appalachian Trail on the United States east coast.

Ms Jones believes she’ll be one of just five Australians ‘thru-hiking’ the trail this year. Meaning she plans to walk the whole track in one big block.

The former Navy sailor first heard about the trail on a cop show a few years back but it didn’t take for her long to become utterly obsessed.

First it was a book by author Bill Bryson, then discovering blogs and first-person accounts and by last year she was following the personal journeys of a couple of walkers and even sending them care packages.

A huge online community has sprung up around the 2000-3000 people who walk the trail every year, making it easy to become involved.

She left the Navy in July last year and made the call a few months later.

“I don’t really know what it is that draws me to want to challenge myself in that way,” she said.

“It’s sort of something that stuck in my mind and I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I was just like, I have to do this.”

The Navy helped prepare Jones for the mental anguish of spending months away from family friends and she’s been hiking as much as possible for physical training. But she knows that no preparation can really be enough.

“How you prepare for 21 days straight of rain I don’t know,” she said.

“The impact that it has on your body to walk up and down X amount of miles worth of mountain, you know the knees and the ankles and the feet.

“Blisters will just be a small thing compared to the way the rest of my body will be feeling by the end of it.”

With a failure rate believed to be 70-80 per cent, Ms Jones knows she’s up against it.

Even a 2011 journey along the Kokoda Track, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, isn’t quite the same experience as six months in the mountains.

Where four years ago she was with friends from the Navy, this time she will be flying solo.

The hikers start out together but make their own way through the 14-state journey stopping only occasionally in towns to resupply. She plans to allow herself a handful of nights in a hotel along the way to help get herself through.

She’s almost ready to go but is looking for reader support to win an invaluable collection of hiking gear in a competition, which closes Monday.

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Man dies in Kennington crash

Man dies in Kennington crash The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN
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The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

The scene of a fatal crash on Townsend Street in Kennington this morning. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

TweetFacebookUPDATE 9.59am:

TOWNSEND Street in Kennington has been reopened following a fatal crash early this morning.

Townsend Street at Kennington has been reopened following the fatal crash this morning.

— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) January 15, 2015This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

American ace primed for Bayliss Classic

Bayliss Classic riders Josh Hook, Troy Bayliss and Jared Meers enjoying some R and R at Oxley Island before the Saturday January 17 event.AMERICAN Jared Mees is enjoying his first trip to Australia, but the AMA flat track champion bike rider assures he’s not here for a holiday.
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Mees will be one of the star attractions at tomorrow’s Troy Bayliss Classic at Taree Motor Cycle Club’s Old Bar Roadside Circuit. He’s also tipped to be Bayliss’s biggest challenger for overall honours.

But while they’ll be rivals on the track tomorrow, at the moment Bayliss is ensuring that Mees has a great time while he’s here. The Times caught up with Bayliss, Josh Hook, who’ll also be riding tomorrow and Mees while they were enjoying the Manning River at Oxley Island at the home of Col and Samantha Robb, close friends of Bayliss.

“It’s a pleasure to be out here,” Mees said.

“The weather’s just awesome and Troy is showing me the ropes and taking good care of me.”

Mees had heard about the classic while racing in America and he was invited to take part by Bayliss when both were competing at the Superprestigio in Barcelona in December.

“He said ‘hey mate, we need to get you out here man.’ So we started to work on it and put it all together,” Mees explained.

“Before I knew it we had me a plane ticket and all the accommodation was taken care of.

“They’ve taken care of me first class. I don’t have one thing I can complain about – maybe too much sun, that’s about it,” he laughed.

Mees was direct when asked if he can win the classic.

“Yeah, I think I can,” he said.

“I was testing at Gunnedah a week ago. Troy was going pretty good and another American Henry Wiles was going pretty good. But I feel I’ve got a good a shot as anybody.”

Mees has no doubt his bike will be up to the task.

“It’s a motor cycle, it’s got a throttle and a brake. I’ll figure out the rest,” he assured.

He concedes the Old Bar track is ‘a little different’ to what he races on in America.

“But I’ll adapt to it pretty quick I reckon,” Mees added.

He’ll start racing in America at the beginning of March.

“When I get home it’s all business until I get to Daytona. I’ve got bikes to build and I have to pay attention to my program.”

Mees hails from Michigan. The 28-year-old admits the weather will be freezing when he makes it home. He’ll leave early next week.

“If I knew I was going to have this much fun out here I would have stayed another week,” he smiled.

Mees hopes to be back again.

“As long as they keep inviting me I’ll be out,” he said.

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Cundletown’s Cudlin prepares for classic challenge

DAMIAN Cudlin was a late withdrawal from last year’s Troy Bayliss Classic after his wife fell ill.
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However, all is now on track for tomorrow’s event at Taree Motor Cycle Club’s Old Bar Roadside Circuit and Cudlin is determined to put on a good show.

Cudlin rode in the inaugural event in 2013 but admits his results were somewhat underwhelming. This time around he believes he has a bike that will roar him into contention.

“I’ll be in there trying anyway,” he said.

Cudlin nominates Bayliss as the rider to beat. However, he was one of a number of riders who tested at Gunnedah last weekend on a track that is similar to Old Bar. He said the American contingent will also give plenty of cheek tomorrow.

“They’re going to be fast,” he said.

Cudlin enjoyed his first experience riding in the classic.

“It’s a good event,” he said.

“They get a big crowd out at the track. It should be the same this weekend so hopefully we can put on a show for them.”

Cudlin started his racing career at the Old Bar track. The sport has taken him around the world and he was based in Germany for a number of years.

But these days he’s happy back living in Cundletown, although he still rides in Europe.

“I’ve missed too many family birthdays and Christmases because I was living away,” he explains.

“So it’s good to be back living here. There’s a bit of travel involved, but that doesn’t bother me.”

Cudlin has signed with Yamaha and will be riding in the European Superbike Championship this year.

He’ll be in Italy next month for the launch of Yamaha’s new bike.

“I’m also hoping to ride with Yamaha in the World Endurance Championship,” he said.

“The details haven’t been fully financed yet. But I’m hoping to sign the contract when I’m in Italy.”

Cudlin has also gained sponsorship from Saxby’s Soft Drinks for tomorrow.

“Sponsors are hard to find and it’s great that a local firm like Saxbys will back a local rider,” he said.

Cudlin’s brother, Alex, will miss tomorrow’s classic.

He has commitments in Qatar, where he’s defending the Qatar Superbike Championship.

He’s won the title there for the last four years, which is a record.

Paul Berg from Saxbys Soft Drinks wishes Damian Cudlin all the best as he prepares for Saturday’s Troy Bayliss Classic

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.