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Maitland doctors welcome rebate change

Hunter doctors have welcomed news that the federal government has shelved plans to cut the Medicare rebate for general practitioner consultations.
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The government announced yesterday that it had scrapped its plan to cut the $20 Medicare rebate for GP consultations shorter than 10 minutes.

Medical professionals across the nation had criticised the plan because of the flow-on effect it would have, either leading to increased traffic in hospital emergency departments or more people needlessly living with poor health.

Hunter General Practitioners Association president Tony Isaac said yesterday’s announcement was welcome news for Hunter GPs.

He said the cut to the rebate would have resulted in higher costs for people to visit GPs and would have led to more people presenting to emergency departments for treatment of minor health problems.

Dr Isaac’s comments came after Hunter New England Health reminded the public last week not to use emergency departments, such as at Maitland Hospital, as free GP services.

“When a doctor keeps a patient out of the emergency department, it’s a saving of thousands of dollars per patient, per day,” Dr Isaac said.

“The vast majority of GPs are good and honourable people – we aren’t trying to rip off Medicare.

“The vast majority will see four patients per hour, with the exception of some nurse-assisted consults.”

Dr Isaac said the region’s GPs still felt threatened by the possibility of government action.

“It’s great that the minister is back consulting with doctors,” he said.

“We are still worried about thefreezing of indexation and we’re still worried about a $5 co-payment.”

While GPs had a commitment to patients and the community, Dr Isaac said it was important to remember that GP practices were types of small business, which government cuts could hurt.

“I have about 17 families here that have relied on the wages that come from our practice,” he said.

The rebate cut had been expected to come into force on Monday, but new Health Minister Sussan Ley announced yesterday that the cut would not go ahead and was off the table.

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

Spring Gully bus users’ meeting on the cards

HELP: Bus users have complained of hard-to-read maps for proposed bus routes.RELATED: Proposed routes magnify problems
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RELATED: Residents upset at proposed changes

A MEETING with Spring Gully residents about proposed changes to their bus route is on the cardsfollowingPublic Transport Victoria’s meeting with the City of Greater Bendigo this week.

PTV proposed a major overhaul of Bendigo’s bus routes in early December andheld a series of public information sessions about the changes in mid December.

The public consultation period for the proposed changes ended on December 22 andPTV has beenreviewingthe feedback since.

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Peter Cox said Wednesday night’s meeting, which saw PTVrepresentativescome up to Bendigo from Melbourne, allowed council to get a senseofhowthings were going.

“We just hada routine report from PTV about how the consultation process is going,” he said.

He saidcouncil was advised thatSpring Gully residents inparticular werenot happy with the changes.

“What I’ve suggested is we have a ward meeting out at Spring Gullywhere we invite residents to come along with PTV and ward councillors,” Cr Coxsaid.

“Let’s sit around and discuss it. We’ve all got a common goal; we all want more people to use buses.”

Cr Coxsaid maps simultaneously showing whereexisting services were and where proposed services could go hadalso been discussed at the meeting.

“Let’s have a pictorial demonstration of the possible changes,” Cr Cox said.

Cr Cox said council wasgenerallysupportive of PTV’s proposals.

“We’re in a consultation period about howwe get people onto buses, that will mean changes and we understand people will be unhappy about that, but that’s why we need to have this consultation period,” he said.

Cr Cox saidchanges were unlikely to come into effect until April and ifpeople hadconcerns they should contact PTV or council.

“PTV want to talk to as many people as they can,” he said.

“If I can help facilitate meetings, I’m more than happy to do that.”

TheBendigo Advertiserapproached PTV for comment but noresponse wasreceivedby the time of publication.

To view Bendigo’s proposed bus routes, visithttp://ptv.vic.gov.au/projects/buses/proposed-bus-network-for-bendigo/

To contactPublic Transport Victoria, phone1800 800 007.

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

Ellen’s Cup night win goal

Ellen TormeyJUNORTOUN’S Ellen Tormey will be aiming to put to use the experience she gained on a recent overseas trip to help her achieve some success on Bendigo Pacing Cup night at Lord’s Raceway on Saturday.
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Tormey last year spent six weeks in America and Canada after she was awarded the 2014 Leigh Plunkett Scholarship.

The Leigh Plunkett Foundation was established in 2013 as a harness racing charity to raise money for charitable organisations, as well as providing an international scholarship for a young participant.

“It was an unbelievable experience and I recommend anyone who is interested in harness racing to go over there because it’s a whole different world,” Tormey said on Friday.

“I never stopped learning over there… at the moment I’m training more than I’m driving, so I learned so many different training techniques that I can adapt to not just the whole team, but I can take in each horse’s considerations.

“And with the driving, they are so patient over there and they look after their horses so much better.

“They are so particular and pedantic and I’ve brought that back with me.

“The team is going well at the moment and we’ve got some nice horses. It’s good to know that I’ve picked up some knowledge to help with that.”

Tormey will drive Saabrina Miss – a horse she also trains – in the Race Services Pace (1650m) on Saturday night.

“It would be great to get a win on the night of the hometown Cup,” Tormey said.

“She has missed a little bit of work after all the rain we had last week, but hopefully, she can run well.”

Tormey will also drive the Peter Tonkin-trained Riverboat Princess in the Staffordshire Park Pace Final (2150m).

“She won her heat (at Charlton on January 7), but the final is going to be a tougher race,” Tormey said.

“She’s a good little trier and hopefully, she won’t be far away.”

As for the feature race on the night – the Bendigo Pacing Cup – following the scratching of Beautide, Tormey is tipping Christen Me, with Chilli Palmer her best roughie.

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

New trains on track for delivery

A TRAIN order placed in 2012 is on track to be delivered by the end of 2016.
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The order is expected to alleviate some of the problems experienced by commuters travelling on V/Line routes across Victoria.

V/Line spokeswoman Ebony Jordan said it was closely monitoring patronage on all services in order to satisfy demand.

“Nine VLocity carriages have already been delivered and are currently operating on various lines across the network,” she said.

“These were delivered in the form of three-car units. Another five three-car units are to come, with a further 19 single carriages to also be added to the existing fleet.”

The Courier is often told of certain services on the Ballarat line where commuters are forced to stand due to overcrowding.

But it remains to be seen how many of the new carriages will find their way to Ballarat.

“This will transform all current two-car VLocity trains into three-car sets,” Ms Jordan said. “Two of these can be coupled to form a six-carriage train.

“Our fleet engineers are working closely with Bombardier Transportation to ensure the new carriages continue to be progressively rolled out onto the network.

“The completion date for all 43 carriages is still the end of 2016, and the carriages are assigned across the state depending on patronage demand.”

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

‘They want their pain to be known’

COMMENT
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A journo is certainly not the first person a cop would turn to in his hour of need.

The so-called vulture who turns up at a fatal crash or bloody crime scene, hungry to broadcast every gory detail, isn’t top of your average cop’s list to share a debrief about the stresses and tribulations of the job.

Most cops I’ve met keep a brave face and their cards close to their chest. That’s just how they operate.

Which is why the candid revelations of so many over recent months have been nothing short of mind-blowing.

They fidget nervously with their cigarettes, looking over their shoulder, their hands shaking.

Then, without warning, in the middle of small talk, they burst into tears.

We’re not talking one or two isolated cases. It’s not just the half-dozen whose stories the Mercury has published over the past month or so.

It is many.

And nor are the personal accounts that we published in any way exceptional.

Rather, they are typical.

The details may vary from person to person, but the bottom line never does.

Some have invited me into their homes, concerned they might be recognised in public.

Others have insisted on clandestine meetings in places such as service station car parks.

They hand over bundles of documents, video footage and other evidence gathered against them by insurance companies fighting them in their claims for compensation.

They don’t want to be identified in our stories. The fear has got to them. Fear of reprisals, or flak from their colleagues, or trouble with the insurance companies.

They are paranoid and jumpy. They feel persecuted. Like criminals.

But they push me to keep going. They want their stories to be heard, their pain to be known.

These are men and women who joined the NSW Police Force to protect and serve their community.

Now they are scared, broken and sad people whose lives have been ripped apart.

They all tell the same sorry tale.

Isolated, ostracised from their colleagues who they considered friends, and let down by the system.

Some speak of ruined relationships. They confess, sometimes in shocking detail, to physically and verbally abusing the people they love most.

If they’re not popping pills to stay on an even keel, they’re smoking a pack or two a day and drinking themselves to sleep.

Drugs, prescribed or self-medicated, are one of the few ways they’ve been able to briefly silence the demons, the haunting screams in their heads of victims they couldn’t save, of the evil and depravity they’ve witnessed, of the wrongs they couldn’t right.

The raw honesty of these people is overwhelming.

But more chilling is the severity of their symptoms.

Post-traumatic stress disorder has crippled so many of them.

Big burly detectives who’ve solved some of the region’s worst homicides, who’ve faced the most evil of criminals, have been reduced to shells of their former selves.

Their sense of abandonment and helplessness triggers fluctuating emotions. One moment, their eyes are heavy and sad. In the next instant, those same eyes flicker white with rage. Or drown in tears.

What makes no sense, though, is that these men and women genuinely feel they have nowhere to turn. The welfare system does not exist for them. They have been cast aside.

From what I’ve seen, these people aren’t faking it to secure a compo payout.

They are not putting it on. No-one would choose to live like that.

No doubt there are some who rort the system. But the broken human beings I’ve met in recent months certainly haven’t chosen this path.

Hiding away, day after day, struggling with “normal” activities such as buying bread and milk or sitting on the beach, trying to deal with the guilt of broken relationships, staring into the future and seeing nothing there, feeling hunted by insurance company surveillance whenever they venture outside.

It’s not a life anyone would choose.

If so many of the brave men and women who sign up to protect the community only feel safe when they are behind closed doors, then what hope do we have?

Society owes it to these people to pull them out of their despair. We need to get them the help, treatment and support they need.

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Hunted like criminals: stressed cops tracked

Hunted like criminals: stressed cops tracked Thirty hours of surveillance was conducted on this former officer. Photos taken from the private investigator’s report relied upon by MetLife showed the man ‘appearing to smile’ and ‘conversing with a group of people’.
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Thirty hours of surveillance was conducted on this former officer. Photos taken from the private investigator’s report relied upon by MetLife showed the man ‘appearing to smile’ and ‘conversing with a group of people’.

Thirty hours of surveillance was conducted on this former officer. Photos taken from the private investigator’s report relied upon by MetLife showed the man ‘appearing to smile’ and ‘conversing with a group of people’.

TweetFacebookFormer cops suffering post-traumatic stress are routinely subjected to intrusive surveillance by insurance companies. A leading lawyer has now called for an end to such tactics.Aggressive, relentless and arguably illegal surveillance methods of insurance companies are causing extreme reactions in police pursuing insurance claims and often exacerbating their mental health conditions, a leading lawyer warns.

“From my constant review of video surveillance taken of my former police client claimants, I often see circumstances where it is clear that private investigators have breached not only privacy provisions when obtaining video surveillance but have also breached specific criminal provisions,” said John Cox, principal lawyer at Slater and Gordon.

“It is a criminal offence to enter premises without the consent of the owner for the purposes of utilising a surveillance device to record a person’s activities yet I have seen these provisions breached on a number of occasions by PIs.”

“I see also the videoing of claimants’ children and other children with no association to the claimant, and video footage taken on school grounds involving numerous school children,” he said.

“Surveillance has also been taken of my clients in the privacy of their homes, at their dinner tables with their families, and also in their bedrooms.”

Mr Cox said he was yet to see any video evidence showing his clients working or engaged in any activities which had not been previously disclosed to the insurers, their doctors “or which are otherwise contrary to the compensation claim being made”.

“I would understand the constant pervasive use of such surveillance if it was catching out claimants engaging in work or activities inconsistent with their claims, but this is not the case,” he said.

“The only conclusion I can make is that the surveillance is undertaken to place pressure on claimants or to harass them, and anecdotally I do hear of officers who simply abandon their claims due to such conduct and the ill-effects it has had on them and their families.”

Mr Cox said when that happened the insurer saved on having to pay that particular claim.

None of his clients would argue against an insurer having the right to investigate a claim, he said. “However where those investigations include PIs surveilling them aggressively, at times illegally and for long periods of time then it is clearly unreasonable conduct by the insurers.”

The courts have the discretion to exclude such illegally obtained video but Mr Cox insists the practice should “simply not occur in circumstances where the effect on a claimant’s health and welfare is so acute”.

Mr Cox, who leads the Slater and Gordon police compensation group, has called for a review of the claims-processing tactics of insurers including the legitimacy, value and prejudicial use of surveillance and private investigators – especially in claims involving former police officers suffering from psychiatric injury such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

The use of PIs and video surveillance was especially fraught with difficulties for ex-police officer claimants, he said.

The Mercury has been contacted by numerous police officers complaining that constant surveillancewas not only causing stress and anxiety for themselves but also for their families, including at times extended families such as siblings and parents who were at times subjected to surveillance.

Mr Cox said MetLife, one of the insurance companies associated with Police Total and Permanent Disablement claims, appeared to have embarked on the use of extensive video surveillance by PIs, “seemingly as a matter of course in every claim”. Putting aside what must be the significant costs associated with such surveillance, it raised ethical and legal issues which needed to be considered, he said.

“I assert legally that, an insurer must have a valid reason or reasonable grounds to suspect a claim is fraudulent or the claimant’s credibility is at issue before going down the avenue of extensive, protracted video surveillance.

“In my opinion, in most cases it simply does not have such grounds but [MetLife] engages PIs to undertake surveillance as a matter of course. This is especially true in cases where it holds overwhelming evidence based on which the claim should be accepted,” said Mr Cox, who acts exclusively for existing and former police officers and emergency services personnel, many in the Illawarra region.

Maurice Blackburn senior associate Josh Mennen said the surveillance strategies adopted by MetLife were the most aggressive his firm had ever seen.

“A good number of psychiatrists will not place any credence on surveillance footage of people suffering PTSD in any case because it cannot and does not reveal what is going on in their heads,” Mr Mennen said.

“What we know it does do, is place them under enormous stress.

“It perpetuates psychosis particularly where it involves paranoia and it has gotten to the point where this behaviour can only be seen by MetLife as an effective strategy on the basis it wears them down so they drop their case.”

Mr Mennen said the surveillance was “littered with errors and inaccuracies”.

“For example they are relying on footage for a client of mine supposedly driving and transporting goods when she wasn’t in fact the driver. And they are relying upon website records of a male claimant who was supposedly registered as playing in a cricket team and where in fact the registration was incorrect.

“They don’t double check their facts with us.

“If the insurance company can get to the credibility of the claimants, they can undermine self-reported symptoms to the doctors. It’s all about attacking their credibility.”

Metlife has strongly refuted the claims, saying many of the allegations are inflammatory and incorrect.

“To the extent the assertions he makes relate to MetLife, we reject any suggestion that we would be knowingly engaged in illegal or unethical practices,” a spokesman said.

“MetLife always seeks to pay legitimate claims quickly and fairly. It is important to note that unmeritorious claims result in the passing on of premium increases, which is unfair for other members and unsustainable in the long run.

“MetLife uses surveillance selectively and sparingly and only where it has concerns about the legitimacy of a claim. When doing so, we conform to recognised industry standards, ensuring privacy is respected and that the surveillance is relevant, targeted and discreet.”

Mr Cox said he was surprised by MetLife’s response.

“In the overwhelming majority of my files I have the evidence to show Metlife’s conduct regarding its usage of surveillance.

“I know my clients’ experiences with surveillance. Ultimately it would be interesting to hear from other former police engaged in the process with MetLife as to their experiences with surveillance.”

Mr Cox agreed there was a legitimate question about the value of the use of video surveillance in psychiatric injury claims.

“A video cannot tell you how a person is feeling or thinking in any given moment and indeed whether they are experiencing symptoms of their illness or not, simply through their physical actions.”

Mr Cox was also concerned about the selective use of edited video footage obtained and used by PIs.

In a recent case, TPD insurers rejected a claim on the basis of 42 minutes of video footage in circumstances where surveillance of more than 90 hours was conducted.

“This particular client during the 42 minutes of surveillance utilised by the insurer was shown shopping for everyday items such as bread and milk and during the other 90 hours was sitting closeted in her home by herself in acute distress.”

Another problem with video surveillance was that it failed to show the context of the vision relied upon.

“A client of mine was videotaped seemingly enjoying a family get-together, however, what was not revealed was that it was the first time she had been at such a get-together in many months and only attended under threat from her husband to leave her if she didn’t make an attempt to re-engage with her family. It also didn’t show the panic attacks she was having at the function or the physical symptoms relating to the anxiety she was suffering.”

Mr Cox said clients were often encouraged by their psychiatrist and psychologists, as part of their treatment, to try to engage in social activities such as meeting friends for a coffee or to take a trip to the shops only to be confronted by aggressive PIs obviously photographing and videotaping their attempts at reintegration.

“This behaviour of course discourages these attempts and only leads to further distress and anxiety.”

It is not illegal for insurance companies to use private investigators.While the industry is loosely regulated by the licensing of private investigators, the operatives are free to go about their job surveilling people as long as they do not fall foul of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007.Under Section 8 of the Act it is illegal to trespass on private land or install or use surveillance or listening devices.In NSW, it is illegal to enter private property (including vehicles and commercial premises) without a lawful reason unless the owner, occupier or person in charge has consented. If consent is denied or withdrawn, the visitor must leave. Separate consent is required to take photographs or other recordings while on private property. Hidden cameras can not be used without the consent of the owner, occupier or person in charge. Access to hospitals, childcare centres, nursing homes and schools is regulated.Anyone in a public place can be photographed without permission. People on private property can be photographed without permission if they are visible from public property, provided the photographer is on public property.Private conversations cannot be recorded by a third party without the permission of everyone in the conversation. Conversations in public places may be considered private if those involved could reasonably expect it to be private (for example, they are not talking in loud voices or in places where third parties can clearly overhear them).Private investigators also cannot conduct themselves in a manner that constitutes harassment.Like with any victims of harassment, claimants who feel they are being harassed by a PI have the option of taking out an Apprehended Violence Order.In the case of claimants being surveilled it is rare they know the identity of the person they are alleging is behaving in a harassing manner.To many former police officers suffering from PTSD, depression and anxiety, the process of returning to a police station to take out an AVO can cause further anxiety.It is a criminal offence for companies to utilise material that has been obtained illegally.Got a whistle to blow? An inside story to reveal? Let us know, in confidence: [email protected]南京夜网.au

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Eleven young women stake a claim for Miss Maitland Showgirl titlePHOTOS

Eleven young women stake a claim for Miss Maitland Showgirl title | PHOTOS 2014 WINNER: Last year’s Miss Maitland Showgirl Alexis Adams.
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Amy Harris.

Tori Covic.

Dominique Judd.

Emma Cunningham.

Jessica Allen.

Kate Lacey.

Taylah Mancey.

Jacqueline Myhill.

Olivia Richardson.

Summa Crocket.

Tanika Riordan-Adams.

Taylah Mancey

Summa Crockett

Tanika Riordan-Adams

Amy Harris

TweetFacebookDOMINIQUE JUDDApprentice electrician Dominique Judd is no stranger to the Miss Maitland Showgirl search, having entered as an 18-year-old.

Now 21 and weeks away from finishing her apprenticeship, Ms Judd is back in the competition.

“I competed a couple of years ago when I was 18, and had always thought about entering again,” she said.

“This year I saw the advertisement in the Mercury and thought I’d give it a go again.

“It was great fun last time.”

If chosen as this year’s winner, the Brandy Hill resident would champion Maitland as a place to visit.

“I would like to get people into Maitland more,” Ms Judd said.

“Maitland is building up and people are coming into the area a bit more, but everyone seems to go into Newcastle.

“It’s a nice rural town and a beautiful area.

“The show is a great thing and I would like to push the show.

“I’d like to promote to people that there are many great attractions [at the show] and different avenues to be a part of.”

EMMA CUNNINGHAMPromoting health and fitness for everyone is one reason Tenambit’s Emma Cunningham decided to enter the Miss Maitland Showgirl competition.

“I strongly believe in promoting health and fitness for everyone,” the beauty therapist and stay-at-home mum said.

She has been looking after her two-year-old son and nine-month-old daughter.

“I particularly enjoy trying new ventures and when I saw the Miss Maitland Showgirl Competition advertised on Facebook, I thought I would enter and give it a go,” Ms Cunningham said.

“My husband was veryencouraging and it is exciting, because I’ve never done anything like this before.

“I love attending bootcamp challenges and thought I might be able to draw attention to the importance of physical fitness if I win this title.”

She believed Maitland had a great deal to offer young people.

“If I could use my role as Miss Maitland Showgirl to promote our city, it would be a wonderful opportunity and a great experience,” she said.

She was excited about returning to the workforce soon as a beauty therapist and was working toward her certificate as a personal trainer.

TAYLAH MANCEYTaylah Mancey points out that while she is not from a rural area, she is still a Maitland woman through and through.

“I’m not the most rural person, but I would represent Maitland to the best of my ability,” Ms Mancey said.

Besides two years spent in Wagga Wagga to study, the 20-year-old has always lived here. And if she was to win, her aim would be to help the city’s young people.

“I would try to get more funding for the youth in Maitland,” she said.

“I would try to create more programs to get them all involved.

“I think it would stop a lot of problems if we could do that.”

Ms Mancey, of Raworth, is not short on ambition.

Her university majors include forensic science, biotechnology, medical science and policing.

“I have a lot going on,” she laughed.

“I want to do forensics in the police force – that’s my aim.

“I’m in my third year of the forensic, biotech and medical science and am halfway through the [police force] recruitment process.”

JACQUELINE MYHILLJacqueline Myhill is the secretary at Bowe & Lidbury’s Maitland cattle saleyards and is passionate about agricultural issues.

The former St Peter’s and St Mary’s student has wanted to enter the Miss Maitland Showgirl competition for some time.

“I’ve grown up in Maitland and always wanted to enter,” she said.

Ms Myhill wanted to enter the competition two years ago but her sister’s hen’s night was on the weekend of the show and she was unable to enter – now the 20-year-old has thrown her hat in the ring.

“Growing up in Maitland, I have always seen the Showgirls as role models and always thought it would be something I’d like to do.”

Ms Myhill would like to be an advocate for local agriculture.

“We hear our grandparents speak of how Maitland was such an agricultural hub, but with population growth that seems to be fading away.

“We need to bring that back. I don’t think our youth recogniseagriculture as the resource it is.

“It’s a massive part of our area.”

AMY HARRISRathluba’s Amy Harris sees the Showgirl competition as an opportunity to champion her home city.

“I love Maitland and what it represents,” Ms Harris said. “We have a strong sense of community, we have Mai-Wel and Harry’s House.

“I’d like to be a role model and show that anything is possible if you put yourself out there.”

Ms Harris is busy both in her work and studies.

“I’m working at Club Financial Services in Maitland and In Properties for Investors,” the 19-year-old said.

Ms Harris is has completed a Certificate IV in finance and mortgage broking at the University of Newcastle.

She is now studying a Bachelor of Communication with a view to becoming a radio or TV presenter.

“I have also done some short courses in the beauty industry and I’ve also done a Diploma of Business and a Diploma of Marketing,” she said.

KATE LACEYKate Lacey believes in the importance of the Showgirl competition.

“I wanted to keep the tradition alive, because the Showgirls have been around forever and something like that shouldn’t be forgotten,” Ms Lacey said.

“[Showgirls] are supposed to inspire today’s generation and I hope to be one of them.”

Having grown up on a small lucerne and cattle property in Lorn, Ms Lacey is familiar with the challenges farmers faced.

If the 18-year-old were to win the crown, she would use her role to shine a light on rural issues.

“I would discuss the challenges that most ­farmers face these days, especially what goes on in rural communities that not many people in the city hear about,” she said.

Ms Lacey completed her studies at Maitland High School last year.

TORI COVICTori Covic and the Maitland Show have a long history.

“I’ve been a part of the Show since I was about four years old,” Ms Covic said.

“I ride the horses there and Miss Maitland gives out our champion sashes.”

The 20-year-old believes that leaders should lead by action and not through words.

“I joined Miss Showgirl to be a role model,” Ms Covic said.

“I’ve grown up the old-fashioned way, so instead of proving points, I like to show people a different way.”

And the former St Mary’s and St Peter’s student’s love of horses continues played a part.

“I have grown up at Seaham, where I still live, and have always had horses,” she said.

Ms Covic works as both a medical receptionist and waitress, and is studying a Diploma of Business Management.

TANIKA RIORDAN-ADAMSA text message from a friend tipped off Tanika Riordan-Adams to the Miss Maitland Showgirl competition.

After some investigation the 22-year-old mother of one realised she was the type of young woman the competition wanted to uncover.

“I’m very rural, I’ve lived rurally since I was in primary school,” Ms Riordan-Adams said.

“I’ve been around the Maitland area since I went to St Paul’s at Rutherford and I’ve lived at Seaham for quite a few years.”

About five years ago, Ms Riordan-Adams moved to work on thoroughbred studs near Muswellbrook as a veterinary nurse, but recently had to move back to Seaham with her partner and one-year-old son Kobi.

One of the issues Ms Riordan-Adams would draw attention to as Miss Maitland Showgirl is the need for a hospital upgrade.

“The most attention that Maitland needs at the moment is the hospital,” she said.

“That hospital is way overdue for an upgrade, especially just a decent parking lot, so that’s probably the biggest thing I would try to make people more aware of.”

Ms Riordan-Adams is searching for a new job, preferably one that includes working with animals.

“For the past few years I’ve been working as a vet nurse with small and large animals, on thoroughbred studs and in vet clinics,” she said.

“At the vet clinic, I worked closely with both horses and small animals, and there’s not many practices that do both.”

SUMMA CROCKETSumma Crockett’s love of horses led to her entering in this year’s Miss Maitland Showgirl.

“I’m friends with Alexis [Adams] who was last year’s Showgirl,” Ms Crockett explained.

“One of my friends put a post on Facebook and said ‘Where are all of our horsey girls, whose going to represent us this year?’”

“It’s a really good opportunity and I want to be a role model for all the young women out there.”

Ms Crockett teaches others to ride horses and believes that working with the animals could help a range of people.

“I want to help young people have the enjoyment that horses can bring to your life,” Ms Crockett said.

“A lot of young people might want to go out and party, but having a horse gives you a responsibility.”

The 22-year-old Brandy Hill resident went to Dungog High School and works at Masters Home Improvement in Heatherbrae.

“I’m working towards being a department manager, but when I’m not at Masters I’m giving horse riding lessons to children, I’m showing and competing and I walk other people’s horses,” Ms Crockett said.

“I’m running a training and riding school as well, so I’m forever on the go. I don’t stop.”

JESSICA ALLENJessica Allen has competed in agriculture shows since she was young.

One of her high school teachers encouraged the former St Mary’s and St Peter’s student to enter the Miss Maitland Showgirl competition.

“I’ve always had such a positive experience out of the show and I would like to give back to the people who have helped so much,” Ms Allen said.

The 18-year-old is passionate about rural issues.

If crowned Miss Maitland Showgirl her focus would be ­“education and the importance of rural communities”.

Ms Allen is studying teaching at the University of Newcastle.

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

Work to begin on roundabout flyover

WORK TO BEGIN: A new overpass at the roundabout on the New England Highway near Maitland train station is expected to be completed next year.Work to build the eastbound overpass over the New England Highway at Maitland will begin next week.
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Roads and Maritime Services awarded the construction contract for the overpass, near Maitland railway station, to Seymour Whyte Constructions Pty Ltd in December.

The overpass is expected to becomplete by 2016, weather permitting.

“This new overpass will carry two lanes above the Church Street roundabout for eastbound traffic using the New England Highway and bypass the flood plain area to the north of the highway at the western end ofthe bridge,” an RMS spokesperson said.

“The 430-metre long overpass and approach road work will connect to the New England Highway about 500m east and 400m west of the roundabout.

“The overall upgrade aims to improve road safety and traffic flow while catering for the future traffic growth in this busy area.

“Early work is now under way to establish the site compound with the community to be advised in advance of any required night work.”

The overpass is part of a $45 million road improvement program that the state government has committed to the region, largely through the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund.

Roundabout upgrades have also taken place on the New England Highway near Maitland railway station, at High Street and near Maitland Hospital.

Visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au for more information on planned road work.

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

JOANNE MCCARTHY: Couple stung by true love

MORE than 20 years ago, and only a few weeks after their marriage, a woman we’ll call Betty and her husband we’ll call Bert came face to face with their future.
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It happened on a Sunday afternoon, said Betty, and the day was hot.

It happened on a Saturday morning, said Bert, and it had been raining.

So they compromised about the actual timing of the incident, as all sensible married couples do once they’ve survived a couple of decades of battling mortgages, raising children and coping at work, to emerge dazed and confused but with a common goal – anything for a quiet life.

So Betty and Bert agreed they came face to face with their future at midnight on a weekend that included both a Saturday and a Sunday. Weather variable.

They were in the kitchen at the time, said Betty.

No, said Bert. I believe it was the loungeroom.

After another round of negotiations they agreed the incident occurred indoors, somewhere in NSW. And it started with a wasp. On this there was no doubt.

Betty and Bert were like many people who married as the 1980s became the 1990s – they didn’t see a recession coming, or Bob Hawke going; they paid 17 per cent interest on their housing loan; they watched Hey Hey It’s Saturday and had Bon Jovi records, and they thought they knew everything about each other.

Until the wasp incident.

“It changed everything,” said Betty.

Now Bert is a fit fellow. He played a lot of sport in his youth. He was a bit of a lad at times, but not too much, and he had a reputation for having a go.

“It was what attracted me to him, I have to admit,” said Betty.

“He was good looking, of course, but he was a daredevil.”

So it came as something of a surprise to her on that midnight between a Saturday and a Sunday, somewhere indoors in NSW, when a wasp flew in and Bert ran screaming from the room into a bedroom and slammed the door behind him.

“Leaving me outside the bedroom in the room with the wasp that he ran screaming from, I might add,” said Betty.

“His new bride.”

Bert disputes the use of the word “screaming”, but concedes he made a sound Betty had never heard before.

“It was more like a manly squeal, or maybe a squawk,” he said.

“My arms weren’t flapping around. I think my arms would have to have been flapping around to qualify for the use of the word scream.”

He agreed with Betty that while his arms weren’t flapping around, they were upraised. He also agreed, reluctantly, that by the time Betty reached the door to haul her husband out to face the foe together, Bert had locked it.

“I didn’t want to be stung by a wasp,” he said.

That’s when Betty came face to face with her future, and when her mother began the daily phone calls that have continued to this day.

“Her mum just touches base to let her know someone will be there, in case there’s ever a wasp incident, or something like it, again,” said Bert.

“I get that.”

Betty and Bert can’t remember what happened to the wasp. Bert didn’t leave the bedroom until the all-clear was given, but Betty doesn’t remember dispatching it.

“It probably just flew out the way it came in,” said Betty.

They told the wasp story the other day while explaining why they were both yawning and drooping at breakfast.

“Mosquitoes,” they said in unison.

“We had about 70 in the bedroom,” said Bert.

“I think there were three,” said Betty.

One minute they were settled into their respective positions on the queen-size bed with the extra lumbar support and the puffy mattress the marketing guff said was like sleeping on a cloud, and the next minute Bert was hitting his head repeatedly in the dark, before leaping for the light switch and pulling a couple of books and a lamp off the side table along the way.

“What on earth are you doing?” said Betty.

“I’m being attacked by mosquitoes. Hundreds of them,” said Bert.

For 10 minutes they hunted, and caught two.

“I told you they were eating me alive,” said Bert when he whacked the second mosquito against a wall and its bloody insides provided smeared and damning testament to the statement.

They turned the light out, but within 10 minutes it was back on again as Betty and Bert – a team – hunted a third mosquito down, its tiny but malevolent body finally dispatched on a wall behind the dresser.

They are a happy pair, and a delight to be with. Betty likes to call them a “glass half full” kind of couple.

“When we were first married he locked me out with a wasp. Today we hunt mosquitoes together,” said Betty.

“You’ve got to be happy with that.”

Medicare needs an alternative: Whiteley

FEDERAL Member for Braddon Brett Whiteley has called on crossbench senators to provide an alternative Medicare solution.
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Despite the federal government’s backflip on Medicare changes to the six to 10-minute GP consultation periods, Mr Whiteley still firmly believed Medicare needed to be changed as a matter of urgency.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott had announced a $20 decrease for the Medicare rebate applied to GP consultations running from six to 10 minutes to come into effect on Monday, which caused a national uproar earlier this week.

Two days ago, Mr Whiteley said the changes were necessary. Yesterday he stuck to his guns despite Mr Abbott and federal health minister Sussan Ley’s change of heart.

Mr Whiteley said Medicare was unsustainable and Australians couldn’t “stick their head in the sand” any longer.

“It may come as a surprise, but someone, somewhere has to pay for the services we have come to expect,” Mr Whiteley said.

“The reality is crossbenchers, in particular, have jumped to a political conclusion and indicated to government they weren’t going to support the changes, so we had no choice but to withdraw it.”

It is now up to the crossbenchers to offer solutions, Mr Whiteley said.

“Because Labor have basically decided to oppose anything the government comes up with.”

Mr Whiteley was disappointed by the community response to Mr Abbott’s earlier decision to change the Medicare rebate.

“Is it a popular decision to be debating publicly? No it’s not, but I was elected to be upfront and honest,” Mr Whiteley said.

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