New Labor leader steels herself for battle ahead


Incoming Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk faces the media. Photo: Scott BeveridgeFORMER transport minister Annastacia Palaszczuk will be elected unopposed as leader of the Queensland opposition tomorrow in a Labor party caucus meeting that will have just six other members.

North Queensland Labor MP Curtis Pitt – who looks on track to retain his seat of Mulgrave – yesterday expressed interest in running for the position but Ms Palaszczuk said today he had decided not to contest the ballot.

In a press conference this afternoon at Old Parliament House Ms Palaszczuk said Saturday’s overwhelming electoral defeat had shown ‘‘the government had lost (its) way’’, a favourite line of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s.

The new opposition leader in waiting also said the reign of factions over the Labor party was coming to an end and she would like to see ‘‘doctors, nurses and rail workers’’ running as Labor candidates in the future.

‘‘Campbell Newman has made a lot of promises, he has put up there at the top of the list the cost of living, we will make sure that he keeps to these promises and we will make him accountable each and every day of this Parliament,’’ she said.

‘‘Ministers better be across their briefs because we are prepared to ask the tough questions.’’

Ms Palaszczuk said she would be leading her party through a period of soul searching where they needed to discover why ‘‘the government had stopped listening to the people and the people had stopped listening to the government’’.

The deputy opposition leader will come from regional Queensland, putting Mr Pitt as a firm favourite for the job, but Ms Palaszczuk said there was no room for factions in her party room.

‘‘Look I think the time for factions is no more,’’ she said.

‘‘We need to be united, we need to move forward and we need to put people’s interests first.’’

She said she would have discussions with Katter’s Australian Party but its issues of choice were not the Labor party’s issues.

‘‘I’m under no illusion of the task ahead. We may be small in size but we have the determination to do the right thing by Queenslanders,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s going to be an uphill battle – it’s going to be like climbing Mount Everest – but I’m sure that we can do it.

‘‘My caucus, our caucus, is prepared to do the best that we can.’’

Ms Palaszczuk was dismissive of the capabilities of the LNP team, implying the talent pool of the new government was shallow.

‘‘They have big promises and you take away Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls, there’s not much there,’’ she said.

‘‘Very few have ministerial experience and it’s a big job ahead.’’

Ms Palaszczuk said she had “complete confidence” in Labor state secretary Anthony Chisholm and a review would be conducted into the party’s election campaign strategy.

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Bees the key to 30 per cent of our diet: research


A NEW study has reported that approximately 30% of our diet is produced as a result of the activity of pollinators like bees.

The study has also investigated the role that our native bees can play in increasing the yield and quality of vegetable seeds like carrots and leek.

“The Development of native bees as pollinators of vegetable seed crops study undertaken by the University of Adelaide is one of a large range of studies to be published on the vegetable industry’s pioneering national knowledge management R&D database this month,” said industry body Ausveg.

Ausveg spokesperson Andrew White said that the study was one of around several hundred that took place every year to ensure Australians were eating vegetables that had been produced using cost-effective, efficient, methods of food production.

“Pollination is particularly important for those vegetables that produce a seed like watermelons, as well as in the seed production process, which is what this study looked at,” Mr White said.

“As part of the study, over two years 36 species of native bees were caught, and 26 species were observed to try and identify possible native bee pollinators of leek and carrot in hybrid seed production.”

Ausveg said that a number of species of native bees are known to visit carrot and leek, and so the study looked at the possibility of increasing the populations of native bees in cases where honeybees where providing suboptimal pollination.

“Promoting the positive benefits of native bees when there is suboptimal pollination from honeybees may be significant and this study provided evidence of some good results when crops were exposed to native bee populations in addition to honeybees,” Mr White said.

“The study also found that growers can do a range of things to improve native bee populations at their properties such as minimising tillage to protect nests, planting windbreaks made up of native flowering plants and protecting flowering plants and nest sites,” he said.

“Research into the benefits of native bees is not only of benefit to the seed industry, but to the broader horticulture sector. Developing better quality and yielding seeds may have significant benefits for the food industry and vegetable growers in the future. Compared to enclosed pollination with honeybees the study found that hybrid seed production of carrot and leek in particular, was enhanced when grown outside.”

“The species of native bees that visited carrot and leek production sites was able to be evaluated in the study and this will play an important role as future bee populations might be influenced towards the species that will have the largest positive impact.”

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Right plant advice in Barossa


COME ALONG: Bushgardens’ volunteers preparing for the open day are (from left) Luciano Consalvi, Jeanette Kennedy, Arthur Mousamas and Pam Payne.KEEP this Sunday, April 1 free because it’s your chance to purchase Barossa native plants as part of the Barossa Bushgardens’ Open Day.

As well as offering thousands of local native plants for sale from $3, the day promotes sustainable living with workshops made available on a range of activities, plus stalls exhibiting and selling Barossa produce.

Open Day is a free family event, with lots of craft activities for children including making art with native seeds.

Bushgardens’ volunteers say if you’re planning a garden makeover, it’s good to know first whether your garden is on sand or clay soil. Some Barossa plants thrive only on one or the other, but not on both.

They say while most of the valley is clay soil, parts of the Barossa are ancient dunes – sandy soil – such as the area around The Rex and north to Nuraip Road, Altona, parts of Nuriootpa near Redeemer school and The Moppa.

Bushgardens volunteers are happy to advise you which plants grow best on your soil, whether it is clay or sandy soil, so that you get the best possible results.

Knowing your soil pH or acidity/alkalinity is also worthwhile and an indicator of what plants will grow best where.

For example, most Eremophilas prefer neutral to alkaline soils. Volunteers encourage you to bring along a teaspoon or small plastic bag of your soil and have it tested on the spot by Australian Plants Society.

Open Day Workshops

Garden design with Ted from 10am ‘Sustainable garden practice’ with Erica Bartsch from Plants Plus, 11am ZEN Home Energy Systems information session, noon Prune Australian native plants, 1pm• Ongoing guided tours of the gardens and display gardens on the hour from 10am-2pm.

The Open Day will be held from 10am to 3pm and a barbecue lunch will be made available.

The Barossa Bushgardens is located off Penrice Road, Nuriootpa, with car parking available via Research Road, just north of Penrice Road.

For more details, contact Pam Payne on 0448 676 348.

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Newcastle Rugby League: Kurri Kurri Bulldogs tread carefully with return of injured playmaker Jade Porter

SURGERY: Kurri Kurri playmaker Jade Porter. Picture: Maitland MercuryKurri Kurricoach Ron Griffiths said injured playmaker Jade Porter would return when the time is rightfor joint leaders the Bulldogs.

Porter underwent ankle surgery last week to repair damage which has kept him sidelined for most of the Newcastle Rugby League season.

The 35-year-old former Wests and Maitland pivot, who turned in consecutiveman-of-the-match performances to open the 2018 campaign for his new club, is expected back on the run home towards finals but Griffiths won’t be pushing the matter.

“Jade’s had surgery on his ankle and they reckon it’safour-week turnaround to be back running,” Griffiths said.

“We’re hoping [he returns]the back end of the year, but we don’t want to take any risks with him.

“At this stage of his career, we want to make sure he has himself 100 per cent right before playing again.”

Porter could be fit by the time Kurri hosts Western Suburbs on Saturday, August 4, in a matchre-scheduled from this weekend.

The round-seven fixture has been postponedat the request of Wests, who have three players selected in the NSW Rugby League combined representative squad travelling to Queensland from Friday.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s out of our control and we can’t do anything about it,” Griffiths said. “We’ve been in this situation before when games get postponed or transferred for various reasons so we just have to prepare to the best of our ability and get ready for the next challenge.”

The Bulldogs are away to Maitland on June 23, which will be Kurri’sfirst run in three weeks coming off the most recentcompetition-wide bye.

The tri-colours will have Newcastle under-20 representative Reid Alchin fresh from beingnamed players’ player for the Emerging Rebels against Canberra in Sydney on Saturday.

READ MORE:Adu-Dwumma setting the pace at Cessnock Goannas

Federal Government urged to demand church response

Reforms: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull flanked by Attorney-General Christian Porter (left) and Social Services Minister Dan Tehan announce sweeping child sexual abuse reforms. THE Federal Government needs to demand release of theCatholic Church’s response to the child abuse royal commission, say survivors after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday announced sweeping reforms and an October 22 date for anational apology.

Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon supported Hunter survivorBob O’Toole, survivor advocate Chrissie Foster and Catholics for Renewal president Peter Wilkinson in calling for the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council’sroyal commission responseto be immediately released.

Their call came after Mr Turnbull announced the Federal Government had adopted 104 of the royal commission’s 122 recommendations directly related to the government, and was working with state and local governments and other institutions on the remaining 18 recommendations.

The reforms include establishment of a national office for child safety which will operate from July 1. Mr Turnbull announced Western Australia would sign up to the national redress scheme which will also operate from July 1 and offer redress to more than 90 per cent of people sexually abused as children in institutions.

Redress is capped at $150,000, with an expected average payment of more than $75,000.

Mr Turnbull paid tribute to survivors and their families for their bravery, honesty and strength in coming forward and said a national apology will be delivered on October 22 during Children’s Week.

Prime Minister Malcolm TurnbullNewcastle Herald’s Shine the Light campaign in 2012 for a royal commission, said he was pleased by the government’s response but expected the government to demand the Catholic Church release its Truth Justice and Healing Council report in response to the royal commission.

The report was completed by the council and given to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference three months ago. The bishops conference this week, in response to Herald questions, would not say when it would release the report.

The process of consultation on a response “has begun but it will take some time to complete”, the ACBC said in a statement.

“The response to recommendations from the Royal Commission itself has already started, but the full response will come once we have received advice from the lay-led Implementation Advisory Group and completed our dialogue with the Holy See,” the statement said.

Mr O’Toole said the church’s response was unacceptable.

Hunter abuse survivor Bob O’Toole on the Catholic bishops

“They don’t seem to get that they don’t call the shots anymore,” Mr O’Toole said.

“The Federal Government should be pressuring the church to release the Truth Justice and Healing Council report. The bishopscarry on that we are the church but we’re not the bloody church.

“We don’t have a say in how the church is going to respond to the royal commission. It’s a closed shop.It’s all a secret. They won’t say when they’re going to respond, how they’re going to respond or if they’ll release the Truth Justice and Healing Council report. So what’s changed? How is the church acting any differently to what it always has?

“Of course the Federal Government should be applying pressure to have the Truth Justice and Healing Council report released, as a sign to Australians, if not to the church, that governments will no longer defer to the church. That those days are gone.”

Sharon Claydon, who is a member of the parliamentary committee advising the Federal Government on the national apology and national redress scheme, backed Mr O’Toole.

“The Royal Commission was supposed to put an end to the veil of secrecy, and the failure of the Catholic Church to release the Truth Justice and Healing Councilreport is deeply concerning,” Ms Claydon said.

“The Catholic Church holds a grave responsibility to survivors to be absolutely transparent and accountable, especially given that more than 60 per cent of the child sexual abuse in religious institutions reported to the royal commission occurred in Catholic-run institutions.

“This report must be released. The thousands of people who suffered unthinkable abuse in Catholic institutions deserve answers now.”

Academic, former Catholic priest and author of a groundbreaking report in 2017 into the global Catholic child sexual abuse crisis, Peter Wilkinson, said the bishops conference had to release the report.

Calls: The late Anthony Foster and wife Chrissie in Rome during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“It is now time for the ACBC to release to the public the full contents of the TJHC’s advice to the bishops on how they should respond to the royal commission and its recommendations,” Dr Wilkinson said.

“This cannot be delayed any longer.”

Chrissie Foster, whose two daughters were sexually abused by a Catholic priest, said it was “wonderful” that the Federal Government had adopted the 104 recommendations and was working with the states on the remaining 18.

“I feel as though we have won this. When it went from the royal commission to politicians I felt it could all slip away, but the government response shows that won’t happen,” Mrs Foster said.

Her late husband Anthony, who died in 2017 after years of advocacy on behalf of abuse survivors,would be pleased with the government response, she said.

The Catholic bishops had to release the TJHC to show the Australian public, and survivors, that it understood what was required of it in future, she said.

“This is the most researched issue in modern times but the church in Australia is still trying to control the situation. They’re trying to flex their muscle, or what’s left of it,” she said.

“There’s public interest in how the TJHC has responded to the royal commission final report and recommendations, but the bishops are being difficult, as they’ve always been difficult. They probably don’t want it public because it’s damning.”

In a statement on Wednesday the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said it had established an implementation advisory group, made up mostly of lay people, which was “helping the bishops decide how to respond to the royal commission”

The royal commission recommendation that confession should not exempt Catholic priests from reporting child sexual abuse allegations to authorities was not accepted by the church.

“Regarding the issue of the seal of confession, the Catholic Church does not view the sacramental seal as incompatible with maintaining child safety,” the bishops conference said.

“The church wants measures that will genuinely make environments safer for children. There has been no compelling evidence to suggest that legal abolition of the seal of confession will help in that regard.”


Newcastle Rugby League: English winger Josh Adu-Dwumaa making tracks at Cessnock Goannas

SPEED: English import Josh Adu-Dwumaa scores a try on debut for the Cessnock Goannas in a 20-6 victory over Western Suburbs at Harker Oval on May 6. Picture: Jonathan Carroll Josh Adu-Dwumaa had no intentions of playing rugby league.

Nor did the young Manchester United fan even know the rules.

But aged 11, Adu-Dwummatook up an invitation with a couple of his school mates in England’s central west and a dozen years on he hasn’t looked back.

“It was quite funny to be fair, I was always just into sprinting and soccer back home,” the Cessnock Goannas wingersaid.

“Two of my best friends in primary school, they were big rugby league fans. I was always quick as a child so they were like you should come down and have a run out. I didn’t even have a pair of boots or anything.

“I went down to the club and they said we’ve got a tournament tomorrow if you want to jump in and play that, even though I didn’t know how to play the game or any of the rules.

“So I just turned up and literally ran around everybody.They were like keep coming and we’ll train you up, teach youto play and see how you go.It all stemmed from there and I’ve played ever since.”

HIT UP: Josh Adu-Dwumaa used to play with Cessnock captain-coach Al Lantry at English club Leigh East. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Hisjourney beyond that unexpected introduction has featured two English Super League clubs –the Warrington Wolves in under 17s followed by a couple of campaigns for the Leigh Centurions under 20s.

More recentlyAdu-Dwumaa has played for hometown Leigh East, located four hours north of London butbetween Liverpool and Manchester,inNational Conference League Division 2.

It wasthere the now 23-year-old met Cessnock captain-coach Al Lantry, who took the reins for 2018 after returningto the Hunter region from Europe,and Goannas prop Kori Barber.

“When Al and Kori came over together they played with us [Leigh East] for a season,” Adu-Dwumaa said.

“Alalways saidif you ever want to come over [to Australia] you shoulddefinitely play with us [Cessnock].

“Once he got the job he asked me to come down and I wasn’t too committed to any work so I thought if I was ever going to do it, the time was now, and I jumped at the opportunity.”

Adu-Dwumaa made the most of his first chance, scoring a try on debut in Cessnock’sseason-opening20-6 victory over more-fancied Western Suburbs at Harker Oval last month.

“I’d only just arrived and they wanted me to play that week,” he said.

“I think it was from Carts [Paul Carter], I got a nice little off load and put the ball under my arm and got the try. Couldn’t have been happier with a try on the debut.”

Adu-Dwumaa is working in Tomago and living at Wallsend, next door to Lantry and with Cessnock teammate Alex Mammone.

The Goannas are away to Macquarie on Saturday.

PREVIOUS:Emerging Rebels here to stay after win over Canberra

STAND OUT:Alchin prepares to representNewcastle under 20s

Newcastle rugby: Greens’ depth receives welcome boost

POWERHOUSE winger Bill Coffey is back where he started –Merewether.

A2011 premiership-winner with the Greens, Coffey has spent the past four seasons running the chalk for arch rival Wanderers.

However, the game-breaker has returned to Townson Oval and played outside centre for Merewether (2) in a 25-10 win over Hamilton in third grade last round.

FULL CIRCLE: Billy Coffey. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

“Billy turned up on the Thursday unannounced and wanted a game,” first grade coach Mick Gill said. “I haven’t sat down and had a chat with him yet. We know what he can do with the footy but hehas turned up in the middle of the year and is at the back of the line.”

Breakaway Sam Dart (overseas) and propWendell Wilhelmus (work commitments) also returned in thirds last round.

“I have not seen this sort of depth since 2010,” Gill said.

* Hunter quintetBeau Merrick (hooker), Jack Allen (prop), Tom McPhee (prop), Jack Hamilton (halfback) and Elias Pettigrew (winger) will vyefor a place in the NSW under-18s side at a trial in Sydney on June 24.

The boys wereselected after Hunter went down 31-21 to Manly in the final of the State championships on Sunday. Hunter were without 10 players, who were in the NSW Country under-18s which went down to Sydney 25-15. The five selected for the trial were injured or unavailable for the country side.

* Wanderers’ halfback stocks have been boosted with the return of Jack Young from Manly.

* Merewether lock Kade Robinson will miss the clash against Southern Beaches after pleading guilty to a dangerous contact charge.

Wanderers duo Blair Rush (lifting tackle) and Noa Taufaao (high tackle) and Southern Beaches No.8 Marlon Solofuti (dangerous contact) are will play this round after the judiciary deemed their red card sufficient.

Newcastle Rugby: Hunter rookies face ultimate test against Fiji

BIG ASSIGNMEMT: The Hunter women’s team will take on Fiji at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.DANELLE Campbell arrived in Australia from Canadawithout a club and lived in a car when she first joined Merewether.

This time last year, Maya Stewart was playing touch footy.

Nathan twins, Leilani and Nicole, are studying for the HSC and making the transition from sevens to the 15-a-side game.

Emma Bradford and Lupe Ngatuvai are still elligibe for the under-17s.

At the other end of the spectrum, Carla Anderson has spentyears toiling away for her club, waiting for a chance at the next level.

On Saturday night, they will all get to experience international rugby for the first time when Hunter take on Fiji at No.2 Sportsground.

The match is the first women’s international in Newcastle since the Wallaroos took on England in 2001.

The tourists, known as the Fijiana, accounted for the Brumbies 33-7 in Canberra on Monday.

DOUBLE UP: Twins, Leilani and Nicole Nathan.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our girls to not only be playing a quality international side, but alsoin our home town,”Hunter coachGerry Mason said.

“Fijiana willbe big and physical. They have some hard-running ball-carriers and, as you would expect from Fiji, they have speedy outside backs.”

A new-look Hunter side finished second at the Country Championships in May, bringing an end to their 18-year reign.

Veteran NSW Country prop Tammy Clay comes into the squad and Mason is confident the women will rise to the occasion.

“We area classic mix of youth and experience,” Mason said.

“Eight of our players are under 21. LupeNgatuvai and Emma Bradford are still competing in the under-17s and Leilani and NicoleNathan are in their first year out of juniors.We are looking to compete hard, keep our structure and be strong at the set pieces.”

The match kicks off at 4.45pm after the men’s first-grade grand final rematch between Wanderers and Hamilton.

Hunter: 18 Tammy Clay,2 Carla Andersen, 3 Theresa Wilhelmus, 20 Danelle Campbell,5 Theresa Ngungutau,6 Jessica Church, 7Hayley Amm,8 Annika Jamieson, 9Tahlia Goldsmith,10 Danielle Fruend,11 Maya Stewart, 12Synetta Manns, 13Naomi Medlin, 14 Liz Kennedy, 15Maddison Ingram, 16 Jade Wilson,17 Stephanie Klimovitch, 19Mel Whittingham,4 Leilani Nathan,1 Nicole Nathan,21 Emma Bradford, 22Anika Butler,23 Lupe Ngatuvai

Barnaby Joyce’s book due in August

Barnaby Joyce has pleaded for privacy but he’ll soon have a political memoir out after already taking $150,000 for a tell-all TV interview.

Barnaby Joyce. MP and the former deputy Prime Minister will release a book in August.

Weatherboard & Iron: Politics, The Bush And Me is due out in August and the publishers promise it will surprise readers.

The former Nationals leader quit as deputy prime minister after it was revealed he was having a baby with his staffer-turned-partner Vikki Campion.

“Joyce not only provides a context to this calamitous series of events but also offers an insight into the inner workings of politics and the media in this country,” New Holland Publishers said.

“Coming so quickly after his public stoush with actor Johnny Depp, the High Court ruling that he was a dual citizen and his stunning victory in the subsequent by-election in the NSW seat of New England, Joyce was rarely far from the front pages of national and international news media.”

The publishers promise the book will reveal what drove Mr Joyce during his career – “a career that is far from being over”.

Mr Joyce recently called for changes to privacy laws after doing a $150,000 tell-all TV interview with Ms Campion.

He also accused a photographer of hiding in the bushes outside a church to harass him.

“Private individuals, kids especially, should have greater protections than what they’ve got. They haven’t got any,” Mr Joyce said.

He said the couple did the infamous interview in the hope it would be a “circuit-breaker” which would end the intense scrutiny on their private lives.

Mr Joyce declared the book deal on his parliamentary interests register.

The former deputy prime minister is on two weeks of sick leave, but he has found time to campaign against laws preventing harassment of women outside abortion clinics.

Australian Associated Press

Toowoomba’s Albert Brimblecombe to sell restored tractors in one of the biggest single owner offerings

Albert Brimblecombe, Highfields, with one of his favourite restorations, the John Deere Model-H. He will sell his entire tractor collection later this month. Pictures: Melody Labinsky A TOOWOOMBA man’s restored tractor collection, hailed as one of the best in the country, is set to go under the hammer this monthwithbuyers travelling from as far as America and New Zealand.

Former St George cotton grower and now Toowoomba resident,Albert Brimblecombe, will bid farewell to over 400 lots of his vintage tractor and machinery collection, including more than 100 restored machines, at an auction later this month.

The 1953 Ford Golden Jubilee was released in the aftermath of a court case with Ferguson.

Mr Brimblecombe has been collecting and restoring forgotten machinery since the mid 1980s, with word quickly spreading of his restoration gift.

While he never had any formal mechanic training, Mr Brimblecombe picked up the art of restoration along the way.

Albert Brimblecombe, Highfields, with a line of John Deere tractors.

He would returnan engine to a driving state and paint them original colours, with some machines taking eight years to complete.

“If I had spare time I used to put all my efforts into getting old tractors in order and getting them going again,” he said.

The 1911 Titan Type D is the oldest tractor in Albert Brimblecombe’s collection.

“If you have a tractor that is complete, all the parts are there, you can get it going in a few months, I had another one took me eight years to all all the parts together for it.”

But with age catching up with him, Mr Brimblecombe, 78, said it was time tosee the tractors off to their next chapter.

“I’ve always thought, I’ve got them to this stage, someone else will carry them on to the next stage, hopefully never go back to a paddock and rust out,” he said.

A variety of tractors will be offered.

Bundaberg Auctions Australia Wide will conduct the sale from 9.30am on June 23 at104 Cronin Road, Highfields.

Owner and auctioneer Matt Beer said with no reserve, no buyer’s premium and no GST, interest had come from collectors and small museums as far as America, New Zealand, Western and Southern Australia and Victoria.

Check out Albert Brimblecombe’s restored tractor collection that will be sold on June 23. pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校,/ZM0eMkgeJs

— Melody Labinsky (@MelodyLabinsky) June 12, 2018

He predicted the tractors to make up to $60,000, with some items a one off in Australia.

A cross-engine Case tractor.

“I truly believe that this auction will easily set a precedence for prices of vintage tractors in Australia,” he said.

“Them sort of blokes (restorers like Albert) have saved a lot of those tractors that would have gone to the scrap heap and now they are forever.

“Where it is a sad day for him to see the tractors go, a little bit of Albert Brimblecombe will be spread around Australia.”

For more information, hit this link

Son testifies at trial over mother’s death

The son of a Sydney woman fatally struck by a truck on a pedestrian crossing in 2016 has told a court he offered to drive her home that day but she declined and decided to walk.

Nicholas Thwaites on Wednesday said his 60-year-old mother had dropped her car off to be serviced and wanted to do some shopping as she made her way home on the morning of May 20.

“She just bought some new exercise clothes that she was trying to fit into,” Mr Thwaites told the NSW District Court.

“She was really just excited to get back into a lot of exercise, she was quite fit for her age.”

Emmanuel Xiberras, 38, is facing a jury trial after pleading not guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death and failing to stop and assist after the Brookvale crash that killed Jo-Ann Thwaites.

The Crown says that if Xiberras was paying attention he would have seen Ms Thwaites on the zebra crossing, which was on a slip lane at an intersection.

It’s also alleged he then didn’t stop when he knew – or ought to have known – what had happened.

Mr Thwaites, in giving evidence, said that on the day of his mother’s death, he heard there’d been a traffic incident in Brookvale so he avoided driving through the area.

When he returned to her home and she wasn’t there, he got “this extremely sick feeling in the stomach and panicked”.

Mr Thwaites went to the scene just 200 or 300 metres away, where police told him what had happened.

A teenage boy also told the court he saw the fatal incident from the passenger seat of his mother’s car as she drove him to school.

During a recorded police interview, he said he saw a woman stumble “while crossing the pedestrian and a white truck has come over, not seeing her, and rolled over her”.

“I went to tell my mum what happened and I looked back and the lady was missing,” he said.

During his opening address on Tuesday, defence barrister Richard Pontello said Xiberras stopped and looked both ways before he drove onto the crossing.

He stopped again when he was on the crossing and giving way to traffic on his right, the lawyer said.

He said that in circumstances where Ms Thwaites tripped and fell into his client’s truck, there was nothing he could have done to avoid the tragedy.

“He had absolutely no idea that he had hit a person … and he had no reason to think that he had done so,” he said.

The trial continues.

Australian Associated Press

University of Newcastle appeals for help to fund Shaping Futures Scholarships after big demand

BOOST: Natasha, who is studying to become a criminal psychologist, said the Shaping Futures scholarship gave her a boost to continue her education. The University of Newcastle says demand for the scholarship has grown beyond what it can afford. IT helped hundreds of students cope with trying circumstances beyond the classroom. Now, the University of Newcastle is seeking public help to fund a program designed to help promising students shine.

On Wednesday the university launched a public appeal tohelp meet enormous demand for ascholarship program designed to helptalented students snared in circumstances that have limited their opportunities to succeed.

Vice-chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen said more than 400 students applied for Shaping Futures Scholarships this year, far beyond what the University could support without the help of the community.

The scholarships offer students experiencing disadvantage $4000 for safe accommodation, transport, books and other necessities.The university said it caters toa larger proportion of students from a low socio-economic background than other institutions, with its ratio of almost one in four above the sector average.

“I encourage community members and local businesses to consider a tax-deductible donation before 30 June so that together we can provide more students with the powerful gift of education and new opportunities,” Professor McMillen said.

The 154 students supported through the scholarships since 2011 include Natasha, a survivor of family violence who attended more than 12 schools fleeing domestic violence situations.

“Some days, I wondered if I’d ever make it out of that life,” she said.“But as I grew older, I started picturing a different life for myself and my siblings.”

Natasha, who is studying psychology towards becoming a criminal psychologist and caresfor her siblings, said receiving one of the scholarships last year helped immensely.

“I was finding it hard to support myself and the scholarship helped me afford things such as food, books and a laptop,” she said. “It was encouraging that someone out there cared about my future – I’ve never had that kind of help before.”

Biotechnology graduate Brandan said the scholarship helped ease the burden of juggling study, work and caring for his father, who has a disability. Healso overcame his own health issues during his studies.

“Without the scholarship, I would have been completely ruined,” he said. “It helped me buy essentials, like a bed and fridge.

“But it also gave me reassurance that I was doing a good job and that I’d get through the hard times.”

“I’m excited to start my research career and give back to the world.”

Professor McMillen said the scholarship could help unlockgreat potential by supporting students in their education.

“I have seen many bright students like Brandan and Natasha who have a hunger and heart to make a difference,” she said. “With help from the community we can continue to support these students with the education and opportunity that every young person should be granted.”

NSW Opal fares to increase by 2.2 per cent

Commuters are set to pay more to travel on NSW’s public transport network, with Opal fares to jump by 2.2 per cent.

The increase, worth an average 39 cents a week, will kick in from July 2.

The rise, however, won’t affect seniors and pensioners, with Gold Opal prices to remain at $2.50 for all day travel any day of the week.

A train trip from Penrith to Town Hall, for example, will go up by 15 cents, while a ferry ride from Manly to Circular Quay will rise 16 cents.

A week’s worth of travel for an adult will be capped at $63.20, up from $61.60.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the increase was in line with inflation, and well short of the NSW pricing regulator’s recommendation.

The official inflation rate for the 12 months to March was 1.9 per cent, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show, but most economists expect the rate to rise above two per cent later in the year.

“We’ve had five years of fare freezes and now we’re just starting to adjust it in line with the cost of living,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal had proposed a 4.2 per cent rise in transport fares.

But Mr Constance assured travellers won’t be slugged down the track to make up the difference.

He noted there had been an 11 per cent increase in patronage on Sydney trains in the past year.

“The more people who are using public transport we can obviously on a customer basis lower the cost,” he said.

The 30 per cent discount on regional bus fares in parts of the state that don’t use the Opal system, announced by the government earlier this year, will be kept.

Australian Associated Press